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

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


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!

Three Apps for the Classroom That Teachers are Guaranteed to Love!

Hi Everyone! Welcome back to the Teacher Resources blog! So glad to have you!

Let’s start the new “blog year” off right with some new technology sites! What I want to highlight today are a few sites that have really taken off here at the Beltline Center! Maybe some of you heard about a couple of these during Vicky Dolganiuc’s technology report from the TESOL Conference! If you have the opportunity to use the mobile lab, or the I-pads you should definitely check out these sites! Students love them. And for you, they are a wonderful tool for games, assessments, surveys, and more.

KAHOOT. Let’s start with the popular kahoot website! It’s fantastic! You can make it as complicated, or as simple, as you want!  It’s an interactive game that students play on their smartphones or computer. So you can use this app in the computer lab, or in the classroom if your students have smartphones.

Here’s how to use it:

First, create a user name at www.getkahoot.com.  There, you can create quizzes, surveys, or polls.

After you select which quiz you want to use, the students log in at www.kahoot.it using a specific number assigned to you.  From there, start the activity.  After each activity there is a score and feedback on how the students are doing. When finished, you can save the results, and then you have an automatic assessment of how each student is doing.

In the photo below, the picture on the left shows a question that is projected onto the screen. The picture on the right shows what the students see on their smartphones. The answers are color coded and easy to use.

First Grade Chromebook Pre-Assessment

photo by Kevin Jarrett/flickr

QUIZLET. The next great app is at www.quizlet.com. There is nothing simpler! Seriously, in ten minutes you can create an expansive range of vocabulary focused activities! You simply enter the vocabulary words you want the students to learn, assign a picture to each word (available o the website), and you are finished! Everything else is done for you!

When the student logs in to the site, they will find SIX different activities for practicing the vocabulary. The practice ranges from flash cards to concentration to writing. It’s very, very easy for you to create vocabulary lists! The site does all the work for you!

POLL EVERYWHERE. This app allows you to create polls for your students. It’s easy to use, and you simply enter your question, and the students respond on their smartphones (or you can also use it in on a computer). It’s a great way to get immediate insight and feedback from your students. www.polleverywhere.com

Free Lesson Plans and Activities

If you are searching for lesson plans you might want to visit the ESL Virtual Library of Lesson Plans. It’s a collection of plans and learning activities created by teachers at North Carolina community colleges.


Who can use the site? Anyone who teaches ESL!

What can you find on the site?

  • Lesson plans
  • Civics lessons
  • North Carolina Curriculum Guide (includes lesson plans and activities)
  • Citizenship Preparation
  • In My Own Words (students’ stories about coming to live in the United States)
  • Links to Literature (student activities to link literature to American history and civics)
  • Participatory Learning in ESL
  • Living in America (addresses civics and culture)
  • Salud Latina (health lesson plans)
  • Technology (lesson plans focused on civics/incorporating technology)
  • The House I Live In (civics, housing, and the American Dream)

Can I use these materials in my class? Yes, of course! That’s exactly what the site is for! Use the materials for lesson planning and classroom activites. There are worksheets, activities, lesson plans, videos, audio collections, and games.

Who created this content?  Most of the lesson plans were created by instructors at North Carolina community colleges. Each lesson plan includes the creator’s name/community college.

What is best about this site? It’s full of lesson plans and activities. Once you choose a topic you’ll find multiple levels of information. You just have to start looking around!  It’s very easy to navigate.

What levels are the lessons intended for? The majority of the lessons are appropriate for beginner and intermediate level students. As with most lessons, you can simplify or expand the lesson to accommodate the students in your class.

What is challenging about the site? As a user, I want to know the credentials of the authors, and also the sources and reasons behind a post. At times it’s not clear to me the purpose of a post, or the source of the information. But, that wouldn’t stop me from using the site! It has tons of information!! Take a look!

Pronunciation of Simple Past -ed Sounds/Activities and Exercises

Until I became an ESL teacher I had no idea there were rules for pronouncing the simple past of regular verbs! I guess that is probably the case for most native English speakers! But for our students it can be a confusing undertaking to correctly pronounce the –ed endings of the simple past. What follows here in this post are: 1) the pronunciation rules for simple past, and 2) exercises and practice activities, 3) two youtube.com videos.

Verbs that end in: Pronunciation: Examples:
D or T sounds D Wanted, decided
UNVOICED sounds (k, f, p, sh, ch, th) T Cooked, worked, kissed
All Other sounds (A, B, E, G, H, I , J, L, M, N, O, Q, R, U, V, W, X, Y, Z) id Damaged, listened

Exercises and Activities for Pronunciation Practice of Simple Past:






https://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/-ed.htm  (includes audio)

http://www.englishmedialab.com/pronunciation/regular%20past%20pronunciation%20ending%20sounds.htm (online practice)

http://www.pronuncian.com/Lessons/Default.aspx?Lesson=42 (includes audio)

Speaking Games:  Gone in Thirty Seconds. Although this isn’t geared specifically toward pronunciation practice of -ed endings, it’s wonderful for that very purpose.  The directions are written on the game, it’s easy, and the students seem to like it. And, playing the game helps to build relationships in the classroom!  http://www.teach-this.com/images/resources/gone-in-30-seconds.pdf

Memories Game. http://www.teach-this.com/images/resources/my-memories.pdf

Traditional ESL Lesson:        

Rap Lesson: