Karen Wade

Rogue Community College

(541) 956-7253


Used segments of various Crossroads Café episodes – see below


CASAS Competencies

0.1.2    Use appropriate language for informational purposes

0.1.4    Identify or use appropriate language in general social situations

0.2.3    Interpret or write a personal note, invitation, or letter

0.2.4    Converse about daily and leisure activities and personal interests

2.2.4    Interpret transportation schedules and fares

2.2.5    Use maps relating to travel needs

2.6.1    Interpret information about recreational and entertainment facilities and activities

2.6.3    Interpret information in order to plan for outings and vacations

2.7.6    Interpret materials related to the arts, such as fine art, music, drama, and film (planned for          June ’07)


The Class:  A beginner - high beginner group of students, the composition of the class has changed over time as students have come and gone.  We meet four mornings per week for three hours each morning.  Because my class was smaller than Amy’s, I also recruited pen pals from my night class (which meets 2 evenings per week for 2 hours each night.)


Disclaimer:  This unit was planned a year ago, before I attended the ELC study groups where we discussed authentic materials and experiences.  After that experience I have found myself using more “authentic” materials in the classroom, allowing my beginners to take part in more activities outside the classroom.  We participated in the Cinco de Mayo event on campus, distributing food to passers by and practicing, “Would you like some ___________?”  We went to a couple of on-campus open houses, just to see what they were like.  These were spur-of-the-moment events, so there was no preparation involved, just the fun of the event itself. 


I have invited a moving scientific experiment trailer to our campus to give my students the enjoyment of doing easy experiments and being able to use some of their newly acquired language.  This activity isn’t necessarily related to “recreation and leisure” but I felt the opportunity to have fun with science was too good to pass up.


At the Fall ELC meeting Mary Jane had given us an “assignment” to collaborate with another instructor or college, allowing our students to communicate with another group of students.  Amy Widger, of MHCC and I decided to have our students become ESL Pen Pals. 


All of this is my way of saying I may not have accomplished all of my goals as thoroughly as I had planned last spring, because we branched out into new territory for me and my students.  It was exciting and fearsome for me, worthwhile for my students and challenging for all of us.


ELC Language/Literacy Objectives:


The ESL Pen Pal Plan: 


ESL Pen Pals – The Reality: 

It was going to be hard for beginners to be able to express their ideas in English with limited vocabularies.  To help them out, I developed a question/answer format that allowed the students to use the answers to the questions to form the body of their letter/postcard/card.  I used the exchanges as a means to achieve several of the literacy objectives. This focused me away from the use of prepared ESL texts and toward other materials. 


The ESL pen pal exchange was valuable and time intensive because of the irregularity of student attendance.  What could have been an activity for one class session, dragged on over several as I had to work with absent students upon their return, while providing lessons for the other students who had completed their letters.  The project as a whole was valuable to the students as they read the letters and learned about students from very different countries and in situations similar to or different from their own.  One student commented that she learned more English by having to write the letters.  Another student would have preferred to write to a “real” friend.


Second Disclaimer:  I’ve attached copies of the forms I used for letter-writing, but haven’t had time to correct the errors I discovered while using them.  We never can proofread enough.


When we weren’t working on the pen pal letters, we practiced present, present continuous and the past verb tenses.  We haven’t gotten to the future, yet.  Students practiced dialogues with “I can, I can’t, can you?,” completed johari windows about what they could and couldn’t do, as well as likes and dislikes. They played charades, dialogued inviting a friend to do something, using those handy card book cards and chants, and borrowed sports equipment.


Materials: I used many of the materials we collected, travel brochures and ads, magazines published by the local newspaper for the Chamber of Commerce, and downloaded copies of an event website as background materials to provide the students with information to impart to their pen pals.  While not all of the students used this information for that purpose, our study of activities available to us in Grants Pass increased the students’ levels of awareness.


From Crossroads Café I used clips and the scripts from the following episodes to have ss identify recreational activities discussed in the episode and to identify and practice inviting, accepting and declining invitations.

            #8 – Family Matters

            #10 – Let the Buyer Beware

            #13 – Trading Places

            #20 – Outside Looking In

            #23 – The Gift 

            #24 – All’s Well That Ends Well


In addition to the local resource materials, I used

About Grants Pass
Practice for a Letter about Myself
ESL Pen Pal Card Prep