Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ideas For ELL's

Frontier ESL is always exploring new ways to expand our English language skills, and as an ESL teacher, I find this discovery process to be a lot of fun. Recently, my colleague Ms. Walters brought a fantastic new language learning resource to my attention. The New York Times' Learning Network offers lots of interesting materials for ELL's that focus on worldwide current events (see Frontier ESL post dated March 23, 2015). The Times' latest feature for ELL's incorporates both a video clip as well as a set of pictures, infographics and text to stimulate thinking and conversation around a topic. Click the link to view this dynamic column:

In this week's Ideas For ELL's column, students view a short video called "Slow Motion Catastrophe" which highlights the developing issue of drought and wildfires in California. Next, students make observations of a series of pictures, maps and text having to do with the same topic. We discuss what we see, making note of specific observations. Our next step is to focus on academic vocabulary words from the article, using context clues to make inferences about the meanings of new words. Students then articulate how they make their inferences from reading clues in the text to practice reasoning and writing. Lastly, students have the opportunity to submit comments about the video and article online, which is really neat as it takes our little ESL class and connects it to other learners of English around the world. Here are a few comments from yesterday's lesson:

"I am very excited to learn about this. So, thanks, I feel this is very amazing and wonderful to understand."

"I saw a fire once when I was four years old. It smelled smoky. It sounded like "WOOOOO!!" It felt spooky."

"I saw a fire one month ago. It smelled terrible and unhealthy, and it sounded crackly. People evacuated because the fire spreads with intensity to many places."

I could definitely see my students getting engaged in this topic, and the format of the presentation (video, pictures, text) stimulated their curiosity and motivated them to want to learn more. So thank you, NYT Learning Network, for collaborating with ELL experts like Larry Ferlazzo, the author of this column. You're doing wonders for ELL students near and far.

Frontier ESL has a new frontier...