Activities for Practice: Associations

(excerpted and adapted from Tutoring ESL: A Handbook for Volunteers pages 132 and 133)

MS Word .doc version (39 kb)

Purpose: Creative use of language; using language to explain reasoning.

Materials: A variety of objects or models of objects.


Show your student four to six different examples of kinds of items, such as:

clothing (nurse’s cap, necktie, fur stole, bolo tie, sun hat, bandanna)

sports (running shoes, skis, tennis racket)

media (actual or model of camera, radio, television, tape recorder, CD player, etc.)

transportation (actual or model of bicycle, motor scooter, luxury car, farm truck, van, sports car)

housing (model of apartment house, farm house, log cabin, etc.)

Ask your student questions that will orient her to the items, e.g.:

Which is the cheapest?

Which would be best for a family?

Which ones are used for work?

Which ones are used for recreation?

What kind of person would use this?

All answers are occasions for discussing different points of view and for sharing information, for example: “In the country you come from only the poor people smoked cigars?” “Some Americans think it’s not respectable to ride motorcycles,” etc.

The objects are the beginning point and initial focus for your conversation, but the end point is the sharing of experiences and view points, so don’t feel that you can’t move outside the subject or boundaries of the objects.

Remember to follow-up your student’s statements with questions to keep her talking.

From Tutoring ESL: A Handbook for Volunteers. Reproduced with permission from the publisher, Tacoma Community House Training Project, Tacoma, WA 98405.

Excerpted and adapted, with permission, by

Kaizen Program
for New English Learners with Visual Limitations
email: kaizen ( at )