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ESL CLASS OBSERVATION

On July 12, 2016, I had the pleasure of visiting Lauren Wilsons Level 3 ESL class at

Shoreline Community College in Seattle, Washington. This intermediate level speaking and

listening class met from 6-8:50 pm. Ten students represented the following nations: China,

Egypt, Eritrea, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Thailand, and Turkmenistan. Their approximate

ages ranged from 20-60 years.

Class Management:

Class objectives were clearly stated on the board at the beginning of class. The lessons

for the evening focused on goal setting (speaking) and finances/money (listening). Lauren

started the class with an interactive class review of the TED talk viewed during the previous

class. The video was re-shown for student comprehension. Further goal setting discussion

ensued. Students contributed additional vocabulary including inspire, motivate, and

encourage.

Students then split into pairs to talk about their goals, the steps to attain them, and

possible challenges that may occur. This exercise made the students think, and also developed

their language fluency. A fun aspect of this activity was that students were timed by an online

stopwatch. After the first bell, most students vocalized needing more time. The instructor led a

quick discussion and agreed to add more time for the next round. Time was then reduced with

each round of dialogue. Instead of putting pressure on the students, this technique seemed to

encourage them to speak without the clutter of multiple ums.


At one point, a female student stated that she was unwilling to work with a male

classmate. In some instances, this defiance may disrupt a class. I was fortunate to witness the

tactful grace with which Lauren handled the situation; she turned it into a teachable moment. The

entire class reviewed the behavior norms (posted on the rear wall) that everyone had agreed to at

the beginning of the term. Included in these norms were everyone works with everyone and be

a good respectful classmate. She stressed community building and support of one another.

Successful conflict resolution techniques were seen at work and the class fairly seamlessly

continued with the lesson.

Instruction Style:

Lauren Wilson is an engaging, energetic instructor. Her class was interactive, learner centered

and full of fun. Her use of teacher talk was limited; likely because she delivered clear

instructions and was prepared with structured, engaging activities. One of the most favorable

attributes I witnessed was Laurens ability to make herself real to her students. Rather than

commit to a 30-day challenge, as suggested by the TED talk, she implied that a 14-day challenge

was more fitting for her at this time. This implied that sometimes smaller goals may be more

realisticteachers do not have immunity. While going over a T/F sheet following a listening

activity, she stated some of us may not get all of the answers and thats okay. This offered a

sense of relief and secured my belief that she makes establishing a rapport with her students a

priority. In addition to be engaging and energetic, my observation provided a view of a fair and

caring instructor. Not only did she show passion for her craft, she proved that her experience and

subject knowledge were the result of hard work and dedication.


Instructional Content:

Verbs took the grammatical center stage during the speaking portion of class. Students

were quick to identify verb forms such as infinitive, future tense and modal. Admittedly, I had to

ask a student to explain what a modal verb is (a verb followed by another verb, without the

infinitive toas in, I must make a list).

The listening portion of the lesson consisted of listening twice to an audio conversation

that portrays a couple trying to save money. Students took notes of the key points and words

they heard --including insurance, credit, coupons, and generic. Time allowed for the introduction

of an identity theft unit. A lively conversation over terms such as phishing emails, stolen

identity and dumpster diving took place. It was rewarding to see the learners correctly guess

what they thought dumpster diving was. My intuition is that this class emphasizes real life

situations on a regular basis, leading students to a greater understanding of the communities in

which they live.

Summary:

Lauren Wilson is clearly an experienced educator in the ABE/ESL field.

Observing her class provided me with a clear example of using relevant subjects and motivation

to teach others. I was inspired by her time management, expectations of student behavior, and

clear delivery of lessons. Lauren shared that she is participating in a professional development

class later in the week in order to become a better teacher. I felt this was a perfect way to close

my observation.