Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Student generated data from the Action for ESOL petition.





Just under a month ago a petition was started at gopetition.co.uk and you can follow the campaign on Twitter @ActionForESOL

I decided to engage my ESOL IT students by getting them to collect data from the petition and compile it into an Excel file.


Here are the results:


Graphical Representations of Petition


The first graph shows the range of signatures by location.


The second graph show the gradual increase of signatures over time. 


The total number needs an extra "0" on the end to get anyone's attention! I really hope that we can build momentum on this now...


Action for ESOL!!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Newspaper Bridges - One Year On

Last year I wrote one of my first posts about a team building activity where students made newspaper bridges out of selotape and, yes you've guessed it NEWSPAPERS!!!

I also posted a video on YouTube which you can see here. The video has been watched 482 times.

I did 2 workshops with small groups of 16-18 year olds (about 10 students in each group).

This year the ESOL provision for 16-18 year olds has grown to around 40 students from Beginner to Level 1. We held a larger activity in the exam hall at the centre where I teach. We had 6 members of staff (3 teachers and 3 support assistants).

I used this document to introduce the activity to the learners along with the video.


We set some basic rules.

  1. We negotiated and decided on the "SPAN" of the bridge.
  2. We agreed that it must be possible to roll a football under the bridge.
  3. We agreed to test the strength of the bridge by placing dictionaries on the bridge.
  4. The bridge couldn't be attached to the floor, furniture or held up by the students.
  5. The students had 10 minutes to plan their bridges.
  6. The students had 10 (extended to 15) minutes to make their bridges.

The students were split in to groups of 5 or 6 (mixed nationalities and ESOL levels).

Before they were allowed to get their hands on the newspapers they were encouraged to share ideas on how they would make their bridges for about 10 minutes.

The students were then supported in constructing their bridges. Questions were asked to help the students reflect on their designs.

Once the bridges were made we had a break of about 15 minutes.

After the break we gave feedback to the whole cohort. Students were invited to reflect upon different aspects of the group work.

  • Did they play their part? 
  • Who was the leader? 
  • Did your team listen well? 
  • What does this activity tell the tutors about the students?
  • What transferable skills did you learn?
  • How could you make a better bridge?
We then scored the bridges on the criteria given at the start of the activity.

Span, height and strength.

You can find the new video here. Any comments welcome :o)



Please note that the video has been edited to protect the identity of students.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Hints and Tips to practise an ESOL Entry 2 reading exam

It's that time of year again - Test Test TEST!



If I had my way language classes wouldn't be funded by students' achievements but that's a different post!

I thought to myself:
"How can I encourage students to inspect the techniques and approaches necessary for their reading exam?"
I decided to create a mock-exam which would be in the style of the exam papers that they will see.

I wanted to emphasise certain points. These included :

  • How to use a glossary and a diagram. 
  • The importance of reading instructions.
  • How to identify key words and find the answers to questions.
  • Key language e.g. action verbs, male / female, use of prefix re-.
  • Reading information from a table.
  • Looking for keywords in a document.
  • Placing words in a list that is in alphabetical order.
Here is the document that I made. I love using PowerPoint to design worksheets like this because you can pick up and move each part of the document. This makes editing the document fairly simple.



Which programmes do you use when you are making worksheets?

What are your tips and tricks for helping students to prepare for exams? 

Exams time is high pressure and stressful but does the process actually help students learn language?

P.S. I plan to use some screen capturing software to give feedback on this document and how to get 
full marks! Watch this space...


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