Conversational Adult ESL Lessons: Responding to a Letter

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Preparing for Daily Situations in the Adult World

Although progression towards fluency is the ultimate goal in any ESL class, the methods and objectives found in adult ESL lessons are vastly different from those found in K-12 instruction. Those differences are due to the uniqueness of everyday adult living and all of the responsibilities it brings. Here are two activities that you may find useful for inclusion in a series of community living adult ESL lessons. The focus of both exercises is school involvement. In each lesson, students will engage in conversational English through both group and individual practice.

Communicating With Your Child’s School Part 1: A Letter from School


Students will read and comprehend a letter informing parents of standardized performance testing.


  • Sample letter from principal about upcoming testing (get this from your school office)
  • Notepad
  • Pencil

Time Required: 1 class period


  • Give each pair of students the handout for review, suggesting that they keep a list of unknown words for study.
  • After each group has read it, open discussion by asking for the subject of the letter, covering each main point of the letter such as who will be taking the test and test dates.
  • Guide the discussion into dissection of the school’s purpose of testing their child. Ask more questions related to their student’s performance in school and their experiences with helping them with schoolwork.
  • Ask them what their role is in their student’s testing and the school’s role.
  • Determine if students understand the consequences of the test and if they can relay those consequences to their child.
  • Call on individuals to share how they would help their child prepare for the test.


Observe student participation in the activity and their individual ability to answer questions related to the letter, in particular answers to questions on preparation for, and the results and impact of testing.

Communicating With Your Child’s School Part 2: Family Involvement


Students will correspond with their child’s teacher regarding performance and promotion to the next grade per standardized testing results.


  • Notebook for journaling
  • Pencil
  • Time required-1 and ½ class periods

Activity 2

  • Start a discussion asking students to imagine if their child did poorly on the test discussed in the notification letter. Inform them that their child’s promotion to the next grade is in jeopardy. Students should be able to list the possibilities for their child’s future based on these results.
  • Ask students how they can respond to the results of standardized testing from the previous activity and why a response is necessary. Make a list of the answers given on the board.
  • Ask students to choose which method of communication they think would be best considering their communication skills and the importance of the results.
  • Allow students time to form a response where they set up a time and date for conference by either telephone or in person.
  • Next, ask them to create a plan of action for helping their child succeed. Make this a group activity for discussion and have them write their plan in their journal as a list to accompany their letter.


Students that are developing conversational English skills will be able to participate in discussion and observe grammar rules when composing a letter addressed to their child’s teacher to set up a meeting. Notebook entries should contain complex sentences within a detailed plan of action to show understanding and advancement towards fluency.