Resources for ESOL Teachers and Tutors

Teaching Preliterate Adult Refugee Students

posted Apr 20, 2011, 10:50 AM by Albany ESOL


Developed by Tahoma Community House Training Project

Pre-literate adult refugees present a number of challenges for teachers and programs. Unlike other
learners who are literate in their own language, pre-literate students may have had no formal contact
with written language before. Teachers cannot rely on students taking notes to aid memory and
promote self-study. Learners may need basic instruction in how to hold a pencil and other literacy
basics that we take for granted in a literate culture. Pre-literate learners may not recognize common
pictoral representations that teachers often use to represent objects with literate learners. Pre-literate
learners may not have handled books and papers or be familiar with the cultural expectations in the
classroom. Where and how do you start teaching these learners? What do you need to teach them?
What do they need and want to know?

This book attempts to answer these questions and reviews some effective practices for teaching pre-
literate adult refugees. It describes techniques and activities that support these practices. It is
divided into sections on teaching speaking and listening skills and reading and writing skills.
Although their literacy level is what makes pre-literate students especially challenging to teach, oral
language still needs to be developed and actually developed first as many of the approaches to
teaching literacy described here rely on learners reading their own words. Each of the sections on
teaching language skills provides examples and descriptions of useful approaches, techniques, and
activities. There is a checklist of language competencies that learners who are new to the language
need to know, a section on teaching multi-level groups, and information on resources that teachers
and service providers can use.

Mental Health

posted Mar 9, 2011, 7:59 PM by Albany ESOL   [ updated Mar 9, 2011, 8:07 PM ]

Mental Health and the ESL Classroom
The Mental Health and the ESL Classroom manual outlines concrete steps that an ESL teacher can implement to make their classroom a more effective teaching environment, as well as a welcoming space for refugees.

Citizenship Exam

posted Feb 23, 2011, 8:54 PM by Albany ESOL

The citizenship test consists of an interview, in which the interviewer requires the applicant to complete a series of tasks proving that s/he has a basic knowledge of English and American history and government.  This interview is scheduled only after the applicant submits an N-400.  During the interview, the interviewer will review the application and ask the applicant questions about answers they put on the form.  This is done mainly to determine how well the applicant and speak and understand English. 


Then, the interviewer will ask the applicant 10 civics questions, of which they must answer 6 correctly.  There are 100 possible questions the applicant can study.


The interviewer will then ask the applicant to read a sentence out loud.  There are three sentences the applicant can attempt, but s/he only needs to read one correctly to pass.


After that the applicant must write a sentence that the interviewer dictates.  Again, the applicant will be given three different sentences should s/he be unable to complete any of them. 


Go forth and be prosperous!



The following websites can help you locate study materials for the U.S. citizenship exam for those trying to naturalize: -- this is the link to the 100 civics questions and their answers. -- reading vocabulary flashcards -- writing vocabulary flashcards --Civics flashcards -- reading vocabulary sheet -- writing vocabulary sheet -- the link to a video describing the interview process

Refugee Reading Lists

posted Feb 23, 2011, 8:53 PM by Albany ESOL

For those of us who love to read, have the luxury of some spare time, and are interested in learning more about refugee issues (taken from the CSI Refugee Center Volunteer Handbook located in Twin Falls, Idaho):


Autobiography, Biography, Fiction, Poetry:


A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah


Autobiographical Notes: A Centennial Edition, Albert Einstein


Call Me By My True Names, Thick Nhat Hanh -- a collection of poems written by a Buddhist monk who fled from Vietnam to France 


Day and Night, Elie Wiesel


First They Killed My Father, Luong Ung


A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, Robert Olen Butler -- collection of short stories that won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1993; each story is narrated by a different Vietnamese immigrant living in Louisiana


A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry


Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini


A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini


Lost Boys of Sudan, Mark Bixler


My Land and My People: The Original Autobiography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet


Notes from My Travels, Angelina Jolie


Nowhere Man, Aleksander Hemon


Of Beetles & Angels: A Boy's Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard, Mawi Asgedom


Refugee, Adnan Mahmutovic -- a collection of stories and essays inspired by the author's flight from Bosnia and life in Sweden as a refugee 


Slave, Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis -- a memoir of a woman who was a slave in Khartoum


The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World, Kati Marton


The Land of Green Ghosts, Pascal Khoo Thwe


The Middle of Everywhere, Mary Pipher -- **** highly recommended; about refugees resettling in Lincoln, Nebraska


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman


They Poured Down Fire on Us and from the Sky, Deng, Deng, Ajak and Bernstein


What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng , Dave Eggers -- about a Sudanese refugee who ultimately moves to Atlanta, Georgia --- read the review here:


Other Nonfiction:


Refugee Women, Susan Forbes Marin


Refugees in a Global Era, Philip Marfleet


Global Changes in Asylum Regimes: Closing Doors, Daniele Joly


The Price of Indifference: Refugees and Humanitarian Action in the New Country, Arthur Helton


Problems of Protection: The UNHCR, Refugees, and Human Rights, Steiner, Gibney & Loescher


The Politics and Ethics of Asylum: Liberal Democracy and the Response of Refugees, Gibney


Homecomings: Unsettling Paths of Return, Markowitz Y Stefansson


Coming Home? Refugees, Migrants, and Those Who Stayed Behind, Long Y Oxfeld


Buddha is Hiding: Refugees, Citizens, and the New America, Aihwa Ong


Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology Among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania, Lisa H. Malkki


Landscape of Hope and Despair: Palestinian Refugee Camps, Julie Peteet


In the Land of the Magic Soldiers, Daniel Bergner




A Great Wonder: Lost Children of Sudan, Kim Shelton, 61 min.


Rain in a Dray Land, Anne Makepeace


Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, Zack Niles & Banker White


Lost Boys of Sudan, Megan Mylan & Jon Shenk, 87 min.


Roosevelt's America, Roger Weisberg & Tod Lending


And God Grew Tired of Us, Christopher Quinn


Becoming America, Ken Levine & Ivory Waterworth Levine


The Lost Boys, Clive Gordon, 77 min.


Afghan Stories, Taran Davies, 58 min.


The Valley, Dan Reed, 70 min.


Being Hmong Means Being Free, 56 min.


Blue Collar and Buddha, Taggart Siegel, 57 min.


Bui Doi: Life Like Dust, Mishan & Rothenberg, 57 min.


First Person Plural, Deann Borshay, 56 min.


The Split Horn: Life of a Hmong Shaman in America, Taggart Siegel, 60 min.


Letter Back Home, Lacroix & Thepkaysone, 14 min.


Reflections: Returning fo Vietnam, 30 min.


Shadow Over Tibet: Stories in Exile, Rachel Lyon, 57 min.


In This World, Michael Winterbottom, 88 min.


Poetical Refugee, Adbel Kechiche, 130 min.


From Refugee to Immigrant: A Story of Three Kosovar Albanian Americans, Friedland & Fissel


Asylum, McLeod & Reticker, 20 min.


Asylum, Gary Beitel, 78 min.


The Day My God Died, Andrew Levine, 70 min.


Brothers & Others, Nicolas Rossier, 54 min.


Beautiful People, Jasmin Dizdar, 107 min.


Catfish in Black Bean Sauce, Chi Moui Lo, 119 min.


A Family Crisis: The Elian Gonzales Story, Christopher Leitch, 90 min.


Fire Dancer, Jawed Wassel, 79 min.


The Letter, Ziad Hamzeh, 76 min.


Against Wind and Tide: A Cuban Odyssey, Jim Burroughs, 57 min.


Journey to Kapasseni: A Refugee's Gift, Bill Weaver, 51 min.


TL Xmas, School Daze, and Home, 50 min.


Refugee, Spencer Nakasako


Kelly Loves Tony, Spencer Nakasako, 57 min.

Web-Based Resources

posted Feb 23, 2011, 8:51 PM by Albany ESOL   [ updated Jun 9, 2011, 8:50 AM ]

Lesson Plan Resources:


Online Resources (worksheets, etc) that may be useful:  --- quizzes, worksheets, lesson plans, and more. --- scroll to the bottom of the page to find resources for teachers.  Includes games, activities, worksheets, quizzes, lessons plans, etc. --- A list of useful websites from Literacy Volunteers --- quizzes, lesson ideas, etc. -- worksheets and lesson plans galore 


Survival English Teaching Materials (from Denis Samburskiy): (worksheets, activities) (Survival English activities) (common pronunciation mistakes by language background) (Phrase book)


Other useful pages: -- Center for Applied Lingustics -- US Immigration and Naturalization Services -- Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning -- USCRI's website

USCRI Albany ESOL Resource Library

posted Feb 23, 2011, 8:43 PM by Albany ESOL   [ updated Mar 1, 2011, 3:46 PM ]

Check out some of the articles, books, magazines, etc. for ideas on method, best practice, lessons, and training.

ESOL Teachers should coordinate with Interns or Staff at USCRI Albany to come view the limited Resource Library, and to copy materials.



The Oxford Picture Dictionary


"Easy English", Living Language, Random House Company - cassette tapes and book


"Intermediate English" -- video tapes


"English for New Americans : Everyday Life Workbook", Living Language, Random House Company -- video tape and book


"Basic English" -- videotapes and workbook


"A Day in the Life of the Gonzalez Family" -- video tape and text book


"Culture Clips" -- video tape (x2)


"English for New Americans: Work and School" -- video tape, cassette tapes, and work books


"Teddy Bears Tell the Time" -- children's book with a built-in clock (that is also in military time) to help learn time vocabulary


"Real-Life English : A Competency-based ESL Program for Adults" -- cassettes and student book (x 2)


"Small Talk: More Jazz Chants" -- audio cassette and workbook


"Read All About It: Book 1" -- audio cassette and workbook


"The Trouble with English: Overcoming Common Problems with North American English" -- audio cassette and workbook


"Student Resource Booklet : Beginning to Read A,B,C" (x 11 + 10 evaluation booklets for tests) -- workbooks


"Student Resource Booklet : Book 1"


"Student Resource Booklet: Book 2"


"Moonbeams Practice Book" (x2) -- workbook for reading and writing


"East of the Sun" -- book: poems and short stories with large type and pictures

We also have worksheets you can photocopy.
Other useful books you might want to check out from your local library:
Easy English: Basic English for Speakers of All Languages.  -- Christopher Warnasch, Copyright 2000 by Living Language, A Random House Company **highly recommended**

The ELT Grammar Book--Richard Firsten and Patricia Killia

The ESL Wonder Workbook #1, This is Me--Elizabeth Claire 

The ESL Wonder Workbook #2, All Around Me--Elizabeth Claire 

The ESL Wonder Workbook - Set of Books 1 & Book 2

Look Who's Talking-- group interaction speech.--Mary Ann Christison and Sharron Bassano

On the Write Track - Student Book-- basic skills for needed for classroom learning.

Teaching English Worldwide-- guide to teaching english. -- Paul Lindsay 

Zero Prep for Beginners-- beginning lessons for learners. --Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess 

Zero Prep: Ready to Go Activities-- writing and reading activities for beginners.--Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess
Side by Side -- Steven J. Molinsky (**** teacher recommended)
Chartbook Grammar --- Betty Azar (**** teacher recommended)



USCRI Albany has electronic copies of:


-The 3000 most common words in the English language (worksheets)


-McCarthy, Michael and Felicity O'Dell. English Collocations in Use: How Words Work Together for Fluent and Natural English - Self Study and Classroom Use. Cambridge.


-McCarthy, Michael and Felicity O'Dell.  English Vocabulary in Use: Elementary. Cambridge University Press.  -- "60 Units of vocabulary reference and practice: self-study and classroom use"


-Redman, Stuart. English Vocabulary in Use: Pre-intermediate and Intermediate. Cambridge University Press. -- "100 Units of vocabulary reference and practice: self-study and classroom use"


-Parnwell, E.C. The New Oxford Picture Dictionary: The Monolingual English Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.




List compiled by: Dan Clark

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