Teaching Practical Skills: Filling out applications and forms
Making use of authentic applications and forms is a creative addition to a conversation, vocabulary, or writing lesson. Consider just a few possibilities:
- Download a Housing Request Form from any American college or university and go over new vocabulary: residence hall; homestay; session; handicap; special concerns; sorority; first-come, first-serve basis, etc. Then discuss issues such as the advantages and disadvantages of different housing options for college students.
- Integrated Skills Activity: Bill of Sale. In advance, download sample forms for various items from a site such as USLegalforms.com. Explain that students will work in small groups of three, and each group represents a family. Designate one student in each group as the head of the household. All families are in financial trouble and must sell one treasured family item: boat, rare coin collection, antique car, horse, or rare artwork. Each family must come to a decision about which possession to sell and then complete the forms together, naming the head of the household as the seller and the teacher as the purchaser.
- Different activities for different levels: Library Card Form. If you’d like, you can find an online form for the New York Public Library. Basic level students can use the form to practice reading skills (the goal being enough comprehension to fill out all fields) and printing. Try holding a short discussion about the reasons why people visit libraries to lead into the writing activity. Upper level students could use the form as a springboard for discussing the fate of libraries: Will they stand the test of time, or will they become completely electronic? Need an additional related activity? One Maryland library has a Book Review Form online. You could ask students to visit a local library, choose a title from the children’s literature (picture books make the task manageable in a short amount of time) and write a review, using the form. If you provide a list of titles to choose from, you can target old favorites that many adult native speakers would have read in their childhood (e.g., books by Dr. Suess and Eric Carle).
- Job Application Form. Have students name their ideal jobs. Ask them what their schedules and responsibilities would be in those jobs. Next, look over a sample job application form. Highlight new vocabulary such as eligible, felony, and termination. Discuss appropriate ways to fill out fields such as reasons for leaving a previous job.