* "Is there going to be a war, Miss?"

TESOL Newsletters March 2008

A secondary ESL teacher recently told me that one of her refugee students had noticed a news item about the Opposition disagreeing with the Government on some issue.  The student checked with her the meaning of "Opposition" and was then very worried because he thought that war was about to break out in Australia.

A couple of years ago I had a conversation about elections with an Australian-born, native-English-speaking year 12 student who has since become a primary school teacher.  This young woman did not know what political party John Howard belonged to and had not the faintest inkling of the function of the Senate.

ESL teachers are well aware of the depths of ignorance in our community about the functions and processes of government and of the difficulty in finding materials to help students increase their knowledge in this area, which is so important for a truly functioning democracy.  And, of course, as usual, finding appropriate materials for students who struggle with print literacy is even harder.

In response to many requests from teachers, Dorothy Court and I have just produced another package of reading materials on the topic Australian Government. The volume containing the reading materials for the students is written at three levels of difficulty (approximately ISLPR 1-, 1 and 1+ to 2) and covers the three-tier system of government and the electoral process.  The accompanying  Workbook has a great deal of additional background material for teachers, photocopiable stimulus pictures, reference lists of technical terms for students and exercises, with suggested answers, at the same three levels as the reading materials.  The exercises include vocabulary extension and consolidation, comprehension, sentence structure, pronunciation, syllabification, punctuation and phonics, guided writing and detailed listening.  There is also a sound CD with a clear, slow reading of the three texts, as well as two recordings, one slowly "lined" and one moderately paced and unlined, of Advance Australia Fair and Waltzing Matilda.

We hope teachers will find this package a useful resource.