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September 2005 ESL Expert Questions and Answers

September 29, 2005

Thanks for visiting the Question and Answer section of ESL Expert. Please feel free to leave your questions on hiring practices, staff development, industry trends or any other subjects here. Every month I'll answer the best questions from the previous weeks.



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  1. dutchman Says:

    I have a second-grade class with 2 non-English Speakers, 4 Limited English (Early Production Stage) Speakers, 6 Limited English Speakers (Early Intermediate), 3 Fluent English Speakers (second language-still limited) and 1 native English Speaker with no phonemic awareness (can't read or write).

    What would an expert do?

  1. Vicky Risk Says:

    I am looking for recommendations, or even better, some kind of refereed or expert-rated list of Internet or computer ESL courses. In particular, I am looking for courseware that an adult could use on their own at night, after working, to improve their language skills. (My primary goal is to improve their job opportunities with improved English.) I realize that this is not as good as classroom-style instruction, but that is not accessible for everyone.

    Also, I am wondering whether screenreaders such as JAWS are helpful to English-language learners, or not. (Some of the populations I am concerned about are not terribly literate in their native language either.)

    Thanks in advance for any pointers.

    Vicky Risk

  1. Jeff Hockett Says:

    Dear Dr. Hall,
    I am an editor of materials for English-learning elementary students. One of the writers of our monthly magazine has a writing section in which young children (6-10 yrs) fill in blanks, like in a cloze exercise, and are told to copy the whole letter (three paragraphs) and send it in for a prize---and this is done every month. (They can optionally write their own letter.) I was concerned as an educator that this really isn't a legitimate writing lesson (as it is fill-in-the-blanks and mere copying); but more than that, I'm concerned that it has the slight appearance of teaching plagiarism, changing the words around, but keeping the original intact in key places.
    I don't have access to ESL materials to check, but have looked at Scott Foresman writing textbooks for American children and haven't seen similar looking exercises. I was told that teaching ESL students are different. Do you think my suspicions are valid---even for ESL students? Thanks for your attention,

  1. Brenda Townsend Hall Says:

    Dear Jeff,

    I think you can get around this problem by simply changing the format in which children send in their replies. For each gap in the letter give a number. At the end of the letter include an answer form with the numbers in sequence. Ask the children to complete the form and return it to you so only their answers will be recorded.

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