Emergencies and Community Places

Welcome back to the Teachers Resources blog. This week we are looking at emergencies:  who to call, what to do, and where to go.  You can also visit http://eslblogs.waketech.edu/esl-civics/ for information and practice for your students.

We are posting links to multiple lessons. You can just “click” and print! These are all time savers!

Accessing Community Services and Reporting Emergencies/Beginner Lesson http://www.eastsideliteracy.org/tutorsupport/ESL/ESL_Emerg.htm

Multi-skills Practice for lower levels: http://www2.issbc.org/janis-esl/subtopicemergencies.html

Simple vocabulary with pictures: 

Calling 911, and emergency vs. non-emergency:

Listening and Reading Practice: http://www.reepworld.org/englishpractice/health/emergencies/index.htm

Discussion Questions and Vocabulary for higher level students:


Be Prepared for Emergencies!

  • The American Red Cross has pictures of different types of emergencies on one page. Click on the picture and it takes you to an information page on how to prepare for the emergency. This information is excellent and can modified for most levels. Great pictures, safety checklists, and specific recommendations for how to prepare for and deal with all types of emergencies.     http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies
  • The United States government also has a comprehensive page on preparing for any kind of emergency. It also includes what to do if a disaster occurs, and how the government may be able to help.     https://www.usa.gov/prepare-for-disasters

Community – Government Buildings

permission creativecommons SA3.0

permission creativecommons SA3.0 BZrca8

In the next few weeks we are going to have some coordinated posts with the Civics and Culture blog! You will get two posts; one will be for students, and the other for the teachers. When teaching your lessons about places around town, prepositions of place, or just strictly “community places” vocabulary, make sure to also check out the Civics and Culture blog. You’ll find practice materials for your students on that site!

Today’s post is about government buildings in Raleigh. Use the links on this site to help plan your lessons. You can also direct students to the Civics and Culture page for additional practice. There are follow-up questions on the site that your students can do as homework if desired.  Here’s the link to the Civics and Culture page:  http://eslblogs.waketech.edu/esl-civics/

Government Buildings in Raleigh:

  • City/town hall-offices for government officials
  • Municipal Building-similar to city/town hall, with many offices and different gov. departments
  • Courthouse-where legal issues are managed, such as criminal and civil trials, marriage, divorce
  • Capitol Building-the governor’s office is located here.
  • Legislative Building-where NC laws are discussed and processed
  • Downtown Raleigh map http://www.ncleg.net/graphics/downtownmap.pdf

List of places to see in Raleigh:  http://www.visitraleigh.com/things-to-do/history/government-buildings/

What are some ways to use this information in your class?

What other ways can you use this information? What do you teach your students about government? Do your students know the government places downtown?

Everyday Conversation: Going to the Post Office

Mailing_LettersElectronic communication is the default mode of communication for many, however “snail mail” is still widely used for lots of things. There are a variety of resources available for both students and teachers. Here are a few of them you can use in the classroom, or with lesson planning.

African American female US Postal Service employee selling stamps to teen girl in post office, Oakland, California

from Wikimedia/photo by Migdale


Conversations at the post office:

  • Video
  • Conversation Questions
  • Phrasal Verbs
  • Vocabulary:  nouns, adjectives, and verbs

Additionally, Youtube has some videos that model typical post office conversations.

For a student focused lesson on mailing a letter and using the post office, please go to Beth’s Civics and Community blog and read her “How to Send Mail” post! It’s super informative and has lots of good practice on it!


What are some ways you can use this material in your class?

Reading Strategies for Students

Welcome back teachers! Wishing you a great quarter, wherever you may be! Today’s post focuses on reading and reading strategies. A lot of the information in this post is for the higher ESL levels and ERV. I hope some of these are new to you! What are your favorite sites for developing reading skills? Please share them in the comments!

UNC Writing Center  http://writingcenter.unc.edu/esl/resources/academic-reading-strategies/

Grammar  http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/  This site, as indicated by its name, is heavy on the grammar but it also includes composition and writing guides.

Harvard Writing Center http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/

UNSW https://student.unsw.edu.au/effective-reading

University of Victoria Study Zone  http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/elc/studyzone/  This site includes timed readings and exercises. Levels start with high beginner.

University of Washington/Bothell  http://www.bothell.washington.edu/wacc/for-students/eslhandbook/reading  This page is geared towards the student, and includes reading and learning strategies.

University of Texas  http://uteach.utexas.edu/sites/default/files/files/SixKeyStrategiesELL.pdf  This site is all about reading strategies, not actual reading practice. Detailed and informative. Would be great for students.

Using English for Academic Purposes.com   http://www.uefap.com/ Go to the site, click on “Reading”.  From there, you’ll  see links on note taking, strategies, efficiency, critical thinking, etc.

English for University  http://englishforuniversity.com/   This site if FULL of info, from reading and writing guides to video and classroom presentations and exercises.

Marshall Educatiohttp://resources.marshalladulteducation.org/reading_skills_home.html  Readings are organized according to level. Each story includes pre-reading and vocabulary.

And lastly, an interesting article about teaching reading, along with teaching tips. https://lincs.ed.gov/readingprofiles/MC_Text_Comprehension.htm


Refugee Organizations

Our classes include students from all over the globe. With an increasing number of refugee students entering our program, I thought it might be a good idea to shed some light on the facts about displaced persons, what resources are available for them, and what organizations facilitate their settlement. At the end of the post are resources for local refugee resettlement organizations. Like most non-profit organizations, they are in need of donations and volunteers.

The refugee crisis that has erupted around the world has been a mounting problem for some time now. Every year numerous organizations publish status reports on the state of the world’s displaced persons. In June 2015, The UN’s Refugee Agency UNHCR published their annual analysis of global forced displacement, revealing shocking numbers of people who have been forced to flee their homes. Here are just a few of the facts that emerged from the report:

  1. In 2014, global displacement reached historic levels: 59.5 million people were forced to flee their homes: roughly the same number of people in Britain. If these people made up their own country, it would be the 24th largest nation in the world.
  1. In 2014 alone, 8.3 million people were forced to flee: the highest annual increase on record.
  1. That means that 42,500 people were forced to leave their homes every daybecause of conflict or persecution.
  1. Of these people, 19.5 million are refugees, 1.8 million are asylum seekers and 38.2 million were internally displaced within their own country.
  1. 86% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries.
  1. More than half (53%) of the world’s refugees are from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. The largest source of the world’s refugees is Syria. One in five displaced persons is from Syria.
  1. The top 5 host countries for refugees are:
    • Turkey
    • Pakistan
    • Lebanon
    • Iran
    • Ethiopia
  1. More than half of the world’s refugees are children(51%): the highest figure in over a decade.
  2. In 2014, 34,300 asylum claims were made by unaccompanied children: the highest number since records began.Most of the children were Afghan, Eritrean, Syrian or Somali.

Organizations that Advocate, Educate, and Provide Services

International Office of Migration. http://www.iom.int/

IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. As the leading international organization for migration, IOM acts with its partners in the international community to:

  • Assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration management.
  • Advance understanding of migration issues.
  • Encourage social and economic development through migration.
  • Uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.

UNHCR. The UN Refugee Agency. http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home

UNHCR is “United Nations High Commission on Refugees”. www.unhcr.org They are probably the most well known organization that provides assistance to refugees, but they also do much more:

  • Advocacy
  • Alternatives to Camps
  • Asylum and Migration
  • Capacity Building
  • Durable Solutions
  • Emergency Response
  • Climate Change
  • Assistance

US Committee for Refugees and Migrants.  http://www.refugees.org/  This organization focuses its efforts in the following areas:

  • Refugee resettlement
  • Human trafficking
  • Advocacy
  • Migrant Children

USCRI North Carolina http://www.refugees.org/about-us/where-we-work/north-carolina/

Refugees International.  http://www.refugeesinternational.org/  Refugees International (RI) advocates for lifesaving protection and assistance for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement crises. We shine a light on the real problems, and make recommendations to policy makers at the highest levels that help shape the response to those in need.

International Rescue Committee.  www.rescue.org
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic well being, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster.

Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration  http://www.oraminternational.org/en/  ORAM is the only international organization devoted solely to advocating on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) refugees fleeing persecution due to sexual orientation or gender identity.

Local Refugee Resettlement Agencies

  1. Lutheran Services (Raleigh) http://www.lscarolinas.net/services-for-refugees/refugee-resettlement/
  2. Church World Service (Durham) http://cwsrdu.org/
  3. USCRI (Downtown Raleigh) http://www.refugees.org/about-us/where-we-work/north-carolina/?referrer=https://www.google.com/
  4. World Relief (Durham) http://worldrelief.org/page.aspx?pid=192
  5. North Carolina African Services Coalition (Greensboro) http://ascafrica.org/

How can you help?

Components for Reading Success

permission flickr ekelly89

permission flickr ekelly89

All of our ESL classes are “multilevel”, with some students excelling in literacy, and others in spoken language. Research generally proves that spoken language is more quickly acquired and written English takes much longer. So, with that said, what are some ways to improve reading and writing? What do we need to focus on in our classes? Is it just a matter of more reading? Explicit phonics instruction? Where do you begin with literacy instruction?

To work on reading, multiple experts agree that there are five things to address. They are:

  1. Phonological awareness-understanding that language can be broken into smaller units.
  2. Comprehension-the ability to understand text
  3. Vocabulary-new words to help in reading comprehension
  4. Fluency-ability to read/speak text
  5. Phonics-the relationship between sounds and letters

Differentiated Instruction in the Multilevel Classroom

As you well know, not all students are at the same level in any given class. Therefore, we have to do the best we can to differentiate our instruction and meet the needs of our students. The website www.fcrr.org has some wonderful examples of how to do that. It is geared toward elementary school, but the lessons and differentiation are applicable to our adult classes. Follow the prompts on the left side of the page! www.fcrr.org Florida Center for Reading Research is a wealth of information that includes not only assessment tools, but actual instruction and sequencing for reading instruction. There are step-by-step instructions on differentiated instruction.

 Here’s how to find it:

  1. Click on “How to Differentiate Instruction”. http://www.fcrr.org/assessment/ET/diff/diff.html
  2. Next, select a “grade level”. You will be taken to a sample lesson, presented in step-by-step fashion. You can now customize for your class!






Teaching Pronunciation: What should I do?

Thank you to Lisa Uribe Ceciliano for her insight and wisdom about teaching pronunciation! She taught the pronunciation class in the ESL Teacher Certificate Program for many years, and has a depth of knowledge when it comes to the subject. Here’s what she had to say in response to my questions.

What are your top five tips for teaching pronunciation?

  1. Be prepared with on-the-spot mini-lessons
  2. Don’t try to teach 3 hours of non-stop pronunciation – break it up
  3. After your presentation, PUT THE SPEAKING ON THE STUDENTS!!!
  4. Learn about teaching pronunciation so YOU feel comfortable teaching it
  5. Concepts like rate of speech, stress, intonation, rhythm, linking, and reduction are more important than concepts of individual sound clarity

BONUS TIP #1: Shoot for improvement, NOT perfection. Consider comprehensibility in choosing which topics to teach (“does “x” affect comprehensibility?” – if NO, move on; if YES, work on it).

BONUS TIP #2: (For students) speaking faster is not speaking better. Work on rate of speech.

How often should you teach pronunciation?
It should be built in the lesson based on the needs of the class. Some lessons need to be explicitly taught, while others can be covered in a short, mini lesson. It depends on the demographics and needs of the class. Assess their needs and the level of instruction that may be required.

What are your favorite websites for teachers?
eslblogs.waketech.edu (the WTCC EL Civics blog!)

What books do you recommend for teaching pronunciation?

Gilbert, Judy B. (2005). Clear Speech: Pronunciation and Listening Comprehension in North American English. Cambridge University Press. (ISBN 978-0-521-54354-5)

Baker, Ann. (1990/2008). Pronunciation Pairs: An Introduction to the Sounds of English. Cambridge University Press. (ISBN 0-521-34972-9/ISBN 978-0-521-67808-7)

Hancock, Mark. (1995). Pronunciation Games. Cambridge University Press. (ISBN 978-0-521-46735-3)

Note: I can attest to the usefulness of all these books. Pronunciation Games has activities to address rhythm, stress, intonation, etc. There are activities for almost all levels too! Maggie

Wisdom to share with teachers:
See TIPS ~ especially learn how to teach pronunciation so you feel comfortable with it. We avoid things that make us uncomfortable. Don’t make it up – learn how to teach past tense endings – it’s easier than you think once you know it!

Also, have fun! Use props – feathers, rubber bands, foam, colors, games. Pronunciation has fun props ~ use them!

As a teacher make sure you are comfortable with the concepts! As with any material, once you understand the material and are comfortable with it, the instruction get easier.

Keep an eye (and ear!) out for students “relapsing” – progress is made while “in” the lesson, and then “forgotten” after the lesson, so keeping the awareness and practice going is important.

Final thought:
If you haven’t learned how to teach pronunciation, or if you’re not comfortable with it, take a class (the WTCC Certificate class can be taken by itself), or read up on it before you tackle it in class – just as you would with any other topic. There’s no “mystery” in teaching pronunciation – just understanding the concepts.

Thanks again Lisa for all the information! Super helpful!

In addition to the info from Lisa, here are a few other places you might want to check out:



A compilation of practice sites:  http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2008/03/31/the-best-websites-for-learning-english-pronunciation/

What Do YOU Have Planned for Halloween?

Halloween Lessons and Resources

by Sage_Solar attribution 2.0 generic ccby2.0

by Sage_Solar
attribution 2.0 generic ccby2.0

Halloween is next Saturday, and many ESL teachers will include some type of lesson or celebration about the holiday. Here are some links to some of the most popular sites that offer lessons on Halloween. This post just might save you a search or two!

If you are new to teaching ESL, or unfamiliar with Larry Ferlazzo, this might be the first place you want to look. It is filled with links and ideas, from lower level lessons to lessons on metaphors and figurative writing! http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2008/10/05/the-best-websites-for-learning-about-halloween/

This site includes a powerpoint lesson, crossword puzzle, and other writing practice. www.elcivics.com/halloween




TONS of info and activities! http://www.esolcourses.com/links/halloween-resources.html

Above and beyond the usual vocabulary lessons about Halloween, this blog site has some good suggestions for classroom activities. This information is free, but they also have a paid site with complete lessons. http://blog.esllibrary.com/2010/10/25/10-ideas-for-teaching-halloween-english/

Comprehensive reading and associated comprehension activities about Halloween. http://www.eslholidaylessons.com/10/halloween.html

This site includes games for a Halloween party, but you could adapt some of them for the classroom.


That should be enough information to get you started on a fantastic Halloween lesson. What are your favorite activities or websites for Halloween?

Save Time by Using These Websites

If you want to spend less time lesson planning, and more time engaged with the students, we’ve got two websites that might help you:

North Carolina Learning Object Repository


The North Carolina Learning Object Repository is a  news and learning portal. The website says “This service is available to all North Carolina educators but it is managed by the North Carolina Community College System with allocated funds from the North Carolina State Legislature 2+2 initiative.” This site is RICH with resources such as lesson plans, videos, topic lessons, grammar, reading and writing.

The topics on the site are listed below. The most relevant for us is, of course, Language Arts, but there is other information within some of the other categories that could be of use in your classrooms!

Agricultural and Natural Sciences (4,179)                             Arts and Humanities (3,384)
Business, Management & Economics (546)                          Career and Technical Education (477) Computer Science (214)                                                                            Design (39)
Education (317)                                                                        Engineering (3,325)
Health and Medical Sciences (1,318)                                    Information Sciences (37)
Language Arts (381)                                                                 Mathematics (2,665)
Physical Sciences (3,202)                                                         Social and Behavioral Sciences (722)
Other (26)

Additionally, there is a “Resource Series List” available. Just a small sampling of these resources are the BBC, ReadWriteThink, Khan Academy, NCCCSS Virtual ESL Library, LearnNC, and many, many more. Think of it as a giant conflomeration of information! Search under “Resource Series” and you’ll find the entire list.

Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education


Again, a wealth of information covering a multitude of subjects. For our students, click on the “What’s New” link, next, the “LINCS Learner Center”, and follow the links according to your interest. There are several sites here for your students to use.

As you go deeper into the site you’ll find even more resources for the classroom and also research papers!