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By Sam Perez, ESOL Middle School Teacher

Boise, Idaho

I teach English as a new language to students in grades 6, 7, and 8. My students are diverse–from a variety of countries, each with a unique story.

I came across Listenwise while searching for online resources and listened to the story about the Middle East: “Between Two Worlds: Aleppo.” I decided to use it with my students during a project at the beginning of the year. Students share their life experiences and get to know each other, creating a posters that map their lives and writing a short paper telling their stories.

When I introduced this audio story to my class, it caught the attention of my students from the Middle East and they began to listen intently to the similarities of the lives they left behind.

One student asked to use the story on his poster and used the story’s theme as a springboard to talk about his family’s struggles during the Iraq War. Students who were not from this area gained an appreciation for what is at stake during the civil war in Syria. The story was a great way to have students make connections and link their own experiences to the experiences of others.

I’m also impressed by the ELL supports on the Listenwise site. They have high interest materials that students can access and listen to with the ability to follow along with the transcript that highlights words as they are read. This helps my English learners at all levels of language proficiency.

This is a fantastic resource to catch and keep the attention of my students. There are many stories that describe situations similar to the ones they have lived through which make the content very relevant. I believe Listenwise will help students better link their learning in school to their learning out of school and in the world.  I hope to continue to use Listenwise in the near and far future.