Two semesters ago, I was interviewed by someone from the Writing Lab here at Purdue University as part of her professionalization project; she needed a second-language learner who could share their experience in writing in English. The interview was focused on my initial writing experience—both positive and negative, my feelings about writing in English, as well as my writing strengths and weaknesses. Our conversation was helpful for me as well, as it gave me a chance to reflect on my own writing practices and articulate the achievements that I have made so far as a nonnative English speaker and the challenges that I still face. Finally, as a writing teacher, the discussion provided me with valuable information on how to help my students. Continue reading
Congratulations! You made it through another school year. Enjoy your summer, but unless you’re retiring (in which case, congratulations again) it will be time to prepare for the new school year before you know it.
There will be some familiar faces at the end of summer as well as new students who you have little data about beyond their placement test scores or previous school records. Those can indicate the level of instruction for grouping purposes, but to really find out what students at the secondary level already know and need to learn, it helps to do a needs assessment early in the school year. That’s why I start each session with a few assessments, such as icebreaker games or short writings, to understand where students are starting from and to get an idea of what the most pressing needs may be so I can tailor the instruction to their needs. Continue reading
To get more of the adult education perspective on technology for you, I invited Darrin Hetrick, a coworker of mine who wrote a post previously about that topic, to guest write for you again. Today he has agreed to share with you his innovative method of blogging for stakeholders. Thank you, Darrin!
You are all probably aware of the benefits of using blogs as a means to publish student work. Blogs provide a cost-effective means for students to share their written work with their fellow students, friends, and family. However, I have also learned blogs can have another substantial benefit for communicating with multiple stakeholders in an ESL program. Continue reading
Those of us who aren’t in adult ed most often think of literacy as a noncount noun. But in adult ed, we’ve long since moved beyond literal literacy (from littera, the Latin for letter, meaning “able to read”), and we now think of literacies, countable and plural, as life skills essential to survival in a particular place. Because these skills are so essential to life in a new country, many adult ESOL programs choose to incorporate these nonlanguage skills into ESOL curricula. In this post, I’m going to give a quick rundown of some literacies you might want to consider addressing in your adult English classes.
1. Visual Literacy
Just like texts, we decode images. We identify the focus and action of a photo, identify how it connects to the text that it illustrates. We look to charts and graphs to recognize meaningful patterns in data sets. All of this constitutes visual literacy, and it is a vital way that we extract information from our surroundings: advertisements, subway maps, street signs, IKEA assembly instructions. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
Ismaeil Fazel is an EAP professional and instructor (UBC-Ritsumeikan Program) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He has also earned, as part of his doctoral program, a subspecialization in measurement, evaluation, and research methodology from the University of British Columbia. Ismaeil has been engaged in the field of ESP for over a decade now, in a variety of leading roles such as practitioner, curriculum specialist, and researcher.
He has published in numerous well-known journals including English for Academic Purposes, TESL Canada, and BMC Medical Education. One of his recent publications is a coauthored encyclopedia entry on English for Specific Purposes (Abrar-ul-Hassan & Fazel) in the TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching (in press), published by Wiley-Blackwell. Ismaeil has regularly presented at the TESOL convention, the American Association for Applied Linguists Conference, and the Canadian Association for Applied Linguistics Conference. He aspires to make a difference in the lives of ESP educators around the world by promoting research-based pedagogical practices and practice-based research that address real-life issues in the field. Continue reading
This weekend, I participated in the Southwest Fulbright Symposium in Texas, and it was just what I needed for renewed inspiration about the importance of international perspective in our field. In one morning, I listened to colleagues talk about brokering peace in Colombia, pharmacy student exchanges between Brazil and the United States, analysis of how the Mexican economy is portrayed in film, optometry innovations in Perú, and ways small private universities are promoting international experiences for their students.
I, in turn, spoke about how transnational teachers (specifically U.S. and Mexico) undergo different teacher identity and language awareness development than other types of teachers. All in all, the conversations were fascinating and helped me grapple with something with which I continually struggle.
Sometimes, I wonder if, as a TESOL professional from an anglophone country (i.e., the United States), I am promoting linguistic imperialism, or the transfer of a dominant language to other people, often at the expense of the languages already present in that context. Continue reading
Crusan’s (2011) article “The Promise of Directed Self-Placement for Second Language Writers” underscores the advantages of directed self-placement (DSP) methods over so-called “classic” placement approaches, which, as Crusan rightly noted, assume financial expenses and political decisions, and which may not be fully appropriate if used as a sole evaluation criterion (e.g., the case with standardized tests). I absolutely agree with these claims, but I’d like to address a few caveats that we need to keep in mind when implementing DSP.
Reflection as a New Concept
First, I share Crusan’s (2011) position that DSP “seats accountability squarely on the shoulders of those who purportedly know their writing skills better than anyone else: the writers themselves” (p. 777). However, I noticed that most students need to be exposed to the genre of reflective writing before they can make accurate judgment of their own writing abilities. Continue reading
We content-based teachers often struggle with how to make students focus on the specific reading skills we want them to learn without being distracted or overwhelmed by the language. This gets more difficult when my activity focuses on fiction, especially elements such as character and setting, because it demands a more holistic style of analytical thinking—in other words, you want students to focus more on the structure than the meaning.
Most native English speakers learn these elements through the canon of literature, which acquaints students with everyone from O. Henry to F. Scott Fitzgerald. For ELL instruction, though, we have to acknowledge that some students didn’t get this cultural education, and many will know more about their own culture’s stories. This may sound like a problem, but it actually can work to your advantage in two ways: You can use folktales from an English-speaking culture, or you can use stories from the students’ original cultures so students are already familiar enough with the plot and characters to focus on other aspects.
I’ve had the opportunity to do both of these over my career and found folktales can make fiction lessons interesting, but there are some things to consider before you hand out the readings and questions. These include: Continue reading
Fauzia Shamin, recipient of the 2016 TESOL Leadership Mentoring Program Award and professor at the English Language Centre at Taibah University in Madinah, Saudi Arabia shares her best practices in teaching large classes with TESOL readers.
Sherry Blok (SB): You are the recipient of the 2016 TESOL Leadership Mentoring Program award! Can you speak to the goals of this program and your learning objectives with your TESOL mentor?
Fauzia Shamin (FS): The objective of the award is for a TESOL leader to mentor an affiliate member to add perspective and encourage inclusiveness at TESOL International Association. I am working with my mentor, Yilin Sun, past president of TESOL. The first thing I want to understand is the governance structure of TESOL. It has a complex structure and is so much larger than other associations. I would also like to investigate the interconnection between TESOL and affiliates. I would like to play a role in redefining TESOL and affiliate relationships and exploring partnerships on a different level than a parent-child or an insider-outsider perspective. On a personal level, I feel like I have a lot to learn from Yilin. I met her at the TESOL convention and I feel she has a lot to offer in terms of personal development: how she became president of TESOL, how she manages time and meets commitments. All of these endeavors require a lot of time. Continue reading