Elizabeth Claire's E-News

January 2013 E-News from Elizabeth Claire

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Contents of the January E-News:

Helping students set goals

Contents of January's E-NEWS


Helping students set goals

New Year's resolutions, new beginnings....How do students learn to set goals, to plan for the future, to consider how to aim their efforts? We might think this comes naturally, but goal setting is a concept that needs to be taught and practiced.

You might read a story with your class of someone who had a goal. Easy English NEWS Heroes and History often tells the story of someone with a goal: This month Martin Luther King, Jr.'s goal was to end segregation and injustice.

Have students identify the hero's goal and see the obstacles to reaching the goal. How was the goal measured? What steps happened along the way? What was the time line?

Explain that goals can be long-range or short range. Some people worked all their lives for a goal and didn't see it accomplished, but others later carried it on (Susan B. Anthony did not live to see the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.).

Discuss: Your goals or your family's goals in coming to the United States.

Discuss the goals for the country stated in President Obama's inaugural speech. Have students notice that sometimes the goal is set for us by others (go to school, do homework) and sometimes it becomes our own goal.

Elicit the goals the students already have. Ask how they measure the progress towards their goal.

Show how to break a goal down into smaller steps that can be measured and monitored. Measuring goals in small steps keeps up the motivation...a goal like "learn English" is a huge ocean that is hard to swallow. Smaller steps: "I'll read two stories a week. I'll learn 20 new words a week. I'll have conversations in English with Americans two times a week." Have students notice that having a time to complete a step will help: "I'll read two stories each week by Friday at 9 pm."

As soon as we set on a goal, something happens: the obstacles show up: There's not enough time; there's no one to teach us; there's no text book; English is hard to pronounce; people laugh when we speak, we make mistakes and are embarrassed...The obstacles have to be dealt with in accomplishing the goal.

It's easy to forget our goals! That's why it's important to write them down. It helps to also write what benefit will come to us when we accomplish our goals. Have students write their goals, and post them where they can see them, not hide them in a notebook. Have them draw a picture for the goal; hang it up or write it on the cover of their book.

Having a chart or graph helps with some kinds of goals such as saving money, paying down debt, increasing grades on tests. Other goals might be measured more in lists of words or names of stories read or steps accomplished.

Should students give themselves a reward for achieving a goal? Absolutely! This is particularly helpful for a goal that requires sacrifice or unpleasant work. Getting a good grade, getting acknowledged at school, or making the honor roll can work well.

There can be group goals. Have the class brainstorm group goals for the marking period or the term or year.

Goals without an action plan are just hopes or wishes. "I hope I can speak English well next year." is nice, but not a goal. "I will study, read, and practice, so I will be able to speak English with friends on simple topics by the end of December, 2013."

Goals become firmer when they are spoken to someone who cares. Create the sense of the class as a support system for students' goals. Let students declare their goals after they have written them out. Have mini-conferences with each student to help each fine tune their goals. Telling your goal to the teacher is a powerful way to keep up the motivation.

Have students see "milestones" on the way to accomplish the goal. What part of the goal do you plan to do in two weeks? That way they can measure and see if more effort is needed or if the goal needs to be revised.

Post motivational aphorisms around the room.:

If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably get there.

A goal is like a North Star to travel by.

Never give up.

Have students visualize the accomplishment of their goal. Close your eyes. You have accomplished your goal. What is around you? How do you feel? What do others think of you? What has changed in your life?

Draw a picture of you after you have accomplished your goal.

Every several weeks, have goal review time. Ask how students are doing on their goals. Have students feel the pride in accomplishing their goals. Teach forms of acknowledgement and compliments that a support system might use. What is your goal? What is your action plan to get there? How are you doing? What do you want acknowledgement for?

Contents of Easy English NEWS for January 2013

Inauguration Day

Winter Driving Suitable for anyone who drives or may drive in the future in a snowy environment.

Events in January covered in Easy English NEWS:
    • New Year's Day
    • The Calendar: meanings of the names of months and the days of the week
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
    • Coming of Age Day (in Japan) Seijin no hi
    • Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed (Eid Mawlid ul-Nabi)
    • National Religious Freedom Day
Dr. Ali: Your Health: How Are Your Heart Muscle Cells? (A must read for people who have had heart surgery or who want to avoid it)

Ask a Speech Coach: Distinguishing and pronouncing /b/ and /v/

America the Beautiful: New York City--"The Big Apple"

Heroes and History: Martin Luther King, Jr and the Civil Rights Movement.

Slow clean up after Superstorm Sandy

Plus our regular features: This Is Your Page (readers' stories),  Funny Stuff, Idioms, the Crossword Puzzle, Let's Talk About It, and Word Help.

At the website: See the many FREE teacher aid and support exercises at

The Teacher's Guide if you lost it or you didn't get it with your mailing

Cloze exercises for the current issue and previous issues

An Odd-Man-Out exercise: Which Word Does Not Belong

And six Short Answer Tests to help readers focus on the facts presented in the current edition.

Also the FREE 24-page generic "How To" with 9 reproducible graphic organizers.

My books on Kindle: (They're selling quietly; I never get to see the names of who bought them. It's different from selling directly. I'd love to get feedback!)
  • ESL Teacher's Activities Kit Part One ($0.99)
  • ESL Teacher's Activities Kit Part Two ($0.99)
  • ESL Teacher's Activities Kit Part Three ($0.99)
  • Kristina, 1904, the Greenhorn Girl ($4)
  • Voices of Our New Neighbors Volume One ($0.99)
  • Voices of our New Neighbors Volume Two ($0.99)
  • Voices of our new Neighbors Volume Three ($0.99)
  • English Language Learners in the Mainstream Class (from Classroom Teacher's ESL Survival Guide) ($3.99)
  • What's So Funny? An International Student's Introduction to American Humor. ($0.99)
  • Phonics for English Language Learners? What the ESL Teacher Needs to Know $0.99)
Click here to go to the Amazon Store at my website

Carry on your good work!

Elizabeth Claire

© Elizabeth Claire 2013.
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