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Journal Ladder

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I came across this idea accidentally and it's proving to be a great activity on more than one levelfel.

Each day when the students come to class, I have already written a journal topic (keep it simple) on the board. They are required to write at least four
sentences about the topic, once they've determined what it is. For the lowest level ESL students in my class (some are migrant workers who have never been to formal school before
and are illiterate in their own languages), they have an additional requirement. They may write in their native language AS LONG AS at least two sentences are
written in English.

This gets them conditioned to write as soon as they come into class and sets a routine pattern of behavior which settles them down in preparation for learning. But I have taken this a
step further in that each month, one more sentence is required to be in english. For example, the next month it goes to five sentences and three must be in English. I have found some students
prefer to write it in english regardless of their errors, and this is a free and ungraded place in which to do it...a safe environment for trial and error.

Beth Morrow
ESL teacher
Columbus, OH

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