Going Beyond the ESL classroom

Teaching English and Engaging the World

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

-Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD), Roman Emperor

How can we encourage our students to speak to more strangers in English? Can we move class discussions beyond the predictable textbook lessons? Are shopping malls, museums, and movies places under-appreciated learning resources to help students develop a more practical vocabulary?

“The Outside World as an Extension of the EFL/ESL Classroom”, by Mark A. Pegrum, makes a compelling argument that ESL teachers should go way beyond dry textbooks to engage in the practical needs and broader cultural life. This exceptional article, written in proper academic style for elite educational audiences, clearly outlines the many reasons for engaging ESL students in the world around them. The article advocates field trips, conducting surveys, visiting museums, discussing movies, obtaining information from public offices, and summarizing television programs.

Numerous activities, along with the suggested level and focus, are provided in this article/collection of lesson ideas for multiple levels. While I can’t bring myself to write in this style with all the appropriate footnotes to make commonsense sound so respectable in academic journals, I’m very glad that Pegrum wrote this outstanding article for ESL professionals. Good job!

These lessons work better for adult education and intensive English programs than community college or university level ESL classes. Many college ESL teachers, however, will also find excellent suggestions for supplemental intermediate and advanced activities. Check it out for lesson ideas to create authentic language and deepen practical life skills for your curious ESL students.

How do you encourage your students to go beyond the classroom?

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