February E-News from Elizabeth Claire:
Hello All, and welcome, New Readers!
Happy Valentines Day!
(I hope you have been enjoying these emails, but in case they don't meet
your needs, I promise it won't break my heart, you can unsubscribe at
any time: Unsubscribe.)
This month's E-News Contents:
Website Special (February Sale!)
Coming Attractions in February's Easy English
A great deal has been said about what's wrong with rote learning: Memorizing
and learning by repetition doesn't cause deep thinking; it's a waste of
time; It bypasses comprehension.
We know what it can't do: it is not effective for mastering complex subjects.
Educators disparrage it as "parroting" or "regurgitating." It is strongly discouraged in new curriculum standards.
But it seems to me educators sometimes are too "politically correct" and forget what it CAN do for our English Language Learners. Many of our
students come from countries where classes are large, and methods are
different. ELLs are used to rote learning, as this is highly regarded
in their home countries. They get quite good at it. Finding it absent
in American schools is part of their culture shock...and disappointment.
It is precisely what they are good at.
So why not tap that skill so they can demonstrate mastery of some key
pieces of information and dazzle native English classmates and teachers?
Rote memorization of data can build ways for ELLs to demonstrate effort;
it can build their self esteem; it impresses others; gives practice in
intonation and pronunciation, as well as serving as a foundation for calling
up information later.
Long before students can understand and speak well enough to participate
in high level conversations, they can recite poetry, speeches, lists of
presidents in order, and the locations of the 50 states and their capitals.
Having these memorized "treasures" bonds them to English with
pride and usefulness.
And of course, be sure to have active learning opportunities, discussions,
and critical thinking in your classes. Easy English NEWS
will give your students thought provoking content for that.
But don't be inhibited from bringing on the polishing of gems of memorized
text worthy of lasting a lifetime.
To celebrate February, suggest to students (perhaps as an option for
extra credit) to choose something to memorize:
The Gettysburg Address is a treasure. Many American students are required
to memorize this, so your students can get a start.
- a Valentine's poem such as "Roses are red, etc." "How Do I Love Thee?"
- The story of George Washington and the Cherry Tree
- Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
The task of memorizing this great work anchors a student in English and
boosts his vocabulary, provided he or she understands what the address
means. Choose this for high school, adult classes, and college students,
at an intermediate level and up. To make it accessible to more students,
have those with less English ability memorize just the first and last
At my website, you'll find a printer-friendly Gettysburg Address, with
a complete translation into easy English, plus Word Help!
here for Gettysburg Address and "translation."
Here are some hints to enhance comprehension and retention, and to make
memorization an enjoyable activity.
1. Build an understanding of the concepts behind the Gettysburg Address
by reading the "translation" and knowing the background and
historical significance: 7,000 soldiers died at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
in a battle that lasted three days. They were defending the Union against
the Confederate Army's attempt to invade the North. It was the only attempt,
as they were defeated. The war continued on, however.
2. Teach students how to "chunk and repeat." i.e. Four score
and seven...Four score and seven years ago...Four score and seven years
ago, our fathers...Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought
forth...and so on.
3. Have students work with a buddy, listening to each other read. Have
the buddy ask questions to keep the content comprehensible. How many years
ago? Who brought forth a new nation? What was the nation conceived in?
What are we engaged in?
4. Small efforts over many days add up to more enjoyable memorization
than a few large efforts over a few days. The results will last longer,
5. Don't make it a competition to see who can memorize faster. Rather,
for those students who wish to master the selection, have each achieve
mastery in their own time frame. All who succeed get an A or a small prize
(four shiny new Lincoln pennies) (yes, they'll probably ask for 5-dollar
bills, but with a good sales job, and enough shine (ask at your bank)
you can make the pennies valuable)
Click here for Gettysburg Address and "translation."
Knowing the list of presidents in order is always 1. impressive, and
2. useful for history classes and even the citizenship test.
here for List of Presidents
Website Special - February Sale!
Because it's the month for showing our LOVE, there'll be a 10% discount
on all book orders using the website order form placed between January 18 and February 18.
Please print out and then fax or mail the website order form.
Preview: Easy English NEWS for February
Ask Elizabeth was postponed
to make room for Earthquake in Haiti.
- February's current events feature article is "Terrorist
on Trial" the story of the Christmas bomber, and the
debate over his trial with his rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
- Earthquake in Haiti We
were just ready to go to press when the earthquake hit Haiti, so we
jettisoned Ask Elizabeth to squeeze in this story.
- Life in the U.S.A. Airport security--
information on some new measures taken by the government to keep us
safe, and what to prepare and expect with the increased screening at
- Events in February covered in Easy English NEWS are:
- African American Month
- Groundhog Day
- Chinese New Year
- Valentine's Day
- Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday
- Presidents' Day
- Super Bowl Sunday
Your Health: Dr. Majid Ali
writes about the Human Life Span---why the median age people live to has
increased from ancient Roman times (22!) until the 1980's (74) and how
obesity may cause the median age to decrease.
America the Beautiful
Big Sur, California.
Heroes and History: A Black
History feature: The right to vote for black Americans from Reconstruction
through Segregation, Ku Klux Klan terror, the Voting Rights Act of 1965
and the Freedom Riders
Expressions and idioms with the word "heart."
Plus our regular features: This Is Your
Page (readers' stories), Funny Stuff, Idioms, the
Crossword Puzzle, Let's Talk about It, and Word Help.
Not a subscriber? The larger your class, the less it costs per student!
Yes, you can still start your subscription with February...or January
for that matter.
here to learn more about Easy English NEWS.
Did you miss our previous E-News? They are archived
for your convenience at our website. Click
Subscribers to our 12-page monthly newspaper, Easy English NEWS receive a monthly teacher's guide with background information on the stories and three reproducible quizzes.
Click here for this month's Teacher's Guide.
Also available free at the website is a printable
24-page HOW TO Use
Easy English NEWS in your ESL Classroom.
This comprehensive guide offers techniques to use with beginning, intermediate,
and advanced students. It contains 10 reproducible, generic student activity
sheets including self evaluations that you can use each month. Click
here for the "HOW TO."
Your comments are most welcome. Click
here to send me a message.
Till next time,