Thursday, November 15, 2012

Free graded stories for beginners to low intermediate students!



I recently came across an excellent website that has over 100 graded stories for beginners to low intermediate students. Each story has exercises to go with it. There is also an excellent teacher's guide that suggests additional activities. It's all beautifully illustrated with pictures and photos, and free to print and use:


Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Christmas Greeting

A Christmas Greeting

Christmas is such a wonderful time to remember and to celebrate…especially, of course, the Birth of Jesus with all the wondrous and mysterious historical details. Maybe our ‘ordinary reality’ is not all that ordinary after all!

Recently someone said: “We all get a bit homesick at Christmas time - even if we are ‘home.’ We get homesick for our childhood homes. We get homesick for our own homes filled with our children. We get homesick for homes we never had. We get homesick for the homes we left behind” (L. Sweet). It’s true, and even Christmas can have a tinge of sadness about it, especially in our overly-commercialized world. In any case, each memory has its own emotional hues and tones, some reminding us to be childlike, some reminding us that indeed we need a Saviour ‘to take away the sins of world,’ indeed our sins too. And of course, many of the immigrants around us also remember and perhaps they too are also homesick.

Let’s remember that in fact ‘Jesus came to his own, and his own people did not receive him’ (John 1:11). And yet, His rejection, being despised and forsaken, and even being ‘homeless’, was part of the glorious wisdom & love of God announced by the angel:

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." (Luke 2:10-12)

“A Great Joy”! And so we know that the sadness is not ultimate, though waiting can be difficult, as the children especially know at this Christmas time.

I enjoy singing “Joy to the World”; it is so rich, and well…joyful! I especially like the lines “Let every heart prepare Him room” & “He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found”. What might that mean for you and me? Of course we want to spend special time with Him in private and public adoration and instruction; and we want to be hospitable. Perhaps we can especially prepare room in our hearts and lives for our friends & neighbours who may be lonely and homesick. Many of these would, of course, be the immigrants and ESL students amongst us.

There is, though, another benefit of remembering at Christmas time, together with whatever ‘homesickness’ we might experience. Actually we are also homesick for THE HOME YET TO BE, are we not? The coming of Jesus is not only past, but He is also coming again, and we long for the fulfillment of all He has promised which he will bring at His return.

Jesus was born, yes; Jesus lived and ministered and died for us, yes; Jesus lived a perfect life and died a perfect death, yes; Jesus rose again from the dead, yes. But Jesus also said, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14). Indeed, we are exiles and pilgrims now; this is not our home, and the past homes we might be homesick for are actually only signs of the eternal home prepared for us. Remembering Christmases past can help us to refocus with hope on things to come.

So we can also pray for ourselves:

O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (Ps 39), and

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Ps 90)

May you be blessed, refreshed, humbled before the wonders we remember, and empowered anew to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Tom McCormick (you’ll enjoy this one; it might even be a good ESL lesson)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

ESL Teachers needed in Mexico

ESL Teachers needed for New ESL Ministry in Mexico!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Easter Message from the SOCEM Board (2010)


Lately it feels like spring: the rain, the warm breeze, the fresh shoots that are springing up. Easter is coming in just over two weeks. It is a privilege to serve our risen Lord Jesus together. This time of year so many remember not only the glorious resurrection of our Crucified Lord and Saviour, but also the agonies of the Cross. It is very humbling to confess the truth: "We'll never know how much it cost, to see my sins upon the Cross." Truly we cannot repay such a wonderful gift, though our gratitude does issue in praise, adoration, the willingness to do His will, and hearty obedience.

The ESL ministries we offer to our neighbors is a small but very real token of our appreciation for the merciful loving-kindness of our Heavenly Father, the humble obedience of the Son, even to death on the Cross, and the ever present comfort and faithful ministry of the Holy Spirit of Promise.

Whether your program is starting up, in transition or in full swing, let us encourage you with the thought that our Lord's death and resurrection did prefigure transformation, i.e. the possibility of real changes. Therefore, as Paul exhorts us after a glorious passage on this theme, "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain." (1 Cor 15:58)

May your heart break anew with the revelation of the truth of the Gospel, and thrill again and again at our glorious Hope, both Christ within us and Christ, coming again. May you know Him more and more deeply and personally, and may we each and all be found faithful and busy doing the good pleasure of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, making the Saviour known in word and deed.

Blessings in Him this Easter!

The SOCEM Board

P.S. Our latest SOCEM Newsletter, "The ESL Link" is out. Click here

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Conference on Engaging East Asians

Many ministering in ESL may be interested in attending this conference. Click on the poster below to get the main details.Click here to get the full details including information about the presenters and a downloadable copy of the poster.

Friday, November 13, 2009

“Fun with Grammar” available for FREE download

Good News! has made the entire “Fun with Grammar” book available to download. There are also lots of other free lessons available on the site as well.

Here is the link to download the entire 354 page book in PDF.

Spread the word!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Find-a-Bible Website

Are you looking for a Bible in the language of one of your students? Help is here. The Forum of Bible Agencies International (IFOBA) recently launched this new website that gives easy access to scripture in more than three thousand languages. Find-a-Bible is the first centralized global resource that provides access to the many scripture products available around the world. With just the name of a language, a user can now access a simple search to find existing products in that language. Just click on the title above to go to the website.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

ALPHA for ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages)

Have you heard of Alpha ESOL? It is a new ministry designed to ‘reach the world at your doorstep’. Alpha ESOL is a simplified Alpha course in English which is designed to reach all cultures in your community who have questions about faith and Christianity, but would find classic Alpha in English too difficult. Through the simple format, slower pace, and multiple discussion times, guests have a chance to understand and experience the Christian faith.
Click here for registration and more information about the Alpha ESOL track at the Greater Toronto Equip and refresh Alpha Conference.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Review of The Hope ESL Curriculum CD

This is an interactive ESL curriculum using the Hope film as its basis. The Hope Film is an overview of the Bible from Creation to the growth of the early church with narrators introducing each topic as scenes from feature films complement their explanations. The language is very clear and easy to understand. The ESL software CD includes the entire film plus interactive English listening and speaking exercises. The software is mainly for intermediate/advanced students working on their own, in pairs, or in small groups, but it can also be adapted for classroom use with an LCD projector to project the image onto a large screen. The curriculum is divided into 14 lessons. In my classes I have typically used the curriculum in the following way:

We begin by playing “Go Fish” using picture cards made from the scenes of the film we will be watching later in the class. Files of pictures are included on the CD for each lesson. I print out the pictures and make a deck of “Go Fish” cards for each group. In groups of three to five, the students deal out four or five cards to each player and put the remaining cards in the “fish” pile. Next, they take turns going around the group asking questions about each others’ picture cards in order to find the cards that match the cards they have in their hands. If the person asked the questions has a matching picture card, she hands the card over, but if she doesn’t have a matching picture card, she tells the questioner to “go fish”, and the other person has to take an additional card from the fish pile. The first person to match all the cards in his hand wins the game. At the end of the game, each person holds up her matching pairs and describes the pictures to the group.

Following the game we go to the “Watch It” part of the lesson and watch the film segment the first time.

For the second viewing of the film segment I hand out the script of the film with missing words and a word bank. They watch and listen and fill in the missing words. We take up the exercise and watch the segment a final time to give them a chance to read and follow along with the script of the film.

After we have watched the film segment we discuss some questions about what we have seen and heard.

If the group had difficulty understanding the film we go to the “Get It” part of the lesson and there the students can see and hear each sentence of the film script again. There is also a word bank in this part that lists the key words with their definitions and also a sound bite for pronunciation practice. Additionally, students can listen to native speakers giving descriptions of the various scenes from the film and get more information about the scenes.

My favourite part of the lesson is the “Own It” part. This part has five interactive games and quizzes. A laser pointer is useful for this part since it can be passed around the class easily as students take turns pointing to the right answers on the screen. The first game is called “Match the Picture” and up to fifteen pictures from the film segment are placed in a grid on the screen. A narrator describes one of the pictures and a student has to point to the picture described. We go around the class until all the pictures have been described. The next game is called “Order” and a list of six or seven phrases appear on the screen in a jumbled order. The narrator says the sentence and a student has to point out the correct order in which the phrases were spoken. The “Keyboard” exercise is basically spelling practice. After a keyboard appears on the screen, the narrator repeats a phrase or sentence and then repeats a key word from the sentence and tells the player to type the word using the keys on the screen keyboard. In all the activities, correct responses are rewarded with a happy beep and incorrect responses with a low buzz. Next on the list of “Own It” activities is the “Quiz”. Multiple choice questions appear on the screen and students choose the correct answer, a, b, c, or d. The final activity is called “Journey”. A scene from the film appears on the screen and then a command like, “Click on the eye of the camel” is given and a student then points to the eye of the camel to complete the task.

The “Use It” part of the lesson includes more activities, mainly for pairs and small groups, as well as discussion questions and selections from the Bible that relate to the chapter from the Hope film.

The “Other” part of each lesson has many more activities like crossword and word search puzzles which students can do individually on their computers at home or in a computer lab.

The authors of the CD have granted permission to copy and distribute the CD. Since we cannot do all the activities in class, I always give my students copies to take home for practice.

I highly recommend this innovative curriculum. You can order a free copy of the latest edition from

Colin Brewster


Friday, April 03, 2009

An Easter Lesson Message from our President

Hi all, here are the draft versions of studies you may want to use these days. They are drafts, so suggestions would be most welcomed. If you would like "Easter 2" (the next lesson), let us know.

Good Friday pictures (from which the pics in the lesson were taken) are available for other uses too, here and here.

(Webmaster addition:Don't forget to look at our Easter lessons page as well. There are some new additions!)

Just a reminder: the monthly SOCEM prayer meeting will be April 7th at 7:30 at TICC, 190 Railside Road.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Free Bibles for Christian ESL programs.

Good news! We give thanks to God and to the Canadian Bible Society for this offer of free Bibles for Christian ESL programs.

As you will see in the message below from the Canadian Bible Society, these Bible are free of charge when the (minimal) Canadian Bible Society conditions are fulfilled. Follow the instructions given for contact information with the Canadian Bible Society to obtain these Bibles.

For further information or clarification, contact Ruth at any of the addresses given below.

(You may, of course, share this news widely amongst Christian ESL programs.)


The Scriptures for Newcomers to Canada has been approved as a National Initiative by the Canadian Bible Society. The Bibles are available right now. To get free Bibles for your Church based ESL program contact your District of The Canadian Bible Society [see website noted below for the contact information for your District].

Each request for free Bibles is to be written & made by either the Teacher of the class or the Administrator of the program, providing the name and address of the host church; name of the teacher and the number of students registered along with the contact name & number of the person at the church who administers the program.

We hope that this program will allow you to bring God's word to many, many new Canadians.

Ruth Stewart
Canadian Bible Society
10 Carnforth Road
Toronto, Ontario M4A 2S4
TEL: 416.689.3437
FAX: 416.757.3376 (for District offices)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An Invitation for your ESl Students!

From Tim Stevens:

Click on the picture to enlarge it

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gathering V Enrichment

Pictures from Gathering V Enrichment

Thursday, October 02, 2008

SOCEM Prayer Meeting

Our first Tuesday of the month prayer meetings will continue on Tuesday, Oct. 7th, 7:30 TICC , 190 Railside Road. 

Everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gathering V Enrichment October 25, 2008

 Dear Friends,

The Southern Ontario Cooperative of ESL Ministries wishes to invite you to Gathering V Enrichment on October 25th, 2008 at Hilltop Bible Chapel in Etobicoke. (see map)

  We look forward to a great day of fellowship, encouragement and learning as we gather, for we share the common passion of proclaiming the love and salvation of God through the practical ministry of helping newcomers improve their English skills. Above on the right is the program for the day. (Click on it to see it more clearly) I know you will not want to miss these workshops. On the left is a poster you are welcome to print and post in your church or give to others who might be interested in attending.

  As usual we want this opportunity to be available to as many people as possible so the cost will once again be only $10.-

(admission is free for participants at last week’s Gathering V  Getting Started in ESL Ministry)

  Please help us plan and prepare for the day by registering online here.  Having accurate numbers will help us in assigning rooms for workshops, buying refreshments and even in making photocopies of handouts.

  Looking forward to seeing you,


Colin Brewster

For the SOCEM Committee 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Great Day

Well Gathering V Getting Started in ESL Ministry has come and gone. It was a great way to spend a drizzly autumn day: learning, sharing, growing and we had a few laughs too. Thank you to all the wonderful participants and session leaders, and a big thank you to Andrew and Hilary for their gracious hospitality. We look forward to another great day on October 25th for Gathering V Enrichment.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gathering V Getting Started Course

ESL Cooperative: Gathering V

September 27 + October 25, 2008

Hilltop Bible Chapel

243 La Rose Avenue, Etobicoke




click on poster to enlarge

We trust you had a refreshing summer and that you are enthusiastically looking forward to some wonderful opportunities in ESL ministry! The 5th Gathering of the Southern Ontario Cooperative for ESL Ministries has been designed to equip you to serve more effectively in your Church-based ESL program, and to meet and encourage others who are engaged in similar programs. We welcome you to attend "Gathering V".

As was announced previously, we are offering two programs on two separate dates: September 27th for the Getting Started in ESL Ministry Course and October 25th for the general Gathering (poster and details to come later).

This letter is going to focus on the Getting Started in ESL Ministry Course on September 27th. Information and online registration for the general Gathering in October will be posted at a later date.

The Getting Started course is for people who are thinking of getting involved for the first time in an ESL Ministry in their Church. They do not need to have had any teacher training prior to this time. Willingness to learn and a heart for people are the only prerequisites. They will be introduced to such topics as: Biblical foundations for starting a church-based ESL ministry, Language Teaching and Learning Principles, Helping People improve their Grammar and Speaking, How to begin an ESL Ministry, and How to Lead a Conversation Lesson. Participants will be given access to over 150 different lessons that they can use with students to direct their English Conversation class ministry, and they will be trained how to use them. Below is the program for the day:

Getting Started in ESL Ministry September 27th

9:05 - 9:10 Welcome

9:15 - 9:35 Session #1: Biblical Foundations for Starting a Church-Based ESL Ministry

9:35 – 10:00 Session #2: Language Teaching/Learning Principles I – an introduction to different learning styles

10:00 – 10:30 Session #3: Tips for Helping People Pronounce English Sounds

10:35 – 10:55 Coffee break

11:00-11:55 Session #4: Helping people understand the form, meaning and use of English - practical techniques you can use to help your students learn to use English the way we do.

12:00–12:55 LUNCH

1:00 – 1:30 Session #5: Language Teaching/Learning Principles II - Language Learning Beliefs Questionnaire

1:35 – 2:00 Session #6: Pronunciation – Understanding English word Stress

2:05 – 2:30 Session #7: An introduction to SOCEM's Quick Start Guide to Starting an ESL Ministry

2:35 – 3:40 Session #8: Helping people practice their English – How to lead a conversation class using the SOCEM ESL Conversation Guides

3:45 – 4:00 Closing & Prayer

Please click on the link below to register online. Registering online now will assist us in making the correct number of handouts, etc.

We look forward to seeing you on September 27th!

Colin Brewster

for the SOCEM Executive Committee

Cost: Payable at the door – cash only please.

$15.00 (cost includes a handbook of notes from all the sessions)

An optional lunch will be available for an additional $5.-

Click here for online registration:Register for Getting Started in ESL Ministry

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Report from the second Scarborough ESL Network Luncheon

The second Scarborough ESL Network Luncheon was held on Saturday May 10, 2008 at Agincourt Pentecostal Church. It was an intimate gathering of 12 people, with four different churches represented. We started at around 10:00 a.m. with a typical ESL warm-up activity: “Find someone who…” during which we mingled, chatted and laughed. After a time of worship and a brief introduction of SOCEM, Carolyn presented an excerpt from an article entitled “Beginning to Work with Adult English Language Learners: Some Considerations” (online version available here.) Those in attendance appreciated the practical tips in “instructional approaches”, and participated actively in the group discussions surrounding the points in this article that followed the presentation. After that, we were divided into different, smaller groups for sharing and prayer regarding our respective ESL ministries. These prompts were used:

A. Briefly introduce yourself, your church, the ESL class you lead and how you got involved in ESL ministry.

B. The most rewarding thing in my participation in ESL ministry is...

C. One of the challenges I face in this ministry is...

D. Our ministry serves God by...

E. Our students really enjoy...

F. One of my hopes concerning ESL ministry is…

This small group sharing time was enjoyable and encouraging whereby all shared freely about their experiences and prayed for one another. With people from different churches represented in each group, such sharing and prayer was especially valuable. The atmosphere was relaxed and everyone was talking a lot. Relationships were being built and we were truly “networking”! One concern that was shared, for example, involved how to share the gospel appropriately in an ESL class, or how to touch the students’ hearts and minds for Jesus while teaching English, a question that concerned all of us.

At 12:30 p.m. we enjoyed a delicious Chinese lunch ordered from a nearby restaurant, with all contributing to its cost. During and after the lunch we continued to talk, while some went to browse at the resource table where different teachers had brought in the books and materials they used for their classes. Almost all stayed until 1:45 p.m. before we dismissed.

As organizers, we were very encouraged by the involvement and eagerness the attendees showed. Even though we were small in number, we had a good mix of age, background and churches and we seemed to be fulfilling a need for support, encouragement and equipping in ESL in churches in the area. Comments from the attendee’s surveys included: “Very encouraging!”, “Enjoyed the time of prayer. Good to share and encourage teachers” and “So good to hear and share with people about every level of ESL teaching”. A request came from one church to join together for further ESL teacher training. We are hoping to keep in touch as a core group and expand our network to include more churches.

Jennifer Tong and Carolyn Chubb – SOCEM Board

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Summer ESL Teachers Wanted at First Alliance

If you have a heart to serve the Lord and to connect with immigrants then this is a great summer ministry for you. First Alliance Church will be conducting an 6-week summer ESL program beginning in July 2008. We are looking for 2 college/university students to teach. The student must be a follower of Jesus Christ and will have finished one year of college/university and expect to enter into another full year of college/university. This is a full-time ministry position with a stipend of $9.25/hr for a 40 hour work week. If you are interested, please contact Pastor Albert Lu at or at 416-494-3269 x28. Deadline to apply is June 6th.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Call to Prayer

Please join us for a time of prayer for ESL ministries. We will be meeting at Toronto International Celebration Church (190 Railside Road near Lawrence and DVP) on Tuesday, May 6th from 7.30pm-9pm. See you there!