Giving + Learning

Today’s Tutor Tips

via Washtenaw Literacy Site 

Here are a number of tutoring tips that will provide resources for teachers in the ESL classroom to feel more confident:

1) Activate prior knowledge.
Find a topic in which the learner are knowledgeable or interested in. This will help engage the learners into the lessons and will excite them to talk about what they know and will learn/read from the new vocabulary.

2) Good tutoring is repetition without boredom.
People need to do something over and over to become expert or fluent. To build confidence, improve usage and increase fluency. As well, try to find new ways to incorporate the repetition, it will cause the learners to have more fun with the activity.

3) Everyone has heard the adage “less is more”.
This is a guiding principal for tutors especially when using paper lessons or making worksheets.  Put less on a page and make the font bigger. Make multiple pages, if you would like, but only hand them out one at a time. Number all items so that it’s less confusing to refer to an item.

Learner Web: Teaching Adults to Read

via Learner Web: Teaching Adults to Read.

Literacy coaches who are working with learners on reading will appreciate this online tool, a workshop broken down into the following components:

  • Teaching Adults to Read: Alphabetics
  • Teaching Adults to Read: Comprehension
  • Teaching Adults to Read: Fluency
  • Teaching Adults to Read: Vocabulary
  • Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles

ESL iPad Apps & Podcasts

With an increase of technology in education, gathering a set of ESL based podcasts and tablet/iPad applications for teachers and volunteers to use, seems to be essential. After doing some research, a number of resources were recognized for their work in ESL online lesson plans and guides. For some ESL classes, using applications or the Internet may not be possible; however, here is a compiled list of these resources, sorted by teacher’s aid and learner’s aid:

Teacher’s Aid:

  • WIDA
    • This iPad application is made by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and allows educators to have access to the content of the 2012 Amplification of the English Language Development Standards. Some of the inclusions (found here) that this app features are as follows:
      • Curriculum and instruction planning tools from the printed version
      • Searching by standard, grade level or language domain
      • Grade-specific example topics
      • Expanded and integrated strands

This application is an extensive tool for teachers to use in hope to assist and ease their instruction to ESL learners.

  • MyWordBook 2
    • This application, found on Google Play or iTunes, is an interactive English vocabulary educator created by Cambridge University Press. Some of the inclusions (found here) that this app features are as follows:
      • Topic by topic learning
      • Interactive vocabulary flashcards
      • Add pictures, sounds, example sentences, translations and notes to flashcards to help you remember
      • Create your own flashcards for new words as you need them.
      • Sync words across all mobile devices

This is especially helpful to educators because it allows you to share specific vocabulary words to other media devices, so multiple ELS learners will be able to participate at once.


Learner’s Aid:

  • ESL Podcast
    • This podcast can be found and installed through Google Play on all computer or MP3 players. It consists as a guide for learners to continue their English language development, as well as educate themselves in the American culture. Some of the inclusions (found here) that this podcast features are as follows:
      • Complete transcripts
      • Definitions
      • Sample sentences
      • Comprehension questions
      • Additional explanations
      • Cultural notes
      • Tips on improving your English
  • Oxford Picture Dictionary, Second Edition
    • This instant access app allows learners to polish their English vocabulary and language skills on either an iPad or tablet. Be it in class or on their own, this application will benefit any learner in advancing in the English language. Some of the inclusions (found here) that this app features are as follows:
      • 4,000 terms, organized into 12 thematic units, including Everyday Language, People, Housing, Food and Recreation, and more
      • Engage and motivate students with vibrant art and easy-to-use format
      • Provide students with unlimited independent practice and multiple exposures to the terms
      • Bookmark any entry to easily search for terms

Overall, if class size and technology materials are available, then working with ESL podcasts and iPad applications could be beneficial to integrate into one’s ESL lesson plans. Give some of these a try and if there are any other resources that have been successful, let us know!

ELL and Mentoring Volunteer Opportunities in the FM Area

Three great ELL and mentoring volunteer opportunities in the FM Area for 2016.

African Initiative for Progress: AIP is looking for mentors to work with New American students at Fargo South High School and Davies High School. Mentoring may include some ELL support, broader homework support, or more general life mentoring. AIP training is available.

Contact: Christian Harris, Executive Director, AIP: 701-491-0628

Giving + Learning: in-home or school English Language tutoring for an individual, couple, or family. Basic commitment: one hour a week, at a time that is convenient for you and your partner. Primarily adults; some high school tutoring opportunities available. Learners are typically looking for help with:
• English
• Studying for the driver’s permit test
• Studying for the citizenship test
• Homework (in the case of high school students)

In-home at a time convenient for you and the learner.
The WE Center, Saturday and Sunday, 4-6 pm.

Contact: Dr. Kevin Brooks,, 231-7147.

Fargo Adult Learning Center: This volunteer opportunity is different than the Project English opportunity. The FALC instructors would benefit from classroom support during the day (M-F, 8:30-11:30; M-Thursday 12:30-2:30) or during the evening class T/R (6:00-8:30).


Contact: Jennifer Frueh, Director: 446-2806.


Citizenship Curricula | Minnesota Literacy Council

Citizenship Curricula | Minnesota Literacy Council.

The MLC Citizenship Curricula looks fabulous–of course!

Giving + Learning’s 2014 Annual Report

The goal of Giving + Learning is to match volunteers with English language learners in order to foster a welcoming community for newcomers to the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Giving + Learning functioned successfully between 2001 and 2011, matching approximately 500 volunteers with 800 learners in that time. Through the support and release time made available by a Bush Foundation Fellowship, Kevin Brooks, Professor of English at North Dakota State University, began making matches and rebuilding the organization in January of 2014. Brooks was most successful at recruiting volunteers from NDSU (students, staff, faculty) but he was also able to recruit through the Giving + Learning website and the Impact Foundation listing.

Because the goal of G+L is to match volunteers, we keep close tabs on how we recruit, how many we recruit, and where we find both volunteers and learners.

  • 4 volunteer orientation sessions hosted, approximately two hours each: (2 at NDSU, 2 at Fargo Public Library)
  • 95 people filled out the Giving + Learning volunteer form.
  • 43 of those people worked with at least one learner.
  • 35 of those volunteers are known to have an NDSU connection
  • 5 volunteers are known to have been redirected to the Fargo Adult Literacy Center or Project English.
  • 78 learners identified by FALC, LSS, other agencies, or self-referral.
  • 46 learners served.

Brooks contributed numerous hours of in-home tutoring to support volunteers and families. He also contributed the following volunteer hours:

  • 17 weeks of tutoring (3 hours each week) at the Fargo Adult Learning Center.
  • 11 weeks of tutoring (1.5 hours each week) at the International Family Knight, Kennedy Elementary School.

Because G+L is a community building effort, the organization also contributed to cultural and educational events throughout the year.

  • Brooks offered a professional development course for teachers at the annual Building Bridges Conference, April 8 and 9, 2014.
  • He co-hosted a World Refugee Celebration on June 20th, 2014.
  • G+L had an informational table to at the annual Police Community Picnic.
  • G+L had an informational table at the annual Pangea Celebration of Community Diversity.
  • G+L expanded into South High School, matching 5 mentors and learners during the fall of 2014.
  • Brooks participated in a North Dakota Refugee Coalition Strategic Planning Meeting Nov. 25th, 2014.

Giving + Learning at its best is about relationships and stories, not numbers. When the tutor-mentor relationship transforms into a friendship, the value of that friendship is hard to measure. Two G+L mentors in 2014 were asked to support, and they continue to support, the family that lost Frederic Ndereimana in the drowning accident at South High, January 2014. Another 2014 mentor helped transport a family member to the hospital so the expecting mother could deliver her baby, and she is helping the family learn more about home ownership. NDSU students were giving their high school learners Christmas presents on the last day of working together, and one G+L volunteer drives her partner to work every Sunday because there is no bus service that day.

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A creative commons licensed set of readings: every ELL teacher’s dream.

The Medium is the Message on Voting Day

A six year old Giving + Learning friendship has a role on election day.

Kevin Brooks

Election season has become pretty distasteful for many Americans as the parties polarize and the big money brings the nasty, but today my 56 year old friend, Faizil, got to vote for the first time—and he was ecstatic. He called me Monday to make sure I would pick him up today. He and his wife Ardo were dressed and ready to go when I arrived 10 minutes early. No bid deal, right, except that Faizil’s English is still developing, so calling me is a bit of a challenge, and Faizil is in a wheel chair, his left side almost immobile due to the 14 bullets he took as a teenager in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. He was not only dressed and ready, but he was wearing shiny new dress shoes, slacks, and a new hoodie covering most of his head and face because he really doesn’t like to go…

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Advanced English lessons

Advanced English lessons.

ProLiteracy recommends this page as a resource for learners and tutors.

Adult ESL Training Videos – New American Horizons

Adult ESL Training Videos – New American Horizons.

These videos are just one example of great resources Burgen Young from the Minnesota Literacy Council shared with 22 workshop participants Saturday Oct. 18th.

Other fabulous resources include