Friday, December 1, 2017

Moving animation about coming to America



Scent of Geranium, by Naghmeh Farzaneh is an animation that tells the story of a woman who comes from Iran to America to study. The animation was featured recently by National Geographic. It deftly captures life for someone new to America, including a scene about her first Thanksgiving, the challenge of ordering sandwiches at a counter, and the unexpected questions she gets asked, "Do you have apples in Iran?"

It could be a fun listening activity in class or a prompt for a writing or discussion about the students' experiences, similar, or not.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Toy Drive for The Floating Hospital


We are collecting new and unwrapped gifts for children again this holiday season. All of the gifts will go to our Long Island City neighbors at The Floating Hospital. The Floating Hospital provides full-service, holistic health care to families living in shelters in New York City, and every year they host a Candy Cane Lane for the children in their care. If you'd like to donate, please do so by December 5 - there is a collection bin in the front office.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thanksgiving Class Ideas



Thanksgiving is next week, and as always, this is a topic our newly arrived students have many questions about. Just yesterday, I explained what cranberries are in book club! In case you are looking for Thanksgiving-related content to use in class, here are some ideas.

For Listening Practice
Cooking how-to videos contain a lot of useful target language for our students: imperative forms, sequencing language, and household vocabulary in context, just to name a few. The Thanksgiving Essentials Cooking School playlist on the Food Network contains 10 videos on various topics (Pie Dough Basics, How to Make Chicken Stock, How to Slice, Chop and Mince, for example), and each video is only about 2 minutes long. You could do cloze exercises with lower levels, or have higher levels write summary paragraphs with target language.

For Reading Practice
The New York Times published a series of stories by 9 prominent writers: My Thanksgiving. Each of these stories is a reflection on the personal, emotional, and nostalgic nature of the holiday. For example, the historian Jessica B. Harris writes:
As happens, the decades flew by. Family guests at the table changed and eventually diminished until on some holidays it was Mom and I staring at each other across a table piled high with our annual feast. Certainly, there were guests, random friends stranded in town for the holiday, second cousins or foreign visitors with whom I wanted to share the holiday. Then, in 2000, Mom died and I became a Thanksgiving orphan.
The stories are all relatively short (under 1,000 words), and the grammar and vocabulary are suited to intermediate and advanced students.

For Movie Fans
Time magazine has a list of the Top 10 Thanksgiving Movie Scenes, with YouTube clips where available. Movies on the list include Home for the Holidays, The Blind Side, Funny People, and of course, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. I also found a playlist of scenes from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, in case you want to show a short bit from this classic.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Literacy Review: A Journal of Student Work


If you are looking for new materials to use in your class, the Literacy Review, an annual journal of writing from adult literacy programs throughout New York City, published by NYU Gallatin, could be fun to explore. 

The last three issues are available onlineTopics range from life in New York City, to friends & family to work and education. The essays are touching and could be used as texts in reading class or serve as writing prompts. And each piece is accompanied with a picture of the student author and a short bio, which is inspiring for our students to see.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tools for Collecting Student Feedback


As we end the first month in most of our programs, we encourage you to ask your students for input on how the course is going. If students give you input now, there is still time to make changes before the end of the term.

Input can be collected via paper surveys, or online using Survey Monkey, a Google Form or Poll Everywhere, which is an easy-to-use electronic tool. Below are some feedback questions, along with some student self-assessment questions, to draw from for your midterm check-ins. You can also access feedback forms on the faculty website.


1.      What have you learned in this class so far?

2.      Which aspects of this course have been most helpful for you?  Why?

3.      What do you like best about this course?

4.      What would you like to change about the course?

5.      Which activities in this class help you the most?

6.      Do you have any suggestions about this class for the teacher?

7.      Which lessons have you enjoyed?  Why?

8.      Which lessons have you not enjoyed?  Why not?

9.      Which aspects of this course have helped you learn English?

10.  Which aspects of this course would you like to change?

11.  The most important thing I’ve learned in this class so far is …

12.  I need help with …

13.  I would like to learn about …

14.  What are the instructor's strengths?

15.  What suggestions do you have to improve the instructor's teaching?

16.  What steps could you take to improve your own learning in this course?

17.  Do you feel that the pace of the class is good? Is the class too fast or too slow for you?

18.  Do you have any other comments or questions about the class?

19.  How would you evaluate the work you’ve done in this course?  What do you consider your strengths to be?  What do you think you should work on?

20.  How much effort have you put into this class?  

21.  What have you been doing to improve your English language skills?

22.  What do you think you can do to continue improving your English language skills?

23.  Do you think your English has improved as a result of this course?  If so, how has it improved?  If not, why not?

24.  How do you plan to continue improving your English?




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Moth at LaGuardia


Have you ever listened to the stories on The Moth, or used one in class? Even better, have you ever attended an event?

The Moth is coming to LaGuardia next week, and the theme of the night is Pushed. Storytellers will tell stories about "being pushed around, over the edge, out of the plane, into the marriage, out of the job, under the bus, through the fire or towards the light." People are invited to tell their stories related to this theme (more info on that process here) - or just enjoy the stories of others.

This is a ticketed event, and tickets can be purchased ($10) here. Please share this information with your students!

Friday, October 13, 2017

TELC Stories: Linda

Linda at the Great Wall
Learn more about what Linda experienced and learned this summer when she traveled to China to teach with with two other CUNY professors on the #telcstories blog.