A few months back, a fellow blogger, Ms. Lucy, made the creative and practical suggestion of involving the whole family in homework assignments. For adult learners with children, there are at least two immediate benefits. Ms. Lucy pointed out that not only do the parents get language practice, but the shared time together promotes the parent-child relationship.
Since reading Ms. Lucy’s suggestion, I have had occasion to explore more ways to stimulate language practice within a family. I recently began teaching a woman who is a mother of a school-aged girl. For both the mother and the daughter, English is a foreign language. The mother has asked for help and guidance so that she in turn can provide more language support to her daughter. Here are two activities I assigned this week.
- Involve children in the writing process. After reading an article about a celebrity father-daughter outing, I initiated relevant discussion and highlighted vocabulary. I then assigned a short composition about a recent mother-daughter outing. As part of the pre-writing process, the mother must brainstorm with her daughter (in English) about what particular event to write about. They will recall the details together, and then the mother will submit her first draft to me. Once we finish the revisions, the mother will read the final draft to her daughter.
- Make language practice a game. This idea came from the days I used to spend with my grandmother playing word games at the kitchen table. It was enjoyable, and it sharpened my spelling and vocabulary skills. I asked my student to practice the vocabulary from the article mentioned above with her daughter. There is a set of questions they must discuss together. Each question reinforces a new expression. If the daughter is unfamiliar with the term, the mother must explain. One question asks them to imagine they must prepare backpacks for a weekend camping trip. They must name items that they will load up on. They must each create a list (in English) and then compare them, agreeing what is necessary and what is not.
I am sure you will find ways to adapt these ideas to your lesson plans, and you can certainly alter them to meet the needs of adult learners without children (e.g., write about a memorable outing with your mother or father).