HOW TO work with Easy English NEWS by fxs21421


									                                        How to Use
                                       Easy English
                                           In your
                                       ESL Classroom

Regular features                                                     2
Overview of Easy English NEWS                                        3
Meeting standards                                                    3
How to prepare                                                       4
How to work with high beginners                                      4
How to work with intermediate students                               5
How to work with advanced students                                   6
How to use the quizzes at four ability levels                        6
How to work withthe regular features                                 7
How to write for This Is Your Page                                   9
How to work with the Activity Sheets                              15-24

                                       8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
    Regular Features in Easy English NEWS
• Current news or civics article
• Life in the U.S.A. (survival skills and information)
• Events and holidays for the month
• This Is your page (true stories from readers)
• Ask Elizabeth (grammar, usage, culture, or advice in answer to readers’ questions)
• Ask a Speech Coach: pronunciation tips and listening/speaking practice
• America the Beautiful /Places to Go, Things to See (geography, national parks, national
  wonders, cities, and other places of interest)
• Heroes and History (important events and people in U.S. history)
• Idiom corner (explanations and practice with American idioms)
• Funny Stuff (jokes and riddles)
• Comic Strip (occasional)
• Crossword Puzzle
• Let’s Talk About It (Discussion starters; writing prompts)
• Word Help (glossary of the difficult words in this month’s articles, with the meanings
 defined in Easy English)

      A monthly Teacher’s Guide accompanies each delivery in a separate
4-page section. It contains background information for the month’s main articles
and suggestions for procedures, questions, and expansion activities, as well as
three Reproducible Quizzes .

      Elizabeth Claire is the creator, author and publisher of Easy English
NEWS. She has taught ESL for 35 years, has authored 22 ESL text books, and
is now your support in the classroom. Please let us know how we’re doing,
what’s missing, what you would like in future issues, how students respond, and
any mistakes we may have made.

     The best way to contact us is by email through our website:
                          You can write to us at Easy English NEWS
                                          P.O. Box 2596
                                       Fair Lawn, NJ 07410
                      Fax us at 201-791-1901 or call us at 888-296-1090

2                                      8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
Overview                                                 NEWS allows teachers to meet all standards
                                                         that are generated from the needs of adult and
                                                         young adult immigrants in high beginner
  Easy English NEWS is designed for adult                through advanced classes in the following areas:
and young adult ESL students in their second
                                                             • vocabulary building
year in the United States and beyond.
                                                             • reading
   You can use Easy English NEWS in any
adult education or high school classroom for                 • listening
students of English as a Second Language or in
classes for native-English speaking students                 • writing
(basic skills classes) who would benefit from
adult content in a plain English presentation.               • speaking

  The purpose is to maximize growth in                       • cultural integration
reading, comprehension, and vocabulary in a
useful format, by providing vital information                • content reading in social studies, civics
needed by immigrants to survive (and thrive) in
their new environment.                                       and

   In addition, Easy English NEWS contains                   • citizenship preparation.
features to assist culture sharing, discussion,
                                                            In addition, it stimulates higher-order
problem solving, writing topics, pronunciation,
                                                         thinking skills such as researching and
and retention of facts as well as the English to
                                                         organizing information; evaluating and
express themselves.
                                                         comparing ideas, as well as applying knowledge
   It’s our intention to make your job in the            they have acquired.
classroom easier, more rewarding for both you
and your students, and more relevant to their
lives and society.                                       How to prepare
                                                            Pre-read Easy English NEWS to select the
   This HOW TO booklet will provide generral ideas       articles you will use with your students based
to work with the various features in the newspaper       on their needs, interests, age, English levels, and
and to work with various English abilities of stu-       your goals for the class. Look over the
dents. You can use these suggestions with any issue.     following suggestions to get started. Read the
   In addition, when you subscribe to Easy English       monthly Teacher’s Guide for specific ideas with
NEWS, you’ll get a 4-page supplement each month          the articles you choose.
with specific teaching suggestions and background
                                                           There are no “wrong” ways to use Easy
information for the month’s major articles.
                                                         English NEWS, and you can use different
                                                         techniques each month. Experiment with any of
  Meeting standards                                      the following suggestions to get started. Follow
                                                         your students’ lead as well as your own plans.
   Each state has its own way of describing its
standards. Used effectively, Easy English

                                            8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
How to work with beginners                                     After each paragraph check for
                                                               comprehension and build vocabulary. Ask
                                                               “yes/no” questions and questions that can
    • When you first introduce Easy English                    be answered in one word or a short phrase
      NEWS, build up familiarity with the                      (who/what/where/when). Ask questions in
      vocabulary that students will need to talk               which you supply the answer, so they don’t
      about the newspaper: What’s this? It’s a                 have to recall it, merely recognize it: Is the
      newspaper. What’s the title of the                       capital of the United States New York City
      newspaper? What month is this                            or Washington, D.C.?
      newspaper for? What’s this? It’s a                    • Read the article aloud again, sentence by
      photograph. (picture). What’s this? It’s an             sentence. Have the entire class read each
      article. It’s a headline. What is the                   sentence after you. (Break longer sentences
      headline for this article? How many                     into phrases or breath groups). Call on
      pages are in the newspaper? What is the                 individuals to repeat a sentence after you.
      headline for pages 2 and 3? What is the                 Then have volunteers read a paragraph
      title for page 4? 5? 6? 7? 8? What do                   aloud. Help with pronunciation. Finally,
      you see on page 9? A crossword puzzle,                  have students work in pairs to read an
      and so forth. Teach additional words as                 article to each other, alternating
      needed, such as: top of the page, bottom                paragraphs.
      of the page, turn the page, beginning,
      middle and end of the article, continued              • Word Help may be difficult for many
      on page, caption, author, and all the other             beginning students. Allow them to use a
      terms that will allow you to speak about                bilingual dictionary instead, if needed.
      any newspaper in English.                               (Teach them to look at all the definitions
                                                              their dictionary may give, and choose the
                                                              one that fits the article.)
    • Choose very short articles, particularly              • Have students copy the article, or a
      ones with illustrations that help                       key paragraph or key words from the
      communicate the context. This is your                   paragraph. Later, give listening/writing
      page and America the Beautiful as well as               practice as you dictate a few of the words
      the holiday articles are good ones to start             or sentences.
      with. Page one articles are more complex,
      and generally much longer.                               • Create a “cloze” exercise for students:
                                                               Type in a paragraph from a story they have
    • Prior to reading an article, create a focus              just read. Eliminate every 8th word,
      for reading. Ask students questions such                 leaving a blank in its place. Dictate the
      as What do you see in this picture?                      paragraph to the students for them to write
      What’s happening? What’s the title of this               in the missing word. Alternatively, have
      story?                                                   students search to find the missing words
    • Write several key new words on the board                 and write them in.
      and elicit or explain the meanings.                   • Let students correct each other’s writings
    • Read the article to the students, one                   by comparing their sentences with the text
      paragraph at a time as students follow                  in the newspaper.
      along. Use additional pictures, maps, real            • Find a useful sentence structure in the
      objects, gestures, and actions to get the               article that students need more familiarity
      meanings across.                                        with. Teach the grammar underlying the

4                                         8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
    structure, and provide additional practice                 answer to a question. Write their answers
    with the structure. Use “pattern practice”                 on the board next to the appropriate
    or drill similar sentences if it seems useful.             questions.
  • Connect the article with the students’                  • With papers open, read the article as
    experience. Have students express their                   students follow along in the text.
    opinions, tell about similar experiences, or            • Check for comprehension after each
    share information from their own culture.                 paragraph. Ask “WH” questions and other
  • Evaluate students’ understanding and                      fact-finding questions.
    retention with the quizzes done at the                  • Next, have students take turns reading
    easiest level. Reproduce the Self-                        out loud. Help by modeling
    Evaluation on page 15 to help you                         pronunciation or intonation when
    understand students’ level of                             necessary. Finally, let students read the
    comprehension.                                            article to each other in pairs, alternating
                                                            • On a subsequent day, review the part of the
How to work with intermediate                                 article you completed with the class
students                                                      earlier, and continue with the next part of
                                                              the article.
  • Before reading an article, find out what
                                                            • Use the questions in Let’s Talk About It on
    the students already know about the
                                                              page 11 of Easy English NEWS for
    topic. Have students share the
                                                              discussion. Add additional questions to
    experiences they have had with the topic.
                                                              encourage students to express their
    Ask questions about how this topic is
                                                              opinions, describe their own experiences in
    handled or dealt with in their native
                                                              the matter, or tell about the situation in
                                                              their native countries.
  • Decide how much of the article you will
                                                            • Use any of the writing activities listed in
    cover in one session. Some of the longer
                                                              “high beginner” tips.
    articles may take two or three sessions.
                                                            • With papers open, have students write the
  • Write the boldfaced words in the article
                                                              answers to questions you dictate.
    (or section of the article you plan to cover)
    on the board. Pronounce the words for the               • With papers closed, have students write the
    students, and have them practice saying                   article in their own words.
    them.                                                   • Have students write opinions, comparisons,
  • Elicit the meanings of the words, if                      or culture sharing based on the article or
    possible. If not, explain the words, and use              the class discussion about the article.
    the words in sample sentences.
  • Write several fact questions (that will be
    answered in the article) on the board. Tell        Working with Advanced Students
    the students to listen for the answers as
    you read the article to them (with their              Advanced students will not have the need for
    papers closed). Have students raise their          slower paced, assisted reading of Easy English
    hands to stop you when they hear the               NEWS. Their focus may be on the content that
                                                       is new to them, new concepts, and occasional

                                          8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
    new words. With an advanced group, there can
                                                          How to Use the Quizzes
    be extensive oral work on finding facts, giving
    summaries, expressing opinions, sharing                  There are three reproducible quizzes included
    cultures.                                             in each month’s Teacher’s Guide. There are
                                                          various ways you can tailor these to students of
       • Ask preview questions to create interest         different abilities. In general, the quizzes
         and focus for the article you choose to          require that students have read the major
         read: “What do you think this article is         articles of the newspaper. This might leave out
         about?” “What do you already know                the beginning students who will focus on
         about this?” Provide time for class              shorter, easier articles. You might want to select
         discussion prior to reading the article.         only those questions that can be answered from
       • Read the article in any way suitable to          the readings that students have actually done.
         the levels of your class; ask volunteers to
         read aloud one paragraph each; read at           Quiz I is a multiple choice quiz. It usually
         home for homework; read aloud in pairs.          focuses on the top front page story and one
                                                          other main story.
       • Discuss any new information that has
         come out in the article, any surprises,          Quiz II is a modified True-False quiz, and
         things they learned, or differences of           focuses on holidays and one or two other
         opinion.                                         articles. Students have to decide if a statement
       • Have students tell how the treatment of          is true or false. If it is false, they must write a
         this topic is the same as or different from      word to replace the underlined word in order to
         customs in their home countries.                 make the statement true.
       • Have students tell how the information
                                                          Quiz III is a vocabulary matching quiz, which
         affects their own lives. Ask questions that
                                                          draws vocabulary items from any of the articles
         generate thoughtful responses: If this
                                                          in the newspaper.
         happened to someone you know...What
         would happen if...? What do you think               The quizzes can be given at four different
         could be done to prevent (fix) this?             levels of difficulty. You can use a quiz as a pre-
       • Encourage students to express their              test before reading Easy English NEWS, if you
         opinions about the articles.                     like. Then give the same test as a post test. Or,
                                                          you can test students with the same quiz at a
       • Provide class time for silent reading. Let
                                                          higher level of difficulty on a subsequent day.
         students explore the paper, and read the
         articles, in the order they choose.                   • Level 1 (most basic): You may give the
       • Have students present a class “TV                       quiz orally to the entire class as a practice
         NEWS Broadcast.” Have students work                     for doing the test later in a written form.
         with a partner or small group. Assign                   Or, students work in groups. They read
         each group an article to report on, or let              questions aloud, help each other
         the groups choose.                                      understand, and may search for answers in
       • Ask students what else they would like to               the newspaper. Students help each member
         know about the article. Bring in                        of the group to practice answering the
         additional information on the topic and                 questions.
         invite students to do further research and            • Level 2: Students work in groups and help
         bring in any materials they want to share.              each other, but are working from memory,

6                                            8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
     having read the newspaper previously.             regular English/English or English/native
   • Level 3: Students work alone, may have a          language dictionary.
     dictionary, and may search for answers in
                                                          Point out that, as in a regular dictionary, the
     the newspaper.
                                                       word is listed in its basic form. That is,
   • Level 4: Students work alone completing           singular, if it is a noun, and the base form if it
     the quiz, with no aid.                            is a verb or adjective. The part of speech is
  Correcting the students’ quiz papers:                given (we write it out in full rather than merely
                                                       an abbreviation), and the definition. Some
   • You have various options: Students correct        words with non-phonetic pronunciations will
     their own papers, each others’ papers, or a       have the pronunciation given.
     class monitor corrects their quizzes. In any
     case, you should learn how each of the              Activity: After completing the newspaper,
     students scored, so they are ultimately           have a quiz show, with a “show host” reading
     reporting to you.                                 the definitions from Word Help at random, and
                                                       teams competing for points by giving the correct
   • Optional: Explain the four testing levels to
                                                       word being defined. (You can mark the words in
     your class. Have the class vote on the level
                                                       the list that you feel are the most important for
     of difficulty they would like. In a multi-
     level class let individual students choose
     their own quiz level.
   • As an additional challenge, have groups of        Top Story
     students select articles, and prepare
     quizzes on that article for the class. These         Page One will usually have two articles. The
     can be multiple choice, fill-in-the blank,        first article will feature an aspect of U.S. government,
     True/False, matching questions or open            an issue in democracy, or a current news story of
     ended questions.                                  importance to immigrants or to all Americans.

                                                          Bring in additional news articles on the topic,
                                                       books, pictures, DVDs, videos, and photos.
How to work with the regular                           Have students find the locale of the story on a
                                                       world map and U.S. map. Pace the reading,
features in Easy English NEWS                          based on your students’ abilities. An
                                                       intermediate class might spend two to three
                                                       class sessions on one major article, while an
Boldfaced words                                        advanced class can cover it in a single session.
  Point out to students that words in dark type,       It may prove too challenging for high beginners,
with asterisks* (stars) after them can be found        so you might just use the photo as a point of
with definitions in WORD HELP on page 12.              teaching vocabulary. Add background
                                                       information where needed.
  Let students know that words may have many
meanings, but WORD HELP gives only the                    Record a TV news broadcast or documentary
meaning used in this issue of Easy English             on the topic and show it to the class after they
NEWS. This saves students’ time and avoids the         have read the article. Or ask students to read or
confusion of having to choose among many               watch TV in their native language and bring
meanings of a word that they would find in a           more information on the topic to share in the

                                          8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
   NOTE: We do our research from a variety of          Elicit from students any days that are special to
sources, but most of it is necessarily second          them in the current month—school events,
hand. We do not have any reporters in                  holidays in their home countries, their own
Washington, D.C., the Middle East, or anywhere         birthdays and anniversaries, etc. Have students
else, for that matter. We subscribe to weekly          write these events and the month’s holidays on
and monthly news magazines, check Internet             the correct dates on the calendar.
news, and watch both network and public
broadcasting news. We check our facts with                Before reading about a holiday, ask students
almanacs, the Census Bureau, government and            how that holiday is celebrated in their home
other public sources as well as news services          countries (or if that holiday exists). After
and our own experts. We attempt to provide             reading about a holiday in the U.S. add your
several sides to controversial stories and allow       own experiences to it, or have guests come in to
teachers and students to sort out their own            talk about the holiday in their family. Holiday
opinions. Completed articles are run past six          customs in the U.S. vary from family to family,
well-educated teachers and editors each month          and even from city to city, and generation to
before going to press.                                 generation. Point out that some holidays are
                                                       celebrated only by Christians, Jews, Muslims,
   While we make all possible efforts to avoid         (Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashana, Passover,
bias, misinformation, and error, pressures of          Ramadan, etc.,) and other holidays are
monthly deadlines and time limits are always           celebrated by the general population (Labor
after us. If you notice any bias, misinformation,      Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, New Year’s
or errors, please explain them to your class. Let      Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Memorial
us know our shortcomings; that’s how we learn,         Day, and Independence Day).
                                                          Having a whole month to celebrate a
                                                       particular ethnic or racial or gender group may
Life in the U.S.A. (Survival skills)                   be an unusual concept for people who come
                                                       from a one-culture society. After reading about
  The bottom of Page One is usually a                  Hispanic American Heritage, American Indian
“survival topic” which helps to understand             History month, Black History Month, or
American ways of doing things. Many of these           Women’s History Month, have students invent a
“Life in the U.S.A.” features appear in a series       month, week, or day to celebrate the heritage of
of several articles over several months.               a group of people. Alternatively, they can invent
However, each article is self-contained and does       a holiday. Have them brainstorm activities to do
not rely on previous or future articles.               during the celebration of their own heritage or
   Follow up on any ideas that are pertinent to
your students’ needs and interests. Plan a class        Ask what other holidays are celebrated that
trip, go shopping, or invite a guest expert to         month in their cultures.
speak to your class. Bring in more illustrations,
plus real items to handle and discuss. Generate           For homework, have students ask Americans
math activities where appropriate.                     in their school or community how they usually
                                                       celebrate an upcoming holiday, or what their
                                                       plans are this year to celebrate it. Have students
Events in (this month)                                 report what they learn to the class.
    A blank calendar is provided on this page.

8                                         8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
   Act out any aspect of a holiday that would           avoid disappointment, make sure students
add enjoyment or English learning for your              understand that. Send stories by Email
class. For example, dressing for Halloween,             (preferred), fax, or mail. You can mail several
wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day, decorating         students’ stories to us in one envelope but we
eggs at Easter time, having a grab bag at               read each story individually, and handle it
Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwaanza; lighting                    individually, so each story must have the
Hanukkah or Kwaanza candles, singing holiday            author’s name and address written on it. We’d
songs, playing a holiday game, preparing and            like to know the native country too, please. We
eating special foods, making valentines,                don’t have the staff to acknowledge mailed or
memorizing a poem, and so forth. Be aware of            faxed submissions unless we publish them,
various politically correct do’s and don’t’s so         which could take up to 18 months. We will
you do not offend any individual or groups of           acknowledge the receipt of Emailed
students, or transgress your school’s policies.         submissions.

                                                             Stories we publish must:
This Is Your Page
                                                             • be original work by a reader of Easy
                                                                English NEWS.
  This page is written by readers of Easy
English NEWS. Your students can relate to the                • be of interest to our readers.
ideas from their own experience. These stories
are often easy enough for beginners.                         • be 100-300 words in length.

  After reading a story, ask comprehension                   • not be similar to a story we have
questions: Who, What, Where, When, and Yes/                     published before.
No questions for beginners. Follow these by
getting students involved: Has this ever                     • reflect the writer’s best effort.
happened to you? What would you do if this
                                                          We will cut, rearrange, and correct writers’
happened to you?
                                                        grammar, without altering the intention of the
  What can you learn from this? Which is your           writer, so that stories are understandable to our
favorite story? Why?                                    readers and fit the space.

   Have students work in small groups to create            Best bets: True, first-person stories that tell of
and act out very short skits based on the stories.      one incident, with details, of a problem with
Encourage students to write and illustrate              English, culture shock, getting a job, fear,
stories about their own experiences that might          misunderstanding, embarrassment, danger, visit
be of interest to other readers. Make a class           to a national landmark, trouble with agencies,
newspaper, and distribute it to students,               police, etc., that our immigrant readers can
teachers, and others in your school.                    relate to or learn from.

                                                           We don’t publish: stories that have no
How to write for Easy English NEWS                      relevance to immigrants’ experiences here;
                                                        stories written for some other purpose that don’t
  Readers may send their best work to Easy              fit our guidelines; students’ poetry, opinion, or
English NEWS. We pay $15 for every story we             college entrance essays, opinion essays, etc.
publish, but we cannot publish them all, so to

                                           8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
   We don’t have a need for stories that cover             Activity: “Ask an Expert” Ask students if
two or three years: “I came to the U.S. and              they are experts in any field, or would like to be
didn’t speak English. It was terrible. Now I             an expert. (Some fields of expertise for young
speak English and have many friends.” These              people might be might be “playing soccer;”
stories are wonderful, and we have published             “cooking eggs;” “getting lost;” “training a
many of them. We are now looking for details             dog;” “driving or repairing a car” ; “getting
that make each story different from the others.          good grades;” “shopping for a car; vegetables,
                                                         meat, jeans, bargains, etc.;” “doing homework;”
  Please explain to students that we receive             “studying for a spelling test;” “cleaning a
hundreds of stories per year. We can’t publish           house;” “making a pie;” and so on.)
them all. It is not a reflection on their story that
we don’t choose it.                                         The “expert” tells the topic, and the other
                                                         students prepare questions to ask the “Expert.”
   Sometimes a story gets separated from the             The Expert has (60) seconds to make up
address of the writer, or the writer has moved           answers. They are allowed to “fake it” when
since sending in a story. So if a student sees his       they don’t know the answer.
or her story in the paper, and has not received a
check for $15 from us, please have him or her
Email, write, or call us (888-296-1090) with             Ask a Speech Coach: Gene Zerna
their story name, and their own name and
address.                                                   Gene Zerna is the author and producer of
                                                         Master Spoken English, a 5-DVD program in
                                                         accent modification. He has prepared actors for
Ask Elizabeth                                            the stage, as well as ESL students for public
                                                         speaking. This occasional column focuses on
   Elizabeth Claire has a Masters Degree in              common problems new speakers have with
Teaching English as a Second Language, plus              English sounds and intonation.
expertise in a variety of fields such as human
relations, communication, American culture and              This is for classroom practice to help students
history, nutrition, small business startups,             gain confidence in their pronunciation and
grammar, manners, shopping, scams, and much              voice. If the element being coached is relevant
more. And what she doesn’t know, she’ll find             to your students, use the practice words and
out–except legal and medical advice. Topics on           sentences for several minutes a day and repeat
this page vary in response to readers’ questions.        daily over a period of several weeks in order to
Send in questions by Email. The most relevant            effectively train lips, tongue, and vocal muscles
questions for our readers will be printed with           in the production of new sounds.

   Procedure: Read the reader’s question aloud           America the Beautiful
to the class. Before reading Elizabeth’s answer,
have students take time to give their own                   There is not much text on this page. Much of
answers. Then have students read Elizabeth’s             the information can be absorbed through photos,
answer. Have students compare solutions to the           maps and charts. Readers will learn facts about
problem, and talk about similar problems they            the land, waters, farms, industries, natural
or friends might have.                                   wonders, national parks and tourist attractions
                                                         in the country.

10                                          8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
   Bring in additional visuals and information           Bring in additional visuals, videos, DVDs
about the topic that would be of interest to your      posters etc. to enhance the experience of the
students. Ask students to bring in related photos      history. Have students find out more about the
or pictures of their native countries. Relate the      hero at the library or on the Internet. Create a
article to your own area—Ask questions such as         time line to show where the event fits in with
How many miles away is (the East Coast)?               other important events in history.
How is this place similar to where we live?
How is it different? How is it similar to a               Discuss how the event or hero’s
place in your home country? Do you want to             accomplishments may have affected their lives.
go there some day? What would you want to
                                                       Graphs, Charts, and Maps
  Use the maps to help students locate their
                                                          We include graph, chart, or a map each month
own state and the features being illustrated.
                                                       to help readers gain complex data through
Wall charts will work better for instruction if
                                                       visual means without a lot of written language.
you have access to them. Use charts to practice
                                                       Point out any key supplied, and have students
reading of large numbers, and making
                                                       understand that a number in a graph or chart
                                                       may represent a number of thousands or
   Extension activity: Have the class plan an          millions.
imaginary trip to one of the locations in the
                                                          Ask specific questions that students can
article. Suggest ways to research this: Search
                                                       answer directly from the map, chart or graph.
the Internet for the location and the sights to
                                                       Then ask questions that involve comparing and
see; search each Internet site for more
                                                       analyzing: Which x is the most____? Which is
information. Using Travelocity or
                                                       the least ___ ? How many x’s are ____? What
find out the best air routes, connecting flights,
                                                       is ____ next to ?
and fares to that place. Check prices at a variety
of hotels at the place. Calculate costs of getting       Ask questions where students have to bring in
there with a friend, or with the family. Plan a        prior knowledge or conjecture: Why do you
week’s activities at the location.                     think x has the most y?

Heroes and History                                     Idiom Corner
  This page features either events and heroes             Explain that an idiom is a group of words
“every American school child knows,” or                that has a special meaning. The pictures
American heroes who were immigrants.                   illustrate what the words alone make you think,
                                                       but the meaning of the idiom is entirely
  Find out what your students already know
                                                       different. Have students read the definitions and
about the topic. Have them tell about any
                                                       sample sentences to get an understanding of the
similar events or heroes in their native
                                                       idioms. Call out definitions at random, and
                                                       have students tell you the idiom. Ask students to
  Choose a reading technique appropriate to            create additional sentences (orally) using the
your students’ ability and interest level, then        idioms. Correct any sentences so students can
ask comprehension questions, opinion questions,        fine-tune their sense of when and how to use the
and culture-sharing questions.                         idioms.

                                          8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
   Have the students write the correct idioms in        stereotypes, and expectations that contribute to
the practice sentences. Point out that they may         the point of the joke.
need to change verb tenses or pronoun forms.
Have students draw a picture to illustrate the            Have students practice telling the joke, using
true meaning of an idiom, not the one it seems          proper intonation, and timing. Ask them to tell
to mean.                                                the joke to several people, and then to report
                                                        reactions to the class. Have them interview the
   Encourage students to listen for idioms in the       person they told the joke to, and ask questions
speech of people around them, or in movies,             such as: Do you think this joke is funny? Why
news reports, etc. Have them keep a list in a           or why not? Have you heard this joke before?
notebook. Encourage students to use idioms in
situations where the idioms are appropriate.              Have students tell jokes from their own
Caution them that idioms must have “all their           culture. If necessary, have them explain why
parts” to sound right in English. Have them             people think the joke is funny. Additional help
share similar idioms from their own language.           with American humor can be found in What’s
                                                        So Funny? An Introduction to American
                                                        Humor by Elizabeth Claire (Delta Systems).
Funny Stuff
   People generally laugh when some tension is          Movie and video review (occasional)
released. People from different cultures do not
experience the same tensions, so the same things           In this column, we give a plot summary of a
are not funny. For that reason, humor is usually        movie we think ESL students would enjoy. If
the last thing a person understands in a new            you have any suggestions for these (recent or
language. For example, married people in many           classic), please pass them on to us. You can use
cultures may easily relate to mother-in-law             snippets of these DVDs or videos in your
jokes, but unmarried people don’t think they are        classroom, but the benefit to the student will be
as funny (nor do mothers-in-law). Renters may           to borrow or own a movie that they can play
laugh at landlord jokes, but people who have            repeatedly at home.
lived in government-owned apartments won’t
have the same sense of resentment.                         Demonstrate the value of focusing on a short
                                                        scene, maybe 3 to 5 minutes, and replaying it
  Choosing jokes for Easy English NEWS is               until they have “slowed down” the flood of
not easy, as the joke has to be short; not a play       language. Using movies with closed captions is
on words; politically correct, that is, not make        valuable. We will review movies that have been
fun of any ethnic group, race, gender, older            popular in the U.S., with worthwhile values,
people, males, females, poor people, body               dramatic action story lines that are easy to
infirmity or condition such as baldness or              follow, and that avoid violence, nudity, sex,
obesity, and must be clean, and not make                crime, and off color language. Heavy British
drunkenness or addiction a laughing matter. The         accents or difficult dialects would not work for
joke must pass our laugh test. This doesn’t             our students.
guarantee it will pass the students’ laugh test, as
humor often doesn’t translate.
                                                        Crossword Puzzle
  If your students don’t get the joke, first make
                                                          Our crossword puzzle is “handmade” and
sure they understand each word. Explain any
                                                        designed to be ESL-friendly. Most of the words

12                                         8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
are useful, high-frequency words known to              peeking at the answers too soon. Sometimes we
second-year students.                                  just can’t avoid using a low-frequency word
                                                       which ESL students probably don’t know. You
   Important note: A crossword puzzle is not a         can supply the answers to definitions of these
test, and should not be assigned as one. It’s          words at the outset, if the cross definitions
supposed to be a fun challenge, but if your            won’t help them.
students aren’t ready for it, you’ll need to help
a bit. If your students have never done a
crossword puzzle before, show them how. Either         Let’s Talk About It
draw a piece of the grid on the blackboard or
create an overhead transparency of the                   There are three types of questions in this
crossword grid to show how a puzzle is worked          section. The first type helps students focus on
out. Work through an entire puzzle with the            gathering important facts from each article. The
class. Suggest they use capital letters, and           second asks students to express their opinions.
pencils, not pens!                                     The third type gives students a chance to share
                                                       native culture with the group. Answers to the
   Show students how the letters down will help        fact questions can be verified in the articles.
them with words across, and vice versa. Show           Opinion and sharing questions have no set
them that they can skip the definitions they           answers.
don’t know, and move on to the next ones.
Later, they come back, and with some words                American education develops students who
filled in, they will have letter clues to help         can form opinions, express opinions and give
them. Looking at the answer too soon defeats           reasons for their opinions with confidence when
the purpose, but checking answers when they            interacting with people who hold different
have exhausted all possibilities makes sense for       opinions. This may be unheard of in some
learners.                                              students’ home cultures where teachers are
                                                       considered “the fountain of knowledge” and
  Teach terms that are often used in crossword         whose opinions are considered the only valid
clues, such as opposite, initials, abbreviation,       ones. Students who have never expressed
short form; same as 14 across; past form;              opinions before need help in valuing their point
plural of .                                            of view. Help students learn to support their
                                                       opinions by offering other facts they know, and
  Have students work on the puzzle                     their personal experience. Talk about the
individually or with a partner. Give them a time       common saying, “Everyone is entitled to his (or
period to share and compare answers (15-20+            her) own opinion.”
minutes). After that, put two groups together,
and let them share answers. Then let students            Use the culture-sharing questions to develop
check their words against the answers on page          an international atmosphere in your class, and
11.                                                    an appreciation for other cultures. Point out that
                                                       esaying, “It seems to me...” before giving an
   Expand on vocabulary, if needed, with sample        opinion is polite, allowing others to have it
sentences. Most people doing puzzles for fun           seem otherwise to them.
check the answers at some point. This isn’t
cheating, it’s learning. You can encourage               Some of the questions may lend themselves to
students to work on all the clues they can get on      debate. Help students express their own ideas
their own, first, and take pride in resisting          clearly and listen to others’ opinions with an
                                                       open mind. Encourage them to switch roles and

                                          8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
argue for an opinion opposite the one they             article. Have students talk about what they
have. That will help them to see things from           know about the topic and what they want to
others’ view points.                                   know. Have them fill in the top part of the
                                                       paper. Later, after reading the article, have
   Select a few of the questions for students to       students write what they learned and still want
answer in writing. Have them work in small             to learn.
groups to read each others’ answers, and help
each other correct and edit their writings. Have          Facts and Opinions This may be used with
students turn in their best writing for you to         one article or with the entire paper. Have
grade and save in a portfolio.                         students write down facts they learned that they
                                                       or others have an opinion about. Fact: 20 people
                                                       want to be elected president. Opinion: x is the
How to Work with the Activity Pages                    best candidate.
  Pages 15 to 24 of this HOW TO booklet may                Problems and solutions
be photocopied for your class.
                                                         This activity will be useful for certain articles
   Self Evaluation: After you have completed           such as those on Earth Day, pollution, water
the month’s issue of Easy English NEWS, have           shortages, climate change, smoking deaths, etc.
students evaluate their own participation and
progress. You can collect these for student              Time Line For articles such as Heroes and
portfolios and get a better insight into your          History, or Women’s (or African American, etc.)
students’ progress and interests than merely           History Month, have students get a sense of the
through the quizzes.                                   order in which things happened.

   Compare: This Venn Diagram allows                     Then and Now is similar, but compares
comparisons of many sorts. For example the             todays culture, laws, customs with those of a
title may be “Holidays in April”. The left circle      particular time in the past.
can be “only in the United States” and the right
circle can be “only in my home country.” The              For and Against use this with articles about
overlapping part in the middle would be the            some national debate. Have students formulate a
holidays that are in both countries. Or it may be      proposed action and then brainstorm the reasons
“Who can vote?” “Republicans and Democrats’            for it and against it. They don’t have to come to
Ideas for government.”                                 a conclusion, just to see the complexity that lies
                                                       in many issues.
  Who, what, where, when, how, and why?
This is usually appropriate for the Heroes and            Encourage students to write “news stories”
History article, or sometimes the front page           about people and events in their own schools,
news story. Students search for the details and        workplaces, or neighborhoods. Photocopy their
write them in.                                         stories, and print them in a student newspaper.

  People, places, events, and dates: This is
more of a self evaluation and personal opinion
page. Which were important to the student?

  Before reading/after readingDistribute
these pages to the class before reading a major

14                                        8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
Name____________________________________                 Date _____________________________

                         Easy English NEWS Self-Evaluation

1. The articles I liked the most were this month       6. Some new words that are important to me
   were:                                                  are:

_____________________________________________          ___________________           ___________________
                                                       ___________________           ___________________
                                                       ___________________           ___________________
                                                       ___________________           ___________________
                                                       ___________________           ___________________
2. Some interesting or useful things I learned
   this month were:
                                                       7. My effort in reading Easy English NEWS
_____________________________________________             this month is:

_____________________________________________                              A   B     C    D    F

                                                       8. I understood about ___% of the newspaper
_____________________________________________            this month. (circle the number)

_____________________________________________                 10%    20%       30%       40%       50%
                                                              60%    70%       80%       90%   95%       100%
3. After reading Easy English NEWS this
month, I want to know more about:

_____________________________________________          9. Ways I can improve my English this month:

_____________________________________________          _____________________________________________

_____________________________________________          _____________________________________________


4. An article i did not like was                       10. Other comments
because ________________________________

                                          8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
Name _________________________________ Date _________________________________



              A                            B                  C

A: Only in ___________________________

B: In both ____________________ and _____________________

C: Only in _______________

16                                 8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
Name _________________________________ Date _________________________________

                 Who, What, Where, When, How, Why?

Story Title _________________________________________________________

1. Who or what is the story about?

2. What happened?

3. Where did it happen?

4. When did it happen?

5. How did it happen?

6. Why did it happen?

7. Does it affect you? How?          Why?

                                            8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
Name _________________________________ Date _________________________________

                   People, Places, Events, and Dates

          People                                             Places

         Events                                              Dates

18                             8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
Name _________________________________ Date _________________________________

Title of story_______________________________________________________

                                   Before Reading
1. What I know about this topic:

2. What I want to know about it:

                                   After Reading

3. What I learned:

4. What I still want to know

                                    8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
Name _________________________________ Date _________________________________

                          Facts and Opinions
Story ___________________________________________________











20                               8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
  Name _________________________________ Date _________________________________

                       Problems and Solutions

Story ______________________________















                                8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
Name _________________________________Date _________________________________

                                Time Line
                    Story: ________________________

What happened first?

What happened next?

And then?

And then?

And then?

What happened last?

What do you think will happen in the future?

22                                       8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
Name _________________________________           Date _________________________________

                           Then and Now

Topic ____________________________________________________

           Then (__________)                                   Now (200__)

                                 8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008
     Name _________________________________ Date _________________________________

                             For and Against

Story ____________________________________________________

Topic ________________________________________________________________________

             For                                        Against

24                                 8 Elizabeth Claire, 2008

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