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For Volunteers

If you would like to volunteer with International Friends, please contact the program director, Amy Wheeler-Sullivan at
Our volunteers come from local Baptist churches and from other like-minded Christian denominations.  We are often in need of teachers, nursery workers (background checks required), administrative support, occasional photographers, and other positions.

Resources for Teachers

Core Lesson Videos: 

1.  Lesson Planning for Life Skills: Betsy Lindeman Wong of Alexandria, Virginia, guides beginning level learners through highly structured to open-ended activities showing the progression of a life-skills lesson in talking on the telephone.

2.  Building Literacy with Adult Emergent Readers: Andrea Echelberger of Saint Paul, Minnesota, works with a Whole-Part-Whole approach to teaching literacy, using a learner-generated story of a shared experience and demonstrating activities to develop beginning literacy skills.


3.  Growing Vocabulary with Beginning Learners: Karli Boothe of Arlington, Virginia, demonstrates a contextualized approach to introducing and reinforcing vocabulary within a lesson. She uses a variety of vocabulary development strategies and activities to promote learners’ interaction and active engagement as they master words and concepts.


4.  Working with a Multi-level Class: Susan Watson of Prince William County, Virginia, offers techniques to deal with differing levels of language ability within one class, including use of grouping strategies, differentiated materials, and a small group project.


5.  Developing Listening Skills with High-intermediate Learners: Jessica Jones of Saint Paul, Minnesota, leads her class through a lesson on the theme of cross-cultural experiences, including pre-listening activities, tasks learners complete while listening, and follow-up activities.


6.  Teaching Grammar in Real-life Contexts: Suzanne McCurdy of Saint Paul, Minnesota, uses a contextualized approach to presenting and practicing grammar with her intermediate level learners, allowing them to recognize and use the simple past and present perfect tenses in the contexts of life histories and personal experiences.


7.  Cultivating Writing Skills at the Intermediate Level: Sheryl Sherwin of Washington, D.C., guides learners through a series of activities that prepare them to complete a writing assignment. She utilizes a pre-writing survey assignment, group discussion, graphic organizers, and target text models to help learners take command of the process of writing.


8. Developing Reading Skills for Intermediate/Advanced Learners: George Schooley of Saint Paul, Minnesota, takes learners from pre-reading through follow-up tasks using a text about birth-order theory. He demonstrates how to make reading lessons highly interactive by connecting content to learners’ lives, using graphic organizers, and having both group and individual tasks.

These four themed videos are drawn from the raw footage of the eight core lessons.

9.  Assessing Learning in the Adult ESL Classroom

10.  Tasks to Promote Critical Thinking and Learning Skills

11.  Effective Grouping Strategies in the Adult ESL Classroom


12.  Tasks to Develop Oral Skills: From Accuracy to Fluency

Old Globe

Minnesota Literacy Adult ESL Professional Development Videos:

3 Main Sections of videos: Pronunciation Activities,  Low Literacy Instruction, and Featured Classroom Activities.  All videos can be found here:

Pronunciation Activities Videos: 
  • Final Consonant Articulation - For adult ESL learners from many language backgrounds, accurately producing the final consonant sounds in words is a major pronunciation challenge. In this classroom demonstration, the teacher demonstrates a series of systematic pronunciation activities with a beginning level adult ESL class that are designed to help learners improve their awareness of the importance of final consonants, develop listening skills, and practice articulating the sounds. ​

  • Word Stress - Observe a beginning level class as the instructor introduces them to the concept of word stress and leads the learners through a series of controlled practice activities. The learners work with their weekly vocabulary words as they practice counting syllables, identifying stressed syllables, and grouping words according to their stress patterns.​

  • Word Stress Routine - In this beginning level class, the teacher takes the learners through their regular word stress routine where they practice counting syllables, and identify, record, and practice word stress patterns and using words from their weekly story. ​

  • Voice Quality Settings - Observe a multi-level classroom as the instructor introduces the concept of voice quality settings and demonstrates how voice settings influence accent and the ability to generate sounds specific to the English language. The instructor uses videos, mirrors, and lip-reading activities as she leads the learners through several activities to build awareness of the importance of voice quality settings and to give the learners opportunities to practice producing English voice quality settings.​

  • Intonation - Prominence and intonation are key to conveying meaning in spoken English. The words speakers choose to highlight and the movement of pitch in the voice signal to the listener what is important and indicate the speaker’s attitude and emotion. These spoken cues are often enhanced by the use of body language, providing the listener with visual cues to interpret the main points of the message. In this classroom demonstration, the teacher uses a TEDtalk video to give learners practice listening for and analyzing prominence and intonation while also observing the impact of the speaker’s body language to her message.

  • Contrastive Stress - Observe an intermediate level adult ESL class as they work through a lesson that explains the purpose of contrastive stress and provides them with communicative opportunities to practice this pronunciation feature. The teacher weaves the pronunciation instruction into the class unit to give the learners the opportunity to practice contrastive stress in a familiar context.

Low Literacy Instruction Videos: 
  • Orton-Gillingham Phonics Approach - Observe an adult ESL Beginning Literacy Level class as they move through the multi-sensory Orton-Gillingham Approach to teaching phonics. The instructor explains her rationale for using this approach, and the purpose behind each step of instruction.​

  • Phonics and Rhyme Activities - Join a pre-beginning adult ESL class as they work through their weekly phonics and rhyme routine, including guided practice, writing, and a speaking mingle. Learn new ideas for how volunteers can assist in beginning level classrooms. ​

  • Building Speaking Skills - Learn teaching techniques to encourage adult literacy level learners to develop their speaking skills. The instructor uses highly interactive activities and demonstrates what learner-centered teaching looks like at the literacy level.​

  • Routines for Starting the Class - This video showcases three different literacy level routines that start the class off on the right foot: reviewing objectives, the daily calendar and graphing weather, and movement to focus learners' attention.

Featured Classroom Activities Videos:
  • Picture Stories - Picture stories are a fun and engaging way for language learners to practice vocabulary and expand their speaking and storytelling skills. Learners work together in partners or small groups to put the picture story in order, and then practice telling other learners the story they created.​

  • Concentration - Concentration helps learners to strengthen their memory and knowledge of vocabulary through an engaging and interactive game. Learners sit in a small group and take turns turning over flashcards with pictures or words of the lesson’s vocabulary. When a learner finds the two flashcards that match, he or she gets to keep them.​

  • Total Physical Response (TPR) - TPR is a technique that is used to practice listening comprehension and get learners moving. Learners listen and respond to commands that are given by the teacher using real objects and actions.​

  • Walking Dictation - Walking dictation is a popular ESL classroom activity that helps learners develop sort-term memory skills while reinforcing spelling, word order, pronunciation, and listening and writing skills. Learners work with partners to dictate words or sentences that are posted at the front of the room or out in the hallway. One partner reads the sentences and reports back to his or her partner. Their partner listens and writes down what he or she hears.​

  • Letter/Sound Drill - Letter/Sound drill helps to reinforce letter and sound correspondence in the broader context of a vocabulary lesson to help learners develop the phonemic awareness that they need in order to sound out words. Learners listen to the sounds that letters make, then the letter/sound correspondence is reinforced as they: trace the letters on the table while saying the sounds, write the letters while saying the sounds, trace letters where they appear in the weekly vocabulary, copy the full words down, and read the words out loud.​

  • Conversation Queue - Conversation queue gives the teacher the opportunity to assess whether or not each learner has mastered a simple speaking task such as a question/answer pair or a short dialogue. The class breaks into two lines with the learners at the front of each line facing one another. Each line is assigned a different speaking role, and the learners take turns speaking to one another while the teacher monitors.​

  • Exit Ticket - Exit ticket is a quick wrap-up activity that allows the teacher to gauge learner comprehension and gather information about the learners’ mastery of a topic or concept. Learners respond to a written or verbal cue as they leave at the end of class.​

  • Ball Toss - Ball toss is an active and engaging activity that allows learners to practice their speaking skills and reinforce vocabulary. Learners stand in a circle and take turns asking and answering questions as they throw a ball to one another.​

  • Substitution Drill - Substitution drill is a quick activity that reinforces vocabulary and language structures. Learners repeat a sentence, substituting  one word in the sentence for another with picture or written cues.​

  • Concentric Circles - Concentric circles is a speaking and listening activity that provides every learner in the class an equal opportunity to speak. Learners stand in an inner and an outer circle facing each other. They ask and answer questions or discuss a topic. When the teacher calls time, they move over and repeat the process with a new partner.​

  • Mingle Grid - Mingle grid is a highly interactive activity speaking activity that is a favorite with many ESL teachers. Learners get out of their seats and move around the classroom, asking set questions to other learners and recording their responses on a grid.​

  • Post-It Chart - Post-It chart is a hands-on activity designed to help learners interpret graphs and charts that using learner data. Learners respond to a question and write their responses on a post-it™ note. The notes are then organized into columns, and the learners create a graph around the columns.​

  • Number of the Day - Number of the day is an extended numeracy activity which provides learners with extended practice with numbers and basic math skills. Learners identify a number of the day, then use that number to practice tallying, counting money, writing number words, comparing, and addition and subtraction equations.​

  • Walk, Talk, Trade - Walk, talk, trade is a participatory activity that reinforces students’ familiarity with vocabulary through repetition and interaction. Students receive a card with a picture or vocabulary word on it, then move around the classroom asking and answering questions and swapping cards.​

  • Dialogue and Dialogue Variations - Dialogue and Dialogue variations are activities that provide practice with listening and speaking skills in structured conversations. Using variations of a dialogue gives learners the opportunity to introduce their own responses into the activity and create a more authentic language experience. Learners practice a set dialogue, discuss possible responses that they can use, and then take turns saying the dialogue with their classmates.​

  • Jigsaw Reading - Jigsaw reading is a cooperative learning technique where learners develop reading skills while working together to build comprehension. Learners work in small groups to become experts on a section of a longer text, then form new groups with a representative from each section. Learners take turns teaching their new group about their section of the text.​

  • Vocabulary Bingo - Vocabulary bingo is a fun and popular activity that gives learners the opportunity to develop reading fluency through increasing sight word recognition and reading speed. Learners play bingo using cards with vocabulary words written on them. The teacher may create the cards ahead of time, or learners may fill out the cards before the start of the game.

Resources for Teachers:
  • Sounds of Speech App: pictures, sounds and videos to help with English pronunciation.  Site also has listening activities, and activities for teachers and learners.  

Link to App in the Apple and Google Play stores  





  • Discussion Topics with suggested questions- separate lists for Student A/ Student B. 644 discussion topics- everyday topics, and controversial topics. 


Print Teaching Resources:

Beginning Level: 

Teacher Training Toolkit from Minnesota Literacy: 
  • Giving Directions - In this module, learn how to apply the I-We-You method when giving activity instructions. The gradual release of responsibility used in this method provides a straightforward framework for giving directions, improves learner understanding, and increases participation and engagement.

  • Checking Comprehension - In this module, learn how to formulate questions to check the understanding of learners. Develop a wide variety of techniques to check comprehension of all of the learners in the class so that you can evaluate whether or not the learners need more practice and examples with a concept or skill.

  • Teacher Talking Time - In this module, learn how to moderate your teacher talking time to give learners more opportunities to practice speaking English. Discover ways to support learners through non-verbal cues, and how to make every word count.

  • Error Correction and Feedback - Error correction can be intimidating for teachers and learners, but it's an essential part of the learning process. In this module, learn how to effectively deliver feedback to support learning and create a culture of learning in the classroom. 

ESL Instructional Support Kits from Minnesota Literacy: 
  • Phonics and Phonemic Awareness Kit -  The Phonics and Phonemic Awareness Kit provides a variety of activities that can be used with low-beginning to high-intermediate levels of English language learners.

  • Speaking and Listening Kit - The Speaking and Listening Kit contains a wide variety of fun and engaging activities to help learners develop verbal communication skills and gain confidence in their ability to speak both in and outside of the classroom. The activities in this kit can be used with low-beginning to advanced level English language learners. 

  • Pronunciation Kit - The Pronunciation Kit provides activity instructions for a wide variety of activities that focus on helping learners improve their pronunciation of English suprasegmentals (intonation, rhythm, stress, etc.). The activities in this kit can be used with low-beginning to advanced level English language learners.

  • Citizenship Kit -The Citizenship Kit provides teachers and volunteer tutors with all of the materials that necessary to help learners prepare for all portions of the citizenship interview, as well as activity ideas to challenge learners and keep them engaged as they study one-on-one with a tutor.

  • Reading Kit -The Reading Kit contains pre-reading activities to help learners develop their reading strategies, reading fluency activities so that learners can become more fluent and confident in how they interact with texts, and post-reading activities to increase comprehension and understanding.

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