College Orientation for Basic and Transitional Studies Students

Here's an event that you should encourage your students to attend, especially those higher-level students who have mentioned a desire or readiness to go to college:

College Orientation for Basic and Transitional Studies Students
Thursday, May 27
9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Room BE1110

-Learn about college-level studies at Seattle Central
-Meet staff members from Admissions, Advising, Financial Aid, and other student services
-Meet Seattle Central Student Leaders
-Tour the campus
-Free food


Last Literacy NOW training

Literacy NOW, our partner organization who does the tutor training, has lost its funding! This is a HUGE loss to our community and to our program. They only have ONE MORE tutor training opportunity: Friday, June 25th and Saturday, June 26th. If you’ve been thinking about signing up for this training but hadn’t done so, this is your chance! It’s only $15 and you receive a really useful handbook and lots of teaching ideas. Email me if you’d like to sign up for this final opportunity. Also, their website is going to be taken down, and it’s worth perusing before this happens. Here’s the link.

(taken from Jessie's 'P.S.' email from 5/18)


Important Dates

The last day of tutoring for Spring Quarter will be Thurs, June 17.

Summer Quarter runs from June 28 to Aug 20. Tutoring will begin Mon, June 28.

If you already know if you will or will not tutor next quarter, let Jessie or Alyssa know. Otherwise, you will be contacted about your schedule in the final weeks of this quarter.

Thanks for the hard work and hours you have contributed so far this quarter!


Week Seven, email from Jessie 5/18

Hi tutors!

I hope your transition into midterms is going well. Everything seems extremely smooth these days – I really appreciate your commitment and enormous help, and I know the students do too. I wanted to give you a quick update of some changes we’ve made as well as some upcoming information.

• We’re in the process of moving the tutoring library from the orange cabinet near the exit to the blue cabinet next to the drop-in tutoring area. As we move the books, I’ve been going through all of them and updating them according to level (our program dropped Level 6 about a year ago, which has shifted everything). I also created little cheatsheets according to each level, so if you’re looking for a quick review of Level 2 grammar, you can consult the sheet for the top titles, then grab the book from the shelf. I also put a little blue dot at the top of the books that are particularly helpful. I know many of you have been looking for good reading practice with your student; hopefully this will make it easier to find those books.

• We recently bought a huge map of the world that we’re going to place on the wall. I’m going to buy some thumbtacks, and I’d like our students to put a little tack on their hometown. This might be a fun activity to do together; you could have a discussion about their country or geography in general. The map should be up by next week.

• Next week we start CASAS testing. For those of you who don’t know, CASAS tests are the government-mandated tests we use to track students’ achievement. Our funding is directly related to the students’ progress on this test. There is a listening test and a reading test, and the students will take the test in class. While the CASAS is important for $, it is neither related to our curriculum NOR the students’ ability to pass or not pass a class. There is always some confusion on the part of the students about this. If your student asks you, just let them know that we have to take the test to get $, but it does not affect their grades. Some teachers share the scores with students, others don’t. If you have further CASAS questions, please ask Lindsay or me. (Also, the students MUST take the CASAS in order to register for next quarter. If you know for some reason that your student missed this test, please send them to the office to sign up for a make-up test.)

• I’ve started creating “progress reports” to give to new tutors with information about their student. This report lists the grammar points for the particular level, the competencies expected by the student at that level, the student’s instructional and testing history, and any notes from the teacher. It took awhile to compile the competencies for each level, but now I finally have the finished templates. I’ll be giving this report to new tutors, but if you’d like this information about your student, stop by or send me an email, and I’ll create one for you.

• Some people have been asking Alyssa if she’s going to stay on for another year as an Americorps participant. Happily, she is!!! We’re all extremely excited and grateful that she’s going to be with us for another year, continuing her excellent work.

I think that’s it for now. Thanks again for all of your hard work. So far this quarter, you’ve provided over 400 hours of tutoring to our students; thanks for such an amazing job.



Most Commonly Used Words in English

An analysis by Oxford English Corpus/Oxford English Dictionary determined the most commonly used words in the English language and listed these words, ranking them by frequency of use. Apparently the first 25 words listed make up about 33% of all printed material in English, the first 100 make up about 50%, and the first 300 make up about 65%.

I have made 2x3-inch flashcards of the first 100 most commonly used words, which will be kept in the "flashcards" drawer in the tutoring room. You can also easily find the list online: The First 100 Most Commonly Used English Words. This site also includes links to lists of the Second through Tenth 100 most used words.

There are a variety of activities that can stem from the list of the first 100:

- Have the student read the words. Since many of the first 100 words are sight words--words that readers should know by sight--use the flashcards to see if the student does recognize words like 'the' and 'you'.

- Dictate words for the student to spell, either orally or by writing.

- Dictate a word for the student to correctly use in a sentence, either orally or by writing.

- Have the student identify or count how many times the word appears on a page of a textbook or a paragraph from the newspaper.


Break the list into smaller chunks so your student isn't overwhelmed. Maybe a few words at a time for a level 1 ESL student, 10 words for an intermediate student. For higher-level ESL students and ABE students, it may be more appropriate to go with, for example, the Ninth 100 most used words and practice more challenging words like "particular" or "necessary".