Teachers' Tips: Backward Buildup

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Teach the Learner
Jazz Chants
My students have trouble with long sentences. By the time I get to the end of the sentence, they have forgotten the first words. Help!

A answer:
Backward buildup
is a great way to tackle those long sentences. Just remember to speak in a natural rhythm and at a normal speed. They need to listen to the rhythm and intonation as well as the words.

The students need a lot of repetition. Usually the teachers are the only ones tired of it! Give plenty of praise and encouragement when the entire sentence is finally repeated.

President of World Vision and his sponsored child

"Some friends don't help,
but a true friend is closer than your own family."

Proverbs 18:24
(Lesson 1, Book 1)

  1. Ask them to listen carefully as you model the whole sentence for them several times.
  2. Model the last word in the sentence, being careful to use the same rhythm and intonation.
  3. Ask the student to repeat.
  4. Now model the second-to-the-last word along with the last word.
  5. Ask the student to repeat.
  6. Continue adding a word at a time, with the student repeating both the wordand the sentence part each time.
  7. Continue until the entire sentence is repeated.


    Red CheckMany students find it easier because they are focussed on the last part of the word/sentence.
    Red CheckYou are more likely to keep your intonations constant. If you don't keep them constant, you will confuse your student.

A great part of our ministry is helping teachers and students be successful, so let us give you a hand. We have engaged an expert in ESL/literacy. Martha A. Lane has worked full-time in ESL and basic literacy ministries since 1973. She has written many materials, including: Laubach Way to English (co-author), Emergency English for Refugees, Handbook for Volunteer Reading Aides. One of the new books Marti is working on now is Jump into Citizenship.

Visit Marti's page on this site: Ask Marti
E-mail your ESL/literacy questions and keep this woman busy! marthaalane@earthlink.net

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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
September 16, 1999

© Copyright 1999 by Joanne Meads, All Rights Reserved