Purpose: Picture stories are a multi-level resource that is especially valuable for working with beginning language learners. They can be used to build vocabulary, conversation, reading and writing skills.

Prep Time: 10-30 minutes, depending on the number of sets needed and the number of activity variations to plan for

Materials: one set of 4 to 10 pictures per pair of students; pencils and notebooks


Mohamed Mohamed has been volunteering at Open Door Learning Center- Lake St. for quite some time. 1,212 hours to be exact. That is equal to 50.5 days of around the clock volunteering. Mohamed was originally a student at Open Door- Lake St. but gradually started volunteering while he attended class. After enrolling in college, Mohamed wanted to stay connected to Open Door so he began volunteering in the College and Career Preparation class.

job search picture story

Purpose: Picture cards and picture stories are great for both introducing and practicing vocabulary for beginning English learners and in multi-level classes. This tip explains how to create your own. Watch for future tips with ideas for using them.

Materials: presentation software (such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Google slides, or similar), a printer, and scissors


"The biggest success I have had so far is simply getting to know the students. I feel that a lot of the time, it is easy to focus on numbers, rather than the individuals being helped."

This activity idea comes from Total Participation Techniques by Pérsida Himmele and William Himmele.

Purpose: This speaking activity can be used for brainstorming, problem solving, processing new information, or review.

Prep Time: None

Materials: An open ended question for students to answer

Prep: Design a thought-provoking and open ended question for students to answer, preferably one that will deepen the learning that is taking place in a lesson.


"Give to the max day is coming so we are excited about that. In the next couple of weeks we will know if we will receive a couple of grants we want, and next week we have a fundraiser at the Pizza Ranch for the high school Cultures United Club."
woman stretching

The first fifteen to twenty minutes of an adult class can feel chaotic and unproductive. Students are arriving late after dropping off children at school or coming from work, and they trickle in a few at a time.  How can we make the best of this time?

raise hands

Purpose: To direct students’ attention to the teacher

Prep Time: None

Materials: None

Although we appreciate adult learners’ enthusiasm, the side chatter that results can be frustrating. Chances are there are classmates who are bothered by the side chatter as well. When it is time to listen to the teacher, try teaching students one of the following procedures:

Because Thanksgiving is upon us, we'd like to give thanks to the thousands of volunteers who dedicate their time and passion to Adult Basic Education students all over the state. 


The following tutor tip is very similar to the last one, but this time the text and questions are for beginning level ESL students.

Purpose:   To give learners a brief introduction to an often mystifying American holiday. The procedure listed below gives student practice with using reading strategies to increase comprehension.

Prep time: 5-10 minutes

Materials: copies of text (see link below), projector, candy for role play (optional)