English: ESL Volunteering in the Classroom

English: ESL Volunteering in the Classroom

What to Expect from this Course, pdf format

Unit 1

Minnesota's Adult ESL Learners
In this unit of the course, you will:
* Meet some of Minnesota's adult ESL learners
* Investigate immigration and refugee issues
* Learn about Minnesota's immigrant and refugee populations
Please complete the lessons below in the order in which they are listed.
Unit 1 will take approximately 45 minutes to complete. Please click on "Minnesota's Adult ESL Learners" below to start.

So... when you are floating, it is important to move around the classroom and help several learners. You may need to initiate the help by asking the learners a question. At other times, several students will ask for help at the same time. You can help them in the order they asked you. Of course, the classroom instructor will also be available to assist the students. When you float in a classroom, you may need to do any of the following: * clarify directions * give feedback * error correction * explain vocabulary * spell * focus on the particular grammar point of the lesson * focus on the particular pronunciation point of the lesson * answer other questions Important: Floating should have a focus. Ask the teacher about what is expected of the students. In fact, the classroom teacher is a great model of how to do any of these floating tasks. Pay careful attention to the way the teacher gives directions and be prepared to repeat them, and perhaps break them down into shorter steps. Also, closely monitor your vocabulary use when you communicate with learners. Avoid using idioms and expressions the students may not be familiar with. Click below to learn more about how to do these tasks. * Minnesota's Adult ESL Learners Lesson
* How did you do on the test? Forum
* Minnesota's Immigrant and Refugee Population

Minnesota's Adult ESL Learners

Meet some learners

For 2005-06, the Minnesota Department of Education reported 35,797 English as a Second Language (ESL) learners enrolled in ESL programs in Minnesota. Your work as a Classroom Volunteer greatly increases our capacity to serve these individuals and serve them well.
Click on the video box below to meet some learners. When you are finished watching the video, please click on "continue".

It is important that you know something about your students and how they best learn. Can you guess what kind of learner attends adult ESL classes? How about the special characteristics of an adult learner?
Let's see what you already know about adult ESL learners. Click "ESL Learner Quiz" below to take a short test.


1. ESL classes usually have learners whose backgrounds are alike. Your answer :
Right. ESL classes represent a variety of cultural, schooling and belief backgrounds.
2. Learners in ESL classes in Minnesota speak which of the following languages? Your answer :
All of these answers are correct
Yes - all of these languages and many more can be found in Minnesota's ESL classes. There are more than 70 different languages being spoken in Minnesota homes, so we are bound to find several languages in our classrooms!
3. Which of the following is not a goal adults may have when choosing to enroll in an ESL class?
Your answer :
Sleep Correct! Adult ESL students have very practical goals and class lessons should reflect this.
4. An important consideration we need to make is that we are working with adults, not children. How are adults unique?
Please choose the characteristics below that you think tend to be true for adult learners (choose all that apply).
Your answer :
Adult learners tend to be very busy individuals.
Adult learners are goal-oriented.
Adult learners represent a wide range of educational backgrounds.

Great job! Learn more about adult learners by clicking "continue" below.

What kind of learner attends ESL classes?
Adult learners who attend ESL classes have varied backgrounds, needs, and goals. Therefore, there is no one profile used to describe adults who enroll in ESL classes. Because of the diversity of learners present in class, teachers use a broad range of approaches, techniques and activities. The use of Classroom Volunteers allows our teachers the flexibility to respond to the different needs represented in class.
The following PowerPoint will illustrate the broad spectrum of learner backgrounds you may expect to see in the ESL classroom and special considerations when working with adults.
Adults and the ESL Classroom PowerPoint
For a version of the information in Word format, click here

B. U.S. Immigrant and Refugee Myths and Facts

The United States' immigrant and refugee facts and figures can be very complicated and confusing.
How accurate is your understanding of U.S. immigrant and refugee issues? A test developed by Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights will check your knowledge of immigration myths and facts.
Please click here to take an online test: Immigrant Quotient (I.Q.) Test (see test in pdf format)
A new browser window will open.
When finished with the test, please come back to this page and click on the button below. It should take you back to the main page. Then click on "How did you do on the test?"

...more on UMM Alpha: Immigrants

1. B
2. A
3. A
WRONG (D)The 9 languages in which election instructions were issued in Minnesota in 1890 were: English, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, French, Czech, Italian and Polish.5 Today they are available in English, Hmong, Spanish, Somali, Russian and Vietnamese.
4. A
5. A
"2%. 13,500 refugees from about 30 countries were resettled in Minnesota from 1999-2003. This is just over 2% of all the refugees admitted nationally. Though the number each year may fluctuate, the percentage resettling in Minnesota is expected to be stable.13"
6. C
7. C
"2%. 13,500 refugees from about 30 countries were resettled in Minnesota from 1999-2003. This is just over 2% of all the refugees admitted nationally. Though the number each year may fluctuate, the percentage resettling in Minnesota is expected to be stable.13"
8. A
"Hmong / Vietnamese / Somali. The estimated Hmong population is 60,000 and both the Vietnamese and Somali populations are estimated at 25,000. In addition there are approximately 13,000 Laotians, 12,500 refugees from former Soviet Republics, 7,500 Ethiopians, and 7,500 Cambodians.14"
9. A
"60% of the Hispanic population was born in the United States.15 The majority of the foreign born Latinos are from Mexico. In the 2000 census, there were 41,592 Mexican born Minnesotans. The other leading Latin American countries of birth for Minnesotans were El Salvador with 2,769 and Ecuador with 2,621."
"At least 103 languages and dialects are spoken by Minnesota students and their families. In St. Paul Public Schools, 41% of students come from a home where a language other than English is spoken. 17"

Please answer the following questions:
1. Which statistics surprised you the most? If none of the information was new for you, which statistics do you think are the least understood by most Americans?

For me, the stats that suprised me the most was...

"The 9 languages in which election instructions were issued in Minnesota in 1890 were: English, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, French, Czech, Italian and Polish.5 Today they are available in English, Hmong, Spanish, Somali, Russian and Vietnamese."

I read some Minnesota history that there were churches that had to be divided into separate services due to the language differences (e.g. German and Norwegian), but never knew there were other languages and that this was put into effect in political balloting. Wow, very interesting! I've heard some "biased" remarks from the majority "white" community that "they" ("non" white ethnic minorities) should learn "our" language (English). However, some of them are getting educated that their ancestors too had similar challenges and that they just need to be patient as they begin to settle-transition in America. I think our majority "white" population needs to be educated on this history and to not forget where they came from. This will help them appreciate their own immigration history of their ancestors and to better understand the current immigration. I already knew about the current different languages with our recent immigrant population.

What factors do you think lead to misunderstandings of the facts?

Some factors I think that lead to misunderstandings of the facts are "lack of educating the public", which can be done through the media. I feel you all-"The Minnesota Literacy Council"-can lead this "educational" means of educating the public since you/we are almost are in the "front lines"-we interact with the "immigrants-refugees" and we can have a "voice" on educating the mainstream media. I've been trying to do this in the small rural college community (Morris, MN) I currently live in. I've been contacted by local groups (e.g. radio, newspaper, online, community meetings, etc...) to share my experiences and I try to take advantage of this "open mic" opportunity!

I've read about the another "new wave" of immigrants-refugees coming from Iraq with the next year or so. I feel we as a State need to "prepare" our communities-especially with some "negative" bias already with the current on-going "War on Terrorism" in Iraq. As past wars (e.g. WWII, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, etc...), there are always "new" racist terms or remarks (e.g. WWII with Japan-"Japs", Vietnam-"Gooks", and now "Dessert/Sand Niggers")-sorry for "stating" them here, but just showing you what I've heard. I've been personally called by one of these names and had some "jokingly" remarked "look like the enemy" (during Persian Gulf War in the 90's while attend secondary school). It does frustrate me, which is one of the reasons for becoming a ESOL/ESL Volunteer. Instead of "fighting", I "educate"!

Please think about the questions above and submit your answer. Click on the word reply.

Other Students' Responses:

Re: How did you do on the test?
by Allison R - Thursday, February 21, 2008, 05:34 PM
I am familiar with the statistics on immigration, but many Americans are not. There seems to be a misperception that immigrants make up a larger percentage of the population than they actually do. The fact that illegal immigrants are not able to access any government resources, even though they contribute to them by paying taxes, is not addressed in the larger discussion of immigration issues.
I think one of the biggest factors that lead to misunderstanding of the facts is misrepresentation in the media. Immigrants are often depicted as either not wanting to become "Americanized" or not wanting to learn English, or that they are usurping public resources - none of which is true.

Re: How did you do on the test?
by jessie b - Saturday, February 23, 2008, 12:56 PM
The statistics in this quiz were not surprising since I had previously studied the immigrant population for an independent paper as well as a healthcare class I am currently taking.
I was surprised by the reason for immigration to the US (to be reunited with family). I assumed most immigrants came to the US for work opportunities since the only immigrants I know are through work.

Re: How did you do on the test?
by Susan WB - Friday, March 28, 2008, 09:49 AM
At a workshop I attended last week, a representative from the state Department of Health reported some statistics on refugees settling in Minnesota, and I was very surprised to find out that Minnesota ONLY accepts family reunification cases for refugee resettlement now (and has for several years). One of the other workshop participants asked the presenter, "Then how do you account for new groups coming to MN such as the Karen people from Burma/Myanmar?" She responded that a small cohort of Karen people have been in MN since the 70's, and that through family reunification policies, over many years, that small cohort has grown and is now increasing rapidly as more and more cases are approved.
This would also be the reason that Somalis make up the largest number of new refugees coming to MN, even though they are something like #8 in total numbers nationwide.

Re: How did you do on the test?
by Chinret B - Friday, February 29, 2008, 01:28 PM
I think the statistics that suprised me that most was that Immigrants currently constitute a bigger proportion of the total U.S. population than ever before in history.
I also think a lot of Americans overestimate how many immigrants come here illegally.
I think lack of information and ignorance could be the reasons that lead to this misunderstanding of the facts.

Re: How did you do on the test?
by moira d - Monday, April 21, 2008, 08:18 PM
The stats that surprised me the most were the ones dealing with the amount of incoming people. I thought those numbers were going to be waaaay higher then they were. I mean, millions yeah. But i thought, the ratio was going to be much bigger. Also I was unaware that immigrants were not eligible for ANY health care. this seems...counterproductive. I believe that the most misunderstanding can be derived from peoples passion. If a person does not look up the facts for themselves, and they just listen to people, youre not going to get the facts, pure and simple. you will get the bias of the person telling the story, their beliefs and the facts that support those beliefs, but not all the facts, just the ones that help their case.

Re: How did you do on the test?
by Nicole R- Monday, June 9, 2008, 01:49 PM
The statistic that surprised me the most is how many illegal people that work here and contribute to social security and will never see it. I think the statistics that are least understood by most Americans is how little immigration has actually happened in the U.S. I think the misunderstandings happen due to people being misinformed

Re: How did you do on the test?
by Molly S - Monday, June 9, 2008, 07:15 PM
The statistics that surprised me the most were the percentage of refugees that the United States takes in every year, and the percentage of immigrating in America comparatively to the other countries.
I feel like most of the misunderstanding comes from the fact that politicians and the media make such a big deal about immigration and illegal immigration, that you would expect the numbers to be bigger.

Re: How did you do on the test?
by Kella P- Saturday, June 14, 2008, 09:14 AM
For me the most surprising statistic is that the U.S. has the lowest percentage of foreign born population, lower than Australia, Switzerland or Canada. I think with immigration policy being such a hot political topic, Americans are led to believe that we have a high immigrant population or at least one that we can't support.
Re: How did you do on the test?
by Tyler K - Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 08:49 PM
I was surprised to find that canada has a higher number of foreign born citizens compared to the u.s. The idea that america is the only place people immigrate to is one reinforced by many U.S. media outlets.

Re: How did you do on the test?
by Laura G - Tuesday, July 1, 2008, 12:06 AM
I suppose the fact that less than 1% of refugees can come to the US is surprising, but at the same time, we do have pretty stringent immigration laws. This is surprising because America likes to paint itself as this generous country that can serve as a new beginning for all sorts of people, so it seems like the percentage would be higher.

Re: How did you do on the test?
by Kevin M - Monday, August 4, 2008, 07:26 PM
The percentage of foreign born people in the U.S. population surprised me the most. Also, the number of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. each year was surprising. The amount of details in the news about illegal immigration may contribute to my misunderstanding of the scope of the issue.

Re: How did you do on the test?
by Margaret R - Wednesday, August 13, 2008, 06:34 PM
I was surprised that other countries have a greater percentage of immigrants than the US. It seems that many of us have misconceptions about both legal and illegal immigrants, and I believe this is due to main stream media's failure to report positive stories on immigrants. I also think there is limited news coverage of economic situations in other countries which would help all of us understand the circumstances leading to immigration.
It's possible that many do not think critically about the sources of information and are unable to discern fact from fiction and lack the simple concern, and even courage, to challenge misinformation.

Re: How did you do on the test?
by Shelby F - Wednesday, September 3, 2008, 05:16 PM
The information was not new to me, I have done a lot of work on/with immigrants/refugees. However, I think Americans commonly misunderstand illegal immigration because it is so often talked about and stressed as a major concern of politics. I think Americans both think that there are more illegal immigrants than there are and that they receive more benefits/support than they do once they arrive here.

C. Minnesota's Immigrant and Refugee Population

Immigration in Minnesota
Minnesota has always been an area that tends to draw immigrants. This has been true from the late 1800's, when Swedish, Norweigian and German people were the majority of the foreign-born population, to today where we see representations from across the globe.
Why do people settle in Minnesota? Who immigrates to Minnesota? To answer these and other questions, we will now turn to a publication by the Minneapolis Foundation.
In October 2004, The Minneapolis Foundation published Immigration in Minnesota: Discovering Common Ground, an educational brochure intended to introduce immigration history and facts to Minnesotans and facilitate conversation about the issues.
This link, Discovering Common Ground, will take you to the brochure. Please use the brochure to answer the questions on the following pages.

Why Minnesota?
"Minnesota also has a history of active volunteerism regarding immigration and refugee resettlement, led primarily by faith-based organizations..."
Terms & Assumptions
"While some mass resettlement efforts (such as those of the Hmong and the Somalis) have brought greater attention to immigration in Minnesota, it is worth remembering that people from all around the world have made their home in Minnesota for generations. For example, Latinos have been living in Minnesota since the mid-19th century, yet established Latino residents often find themselves being treated like newcomers to this state, rather than longtime contributors to and shapers of the Minnesota we live in today..."
Finally, it is worth noting that �we� are not all immigrants, contrary to a common assertion among some well-meaning Minnesotans. Although the majority of Minnesotans today claim European ancestry, the first Minnesotans were Native Americans, most notably the Ojibwe and Dakota. And African-Americans first came to the United States�and thereafter to Minnesota�through slavery, a forced migration. While it may be uncomfortable to discuss these distinctions and, more importantly, what they mean, it is critical to discussions of who we are as Minnesotans, especially when the discourse turns to divisions between �us� and �them.�"

Changing Family Dynamics
" Many immigrants must adjust to changing cultural and family dynamics. In Somalia, for example, women don�t traditionally work outside of the home, men are the decisionmakers, and physical punishment of children is acceptable. These norms are changing for Somali residents of Minnesota, due to economic and social pressures. In many cultures, adult children are expected to take care of their aging parents, but in Minnesota they may need to find institutional care instead as the adult children need to work full-time (often multiple jobs) to make ends meet. Alternatively, many grandparents are enlisted as child-care providers as parents find work outside of the home...
Focus on Latinos
Although most Latinos live in the metropolitan area, Latinos are more geographically dispersed throughout the state than any other immigrant group. According to the 2000 Census, Latinos were almost evenly divided between the core cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the surrounding suburbs, and Greater Minnesota..."

Life in Minnesota: Challenges and Considerations
" Documented vs. Undocumented Status�An estimated 18,000 to 45,000 undocumented Latinos live and work in Minnesota. This should not be confused with migrant workers, the majority of whom either are permanent U.S. citizens or have legal permission to work in the United States."
Focus on Somalis
"..About one-third of Minnesota�s Somali residents came directly from refugee camps; others settled first in another state and then relocated to Minnesota. The reasons for this are many, but primarily (1) the existence of an established Somali community, which meant that health care, educational, and other systems were already prepared to address the particular needs of Somalis; and (2) the availability of unskilled jobs that don�t require English fluency or literacy..."
"..Worship Accommodations�Most Somalis are Sunni Muslims. In Minnesota�especially at school and in the workplace�Somalis find they must negotiate for time and space to pray (at five predetermined times a day, facing Mecca), for permission to wear the hijab (a head covering, a religious observance of modesty for Muslim women), and for understanding as they fast from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan (a lunar month near the end of the calendar year). Islam also prohibits charging or paying interest, which makes it difficult to purchase homes or otherwise participate in Western economic life. Community Diversity�While Minnesotans.."
"..Family Life�The Hmong social structure is centered on large, extended families within 18 organized clans. Nuclear families average 6.4 persons�although this is changing for Hmong men and women who were raised in the United States. In Southeast Asia, the Hmong lived in agricultural areas, in which large families brought economic advantages, as well as social and spiritual support. The Hmong have traditionally married at a young age, often during the teenage years. Hmong men and women often have the same name and Hmong men traditionally take an adult name, added to their first name, after they marry and their first child is born..."
*"Organizations throughout the state are working to welcome immigrants and providing information on the challenges and benefits of discovering our common ground. To connect with these resources, please visit www.MinneapolisFoundation.org.

1. Which of the following are some reasons that Minnesota is attractive to immigrants?
Good quality of life
Educational opportunities
There are many faith based organizations in Minnesota that sponser refugees.
Yes. Immigrants live in Minnesota for the same reasons that most Minnesotans do. Refugees are required to have a sponser and must live in the state in which they are sponsered.
2. What percentage of Minnesota's population were immigrants in the year 1900? How about in 2000?
Your answer :
1900: 29%
2000: 5.3%
That's correct!
3. 35% of Minnesota Latinos are native-born U.S. citizens.
Your answer :
Right - the number is much higher. 60% of Minnesota Latinos are native-born U.S. citizens.
4. Minnesota is home to the largest population of _______________ in the U.S.
Your answer :
That's correct! As you'll note on page 10 of the "Discovering Common Ground" brochure, Minnesota's population of Somalis is the largest in the country.
5. Most of the Hmong immigrants in Minnesota arrived from which country?
Your answer :
Yes - although Hmong individuals may come from a variety of southeast Asian countries, most Minnesota Hmong come from northern Laos.

...for more resources...

UMMAlpha: Immigrants

Unit 2

What is a Classroom Volunteer?
In this unit of the course, you will:
* Learn about the variety of Classroom Volunteer roles available
* Learn about what's expected for each role
Unit 2 will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Please click on "What is a Classroom Volunteer?" below to start.

What will I be doing??
Your contribution as a Classroom Volunteer is invaluable both to the learners and to the teacher.As a volunteer in the classroom, you will have the opportunity to take on various roles according to the needs of a particular lesson, teacher requests, and your personal interests and strengths.
There are two items on this page that will help you familiarize yourself with common Classroom Volunteer roles: a video and a listing of job descriptions. Please take a look at both and note the jobs and the responsibilities of each. This will help you with the following sections.
To watch the video of volunteers working in the classroom, click on the video box below.
To see the list of common Classroom Volunteer positions, click here.
When you are finished going over the video and the job descriptions, please click on "quiz!" below.


1. Please match the Classroom Volunteer title to the basic job description below. Your answer :
This volunteer takes a segment of the lesson, giving the teacher time to float, work 1-1 or observe class from a different perspective. = Lead part of class
This volunteer circulates through the classroom to monitor learner progress during activities. = Floating volunteer
This volunteer may focus on helping a particular learner with tasks being completed that day in class, or areas in which the learner needs extra attention. = 1-1 Helper
This volunteer may help with a variety of tasks and needs of the teacher, i.e.: making copies, arranging game pieces, grading tests, etc. = Classroom Assistant
This volunteer is intended to work with a group of learners on either tasks being completed that day in class, or areas in which the group of learners needs extra attention. = Small Group Leader

2. Which Classroom Volunteer position was not depicted in the video? Your answer :
Classroom Assistant
3. Which of the following is NOT a Classroom Volunteer task? Your answer :
Lead teacher
That's right!
4. What is absolutely necessary for a volunteer to know before each session when working with a learner or a group of learners?
Your answer :
The teacher's focus and expectations.
Yes!! When the volunteer knows the objectives of the lesson, s/he can more effectively assist the learners in achieving those objectives.

Unit 3

Tutoring Language Learners
In this unit of the course, you will:
* Have the opportunity to be a language learner and reflect on that experience
* Discover effective ways in which to work with language learners
Unit 3 will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Please click "Tutoring Language Learners" below to start.
*A. Tutoring Language Learners Lesson
* How did you do on the language quiz? Forum
* Tutoring Language Learners Continued Lesson
* What helps you? Forum
* Not So Good Tutoring

A. Tutoring Language Learners

Be a language learner
Ready to be a language learner?
You will now take a short Somali vocabulary quiz. While you are taking the quiz, please don't write anything down, and continue the exercise until you have successfully identified all 12 vocabulary words.
When you are finished with the quiz, come back to this window and click "Move on" below to go to a forum and post your reactions.
Click here to take the quiz. A new window will open.
If you already know Somali, click here for a quiz in a different language...(e.g. Vietnamese-colors)

B. How did you do on the language quiz?
by Burgen Young - Monday, February 25, 2008, 11:20 AM

Please think about the following questions.

1. How did it feel being the learner?

First of all, I love learning-especially when it come to new languages or cultures; which is one of the factors to why I've been teaching ESOL/ESL for the last 4 years! I not only love teaching, but being taught about various life subjects from my students. Going back to this question, I felt being the learner requires patience and time. Taking this quiz is definitely a helpful reminder that we "teachers" need to keep this in mind in a regular basis.

2. If you took the test again 10 minutes from now, what kind of retention would you have?

I probably would still remember since I took the test twice to get more familiar with the terminology (Somali-"body parts"). This reminds me of the Rosetta Stone program, which we have our students repeat whatever is shared at least 3x. Repetition is very key, which I try to do to remember the names of ours students. I learned this from a communication workshop during college....

"Hi John Doe, nice to meet you"
"Where are you from John Doe"
"It was a pleasure meeting you John Doe, have a good day"

Try doing this to help remember you students' names. This would be very helpful when you meet a group of them for the first time!

3. What would have helped you better learn the vocabulary words?

For sure, writing them/taking notes would definitely be of help. I actually did this after taking another language (Vietnamese) after the first one (Somolian). I did a lot better after writing the terminology down. Thus, we encourage our students in our program to write (e.g. we give them paper and a pencil as they work on the Rosetta Stone program) words down that are "unfamiliar" or if they have any questions.

4. What helped you learn the vocabulary words you did remember?

In the first language (Somali) test I took, I got the first question "right"-got lucky! This built my confidence, but it was "down hill" from there on forward. I really couldn't find any tips or technique to get the vocabulary words "right". As a student of the Spanish language, it's somewhat easier to learn this because of the "Latin root". This goes along with other Latin-Romance languages (e.g. Portuguese, French, etc..). However, Somali or Vietnamese were both difficult! The only way to remember was just repetition of the question on the terminology. One word that I was able to remember in Somali was...


The plural form became familiar to me. Again, repetition is key when it comes to memorizing "key words-terminology".

C. Tutoring Language Learners Continued

#1. Reactions
Tutors reported the following reactions while taking the vocabulary quiz. Compare them to your own.
1. How did it feel being the learner?
* "I felt frustrated"
* "After a while, I really just wanted it to stop"
* "It was fun!"
* "Why are we doing this?"
* "Now I know some new words - that's good"
To some degree, all of these reactions are felt by our adult ESL learners. When a person needs a language for daily living and survival skills on top of many other adult responsibilities, language learning can be daunting. At the same time, learners also find classes enjoyable and valuable. Learning centers become a source of community, resources and friends.
As language tutors, we need to remember our own language learning - as in the vocabulary quiz you just took - and be cognizant of the energy it takes to focus and learn just a few words.
When we as tutors and teachers use effective techniques to enhance learning, we can lessen those feelings of frustration and increase the sense of accomplishment for a learner. You will learn some techniques you can use in the next section.
2. If you took the test again 10 minutes from now, what kind of retention would you have?
* "Not much - maybe a couple of words"
* "I'd need to review"
We must remember that learners need ample review and repetition. Don't expect learners to acquire content after learning it only once or twice.
3. What would have helped you better learn the vocabulary words?
* "Hearing the words pronounced"
* "Being able to write the words down"
* "Putting the vocabulary into some kind of context"
* "Pictures"
People learn in many different ways. It helps to teach the same content with various methods. You can reinforce language with visuals, real-world scenarios, different approaches or types of activities, i.e. switching to flash cards, role plays, games, etc.
4. What helped you learn the vocabulary words you did remember?
* "Seeing them again and again"
Repetition is key to learning.

#2. Your Experiences as a Learner

You have most likely had other, more positive, experiences as a language learner than the one you just had with the Somali quiz. For the next step in this training you are going to be asked to consider these experiences.
Click below to continue to the main page. Then click on "What helps you" to post your thoughts about effective language teaching methods.

D. How can a Classroom Volunteer help enhance language acquisition?

Click below on "What helps you?" to read questions that ask you to consider yourself as a language learner. Please submit your answers.
After you have finished, you can click on "ESL Volunteer" in the left corner of the page. You will return to the main page. Then click on "Not So Good Tutoring."

It's true that the teacher is the one developing the curriculum, but the plan needs to be implemented with correct techniques in order to be successful. As an assistant to the teacher, your attention to best practices is paramount.
Think about a time when you learned a language. If you haven't taken language courses, think about a time when you needed to learn a new skill.

What helped or hindered your progression with that language/skill? What techniques did the teacher employ?

What helped me with my progression with the language/skill (Spanish) was having a good teacher and classroom environment. I took 3 years of Spanish back in high school. It was a reccomendation for post-secondary. I look back and I'm glad I took these classes. My motivation to get to college was one of the factors, which learning this language was key. I never thought I would use this language, but this was proved wrong as I continue on to my 5th year as the Morris Literacy Project Coordinator: Teaching ESOL/ESL. Having a good teacher was very helpful. She made the lesson very fun, which we played games, sang songs, and did many interactive activities as a high school student. The teacher was from South America, so she had credentials! The classroom environment was another factor that helped my progression. I not only learned from my teacher, but from my peers as we encouraged and helped one another as classmates.

I can't really pin point any hindrances that prevented my progression in learning Spanish. I felt I learned a lot in the 3 years I took this class during high school.

E. Not So Good Tutoring

Helpful Techniques
You just posted to a discussion forum about what helps you as a language learner.People who posted had variety of examples of what helps them learn.
Click here for a list of best practices in ESL tutoring.

You have thought about what helps you learn and have also seen our best practices tip sheet (click here to see again).
Now, let's meet a tutor that I think we can all agree is not helpful!
Watch the following video and think about these questions:
* Who is doing most of the talking?
* Who is doing the work?
* Thinking back to the best practices tip sheet, name three things the tutor does that you would change to enhance student learning.
To see the video, click on the video box below:


1. In the video you just watched, who did most of the talking?
Your answer :
the tutor
That's correct. In good tutoring the opposite happens. You already are a fluent speaker and the student needs more practice, so let the student do the talking.

2. In the video you just watched, who does most of the work? Your answer :
The tutor
That's correct. The tutor did the reading, and what she did read she scanned and skipped over. A much better approach is give the student plenty of time to read and ask the tutor questions.

3. True or False?
The tutor is culturally sensitive.
Your answer :
Correct! The tutor patted the student on the head. That is not only offensive in many cultures, it is very patronizing. This student is an adult and should be treated with respect.

4. True or False?
It is not appropriate to do personal tasks such as sending text messages, working on homework, or talking on a cell phone while tutoring.
Your answer :
Correct! You need to be available for the student so that he or she can ask you for help. On, the other hand, don't always stare at the student while they work. It makes them nervous! It is okay to do a quiet task as long as the student understands that it is okay to interupt you. And don't forget to keep checking on the student's progress.

5. True of False?
The tutor is prepared for the lesson.
Your answer :
Correct! A tutor should always be prepared before a lesson. Be familiar with the materials you will use and consider what you will say to the student, especially how you will give directions and explain vocabulary.

Video Reactions
After watching the video, many people react to it by saying that it is too exagerated. While this is true, it does bring up some important points. All of these mistakes are ones that tutors have made at some time, though rarely are they all made on the same day.
Just keep in mind those tutor tips you read earlier in the lesson and you'll do a great job!

....see "Links and Resources" down below....

Unit 4

Leading a Reading Group

In this unit of the course, you will:

* Have the opportunity to discover the difficulty of reading
* Learn about and practice the stages of a reading lesson
* Learn about and practice pre-reading and follow-up activities

Unit 4 will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Please click "Leading a Reading Group" below to start.

* A. Leading a Reading Group Lesson
* B. Reading Passage Forum
* C. Leading a Reading Group Continued

As you know from Unit 2, a common Classroom Volunteer role is to lead a small group. Many times, the group activity will be a reading exercise.
Texts found in adult ESL classes reflect the learners' need to be exposed to real-life, meaningful materials. Newspaper articles, current events, informational pieces, learner-created prose, high-interest short fiction and the like are all used as reading material.
The teacher chooses reading pieces at the appropriate level for the learners, but reading is still a challenge. Your job as a tutor is to assist the learners in accessing and building their reading skills.
This unit will explore reading techniques, but first, why don't you try a reading exercise yourself? This will be an empathy exercise so you can experience the role of a learner navigating an unfamiliar text.
Click "continue".

A. Leading a Reading Group

Following is a short reading passage and five comprehension questions. When you click the link below, a new window will open. Read the passage and answer the questions .
If you print the passage, don't hold it up to the light and look at the back side. The purpose of this activity is to feel like a language learner.
When you are finished, please come back to this page and follow the directions below.
Click here: Reading Passage
When you've finished reading the passage and answered the comprehension questions, click "continue" below. You will return to the main page. Click on "Reading Passage" on the main page.

B. Forums

You just finished reading a challening reading passage.How did you feel?

1. How did you feel while reading this passage?

I've read this before, but it was still challenging. I had this assigned to me during a similar training at Alexandria for our area ABE/ESL training. When I first read this, I felt like I was in another country trying to read and interpret another language. I was frustrated and was impatient! It took a group of us in our training session to "interpret" or "uncode" this passage. After we came up with the answers, it was like-"I should have known this!"

2. What was your reading process like?

The reading process was very slow! I had to take my time and be patient.

3. What made the passage difficult to read?

It was backwards, which made it slow. However, I was still able to switch it when copying it to another paper. Then the next challenge was the "words" that didn't "make any sense", which I had to "try" and figure out the meaning by a "context" style of reading.

Please click below on 'Reading Passage Difficulties' and answer the questions about your experience.
When you have completed your submission, return to the main page and click on "Leading a Reading Group Continued."


Below are reactions other participants have had to the reading passage. Compare them to your own.

* Concentration on letters and words caused eye strain.
* Felt frustrated and wanted to stop reading.
* Felt "I should be able to do this!"
Reasons for difficulty:
* Direction of the text is right to left, instead of left to right.
* Letters and words are flipped.
* The copy is not of good quality.
* The passage includes unknown vocabulary.
Keeping in mind the difficulties and/or frustrations you had with reading the passage, think about the questions below.
1. How can a teacher make a reading passage easier for students to read and comprehend?
2. How can a teacher do a better job of checking for comprehension?
3. What implications does this have for tutoring, i.e. are there ways that you could assist the learners while they attempt a reading exercise?


2. How can a teacher do a better job of checking for reading comprehension? Your answer :
Ask questions that are related to the topic of the reading, but are not simply facts stated in the reading.
Learners can answer multiple choice questions about the facts in the reading. Learners can retell the reading, using their own words (and without looking too much at their papers).
That's correct!
3. Which of the following are ways that you can assist learners while they are reading a passage?
Your answer :
Increase the font size and use an easy-to-read font.
Ask them to read out loud.
Instruct them to circle any unfamiliar words and then keep reading. They can ask you about the words. Teach reading strategies, such as looking a pictures and title first to understand the topic before reading, and rereading a sentence if you don't understand it the first time.
That's correct!

#2 Pre-teach Vocabulary

So you have some ideas about helping learners to read... let's think about Trogs again for a minute.
Would it have helped if we told you what a trog was? Click here to see a trog.
Now that you know what a trog is, can you make guesses as to the meaning of the other unknown vocabulary (click here to see the trog story again)?
What I did by showing you a trog is create context and activate your schema. You are now able to use your prior knowledge and prediction skills to guess the other vocabulary. This helps immensely in the reading process.
Creating context and pre-teaching key vocabulary are part of an essential stage of a reading lesson: pre-reading.
Click below to learn more about pre-reading.

#3 Pre-reading

Why pre-reading is important:
Pre-reading "sets the scene" for the learner. It gives the reader the benefit of being able to use their prior knowledge of the subject at hand, and gets them ready to read.
Useful activities:
* pre-teach key vocabulary
* use pictures and visuals
* discussion questions
* learners predict content by reading title or looking at pictures
Below is a link to a news article written for ESL learners. Let's assume it is an aritcle the teacher wants your group to read.
Please read the article and think about what you could you do for pre-reading exercises. How can you activate the learners' context? Are there any vocabulary words you may want to teach ahead of time?
Click "article" below.



1.Let's activate the learners' knowledge about the context. We'll start with pre-teaching key vocabulary. Which words listed below would you teach?
Cick on 'article' to see it again.
Your answer :
green, leafy vegetables
(medical) study
2. How would you teach those vocabulary words? How would you get the learners to start thinking about the topic? One answer is to use visual aids. Which of the following would be useful in getting ready to read the vegetable passage?
Your answer :
All of these would be useful.
That's correct!
3. Another way to encourage learners to think about their experiences about the topic (and therefore make predications about what they will read) is to ask personalizing questions.
Which of these questions would not be a good question to ask to accomplish this goal? Your answer :
Do you understand the reading passage?
Yes! The goal is to have learners think about their experiences that are related to the topic before they read anything.

#4 Decoding

OK, so you've learned about pre-reading. You know it is important to help learners get ready to ready by pre-teaching key vocabulary words and setting the learners' context.
But what about during reading? What kind of strategies can you employ to assist learners while they read?
Here's a website with some suggestions. The ideas are written for parents of young children, but the techniques are the same for all ages.
Below is a video of a classroom of new readers. In the beginning, you will see the teacher doing some pre-reading activities, and then working with a learner individually on his reading.
What do you notice about the teacher's approach when working with the learner? Do you see her encouraging any of the decoding strategies mentioned in the website above? Click on the video box below.


1. In the video you just watched, which of the following is not a decoding strategy that was used? Your answer :
ask a classmate what a word means
That's correct! The learner did not ask anyone for help.

Comprehension Check

There's more to reading than decoding.
Please read this out loud: "Griney mushu is flurgon"
You probably did a great job decoding the sentence above! Should I assume you understand the meaning because you accurately produced the sounds? Of course not. We need to check for understanding during and after reading.
The label below is an example of a functional reading task.
You want to know that the learner understands the dosage. Other parts of the label can be addressed in a different lesson.
How would you check for learner understanding? What questions could you ask? What could you ask the learner to do to demonstrate to you that s/he understands?

Comprehension Check II

Something you may have come up with to check your learner's comprehension of the dosage is to ask the learner to count out pennies or marbles and indicate the time intervals on a clock.
What this does is create a situation where the learner has to demonstrate their understanding. Only when a learner demonstrates understanding can we know for sure they "get it".
Other common strategies to check understanding:
* Ask learner(s) to tell you what they read in their own words.
* Ask learner(s) to draw a simple picture of sequence of events.
* Learner(s) choose a picture that best matches what they read.
* Writing tasks: journals, summaries
* Group discussion


For further reading and information on teaching reading:
CSU Teaching Guides: Volunteering in ESL
"Information written for volunteer tutors on teaching reading to adult learners in English language courses. The site includes basic strategies for teaching listening, speaking and writing as well."
Dave's ESL Cafe Reading Activities
" Reading activities submitted by teachers all over the world. There are quite a few pre-reading activities included."
National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) Partnership for Reading
" NIFL is a federal agency dedicated to promoting literacy and literacy research. This link in particular focuses on common questions asked about reading instruction.

Unit 5


In this unit of the course, you will learn effective floating techniques :
*A. how to clarify directions
* how to give feedback
* how to explain a word
* to stay focused on the goal of the lesson
Unit 5 will take approximately 25 minutes to complete. Please click "FloatingTechniques" below to start.
* Floating Techniques

Floating Techniques

One of the Classroom Volunteer tasks you learned about in Unit 2 was "floating". As you'll remember, a floating volunteer moves about the classroom during an activity to check comprehension, answer questions, give feedback, etc.
In the following video you'll see Mariah, a volunteer at the Ronald M. Hubbs Center in St. Paul, employing some important floating techniques.
In this portion of the class, the learners are asked to think three years ahead and write three sentences about what they predict will be different in their lives.
Watch for the following:
1. How many learners does Mariah assist?
2. What does Mariah do immediately as she approaches a learner?
Watch this video and note the technique.


1. You just watched a video in which Mariah is a classroom assistant.
True or false?
Mariah helps four students.
Your answer :
Correct! As a classroom assistant, you should move around the room, helping several students.
2. True or False?
Mariah hovers and waits for learners to ask her a question.
Your answer :
That's correct! Maria asks students, "What are you writing?" She also encourages them.

So... when you are floating, it is important to move around the classroom and help several learners. You may need to initiate the help by asking the learners a question. At other times, several students will ask for help at the same time. You can help them in the order they asked you. Of course, the classroom instructor will also be available to assist the students.
When you float in a classroom, you may need to do any of the following:
*A. clarify directions
*B. give feedback
*C. error correction
*D. explain vocabulary
*E. spell
*F. focus on the particular grammar point of the lesson
*G. focus on the particular pronunciation point of the lesson
* answer other questions
Important: Floating should have a focus. Ask the teacher about what is expected of the students.
In fact, the classroom teacher is a great model of how to do any of these floating tasks. Pay careful attention to the way the teacher gives directions and be prepared to repeat them, and perhaps break them down into shorter steps.
Also, closely monitor your vocabulary use when you communicate with learners. Avoid using idioms and expressions the students may not be familiar with.
Click below to learn more about how to do these tasks.

A. Clarifying Directions

Dave is a new classroom assistant in a low beginning ESL class. The students are doing a fill in the blank exercise to review computer vocabulary. There is a word bank at the top of the paper.
Habibo, a Somali student, is confused. She asks Dave for help. "I no understand," she says as she shakes her head.
Which of the following would be the best response Dave could make? Your answer :
You don't understand the directions? Or you don't understand the words?
Correct! Dave needs to find the source of Habibo's confusion before he can give her the help she needs.

3. Dave asks, "You don't understand the words? Or you don't understand the directions?"
Habibo answers, "Directions."
Which of the following would be a good way for Dave to clarify the directions?
Your answer :
Point to a sentence, and say "First you read the sentence. 'You ___ with a mouse.' A word is not there. You need to find the word." Point to the word bank. "Choose one of these words that is good for the sentence. Which word goes in sentence one?"
Correct! Explain directions one step at a time, point to the worksheet as you explain the steps, and use language that the student will understand.

Dave clarifies the directions for Habibo and waits a moment as she tries the next question. Dave observes her as she successfully completes it, and satisfied that she understands the directions, he moves on to help another learner.

C. Error Correction

5. Dave moves along to help the next learner. He sees that Vang, a Hmong student, is moving along quickly with the fill in the blanks exercise, but he has several mistakes.
Dave should give Vang some help, but he should be careful not to just give away answers.
Which of the following would be the best response for Dave to make? Your answer :
Hmmm... I see you have two correct answers. But, you have three mistakes.
Correct! When doing error correction, it is a good idea to give learners enough hints that they can correct their own mistakes. If Vang can't find the mistakes, then Dave can tell him later what numbers he needs to check.

D. Explaining Vocabulary

With Dave's hints, Vang slows down and corrects his mistakes.
Another student from Mexico, Gloria, asks for Dave's help. She asks him, "What's speaker?" Remember that this is for a fill in blank exercise with computer vocabulary. As a classroom assistant, explaining vocabulary may be one of your more challenging tasks. At times you feel like a walking dictionary. It may seem straightforward enough, but the reality of trying to use words that students understand in your explanations can be challenging. Of course, the more abstract the word you are trying to explain, the bigger the challenge.
Here are some techniques for explaining vocabulary:
* use simple words that you know the student is familiar with
* give examples or scenarios in which the word is used
* use pictures
* act it out
* if the student knows the opposite, explain the new word in terms of its opposite
* use synonyms and explain any important differences between the synonyms (if there are any)
* resist the temptation to give alternative meanings for a word. Keep it simple.
Click below to choose a vocabulary explanation that Dave can use.

6. A student from Mexico, Gloria, asks for Dave's help. She asks him, "What's speaker?" Your answer :
Dave says, "When you listen on a computer or radio the sound comes out through the speakers. Like when you listen to music on the radio." As Dave explains, he uses gestures to indicate a speaker and listening to the sound coming out.
Correct! Explaining the word with a couple examples and acting it out is very effective.

F. Focus

Dave is doing well as a classroom assistant. Let's meet another classroom assistant, Pam. Pam is volunteering in a beginning level class. The teacher shows the students that she wants them to write a sentence or two about their families, using the vocabulary words that they learned in class.
What is the focus of this activity?
Writing family vocabulary.
Pam approaches a table and encourages a couple students, "Good. Yes, very good." Then she sees that one of the students from Ecuador, Jorge, has a grammar mistake.
Click below to choose Pam's response.

7. Jorge wrote the following sentence: "My sister have 3 children."
Which of the following would be the best response for Pam to make?
Your answer :
Your sister has three children?
Correct! The focus of the activity is using family vocabulary. By modeling the correct grammar, Pam gives Jorge an opportunity to change it if he wants to, but she doesn't pressure him so that he can focus on the vocabulary.

What do you do if a student has an error that is not the focus of an activity?
Model the correct response.
If you model a response and the student is ready to hear it, then that student will self-correct. If the student is working hard to focus on other areas, then the student may not notice the correction. Either way, the student gets what he or she needs.
Be careful not to change the stress or intonation in your model sentence to highlight the error. It can confuse learners. Say the model sentence in a natural way.

Wrap Up

You have just learned how to:
* clarify directions
* give feedback
* correct errors
* explain vocabulary
* stay focused
and generally interact with students as you float around a classroom.
This completes Unit 5: Floating. If you wish to review this lesson, you can click the review button below. Otherwise, click below to go back to the main page and wrap up this training.

Reccomended Resources

Links and Resources
*referred from Unit #3-Part E.

For further reading and information about teaching language:

Colorado State University Teaching Guides: Volunteering in ESL
" A guide written expressly for those with little or no teaching background, this guide covers topics from culture to teaching grammar to lesson planning. "

Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA) FAQ
This quick fact sheet answers common questions of new ESL teachers and tutors. "

Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center ESOL Starter Kit
"A wonderful manual (in download-able pdf format) for new and experienced tutors, the VA ESOL Starter Kit offers guidance on getting started, finding resources, lesson planning, classroom management and more!"

Wrap Up

In this segment you will:
* Reflect on what you have learned in this training
* Find out how to get connected with a classroom
* Take a short survey
* A. ESL Volunteer Review Quiz
* Benefits of Volunteering Assignment
* Your Role as a Volunteer Assignment
* What now? Lesson
* ESL Volunteer Online Training Feedback

A. ESL Volunteer Review Quiz

Now that you've completed the course it is time to review your new knowledge. This section of of the quiz is made up of 13 content related questions. If you wish to return to previous sections of this training to review, you may do so.
The final section of this quiz is made up of two reflection essays. You will need to return to the main page to access the essay assignments.
The purpose of the quiz is to help you assess your own knowledge. You may also print out your score and show it to your volunteer coordinator or supervisor. If you want details about which questions you answered correctly, you can view this in your activity report. Click to read directions on viewing your reports. The title will be Tracking Your Progress.
You will have the option to retake the quiz as many times as you wish.
If you're ready to begin, click below.
Grading method: Highest grade


1. Which of the following are true about adult learners?
Choose at least one answer.
a. They learn well when lessons are practical and make connections to their lives. Correct Correct! Bring in real life objects, use pictures, and ask personal questions to help adults make these connections.
b. They have outside responsibilities that compete with their educational goals. Correct Correct! Many adult students have jobs, families, and other priorities that leave them limited time for learning English.
c. They are ignorant.
d. They have many different learning styles.
Correct Correct! Some learn best through visuals, others through movement, and others with listening and speaking.
e. People are forgiving of adult learners when they make mistakes.
f. They have diverse educational backgrounds.
Correct Correct! Some students have graduate degrees, while others have no formal schooling.

2 True or False?
The students in most adult ESL classes in Minnesota all speak the same language.
True Incorrect False Correct
That's correct! The students speak many different languages, meaning that most classes are English immersion classes.

3 True or False?

Immigrants do not pay taxes.
True Incorrect False Correct
Correct! Immigrants pay income tax and sales tax, and some never receive some of the benefits that they are helping to pay for, such as social security.

4. True or False?
The United States has a higher immigration population than Canada.
True Incorrect False Correct

5 What are the roles you can have as an adult ESL volunteer?
If you can't remember them all, please click here to review.
Marks for this submission: 1/1.

6. Wanda is introducing a grammar lesson about the irregular past tense to an intermediate level class. She wrote the present tense of seven verbs on the board, said the past tense, wrote the past tense, and then asked the students to repeat the past tense of the verbs two times.
True or false?
The students are now ready to move on to a listening activity to practice listening for key vocabulary. Answer:
True Incorrect False Correct
Correct! Repetition and practice are very important. The next activity should involve using the irregular past tense verbs they just learned.
Marks for this submission: 1/1.

Marks: 1/1
7. Which of the following is an example of good tutoring?
Choose one answer.

a. Read the reading passage for the student.
b. Send text messages to your friend while the student does a worksheet.
c. Assume that the student understands all the necessary vocabulary, culture, and history if something is included in a lesson plan.
d. Preview the lesson plan and then lesson materials before meeting with the student. Correct
Correct! Always be prepared, especially if you are the one teaching the lesson.

Marks: 0.4/1
*8. In Unit 4 you learned about the stages of a reading lesson. They are listed below. Match each stage with a number to put them in the proper order.
4<-4-Read again for details
3<-2-Read for the main idea
5<-5-Follow up activities, such as an interview, retell, or filling in a chart.
2<-1-Pre-teach vocabulary
1<-3-Set the context, using props, pictures, acting, etc.
Partially correct
Marks for this submission: 0.4/1.

9 .What are some activities or procedures you should do before asking students to read a passage?
If you need to review pre-reading activities, please click here.

10. Which of the following is not an effective reading strategy that learners can use? Choose one answer.

b. Stop reading when they come to a word they don't understand and wait for someone to help them understand it. Correct Yes! Although many learners will do this, it is not an effective strategy for understanding a reading. They spend too much time waiting and they miss out on the main idea of what they read.
c. Use a finger to follow the line
d. Sound it out
e. Break a word up into smaller chunks

? 11. You are a classroom assistant. The class has just started playing a vocabulary practice game. One student selects a word and gives clues to other student, who then guesses the word. The students have done this type of activity before and it looks like no one needs help.
What should you do?
Please mark one response as best and one as worst.
Best Worst
a. Stay out of the way. Perhaps read a magazine or sit in the back of the room and wait for a student to ask for help.
"Sorry, that is not correct. Appearances can be decieving. Students may look like they are engaged in activity, but they may be talking about a different topic, or they may not be doing it correctly. The best answer is to check their understanding of the activity and ask questions to be sure they don't need help: Do you like this game? Is this word difficult? Then move on to a different group. After checking in with all the groups, you can stand back and observe, but be available for any questions that come up."
b. Sit with a group and watch them play. Ask them a few questions about the game and give them help when they need it.
c. Approach a group and ask them a question or two to check that they don't need help: Do you like this game? Is that word difficult?
"Correct! When you float in a classroom you need to be proactive. Interact with the students to see if they need more help. You can also give them positive feedback."
Partially correct
Marks for this submission: 0.5/1.

12 You're floating in a classroom, helping students fill in a crossword puzzle. A student asks you, "What's geography?"
How will you explain this word for the student?
Choose one answer.
a. It's where countries and states are. It is also the things in those places, like mountains, deserts, and forests.
b. Information about places. Do you see all these words here on your paper, like 'mountain,' 'lake, and 'weather?' Those are geography words. Correct Correct! Use simple language and examples to explain a word.
c. The study of the earth and its features. It's a type of science.
d. The study of places. Some places have mountains, others have deserts, forests, or big citites. That is a places geograpahy. I'm from Arizona. Arizona geography has deserts. It's very hot. But it's also very beautiful. I went on vacation in Maine. The geography there was very different from Arizona. There were a lot of trees. And it's on the coast.

13 Tim is floating in a high beginning level ESL class. The students are writing in their journals about their field trip to the library. The goal of this activity is writing fluency and practice of library vocabulary.Tim sees that Shamsa has mistakes in one of her sentences.
Shamsa wrote, "I get tree book my children."
Which of the following is the best response for Tim to make? The worst?
Please mark one response as best and one as worst.
Best Worst
a. That's not correct. You need to correct your spelling of 'three,' you forgot the plural, and you forgot the word 'for.'
Correct Sorry, that is not correct. Pointing out all these mistakes will overwhelm Shamsa and she will feel frustrated and/or stupid. Remember that the focus of the lesson is on fluency, not accuracy. Instead, model the correct sentence and leave it up to Shamsa to change it.
b. Shamsa, please read this sentence again. Do you see some mistakes?
c. Oh, you got three books for your children? Correct Correct! Modeling is the best way to correct errors that are not the focus of the lesson. If Tim knows that the class recently had a lesson that focused on numbers, then he could highlight the spelling mistake as well.

Essay #1-Benefits of Volunteering

Take a minute to reflect on what you learned in this training and what you hope to do as a volunteer. What motivates you to volunteer in an adult ESL classroom? What do you hope to learn? In what other ways will you benefit from the experience?

Click below on 'submit' to write an essay addressing these questions. Please write at least 50 words.

If you are participating in this online course as part of a requirement, you may print this assignment and submit it to your instructor or volunteer coordinator, etc. as evidence of your participation.

Hmmmm...well, I'll do my best in a "minute"...j/k! I actually have been volunteering for over 4 years now and I love it! I'll not be taking this online-course or other courses through Hamline to "better" my teaching skills if I didn't like doing what I've been doing and continue to do. I feel there are soo...many benefits of volunteering as the current Morris Literacy Project: ESL Class Coordinator.

What I hope to do as a on-going volunteer in this local program is to get this passion to more people in this area. I and my supervisor can't do this by myself. We've recruited many volunteers over these past 4 years. However, with our rural college location, many of our college student volunteers are so "academically" busy and many leave the area during the summer or to continue post-college opportunities. We've see handful of passionate volunteers come through our doors and want to be involved in this similar field when they go "back home". When I see this, I feel we are doing our job in volunteer recruitment and sharing that same vision the Minnesota Literacy Council gives to all of us.

Another on-going hope is to see our students "meet their goals". I love to see our students "succeed" in life. We have seen so many that has come through our classroom over these 4+ years. I sometimes never hear from many of them. That is why I get their e-mails and do my best to keep in touch with them. One close student of ours just e-mailed us recently that he and his wife just had their first baby at their home country of Bulgaria. This student wanted to learn English a couple of years ago as his country was preparing to be part of the European Union, which it happened this year!

What motivates me to teach Adult ESL is for many reasons (family, cultural, social, etc...). My parents immigrated here (St. Paul, Minnesota)in the early 1970's. I saw their hardships and challenges growing-up as first generation "kid". I want to do my best to make it "easier" for new immigrants/refugees coming to this area or state. I love to learn about different cultures, which I get a "first-hand" learning experience with ESL students. Being a community member here (Morris, Minnesota) since my college days (95'-99'), I already know most of the people and "town" here. I want to be that "welcome mat" for these "new residents" (many are "temporary") in this rural-college community in West Central Minnesota.

Above is just a summary of the benefits of being a volunteer so far in these 4+ years. I've learned so much that I need to share my experiences (e.g. personal website stories) with the people interested. I hope to past on what I've learned and benefited to more people out there. Thanks Minnesota Literacy Council for leading this "needed" life-changing initiative in this state! It's making an impact locally, nationally, and globally!

Essay #2-Your Role as a Volunteer

Visualize yourself as an ESL classroom volunteer. How will you help the students? What will you do in the classroom? What benefits will the students receive from your presence in the class? Please include specific examples.
In other words, write a job description of an ESL classroom volunteer.
Click on 'submit' below and then compose an essay addressing these questions. Please write at least 50 words.
If you are participating in this online course as part of a requirement, you may print this assignment and submit it to your instructor or volunteer coordinator, etc. as evidence of your participation.

The job description of an ESL Classroom Volunteer has more words than what it is "titled". As a volunteer for 4 years and going, I can best describe it with one word-"all around"! They do a variety of jobs, but here are just some of them- help students in various ways, do various activities around the classroom, and the students reap various benefits from their work.

An ESL Classroom Volunteer can help the students in many various ways in reaching their individual goals. The volunteer may help that student discover goals that they never thought of prior to entering the classroom. For example, a volunteer can encourage that student to excel on the many skills, talents, etc... that the student never noticed based on several observations. I remember one student from Honduras, who seem to just have a gift of socializing with people. He was able to recruit many of his peers (potential ESL students) to come to our weekly classes. He had a particular disability, but this drew a lot of compassion amongst the people he associated with.

I've done various learning activities in my classroom over these 4+ years due to making mistakes and learning from them. When I helped first restarted this program in my local community, we took advantage of the "Spanish-speaking" college students (Spanish Club) at the nearby university. We knew they were very busy, so in order to get them to volunteer-we had to bring the students to them. Our first year, we would have weekly classes at the university. Somehow the location wasn't as easy for the students to come to. We then moved it to the local elementary school, which we started to regain the number of students the next year or two. However, our strategy of teaching our lessons (e.g. 1:1 Computer-based only to more various "interactive-dialogue" teaching) had to change. We changed it as we added a "new" location, which was a "new" local "Mexican" store in the downtown area. Currently, we are getting the same influx and reflux pattern. However, we are going to keep learning as we go as we work as a "team" (as many volunteers included)!

I believe our students have an will continue to benefit from our program as long as we give our best! I'm currently taking online courses through Hamline University to get a teaching license and a masters degree in the future. I want to keep improving my teaching abilities to give our students the "best" learning opportunities they can to succeed in their everday life. A volunteer may not know everything that the student needs or questions, but a "smile" can bring a lot! A volunteer is not only representing themselves, but their-local program, community, state, and nation too!

Above are just some of the job descriptions I've experienced so far as a volunteer for 4 years. Another one that I could've added more was the "out of the classroom" experiences. This would be another long topic essay itself. Feel free to contact me for these stories. Overall, I'm looking forward to many more years as an ESL classroom volunteer or a "paid" teacher in the future! Time will tell....

Recommended Resources




  • South Hennepin Adult Programs in Education


  • English for All

  • "..is a free web-based multimedia system for adults learning English as a second language."

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