Tag Archives: ESL

V is for…

My main goal in teaching ESL to first graders is to make learning fun.  I set the precedent for what language learning can be like for the rest of their educational career; I have the ability to shape the way these students see the English language.  It’s not all drudgery and grammar and pronunciation… no, no, learning English is an exciting adventure!

My class and I are making our way through the English alphabet.  I intend on the students knowing all 26 letters and their simple sounds by the end of the year.  

I am not, however, going through the alphabet in the tradition A-Z fashion, but instead in an order that gives the most simple and most common letters and sounds first–thus paving the way for reading simple words early on. 

We are 15 letters in. 

I teach class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I typically introduce a new letter on Tuesday and then we spend some time practicing the sounds, writing the letter out, doing flash cards and playing a few games to help with sound recognition and then on Thursday we work on the same letter using different methods of learning.  

For example:

For “F” they had to put their face in a plate of flour.  (After writing big F and little f in the flour with their finger.)

For “E” they had to use their elbows to crack eggs.

For “D” I brought donuts and plastic dinosaurs.  The ‘dinosaurs’ had to try to make Ds out of the donuts.


The list goes on…


The most recent letter I taught was V.

What in the world can we do with V?


As it is the holiday season and our home had recently hosted a Staff Christmas Party…one of Tracy’s party games came to mind. 

Vaseline Santa Beards.


So on Thursday after a brief review of what the letter “V” says, I put the kids into teams of three, whipped out the cotton balls and vaseline…and the children got to work.



Base, First and Aaw. (Base’s team was given the title of winning team.)


The game was a hit.  The laughter was uncontrollable.  

Unfortunately, there were some unforeseen hiccups with playing this game.  

Namely the task of de-vaseline-ing my students.  

Their hands and faces were covered with the sticky gel and the ice cold water was not doing the removing trick.  The majority of my students ended up soaking wet in the 40 degree Thailand weather, and I had to help them take off their uniforms and lay them in the sun to dry–which, in turn, left me with a classroom of first graders shivering in their undershirts.


V is for Vaseline. 

and Victory.


Happy Holidays!




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a shorty, but a goodie…

Each morning, after prayer I begin class by randomly drawing a name out of a cup–the name I draw is my helper for the day.

One of the perks of being Miss Samara’s helper is that you get to stand on top of your chair in the front of the class and answer Miss Samara’s eight questions.

The questions are the same everyday and pretty basic:

  • What is your name?
  • How old are you?
  • How are you?
  • Do you have any brothers or sister?  How many?
  • What is your favorite color?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • What is your favorite animal?
  • What day of the week is today? What was yesterday? What is tomorrow?

I write all of the student’s answers on the white board as they are answering and when they are finished I ask the listening students the same questions about the helper.


Meet Boon [Bawn]

(arguably one of my most favorite students.)


How can you not love that face!?!


Boon is under the impression that he cannot speak English and so when he wins the opportunity to be my helper, the question part of the job is a bit painful.

We make it through, but there may be a translation or two along the way.

This particular day when Boon was asked the question, “How are you?,” he was able to answer straight away.  He knew how he was.  He was tiger.

Yes. Tiger.

Miss Samara:  How are you, Boon?

Boon:  I am tiger.

Now, this is a very common mistake and was not the first nor will it be the last time that a student has told me they are tiger instead of tired. I was not surprised.  

So I repeat:  “You are T-IIIII-re-D” (stress the final consonant,) and move on.

We get through the remaining five questions and then it’s time to see how well my other students were listening.

Name and Age are pretty easy even if you weren’t listening because they’re not subject to change much over the course of the year.  Then I ask Folk to answer the third question about Boon.

Miss Samara:  Folk, how is Boon?

Folk: [blank stare] [look at the sky] [scratch chin]

Miss Samara: Folk, how iiissss Boon?

Folk: [look up] [lightbulb] Boon is lion.


Boon is lion.

All in a days work.

The End.

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