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Integrating ESL Students: Interviewing Family and Friends

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 9/11/2012

Here's a great lesson plan that can give your ESL students an opportunity to share their culture with the rest of the class! Let them interview a family member and present part of the interview in an appropriate way.

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    Lesson Plan for ESL Students: Conducting an Interview

    ESL students have much to share with their classmates, including the experiences of friends and family members who belong to a different culture. If you have several ESL students of varying levels in your class, this lesson plan will give them the opportunity to share their culture with others, to gain respect for the subject of their interview, and most importantly, to work hard and succeed on a project by using the language skills that come most easily to them.

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    Materials Needed

    Tape recorder or camcorder (optional)



    Sample Interview

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    Introduction to Interviews

    1. The sample interview should be taken from an high-interest, age-appropriate magazine. Make enough copies of the interview for each student. Have fluent readers read the interview, and encourage ESL students to follow along in the text as they listen.
    2. As a class, discuss why the interviewer asked the questions in the sample.
    3. In pairs, have students write down a list of other questions that they wish the interviewer would have asked. Make sure to pair ESL students who have weaker English skills with students who have stronger English skills. Encourage the pairs to share their ideas with the class.
    4. Role play a model interview with students. Ask for a student to volunteer to be interviewed. As the interviewer, ask the student questions about one aspect of his or her life. Model strong interviewing skills, such as maintaining eye contact, speaking clearly, asking follow-up questions, and sticking to pertinent topics.
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    Conducting an Interview

    1. Have students choose a person to interview. Suggest that they choose someone who they can contact easily, such as a nearby family member or neighbor. Encourage ESL students to choose a subject from their native culture.
    2. Ask students to make a list of questions they would like to ask the subject of the interview. Caution them to limit the list to fewer than 10 questions, and encourage them to make the questions as specific as possible.
    3. If possible, provide ESL students with a blank tape and a recording device. Ensure that those students are familiar with the technology and can use the device appropriately.
    4. Instruct students to interview the subject. They should tape the interview or write down the responses the subject gives. ESL students can conduct the interview in their native language.
    5. Instruct students to circle or rewrite the part of the interview that they found most interesting. ESL students should write down the section of the interview, translated into English.
    6. Encourage students to share the written section of the interview with the class. Students who are more secure with spoken English can present their findings verbally. Other ESL students may wish for the teacher to read their findings aloud. Students who do not have a strong grasp of the English language can ask a friend or community member who is familiar with the language to help them translate. The translation can then be read to the rest of the class.