ISO ESL Advice
November 9, 2011 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Please point me to excellent ESL beginner resources for a really motivated Chinese pupil...

I am a recent ESL volunteer and had a whopping eight hours of training. The literacy council I belong to referred a motivated, enthusiastic student who has very clear goals (1- get a driver's license; 2 - get a job), but language skills that need basic development.
The good news is that she knows the English alphabet, is superb at learning pronunciation, remembering vocabulary and such, but lacks confidence in sentence formation. I think the program recommended by my council is junk ('English No Problem' series) because it's not quite engaging enough. I believe that the Laubach series would be a better place to start.
I also think my once-a-week lesson plan is not succeeding - although it's not failing, it seems, as her American husband believes she's making great progress in English usage...but I don't see it.
The plan I am considering is to teach twice a week (Saturday and Sunday), two hours each class, with successively more elaborate sentences that can be written and spoken, varied upon, and expanded so we continually test limits, but can go back a bit if reinforcement is needed. I'm new to this, and there's little or no guidance from other tutors, or program personnel. I'm hoping you can share your experiences as an ESL tutor, perhaps point me to some resources I haven't been fortunate enough to find yet, or provide other help you think might benefit.
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posted by nj_subgenius to Education (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can try -- not my level or audience, so I haven't tried it. can be used for source material too (you might want to proofread it)

Once a week is, indeed, not nearly enough. Whether you can do more depends on your schedule.

I think a key point for her will be more English input when you're not there. You can take her to the library and help her get a bunch of books like Frog & Toad so that she gets access to lots and lots of input. (Or go a level down with the help of a librarian.)

You should also talk to your student about joining something like a beginning readers' club at a library, a knitting group, a swim group, etc. I went with a student to a knitting group and talked to them about her English level. I found her a book that had drawings of the knitting terms (she already knew the basics), and she went on her own from then on. We used a book called Conversation Strategies to help her learn how repair miscommunications, clarify, and otherwise get by in this kind of situation.

Also, encourage her to get Chinese DVDs from the library and turn on the English subtitles. She won't catch much at first, but it's better than nothing.

Good luck!
posted by wintersweet at 7:10 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh sorry, those were resources for you, really. If she wants to practice on her own, there's (might be too hard; I still can't find the sort by level page)

Also, it can difficult to see progress when you're tutoring unless you do benchmarks, like having her take a general grammar test and do a recording on a speaking task and then having her do the same thing again in 6 months, or asking her to write a journal 3 times a week, or setting goals together and having her record them and how she felt/what went well/what she was worried about (e.g. "ask a grocery store clerk for an item," "order a fast food/cafe item," "order a fast food/cafe item with a custom change"), etc.

Sorry for lack of active links; I am supposed to be lesson-planning myself!
posted by wintersweet at 7:17 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you want another book recommendation, but I taught beginner ESL many times using the Side by Side books. I liked it and my students liked it too. It would be a bit of money upfront, but I'd recommend your student get the student book and the workbook + audio supplements, and that you get the instructor's manual. The series can be used for either classroom teaching or one-on-one tutoring. What I like is that it's very integrated--she'll get lots of vocab that she can then use in writing or speaking for a variety of sentence and question forms for different (real-life) situations.

I've reviewed many other books aimed at beginners and never found any that were as complete and user-friendly as the Side By Side series.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:11 PM on November 9, 2011

If you're looking for a book, all the ESL classes at all the community colleges I've ever worked at seemed to use Basic English Grammar (and the two other books) by Stacy A. Hagen and Betty Schrampfer Azar. Azar is an ESL teacher.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:11 AM on November 10, 2011

Thanks for the answers!
posted by nj_subgenius at 6:16 AM on November 10, 2011

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