BILINGUAL LEARNER

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TESTING, STRESSING, 1-2-3! Latest Developments in the ESL/EFL & Counseling Worlds...

April 4, 2015

Hello and Happy Spring! 

For our April post, we are kicking off with some wise words from Mr. Einstein and the animal kingdom as we hurtle headfirst into testing season!  More on testing, stress, and spring in a bit, but first, let’s start with some updates.

As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below

 

 

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

 

EARTH DAY ACTIVITIES FOR THE ESL/EFL CLASSROOM

Speaking of our latest ESL/EFL teaching guide, we want to share a fun colors activity from this guide called Color Me Verby in celebration of spring and all the wonderful colors that come with it!   This activity works well in strengthening student application of past tense verbs, while utilizing color vocabulary. In Color Me Verby, students use color cards to show if a sentence is in the past tense and what point of view the subject/verb takes in the sentence. To see and download this free engaging activity, click on Color Me Verby here!

In keeping with the theme of spring, we thought we’d also share some fun Earth Day activities that you can do with your ESL/EFL students.  The Bogglesworldesl site has a whole section devoted to spring activities for use with ESL/EFL classes.  We especially like the spring poems Wake Up and Cherry Blossom Rain; Wake Up would work well as a follow up to our Bilingual Learner Color Me Verby activity described above since the poem also uses color words.  Our favorite Earth Day activity on this site is the spring flash cards  and the spring captions.  We would add some of their spring flashcards into our own Bilingual Learner vocabulary card warmup (example here) and then use their spring flashcards to fill in the spring captions.  While this caption activity works well as a written exercise, we would use it verbally to help strengthen our students’ listening and speaking skills, as is always our ESL/EFL focus here at Bilingual Learner.  To do this, we would put the Spring flashcards on the word wall (explanation of word walls here) and then have students work in partners to caption each spring pic using the vocab in the  spring flashcards.  After students felt comfortable working in pairs on the captioning, we’d call on individuals to go to the word wall and say each spring picture’s caption using the spring flashcards on the word wall.

 

TESTING AND STRESS MANAGEMENT

Anxiety and stress tax all of our body systems and inhibit performance, whether that takes the form of not being able to speak fluently during an oral language exam or not performing to one’s best ability on a state, national, or international exam.

Thankfully, there are all kinds of ways to alleviate the effects of stress caused by test anxiety (or any kind of anxiety, really).   Because so much of test anxiety is linked to a fear of failure, it’s very enlightening for students to watch this fabulous Michael Jordan commercial that views failure from a completely different (and better!) perspective.  Showing this commercial is a great way to kick off a fab discussion about how a test is just a test and how test failure today can lead to academic success tomorrow. 

 

 

 

Moreover, you can show students the Famous Failures poster of how some the world's most accomplished superstars faced a lot of failure before they made it big. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some of our other favorite anxiety calming resources:

 

Well, we hope all the goodies above can help get you and your people through this testing season. You can also look for our new book this summer to get you through NEXT year’s testing season:  Stress Blasters: Group Counseling Sessions Guide with Activities.  It will be an 8 session counseling guide for running a calming, anti-anxiety group.  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter (links below) to find out when it is available.  And if all else fails, just show your students this supercool testing version of Bruno Mars Uptown Funk video.

…and just 'cause it makes us so happy here at BL and gets our toes tappin’, here’s the original Uptown Funk for your viewing pleasure!

 

That brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in May for our next post on self harm prevention and Memorial Day ESL/EFL activities.  And don't forget to check out our Bilingual Learner FB page today to get your FREE guidance lesson and/or FREE ESL/EFL lesson in celebration of our 200+ followers!  If you haven't done so already, like us at one our Facebook page below to become one of our Bilingual Learner followers where you will have access to this freebie lesson and all our other free downloadables!    As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.

 

Wait!! Did you find this post helpful? Then...One sentence!  That's all it takes to show that our hard work helped you out! If you found a great resource here, please show us your love and comment about it below!

Crises, Conferences & Culture in the English World!

March 7, 2015

Oh boy, Oh boy! Spring is just around the corner and we have so many resources and topics to share that we don't even know where to begin!  ESL/EFL St Paddy's Day activities, crisis counseling, our 200 FB follower freebies, school counselor conference highlights, and more!  As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below. So, let's get started...

 

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • We just broke ground on our newest counseling guide, ESL in the Middle Lessons Guide for Teaching Intermediate Students!  Look for a sneak peek and freebie downloadable from this intermediate ESL/EFL teaching guide in the next few weeks on our homepage!
  • We've reached our 200 Bilingual Learner FB follower milestone!  In celebration of this achievement, we will be posting a FREE guidance lesson and a FREE ESL/EFL lesson and making it available to all our Facebook Followers.  Like us at https://www.facebook.com/bilinguallearn to become one of our Bilingual Learner followers where you will have access to this freebie lesson and all our other free resources! 
  • Our Winter eblast just came out last month!  If you aren't already on our enewsletter mailing list, sign up by filling out the form on this webpage to the right.  Then, we can send our newsletter filled with free counseling/ESL/EFL resources right to your inbox!
  • Take advantage soon of our post-holiday sale where all ebooks are $6.95 and under, all books are $10.95 and under.  These discounts will end in a few weeks when our product listings will return to their regular prices.  Head over to our products page and check them out!  The only exception to this is The Complete ESL for Beginners.
  • Our newest counseling guide has just been released in both book and ebook formats:  Girl World is full of activities and info to empower girls ages 8-18 to be confident, productive members of society.  Download the introduction and first session with printables for FREE on our home page.
  • We've also published a new ESL/EFL mini-guide on our website for just $3.95!  Check out the ESL for Beginners Activities & Games Guide here!

 

COUNSELING CORNER-CRISES & CONFERENCES

Dealing with student crises is a sad, but very important part of our job as school or clinical counselors.  As mentioned in previous posts, we have a set protocol for dealing with student crises, or "3 Hurts Emergencies" as we like to call them.  Whenever a student, parent, or staff member, sends to/comes to us with a student emergency, we drop whatever we are doing to deal with it right away.  An important part of our counseling program is that we thoroughly train our students and staff from the day they walk through the front doors about the "3 Hurts Emergency" and how they MUST come straight to us with an emergency.  Thus, we rarely get false alarms.  In fact, this school year alone, Counselor Stephanie has handled over 50 crisis situations, of varying severity, at the Title 1 public school where she works.  So, for that reason, we've included our crisis steps here in this link in case you don't have a process for students who make serious outcries.  In addition, we've included a link to our Screening for Self-Harm Threat and Safety Plan.

On a lighter note, we also want to share some of the highlights from the Texas School Counselor Conference in Galveston, Texas that occurred last month. It was a busy, exhilarating, inspiring, and exhausting three days with hundreds of vendors and expert presenters that specialized in everything imaginable related to school counseling.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Went to the best, best, best presentation on advocacy. Huge shoutout to Judson ISD for pulling off a district-wide, COMPREHENSIVE school counseling program. So impressed! Check out their website here if you want to use their model to start building your own comprehensive school counseling program.  Also, here is their PDF about the TRUE role of the PSC (no administrative, secretarial, or testing coordination jobs here, folks!).  Finally, Judson does a fab job of explaining our duties under each of the four ASCA/TEA components here.  No random acts of guidance allowed in Judson, that's for sure! 
  • Another fab presentation was given by a counselor in Katy ISD about helping academically failing students raise their grades.  While it was aimed at high performing schools where students have the resources, finances, and family backing to succeed, there were many good points applicable to any school demographic, such as group evaluations in the form of pre/posttests, the backpack scramble game where students see how much longer it takes them to find a paper with x on it in an organized vs. messy backpack, and role plays to teach/practice appropriate body language in class.  We are currently working on our own Bilingual Learner counseling group guide for academic underachievers, especially suited for those who work with lower to middle SES pops. Look for Get Your Goal On Academic Group Counseling Guide (more info here- after you click this link, just scroll down about midway to the right side of the page) this summer by following us on our FB page!
  • Dr. Carolyn Stone's amazing and incredibly informative keynote speech on legality in school counseling.  We know it doesn't sound exciting, BUT the former ASCA Prez and leading national expert on legality/ethics in the school counseling world delivered her info with finesse and humor and let's just say... no one was texting or checking email during her talk.  Wow, what a brain that lady has!   (The pic here is NOT Dr. Stone, but how we all felt about legal missteps after hearing from Dr. Stone...)
  • Here are some pics from the conference...

    

   

 

 

ST PADDY'S DAY & CULTURAL CONNECTIONS IN THE ESL/EFL CLASSROOM

 

We've been thinking a lot about our BFF Moli from our Moz Peace Corps days this last week since we met a fellow Peace Corps Mozambique volunteer on a bus last Sunday night (we know, W-O-W, RIGHT?!?!  Shout out to you, MarK- so fun to talk with you!).  We found ourselves telling him all about our wild time of reconnecting with Moli while visiting her and fam in her new home of Germany.  So, we thought it'd be fun to repost Stephanie's cultural connection with Moli from way back when we had just started this blog and had about 4 followers.  And now from RPCV Stephanie: 

I met Moli when she befriended me 10 years ago (and subsequently saved me from myself- as I was about to get arrested for not paying my internet connection fee and arguing loudly with the Shoprite security guard over the unjustness of being charged for a bad internet connection).   After that fateful moment in the internet cafe when Moli politely stepped between me and the security guard and paid my 75 cents for the broken internet that I didn't use and then dragged me out of there, our friendship took off like lightning- it was one of those times when you meet someone for the first time, but really- you’ve known them forever.   It blew my mind then and still does as I write this- that this person that I connected with so completely on every level, had been fleeing her country on foot all by herself, at the same time that I was going to my first George Michael concert and trying out Guess jeans and Benetton sweaters!  (One day after I nonchalantly asked Moli how she'd learned such good English in a Portuguese-speaking country,  she answered my question with a matter-of-fact explanation of  how she had been kidnapped by Renamo rebel fighters during the Civil War, but then after living with them for some years, she'd finally had enough of their abuse and fled their camp, walking alone 70+ kilometers to the Zimbabwean border in search of a safer life as a Mozambican refugee.  She wrapped up the story by stating that she was about 12 years old at the time and took full advantage of the English speaking opportunities in Zim).   How could two people with such different backgrounds end up in the same space in life- much less as friends feeling like they had so much in common?  And although Moli might be my most extreme example of this, it happened again and again while I lived in Africa... Lynne, Helen, Rosa, Silvestre, Charity, Amy, Iqbal, Saleem, Farazana, Safi...they all enriched my life so much with their diverse experiences that they generously shared with me.   This phenomenon of connecting so fully with someone even though I couldn't even imagine the life experiences they'd had...well, it continues to baffle and inspire me today- and so I carry it into my work as a teacher and counselor.  On that note, I'd like to share some links to some Peace Corps diversity activities and lesson plans that are fabulous.  Although the language in these resources is a bit advanced for beginning ESL/EFL students, you can definitely modify it to make it more beginner friendly and also use it for your intermediate or advanced ESL/EFL students.

And now for some St Patrick's Day fun!  We've included a link to our freebie mini-unit plan that includes a bilingual reading passage, a vocabulary activity, a drawing activity, a sing-along, a fun quiz, group work activities, and more !  All of this is presented through the cultural theme of St Patrick's Day. Enjoy!

And that brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in April for our next post on suicide prevention and Earth Day ESL/EFL activities.  And don't forget to
check out our Bilingual Learner FB page today to get your FREE guidance lesson and/or a FREE ESL/EFL lesson in celebration of our 200+ followers!  If you haven't done so already, like us at www.facebook.com/bilinguallearn to become one of our Bilingual Learner followers where you will have access to this freebie lesson and all our other free downloadables!  We'd love to hear about your experience of connecting with someone who has a completely different background than you or you can just tell us about your ESL/EFL or counseling adventures-- either way, please leave us a comment below!  Remember, just click on the green links above and we'll take you right to an article, video, or product that you can use after you leave us a comment below. 

200 FOLLOWERS MILESTONE

February 27, 2015

YIPPEE!!! WE HIT OUR 200 FOLLOWERS MILESTONE! WE CELEBRATE WITH A GIFT FOR YOU...

In honor of this milestone, we've posted this pick of some of our Mozambican 2nd year English students who supported each other through a massive group effort to learn English and become part of the nation's second ever graduating class of English teachers! They named their group "Go Ahead" to represent their determination in dominating the English language and in achieving their dream of becoming English teachers. "Go Ahead" and their beautiful pic illustrates just what our Bilingual Learner FB Page is all about: THIS is what we tell our kids when they mess up, THIS is what we believe at Bilingual Learner, and THIS is what has gotten us to our 200 followers milestone!

And to honor our much-loved 200 followers, we are designing both an ESL/EFL lesson and a counseling lesson- they will embody the themes that helped us achieve this milestone- always taking steps forward and supporting each other in our efforts.

Check https://www.facebook.com/bilinguallearn?ref=hl  in the next week or two to find out when our 200 follower gifty is ready!

College and Career Resources for ESL/EFL & Counseling

February 1, 2015

Happy 2015!

And...we're back!!  We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and the New Year is starting off just right in your world!  Here at BL, we are feeling rested, refreshed, and ready to jump into 2015 with both feet!  So...for today's jump, we have resources on college and career for your use in counseling and with ESL/EFL students.  As we swing into the second half of the 2014-15 school year stateside, students start looking to matriculate to the next grade, to high school, or even to college.  This moving-forward time of year is both exciting and stressful for our ESL/EFL and counseling clientele.  For that reason, we have included tons of goodies to help make the college/career maelstrom easier to navigate for you and your people.  As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below. 

But, first a few Noticias since we've been away so long...

BILINGUAL LEARNER UPDATES

  • Our Winter eblast is coming out next week!  So, if you aren't already on our enewsletter mailing list, sign up by filling out the form on this webpage to the right.  Then, we can send our newsletter filled with free counseling/ESL/EFL resources and downloadables right to your inbox!
  • Exciting news!  We are celebrating ALL our books with a post holiday sale: all ebooks are $6.95 and under, all books are $10.95 and under.  Head over to our products page and check them out!  The only exception to this is The Complete ESL for Beginners.
  • Our newest counseling guide has just been released in both book and ebook formats:  Girl World is full of activities and info to empower girls ages 8-18 to be confident, productive members of society.  Download the introduction and first session with printables for FREE here: http://bilinguallearner.com/Products.
  • We also published a new ESL/EFL mini- guide on our website for just $3.95!  Check out the ESL for Beginners Activities & Games Guide on our products page.
  • If you haven't already, head on over to our Bilingual Learner FB Page and follow us there where we post daily resources and freebies on ESL/EFL and counseling!  We are at 196 followers and trying hard to reach the 200 follower milestone this week, so ask your people to follow our BL page too if they'd like some ESL/EFL/counseling freebies!

ESL/EFL COLLEGE & CAREER RESOURCES 

As you know, ESL/EFL students are so busy trying to adjust to the overwhelming task of learning a language (and possibly adapting to a whole new country or culture), that future college/career plans may be the last thing on their mind!  For this reason, it is super important to share helpful information and motivational anecdotes with these students.  Depending on your class demographics, this might look like communicating the school's requirements for passing their current grade or class, sharing with students what documents/tasks they need to complete to obtain college admission or employment, reading stories of other ESL/EFL students who have succeeded in entering the college/career world, and more!  Below are some resources to help you guide your students to and through the college/career whirlwind. 

COUNSELING COLLEGE & CAREER RESOURCES

So, this time of year really kicks off the college and career focus for PSC'ers.  In addition, if you are a therapist or clinical counselor, you may see your clients struggling with the stress that college and career decisions bring.  For school counselors, we've included helpful resources to start getting your students thinking about and planning for what they will do after high school.  And this even applies to our elementary folks- in our school district, all our 5th graders now have to have a Personal Graduation Plan (PGP definition link here and PGP example link here to find out more, if you're interested) in addition to our 6th-12th graders! For non-school personnel, we've included some helpful links on treating stress that can result from navigating the college/career whirlwind.

  • Career Smarts - Love this Career Smarts unit for ES students, developed by the School Counseling by Heart website.
  • Cosby Show Career Talk with Theo- Hilarious and entertaining vid clip to show students, perfect opening for a college/career guidance lesson at any age!
  • Drowning in Debt- Fab article from Tolerance.org to share with your MS/HS students on the dangers of college debt.
  • College and Career Guidance Lesson- Our own BL college guidance lesson with links to use the excellent student.gov literature with your classes!
  • Handling Stress- We just LOVE these Wellcast vids, and this one on handling stress is especially good!

VALENTINE'S DAY

And before we sign off, a few fun Valentine's Day activities to enjoy with your ESL/EFL students or to use as you counsel!  Happy Heart Day!

  • Play the M&M Feeling Game- Use Valentine themed M&Ms with the colors red/pink/white/etc and get to know your students better, no matter what the age!
  • Katie Loves the Kittens- Read this magical picture book to your students (we promise it will charm them whether they are HS or ES students!) and discuss how/why, in relationships, good intentions are not always appreciated.
  • Valentine's Word Search- Take off the harder words and replace them with translations of the easier words in your students' native language.  Discuss the meaning of the Valentine vocab and then let students puzzle away!

And that brings us to the end of this month's post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in March for our next post.  And don't forget to look for our winter newsletter in your inbox next week (sign up to the right or shoot us a quick email at bilinguallearner@hotmail.com if you aren't on our email mailing list yet!).  We'd love to hear about your ESL/EFL or counseling adventures, so please leave us a comment.  Remember, just click on the green links above and we'll take you right to an article, video, or product that you can use after you leave us a comment below.  In the meantime, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page.
 

HAPPY NATIONAL SCHOOL COUNSELING WEEK!

 

 

Classroom Management in the ESL/EFL & Counseling Worlds...Plus Some Holiday Fun!

November 30, 2014

Happy Holidays to All!

In this post, we'd like to give you lots of fun, festive, holiday freebies AND give you our thoughts on the basics of classroom management- both as it relates to counselors and teachers.  You can access the freebies by leaving a comment with the number of your choice (see red details below) and then clicking on the green links, so we can get you access to our Goog Doc resources.  Let's begin with the holiday goodies...

 

HOLIDAY FREEBIES & RESOURCES

Free Book Holiday Giveaway!  We are so thankful for our Bilingual Learner readers so we'd like to give you a little gift of thanks for all you do for your students and clients! For the month of December, when you order any product off our website @ http://bilinguallearner.com/Products, we will send you another eproduct (PDF version) of your choice for FREE! Just be sure to send us a quick email after you make your Bilingual Learner order through Paypal on our website and tell us what second product you'd like us to send you for free and then we will happily send both products right to your inbox. We appreciate YOU!

With "newcomer" students who are brand new to the USA, we love to do a mini-unit on the different winter holidays celebrated in the US and around the world.  This holiday mini unit is part of our Cultural Explorers group (where we just finished the Thanksgiving in America booklet that was mentioned in the last blog post below).  In our holiday mini-unit, we first ask students what they know about popular winter holidays celebrated in the US and then we hand out this ESL/EFL Winter Holidays booklet.  We round robin read the packet with students, having them fill in the holidays in the blanks as we read along.  It's best to have a holiday word bank displayed for students to use as they copy the holiday words into their packets.  Once we are done reading/filling in the packet, students can then illustrate each holiday in their packet.  The following session, we have a  Winter Holiday FUNquiz where students can test their knowledge of the packet info and win a prize.   This winter holiday activity will be part of our next book in the Culture Explorers series, whenever we find some time to crank that one out!  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter (links at bottom of post) to get real time alerts of when our next Culture Explorers book, as well as other BL products, are available!

Here are some seasonal counseling resources that we've come across:

 

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

Classroom management is such a major aspect of effective teaching and learning.  The type of classroom management a teacher has will set their classroom tone and make or break student learning.  So, in all our work with student teachers and interns over the years, here's a list of the major tips we give on classroom management.

If you are a counselor, classroom management is an important part of your guidance or counseling lessons even if you are teaching them in another teacher's classroom.  When Counselor Stephanie first started out as a rookie school counselor back in 2008, she (feeling a little too confident about her classroom management as a teacher) thought she'd alleviate some teacher work load, and tell them they didn't need to stick around to discipline during her guidance lessons.  Mistake!  Big. Mistake.  She realized pretty quickly that while the kids followed her rules and accepted her consequences for misbehavior, they lost sight of how she could support them.  Her (inappropriate) role as disciplinarian, even in a short monthly 30 min lesson, seriously compromised they way the students interacted with her as a counselor.  In short, they weren't always comfortable coming to her for counseling help because they saw her as their disciplinarian, not as the non-judgmental, always-on-their-side school counselor.  Hmmmm....

Here are some fun and super informative classroom management resources that will round out any teacher's or counselor's toolbox...

 

In conclusion, we are signing off for the holidays.  We have lots of ESL/counseling products that we want to finish, start, and bury ourselves in, so we will take a little hiatus from our monthly posts until late January.  In the meantime, we'll leave you with some food-for-thought in the form of these great resources below:

 

BUT, ONE LAST THING!  We want your opinion! Take our poll by writing the number of the Bilingual Learner book you'd be most interested in using, in the comments area below:
1. The School Counselor's Handbook 
2. Anti Anxiety/Stress Reduction Group Counseling Guide
3. Academic Success Group Counseling Guide
4. Teach Intermediate English to Your Students
5. Teach Yourself English
6. ESL/EFL Grammar Structures and Songs Book

 

 

 

 

So, that's it from us until we see ya on the flip side.  Check back with us the first Saturday in February for our post on classroom management! Remember, you can access the freebies by leaving a comment with the number of your choice (see red details above) and then clicking on the green links, so we can get you access to our Goog Doc resources.  You can also find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page.

 

ESL and Counseling During Thanksgiving

October 31, 2014

Happy November!

Our BL post today will be a shorter one because we are busy cranking out our Fall Eblast, which (if you are on our mailing list) will hit your inbox in the next week or so!  Look for all of the fab resources and freebies we've been saving up for you these last few months, plus a promotional giveaway for a free book!  If you haven't already put yourself on our newsletter mailing list, you can do so now by filling out the eform just to the right of this post!

If you reside stateside (or maybe even if you don't), it's getting close to that festive time of year....Thanksgiving!  We've been having a blast this week, gearing up to work with our "newcomer" group of students on our BL Thanksgiving activity.  As always, we've included a lot of helpful resources- just click on the green links which will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use after you leave a comment below.  As we've mentioned before, we run 2 weekly ESL Survival Skills groups for students who have just arrived this year to the US from another country.  The purpose of these groups is to help students learn about and transition to the US culture.  Every week, Counselor Stephanie has so many endearing stories about working with these group members; this past week, she was reading Amada Irma Perez' wonderful autobiographical picture book, My Diary from Here to There/Mi Diario de Aqui hasta Alla, to the group members, when she looked up and noticed 3 of them crying as they listened to the story of Amada having to say goodbye to her father as a young girl.  Oh, the emotions and experiences these newbies struggle with!   On a lighter note, next week we will start our Thanksgiving activity,  "Thanksgiving Booklet & Funquiz,"  with these groups.   The booklet and funquiz introduce students to this important American holiday, while strengthening English vocabulary and listening comprehension.  Knowledge of major holidays is such an important part of feeling comfortable and accepted within a culture.  It is a great way for "newcomers" to gain understanding of that culture.  Moreover, this is something that all young nationals get as they go through the school system in their own culture, but our "newcomers" often miss out on this important cultural knowledge when they transition in after all the fun grade school holiday instruction is finished.   So, the Thanksgiving activity is a fantastic blend of both counseling and ESL/EFL/bilingual support!  This booklet and fun quiz is included in our ESL Survival Skills Guide on the Products Page of our website.  We've also included a few freebie clips from this Thanksgiving booklet for your downloading pleasure- Thanksgiving in America and El Dia de Gracias.  Additionally, if you want a guide that exposes students to the English-speaking culture, but not necessarily the US culture, check out our  Culture Explorers Guide.

Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving activities that you also might want to use with your students/clients...

Kids and Stress During the Holidays

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Managing Holiday Stress During Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Ball

November Read Alouds

November Books for Guidance/Counseling Lessons

Free Thanksgiving Worksheets

Teaching a Thanksgiving Lesson Outside of the USA

 

And now for some EXCITING NEWS--

~We are so proud to unveil the brand new Bilingual Learner logo here!  A huge thanks and shoutout to our very talented illustrator and designer, Michell Schalik.
~We've been published by the Nepal English Language Teachers Association on just the same topic that we are blogging about today!  Check out our article here titled "Culture and Language Learning."
~We just put up our Thanksgiving in America Ebook & Funquiz on the Products Page of our website for those that want to order it as a stand alone product!
~We also just added our Grammar Structures Guide to the Products Page of our website!

 

Finally, we'll leave you with this super-silly comic from the talented Mark Parish...

 

And that brings us to the end of this month's ESL/counseling post.  Catch up with us again the first Saturday in December for our next post.  We'd love to hear about your November experiences, lessons, or resources, so please leave us a comment.  Remember, just click on the green links above and we'll take you right to an article, video, or product that you can use after you leave us a comment below.  In the meantime, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page.

 

 

Hallo Kitty and Spiderdog!

September 28, 2014

Happy Fall, Fabulous Readers!  For our October post, we have some super-fun Halloween/fall festival activities for ESL classrooms AND lots of ideas and resources on running school (or non-school) support groups.  A few announcements and then, off we go!

As always, we've included a lot of blue links as helpful resources- just click on them and we'll take you right to  an article, video, or product you can use!  Some of the links access our free downloadables through Google Docs- please leave a comment below and we'll send you access to the Goog Doc straightaway!

THE ESL/EFL POST

Happy Early Halloween, Noche de Brujas, Dead of the Dead, and  Día de los Muertos!  To celebrate these fall festival holidays, we've had lots of fun reading "In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories," which is full of repetitive scary stories with easy vocab and perfect for the Halloween season.  Along with this book, we also teach students the scary song, "Have You Seen the Ghost of John?" (page 46), also with easy vocab and lots of repetition perfect for ESL learners.  They love it and we've sang it throughout past Octobers with super-simple guitar accompaniment of just four 'anyone-can-learn-in-an-afternoon' guitar chords (just google them for finger placement).  Here's some more Halloween stuff that we are re-sharing, because it's just that good!  Additionally, here's a link to Bilingual Learner's own  fun Halloween passage to teach about this popular American holiday . 

And here's a few more Halloween/fall goodies we want to pass on...

  • Spooky Halloween fun from Busyteacher.org: the holiday
  • Buzzfeed's Best Teacher Costumes!
  • And, in the spirit of fall and all things slightly scary, you've GOT to see the latest Youtube viral video- it is hilarious:  Spiderdog!  

 

 

THE COUNSELING POST

 Next week, fall counseling groups will start and run through the end of November.  The planning process to get groups up and running is a bit lengthy as there is just so much to do!  Check out our Group Prep Checklist to keep track of all the tasks.  Counselor Stephanie will be running five groups this semester: Middle School 101, Culture Explorers (two separate sessions for different age groups), Get Your Goal On, and Girl World.  Below is a short description of each one...

Middle School 101- This group meets weekly with student who are (already!!) failing multiple core subjects.  In group, students check their grades, identify areas where improvement is needed, and formulate goals with specific behaviors to achieve improvement.  All of this is facilitated through group strategies such as goal sharing, cheerleading, role plays, organizational tips, and scaling.  We will soon start writing our session guide for this group- check out our fun Good Grades Bingo game and a sneak peak here!

Girl World- This group also meets weekly to discuss various issues that girls struggle with such as friendships, antibullying strategies, rumors/gossip, dating, body image, and more.  We use group strategies such as role plays, read alouds (one of my favorites is Letters to a Bullied Girl), art projects, and games.  For this group, we follow the soon-to-be-published counseling sessions guide by the same name.  Download the first chapter for free @ http://bilinguallearner.com/!

Culture Explorers- This group is for students who are new the the USA (1st year Newcomers).  We use the Culture Explorers curriculum to help them adapt to American life with weekly activities focusing on the cultural values, laws/rules, holidays (free ESL/EFL Halloween resource here!), and traditions of America and American schools. 

Get Your Goal On- This is our newest group where members will support each other through group sessions in goal achievement.  Group members include our 'frequent flyers' for whom other counseling interventions just haven't worked and  students whose presenting problem is pretty severe, such as anger over recent CPS removal from parent.  This is our first time trying out this group, so check back with us in a couple of months when we can give the full report.  But in the meantime, here's a little taste of what we will be using in this group.

 As the school year progresses, we will be sharing updates with ideas and resources on each group.  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter (links below) to get real time alerts of when we post these group resources!   And, once again, our all time favorite support group comic:

 

 

 

 

So, that's it for our October post.  Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in November for our posts on ELL classroom management, Thanksgiving activities, and guidance/counseling lessons!   Please leave a comment about your group counseling experiences or favorite ESL/EFL Halloween activity.  Let's all share the wealth!    Remember, just click on the blue links above and we'll take you right to  an article, video, or product you can use (after you leave a comment, of course;)   In the meantime, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page.

 

Where There's a Goal, There's a Way!

September 1, 2014

We hope you had a very happy 3 Day Weekend to those of you celebrating Labor Day stateside...and to everyone else, Happy September!  So many new and exciting goings on here at Bilingual Learner this month, that we don't even know quite where to begin!  Since it is September and the beginning of a new school year for many of you, we will share our latest best practice ESL/EFL teaching strategy that you can use to kick off your classes.  On the counseling front, we have lots of great resources and techniques to share about individual counseling (finally!).  So, let's get this party started, but first a few noticias:

  • As always, we've included a lot of blue links as helpful resources- just click on them and we'll take you right to  an article, video, or product you can use!  Some of the links access our free downloadables through Google Docs- please leave a comment below and we'll send you access to the Goog Doc straightaway!
  • We are super excited to announce that we just put up the first chapter of ESL for Beginners Vol.3 Lessons Guide and Cope Into Hope Grief Counseling Guide for FREE download @ http://bilinguallearner.com/. Head on over and get your free download today!  Also, look for the free first chapters of The Complete ESL for Beginners Lessons Guide AND Girl World Group Counseling Sessions Guide coming soon!
  • Our newest teaching guide, The Complete ESL for Beginners Lessons Guide just went up on our website yesterday- it is huge (60 lesson plans!), it is gorgeous, and it is ready for download @ http://bilinguallearner.com/Products.  More on this with some free downloadables from this guide below...

While writing our latest teaching guide over the summer, we came across some very cool, very cutting edge ESL/EFL techniques.  We thought we'd highlight one of them here in this post and provide a link so you can start using it with your own students!  Last May, while researching new activities for our lessons, we found this Busyteacher.org article on using listening activities with adult learners in ESL classes.  After reading tip four in this article, we were inspired to develop a few new games of our own, specifically geared towards adult learners who need games that are more intellectually stimulating and challenging.  Incidentally, these games are perfectly appropriate for young learners as well.  Click on this link for some of the ESL/EFL vocab games we created!  You can also find them our newest lessons guide, The Complete ESL for Beginners!

And a few other ESL/EFL goodies that we found while researching our latest lessons guide:

And, in honor of the three day weekend us American teachers are celebrating, here's some advice for Monday morning....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And just so you boys out there don't feel left out...here's one for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 *******

 

 

 

Now switching gears here to talk a bit about counseling resources, we'd like to first start by showing our #reachhigher photo of Counselor Stephanie.  Her reach higher goal (which is very hard to see in the photo, unfortunately) is, "My #reachhigher goal is to help my chronically failing 8th graders pass their classes."  Reach Higher is the First Lady's initiative that encourages young people to complete their education & own their future.  School counselors have a special stake in this which we are showing through pics like these.    Check out #SCCrowd to see other counselor goals and initiatives!

 

 

 

 

So!  Onto individual counseling...if you are in the counseling profession, you undoubtedly have had some experience with individual sessions.  For new counselors, there are so many questions running through our heads- How often? What do we talk about?  How to get the kiddo to open up?  How many sessions?  How to handle breakdowns? and so on and so on.   Let us preface all this by saying that here at Bilingual Learner, we are very partial to goal focused counseling because our time (like so many PSCs nowadays) in working with students is super limited due huge caseloads.   Therefore, we try to accomplish a lot in about 4 sessions or less, meeting with the student at a set, scheduled time every 2 weeks (just answered the How often? and How many? questions).  For some other answers and helpful tips on effective goal focused individual counseling, read on below:

  • Start with some ice breaker activities if you don't know the student well.  Have these ice breakers lead into determining what goal the student (and you) want to accomplish in your time together.   Here's a link to a good ice breaker if you need one.
  • After deciding on a goal with the student, write it down together (index cards work great here) and make photocopies, so (if you are in a school setting) you can send it to them weekly or (if you are in a non-school setting) you can give the student/client a copy each time you meet with them.  This weekly goal reminder is crucial is helping the student/client to remember, revise, and achieve their goal.
  • If you have an unresponsive student/client, try one of the many engaging board games to get them to open up a bit.  Our personal fav is The Talking, Feeling, and Doing Game.  This same strategy works really well in getting students/clients calmed after a breakdown.
  • If you work in a school setting (or even if you don't), its really helpful to get feedback from teachers as they spend the majority of the day with your student/client.  Additionally, if the student is referred to you by a teacher, we find that it really builds teacher-counselor rapport if you send the teacher a general followup note after your meeting with the student.  Here's a link to the teacher feedback form we use.

Obviously, with individual counseling, the ideas above are just the tip of the iceberg.  If you need more resources, check out our individual counseling sessions guide, Where There's a Goal, There's a Way (or ¡Gol! if you need the Spanish bilingual version) which you can find at this link.

So, that's it for our September post.  Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in October!  Since we will have wrapped up our first month of 2014-15 teaching and counseling by then, our October post will detail our first month adventures.  Lots of pics and resources coming about getting back into the swing of things.   Please leave a comment about your individual counseling experiences or favorite ESL/EFL teaching technique.  Let's all share the wealth!    Remember, just click on the blue links above and we'll take you right to  an article, video, or product you can use (after you leave a comment, of course;)   In the meantime, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page.

 

The First Week Back- Photo Journal!

August 3, 2014

Well, Teachers and Counselors, it's that time of year again!  Time to dust off those shelves and unpack those boxes of new (and old) stuff!!  And if you're a counselor outside the school system, August is as good a time of year as any to clean out those office cobwebs and touch up with your latest and greatest new counseling materials!   Ditto for you enviable teachers who are still on break or lucky enough to be just wrapping up your work year now.

So, in honor of this bittersweet back to school time, we will post some pics and tips for setting up your teaching classroom or counseling office.  But first--EXCITING NEWS-- we are also sending out our summer newsletter this week, which will have all of the fab resources and freebies we've been saving up for you these last few months, plus a promotional giveaway for a free book!  If you haven't already put yourself on our newsletter mailing list, do so right now by filling out the eform just to the right of this post!

And without further ado, the ESL CLASSROOM...

We've posted some former ESL classroom photos below so you can see the results of of all our years of ESL trial and error;).  In each photo, we share explanations of ESL teaching tips and materials that work really well, many with links to free or low-cost downloadables and products.  Happy viewing!  As always, we've included a lot of links as helpful resources on these topics- the blue ones will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use and the red ones will take you to a freebie that you can download after you leave a comment below (once you leave a comment, the download automatically gets sent to you within a day). 

Here you can see some of our fav ESL read aloud books (download titles here), cards for BINGO,  as well as for alphabet & numbers practice.  We use these cards with our students in every lesson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's a few of of our favorite read alouds that we also like to use for Culture Sessions groups since these titles really nail the switching cultures challenge that all our ESL students face on a daily basis...

 

 

 

 

Students sit at group tables during lessons, since so much of speaking and understanding a language is cooperative and thus involves group work.  You can see the two PDF versions of the ESL for Beginners Lessons Guides that we use as well as the book versions, bingo cards, and vocabulary cards.  Of course there's also the treasure box, which is full of prizes for students to win since we play games in every lesson.

 

 

 

 

 

Wider shot of the group table and entrance to classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's how a group table might look as students enter so we can jump right into the alphabet and number card practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for the COUNSELING OFFICE...In each photo, we share explanations of counseling tips and materials that work really well, many with links to free or low-cost downloadables and products.  Happy viewing!  As always, we've included a lot of links as helpful resources on these topics- the blue ones will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use and the red ones will take you to a freebie that you can download after you leave a comment below (once you leave a comment, the download automatically gets sent to you within a day). 

Here's one of our two bulletin boards- notice the envelope with the green "If You Need to See the Counselor" sign above it...this is one of the many places where students can pick up a request form to meet with us. We don't do walk-ins except in "3 Hurts" emergencies. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's our counseling office lobby.  The red chair/desk is where the student office aides sit and work, checking students in and keeping order in the waiting room. When we lost our secretary budget years back, we started a serious training program for counseling office aides and it is AMAZING what our aides can do (no jobs that would violate confidentiality, of course). One day soon we will publish our counseling office aide training manual- follow us on our Bilingual Learner Facebook or Twitter pages to see when it is available!

 

 

 

The Counseling Office Rules (red posterette) are crucial! Office Aides have students read them as they are waiting to see us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's my office...on my door is our TX state school counseling code detailing what school counselors do- it's great for explaining what our job actually is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the bookshelf in my office, right next to the door. The blue cubbies on top of the book shelf may not look like much, but it is an organizational life-saver!! Counselors have their hands in so many different aspects of a school and these cubbies put each type of documentation in its spot. It was 50 bucks for cheap cardboard, but so worth it!  You can also see the shelves in the office are divided into sections for groups, for guidance lessons, for student books, and for professional books/binders. They may seem empty now, but they fill up fast as the year progresses!

 


The group counseling room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for some tips on how to tackle the first week back...

If you are like us and the site of an un-organized office or classroom is overwhelming and disorienting, here is a list below of how we tackle the first week in order to have things in order and in process by the time everyone returns:

  • Unpack all materials and set up your office/classroom. (3-6 hours...don't spend more than a day on this, even if you are breaking in a new office/classroom because it will all change as the year progresses anyway.  Just put everything you have in a place so that you feel somewhat comfortable in your space.)
  • Change out your summer break phone/email message and return any phone messages you acquired while hanging out at the beach. (30 min-1 hour)
  • Check work email and take care of those over-the-summer emails and any others you just couldn't deal with during the last few days of the 2013-14 school year. (2 hours)
  • Put together your TO DO list and write the tasks in your planner or Outlook Calendar or Smartphone or whatever you use.  This way, you will know when to do them and actually remember to do each task. (1-2 hours if you are continuing from the TO DO list you started for this new school year at the end of 2013-14.  If you didn't start your 2014-15 TO DO list last year and you have to make it from scratch- block out a half day.)
  • Meet with your colleague (if you have one) to coordinate your activities/plan your lessons for the next two weeks and to set a weekly or monthly planning time to continue meeting regularly through the school year.  After, get your materials together. (2-3 hours counselors, 2-3 days teachers)
  • COUNSELORS ONLY: Set up your waiting room/suite/lobby if you have one. (20 minutes- IF you have an awesome student helper who you can call up to come to the school and do this for you.  In our counseling office, we have amazing office aides each year that we painstakingly train- email us if you need training mats.  Because our counseling office secretary positions were cut a few years ago, our student aides are like mini-office managers and know our suite layout better than we do.  So, we bought our student aide lunch and just let her go- 2 hours later, she was all done and our waiting room sparkled.)
  • Set up and make/email copies of your weekly schedule and yearly calendar/syllabus- post copies wherever you work, on your office door, and email/give to your administrators; its also good at this time to set up with admin a weekly or monthly meeting time that runs throughout the school year so everyone knows: what ASCA/NABE/TESOL recommends that you do, what amazing things you are actually doing, and what admin needs for you to do. (1 hour- IF you laid the foundation for this at the end of the 2013-14 school year with your admin.  If not and you need guidance- email us as it's too much to go into here.)
  • Start on that TO DO list.   Happy DO-ing!

 

So, that's it for our August post.  Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in September!  Maybe we'll actually get to write that individual counseling post we keep talking about;)  And there's LOTS brewing in the ESL world- stay tuned for some big revelations and news next month.   Please leave a comment about your back to school experience, office, classroom, or tips.  Let's all share the wealth!   Remember, we'll trade ya a comment for a freebie resource- comment below and we'll send you the code for the resources in RED above so you can download it for free from our Google Docs account. In the meantime, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page.

 

 

ESL Summer Reading & Mrs. Obama

July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!  If you are a dog lover and an American, you probably have experienced this puppy shaming to the right!  We are experiencing it right now-- all three of our furry friends are cowering under the desk as I write this post late Friday night.  As always, we've included a lot of links as helpful resources on these topics- click on the blue links and we'll take you right to an article, video, or product you can use!

First things first, all the free downloadables for this post are on our Home Page.    We are super excited about these new counseling and ESL resources and we hope you find them helpful.  We've moved all the 2013 free homepage resources to our Resources Page, if you still need them.  Secondly, we have given our entire website a face lift with a new Reviews Page, a simplified (and much easier to navigate) Products Page, our newest favorite website links on our Resources Page, and more!!  We hope you have some time to play around with our new and improved website pages.  Finally, we are thrilled to announce that our newest ESL lessons guide has hit the presses: ESL for Beginners Volume Three. It's our final installment in our Beginners series and it's a doozy! This simple, easy-to-follow, chronological set of 20 lessons has everything you need to instruct your students on topics such as past tense verbs, articles, community & family vocabulary, numbers to 100,  and more!  Have fun teaching your students with dynamic activities such as Funky Phrases, Create Your Own Dialogue, and more!  We are also excited to announce that we have 2 brand new guides coming at you in the next month or two: Girl World Group Counseling Sessions Guide and The COMPLETE ESL for Beginners Lessons Guide!  Check out our Home Page for more details on these two guides. 

For our counseling post, we HAVE to talk a bit about the First Lady's visit and speech at the American School Counselor Association in Disney this week.  While we couldn't be there in person, we took a break from all our counseling guide writing to watch her speak live.  It was pretty exciting and we feel the winds of change blowing for us PSCs!!!  Not because of the new White House school counselor initiatives explained by the First Lady, but because the White House is putting the spotlight on school counseling and what needs to be fixed in our profession (ridiculous ratios, inappropriate job duties, etc). All great change starts with that first baby step! Here's a video of the main parts of the speech.  Here's the written speech so you can read the 3 initiatives for yourself.  And here's a good article of commentary about Mrs. Obama's speech, the Reach Higher initiative, and her presence at the conference. To borrow a key phrase from the article, "At last, a policy maker truly understood the needs of school counselors."  What do you think?

For our ESL post, we have lots of food for thought as you teachers enjoy your time off.  Just in case you are still teaching, here are 2 fab summer ESL activities from our fav, Busy Teacher:  Outdoor Activities for ESL Students and Summer Holidays.

Here's a great list of beach reading if you are a teacher with some time off and you'd like to use it to recharge those professional batteries:

So, that's it for July's Post.  Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in August for our post on all things "Back-to-School."  Please leave a comment about your favorite summer reading or your opinion on Mrs. Obama's speech.  We hope July is good to you!  In the meantime, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page.

 

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