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Bryan Adult Learning Center

2/7/14 9:58-12:00
Today was my first observation in an ESL classroom. I was assigned to the Bryan
Adult Learning Center and was placed in an advanced ESL classroom. The teacher in
the classroom is Ms. Mary. She is an elderly woman who has been teaching ESL
students for a long time. She immediately welcomed me into her classroom and was
ready to provide as much information to me as possible. When I arrived the
students were working out of a book in partners. Ms. Mary took this time to show
me around the room and explain the uses of each of her books. As I looked around
the room I noticed the multiple visual aids plastered against the walls. She had
examples of prepositions, a map of the world, punctuation examples, and so much
more. She had a large collection of books for all different levels of ELLs. She
explained to me the process and structure of the class. She told me about the oral
and written exams each student was given and how they were working towards
passing those. When the students finished working with their partners, the class
came together to go over each conversation out loud. Ms. Mary listened carefully to
make sure that the words were being pronounced correctly. It was strange to me to
hear these students learning language in this way. With English being my first and
only language, I had never learned English via written conversations in class. I
figured that since these students were ESL students, they do not get to converse in
English very often so the implementation of conversation is vital in their acquisition
of the English language. At the end of the class Ms. Mary had me pass out the final
activity. This activity as a worksheet with five short paragraphs. Each paragraph had
a multiple choice question to go along with the information given. These questions
were all comprehension questions and made the students think about the words
they were reading. The students were given time to work on the questions and then
were asked to read aloud the paragraph and give their answer. All but one of the
students got their answer correct. For the one who answered incorrectly, Ms. Mary
helped to guide them towards the correct answer and then explained why the
original answer given was incorrect. One of the questions was about Chinese food
and fortune cookies. The passage mentioned that fortune cookies are actually not
used in China. This had all of us surprised. Ms. Mary asked one of her students from
China if that was true and the student said yes. The student laughed and explained
that she went to a Chinese food restaurant here in the United States and was given
a fortune cookie and had no clue what it was. We all found it funny that Americans
think that fortune cookies are a thing in China when they really aren’t. Ms. Mary
later told me that she likes to use this particular worksheet because it gives the
students an opportunity to talk about where they are from. She said that she
normally chooses examples and worksheets so that the students are given that
opportunity to connect their learning to their native country. She also told me that I
will often see her tell stories about her own life so that the students are given
greater insight into certain meanings of words while also being able to relate them

to personal experience. At the end of the class I stayed behind to talk to her about
her students in greater depth. She said that the majority of the students come from
Asian countries with a few more from South America and other countries. She
explained to me that having students from multiple places provides an opportunity
to not only learn about American culture but also the culture of other countries.
“There is always an opportunity for these students to learn. And they want to learn”
she said. Ms. Mary told me that she enjoys working with adults because they all
want to be there and all are trying as hard as they can to learn English.
2/14/14 10:20-11:25
Today I showed up to the observation and they were already working on their
closing activity. This worksheet was the same format as the last time I observed, but
was based on all things Valentine’s Day. I then realized that it was Valentine’s Day
and that there was a bunch of food up at the front of the class. I had shown up to
observe a Valentine’s Day party! I listened as they finished up their activity and
then Ms. Mary told everyone it was time to eat. I watched as the women in the class
got up to heat up, cut, lay out, and prepare the food. I thought it was very
interesting to see the stereotype of “women in the kitchen” at work. The men in the
class just sat back and watched as everything was prepared for them. When
everything was ready everyone got in line to fill up their plates. When I saw the
array of food displayed I immediately realized who had cooked what. There was
dumplings, flan, sandwiches that are popular in Brazil, and many other food that
were not typically American. All of it was homemade. I thought it was so cool to see
all of these people who would not know one another if it weren’t for this class come
together to celebrate this holiday. I watched as each person tried the different types
of food. As everyone was eating Ms. Mary had the students tell the class what thy
made for the party and then describe how it was made and if it was a popular dish
in their country or not. It was very interesting to observe these students share this
piece of information from their home country with others. Ms. Mary was not only
incorporating other cultures into the days’ lesson, but was also incorporating
speaking in front of the class in English. Most of the students were mingling with
people from other countries and were speaking in English. However, I noticed that
that there was a man there with his younger son. They were both from Brazil and
were speaking to another woman from Brazil. I had yet to see anyone speak in
another language besides English. I could tell they were comfortable speaking in
their own language and that they were discussing something important. A few
minutes later the man left his son with the other woman from Brazil. She then
explained to me that the father had to leave and trusted her to take his son to him
after the party was finished. I was slightly surprised that someone who was not from
here would leave their child with someone they did not know very well. But then I
realized that they were both from Brazil and that the father felt safe leaving his son
with someone from the same country. I am not sure if that is something that is part
of their culture of if it was just because he felt comfort in this different country. I

enjoyed conversing with all the students and seeing how they conversed with one
another in a setting that was more social than academic.
2/21/12 10:55-11:55
Today when I arrived to the observation, the father and son from Brazil were there
again. The class was using workbooks to go over the subject of Tag questions/
emphatic sentences. The students were split into partner to go over the
conversations played out in the workbook. I was paired with the son from Brazil. We
began working on the conversations and I was surprised at how great he conversed
with me. Our conversation went as follows: Student A: This ride isn’t scary, is it?
Student B: Actually it is. Student A; It is? I’m really surprised! I was sure this ride
wasn’t scary. As we conversed the boy would ask me a various questions about how
to say words, but other than that was very knowledgeable. We were the first pair to
finish, and as we sat he began to ask me questions. I told him that I wanted to be a
teacher and when I told him that I was leaning towards teaching the little kids he
insisted otherwise. He told me that I had to teach the older ones and not students
his age (10 years old.) I told him I would think about it and he made a joke saying
that there shouldn’t be any thinking involved in my decision. When the other
partners were finished, each partnership went over one of the conversations in front
of the class. Ms. Mary continued to tell the class to raise the pitch of their voice at
certain parts of the conversation because that is what they are supposed to do. I
had never heard that before, but as I read aloud I realized that I spoke that way
naturally. It amazed me that the pitch of the voice during certain aspects of
language was noticed and therefore is being taught to these students. I was taken
aback by the amount of things that just come easily to me that these students must
learn.
4/11/14 10:50-12:00
Today Ms. Mary’s class did not meet because she was speaking at a conference. I
was sent to Mr. Bill’s classroom to do my observation. I walked into the class and
they were watching a movie. This movie was Nacho Libre, a humorous movie about
a man in Mexico who is a brother but wants to become a professional wrestler. The
movie takes place in Mexico and some Spanish words are spoken while the English
is spoken with a Spanish accent. Mr. Bill kept apologizing because he didn’t think I
would have anything to write about. However, during the short hour of watching a
movie I learned so much from him. Throughout the movie Mr. Bill would pause the
movie to ask questions to his students. He would ask his students about the
meaning of a word and if they were unable to give the correct answer then he would
define the word for them. Mr. Bill would also pause the movie to relate something
they just viewed to something they had previously learned in class. For example,
there was a scene where tumbleweed went across the screen. He paused and asked
the students if they remembered learning about it. Most of the students did and
were able to connect their learning to something in their life. With comedic movies,

there are often many phrases that could be confusing to those who are not fluent in
the English language or who have not been immersed in American culture. Mr. Bill
made the process of watching a comedy much easier because he was able to pick
out the phrases and words that were confusing, however, with this movie being
based in Mexico there were a few things confusing to Mr. Bill and others not from
Mexico. In this instance, the students from Mexico were able to elaborate on
questions asked. They were able to verify if Mexico is the way it is portrayed in the
movie. It was easy to notice that the students from Mexico were enjoying explaining
to others about their home country. I think that Mr. Bill’s use of movies is a great
tool to use in an ESL classroom. Movies not only bring up a wide range of
vocabulary, but also provide insight into the American culture and sometimes other
cultures as well. Movies are a fun and interactive way for ESL students to gain
knowledge in the English language.
5/1/14 9:45-11:50
When I came into the classroom today Ms. Mary was writing words on the board
which I later found out were the spelling words for the day. She was reading through
each word and pausing for a response from the students that mimicked what she
had just said. She then would explain the word while providing examples to help
understand the meaning. For example, Ms. Mary wrote the word “ravaged” on the
board then had everyone repeat it to her. Then she related the word to a current
event by talking about how the tornados were ravaging through some states. The
students were able to relate that word to their lives which made it easier to
remember. The students were then split into groups of four or five. Each group was
given a picture and they were to create a story using who, what, when, where, and
why based off of the picture given. Ms. Mary explained to me that for oral exam
given to the ESLs, the students interpret pictures. So this activity was created to
help the students prepare for the oral exam that they will all be given. After each
group created their story, one person presented it to the class. I noticed that these
students were taking the activity very seriously and really tried to do their best. The
students were then given a worksheet with a paragraph at the top and five
questions to answer. The paragraph was actually a math word problem. Ms. Mary
gave the students time to work on their own and then chose some to read the
questions and answers aloud. Throughout the entire activity, Ms. Mary would stop
and give further explanation as to what the meanings of certain words are. For
example, she paused and asked what a soup kitchen was. She then explained that
not only did this kitchen serve soup to those in need, but they could also serve any
other type of food. As they continued through the worksheet the students had little
troubles because they were mostly dealing with math which as Ms. Mary mentioned
“is the same everywhere.” The next activity involved using one of the books called
“Expressways.” Today they were opening up to the Health and Emergencies chapter.
This book came with an audio CD, so the page number and samples were read via
the music player. The class went through the examples provided before getting with

partner. When broken up into partners the students would switch roles. Student A
would say “Police.” Student B would then reply with “I want to repost and
emergency.” The rest of the conversation continued the way a conversation would if
you were to call in an emergency. Names, addresses, and phone numbers were
provided and asked about by Student A. the class was then brought back together
to go over the problems they had just done. While going through the conversations,
Ms. Mary would be sure to fix and pronunciation problems and answer any questions
that were asked. Ms. Mary then talked about why you would call 911, and also gave
examples in her life when she had to call 911. She then asked the class if they had a
story about a time they had to report something to the police. She was once again
trying to connect the learning to real life situations. Learning how to report an
emergency is extremely important in the world we live in today. I really saw how this
exercise would help the ELLs. After each conversation was gone over out loud, they
moved on to the next activity which was a listen and choose portion. For this
section, they resorted back to the music player and audio was given. The audio was
of a conversation much like the ones they had just practiced. It was repeated twice,
and then asked true or false questions. After all the questions were asked, Ms. Mary
stopped the recording and once again went over the answers with the class. After
this exercise, Ms. Mary gave the students a short break. During this time a young
man named Muhammad came up to talk to me. Muhammad is from Iran and was
eager to converse with someone form America. He expressed to me the difficulties
of learning the correct English accent when the class is full of people from other
countries. Muhammad asked me questions about my life and answered questions I
had about his. One thing he told me that I wish to share with you is that just
because the government of Iran is bad, doesn’t mean that the people are. He went
on and on about his government and their problems but wanted to make sure that I
knew that he loved his city and the people there. He then mentioned how Ms. Mary
has really helped him transition into the English language and culture. He said that
she really got to know not only about her students’ lives, but also about where they
were academically. He said that he doesn’t know how she does it! She knows the
words and phrases that each student does and doesn’t know. I came to realize that
the reason Ms. Mary knows these things is because she truly cares about each one
of her students. She takes the time to get to know each one individually and gains
their respect and trust. Ms. Mary was a great teacher to observe and I learned a
great deal from watching her. The class ended the way it always does and that was
with the activity involving the worksheet with short paragraphs and questions given
for each one. These worksheets often mention a famous person in America to help
familiarize the students with the names. This one mentioned Babe Ruth and John
Wayne. Ms. Mary went into further explanation of who they were and what they did.
5/2/14 8:50-11:50
This morning I came in earlier than normal and stayed for the full day to see the full
structure of the class. When I walked into the classroom, everyone was silently

working on these two little slips of paper they grabbed as they walked in. One of
these slips has a short paragraph written on it then a couple of questions referring
back to the paragraph. These questions have the students create their own
questions and answers that refer back to the passage. Some of the questions are
comprehensive and have the students refer back to the passage for the answers.
The second slip of paper gives two or three words with a slash in between each
word. The students must then create a question using those words in that order. For
example the question “Why does Jane get wet?” was created from the following info
given “Why/Jane/ get wet?” When the majority of the class arrived, Ms. Mary had
some of the students come up to the board to write their answers/questions. Then
the class was given a “spelling test” where Ms. Mary called out the words that were
written on the board the previous day. She said the word, used them in a sentence,
and then had the students write them down. After all words were read she had me
write them on the chalkboard. I had participated in the test as well and made the
comment that I always need practice on my spelling. Ms. Mary immediately jumped
on my response and reiterated what she had apparently told them many times
before. She said that she has told them many times that we never stop practicing
our spelling because there are so many words in the English language and there is
always room to learn more. After the spelling test, one of the students asked the
difference between the word ravished and the spelling word ravaged. Ms. Mary
immediately knew the best way to explain the difference and the students seemed
to completely understand her. She provided a definition for both and then gave an
example in real life that helped to describe these words. The next activity involved
the students taking out a book that was compiled of true stories for high-beginning
readers. The story they read today was about a surgeon who was trapped under
rock after an earthquake. When he was rescued he noticed that four fingers on his
dominant hand had been crushed. He then had many surgeries to fix his hand and
eventually replaced his fingers with his toes. He became a successful surgeon
because his hand was fixed and he gained a new love for his occupation. The entire
passage was read aloud by the students and Ms. Mary would stop the reading if a
word was mispronounced and immediately corrected them. She would also stop
when there was a phrase that could seem confusing to those who did not grow up in
this culture. For example, she asked the class what was meant by “my right hand is
my future.” She explained that this meant that because the man was a surgeon, his
career would be ruined if his hand were to suffer from the earthquake. After the
reading of the story, the workbook had a series of vocabulary, comprehension, and
discussion/writing questions. The students went through all of those with the
guidance of Ms. Mary. After they finished with the questions, the students were split
into three groups and were told to discuss any amazing surgical they had heard
about or experienced in their lifetime. Ms. Mary gave an example of one in her life
and then encouraged the others to share theirs with their group. After a good
amount of time, she brought their attention back to the front and asked each group
to pick one person to share their “surgical feat.” I noticed that most of the students
were reluctant to share mainly because that was a lot of speaking in front of the

class that they felt uncomfortable with. However, each group had a person share
their stories in a very informative and expressive way. After this activity they took
out the Expressway books. They were still working in the chapter that was having
them report and accident. This time the accident had occurred the day before so
they had to use past tense. They were given a paragraph with a name, accident,
and address and were told to make a conversation reposting the accident. The
student was able to use the example as an outline to how the conversation was
supposed to go. The students worked with a partner and then were brought back
together as a class to go over what they had just practiced. When going over the
conversations with the class, one woman said the tense of a verb incorrectly but
then tried to back it up with her own logic. Ms. Mary agreed that her logic was
correct, however she told the woman that in the English language “that is just not
the way we talk.” They continued with the activity and when they were finished
they moved on to the next activity. This activity was a fill in portion in the same
section of the book. They were given a sentence with a blank spot, and then were
provided two possible answers. After they worked on and shared the answers to
those fill in questions, they moved on to the listening exercise. The listening
exercise involved audio being given and then providing answers to the questions
asked. However, the questions were not written in the book so that students had to
really listen to the questions being asked. The final activity of the day was another
version of the same worksheet given every day. The students worked on the
problems on their own then came together to go over them as a class. Ms. Mary
provided help when words were not being pronounced correctly or when there were
questions asked. After this activity, the class was over and Ms. Mary was saying bye
to everyone. One of the students was leaving for his home country of Brazil so he
would not be returning to the class. She asked him to send her an email when he
made it home safely so that she could share it with the class. This was just another
example of how much Ms. Mary truly cares about her students and how much they
care about her. This was my last observation with Ms. Mary and I am thankful for all
the time I was given to spend learning from her. She is a great teacher to her
student and was a great teacher to me.