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Saying Goodbye to an ESL Class

Bronwen was a teacher for over forty years. Degrees include School Librarianship, Psycholinguistics and Theology, and Applied Linguistics.

A Christmas Party Break-up

A Christmas Party Break-up

Dearth of Resources For a Final Lesson

When it comes to Teaching English as a Second Language, or even English as a Foreign Language, it does not seem to be difficult to find resources. There are book and many articles on the internet where one can find a great many ideas and helpful suggestions.

A Wide Range of ESL Materials on Many Topics

There is a wide range of ESL materials and many of these resources are conveniently graded according to the students' abilities and level of acuity. These can be adapted to the particular group of students; many are excellent and there's no need for busy teachers to reinvent the wheel.

No Suggestions or Ideas for a Final Lesson

However, I have recently discovered that it is a different matter when it comes to finding a suitable final lesson in which to say 'Goodbye' to one's ESL students. I am always sorry to lose a class, usually at the end of a term or the end of the year but sometimes there are other reasons for their needing to leave, as well.

This problem is especially relevant when the teaching is outside the usual school situation. It did not seem to be so difficult when teaching ESL in a school or university as classes usually ended with examinations. It's different when volunteer teaching ESL in a non-school situation.

After a fruitless search through all my books, emailing relevant authorities (who did not even bother to respond) and on a number of resources I use on the internet, there did not seem to be anything useful at all.

Yet, it seems to me that if one has spent a considerable time assisting and encouraging students on their desired path to fluency, it is fitting to be able to find some ideas to help in preparing an ESL lesson that will - right until the last moment - teach them a final, memorable lesson that will give information and also be a fun last lesson, both for the students and for their teacher.

Grandparents and Their Grandchildren

Grandparents and Their Grandchildren

ESL Students' Range of Background

Different groups of ESL students have ranged widely in their background in the areas of home country, mother-tongue, method of writing, age, level of education and personality.

Whether one is teaching individuals, couples, small or large groups will, of course, influence the topics and the methods utilised for all facets of the lessons:

  • Reading and reading aloud
  • Writing
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary extension
  • Structures
  • Pronunciation and speech rhythm
  • Conversation practice

Some students learn best and prefer to have an academic approach while others love to have a lesson that includes a language game or something that includes 'hands on.'

Conversation and Vocabulary

  • The Students' Own Languages: Discussion of words and phrases in their own language for saying 'Goodbye,' translated into English and their meanings.
  • Words from other languages: We sometimes use these: ciao, au revoir, adieu, auf Wiedersehen, adios, zai jen; their meanings.
  • English Words:
  • More formal: How our English words were formed: 'Goodbye' and 'Farewell' and how they are constructed:
  • Farewell: fare + well: a wish that they continue to do well.
  • Goodbye: Old English, meaning God be with you.
  • Less formal: 'bye, bye-bye, ta-ta, cheers, see you, so long

Our Final Lesson

In the end, I devised the following lesson:

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  1. Warm up: Conversation about this being their last lesson.
  2. Homework: Going over and correcting homework from the week before.
  3. Grammar and Vocabulary: All right vs alright (the latter is not acceptable) e.g. It's all right to leave; you will continue to learn in everyday life.
  4. Conversation and Vocabulary: Discussion of words and phrases used for saying 'Goodbye.'
  5. Note-taking: Instructions for making chocolate moulds.
  6. Surprise: Adjourning to the kitchen for a 'hands on' with conversation and afternoon tea.

A Mould of the States of Australia

A Mould of the States of Australia

A Practical and Fun Ending

We adjourned to the to kitchen of the establishment where I had previously put out ingredients, bowls and moulds of the States of Australia.

The students were directed to look at the mould shapes and asked to

  • Identify each State
  • Name each State's Capital City and the Federal Capital.

Then they had fun mixing and melting the chocolate ingredients in the microwave oven. The mixture was then spooned into the moulds and placed in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

While we waited, we made cups of tea and enjoyed them with some biscuits I had brought. I had intended that we would eat the chocolates, but the students elected to take them home for their children.

The lesson ended with hugs all around, some small gifts for me and the students went off happily, giggling and calling out 'Goodbye' in several different ways.

Japanese ESL Students on an Excursion

Japanese ESL Students on an Excursion


Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on September 13, 2014:

Blond Logic: I'm sorry I did not see your comment before. By now you are probably quite adept with the English lessons and I hope you are enjoying them and the interaction with the students. It can be a lot of fun and I'm sure you're doing well. Maybe the Goodbye lesson will come in handy yet!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on May 13, 2014:

Blond Logic: I think that when we start anything we're often a little tentative about it - if not downright nervous, but I'm sure you'll do well. The important thing to begin with is to build a good rapport with your students, then they'll enjoy learning. The next is that, while you make sure that your own speech is a good model, it's all about learning to communicate in another language, so some mistakes by the students can be overlooked if their meaning is clear. As the classes progress they will learn and improve. Hope it goes well for you!

Mary Wickison from USA on May 10, 2014:

I have been asked if I can help with English lessons here in Brazil. So as yours is covering a last lesson, I may be starting. I am not certain I am up to it. Speaking it is much different than teaching it.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on June 24, 2013:

teaches12345: It was fun and yes, it is sad when it's the end and we have to say goodbye to our students. Thank you for your kind remarks.

Dianna Mendez on June 23, 2013:

What a great way to end the course. I always have some sadness when I say good-bye to students for the module. I can tell your students are blessed to have you for a teacher.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on June 23, 2013:

Frank Atanacio: It is an honour to teach ESL and I make so many new friends that way, too. Thank you for your comments.

cleaner3: Michael, that is true. I was really sad when I reached retirement age as I missed the interaction with the students so much, but volunteering is fun, too.

always exploring: Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my hub.

Marie Flint: It is great, and so many of the students have interesting stories to tell. Some have been through so much before coming to our own lands. Your sister-in-law will have some tales to tell of her experiences, too. I taught in Taiwan, so our students' first language would be the same.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on June 23, 2013:

With a natural love for the English language, I never finished my bachelor's degree, but I enjoy helping others with the language. I chose to read this article because it involved English, and I found your sincere search for a way to present a final class heartwarming. A sister-in-law, with whom I maintain contact, taught ESL in China.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 22, 2013:

I admire what you do so much. It must be very gratifying to teach another language. Thank you for sharing., very enjoyable read...

cleaner3 from Pueblo, Colorado on June 22, 2013:

Awesome hub Blossom... I often find myself feeling meloncholy after a semester ends .. I hate to lose the comraderie and sense of togetherness that you get from bonding with other students than you must say goodbye to them only to see them in the hall . But life goes on ..


Frank Atanacio from Shelton on June 22, 2013:

English as a Second language class .. these students rely and trust each and every lesson put in front of them.. it should be treated as a two way honor.. when all is said and done... a great little hub Blossoms

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