Saying Goodbye to an ESL Class
Dearth of Resources For a Final Lesson
When it comes to Teaching English as a Second Language, or even English as a Foreign Language, it does not seem to be difficult to find resources. There are book and many articles on the internet where one can find a great many ideas and helpful suggestions.
A Wide Range of ESL Materials on Many Topics
There is a wide range of ESL materials and many of these resources are conveniently graded according to the students' abilities and level of acuity. These can be adapted to the particular group of students; many are excellent and there's no need for busy teachers to reinvent the wheel.
No Suggestions or Ideas for a Final Lesson
However, I have recently discovered that it is a different matter when it comes to finding a suitable final lesson in which to say 'Goodbye' to one's ESL students. I am always sorry to lose a class, usually at the end of a term or the end of the year but sometimes there are other reasons for their needing to leave, as well.
This problem is especially relevant when the teaching is outside the usual school situation. It did not seem to be so difficult when teaching ESL in a school or university as classes usually ended with examinations. It's different when volunteer teaching ESL in a non-school situation.
After a fruitless search through all my books, emailing relevant authorities (who did not even bother to respond) and on a number of resources I use on the internet, there did not seem to be anything useful at all.
Yet, it seems to me that if one has spent a considerable time assisting and encouraging students on their desired path to fluency, it is fitting to be able to find some ideas to help in preparing an ESL lesson that will - right until the last moment - teach them a final, memorable lesson that will give information and also be a fun last lesson, both for the students and for their teacher.
ESL Students' Range of Background
Different groups of ESL students have ranged widely in their background in the areas of home country, mother-tongue, method of writing, age, level of education and personality.
Whether one is teaching individuals, couples, small or large groups will, of course, influence the topics and the methods utilised for all facets of the lessons:
- Reading and reading aloud
- Vocabulary extension
- Pronunciation and speech rhythm
- Conversation practice
Some students learn best and prefer to have an academic approach while others love to have a lesson that includes a language game or something that includes 'hands on.'
Conversation and Vocabulary
- The Students' Own Languages: Discussion of words and phrases in their own language for saying 'Goodbye,' translated into English and their meanings.
- Words from other languages: We sometimes use these: ciao, au revoir, adieu, auf Wiedersehen, adios, zai jen; their meanings.
- English Words:
- More formal: How our English words were formed: 'Goodbye' and 'Farewell' and how they are constructed:
- Farewell: fare + well: a wish that they continue to do well.
- Goodbye: Old English, meaning God be with you.
- Less formal: 'bye, bye-bye, ta-ta, cheers, see you, so long
Our Final Lesson
In the end, I devised the following lesson:
- Warm up: Conversation about this being their last lesson.
- Homework: Going over and correcting homework from the week before.
- Grammar and Vocabulary: All right vs alright (the latter is not acceptable) e.g. It's all right to leave; you will continue to learn in everyday life.
- Conversation and Vocabulary: Discussion of words and phrases used for saying 'Goodbye.'
- Note-taking: Instructions for making chocolate moulds.
- Surprise: Adjourning to the kitchen for a 'hands on' with conversation and afternoon tea.
A Practical and Fun Ending
We adjourned to the to kitchen of the establishment where I had previously put out ingredients, bowls and moulds of the States of Australia.
The students were directed to look at the mould shapes and asked to
- Identify each State
- Name each State's Capital City and the Federal Capital.
Then they had fun mixing and melting the chocolate ingredients in the microwave oven. The mixture was then spooned into the moulds and placed in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
While we waited, we made cups of tea and enjoyed them with some biscuits I had brought. I had intended that we would eat the chocolates, but the students elected to take them home for their children.
The lesson ended with hugs all around, some small gifts for me and the students went off happily, giggling and calling out 'Goodbye' in several different ways.