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Fire Safety Vocabulary For ESL Learners

ccnews89_08_big.jpgSome ESL learners in North Carolina are getting a special introduction to fire safety vocabulary from the pros: some volunteer firefighters. Among other things – probably of the more academic variety – students had a race to put on fire gear and searched for a staff member in a dark building using thermal cameras. Where do I sign up!?

[Featured on the left is Smokey The Bear, the US forest fire prevention mascot: “Only you can prevent forest fires.” More here.]

Kidding aside, if you teach students who are in or going to an English-speaking country, don’t scare them to death but also don’t overlook vocabulary and functional language for emergency situations. English speakers are somewhat likely to find speakers of their language abroad; the outlook for speakers of many other languages in English-speaking countries is not so promising.

It has occurred to me that I tend not to even know the emergency numbers wherever I am. Knock on wood, I’ve never needed one while teaching abroad. I suppose if I needed help I would just seek out a person and let my dire physical state speak for itself. Even with a moderate ability in one Slavic language, I don’t think I’d fare well on the phone in an emergency situation. (Help! There is … a bird…I mean, an intention, I mean, a fire. I have, no, I want, eh, I live at…number nineteen? Ninety…)

It’s of course my own responsibility to seek out information on emergency numbers – and really, finding them is not that difficult, but using them is another matter. This is worth a bit of time if you’re moving to a new country, and it’s also not bad to have a back up plan, like a couple of local friends you can call if you can’t navigate the local language emergency numbers.