Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Mapping Student Populations - Displaying Diversity @ Leeds City College

5 years ago, I did an activity to celebrate diversity at our centre. I made a display with a map and country flags and invited students to write their name next to their flag.

The end result captured the diversity of our students and you can read about it here.

On reflection I decided that the display wasn't as tidy as it could have been and that I didn't capture all the students as they didn't all take part. I loved the visual representation and decided to go back to the drawing board.

In May 2012 I got permission to draw a large world map on the wall of a corridor at the building where I work.

I was successful in drawing it and you can read about it here  and watch the video if you would like to know how I did it.

For a long time I tried to get the drawing covered with perspex. Quotes came in at 100's of pounds as the 50kg weight of 8mm perspex (3x2m) was extremely costly. I abandoned that quest.

Finally I discovered a solution; provided me with a way to protect the image but also make it "editable". I could now draw on it with liquid chalk pens or whiteboard pens.

For my new project I took the data held at College and filtered it out to nationalities. I then created circular flags that (by diameter) represented the population of students from that country.

My class cut out the flags, matched them to the countries using atlases and a big world map in our class. They labelled the flags and checked to see roughly where each country was in the world.

We then went to the map in the corridor and did this;

The display really captures the diversity of our building. It demonstrates what ESOL has achieved for many years - unity through learning.

I'm proud to be able to bring this diversity to a wider audience and hope that you feel inspired to try and do something similar. Whether it's drawing on walls, mapping nationalities or just celebrating diversity in some way... Have fun!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Resources and websites for working with teenage ESOL students

Many ESOL Tutors find themselves specializing in teenage provision as FE colleges across the country have responded to the demand for courses.

These resources and links aim to provide plenty of inspiration, content and language skills.

The British Council have got a part of their website dedicated to teaching teenagers - visit  for lots of topics, ideas and lesson plans.

British Council have also publish a set of "Great" lesson plans touching on topics such as Entrepreneurs, Countryside, Creativity, Environment, Innovation; all things that make Great Britain "Great" - TeachingEnglish

I recently discovered eslchestnut - This is an inspiring and comprehensive website for tutors working with teenage ESL and EFL students. It is well organised and full of great teaching ideas.

The BBC have produced a large number of games and activities for students learning English - BBC Skillswise There are plenty of numeracy resources on the site too!

This website, also by the BBC offers plenty of topics and ideas bbclearningenglish

The Times Educational Supplement provides Education Jobs, Teaching Resources and a weekly magazine. The resources are of a very high quality and can be searched easily. You must sign up to a free account to access many of the resources.

I have recently opened a Pinterest account and have found plenty of inspiration for my classroom decoration, teaching ideas and class management strategies, shared by other users. Well worth a visit.

Politics can be a boring topic but in the build up to a General Election we will definitely be exploring this website;

I am a huge fan of this website as I love bringing creativity to writing. The language garden provides a new approach to grammatical and multi-modal learning; languagegarden - website

The Blog is also well worth a look for ideas; languagegarden - blog

For a comprehensive list of Classroom Activities and Games suitable for ESOL students, visit - The list is huge and of a high quality.

E-safety is an area that we need to be encouraging students and tutors to be aware of - Think-U-Know?
is a fantastic resource providing plenty of material to increase awareness of E-safety.

I found this set of activities on the Digital Learning for Wales website - there's plenty to discuss and some great short videos; Hoodie-Trouble

Spelling can always be hard for teenagers. This activity makes it more engaging. There are a number of other sites out there offering the same but I like this one - Look Cover Write - 2 Levels

Comics provide a different way to get students to read and deduce meaning. ComicsEnglish provides plenty of content.

Make your own Comics
ToonDoo is my favourite Comic making website. You need a few IT skills but the options are almost unlimited and allow you to make very rich engaging comics.

GoAnimate is my favourite animation website and again provides almost limitless options. The paid version would make a very nice Xmas present!

TrueTube offers hundreds of videos, lesson plans and assemblies for schools and colleges. Some of the content may touch on areas that some students may find challenging but I think if offers amazing depth and diversity in its topics.

Finally, where would we be without YouTube, the ultimate video website? There's so much that can be said with a 2 or 3 minute video clip. This is one of my favourites but I'd love to know what you use in your classrooms and any other websites that I may have missed out.

Tutors working with teenagers desperately need an online community which can support and share resources. Get in touch if you work with teenage ESOL students and let's build one!
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