The Phone as a Teaching Resource

February 1, 2011 at 3:29 PM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Class, ESOL, Lesson Plans, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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Many ESOL tutors report how excited they are when their learners phone them for the first time rather than having their English-speaking contacts convey messages for them.  It marks a real milestone regarding students’ self-confidence in speaking English.

The phone also can serve as a valuable teaching resource, especially when it comes to homework. During the ESOL tutor training workshop, we talk about how tutors can use the phone to improve students’ listening comprehension skills.  For example, they can ask their learners to call recorded messages, such as the weather forecast, to obtain a specific piece of assigned information, such as the high temperature for the day.  Alternatively, tutors can request their students to leave them voice-mail messages in order to practice their speaking skills.

Tutors in both the ESOL and Basic programs also can use the phone to improve learners’ reading and writing.  Karen Singer, who wears two hats as an ESOL tutor and a member of the training team, reports that has used this medium for spelling practice by dictating previously learned words on her student’s answering machine for the learner to write.  Quarterly reports have included accounts of tutors successfully using e-mail to carry on written conversations with technologically-savvy students.  Perhaps texting could serve a similar function.  Have any of you tried this with your learners?  If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences.

-Elise Bruml, Director of Tutoring Programs


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