Conversation Circles are free, volunteer-led sessions that provide weekly opportunities for non-native English speakers to practice basic conversational English in an informal setting. Sessions are designed to increase participant's comfort level when using English, increase vocabulary and knowledge of American culture and customs, improve pronunciation and learn idiomatic expressions. Some English speaking skill is necessary to participate. Meetings focus on topics of practical interest such as shopping, ordering food, finding a job or an apartment, hobbies or current events.
English Conversation Circles is funded by a two-year grant through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, with funds from Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), a federal source of library funding provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
A brief skill assessment interview is completed to match language learners with others at the same skill level. To find out more and join a Circle contact: Gerri Guyote at 978-531-0100 x 25 or email@example.com .
Volunteers serve as Circle Leaders. Opportunities are available days, evenings and weekends. The typical volunteer commitment is 2 hours per week.
Click here for the library's Volunteer Application Form and CORI form. Both are required for all library volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, contact: Gerri Guyote at 978-531-0100 x 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Language Learning Resources for New Speakers of English
The Library has collections of books, audiobooks, and online language learning resources as well as dictionaries and phrase books to support English language learning.
Adult ESL and language collections are located on the 3rd Floor in the Fitch Poole Room. The collections include ESL texts, language CDs, and Citizenship materials, as well as small collections of fiction and non-fiction books in Spanish, Portuguese and Greek.
For new English language speakers, the Library suggests Easy Reader Book Kits in the Children's Room. Each kit includes the book in print form as well as on audio CD. The kits can be used to improve reading skills, expand vocabulary, and improve pronunciation. Ask for assistance in the Children's Room.
Free, Online Resources for Language Learners:
Boston Public Library: Language Learning Databases
Learn a language using the Auralog Tell Me More database or the Powerspeak Languages database. All MA residents are entitled to use the resources of the Boston Public Library. You will need a BPL library card to sign in, or you can sign up for an eCard right on their website.
Massachusetts Schools and ESL Programs
Listing of ESL programs and schools in Massachusetts
The Library subscribes to Mango Languages, an interactive online language learning tool. Mango has over 40 language courses, including English, with basic and higher-level instruction. A Peabody Library card with Peabody residency is required for access from the Peabody Institute Library homepage.
Language Learning Resources for Volunteer Leaders
The Library schedules regular training sessions for Conversation Circle volunteers to share their ideas and develop new tools for leading a conversation. Below are some of the procedural and instructional materials that have been distributed to volunteers.
Schedule of Conversation Circles
Language Learner Guidelines
Library's Resource Collection Guide
Equipment Guide and Set Up
Suggested Conversations for New Volunteers to Get Started
Training Comments from ESL Instructors
Free, Online Resources for Volunteer Leaders:
Listed below are a few of the many websites that offer a variety of ideas and methods for getting started.
The Internet TESL Journal's Conversation Questions for the ESL/EFL Classroom
Settlement at Work Wiki - ESL Conversation Circles Toolkit (Ontario Canada)
Daily ESL: Conversation Starters for English Students
ESL Junction Conversation Questions and Topics
English Conversation Discussion Questions
Learning English VOA News
Voice of America English News (Click here for Librarian Melissa Robinson's presentation on Learning English Voice of America News)
Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab
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