Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Mapping Student Populations - Displaying Diversity @ Leeds City College

5 years ago, I did an activity to celebrate diversity at our centre. I made a display with a map and country flags and invited students to write their name next to their flag.

The end result captured the diversity of our students and you can read about it here.

On reflection I decided that the display wasn't as tidy as it could have been and that I didn't capture all the students as they didn't all take part. I loved the visual representation and decided to go back to the drawing board.

In May 2012 I got permission to draw a large world map on the wall of a corridor at the building where I work.

I was successful in drawing it and you can read about it here  and watch the video if you would like to know how I did it.

For a long time I tried to get the drawing covered with perspex. Quotes came in at 100's of pounds as the 50kg weight of 8mm perspex (3x2m) was extremely costly. I abandoned that quest.

Finally I discovered a solution; provided me with a way to protect the image but also make it "editable". I could now draw on it with liquid chalk pens or whiteboard pens.

For my new project I took the data held at College and filtered it out to nationalities. I then created circular flags that (by diameter) represented the population of students from that country.

My class cut out the flags, matched them to the countries using atlases and a big world map in our class. They labelled the flags and checked to see roughly where each country was in the world.

We then went to the map in the corridor and did this;

The display really captures the diversity of our building. It demonstrates what ESOL has achieved for many years - unity through learning.

I'm proud to be able to bring this diversity to a wider audience and hope that you feel inspired to try and do something similar. Whether it's drawing on walls, mapping nationalities or just celebrating diversity in some way... Have fun!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Resources and websites for working with teenage ESOL students

Many ESOL Tutors find themselves specializing in teenage provision as FE colleges across the country have responded to the demand for courses.

These resources and links aim to provide plenty of inspiration, content and language skills.

The British Council have got a part of their website dedicated to teaching teenagers - visit  for lots of topics, ideas and lesson plans.

British Council have also publish a set of "Great" lesson plans touching on topics such as Entrepreneurs, Countryside, Creativity, Environment, Innovation; all things that make Great Britain "Great" - TeachingEnglish

I recently discovered eslchestnut - This is an inspiring and comprehensive website for tutors working with teenage ESL and EFL students. It is well organised and full of great teaching ideas.

The BBC have produced a large number of games and activities for students learning English - BBC Skillswise There are plenty of numeracy resources on the site too!

This website, also by the BBC offers plenty of topics and ideas bbclearningenglish

The Times Educational Supplement provides Education Jobs, Teaching Resources and a weekly magazine. The resources are of a very high quality and can be searched easily. You must sign up to a free account to access many of the resources.

I have recently opened a Pinterest account and have found plenty of inspiration for my classroom decoration, teaching ideas and class management strategies, shared by other users. Well worth a visit.

Politics can be a boring topic but in the build up to a General Election we will definitely be exploring this website;

I am a huge fan of this website as I love bringing creativity to writing. The language garden provides a new approach to grammatical and multi-modal learning; languagegarden - website

The Blog is also well worth a look for ideas; languagegarden - blog

For a comprehensive list of Classroom Activities and Games suitable for ESOL students, visit - The list is huge and of a high quality.

E-safety is an area that we need to be encouraging students and tutors to be aware of - Think-U-Know?
is a fantastic resource providing plenty of material to increase awareness of E-safety.

I found this set of activities on the Digital Learning for Wales website - there's plenty to discuss and some great short videos; Hoodie-Trouble

Spelling can always be hard for teenagers. This activity makes it more engaging. There are a number of other sites out there offering the same but I like this one - Look Cover Write - 2 Levels

Comics provide a different way to get students to read and deduce meaning. ComicsEnglish provides plenty of content.

Make your own Comics
ToonDoo is my favourite Comic making website. You need a few IT skills but the options are almost unlimited and allow you to make very rich engaging comics.

GoAnimate is my favourite animation website and again provides almost limitless options. The paid version would make a very nice Xmas present!

TrueTube offers hundreds of videos, lesson plans and assemblies for schools and colleges. Some of the content may touch on areas that some students may find challenging but I think if offers amazing depth and diversity in its topics.

Finally, where would we be without YouTube, the ultimate video website? There's so much that can be said with a 2 or 3 minute video clip. This is one of my favourites but I'd love to know what you use in your classrooms and any other websites that I may have missed out.

Tutors working with teenagers desperately need an online community which can support and share resources. Get in touch if you work with teenage ESOL students and let's build one!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Time to dust away the cob-webs - Changes to Teenage ESOL Curriculum - How will you respond?

I've been away for a while. I've been preoccupied with work, family and life.

However, change is in the air. 

The changes are inescapable, some of them I'm pleased to see, others are less welcome. 

As ESOL tutors we have learnt to change or adapt. If we don't, we get left behind in the frosts of winter.

It seems appropriate that my 100th post comes at this time. I'm hoping to use this post as an opportunity to crowd source and share ideas on how to respond to the changes we face.

So what has changed?

The biggest changes, for ESOL Tutors working with teenagers, are the reduced contact time and the content of what we will be teaching them. This can be seen most clearly in the higher level hours. 

We have 180 hours to prepare students for Trinity College ESOL Exams - a couple of years ago we had 306 hours to prepare students for the same exams! (see below in red)

Personal development and employability skills are also a key theme of the changes - these will be accredited at Entry 3 and Level 1 and are a response to new Government Policy. (Click here to read more)

Below is a brief outline of the proposed hours for lower and higher levels.

Entry 1 and 2 - Breakdown of hours
  ESOL embedding personal development and work skills
  ESOL Maths and  IT  Embedded 
  Enterprise week
  Student hours
  Tutor teaching hours
Entry 3 and Level 1/2 - Breakdown of hours

 Personal development and employability skills (accredited) 
 Maths and IT Accredited FS
 Enterprise week
 30 hrs
 Work Experience
 30 hrs 
 Student Hours
 552 hrs
 Total tutor teaching hours with work placement supervision 
 (16 hours)
The addition of an Enterprise week and Work Experience (which aren't contact time), for the higher levels, will also bring new challenges. Developing new links and materials to meet these requirements will be challenging but I'm sure that there are plenty of resources already available, I just need to find them. Any links you can share would be most welcome!

How can we respond to these changes?

I believe ESOL Tutors can respond to these changes by collaborating and shaping the curriculum to fit our students' needs. There is an opportunity to be creative and innovative and I find that exciting.

A new, generic scheme of work for Full-Time classes

I'm currently working with other tutors at Leeds City College to develop a new scheme of work for our Full-Time classes.  

The last thing we need to do is start from scratch. I think we can collaborate on this process and produce a document that reflects these changes. I would also like to see more connectivity between the ESOL, ICT and Numeracy. i.e. When students are studying types of text in ESOL they are making posters in their ICT classes.

So far my colleagues and I have identified the following EXTRA topics that young people may find engaging, interesting and ultimately useful to study. They are:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Advertising & TV
  • Fashion
  • Staying Healthy and Safe
  • Finances - personal, housing and small business / enterprise
Please feel free to add any other topics that you feel we could include by commenting below

Please contribute!

If you work with teenage ESOL students please get in touch. I would love to know how you are responding to the changes in funding and hours.

I would also appreciate any links to useful websites or textbooks that you've used. 

Crowd sourcing has always allowed me to harness a much broader range of expertise. I'm very lucky to be working with many talented and professional tutors. I would like to invite you to join us in this journey and together I think we can respond to the challenges ahead.

I hope that this blog can provide a collaborative space where ESOL Tutors can share thoughts and ideas. Please share your thoughts about how we can respond to these changes.


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