In my last blog post, I offered a quick overview of six grammar websites that I have found consistently helpful to high-beginners and intermediate students looking for additional grammar practice outside of class. This week, we’ll look at several websites that offer grammar and writing assistance for advanced ESL students, including students who are preparing for college-level work in the United States. We’ll also take a look at a new textbook that integrates grammar and academic writing in intriguing new ways.
I have recently read a study by Paula Maier “Politeness Strategies in Business Letters by Native and Non-Native English Speakers” (1992). In the study, both native and nonnative writers were given a fictional situation in which they missed a job interview in another city. The task was to write a letter to a personnel manager to explain what had happened and persuade the manager to give him or her another chance for an interview. The findings of Maier’s study demonstrated that nonnative writers lacked the use of appropriate politeness strategies and their letters were written in an informal and direct language that could be perceived as rude and even disrespectful.
My recent blog post, “Unearthing the Secrets of Successful Adult ELLs (Part 2),” explored some of the secrets of successful language learners. Two things are clear: (1) successful language learners don’t depend exclusively on their classroom teacher to master English grammar and (2) they seek out every possible opportunity to fill their ears with the sound of authentic English. In this blog post, I will explore some of the remarkable grammar resources available for free on the Internet. Next time, we will look at Web-based listening resources.
There are, of course, dozens of websites that ELLs can use to hone their grammar. Many are free. Others aren’t. There is no need for students to pay to practice English grammar. Here are a few of my favorite sites—all free and available to any student with access to a smart phone, a tablet, a laptop or a PC.
After sharing so much tech-related information, I thought it might be time for a short break. In this post I’ll just explain a fun tech-less classroom activity called Running Dictations that I learned from one of my coworkers in China. It works for most levels and ages which makes it an ideal activity to share with you. Running Dictations is a great activity, especially for early morning or night classes where students might have low energy levels, because students practice a wide variety of language skills and have fun too!
In a recent blog post, I described a class project in which my intermediate-level adult ESL students interviewed relatives and friends who had successfully made the leap to fluency in English as adults. Their assignment was to unearth the secrets of these successful ELLs.
A key piece of advice that one of my students garnered from an uncle in Brazil was:
Run away from people who speak your language. Be in contact with as many English speakers as possible. Ask them to correct you.
In her own blog, Caitlin Hamstra of Central Michigan University wondered whether it was realistic to encourage students to “run away” from people who speak their language if those people are their loved ones: children, spouses and other family members. “Learners who have children,” wrote Caitlin, “want to pass along their language and culture to their children, especially when they’re so far from home; and many spouses don’t speak English. How can they reconcile their family/emotional needs versus their language needs?”
At the TESOL convention in Dallas in March 2013, the academic session of the ESP IS created by the current chair, Yinghuei Chen, was titled “Developments in ESP Pedagogy Around the Globe.” As a member of the audience and a last minute speaker in that session, I had the pleasure of learning about how ESP is seen and taught in various EFL contexts. Moreover, in the IATEFL-TESOL intersection on ESP orchestrated by the immediate past chair of the ESP IS, Najma Janjua, where I was also able to participate as a speaker, I learned more about how ESPers around the world were doing ESP.
I had a similar adventure reading the following publication featuring the articles of IATEFL ESP SIG members: Krzanowski, M. (Ed.) (2008). Current developments in English for academic, specific, and occupational purposes. Reading, UK: Garnett.
The TESOL President’s Blog
In spite of all the advances that have occurred within our profession, backed by research which has shown that trained nonnative English–speaking teachers (NNESTs) can in fact be better than native English–speaking teachers (NESTs) because they themselves had to learn the language, society as a whole in many parts of the world still clings to the belief that native speakers of English are better teachers and trainers. This is particularly true in my country, Egypt. TESOL International itself has issued a couple of statements that condemn discriminatory practices against NNESTS, most recently its “Position Statement Against Discrimination of Nonnative Speakers of English in the Field of TESOL.” It seems to me that we are just talking to and among ourselves and we still have a long, long way to go in getting people to change their thinking and understand that this native speaker ideal is a fallacy.
If you’re a member of TESOL International Association, you have likely heard about advocacy, and the importance of getting involved. A key opportunity is coming up 16-18 June in Washington, DC, at the new TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit (formerly TESOL Advocacy Day).
Why should you attend? Participants who have attended in the past were asked that very question. Although there’s a new name for the program, the reasons remain the same. Here are their Top 10 Reasons to Participate in TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit: Continue reading
Finishing up this academic year, I am starting a different, small, yet enjoyable, journey as a TESOL blogger. My name is Elena Shvidko. I originally come from Russia, and I have been in the United States for 7 years pursuing my education.
In these entries, I hope to address a variety of topics on the teaching of second language writing, and share my own writing experiences as well as those of my students. I will also share my teaching ideas and activities for classroom implementation as well as online resources that may be helpful for those of us who teach L2 writing. I hope that we will have interesting and stimulating discussions, and I am looking forward to your insights, questions, and ideas.