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Marti has worked full-time in ESL and basic literacy ministries since 1973. She has written many materials:
  • Laubach Way to English (co-author)
  • Emergency English for Refugees
  • Handbook for Volunteer Reading Aides
  • Passport to the World of English
    (Four volumes)
Question:
Is it ever okay to teach lessons out of order?
          Or should we just stick to the book?

A nswer:

In all my teaching, I try to keep two questions in mind.

  What does my student want and need to be able to do NOW?
  How can I help her or him be able to do that NOW?

So my answer to your question is, yes, it is okay to teach lessons out of order, if doing so meets a particular student need.

An example
When I am teaching Book 1 of Passport to the World of English series, I'm working primarily on helping students get acquainted with the English alphabet and sounds and oral skills. But if a student makes consistent grammar mistakes during Book One lessons, I often go to Book Two, find a grammar page or two that explains the mistake and gives added practice in the problem area. I insert these extra pages into the Book One lesson.

If the student doesn't know the question words and question forms, for instance, I would provide the chart and exercises from Book Two (shown below), which summarize all the words and question-word order.

Grammar Focus: Question Words and Forms

Who
   
   
   
   
   
is
was                           the President?
will....be

are
were                          the winners?
will.....be

What
   
   
   
   
   
is
was                           the assignment?
will.....be

are
were                          the assignments?
will.....be

When
   
   
   
   
   
is
was                           your birthday?
will.....be

are
were                          your holidays?
will.....be

Where
   
   
   
   
   
is
was                           the dictionary?
will.....be

are
were                          the dictionaries?

Why
   
   
   
   
is
was                           the dictionary on the floor?
will.....be

are
were                          the dictionaries on the floor?
will.....be

How
   
   
   
   
is
was                           Mrs. Smith?
will.....be

are
were                          Mr. and Mrs. Smith?
will.....be

The Book Two writing exercises immediately following the chart are to write two questions for each question word. Example:

Try It
       Write two questions for each question word
       (who, what, when, where, why, how).
       1. __________________________________________
       2. __________________________________________

For Book One students, we'd study the chart together. Then I'd have my student SAY two questions for each question word. (Let students look at the chart while they try to formulate their questions.)

Another example
If something is happening that is in the news and/or being talked about a lot, I try to find a lesson on the same or related subject.

For example, there's a lesson in Book One of Passport to the World of English about the first time men landed on the moon. Whenever a space shuttle goes up, I skip to that lesson. I also try to record a portion of the evening news covering the launch. Or I bring in a video clip from a similar launch, or from that first moon landing.

You can use video clips as a change of pace in the lesson, or as review. Often I use them with or in place of a theme picture. It's a special way to start a new lesson.



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ESL Ministry
Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church
1801 Lacassie Avenue Ball Walnut Creek Ball California 94596 Ball  925-935-1574
Joanne Rae Meads Ball jrmeads@worldnet.att.net
Updated
September 16, 1999