"Here is a tutor tip for you. If you are looking for suggestions for specific situations, please let us know. Previous Tutor Tips are available on the MLC Web site at http://www.theMLC.org/tutor_tips
Burgen Bourne-Nisson, ESL Training Coordinator
Gail Irish , ESL Trainer
Rob Podlasek , Training Manager
Activity Name: Organizing Student Materials in Low-Lit and Beginning Levels
Adapted from Organizing Student Materials, Jessica Grace Jones, MLC, 2008.
Purpose: One of our many jobs as teachers and tutors is to prepare students for independent study. This includes helping students think of ways they can study and learn on their own, teaching them strategies for studying, and setting expectations for independent study. One of the foundations of independent study is keeping materials (handouts, assignments, and notes) well organized. If you follow the steps below during every lesson, you can consistently reinforce a system for keeping materials organized.
Prep time: none
Materials: See procedure below.
Prep: Make sure to 3-hole punch all handouts.
1) Review the following expectations with learners as needed:
* Every student must have a spiral notebook (these could be purchased by the students or provided by the learning center).
* Every student must have a 3-ring binder (purchased by the student or provided by the learning center).
* All handouts should go in the 3-ring binder with the most recent ones in the front.
* Students must bring their handouts to every class
2) As they arrive, ask students if they are ready with a pencil/pen, notebook, and binder (get the noisy pencil sharpening out of the way before you start class!)
3) Take time at the beginning of the class to identify which handouts the students received during the previous class.
4) Encourage students who arrive early to review notes and handouts from yesterday.
5) Write the day�s date on the board. Throughout the class, remind students to write the date on the top of each new handout.
6) If possible, give students a few minutes at the end of class to organize their papers before leaving.
Activity Name: What? Where? When?
Purpose: To help lower level learners review and practice the use of the question words: what, where, when. Initially, teach question words one at a time and do lots of practice before combining them.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Materials: pictures from text, calendar, magazine or the Internet of a person doing daily activities, or digital photos of tutor doing various activities; clock with movable hands; 3 large cards with one question word on each card: What? Where? When?
Prep: Think of three simple sentences, such as: I eat breakfast in the kitchen at 7:00 am; I walk to work at 8:00 am; I take the bus to school at 6:30 pm. Find a visual or take a photo that illustrates each of the three activities; if an actual clock isn�t available, draw a clock showing the time on a piece of paper. Do this for each of the 3-4 sentences. Miming and props could take the place of some pictures.
1) Begin by doing oral work. Tell the students about your day and illustrate it with the pictures. Then ask them questions. What do I do at 8:00? Show the picture of eating breakfast and ask for a short answer, e.g. eat breakfast. Where do I eat breakfast? Show a picture of a kitchen. The desired answer is �at home� or �in the kitchen�. When do I eat breakfast? Show the clock. Students can simply say the time.
2) Repeat this process with each of the 3-4 sentences.
3) Repeat with all sentences if students need more practice.
4) Write the sentences on the board and read them together. Ask students to change the information to fit their lives. Each person tells the class about him or herself.
* Have students write the sentences and then share them with a partner. Have them underline the information that says �what� with a red pen, the part that says �where� with a blue pen, and the part that says �when� with a green pen.
* Working in partners, ask students to think of words that start with �w�, including the question words. The pair with the longest list wins!
* Create a dialog or chant to practice the questions. What do you study?
I study English.
Where do you study?
At the school.
When do you study?
* Show a picture of a fictional new student who asks questions about the school and then use visuals to prompt the answers. Or have a fictional new employee ask questions about his/her new job using wh-questions.
Activity Name: Invent a Story
Purpose: To give intermediate and advanced-level students practice with correct question formation and narrative forms
Prep time: none
Prep: Based on your students� skill level, you might need to plan on reviewing different types of yes/no questions and how they are formed. This could include questions using �do�, �have�, �be� and modals.
1) Tell the class or group they are allowed twelve yes/no questions and their task is to discover what your story is. In reality, you have no story, but the class doesn�t know it. Encourage students to help each other, since the questions need to be correctly formed in order to be answered.
2) Answer �no� to every third question and �yes� to all the others. Do not answer it at all if the question form is not correct. It�s important for the students to believe that they are truly discovering your story, so give the impression that you are thinking very hard as you answer the questions.
3) After asking twelve correctly formed questions, the class has to construct a story from the answers you�ve given them. Avoid correcting the students at this point and address errors after the story is completed.
4) If you decide to explain what you did, you�ll need a different set of rules for how to answer the questions when you do the activity again.
� Answer �yes� to all questions using �do� or �have� and �no� to all questions using �be� or modals.
Activity Name: Borrowing
Purpose: This activity provides practice in spelling clarification and requesting to borrow something.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Materials: a set of 5 word cards for each team of 3-4 people (each team should have different words, but the vocabulary should be familiar); one set of alphabet cards that contains all the letters used in the words given to the students (if each group has a word with �i� in it, then you need multiple �i�s in your set of cards).
Prep: see above
1) Divide the class into teams of no more than 3-4 people. Send each team to a separate area of the classroom.
2) Give one word card to each team.
3) The goal is for each team to collect the letters it needs in order to spell the word on its card.
4) Shuffle the alphabet cards and deal 5 alphabet cards to each group. Place the remainder of the cards face down in a pile in the center of the room.
5) Teams check to see if they have any of the letters they need for their first word. They put those aside and decide which letters they still need.
6) Then, one team sends a runner to one of the other teams. This student asks to borrow a letter that the team needs by asking, �Can I please borrow an a?�
7) The other team responds, �Sure. Here you are.� Or, �Sorry, we need our a�s� or �We don�t have any a�s.�
8) If the runner doesn�t get the card he/she needs, she picks a new card from the pile in the middle of the room and takes it back to the team.
9) Then it�s the next team�s turn.
10) When a team completes a word, it sends a runner to the teacher to get another word from the set of word cards. The first team to complete its word list wins.
� More advanced students can use forms like, �Would you mind lending me�� or �Could I borrow��
� Ask students to clarify their request by asking, �Can I please borrow an a as in apple?�
Activity Name: Circle Chain
Purpose: To practice the past continuous verb form.
Preparation Time: none
Preparation: Plan to review the past continuous tense, how and when we use it. Prepare some examples.
1. Have students sit in a circle.
2. Give them a minute to remember what they were doing yesterday evening at 8:00 .
3. After one minute, ask one student to begin.
4. Students make statements about what they were doing yesterday at 8:00 , repeating what everyone else in the chain has said before them, then adding their own statement.
� Use the activity to review other verb forms.
Activity Name: Starting a Business
Purpose: To help intermediate level students practice wh-question formation in the context of a meaningful activity
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Materials: paper and pencils
Prep: Think about what types of businesses are located in the area of the school and make a list of some of them. You might want to do a sample set of questions yourself (see below), to help students understand what you want them to do.
1) Discuss with the class what types of businesses they�ve noticed in the area of the school. Ask them what kind of business they�d like to set up in the neighborhood.
2) With a large group, divide into smaller groups of 3-4 students. Tell each group they are going to research a new business for the neighborhood and they need to design a simple survey (5-10 questions) that will give them needed information about the likely success of the business.
3) Help the students come up with the Wh-questions for their survey. The following questions could be used for a restaurant:
How often to you eat in a restaurant?
What kind of food do you like to eat?
Where is your favorite restaurant now?
How much do you want to spend?
How many people are there in your family?
What is your favorite restaurant now? Why?
4) Students write out simple surveys and interview at least 5 other people. They then decide if their business will succeed or fail and share their conclusions with the larger group.
Activity Name: Tell Me About It
Purpose: To help intermediate or advanced level students practice wh-questions in the context of a reading lesson
Prep time: 30 minutes
Materials: variety of articles from the newspaper or stories from reading text; enough copies for students; a picture to go along with the story is an added bonus
Prep: Look for human interest stories in the paper or stories from a series like True Stories in the News. You might want to choose one to do with the whole group first.
1) Talk about the title, look at the picture, if there is one, predict what might be in the article, then read the story together as a group. You may need to spend some time on unfamiliar vocabulary. Encourage students to figure it out from context whenever possible.
2) Have students work in pairs to answer what, where, why, when, who, how?
3) Ask students to share their answers.
4) Assign each small group a different story. Each group must summarize their story orally for the group by answering the wh-questions.
5) As follow-up, have them write the summaries.
-Independence Day-July 4th
Activity Name: Talking About Independence Day
Purpose: To give learners cultural and historical information about the July 4th holiday. In addition, fireworks can be frightening for people who�ve fled war or other violent situations in their homelands. Understanding what fireworks are and what the holiday is about may help reduce stress or anxiety.
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Materials: A calendar to situate the holiday, pictures of celebrations, parades, picnics and fireworks, an American flag or picture of one, a recording of the national anthem, related items that are meaningful to you. Look for images that reflect the diversity of the U.S. population. Click here for word search puzzles for vocabulary practice.
Prep: Make a list of vocabulary related to the holiday. Plan on asking the students what they know first, then adding to the list, using realia and/or photos to help illustrate new words. If you decide to use the word searches, plan to introduce those words.
1) Ask your student(s) if they know what holiday is coming up. Have a conversation around the following questions and write vocabulary words on the board as they come up.
What is the fourth of July?
Why do we celebrate this holiday?
Do you celebrate Independence Day in your country? When and how?
How do Americans celebrate the 4th of July?
What are your plans for the 4th of July? Practice the future tense!
2) Practice pronouncing the vocabulary words and work together to write sentences using each word or several of the words in the same sentence.
3) Put the sentences in sequence so that they form a story. Depending on the level of the student, ask them to practice reading the story aloud with a partner or read it together as a group. Don�t forget to give the story a title.
4) A number of activities could be used as follow-up: a fill-in-the-blank of the story, a dictation, or a sequencing activity.
� Play the national anthem several times and ask learners if they recognize any words and if they recognize the melody. You could ask them to listen for specific words that you think they might know and that you would review ahead of time: see, light, proudly, night, flag, free, home, brave. Tell them to listen for the anthem during the 2008 Summer Olympics. Ask them about their anthems.
� Ask learners to attend a 4th of July activity and report back to the group or write about it (practice the past tense).
� Look at maps and figure out how to get to a parade or fireworks display.
Minnesota Literacy Council
756 Transfer Road
St. Paul, MN 55104
651-645-2277 ext. 206
"Here is a link to the most recent issue of NetNews, published by the Learning Disabilities Association. This issue focuses on assessing adults with learning disabilities."
Previous editions of NetNews are available at:
1. Oral Interviews
ESL "English Songs" DVD
"http://EnglishSongsDVD.com Get your copy of the re-recorded and re-edited "English Songs" DVD! The videos on the DVD are newly re-edited and re-sung versions of the videos here on this channel. "
Topics and Themes
Below is a possible "suggestive" list for our Literacy Project: ESL Classes:
(see SalsBegLitESL_Grid, eslMorrisLiteracyProjectStudentProfile.doc, and eslNeedAssessCurriculuumChoiceSurvey.doc => online form)
*learned from Liberal Arts: English-Course Design
1. SelfIntroductory (see SalsBegLitESLChecklistSelfIntroductory.doc)
Have student share about their background, interest, and other information (e.g. need assessment listed below here) that may help you know what or why they want to learn English.
2. Alphabet A to Z (see SalsBegLitESLChecklistAtoZ.doc)
The Alphabet Song - Music for Kindergarten Preschool ESL Kids
*see GoodnewsEverybody: Children
3. Contact Info (see SalsBegLitESLChecklistContactInfo.doc)
4. Daily Life Math Skills
4. Severe Weather Survival Skills
4. Finding Your Way Locally, State, Nationally, Globally (map activity=> GoodnewsEverybody.com: LA- Geography-Political, Physical, etc... Maps etc...) (see SalsBegLitESLChecklistFindingYourWayMap.doc)
Google Maps in Language Teaching
"some ideas on how to use Google Maps (as part of the Web 2.0) in the (ICT) language classroom. "
*learn new common words relating to topic/theme
*using the Rosetta Stone (see RosettaStoneStudentRecordSheet.doc) software program too!
GoodnewsEverybody: English-Grammar (see SalsBegLitESLChecklistGrammar.doc)
*if possible, ask your student(s) to share cultural similarities and differences for each topic (e.g. Health-What are some similarities and differences between your experience so far in America and your homeland?)
-Create Your Own: