My Tuesday Evening ESOL Group

As I find my way around my new blog, and come to terms with the idea of blogging, I just thought I’d post here my recent contribution to the ELT Dogme yahoo group. I’ve been following the group since I discovered it, and Dogme, at the beginning of 2009. There are lots of interesting discussions there and the posts which have been most helpful have been accounts of work with learners. I thought I should make a contribution. So, this is what I wrote about my group of 13 March 2012…

“It’s a long time since I’ve contributed to this group but I felt it was high time that I shared some of my experiences as I’ve really enjoyed the stories from other members. What follows is a very simple account of a session with one of my ESOL groups. There’s nothing clever or fancy about it, but I do believe that, for this group anyway, it was useful and effective. These particular learners are very positive about their language learning in the group, and that has given me the confidence to finally post something. So…

It had been a busy day, I had arrived home at 5pm and left again 15 minutes later. As I arrived at the library door, two of the learners were waiting for me. Inside, rather than sitting around our usual table, one of them suggested we sit in the armchairs arranged in a circle in the other corner. We sat and started to talk about our day. My contributions prompted questions from the learners that were just beyond their current language abilities, but by using gestures, other words and examples, they communicated their meaning, I supplied the words, wrote them on slips of paper, answered their questions and we continued.

As the other learners arrived, our conversation turned to jobs. I asked the learners about the jobs they had done in their life. We heard that one learner had just got an additional job. We found out that two of the learners had run their own businesses in their country, that two of them had skills to do jobs needed by another learner, and that two were interested in doing some part-time study. The learners are at different levels. When one learner talked, I focused on his use of the past simple, correcting or eliciting self correction. (He understands the concept but doesn’t use it much yet!) With another more proficient learner, I introduced the present perfect continuous. We reviewed the use of ‘used to’. Learners worked hard at expressing themselves, searching for the best way they could say something, and working with other learners to find the word or phrase they were looking for.

As words and phrases were needed and as grammar points came up, I wrote them on slips of paper and put them on the table in the middle of our circle. We reviewed them towards the end of the session. Patterns emerged. In addition to one learner telling us that she had been working since she was 18, we heard that another had been living in his village for 2 years. One of us used to work as a shop assistant, while another used to live in a neighbouring town. Much of the vocabulary related to employment or business.

Individual learners wanted to take home ‘their’ words, but I’ve offered to type them up so that they could all have them. I’m doing that now and will send it out to them. I’ve hyperlinked the grammar points to relevant pages of the British Council’s Grammar Reference web pages and the words to the Macmillan online dictionary, with suggestions on things they could write to use to practise and recycle the language.”

You can read the replies here and, if you haven’t already done so, explore some of the other messages on the ELT Dogme group. It’s a good read!

27 Responses to My Tuesday Evening ESOL Group

  1. philb81 says:

    Hi Carol,

    I’m looking forward to reading this blog… I’m sure it’ll be great.

    It’s fantastic to see an account of your lesson like this. It will be useful as well.. I’m doing a Dogme lesson for my experimental practice assignment on my DELTA, so this might be inspiration!

    Take care

    • Carol Goodey says:

      Hi Phil

      Thanks so much for your support (and for my first ever comment! :-)). I’m really glad you enjoyed it and to hear it’ll be useful. That’s what I’ve felt about accounts from other bloggers, like Chia and Dale, who I plan to put in a blogroll when I set it up.

      Good luck with the experimental practice assignment. I know you’ll do well with it!


  2. Vicky Loras says:

    Hi Carol,

    I am so happy one of my favourite people (and one of the first I ever followed on Twitter and have enjoyed following ever since) has created her own blog!

    I loved this post – and those are the lessons that work out the best. As you described, the students were the ones producing the language and you provided them with words, also giving them visual stimuli (the notes, something so easy to do and so important) to remember their vocabulary and use it further on.

    Super post!

    Best wishes,

    • Carol Goodey says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Vicky, and for all your support!

      I’m glad you liked the post. You’re right about the notes being so easy to do, and they are really useful. Even when I’m in a room with a whiteboard, I often find these small slips of paper more convenient and flexible for recording language when working with a small group. And it means that I can stay sitting with the group and not interrupt the flow of conversation too much.


  3. Lynne says:

    Carol, I enjoyed reading this, your first blog post. (I’m new at blogging too, so know how nerve-racking it can be, to put your thoughts out there for the world to see for the first time!)

    I teach ESOL (among other things) and was impressed by the description the ease in which you handle a multi level class. It sounds like you have a good relationship with them, and they with each other.

    I look forward to reading future blog posts!

    • Carol Goodey says:

      Hi Lynne

      I’m really glad that you enjoyed the post and thanks for your comments. This is a lovely group of learners who I’ve been working with for quite a few months now. They’re all familiar with this way of working, welcome the feedback and new language, help each other, and that all makes it easier! New learners have recently joined and we’re all getting to know each other again.

      Good luck with your blog. I’ve had a look and it does sound like you do a lot of other things too!


  4. seburnt says:

    “It’s about time.” ~ Glad to see you’re around now. πŸ˜‰

  5. Ceri Jones says:

    Hello again!
    It’s so nice to be able to sit in on your lesson πŸ™‚ I love the relaxed but focused learning, and such simple, effective follow-up.

    I’m particularly interested in the students wanting to take “their” words home with them. I wonder if that gesture of “possession” or “ownership” would somehow make the learning all the more memorable?

    Maybe you could take photos of the slips (on your phone maybe?) and then you have copies to pull together the work from the whole class and the students have their own personal “words”?

    • Carol Goodey says:

      Hi again, Ceri!
      Great idea! I’ll do that in future when people want to take ‘their’ words. I did feel a bit bad about it, but the idea of taking a photo didn’t occur to me. Silly, because I regularly take a photo of the board. Perhaps because I’ve no other easy option with the board πŸ™‚
      Many thanks πŸ™‚

  6. Lexical Leo says:

    Good luck with your new blog. Looking forward to reading your posts.
    All the best

  7. So glad you decided to start the blog!
    Not only because your entire PLN is so delighted, but I think you will find that writing about lessons and issues really allows you to take a good look at things.It can also give a sense of “release” – those thoughts buzzing around in your head have found a good home!
    Mazal Tov on your “baby blog”!

    • Carol Goodey says:

      Thanks, Naomi! I’m so glad you dropped by and it’s good to hear from an experienced blogger. What you say about it giving a sense of ‘release’ is really interesting. I’m looking forward to my head buzzing less πŸ™‚

      All the best,

      • Eileen Murphy says:

        Great ideas – I love these kinds of lessons. There’s so much you can do with strips of paper! I’ve done the same and then used them in follow up lessons as revision / reminders, sometimes like a ‘pass the parcel’ where pairs look at the sentences together and pass them in a circle or other times sticking them on the wall. The typed-up feedback is great and then the students (and you) have an ongoing reference later. Thanks for the post, I haven’t done those activities in a while (teaching online now) but will be teaching in classroom again soon – very good reminder!

        • Carol Goodey says:

          Thanks for your comment, Eileen.

          Typing up the feedback gives me more time to think about the language and how I might be able to refer back to it in future sessions. Linking the language to online reference sites has encouraged some learners to spend more time on them and do more work independently. And, my board work has always been on the chaotic side, so the slips of paper make it easier to reorganise the language to discuss or review it.

          Enjoy getting back into the classroom soon!

  8. Eileen Murphy says:

    Definitely agree. I used to use post-its for feedback loads too, handy to stick in a coursebook / folder and then type up later. This is actually making me really look forward to classroom teaching now, been a little while. Good point about the boardwork, hope I can remember how to do it πŸ™‚ Pieces of paper to the rescue!

  9. Great post, Carol! Good to see you blogging and am looking forward to reading more!

    Thanks for the mention, btw!


  10. Chiew says:

    Welcome to the club of bloggers and reflectors! Great to have another! Re typing the words up – do you do it in a word document? Because you mentioned hyperlinking the words… I find Google Docs extremely handy and I use it a lot.

    • Carol Goodey says:

      Thanks for the welcome, Chiew!

      Yes, I type up the language in a Word document, add hyperlinks and then email it. Perhaps Google Docs would be better though, and worth getting my head around. Does everyone need to have a Google account if I use that?


      • Chiew says:

        Yes, to be able to edit, no if only to read. I usually allow them to edit so that they can insert questions, comments, etc. I tell them it’s the class notebook. I also ask reflective questions such as What do you think of today’s lesson? What did you like/dislike about it?

        So, yes, they need a Google account. What most don’t know is that you don’t need a Gmail account to have a Google account, although if you have a Gmail, you automatically have a Google account.

        They can create a Google account with any email account – just follow the instructions, but they’ll have to keep their eyes open. I think it’s something on the top right, which is often overlooked.

        Have I made any sense? πŸ˜‰

        • Carol Goodey says:

          You have, Chiew! Thanks. That’s very helpful. I’ll see what they think.

          • Hi carol! I really enjoyed your post….I have just created my first blog and now I just have to write my first post! I hope to do as well as you!
            all the best from Elizabeth in Italy. πŸ™‚

            • Carol Goodey says:

              Hi Elizabeth

              It’s great to hear from you here. Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

              Good luck with your first post. Let me know when you’ve written it.



  11. Pingback: Little pieces of paper | Carol Goodey

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