ESL Materials that are Educating and Entertaining

I first became interested in writing books for children learning English as a Second Language when I was teaching English in South Korea (for the adults, I was there for The FIFA World Cup in 2002, as they say in Korea “ahhh sahhh” – which means something like “totally cool”). There seemed to be a lack of materials which were engaging for the children, and this made my job a lot harder. I complained back then, but now realise that I was given a priceless opportunity to develop a system of making learning English fun. I called it edu-tainment, thinking that I had come up with a brilliant new idea. But further research taught me that edu-tainment has been around since 1948. It was a term coined by The Walt Disney Company to describe the True Life Adventure series. Without the idea of edu-tainment in my mind, chaos would have reigned in my classroom.

Upon returning to Australia I completed a Certificate in English Teaching Language to Adults (CELTA). Unfortunately there seemed to be no such thing for teaching children as a stand-alone qualification. For six years I taught at a couple of colleges and a university honing the skills in the more formal side of language instruction. I really enjoyed teaching students from around the world – it was like travelling without leaving loved ones behind. Don’t tell my old bosses, but my favourite places for a lesson included next to a barbeque or at a ping-pong table.  Visiting zoos and introducing our international guests to Australian stars such as the kangaroo, koala and wombat were also invaluable learning experiences for my students and myself. The time an emu approached a Columbian student of mine and scared her half-way back to Columbia was one of my favourite moments in teaching. Of course I turned the moment into a writing and speaking exercise for my students.