An Adult Education Week Activity in a Community Center Environment


Nancy Gebhardt
As a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics Program for TESOL, I have the great fortune to be serving an internship under the guidance of Monika Gadek-Stephen at the College of DuPage at their Salvation Army Campus in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Never one to miss the opportunity for a fresh and challenging learning experience, Monika created a simple and fun, multi-level activity that included grammar, reading, speaking, and writing along with the kind of arts and crafts activities that can be accomplished quickly. She called the project The English Garden.

Activity One
We wrote single words and punctuation marks on individual sheets of construction paper that together formed the question: How has English changed your life? The sheets were distributed, one each to seven students, who had to cooperate and collaborate to figure out how to form a grammatical question. The students enjoyed this challenge and tried several different configurations to form various sentences before deciding on the right one and then posed for a photo, holding the sheets in front of them. (See picture below.)

Activity Two
Step One: First, everyone helped to cut out some half-page flowers and butterflies, each with room for a few sentences from pre-designed forms.

Step Two: Students were asked to write a sentence or two about how learning English has changed their lives. Students put a lot of thought and effort into this task, taking it very seriously and writing about how their progress has helped them in their work and in their personal lives with things like doctor and dentist visits, but especially with being able to function more fully as parents in connection with their children’s schools and interacting on a more equal level with their teachers.

Step Three: Afterwards we took the flowers and butterflies that the students had written on and taped them to a poster that said across the top, of course, The English Garden.  Then we all sat below the poster and posed for a class photo.

It was a simple project, but everyone enjoyed it very much and the students took great pride in sharing their sense of accomplishment and bonded by posing together for the pictures. I hope that others will be able to use Monika’s project which she happily shared for this article.

Thanks Monika!

Nancy Somora Gebhardt is the co-chair for the ITBE Adult Education Special Interest Group for 2015 and teaches adult ESL at BIR Training Center.
ITBE Link - Winter 2016 - Volume 43 Number 4