In recent months it has developed that more of our ESL and ABE learners are using cell phones and in many cases using them as their primary phone. As it often happens, a tutor came up with a great idea while thinking about how to apply concepts she was learning in training. Giving me an idea that becomes a tutor tip message earns Favorite Tutor honors for a period of one to four weeks. This Week's Favorite Tutor is Lori Andersen, and here is her idea.
During a recent tutor training I had suggested that tutors and learners try using each other's photo albums as inspiration for conversation. Lori said, "Why not use the learner's cell phone camera?"
Huh. Good idea!
Nearly every cell phone has some kind of camera installed on it. So, during the training the idea developed to assign your learner to take some photos to bring back to their next lesson. And you should complete the photo assignment yourself, in order to give yourselves something to compare when you get together next time. The pictures don't need to be artistic, just expository. And it should not be necessary to get all of them, but you both should try to get as many as possible. So, below is something you might use as a lesson plan element.
Homework assignment: During the coming week you will take photographs of:Every picture begs to have a story told about it. It begs someone to ask questions. My friends and I used to break out our wallet photos when we wanted to communicate while traveling in Japan. Photos of home and family gave us something to talk about when our language skills were very weak. Here is a link to Dave's ESL Café, which has a discussion forum of adult learners talking about their feelings about their cell phones. That might be a good topic for an essay or conversation in class.
- Your car, or the bus stop where you go to work
- The first thing you see when you walk out the door in the morning.
- Your lunch (brown bag or order out)
- Your coworkers
- You, relaxing
- Your children, playing
- Whatever comes to mind
You might also visit a page at About.com that describes how to use Flickr photos as conversation starters. It lists some useful and instructive questions you can ask about the photos there. Flickr.com is a repository of literally millions of photos available for the public to view. If your learner's cell phone shots don't turn out, Flickr's bounty of images might be a good plan B. Good luck, and please feel free to share ideas any time.