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Teaching ESOL to complete beginners

Discussion in 'English' started by AndreaMacD, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. I am currently teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) at Early Entry 1 Level ( complete beginners). Few of my students are illiterate in Roman alphabet. What is the most effective way of teaching them read and write? Any tips?
  2. I am currently teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) at Early Entry 1 Level ( complete beginners). Few of my students are illiterate in Roman alphabet. What is the most effective way of teaching them read and write? Any tips?
  3. Hi Andrea, there is an excellent publication "Teaching basic literacy to ESOL learners"by Spiegel and Sunderland 2006. Where to start?! Another useful resource I found for teaching for forming lower and upper case is Fast track to Writing by Jayne Garner and Joy Collins which has photocopiable templates. This may help with your students who do not have the Roman script in their 1st language. It is not specifically for ESOL learners so some of the words used will be rather inaccessible to your learners!
    Otherwise I have found that there is little practical help out there for teaching complete ESOL beginners, particularly materials that cater for adults.
    Does anyone know of any useful websites in this field from the overwhelming number out there?
    Good luck Andrea

  4. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    http://www.senteacher.org/index.php (grrreat)
    http://www.btinternet.com/~ted.power/lit00.html (for adults)
    http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/ (Make your own handwriting worksheets!)
    http://donnayoung.org/penmanship/ (need to tippex out kiddie pics)

  5. Hi Andrea,
    I mainly teach lower levels of ESOL with ICT, and have ended up developing a lot of my own materials to use with students over the years as there is so little stuff for low level Adult ESOL beginners around. Some strategies that have worked well for me are focusing on small chunks of language at a time, playing word games, using lots of repetition, and setting activities for learners to work on between lessons to help them consolidate what they've learnt in classes.
    I've recently uploaded this free online course designed for low-level ESOL beginners to my website which you may find useful:
    The activities are broadly mapped to the Adult Core Curriculum and can be used along with the Entry 1 Skills for Life materials.There are also lots of easy quizzes and games elsewhere on the site that are suitable for beginners, which can be accessed via the main site index http://www.esolcourses.com/
    London Online has some good interactive exercises for Entry 1 learners, and http://www.skillsworkshop.org/ can also be a good resource for finding paper-based materials for ESOL beginners.
    Hope this helps,
    Sue Lyon-Jones
  6. Hi Anneatwkc,

    I use the website Britishcouncil.org/explore which is primarily learning English for kids but is great for differentiation. There are a range of games and interactive learning exercises for total beginners and more "gifted" or advanced learners so there is inclusiveness as well as learners are all on the same website and can move up and down the exercises at their own level.

    It also suits different ages as a nineteen year old Chinese student was really tickled by one of the games and it was a "fun" learning activity. There are songs with embedded learning within them so for the less confident and struggling learner with learning difficulties this can be a good learning tool.

    Hope this helps as well.
  7. Hi,

    Talent is another website that is good for all levels. Just google Talent and then /ESOL resources and go to teacher resources and you can get a whole host of useful materials for all levels. There are powerpoints as well. I too use the esolcourses.com a lot with my beginner learners it is great for the audio aspect, especially for pronunciation. One of my learners is a total beginner with low level literacy skills ( she can't form letters very well). So this mode of learning is brilliant for self esteem as she is able to hear the pronunciation and repeat after each letter of the alphabet ( unit 1 in this course of lessons for beginners). She is also gaining IT skills with manipulation of the mouse, again good for gross motor skills.

    Julia Petherick
  8. Many ESOL teachers and students have written to thank me for creating
    They find the Learning to Read and Sight Words pages particularly useful.
    More advanced students find the various spelling lists helpful too.
    I did not start to learn English until the age of 14 (in 1958) and found both learning to read and spell English bewildering. (I was outraged by its inconsistencies and remain so still.) That's part of the reason why I have spent so much time trying to explain what problems the inconsistencies of English spelling create.
    I even wrote a book about it. But the internet has enabled me to disseminate my thoughts on this for free. U may find some of my recent postings on www.ImprovingEnglishSpelling.blogspot.com helpful. The last one provides a link to a listing of all others.
    For foreigners learning to read English (which to begin with they want more than anything else), it's really helpful if the teacher is aware which words are likely to cause them problems and to do a bit of work on those before tackling any text
    (e.g. foreigners [forreners], learning [lerning], to read [t'reed]), want [wont], anything [ennything], else [els], really [reely], to do [t'doo] - just in this sentence).
    I used to annotate all new words with tricky pronunciations like that, until I was sure how to say them. I knew that dictionaries had pronunciation guides but found them too hard to use, and so did my own thing.
  9. I work in an International School and we have an open admissions policy, which means that we do not insist on a minimum level of English on entry.
    We have a special unit where children are immersed in English on arrival. Many of them not only have zero English, but are also unfamiliar with the Roman alphabet. In the entire school we have fewer than 10 native speakers of English, with almost 50 different nationalities represented.
    We use a wide variety of teaching materials, especially those published by OUP. We play games, and watch video clips. The most important thing, in my opinion, is not to use a set scheme, or one size fits all programme. Current issues, news items, computer games and premiership football seem to inspire our pupils far more than textbooks.
    We have found that age is the most important factor is speed of acquisition. In KS3, we are often able to fast track children into our main programme within 2-5 terms. In KS4, this is more difficult, due to the demands of IGCSE examinations and the fact that the older one is, the more difficulty there seems to be in being brave enough to make mistakes in front of one's peers. I have researched the information about an age barrier to language acquisition, but have found it inconlcusive.
    My own offspring are multiingual, due to our overseas life. I have been fascinated by the way they have learned other languages, and intrigued by the differences in how they learned. Entertainment, enjoyment and friendships were important factors. One cannot take spelling as a main part of learning a language.
    I have a Chinese girl in my Y9 group now, who went through the intensive programme last year. She reads with confidence and wrote a really moving poem about friendship, and how difficult it is to move countries. Last year, she could hardly put a sentence together. At the school production of West Side Story, she was sitting behind me, and during the fight scene, she tapped me on the shoulder and whispered "Miss..they stole the story from Romeo and Juliet.." (We have just done Romeo and Juliet in class). Made my night.

  10. I agree with this and the rest of your post, but it makes a huge difference to the ease or difficulty with which one can learn to read and write a language. English has the advantage of being grammatically exceptionally simple.
    I tested it by starting to learn French in my 30s and did pretty well.
    I then started Spanish at 46 and managed to attain reasonable proficiency in that too.
  11. The experiences of one person can´t really be used to judge the whole of ESL learning, though, Masha.
    Many people I know speak, read and write excellent English, and do not seem to have found irregular spelling to be an issue.
    There are thousands of International schools offering either a version of the National Curriculum, or delivering a local curriculum in the medium of English. There are also many thousands of language school s offering English lessons. As it is the most widely spoken second or additional language in the world, one can only assume that most of those people did not share your particular problem, Masha.
    Anyway, off on a plane now, from an Eastern European country to somewhere nice and hot. (..and what language will I hear....cabin doors to automatic......)
  12. So many useful links there to lead an ESOL teacher to the most helpful information on the strategies and resources! Just wanted to add / mention another website with free printable ready-made resources for use in an ESOL classroom: http://esolworksheets.com - hope tht's of help :)

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