IMPORTANT NOTE about discussing FAMILY:

Talking about family in the adult ESL classroom can be a sensitive topic.  Keep in mind that many learners have experienced trauma related to war, many have lost or been separated from family members, including young children.  Some may not know to date where there siblings are living or if they are even alive.  And many have had to make the difficult choice to leave children in the care of family members in their home country.

As much as possible, try to keep discussions about family open ended and allow learners to volunteer only the information they are comfortable talking about.  For example, it may be better to ask “Tell me about your family” and avoid specific questions like “How many brothers and sisters do you have?”

Even with these precautions, some learners may feel sad or anxious talking about their families.  Watch closely for feelings of discomfort.  Allow learners to step out or take extra breaks as needed.  And offer a compassionate ear if learners feel compelled to talk about sad or worrisome family issues and events.

from a lesson plan for discussing family in an
English as a second language program
by Jessica Grace Jones for the Minnesota Literacy Council

nochebuenaWhile at Cafe Zenteno last week, my current fave, I sat next to a very clean-cut older man, mustachioed, wearing a hat indoors. I noticed him because while I was standing in line, he asked the woman in front of me if she liked cats.  I thought then and there that I needed to sit next to him-not because I wanted to talk about cats, but because I thought he might be loony enough to talk about anything. It proved disappointing as, although we shared Connecticut’s Fairfield County in common, he spoke of “weird” ethnicities moving in (he mentioned Vietnamese) and he complained about his tax dollars going to educate “those” people, and I knew why the recent election in the United States went the way it did. I wondered why, if he had so much money and various properties, was he such a miser?

entranceThis photo is for M in Riverside, California who wondered what Google had missed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s