Friday, 25 March 2011

Mobile learning

What is mobile learning, or m-learning? Watch Chris talk about how he uses mobile devices in class

British Council video - Mobile learning

I love this idea. When I taught German students visiting Swansea I noticed they were all very keen to play with their mobile phones and digital cameras. I devised a 'scavenger hunt' type activity where they had to walk around Swansea city centre photographing particular things from a list I'd given them. The kids were so pleased to be able to play with their tech-toys that they absorbed the vocabulary effortlessly. I particularly enjoyed including some real local vocabulary like laverbread, rissoles and the elusive 'Swansea Devil'. So if you live in Swansea and you're asked by a kid with a German accent what a 'cockle' or 'crab-stick' is you'll know why ;-)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The final 'S' sound - March 24th 2011

March 24th 2011

This class was our biggest to date with eight students attending, We continued focus on pronunciation as requested by the students themselves, this week looking at the final ‘s’ sound. In a warm-up activity students correctly identified 3 ways in which we use the letter ‘s’ on the end of words; in plural nouns, possessive nouns and verbs in the 3rd person singular. We then focused on the different sounds of the letter ‘s’, ( /s/ /z/ /iz/). I had made a PowerPoint presentation where students were able to have a go at pronunciation, then the rules involved were shown. A printed ‘key’ to the pronunciation rules was handed to each student to help them with the following tasks, also given on handouts. The students did very well to identify the correct pronunciation for all the example words given. We then looked at a slideshow that presented further vocabulary and students were prompted to use what they’d learnt to pronounce the ‘s’ endings in words correctly. The lesson ran on about 10 minutes longer than expected and the students were still keen to continue. One participant said “I have been studying for one year and we’ve never covered this, I’m happy to understand it now”. He also said that his full-time teacher was happy to obtain a copy of the key I’d provided last week with the final ‘ed’ sounds. I believe we are very lucky with this class as we are not constrained by the regular structure/curricula of the accredited classes the students attend, we have free reign and are able to focus on what the students identify as being their needs. Just before leaving 2 students who had been discussing something asked Graham and myself “how do we use ‘ago’ and ‘before?’, ‘What is the difference?’ This provides another excellent opportunity for us to plan and deliver something the students want, and feel they need.

FINAL /S/, /Z/, OR /IZ/?

Test yourself here

The Final S Sound

The final S sound - key

final s handout #2 - Choose the correct sounds

final s handout #1 - Choose the correct sounds

08 - Mixed Group Lesson Plan - 24-03-2011

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Final 'ed'

March 17th 2011

The mixed group lesson was based on the pronunciation of the final ‘ed’ sounds. This was requested by students and was an excellent opportunity for me to resource this and provide help, making this particular lesson ultimately student led.  Students grasped the idea and were using the appropriate sounds  effectively by the end of the lesson. Graham was a great help in supporting the lower level learners.

FINAL /t/, /əd/, or /d/?

Test yourself here

The Final ED Sound

Adjectives with ‘ed’ and ‘ing’ endings - March 10th 2011

March 10th 2011

The mixed group lesson was based on adjectives with ‘ed’ and ‘ing’ endings. When focusing on these we understand how to better describe a situation and how we feel. The lesson went well with students enjoying an amusing video where the focus was ‘annoying’ and ‘annoyed’. The group enjoyed this and understood clearly what the focus was, leading onto a productive, light-hearted and enjoyable lesson. Two of our students expressed their delight in the lesson saying “In these lessons we learn so much and they are interesting, we are always interested”. I was delighted to hear this, especially as they were using target language from the lesson correctly and effectively, describing situations and how they felt. A young boy attended our class; he studies at a comprehensive school here and has an English level comparable with native speakers of his age. He was very good at helping an older Afghani gentleman, a newcomer to our class as well as some other students; he seemed to enjoy helping quite a lot. The lesson had a wonderful ‘well-rounded’ feel to it.
Dawn's student was very happy to tell us that as a result of making and having a clear CV she has found a job, additionally she will receive ongoing NVQ training in her new role – wonderful news indeed. 

The Annoying Orange

Health - March 3rd 2011

March 3rd 2011

The mixed group lesson was based on health, with vocabulary focus on body parts (internal and external) and symptoms of common illnesses. The group found this interesting which led to active participation and productive conversation. At the end of the lesson a guided discussion covered the provision of GPs and dentists to asylum seekers and refugees. This was particularly interesting as members of the group who hadn’t yet been provided with such services were advised by others who had, pointing them in the right direction. I personally will look into the issue in order to offer help effectively in future. Graham's help was once again appreciated greatly by myself and the students.
Last week our visitor that has been working on her CV was referred to WEA (Worker’s Education Association) to ask about training. I spoke to her today and she now has an appointment to look at different training packages offered, they seem keen to provide her with help in working towards a qualification in supporting adults with learning difficulties in education.

Dawn's women's group lesson went well with excellent feedback from participants.

Review - February 24th 2011

February 24th 2011

The mixed group lesson was a success with keen participation from the group. The students are definitely feeling more comfortable in the lessons. We reviewed target language from previous lessons using the theme of ‘refugee camp’ stories in Calais, France. A video made by refugees and asylum seekers was shown as part of the language review process where guided discussions followed. This provided a very productive spoken activity as most of the students had experienced the problems mentioned themselves. Target language was effectively reviewed and the group seemed to appreciate the opportunity to discuss issues around their displacement and journeys here to the UK. They particularly like the idea of raising awareness of such issues to people who don’t understand the plight of people such as themselves. Once again Graham's help was much appreciated, allowing us to help students more effectively.

Dawn met her student again in another one-to-one session and focused on her CV and actual job application forms. In Dawn’s feedback it is clear that ongoing help is needed in this area. 

In Dawn’s lesson with the group of women they revised focus on the alphabet from their last lesson. They then studied ‘signs’ commonly used in the UK such as cafes, cinemas, hospitals, dentists etc.

 A recent arrival in Swansea is keen to start formal English classes, he wants to study as much as possible and now has info on Dragon Arts plus I’ve provided him with the ‘ESOL in Swansea directory’ provided by SCVS.

'Refugee Camp’ stories in CalaisFrance

I've been told the song at the end of this video is Afghani, 
I would love to know the lyrical content ;-)

Journeys - February 17th 2011

February 17th 2011

The mixed group lesson went well with a lesson designed specifically for refugees and asylum seekers, a wonderful, hands on activity where students work around a world map discussing their journeys to the UK with focus on 3 areas of target language; past simple, prepositions of time and country names and adjectives. Our volunteer teacher, Graham helped with the lesson, enabling us to further help the lower level learners. REFLECT resource

Dawn and I helped the majority of visitors with an English needs assessment form. We were able to identify some individuals that would be interested in voluntary work within the community. I have made enquiries regarding this with a local organisation. SCVS

Dawn and our visitor have finished their focus on a professional CV, she is now happy to have a good looking CV.

Dawn has had a wonderful response from the women's group with more than the expected number attending. The children of this group speak English well and were happy to help the teacher; feedback suggests the session was very much enjoyed by all.

Country Names and Adjectives

Lesson #2 - February 10th 2011

February 10th 2011

The mixed group lesson went well with focus on present continuous and contrasts between transport in the UK and other countries. There was a very productive spoken activity at the end of the lesson. We were able to discuss local transport issues and students were able to advise each other on how to get around.

In a one to one session, our very kind volunteer Dawn helped a previously mentioned visitor with making a professional looking CV, Dawn provided relevant vocabulary to be focused on. Dawn and our visitor are emailing each other with work and guidance, promoting formal writing/email correspondence. Dawn has scheduled another session next week in order to put finishing touches to the CV, ready to use.

Dawn has spoken to some of the Muslim women who expressed interest in help with English. One lady in particular knows of a friend that would be keen to come to the group and participate. A visitor to the centre said “There are many Muslim women that would like to attend a women only class”.

I spoke to a gentleman who is currently studying in Swansea University. He feels his studies are going well but worries about his grammar, there is support for him at the University but he finds this often booked up. I have suggested we can help and he’s very interested. We have a volunteer teacher called Graham who will help him focus on his weaknesses and improve his academic writing.

Students needing help with basic handwriting skills were given practice sheets.

One visitor wants to get on an accredited English course; I'm assuming he'll need the citizenship aspect with it so I have referred him to the Dragon Arts centre.

Our First Day - February 3rd 2011

February 3rd 2011

Several students arrived ready for the first lesson in our ESOL program today.

This group has mixed levels; students with a higher level of English were paired with those at beginner levels. There was acquirable language for all learners in the group.

For ESL teachers with large, multilevel classrooms, trying to make sure everyone’s needs are met can be a challenge. Utilising multilevel ESL games and activities can lighten the load, as can grouping students of different levels together or pairing up more the proficient students with the beginners. This method benefits everyone, as the advanced students can learn as much by helping to teach as they can by simply completing assignments, and the teacher can concentrate on individual help for those most in need. Multilevel ESL Activities
 After visiting the group a week earlier and assessing what interest there would be in the lessons I anticipated this class would be a male only group. As this was the first lesson I prepared an activity around buying second hand cars from local Auto-Trader magazines. We focused on vocabulary around car parts and common problems as well as terminology involved in buying second hand vehicles.    

At the end of the lesson the students were keen to discuss what we’d covered which led to a 30 minute conversation session.

It was apparent that some of our students need help with basic writing skills; I will provide some handwriting practice sheets for them to work on.

A higher level learner expressed the need for help with making a CV, “I feel my conversational English is ok but I need help with writing, I need to make a professional looking CV so I can get a job” she stated. I have scheduled some one to one time for her in our next session. I will resource a number of CV templates to focus on with her. 

Welcome to the Unity in Diversity 'ESOL' blog!

Well I finally got round to starting a blog to show what we do on the ESOL program at the Unity in Diversity group.

The Unity in Diversity group provides an open and friendly atmosphere, with practical help, support and inclusive activities for people of different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds coming to live in the Swansea area. Also welcomed are people wishing to help and befriend Asylum Seekers and Refugees, helping them achieve a more inclusive role in our society.

The ESOL aspect of the group aims to empower people through the ability to communicate effectively in English. We aim to deliver relevant English language lessons with the provision of women only classes also.  

Our English classes are not accredited; if certified English language courses are required, we are able to refer people to places such as the 'Dragon Arts Centre' and local colleges

The Unity in Diversity group is open 5pm to 6pm Tuesdays and Thursdays

The English language classes start shortly after a delicious meal, between 7 and 8pm. 

We currently provide:
  • A mixed level/gender class
  • A beginner level women only class

For more information please follow any of the links or email me at