Hello, everyone! Today I’d like to get back to basics. It is on my mind lately since I have just started working with a new group of tutees who are starting from the very beginning. One of their favorite games to play as a warm up is the alphabet game.
This is a fun English learning game either as a group ESL or one-on-one with a student. It is also easy and inexpensive — two great things for a learning game!
So how to play?
Start by going around the room, each person yelling out the next letter in the alphabet. I start with A, the tutee to my left yells out B, to her left the student yells out C, and so on until all the letters have been said aloud. Yes, I know this sounds simple, but when you have tutees who are starting from square one, this game is a fun way to reinforce foundational learning. I remember learning a foreign language, and it was really helpful to repeat the alphabet daily.
The next step is the fun part — start playing the game. Remember those long car trips with the “I’m going sailing, and I am taking…” game? Where each person in the car yells out a different item, and each item is consecutively represented in the alphabet, A-Z.
You say: “I’m taking an apple.”
The next person says: “I’m taking an apple and a banana.”
The next person: “I’m taking an apple, banana, and chocolate.”
This is is similar to that game. You start with “A,” and give a word that starts with that letter. The next person then does the same for “B,” the next person does “C,” and so on until you all reach “Z.” No need to remember the other people’s words in the early learning stages, as that would make the game a bit too difficult.
If it is just you and a tutee, this is still a fun game, and you simply take turns between the two of you.
This alphabet game has always been a hit in my ESL tutoring sessions, and I even have more advanced tutees asking to play it again so that they can try out some new vocabulary words! Fun, educational, and easy to add to ESL tutoring - what’s not to love?
Question: I am wondering if there are any cheap and easy science projects or learning tool type things that I can do with my tutee. He is just a kid, and is not getting into science at all. Any way to make it fun enough for him to learn something? Thanks! Signed, a science tutor emailing in from Madison, WI
Answer: Hi, science tutor, thanks for the question! Science can be a great subject for kids, because there are so many fun ideas for learning. You didn’t mention exactly how old your tutee is, so I’ll toss out a lot of ideas for you here, and you can pick the ones that seem the best for him.
1. Static Electricity
There are a lot of cool experiments you can do with static electricity. Rubbing two inflated balloons against fabric, and then watching them push away from one another is a classic. You can also rub a spoon against wool, put the spoon near running tap water, and watch the stream of water bend. Then there is always the simple but fun shuffling your feet on carpet, holding a key in your hand, and zapping a metal object. If the light is dim enough, you can even see a little arc of electricity form between the key and the metal object.
If he is studying environmental science, biology, or natural world science, a quick field trip to his own backyard or a nearby park (with parental permission, of course) can be a great learning tool. Find an interesting bug to talk about, collect some plant materials for paper rubbings (or to research online), talk about how tree bark is formed, talk about the things that live in a creek, or study bird behavior. Pretty much any type of environmental or biological science comes to life when you take the learning outdoors. You could even take the books outside so that he is surrounded by the nature he is studying. You can also encourage your tutee to grow a plant from a seedling so that he can watch it grow — a perfect opportunity to talk about photosynthesis, chlorophyll, and other plant related science.
3. Fossils, Geology, or Dinosaurs
Another fun category for learning! A trip to a natural history museum is always great, but there are other ways to learn here, too. When I was a kid, we used to go down to a local creek looking for flat rocks. On some of these rocks were fossils. It was always so exciting to be holding a link to the past in my own hands! You can also collect a few different types of rocks to talk about once the two of you meet up for tutoring. Even a subject that some consider boring is more exciting when you can hold the science in your own hands. There are also some wonderful, interactive sites such as the Smithsonian’s Virtual Dig.
This is another category that is tailor made for fun tutoring sessions. A trip to an observatory, a visit to NASA’s website, a tutoring session at night with a telescope, watching a documentary about a shuttle launch, building your own solar system model, or checking out star charts can all help your tutee learn more about space.
These are just a few ideas, but they are tried and true fun that aid in science learning, and they will get your tutee’s learning started off on the right foot. Enjoy!
Hi, everyone — Tammy, here, checking in with another idea for ESL tutoring.
As I was sitting here looking over the latest batch of ESL homework papers, I wondered if I had mentioned one of my favorite homework ideas for my ESL students. I looked back on the posts, and realized that somewhere along the way it had completely slipped my mind.
So what is this cool ESL learning idea? Story writing.
Writing a story is an excellent way to boost vocabulary, work on grammar, employ critical thinking, and infuse creativity into language learning.
In other words, it is one of the most fun homework activities possible!
To make it easy, straightforward, and fun, I print out a sheet of story ideas ahead of time. Then, I hand the ideas sheet out to my ESL students, and let them pick the topic that is most interesting to each of them. They can be fiction or nonfiction, and can be any length you or your tutee chooses.
A few words of warning: Make sure to stress the point that only ONE topic needs to be chosen for a story. I once had a very studious tutee write full papers about each of the 10 topics on the handout. He looked exhausted, and I can see why!
Here are a few of the topics I use. You can customize them based on your preferences, and the learning level of your students:
• What are the top 3 countries you would like to visit? Why?
• Write about something funny that happened to you recently.
• What type of pet have you always wanted to have? Why? Do you have that pet now?
• What is you favorite school subject? Why?
• Tell me about your favorite season, and why you like it so much.
• Write a letter to a friend telling him or her all about your time here in North America.
• Write a story about your dream job.
• Make up a fictional character, and send him or her on an adventure.
• Take a walk, and tell me all about what you see, smell, hear, and experience.
• Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?
• Write a short story about something funny.
• Write a short story about something scary.
Also, make sure to give feedback, both positive, and constructive, so that your tutees feel encouraged while they learn. Happy reading!