Teaching Adults - EFL elementary level, Advice needed

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Teaching Adults - EFL elementary level, Advice needed

Post by gembot33 » Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:59 pm


I am a newly qualified EFL teacher, I have been lucky enough to be given my first job and I am really looking forward to it.

I will be teaching elementary level students (adults) for 2 and half hours a day for 5 weeks. I have been asked to devise my own course for them.

I would like to produce a magazine with them, something tangible that they can take home with them from their experience of summer school.

My concerns with this are their writing skills, how much will they be able to do being elementary level?

The magazine will be fairly topic based, my thoughts are that I will work on some 'about me' pages... I also thought it would be nice to do a section including food reviews (likes and dislikes), maybe also film reviews and a 'my plans for the future' section.

I would be grateful for any other ideas and advice....

I would like to include a section where they interview students from other classes, this will practise question forms etc.. so any ideas on the subject of those interviews would also be gratefully received.

I should also add, that they will be with a different teacher in the mornings, doing traditional listening, reading, speaking, vocabulary lessons. Their lessons with me for the 2.5 hours in the afternoon are supposed to be project based practising the skills they are learning in the morning, hence the magazine idea... (i feel the magazine will encompass all skills)

Thanks in advance for all your help...

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Post by alawton » Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:12 pm

Sounds like a great idea. I wish I could teach a class like that and have another teacher concentrate on the grammar in the morning just for a change of pace.

I think you'llll find that you will be correcting what your students write a lot. That is not a bad thing. Just have them right four or five rough drafts of everything they put into the magazine. Usually there are a few students in beginner classes that are probably advanced enough to be in a higher class. these students can help the others. Some students may have trouble forming even basic sentences. If they can just start writing the nouns that they are thinking of that is a start.

Good luck. This sounds like fun!

Andrew Lawton

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Post by gembot33 » Sat Jun 19, 2010 3:12 pm

Thanks for your post Andrew.. I am definitely looking forward to it.

Feeling the strain on planning the course for them, there is no course book to follow and I am fairly new to teaching, so I am having to plan my own course. Whilst this is a great opportunity, I am finding it challenging.

Do you have an advice on planning a new course?
The end result will obviously be the magazine but I will need to build up to it.
My plan at the moment, is to spend 3 of the 4 afternoons working up to producing the the piece of work (i.e useful vocab etc...) and the 4th afternoon actually producing it ready for the magazine.

I will have 5 weeks in total to complete the project. 2.5 hours a day, 4 days a week.

Sections I am thinking of are 'about me', 'food tasting', 'plans for the future', 'where I am staying' ... any other ideas would be gratefully received.

Sally Olsen
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Post by Sally Olsen » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:36 am

A camera might add to the experience and give some breaks to all the writing. That might lead to other experiences - places to visit in their hometown, travel, family, beautiful scenery, beautiful buildings and their history or use.

Are you going to have someone explain the general idea in their own language before you start?

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Post by gembot33 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:11 pm

Hi Sally,

Thanks for your reply. The class will be multi-lingual, so will be difficult to explain in their own language.

The course I am designing won't be solely based on writing, I plan to work on some vocab, pronunciation etc based around the topic of the week. i.e food tasting, about me.. and then start practising sentences and eventually writing the piece.

My worries are exactly where to start with the planning.. I am CELTA trained but only recently qualified, so am finding it difficult to find a starting point.

Thanks again for your reply

Sally Olsen
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Post by Sally Olsen » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:33 pm

How about writing your own story briefly on the board and also have a paper copy but with blanks for the student's information. My name is ______ and I am ____ years old, kind of thing. If you have pictures of your activities and interests or where you have visited, especially in their town, that might spice up the story a bit.

You can tell your story and show them the pictures and then ask that they write their story. Leave room for more things at the bottom and ask them to bring in pictures. Leave time for questions and add the answers to your story.

You can do a sample of one student on the board and then the rest fill in their story, asking you for spelling if needed. Leave time for questions.

You can then put them in groups and they read the story to the other three if in groups of four. They can ask each other questions to fill in the information more completely. How long, how big, how much and so on.
Circulate to help them along with spelling, phrasing, etc.

You could change groups and have one more round of reading the story.

Pick out vocabulary and categorize it, determine the parts of speech or if it has a special ending or beginning break it down to its root. I always put the words in colour according to part of speech. Green for verbs and red for nouns etc. and put them on a Word Wall. I used coloured chalk for the board and then coloured paper for the Word Wall. Of course, some words go in more than one category.

We also made posters of things that are common to say and variations that would be possible. My name is ____. They call me ____. My parents named me ________. You can call me _______. Then the students went back and tried to vary their sentences to make the writing more interesting. I gave them everything on paper as well for them to study at home.

You can have the student alphabetize the words and then record them in a vocabulary book - I bought cheap telephone directories with the alphabet in little tabs on the sides of the paper. They could record the word in English and also in their own language.

Their interests and hobbies will be an excellent start off point for your magazine.

They could do the same format for a member of their family, someone famous, a sport's hero, a business hero, someone infamous on subsequent days. Pictures add so much interest.

If you don't have dictionairies try to encourage them to purchase a good one and get a thesaurus. A picture dictionary is good for this level too. I always found the 500 verbs conjugated book very helpful in any language I studied or you could get the students to make posters.

I brought along my lap top and had students in turn type out the lesson for the day and that helped with printing it out for them for the next day.

Some students recorded the lesson as well to listen at night. They could bring in one little clip that they didn't understand for replay to the whole class the next day.

I saved some of the first lessons to play back a month later so they could hear their progress. The same with the writing.

Try to take a fifteen minute period and interview one student each class to get to know them better. I used to take someone to coffee at break time or stand by them in the playground for younger children.

I would also check with the other teachers to see what they are covering or ask to see their books to see what kinds of things you can connect to your class. You can then say, look on page ? of your book for more examples and the students will appreciate the connections.

As you circulate you will find the "teachers' in the group. If there is more than one "teacher" in a group and another group doesn't have a "teacher" you can switch people. Keep the same groups for a fairly long period of time so they can get into a routine - say four to six weeks.

This model of teaching is quite common. Give a personal example or model for them follow, get them to write, get them to read and check up with others at least two times, rewrite, reread with at least a partner, enhance, reread, conference with the teacher who asks, why did you do this or say that, not giving them an answer but encouraging them to rewrite and print. Read Beverly Derewianka' book, "Exploring how texts work" for further examples and how to break down the writing further to make it powerful and correct for the genre. Here is something on the computer -http://www.google.ca/search?client=safa ... lAea2KSUDg
Last edited by Sally Olsen on Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by gembot33 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:38 pm

Thanks Sally... that's really good advice,

I love the idea of starting with my story, I think that will help break the ice aswell as give them a good starting point.

Really appreciate your help, will keep you updated on how i'm getting on.

Thanks again

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