Class Activities

CAL.org (Center for Applied Linguistics) is the creator of the BEST Plus and BEST Literacy exams. All of my class activities are citedย by CAL as important for adult English language learners to advance:

Grammar mini lesson

We spend five minutes a class reviewing grammatical structures. We focus one just structure over several classes.

CAL: Grammar instruction should be integrated with reading instruction, with learners’ attention directed to syntactic structures in reading texts. (My class practices these in the dictation activities.)

Vocabulary

Five words and phrases per class (beginning level) and six words and phrases per class (intermediate and advanced levels) are presented toward the beginning of the class. Students will see these word and phrases later on during the dictation activities and tin he puzzles. The words will appear for several weeks during Bingo and likely again during other dictation activities. Also, from 5:40 until 6 pm as students enter, we practice the vocabulary and dictation from a previous class, in order to keep the words we have learned fresh in our heads.

CAL: Depth of knowledge refers to the pronunciation, spelling, and various meanings of the word; the contexts; the frequency with which a word is used; how it combines with other words.

Dictation

There are two versions of the dictation: a slower version, which we do together in class, and a faster version, which allows students to challenge themselves. They listen on their phones from the website.

I let the students know that hearing the word, writing the word, seeing the word will help them understand people better. When we finish the dictation activity, we read it out loud together (choral readings), so we practice saying the words. Then we listen again. Students are encouraged to listen for the parts they found most difficult.

I encourage them to listen to the faster version at home, on the website. Since we’ve practiced it so much in class, they should be able to understand the faster version.

Beginner learners may not know all the words in the dictation activity. I tell them that if they just come to class every day, they will begin to understand more and more, but I encourage them to look up words at home on non-class days.

Students say that the dictation activities are the most valuable part of the class.

CAL: Learners complete cloze worksheet, inserting words that have been deleted from the dialogue. And: “Within assessment, across language” correlations … Indicate considerable transfer.

CAL: Language Experience Approach (LEA). The teacher records text that learners generate from a shared picture or event, drawing out vocabulary that is relevant to the learners. Other activities based on the learner-generated text follow, such as vocabulary development, choral reading, or dictation.

Dictation & Comprehension

After we finish the dictation activity, students answer three comprehension questions about the selection.

CAL: What kinds of listening tasks are appropriate? Answering: the listener answers questions about the text.

Puzzles

Students complete a crossword puzzle, a jumble puzzle and a word search, based on the current vocabulary.

CAL: Teachers can provide learners with multiple opportunities to use new vocabulary in interactive situations, using games such as Bingo.

Class Survey

Every Tuesday during the first three months of class, students survey their classmates. There are 10 distinct questions so there is minimal overlap of surveys. They record their classmates’ responses in different categories and later report the results to the entire class.

CAL: Class surveys are fun and effective as ice-breaking activities, especially at the beginning of a course. They also let learners know that class will be more than sitting at a desk and copying the teacher’s words. It is important to do something with the survey information.

Ask A Classmate

Students are given the name of a classmate, selected randomly. Students have to ask this

classmate a series of questions and then record the responses in the third person.

CAL: Interactive tasks seem to be most successful when they require learners to exchange information. Learners ask questions, listen to answers, and record information.

Bingo

We play Vocabulary Bingo every Wednesday. I show a picture representing a vocabulary word used in a phrase or sentence. The students have to find the word on their Bingo card. Students win prizes that I buy at the $1 section at Target.

CAL: Teachers can provide learners with multiple opportunities to use new vocabulary in interactive situations, using games such as Bingo.

Website

Each lesson is posted online. Students can review the vocabulary in preparation for class. According to website analytics, six students take advantage of this each week.
Students can listen to dictation outside of class. I suggest their commute as a good place to practice. As the majority of the students participate in the slower version of the dictation, I recommend they later listen to the faster version, since they now have a familiarity with the text.
Students can practice grammar with the online quizzes.

CAL: Teachers should create opportunities for learners to continue their language learning outside of class.

Homework and Texting

Students who do work at home (activity sheets or make ups for missed classes) take a picture of their work with their phone and then text me their work. I review it and respond with feedback.

CAL: Teachers should create opportunities for learners to continue their language learning outside of class.

Self-evaluations

Several activities include an opportunity for the students to evaluate themselves. The evaluation is simple: ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ‘ – ๐Ÿ˜ – ๐Ÿ˜– I tell them that they can draw their faces on any activity, in any class.

I also tell the students that, throughout the school year, they can look back at their evaluations and see their progress. If students see the value of the class, they’re more likely to continue attending.

CAL: Teachers can help learners identify reflect on their progress and achievements through checklists to track their progress.

Resource documents found at. www.cal.org:

English Language & Literacy Learning: Research to Practice
http://www.cal.org/caela/tools/program_development/elltoolkit/Part4-1EnglishLanguage&LiteracyLearning.pdf


Activities to Promote Interaction & Communication
http://www.cal.org/caela/tools/program_development/elltoolkit/Part2-41Interaction&Communication.pdf


Lesson Planning
http://www.cal.org/caela/tools/program_development/elltoolkit/Part2-29LessonPlanning.pdf


Email: dfenner@schools.nyc.gov