Goal Setting For the ESOL Classroom

Goal setting is a wonderful way for students to connect to their deeper personal and professional motivations. By uncovering and seeing progress towards defined goals, students are more likely to become persistent and self-directed learners.

Emily Decatur, of the Quincy Community Action Program, implemented a great idea for student goal setting through her First Literacy Grant project titled: Fostering Independence: Helping Students Become More Effective Self-Directed Learners. Here are 5 steps to incorporate goal setting in your classroom.

Goal-Setting With ESOL Students

  1. Start at the beginning: For beginning English Language Learners, the abstract concept of “a goal” can be hard to grasp. Try taking students through an organic process of discovering the meaning behind the word “goal” and ultimately prompt them to define their own goals.
  2. Give common examples: Try to think of an example that your students will resonate with. Some ideas are a soccer goal, buying a house, or even taking an ESOL class.
  3. Use sentence templates: Have students look at photos that indicate a goal. For instance, pass out a photo of a soccer game with a player kicking the ball into a goal. Discuss what is in the picture, and build some basic vocabulary — adding new nouns and practicing correct verb tenses. Then move to other photos — a family in front of a house with a “For Sale” sign, a driver reading a road map, or a group of students reading an English textbook. After reviewing the photo, move on to “What do they want to do?” in each of the pictures. Try using the structure: They want to_____ because ______.
  4. Transition students to their own goal setting: Start with an easy goal that all students have, such as “I am studying English because I want to _________________.” Ask students to share these goals and notice the similarities and differences in their classmates’ responses.
  5. Put the goals in a prominent place: Hang the students’ goals in the classroom or ask them to keep the goals somewhere safe. Follow up with students at the end of the class to see how they did.

For more ideas on ESOL classroom topics, visit our Resources for Educators page.

January 31, 2017

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