Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Time to dust away the cob-webs - Changes to Teenage ESOL Curriculum - How will you respond?

I've been away for a while. I've been preoccupied with work, family and life.

However, change is in the air. 

The changes are inescapable, some of them I'm pleased to see, others are less welcome. 

As ESOL tutors we have learnt to change or adapt. If we don't, we get left behind in the frosts of winter.

It seems appropriate that my 100th post comes at this time. I'm hoping to use this post as an opportunity to crowd source and share ideas on how to respond to the changes we face.

So what has changed?

The biggest changes, for ESOL Tutors working with teenagers, are the reduced contact time and the content of what we will be teaching them. This can be seen most clearly in the higher level hours. 

We have 180 hours to prepare students for Trinity College ESOL Exams - a couple of years ago we had 306 hours to prepare students for the same exams! (see below in red)

Personal development and employability skills are also a key theme of the changes - these will be accredited at Entry 3 and Level 1 and are a response to new Government Policy. (Click here to read more)

Below is a brief outline of the proposed hours for lower and higher levels.

Entry 1 and 2 - Breakdown of hours
  ESOL embedding personal development and work skills
  ESOL Maths and  IT  Embedded 
  Enterprise week
  Student hours
  Tutor teaching hours
Entry 3 and Level 1/2 - Breakdown of hours

 Personal development and employability skills (accredited) 
 Maths and IT Accredited FS
 Enterprise week
 30 hrs
 Work Experience
 30 hrs 
 Student Hours
 552 hrs
 Total tutor teaching hours with work placement supervision 
 (16 hours)
The addition of an Enterprise week and Work Experience (which aren't contact time), for the higher levels, will also bring new challenges. Developing new links and materials to meet these requirements will be challenging but I'm sure that there are plenty of resources already available, I just need to find them. Any links you can share would be most welcome!

How can we respond to these changes?

I believe ESOL Tutors can respond to these changes by collaborating and shaping the curriculum to fit our students' needs. There is an opportunity to be creative and innovative and I find that exciting.

A new, generic scheme of work for Full-Time classes

I'm currently working with other tutors at Leeds City College to develop a new scheme of work for our Full-Time classes.  

The last thing we need to do is start from scratch. I think we can collaborate on this process and produce a document that reflects these changes. I would also like to see more connectivity between the ESOL, ICT and Numeracy. i.e. When students are studying types of text in ESOL they are making posters in their ICT classes.

So far my colleagues and I have identified the following EXTRA topics that young people may find engaging, interesting and ultimately useful to study. They are:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Advertising & TV
  • Fashion
  • Staying Healthy and Safe
  • Finances - personal, housing and small business / enterprise
Please feel free to add any other topics that you feel we could include by commenting below

Please contribute!

If you work with teenage ESOL students please get in touch. I would love to know how you are responding to the changes in funding and hours.

I would also appreciate any links to useful websites or textbooks that you've used. 

Crowd sourcing has always allowed me to harness a much broader range of expertise. I'm very lucky to be working with many talented and professional tutors. I would like to invite you to join us in this journey and together I think we can respond to the challenges ahead.

I hope that this blog can provide a collaborative space where ESOL Tutors can share thoughts and ideas. Please share your thoughts about how we can respond to these changes.



Monday, 24 September 2012

Assessing learners vocabulary and sequencing skills

I started teaching last week after a relaxing summer break and time in the office to plan classes.

The first week has gone really well and I'm already getting to know my students and their strengths and weaknesses. We use the first 4 weeks of the academic year to assess our students and diagnose any areas of their language usage that need work. We will be using these diagnostic tests to establish if students are in the right classes and what their learning goals should be.

I like to make the diagnostic tools un-intimidating and informal. Today I'd like to share one of my favourite tools.

I start session one of the academic year with a classic icebreaker. All you need is a juggling ball, some students and a few brain cells. The activity requires students to throw, underarm, a juggling ball between each other. The steps are as follows;

  1. Decide any rules - no throwing over arm, put one hand behind your back or sit down if you get it wrong etc
  2. Say your name and throw the ball to another person in the class.
  3. Say someone else's name and throw the ball to them.
  4. Say a day of the week and throw the ball to someone else, they must then say the next day of the week.
  5. Say the days of the week, as before, but in reverse order.
  6. Say a month of the year and  throw the ball to someone else, they must then say the next month is sequence.
  7. Step 5 but with months.
  8. You could do extensions requiring students to say students names in alphabetical order at higher levels (Entry 3 / Level 1)
I find this icebreaker to be really simple but effective. Students learn each other's names and they also produce the language you want to assess.

After this activity we complete this activity using a smart board. 

Time vocabulary

In ActivInspire the students can drag the words to the correct categories and the words stay in position if they are correct. The file above is printable and can be used as a worksheet.

Monitoring how the students complete the activity, how long it takes and if they can sequence correctly tells you a lot about a students skills. Sitting with students who struggle, of due to a lack of sight vocabulary, you can also see if students can make progress with help or if there is some block.

In session 3 I do a spelling test of the Time vocabulary and give contextual clues.

For example:

  1. What day is it today?
  2. Which month was Ramadan?
  3. How many hours in a day?
  4. Which month is after Spring?
I award one point for a correct answer and another point for the correct spelling. All of these soft assessment techniques are easy to deliver and provide me with lots of information about students skills.

What do you do in your classes to assess your students? I'll be sharing some more ideas soon.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Parallel lives

Have you seen the recent John Lewis advert? It shows a couple in split screen living parallel lives but living 90 years apart. (1920's and present day)
It would make a good resource for any of the following; present continuous, past continuous, past simple and freetime activities.
I invite you to take a look at this article on the daily mail website which also has the video and them add to my list of suggestions.

Link to article and video.

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