Tutor Guide: Using Language Olympics for ESL 


  • This course requires one-on-one tutoring. Anyone who reads and speaks fluent English can serve as a tutor to help an ESL student.
  • —There are six Language Olympics workbooks, each having five lessons. Every lesson centers around an Old Testament story.
  • —The reading pages in the lessons are available as audio files that can be accessed by phone. They are also available on LanguageOlympics.org, and as a BibleTelling app. (See instructions on other side.)
  • —Before starting, students are pre-tested. Contact the BibleTelling office for information about the free pretest that goes with this course. 


  • —Pencils are used for all written activities.
  • —Tutors use green pens for initialing approvals.
  • —Yellow highlighters are available for marking sight words in the stories.
  • —Provide dark-colored half sheets to help your student's eyes focus on each line of words.
  • —Use separate paper for spelling practice and test.

Progress Chart

—This is on the inside front cover of each workbook. The tutor checks off completed tasks at the end of the session. Students love to see their progress marked with your green pen! The progress chart is also important if a substitute needs to fill in for you.

Phonics Word Reading

  • —This page is important for practicing pronunciation.
  • —Students don't have to know meanings of all the words on the Phonics page; but if they are curious, look up words using a bi-lingual dictionary or translator on a smart phone. Some advanced students will want to write the word in their language next to each English word.
  • —Your student may need to hear you say the word first. The tutor reads the word, and the student “echoes”. Then the student reads the words alone.
  • —When your student struggles with correct pronunciation of a word, underline it lightly in pencil and review again later. When they have mastered the word, erase, leaving a nice clean page.


  • —The spelling words are taken from the phonics page. These are selected, based on their frequency of use in everyday language. It is important that the student know the meaning of the spelling words.
  • —The student first reads the list of spelling words. Then he reads each word and spells it aloud.
  • —Word-meaning activities: The student will need help on reading instructions, definitions, etc. as he begins Book 1. However, he will become more independent as he progresses through the course.
  • If the definitions are too difficult, just work on filling in the blanks in the short sentences that illustrate how a certain word is used.
  • —Match words and pictures: The student reads the words at the top of the page and then writes the best word under each picture.
  • —Spelling Practice: Have your student practice spelling the words aloud first, before writing them.
  • —Test: The tutor dictates the words, and the student writes them.

Sight Words

  • —Each lesson has a list of 24 high-frequency sight words. Many don't sound like they are spelled. Being able to read the sight words prepares a student for reading the stories.
  • —Note: Students do not have to spell the sight words; they just need to be able to read them and know their meanings.

Use Sight and Spelling Words

—The student chooses the correct spelling word to fill in the blanks. He then reads the sentences aloud. Ask the student if any of the sentences seem confusing. Explain the meanings as needed, including assumed situations and American idioms.

Reading and Telling the Story

  • —The tutor reads the story as the student follows along. This may be done one paragraph at a time.
  • —Listening to the story may be done as homework if the student uses the audio files available on computer, phone, or app.
  • —Using the list on the left side of the page, the student highlights each word where it appears in the story. (This makes a good homework assignment.)
  • —The student then reads the entire story aloud with as much help as needed from the tutor.
  • —To demonstrate comprehension, the student tells the story in his own words.

Story Review & Activities

  • —The student uses words from the boxes to fill in the blanks. At this point, he should be able to do most of the work on his own. He is free to look at the story page for help. The Story Review may also be assigned as homework.
  • —The story activity page provides a variety of reading comprehension activities. Give your student as much help as needed, but encourage independence.


—If your students do homework, look at everything thoroughly the next time you meet together. Make sure they have filled in blanks correctly. Have them read sentences to you. Praise them for all they accomplished!

Practicing Pronunciation

  • —Our English-Learning students long to be understood when they speak. At the same time, they need to be able to understand what others are saying.
  • —The first step to achieving these goals is pronouncing English words correctly.
  • —It is just as important for them to learn the rhythm and stress of everyday conversation.
  • —Encourage your students to practice outside of class. They can use the audio recordings of phonics words, sight words, and stories that are available on our website, phone app, or by dial-up service. They will hear the stories being read in a way that demonstrates intonations and rhythms used by native English speakers.

Three options for listening to audio recordings of words and stories:

1) Language Olympics Website

  • —Go to LanguageOlympics.org
  • — In the bar across the top, go to LO/ESL
  • — In the drop-down menu, click on English-as- a-Second-Language Adaptations.
  • — Choose a lesson and click to hear:
    • Phonics Word Reading
    • Sight Word Reading
    • Story Reading

2) Using the BibleTelling App

  • —  On a smartphone, go to the app store and download the BibleTelling app. It is FREE. It has a white background and red letters BT.

  • —  Open the app. At the menu bar, click on the icon for BibleTelling (two arrows pointing inward).

  • —  Click on the purple Language Olympics box.

  • Choose English as a Second Language.

This takes you to the audio recordings. Choose a lesson and click to hear:

  • Phonics Word Reading
  • Sight Word Reading
  • Story Reading

3) Dial-A-Story

—Call this number (559) 670-1877 (toll-free) to listen to the words and stories. Here are the numbers to enter when you hear, "Enter a Story Number."

Lesson 1

  • 301 Phonics Word Reading

  • 401 Sight Word Reading

  • 501 Story Reading

Lesson 2

  • 302 Phonics Word Reading
  • 402 Sight Word Reading
  • 502 Story Reading

Lesson 3

  • 303 Phonics Word Reading
  • 403 Sight Word Reading
  • 503 Story Reading


Questions? email Jan Walsh  info@LanguageOlympics.org