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December 30, 2008

Q and A - Multilingual Beginner Classes

Hi Readers,

This month's question is about what to teach in a multilingual beginner lesson. Thank, Emeka, for sending in the question!

Hi Carol, I am very much impressed at the way you bring solutions to issues. Please can you help me provide an answer to this question, "what would you teach in the first 45 minute lesson with ...

... a multilingual class of beginners? How would you start?"

Hi Emeka,

Great question. Many teachers get nervous about teaching multilingual students AND beginners. However, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about these two groups of students.

Let's take a look at the multilingual students. Because they don't speak the same native language, they will have a real reason to speak English with each other. They will have more incentive to get to know each other English than monolingual classes. Use this to your advantage.

When it comes to teaching beginners, you need to stick to the basics. The good thing is that beginners need a lot of repetition, so while you will need to be creative to keep things new and fun, you won't need to come ready with as many materials as you might need for advanced students.

So, what would I do with the first 45 minutes of class with multilingual beginners? Here are a few ideas:

1. Pass the Ball of Yarn Game: Have the students stand in a circle. Start with a statement, e.g., "My name is Carol." Then ask the relevant question, e.g., "What is your name?". Pass the ball to one of the students. When the student catches the ball, he/she must do the same thing, by saying, e.g., "My name is Amelia. What is your name?" and then passing the ball to another student. Once everyone has a turn (you'll be able to see by the web of yarn you've created), you can either start with another basic question/answer, e.g., Where are you from? How old are you? What do you do? What's your favorite color?

2. Picture Me Game: Draw a picture of yourself on the board. Write answers to simple questions about yourself around the drawing, e.g., Carol, 31 years old, American, teacher, etc. Then, ask your students to work in groups (preferably in multilingual groups) to come up with questions to the answers. Walk around to help groups with questions they may have, but do not provide answers. When the groups are finished discussing, ask groups for the questions. When you are finished, have each student draw a similar picture of themselves on paper with similar answers. Then, have students work in pairs or small groups to come up with the questions.

3. Name Game: Use any theme you like, e.g., letters, numbers, colors. Ask students to draw a 5x5 grid on a piece of paper. Brainstorm a list of relevant words for a given theme onto the whiteboard and then have the students fill their grids with the words. Provide pennies, m&ms, chocolate chips, etc., to use to cover up the squares. Then, call out the words in a random order. When a student covers up five squares in a row, they shout BINGO and win.

Hope those games help!

What would you do in the first 45 minutes of a multilingual beginners class? Share your ideas here!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*To read more ESL Questions and Answers, please click HERE!

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About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker hailing from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, worked in China for more than eight years. During that time, she worked at universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, and did private tutoring as well. Besides teaching, she also worked as a Head teacher, an Education Manager, a Material Development Manager and an Editor. In addition to working on this newsletter, she also writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing, authors ESL textbooks for publishing houses in China, and is the Web Content Manager for Pearson Education. She has a BA from the College of St. Benedict/ St. John's University, a CELTA, and an MA in TESOL from Oxford Brookes University. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at December 30, 2008 12:59 PM

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