Having taught ESOL for more than ten years, one thing that is very clear to me is how quickly students that are engaged in their community acquire the language whilst more isolated students can struggle with their communication. I’ve had students that use their English at work, a volunteer placement or a local football club speaking to me in broad and confident local dialect (Glaswegian in my case). It goes without saying that when it comes to my teaching, I’m very much a proponent of getting them out there into the big bad world to use their language.
The Scottish Refugee Council‘s Sharing Lives Sharing Languages project that I managed last year, was born specifically to get ESOL learners out there. It basically trains local community members (whether they are native or non-native speakers) to be peer educators and support ESOL learners to get to know people and use their English outside of class. The pilot project was delivered by organisations in four local authorities, including Dundee International Women’s Centre, Aberdeenshire Workers’ Educational Association, Midlothian Council, and Renfrew YMCA. Outcomes included the establishment of an international women’s group that meet regularly to cook, chat, meet other community groups and visit local places of interest as well as learners joining local community gardening projects and walking groups.
When the opportunity came along to put my ideas into a book, I jumped at the chance and the result is A-Z of ESOL. Here are just a few examples of the kind of activities you will find in the book:
K is for Knowing the local community and is based on the context of adverts for social clubs. It leads on to supportive discussions allowing students to reflect on which local groups they might like to join.
S is for Services and is a great lesson to prepare students for emergencies (or for a trip to a local fire station). Students learn essential vocabulary for emergencies then critically evaluate which emergency service to call (or not to call) in a variety of scenarios before role playing a 999 call.
V is for Volunteering gets students talking about volunteering and supports them to complete a volunteer application form.
If you’d like to get more tips and ideas for teaching ESOL classes, sign up for my blog. https://emilybrysonelt.wordpress.com/blog/ I’ll also be speaking about this at IATEFL Brighton 2018 (2.20pm Thursday 12th April). It would be great to see you there!
My students love the activities in the A-Z books. They are upbeat, engaging and easy to set up. I also find they work with different levels. Every staff room should have the whole set.Marianne