Beginning ESL

ESL teacher watching adult learner review vocabulary

Encouraging very beginning level learners to speak English and participate in classes can be a challenge, but setting speaking routines and planning activities that allow for lots of interaction can give even the lowest level learners opportunities to build their speaking skills. The new video Adult ESL Literacy Level Instruction: Building Speaking Skills features a pre-beginning level adult ESL class moving through a high-energy level speaking lesson.

hand holding a marker up to a whiteboard

Purpose:  A structured and supported way for beginning writers to develop their spelling skills while practicing vocabulary and writing full sentences.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Materials Needed:  handouts with a photo printed on the top part of the paper and lines for writing on the bottom half (see attached example below)

Procedure:

line drawing of four wrists and hands

Purpose:  A simple kinesthetic way to help learners count syllables and practice word stress  

Preparation Time:  none

Materials Needed:  a list of weekly vocabulary words

Procedure:

finger tracing the capital letter A

Wondering how to get started with phonics instruction? The Orton-Gillingham Approach to phonics instruction is a multisensory method that incorporates listening, speaking, images, writing and movement into basic phonics instruction. This approach was originally developed to support dyslexic students improve their reading ability, but it has also proved to be successful with adult ESL learners who are learning to read and write for the first time as adults.

clipart of crystal ball containing the word predict

Purpose:  An important reading skill that fluent readers possess is the ability to make predictions about the text. Predictions may be based on prior knowledge and experience around the topic, information from the unit content or established learning structure, or clues from the text itself, such as the title, subtitles, graphics, and/or highlighted key words.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Materials Needed:  A reading text with 3 pictures or objects which are connected to the text

Procedure:

stacks of pennies and quarters

Purpose:  A fun and energetic game to practice counting coin amounts

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Materials Needed:  sets of index cards with the words More, Less, and Same written on them (one word per card), a list of coin amounts

Procedure:

woman's hand with henna typing on a laptop

The College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) were created by the U.S. Department of Education to align adult basic education and ESL instruction across the states. They also provide learners attending ABE and ESL classes with the academic and critical thinking skills to be able to be successful in careers or higher education once they leave those programs.

cards with numbers 1 through 12

Thanks to Megan Hallstrom for this activity idea!

Purpose:  To practice verbally reviewing numbers

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  cards with numbers written on them

Procedure:

Contents of the MN Literacy Council's ESL Pull-Out Phonics Kit

If you are looking for small group or one-to-one activity ideas for adult ESL learners, take a minute to explore the four different ESL pull-out kits. The kits take time off of teacher and tutor preparation by providing volunteers with complete activity instructions and materials for small-group and one-on-one instruction in four different areas: reading, phonics, pronunciation, and citizenship. The kits also provide structured support to volunteers which helps to develop their confidence, build independence and strengthen their teaching skills.

three words with large and small circles behind them to show the stress patterns

Purpose:  To help learners become familiar with the word stress patterns of their vocabulary words through using a visual support

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  None

Procedure:

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