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ESL forum > Ask for help > Suggestions please!    

Suggestions please!



Elle81
United Kingdom

Suggestions please!
 
Good morning all, I am an ESOL teacher currently working with refugees. In my class of around 15 learners, I have four women in their fifties who are illiterate in their own language & are struggling to learn English. I have tried every trick in the book, but I am getting nowhere! Does anyone out there have any tips or ideas that have worked for them in this situation. I have currently put them in one group & doing one to one with them with the help of a TA. I would appreciate any ideas or activities to help these learners. Have a good day everyone, Elle

6 Mar 2017      



ldeloresmoore
China

Can you give us a little more info? What īs their current English level?  If you are starting from zero, I īd say probably -- 
 
1) Look for a way to give them something functional quickly.  (What īs your name? Where are you from? What īs your job? Do you have any children? What īs your phone number? How much does __ Cost?)
 
2) Look for a way to give them a victory ---- you said a lot when you said "refugees". Their entire existence has been taken away from them.  They īve lost control of everything they īve ever known.   Finding a way to give them a language accomplishment would be huge.   Something like -- (I īm just speculating here) --- find a shopkeeper who is sympathetic to their plight.  Coach them *AND THE SHOPKEEPER* in the very minimal language they need for the simplest transaction.  Take them there so they can use it in real life.     "I īd like a cup of coffee, please",  "How much is this shirt?"     --- Likewise, coach the shopkeeper in how to give them simple answers so they can comprehend and feel a little victory.  But  -- definitely later explain that itīs not always that way. They have to walk before they can run. 
 
3)  Remember to keep everything very bite-sized.  As refugees, they are having to adjust to everything new. Everything -- food, culture, accommodations, every day norms.   If targets and goals are too big in any one lesson, they are going to feel overwhelmed and it will just add to the avalanche of other things overwhelming them.
 
Bless you!! It īs a wonderful and kind thing you are doing.  

6 Mar 2017     



ldeloresmoore
China

One other thing --- When I did my Celta, my teacher was from Russia originally. To make a point about teaching from zero, she gave us a lesson in Russian -- a language that we couldn īt read, couldn īt pronounce, couldn īt make heads or tails of.  
 
She used all pictures to convey a simple restaurant interaction. It was quite effective. Though, looking back on it, I think she should have made it smaller in order to make it more accessible and give a bit more "victory".    Overall, the tactic was very effective, and by the end of the hour we were getting it.  

6 Mar 2017     



cunliffe
United Kingdom

Excellent advice from Dee.
 
I wonder whether anyone can remember or has got a language master? I remember these being really useful in that situation because they allow students who are really struggling to go at their own pace, listening to the same word as many times as they need - and it frees up a bit of teacher time. Might be worth looking into? Language Master
 
A great piece of software is TaskMagic. My struggling students (they were 16 -18 loved this. You input the materials and then they get on with it, going through the same materials but with lots of activities. They do need basic word recognition for this as the most basic activity is word picture match-ups. Again, this allows them to go at their own pace and frees up a bit of your time. You can get a 3 month free trial. 
 
Keeping it practical is great advice. Not sure if this would be appropriate for adults, but I once had a teenager who just could not learn his letters. I gave him a mini tray of sand and he outlined shapes and letters in that, as a starting point. 
 
I do sympathise!  
 
 
 

6 Mar 2017     



joannajs
Poland

I guess Ideloresmoore is very right. I would try perhaps to use similar methodology like with children - flashcards, perhaps tracing words (if they can īt read or write - they īll need it eventually, but right now it īs not perhaps the most essential skill) and role play.
Here is a link to a support kit for volunteers working with refugees in Canada. Hope you īll find some inspiration there.
 
and you, girl, rule for changing these lives  

6 Mar 2017     



redcamarocruiser
United States

http://www.englishbanana.com/books/big-grammar-book/big-grammar-book.pdf has exercises to learn and practice writing  the alphabet. 
This paper,  https://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/ELLpaper2010.pdf , says that illiterate adults require longer times than literate learners to recognize 2 dimensional objects such as on flash cards. So, it would be good to use 3 dimensional props with them.  Hands on activities dealing with realia such as making a healthy salad in pairs, then presenting their recipe to their classmates would be one such activity. Shopping for clothing using old clothes brought into the classroom and then describing to their classmates what they bought would be another. You could follow up with  a packing their suitcase to go on vacation memory game activity.  "I went on vacation and packed a shirt." Next student says, "I went on vacation and packed a shirt and pants." Each students must repeat what the previous students packed and add a new item. In this activity you can use real articles of clothing, which they place in the suitcase (or bag). You can follow up this activity with another memory game in which the teacher places objects on a tray and then hides one while the students are not allowed to look. The students have to name the object that is missing (hidden). You can hide the objects under a blanket, for example.
 
The students probably carry a card with their name, address, phone number etc. to show bus drivers or offices or in case they get lost.  They should learn to read and write those cards. A related activity would be for them to create their own business card, or address the envelope  to mail a greeting card.

6 Mar 2017     



redcamarocruiser
United States

There are some activities found in this handbook: a collection of activities "developed for instructors working with adult ESL learners who have had little or no opportunity to develop reading and writing skills." http://en.copian.ca/library/learning/handson/handson.pdf

Edit: Wonderful site Lynne, the Larry Ferlazzo site. Thanks for sharing!

6 Mar 2017     



cunliffe
United Kingdom

Some great ideas and links there! And I found this on Larry Ferlazzo īs website

6 Mar 2017     



yjlangbroek
Netherlands

Hi Elle,
 
Check out http://www.onestopenglish.com. It has a complete series of lesson plans and materials [introduction & 7 units] for absolute beginners.  You can find them under the button: ESOL. This whole series can be downloaded for free. :-)   
 
Unit 1 also includes instruction & materials on how to teach the roman script. I taught illiterate refugees and immigrants (all adults) in Holland and found that colour coding helped while teaching to connect sounds to letters. Consonants were blue; short vowels were green, long vowels yellow, diphthongs were red and the unstressed vowel [schwa we call that sound in Dutch] was white. They had cards with letters & letter combinations in those colours. We used those to lay out the words and (short) sentences. I also used lego blocks to have my students build words. We highlighted in texts using markers in those colours. I also had them write their own addresses. I used this site to make worksheets: 
http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/print-k/make-pk-all.htm. This is a marvellous site which works really well. 
 
I also used a lot of props, photos (Google was really helpful), we went to the supermarket together, we did role plays: buying veggies in the market, we took the bus and tram and I had them talk and buy tram tickets from the conductor as well as from machines. I also used Total Physical Response to teach basic vocabulary and later on I used TPRS: Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. They also had a collection of pictionaries; I pasted the same pictures on cards and we practised with those; saying the words / making sentences / acting out small "plays". 
 
Working with illiterate refugees is a lot of work and a lot of fun as well. Teaching them was the most rewarding job I ever had.  Good luck!
 
 

6 Mar 2017