Tutor Tips

New resource for teachers and tutors! Now you can watch a video of this activity and print a PDF of the instructions at http://mnliteracy.org/classroomvideos

Purpose: To review and reinforce new vocabulary

Preparation Time:  5-10 minutes

Materials:  index cards, 8 for each pair of students in class

A hand holding up three fingers

Purpose:  To help beginning level learners develop phonemic awareness, which is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words, and the understanding that spoken words and syllables are made up of sequences of speech sounds (Yopp, 1992). Phonemic awareness prepares learners to sound out and spell new words.

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  None


Pyramid of Bloom's Taxonomy Labeled from the bottom to the top: Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, Creating

“Good learning starts with questions, not answers.” –Guy Claxton

Critical thinking is required in the workplace, in educational settings, and to address everyday challenges.  In ESL classes, teachers often ask only factual questions that rely on short-term memory, such as “What did Lee Pa do yesterday?” and “What is the capital of Minnesota?”  While memory is an important skill, teachers should ask questions and plan activities that dig deeper. Even in beginning level classrooms, it is essential that learners are asked questions that challenge them to think critically.

A black silhouette of a man's head with a blue brain inside and three question marks above

Purpose:  To practice recognizing and correctly using irregular past tense verbs

Preparation Time:  5 minutes    

Materials Needed:  A whiteboard, a list of 6-10 irregular past tense verbs. For example: go-went, have-has, buy-bought, make-made, take-took, see-saw, think-thought, drive-drove


Silhouettes of business men and women standing and talking with multi-colored speech and thought bubbles over their heads

Purpose:  To review vocabulary in an engaging and interactive method, or to preview new vocabulary for a reading.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  Index cards with vocabulary words written on them (enough for one per student; words may be repeated)


silver stopwatch

With pre-beginning and beginning level English classes, it can be an ongoing struggle to get everyone speaking English at the same time. Rather than trying to firmly restrict the use of the first language throughout the entire class period (which can be exhausting and counterproductive), set “English Only” periods where you ask the students to speak only English for a set amount of time while they complete a communication activity, such as a mingle, a walking dictation, a dialogue, or a gap fill.

Hands holding up letters to spell the word tips in capital letters

Purpose:  To help beginning level learners develop phonemic awareness and increase spelling skills with a fun and interactive activity designed to get them out of their seats!

Preparation Time:  10 minutes to create a word list and letter cards

Materials Needed:  A word list with 6-10 words and letter cards (each card will have one of each letters from the word list).


A blue W with hands, feet, and a smiling face

Purpose:  A wrap-up activity that gives learners a chance to reflect on what they learned during the lesson and think about how they will use what they learned outside of the classroom

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  None


  1. Students think about their responses to the following prompts and write their answers independently on a piece of scratch paper:

What did we learn today?

four multi-colored stick figures with arms upraised

Purpose: Many students with limited literacy skills or learning challenges benefit from kinesthetic activities. Hands-on activities are minds-on activities.


blue and white stripped circle with red stars and the word vote

Thanks to Meredith Sommers for creating and contributing this great resource!

Thousands of students who are taking English, Adult Basic Education or Citizenship classes are, or will be, eligible to vote in the upcoming elections. Even if students are not eligible to vote, they can encourage and coach others on the voting process. They also have values and opinions that they can express to friends or family who are eligible voters.



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