Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Strategy Tuesday! Spotlight on Alexandria Murnan at Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County



Here’s the fourth of five strategies for this Strategy Tuesday.

The strategy comes from Alexandria Murnan, an ESL tutor and AmeriCorps member with Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County.

Below, you’ll get some great advice from Alexandria on how to teach adult ESL students to express regret in English.  It may not be the happiest of topics, but it’s a human one that ESL students need to master.

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About Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County 
Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County is a national service program that recruits recent college graduates to provide literacy services to adults, children and youth in our community. This "domestic literacy Peace Corps" contributes over 42,500 hours per year by tutoring and teaching, providing reading enrichment activities for children, participating in community service projects and recruiting community volunteers.

Strategy #4!

Reflecting to Recapture Focus & Positive Energy
(Learning to Turn a Day Around)

Created by: Alexandria Murnan, AmeriCorps member with Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County
(America Learns Network member since 2009)
Topics: Vocabulary Development
Listening & Speaking Skills
Grade Levels: Adult (ESL)  
Arrangements: Large Group  

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Situation: I knew my students were passionate about learning polite phrases for day-to-day conversation.  I decided to teach the appropriate language for interpersonal communication in regards to expressing regret.  They told me how much they enjoyed learning this topic for weeks after I taught it.  They found it practical and it made them feel as if they could express themselves properly during serious conversations.
Step 1: Read the following story aloud as an introduction to the topic:

"Steven's grandmother was recently very sick and in the hospital.  She was 85 years old and had the flu.  Steven's grandmother was sick for about a week in the hospital and was in a lot of pain from a bad cough.  On Sunday, his grandmother passed away.  Steven is very sad about his family's loss.  However, Steven knows that his grandmother had a long and wonderful life.  The family is holding a funeral on Thursday."

After you read the story, go over any words or phrases the students didn't recognize.  Review phrases such as "passed away", "family's loss", and "hold a funeral".

Ask your students to retell the story to you in their own words to ensure their comprehension.  You may wish to write certain components of the story on the board, or hand out copies of the story and read it aloud together so that they can see the words and understand the entire situation.

Step 2: Ask your students what they would say if they were having a conversation with Steven and he told them that his grandmother had passed away.  Make a list together of common things to say when someone tells you bad news.

This could include:

·  "I'm sorry to hear that."

·  "I'm sorry for your loss."

·  "That's a shame."

·  "If there is anything I can do, please let me know."

·  "Please send my condolences to your family."

·  "Your family is in my thoughts and prayers."

Step 3: Recite the following dialogue while the students listen.

Steven: Hello, Michelle.  How are you doing?

Michelle: I'm doing well.  How are you?

Steven: I'm alright.  My grandmother just passed away.

Michelle: Oh. I'm sorry to hear that.  How did she pass?

Steven: She recently had the flu and was sick.  The funeral is on Thursday.

Michelle: Please send my condolences to your family.

Steven: I will.  I'll talk to you later, Michelle.

Michelle: Alright.  See you soon, Steven.  I am so sorry for your loss.

Next, pass out copies of the dialogue to the students.  Read it aloud again and ask the students to follow along.  Ask the students to work in partners to recite the dialogue.  After, ask a few sets of partners to come up and recite it in front of the class.

Step 4: Discuss other bad news that people may bring up in conversation.  Make a list with the students.

This could include:

·  Someone gets fired from a job.

·  Someone gets hurt.

·  Someone breaks up with a significant other.

·  Someone is sick.

Discuss which phrases are appropriate for certain bad news.  For example, it is most appropriate to tell someone to send your condolences when someone has died, and not when someone has received a bad grade on a math test.   However, some of the phrases are appropriate in many regretful situations.

Step 5: Extension Activity:

If you want to give your students further practice with expressing regret to others, you could divide your class into small groups and instruct each group to create their own dialogues.  Give each group of students a sorrowful situation, such as those listed in Step 4, and ask them to work together to write and perform a conversation based on that situation.  Walk around to each group and help them think of ideas and check their writing.  At the end of each group's performance, ask the rest of the class comprehension questions about what happened in the conversation to make sure everyone pays attention!

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