Previous ELS Highlights

Mr. G’s Class: ELS (Oct 2016)


Ordering Food


The purpose of this lesson was to give essential skills to order food in a restaurant using English vocabulary. In addition, the role play provided opportunities to have interaction between a customer and a waiter. The students really enjoy these role playing lessons, and they work well together. It’s a great way to learn English in real world situations. The target vocabulary included hamburger, order, restaurant, menu, drink, juice, food, meal, delicious, dessert, bill, change, customer, waiter. The role play dialog focused on ‘making requests and stating preferences’ using vocabulary like “I’d like” and “I’ll have”, as per the following:


Waiter: Welcome to Papa John’s Restaurant. Here are our menus. Today's special is grilled burger with pineapple. I'll be back to take your order in a minute.

Waiter: Are you ready to order?

Customer 1: I'd like the chicken strips and french fries.

Waiter: And you?

Customer 2: I'll have a hamburger and fries.

Waiter: Would you like anything to drink?

Customer 1: I'll have a coke, please.

Waiter: And for you?

Customer 2: Just water, please.

Waiter: OK. So that's one chicken strip, one hamburger and fries, one Coke, and one water. I'll take your menus.

Waiter: Here is your food. Enjoy your meal.

Waiter: How was everything?

Customers 2: Delicious thanks.

Waiter: Would you like anything for dessert?

Customer 1: No, just the bill please.

Waiter: Here is your change. Thank you for coming! 

Mr. Mark's Class: ELS (Oct 2016)


Student Teachers


One aspect of my class that I really like is how students help each other build their English skills. We often focus on providing opportunities for students to help and teach other students in the class. This helps both the student teacher and learner and is a great way for the teacher and teaching assistant to observe the students interact with each other to improve their English ability.


We set up the classroom and focus on different skills that the students need to learn.  For example, student teachers could help other students with oral presentations; talking about pictures in a book, reading Dolch words, phonics practice with word cards; learning the time with clocks; reviewing completed grammar exercises; listening comprehension exercises; reading comprehension exercises; answering questions and many more activities that help meet a student’s learning needs and goals.


The activities that students teach change from week to week depending on what the focus is on that particular week. For this particular lesson this week, students helped with: learning phonetic sounds; reading fluency, learning adjectives, word study words, numbers, verbs and practicing their oral presentations. The idea of this activity is to focus on an area where a student needs the most help. Sometimes students will rotate through various activities depending on their needs. Students that are teachers one week can also change their role and be a pupil the next week.


The teacher and TA (Teaching Assistant) help organize the pairs and assist where needed, depending on the activities. This lesson is a short 20 minute lesson and helps students practice their English both in a stimulating environment and helps students interact in English.


These little teachers help with different learning styles that the students may possess. Kinesthetic, visual, logical, interpersonal and intrapersonal learning styles were catered to during this one particular lesson. It’s an excellent activity to combine all of these learning styles into one lesson! 

Mr. T’s Class: ELS (March 2017)


Leadership in the classroom


Leadership is an important skill which every student should try to develop. Leaders are all around us; in our towns and cities, in our communities and of course in our school. Leaders are people we look up to, they guide us, and they help us work in a team. Good leaders are honest and fair. They are excellent listeners and they are proactive- that means they get the job done right, the first time! Good leaders are people we should look up to and we can learn a lot from them. When students take on the leadership role they show maturity and a desire to accept responsibility. This will help to ensure they have a bright future.


You can be a leader by doing the following:

  • Doing the right thing even when the teacher doesn’t ask.
  • Helping other students.
  • Being someone that other students can look up to.
  • Stand up for others even if it is hard to do.

These are just a few of the things you can do to be a valuable leader in your classroom, in your home and in your community. What other ways can you think of? How can you be a leader?


In Clifford school we have many leaders. Teachers, Principals and Teacher Assistants all take on roles as leaders, but students can also be leaders. In the classroom there are many chances to take on the role of a leader. Students can be class leaders, reading leaders or group leaders. In this role students are often asked to be responsible for collecting papers, handing out reading books, collecting snacks or another task.


Students at Clifford have many opportunities to practice leadership. Those students who embrace this role will have a bright future as the next generation of leaders. So when it’s your turn to take on responsibility don’t be shy- be a leader. Because our world, our community and our school needs great leadership!

Ms. G’s Class: ELS (April 2017)


As part of our speaking and listening curriculum, our class began holding debates. The purpose of the debate is for students to express their opinions clearly and logically in English, backed up by facts, and to listen and respond to others’ opinions in respectful and meaningful ways. This is very difficult to do in a foreign language, and that makes it a fantastic exercise to improve their English skills. To prepare for any debate, one has to understand the facts behind the topic. This week’s topic was about the role of music in schools.


On different days leading up to the debate, we watched and discussed a TED talk by an education expert, studied an illustrated TEDxEd clip about how music affects the brain, and took notes from a PPT summarizing the results of more than 15 studies about music and learning in simple English. We also discussed and took notes on the problems and difficulties related to teaching music in school. During grammar lessons, we practiced composing opinions in grammatically correct model sentences.

With notes and facts to work from, students began to formulate and find supports for their opinions. They summarized their arguments in writing.  On the day of the debate, students were given five minutes to practice speaking their arguments. Then the debate began.  One student opened the debate with his or her well-expressed, factually-based opinion, and the opposing side answered.


After the initial statement, each student began their responses with: “I heard you say…” or “I understand that…” followed by a summary of the opposing side’s previous point, before giving their response. As the debate continued, students grew more passionate about defending their opinions, and worked hard to express and back up their beliefs with solid facts. The debate went so well that students didn’t want to stop defending their points when the bell rang at the end of class. Well done to all of my students for completing a rigorous English language workout!

Mr. Andy’s Class: ELS (May 2017)


Phonics: L-blends


Phonemic awareness is a critical component of a new English learner’s academic arsenal. With the ability to identify phonemes, the basic sounds of a language, students can relate what they hear to the letters we use to represent them. It enables students to sound out new words that they read and write new vocabulary that they hear. In our classroom, students begin to develop all four of their English language skills – reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Because these skills are interconnected, learning phonics is an excellent way to bridge the gap between students’ speaking and listening and their reading and writing. The end goal is to provide the students with the skills necessary to be more independent learners.


The theme of this highlighted lesson was initial L-Blends. This is a group of words which begin with a consonant which is adjacent to the letter L. This consonant and the letter L are then blended, or pronounced quickly together.


To begin this lesson, I elicited the previous week’s theme from the students which was R-blends. I then changed the ‘R’ to an ‘L’ and asked them to think of blends which have the letter L in them. This activated their prior knowledge of both blends and their vocabulary as a whole. I elicited examples of words with L-Blends from the students and wrote them on the board.


Once sufficient examples were given, we transitioned to a PowerPoint presentation. The activity engaged students with the theme of “Plants Versus Zombies” but mixed in new vocabulary with L-Blends. Students practiced first by putting the “pieces” of the word together (the L-Blend and its ending) and then pronounced the word together. Students did this both as a whole group and as individuals.


We finished our phonics lesson with a listening activity. Students were asked to write 15 words which I say slowly and repeatedly. Once we finished, I show them the words and ask them to raise their hands if they wrote it correctly. If they did, they are awarded “points”. At the end, we record each students’ points and can clearly see how the students are progressing.

Mr. Nathan’s Class: ELS (May 2017)


“What Are You Wearing?”


When we had to describe what we were wearing during class we had a problem - everyone was wearing the same thing, their school uniform! The school’s uniform is a yellow and blue sweatshirt or shirt and blue sweatpants or shorts or a white shirt, blue pants or a white dress. So we decided to talk about other clothing!


First, the class drew clothes that they like to wear. They had to draw a top (shirt), a bottom (pants), shoes, and accessories. We used a large piece of paper to make it more life size. Some students drew their actual clothes they wear on the weekends and others drew fun outfits that they wish they could wear. This allowed the students to be creative!


After each student drew their picture they had to present it to the class and explain what they were wearing. “I am wearing a blue dress shirt, black pants, and brown shoes. I am also wearing a name badge, black belt, and a watch.”


Finally, after each student practiced saying what they were wearing, we did a role play where two students walk up to each other and complement each other on what they are wearing. “Hi Brad, I like your purple shoes.” “Hi Jessica, I like your pink dress.” “I like your new iPhone and your gold watch."


My students like to do activities that let them use their imagination while learning. The students try harder to remember the English words that they want to use, and in the end, we all had fun learning English!

Mr. Todd’s Class: ELS (June 2017)


Sentence Relay


Our class concentrates on learning English. The two difficult parts of learning English are speaking and listening.  We work on this in our class doing several activities.  We read aloud, we give oral books reports and have the rest of the class answer questions from the oral report, and we play speaking and listening games.  One game that we play, that the students like participating in, is called “The Sentence Relay”.   It incorporates both speaking and listening and has the added part of needing to listen to each other to get the sentence to the end of the line.


First, we take the students outside so we have room to line up far enough apart so as not to hear each other saying the sentences.  The teacher will begin by saying a sentence to a student at the end of the line.  The sentence will be simple and use words and sounds we have worked on in class, but will be a nonsense sentence so the students can’t just guess what was said.  Examples are “I like dancing in chocolate.”, “She puts peanut butter in her socks.”, and the obvious favorite, “We write our homework with cheese!”


The first student then goes to the second student and repeats the sentence, who goes to the next student and repeats the sentence, who goes to the next and continuing to the end.  The last student the repeats the sentence as they heard it.   The teacher follows the sentences and, if it is not repeated correctly, lets the students know where the sentence changed. Score is kept, and the line with the most correct sentences wins the most class coins. It’s a really fun way to practice both listening and speaking!

Mr. Mark’s Class: ELS




An ELS (English Language Support) classroom has a smaller number of students; hence teachers can maximize this advantage to meet students’ needs. For the activity, “ROTATIONS”, we organize the classroom in a snake-like formation where the students continually move from one work station to the next during the lesson.


Work stations consist of different activities that the students need to focus on. For example, work stations could be guided reading; talking about pictures in a book, reading Dolch words, phonics practice with word cards; learning the time with clocks; reviewing completed grammar exercises; listening comprehension exercises; reading comprehension exercises; answering questions and many more activities that help meet a student’s learning needs and goals.


The activities at each work station change from week to week depending on what the focus is on that particular week. For this particular lesson this week, the workstations included: reviewing completed grammar exercises; learning to tell time; learning phonetic sounds; writing about a picture in a book and lastly, reading fluency. The idea of this activity is to have the students rotate through each work station. So, in this lesson they went through five different stations reviewing and practicing different language skills.


The teacher and TA (Teaching Assistant) help at separate stations and at times they will rotate through the stations, depending on the activities. Students are expected to both work independently and help each other review what should have been learned at the other stations. Students have approximately 7-8 minutes at each station before rotating.


These rotating groups help with different learning styles that the students may possess. Kinesthetic, visual, logical, interpersonal and intrapersonal learning styles were catered to during this one particular lesson. It’s an excellent activity to combine all of these learning styles into one lesson! 

Mr. B’s Class: ELS


Small Group Learning Centers


Our ELS classes are small in size so that the teacher and the teaching assistant can focus and spend more time with each student. One of the ways that we teach English in an intensive manner is to use small group learning centers.


With all of these learning centers, students can focus on certain topics during class. The student groups move to each center during the class. That gives the students about 6-7 minutes at each center.  There are five different centers that they will go to during the class.


There is a learning center for reading. The books that they read are books that focus on phonics. Another center uses dolch word flash cards. The students use these flash cards to practice reading and saying the dolch words. Repetition is the key here. A third center is for picture prompt writing. In this center, the students look at a picture and write about what they see. The students can use their imagination to write more creatively.


The fourth center focuses on sight words.  We call this center the “sight word snake of cards”.  Students walk over each card and say the word that they see. The last learning center is the “nouns flash cards” area. Students hold up flash cards while another student reads the type of noun that is on the flashcard. They then give an example of that noun. Our students love doing these small group learning centers because their English skills improve quickly!

Mr. Nathan's Class: ELS


The Power of the Library


Clifford School has two great libraries to help our students in their endeavor to enjoy reading and explore the English language. Going to the library is a treat to find new and exciting books to read and to learn about something that personally interests them.


Although there may be many students in the library at the same time, it is very important for students to respect each other by being as quiet as possible. Students enjoy sitting with each other and showing off their books but they are always encouraged to use their quiet voices and whisper to each other. Upon entering the library, students take a place card with a number on it so that when they take a book off the shelf, they can put their place card in its place, and will know exactly where to return the book.


Sometimes students like to read by themselves or in groups. Whenever students have questions they can always ask a teacher for help. If there is not a reading lesson scheduled, some students like to relax and read a book on the reading carpet. When it is about time to go, the students return their books to the proper places and make sure the books all look straight and in order. We encourage our students to borrow a book to take home every week!

Mr. Todd’s Class: ELS


One Minute Talks and the Banana Game


Part of the student’s homework is to prepare a one-minute speech to give to the class each week.  It can be about almost anything. The only real requirement is the talk and any questions asked must be in English. The students have to stand before the class with their notes and any materials they need.  After the student has finished their speech, they ask for any questions from the rest of the class. When all questions from the students have been asked, another student is chosen to give their talk. Everyone gets time to speak.


The students really enjoy competition, so periodically we play a phonics game that they call The Banana Game for the shape of the bag the letters come in. The students team up to sort the alphabet in a way that will help them to build words quickly. Words are called out and the first table to get the word correct gets two check marks and any other table that gets the word correct gets one checkmark.  The words are chosen from our sight word lists, phonics components and word families we have worked on. The students catch on quickly to save some words to reuse if the word family comes up again.  The winning table gets to choose our Fun Friday activity!

Mr. G’s Class: ELS


Word Construction Fun 


We have a special lesson that focuses on word construction, phonetics and rhyming. To make this activity more fun and exciting, the students are divided into competitive groups. Students start with producing 3-letter C-V-C (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. They line up the first consonant nut on the track of the bolt and then slide the nut all the way to the left. Now, they slide a green nut (vowel), followed by the third nut (consonant).


Students they twist the letters to make a word. The student needs to say the word out loud, sounding out each letter (for example, CAT = “CC-AA-TT”). They then twist it again, with either the beginning, middle or ending letter, to make a new word.  Each group repeats the process to continue making new words, saying them aloud as they make them.


We then discuss how letters of a word go in a specific order. First, we make a word, say it aloud, and then twist the first nut to make a new word. We notice a pattern that by changing just the first letter we can make a new word that rhymes. And by continue to twist the first letter we can create more rhyming words. The students really enjoy rhyming!


After we have done some rhyming, I have the students spin and turn the nuts on the bolts to make real and nonsensical words that the letters made randomly. We read every word creation so students need to be able to decode and blend simple words regardless if they are a real word or not. This activity really helps them with both of these skills.


We continue to make new words and saying them aloud by twisting either the beginning, middle, or ending letter (sound) to make new words. For example, you can change RAT to RAN, and then CAN, CAT, and CUT! After mastering 3-letter words, we then move on to making 4-letter words and have the students compete in their teams. Let’s compete! Who can make the most 4- letter words? This activity is great because we can practice our pronunciation and decoding skills while students are having fun!

Mr. T’s Class: ELS


One Minute Speeches


In the ELS classroom much emphasis is placed on public speaking. This is a vital ability that every student should try to learn.  In our classroom, these skills are practiced weekly when the students give 1-Minute Speeches.  The student should come to the front of the class and try to give an interesting speech for one-minute.


This can be a very nerve-racking experience for some of the students, but with time and practice the fear goes away and the speeches improve. Once the initial fear is overcome then the speaker starts to focus on things such as eye contact, speaking with a clear voice, using good volume and choosing an interesting topic.


During the week, students are asked to prepare a short speech which can be informational or persuasive. The speech can be fictional or real.  It can be in the past tense, future tense or present tense.  Students can talk about a trip they went on, an adventure they had, or something that will happen in their lives such as “What I want to be when I am older”.


Students have also spoken about topics such as Chinese holidays and festivals, city and country life in addition to football, basketball and playing the violin.  The most important thing is that the student develops the confidence to get up in front of a group of people to speak English! 


Students who feel comfortable and confident can better express themselves and they will improve quicker.  1-minute speeches can be challenging for the students but the benefits are immense as students become more expressive, confident and communicative using their English skills. 

Mr. Steven’s Class: ELS


Celebrating Mother’s Day


This month we celebrated Mother’s Day.  An important event in Western and Chinese culture, and the significance of Mother’s Day was not lost on our students.  Students were tasked with creating a narrative about their “Special Mothers”.


Students began with “Pre-Writing”.  Students were given 10 minutes to brainstorm all the vocabulary or phrases they could think of about their “Special Mother”.  The technique used, which has been proven to work, is a “Word Web” exercise. Students proceeded with their 1st draft of their narrative.  Students were instructed to use new and exciting adjectives.  As an aid to help the students, we created what we term as a “Dead Word Graveyard”, on our bulletin board.  Students expand their vocabulary by not using these simple and common words in their written work.  Instead, students must use a synonym of the dead word and try harder to incorporate new words in their narratives.  


After their 1st draft, they proceeded to make revisions.  The process of revision is as follows: 

            Add:                Does the story need more information?

            Re-arrange:   Are the events in the correct order?

            Remove:        Is there any part of the story that doesn’t make sense?

            Replace:        Ask their peers to help edit their narrative.


Finally, students helped to edit their classmates writing, before the teacher looks at it.  This allows students to identify errors and make necessary corrections before the teacher assists in editing.  Each student was then able to write a complete and grammatically correct story about their mother. As a way of celebrating Mother’s Day, students used their artistic abilities and created a “Mother’s Day” card to display on our bulletin board along with their stories inside.  The students really enjoyed this final part and were quite proud of their work. And their mother’s were quite joyous with the results.