One of the absolute joys of teaching in an ESL context: A treasure trove of instantly available, authentic, relevant teaching materials!
One of the (many) modules of evaluation I have to complete with my ESL classes is understanding and working with basic information texts.
I checked out the "recommended coursebook" pages and almost bored myself to death before I'd even begun to consider using them with my class (as it turns out, some of the pages will make for some handy listening activities in combination with some whiteboard work). But given only a couple of the students have that recommended coursebook (and more importantly: given that I am under no obligation whatsoever to use it!), I do my very best to avoid it. Of all the tasks I've come to loathe, photocopying multiple pages of a textbook for up to 20 students has got to rank up there with the very worst of them.
The great thing, of course, is the fact that our local supermarket chains put out PDF versions of their weekly catalogues on the Internet. I've downloaded them and found two outstanding pages to use with my class:
Beyond the food vocabulary itself, on this page alone I have examples of prices according to "each", "punnet", "per kg", and "bunch".
And then there's this one (from a rival chain):
Yep, got Halloween covered as well! But this one's also great for all the extra vocabulary and turns of phrase involved -- beyond just the items and some of the Halloween lexis (for example "assorted", "not included", "while stocks last", "no rain checks", and "store availability").
What's great about these materials is that my students can pick them up themselves just by popping into their nearest supermarket!
Hence, I won't be doing any of that dreaded "Monday morning before a 9am class start" photocopying routine...
Tomorrow morning the students will be getting into groups, organised by department, to create their own pages of a class supermarket brochure (just to see what they already know and what they may need to know).
Homework will be to drop by their supermarket and pick up this week's catalogue, and to have a good look through it, making any necessary study notes that they're capable of on their own (and comparing to their own initial efforts with the class catalogue making task).
Then, on Tuesday, when we get the classroom with the IWB, I'll be uploading the brochures as PDFs and running the class from that input (which they should also have in front of them in original print form).
So information texts, here we come!
From there, we should be able to slide nice and smoothly into some of the other formal assessment areas (like understanding spoken information texts -- cue the nasaly announcer over the supermarket PA system!; completing short forms -- for a Halloween competition run by the supermarket; and understanding and participating in short spoken transactions -- welcome to the "checkout chick" with the hairy legs and English Raven T-shirt!).
Gosh I love ESL.
Gosh I love the Internet!