woman holding a finger to her chin and looking thoughtful

Purpose:  to help learners improve their listening and recollection skills, as well as practice responding to questions.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  mini-whiteboards, markers, erasers


  1. Generate a list of 2-5 questions that tie into the current group theme.

Example 1:

(Low beginning level group, theme of family)

Ugandan boy holding a string woven between his fingers in front of his face

Wherever you get your news, you will hear talk about immigrants and refugees coming to the U.S. With all of the rhetoric flying around, it can be difficult to determine the actual impact that immigrants and refugees have on local communities.

These three websites dispel common myths around immigration and refugees, and provide valuable links for further reading on the topic.


Immigration Myths and Facts

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

In Minnesota, we are lucky to have passionate, engaged elected officials who partner with us to protect and strengthen AmeriCorps VISTA programs like Summer Reads and Literacy Leadership. Special thanks to Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Minnesota Senator John Marty, and Amy Johnson Korba from US Senator Tina Smith’s office for visiting our VISTA programs in action at Open Door Learning Center-Arlington Hills in July 2019.

black and gray silhouettes of raised hands

A noisy classroom can be a great thing. It indicates that learners are engaged in the lesson and practicing their language skills. But how do you get the class back together at the end of an activity? Trying to yell over the class can sound harsh, and strain your vocal cords if you have a particularly talkative group! Here are suggestions for attention-getting methods that you can use in a loud classroom without losing your voice or your patience.


Silent Hand Raise

the word like spelled out on wooden scrabble tiles

Teacher, we don’t want to play games! We want to learn English!


Sometimes it can be difficult for adult learners to see the value of games in the English classroom. It is common for people to have culturally influenced ideas around what learning in a classroom looks like, and adults can be frustrated when they are asked to participate in activities that don’t appear to support their educational goals. This is completely understandable! Adult learners have busy lives and want their time in class to be as productive as possible.


classroom with desks and chairs facing a chalkboard

Purpose:  to practice speaking and writing prepositions of place

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  two lists of items in the classroom (3-5 objects on each)


group of Asian men sitting in a circle and talking

Purpose:  to provide learners with practice summarizing and analyzing information from charts

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  two short texts on the same topic


two overlapping circles with a red center

Purpose:  to encourage learners to compare and contrast short reading texts, and build familiarity with the Venn Diagram graphic organizer.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  two short texts on the same topic


four people sitting in a group around a table

Purpose:  to support learners in developing their speaking skills, while developing inferring and sharing evidence skills.

Preparation Time:  15 minutes

Materials Needed:  sets of three pictures (one of people, and two of objects, places, or activities)


We spoke with Deborah Cushman, Associate Director of the literacy council, about tips for life after VISTA. Here's what she has to say:


VISTA service doesn’t tend to require much explanation when you’re communicating with the inside crowd. Plenty of nonprofits and public sector organizations are well-versed in national service. But here are some things to consider when engaging in a job search with audiences who might not know much about VISTA.

On printed materials (resume, cover letters, etc.):



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