For as long as I have been teaching, I have witnessed a similar pattern occurring time and time again in my various classrooms. Regardless of whether it was 40 Japanese high school students, 20 Chinese university students, or even just 5 ESL students from different countries in my classroom, when a question is posed to the entire class, the comprehensible response comes from just a small portion of students.
Sometimes students who want to answer will raise their hands and wait to be called on, or I may even call on students to answer. Then I have one response. Other times, the whole class more or less answers at the same time, and I have a majority or perhaps simply the loudest response. Sound familiar? The traditional call and response format cannot give educators a clear picture of what each individual student understands. Continue reading
What Is a Corpus?
Corpse, marine corps, corporation, and corpulent all derive from the Latin word corpus, meaning body. That Latin word corpus also exists, intact, in English, but rather than an anatomical body, it refers to a body of language. A corpus is a large collection of language, traditionally written, but nowadays, corpora (the Latinate plural) of spoken language can be found.
Corpora in Language Teaching
The big benefit of using a corpus is that it’s data driven, and that data is based on actual language usage. It’s pretty much descriptivist heaven.
When a professor was first explaining to me the value of corpus data, he used this example: if asked to define the phrase par for the course, you’ll find “what is normal or expected in any given circumstances.” But if students depend only on definitions like that, from textbooks or dictionaries or teachers, they’re likely to miss some crucial information. Continue reading
I’d like to introduce you to guest blogger Sandy Nahmias. I met Sandy through NJTESOL/NJBE where we are both on the Executive Board. She is an experienced ESL/bilingual teacher who has also been active on projects for WIDA and has consulted with the N.J. Department of Education on numerous projects. Here is Sandy’s blog.
There was recently a query on the NJTESOL/NJBE discussion list in which a participant asked, “Are mainstream teachers with ELLs in their classrooms legally required to modify lessons for them?” I answered the question on the discussion list and would like to elaborate in this blog. Continue reading
A guest post by Luciana C. de Oliveira
In this blog, Luciana de Oliveira reflects on the eight worldwide conferences she’s attended in the past 3 years as a participant in the TESOL Affiliate Speaker Program.
This past March, I ended a 3-year term on the TESOL Board of Directors. Those were a very busy 3 years in my professional life, and among the best in my career. Part of what made them the best was my participation in the TESOL Affiliate Speaker Program. I was invited to and participated in eight conferences led by eight affiliates: Uruguay TESOL (URUTESOL), Louisiana TESOL (LaTESOL), Yakut TESOL, California and Nevada TESOL (CATESOL), North and South Dakota TESL (Dakota TESL), Illinois TESOL (ITBE), Sunshine State TESOL of Florida, and Asociación Costarricense de Profesores de Inglés (ACPI-TESOL). Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
It is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Philip Chappell from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where I received my PhD in linguistics. I first met Phil in Tokyo, Japan at a JALT conference where he was head of the Macquarie University Showcase. Phil was also one of the leaders of the TESOL Research Network Colloquium (2015) at the University of Sydney and made it possible for me to present at that conference. (I am very grateful! You can read about my Sydney adventure here.) Phil’s bio highlights his expertise in TESOL: Continue reading
This is the second of two posts by guest blogger Raichle Farrelly, a longtime TESOL educator and advocate who is currently assistant professor of applied linguistics at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, USA. “Rai” has worked in multiple ESL and EFL contexts across the United States, Africa, and Europe, and focuses much of her work and advocacy on preparing teachers to be effective with adults, particularly immigrants and refugees. In this post, she discusses LESLLA—the acronym for Low Educated Second Language Acquisition and Literacy for Adults—which is becoming more commonly known as both an association and a field of study.
In the growing field of LESLLA, symposia take place in various locations around the world. LESLLA symposia tend to be small (but growing) with attendance ranging from 60–200 participants. Because groups are small, participants enjoy activities outside the symposium together. This year in Granada, Spain at LESLLA 2016, attendees enjoyed a passionate flamenco performance, a group dinner with plenty of sangria, and tours of La Alhambra. At the symposium, there were concurrent sessions presented by professionals from 13 countries. Topics included LESLLA teacher preparation, LESLLA learner agency and identity, developing handwriting skills, digital storytelling, language learning apps, assessment of LESLLA learners, and much more! Here are a few highlights: Continue reading
Getting students excited about writing may not always be easy. Some may see writing as an overwhelming, dull, and difficult task. Others may feel stuck on a certain stage in their writing process. Yet others may not know how to even start writing.
We need role models! And when it comes to writing, who can be a better role model than a successful author? Today, I’d like to share a few inspirational quotes about writing from successful authors.
You can use these quotes in multiple ways. You can share them with your students in combination with a writer’s short biography or their most famous piece of writing. You can use a quote to motivate students on a particular stage in their writing process (e.g., brainstorming, editing). You could ask students to discuss a quote in small groups and share their thoughts with each other. Opportunities are endless. Continue reading
This post is sure to incur some teacherly ire. A lot of teachers aren’t going to like this, because a lot of teachers love using music in English class. That includes me. However, I have come to the reluctant conclusion that music doesn’t have many of the benefits I once thought it did. I think there’s a very strong case to be made against using music in class, or at least against using it to teach certain aspects of the language.
A lot of student books, TESOL texts, even much of the literature related to the CEFR, treat music as a valuable source of authentic English input. Authenticity is a concept whose importance, and even meaning, have been brought under scrutiny, and music is a perfect example of why. Continue reading
Breaks are important, but that does not mean you have to waste them. Choose any of the four activities below to engage students in a fun way without taking up a lot of time either in class or at home. I have mentioned the first two in blog posts of their own, but that was quite a while ago, so I will take this opportunity to refresh your memory before introducing two new resources.
1. Vocab & Grammar Quizzes
Freerice is a free site that students can use to practice a variety of subjects, including English vocabulary and English grammar, by answering multiple-choice questions. Start at a low level and work your way up. Visitors to the site support a good cause with 10 grains of rice being donated to the World Food Programme for every correct answer. Although a very basic concept, I often give myself just 5 minutes to visit Freerice and then get sucked into the “Just one more question.” mentality. There is no need to sign up unless you want to track your totals. If you have a competitive group of students, this might be an additional motivator. (See my previous blog on Freerice.) Continue reading
Language discrimination is far from new. Ancient biblical stories describe a “shibboleth,” when pronunciation of this word alone was used to identify fleeing Ephraimites, a tribe defeated by the Gileadites. Those who pronounced the word without the /sh/ sound, a phoneme not used by Ephraimites, were identified and killed instantly.
Thankfully, humankind has moved beyond the need to identify and persecute other humans based on linguistic differences…or have we? Linguistic discrimination, or linguicism, involves “ideologies and structures that are used to legitimate, effectuate and reproduce an unequal division of power and resources between groups which are defined on the basis of language” (Phillipson, 1988, p. 339). Continue reading