5 Guidelines for Planning Writing Lessons

Betsy Gilliland
Betsy Gilliland

Though most teachers probably had to write formal lesson plans during their academic studies and practicum experiences, many of us stopped doing so as we became more expert in our work. In one sense, it’s logical that experienced teachers would not write out extensive lesson plans, given that we know our context and our content well enough to think through a lesson and predict how it will likely work for our familiar students. In this blog post, however, I want to encourage writing teachers to make an effort to write out a formal lesson plan once in a while.

Whatever format you use, even experienced teachers benefit from making detailed lesson plans from time to time. After 25 years of teaching in various contexts, I find it helpful for checking that my approach to teaching and my intentions for the lesson still align with what my students need and want to learn. Continue reading

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6 Tips for Teaching Impromptu Speaking

A. C. Kemp
A. C. Kemp

ELs are often called on to speak extemporaneously in content classes. They might be asked to outline a scientific process, explain a literary term, or compare two historical events.

Having to speak without preparation can be stressful, even in your first language. Some students freeze; others dive in and start speaking without a plan and end up rambling.  Trying to formulate thoughts and deliver them in a second language is an additional challenge.

However, your students can learn strategies to make answering impromptu questions easier. With a step-by-step plan and regular practice, you can help them gain confidence and master the skills to give clear, organized answers. Following are six tips for teaching impromptu speaking skills in your classroom. Continue reading

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Member Moment: Ndeye Diallo

Ndeye Diallo
Ndeye Diallo

TESOL Member Moment celebrates our members’ achievements and contributions to the field of English language teaching. Continue reading

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What’s New at the Research Professional Council?

Jessie Curtis
Jessie Curtis

TESOL’s Research Professional Council highlights new research through teachers’ own stories of real-time engagement in times of challenge and change. Continue reading

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6 Scaffolds for ELs in a Virtual Classroom

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

In May, 2020, I wrote a blog entitled “10 Scaffolds to Support EL Learning.” During a recent #ELLCHAT, a Twitter chat for teachers of English learners (ELs), we discussed scaffolds for ELs in virtual environments. The ideas that were tweeted by the participants were exceptional, and it occurred to me that the strategies mentioned in the chat would benefit all students who were learning virtually. One #ELLCHAT participant, Greg Hewley (@ghewley), a doctoral student who is currently teaching in Honduras, reported,

Confidence and well-being are so important. It is not easy for students right now and they need to feel good about learning in class. My students have been doing so well because they have scaffolds in place which lets them take chances and work on more difficult material that may be just out of reach.

This was the consensus of the group,  and I’d like to share six scaffolds that were mentioned on the chat. Continue reading

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Gaming to Meet the TESOL Technology Standards

Jeff Kuhn
Jeff Kuhn

It has been a decade since the publication of the TESOL Technology Standards. Since then, the technology landscape has shifted, but the relevance of the standards remains. What keeps them relevant is their restraint. Instead of focusing on specific technology, the standards advocate for educators to adopt a mindset toward technology as a foundational part of their classroom practice and to pursue professional development that fosters technology integration.

In teacher training workshops over the years, I have frequently advocated for using video games to meet the TESOL Technology Standards, as the skills needed to use games effectively showcase competence in the Technology Standards. In this month’s blog post, let’s walk through how video games can help us meet the three standards of Goal 1 of the TESOL Technology Standards. Continue reading

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6 Tips for Successful Online Presentations

A. C. Kemp
A. C. Kemp

Few activities in the ESL speaking class are as challenging for students as presentations. Giving one can be overwhelming because it involves so many different skills—from fluency, pronunciation, and grammar to clear organization and smooth delivery.

Giving a presentation online brings additional difficulties for students. Gestures must be smaller and eye contact is with the impersonal camera. In addition, some students have trouble with bandwidth or privacy at home, making a live presentation difficult.

And these online presentations are problematic in other ways. When students use slides, for example, they can spend as much time on graphic design as the actual presentation; additionally, with slides filling the screen, the student’s own image is so small that delivery skills are hard for the teacher to judge. With a large class, a long series of presentations can make it hard for other students to stay focused as they watch their peers. This is exacerbated because when presenting online, there is a greater temptation for students to read from a script off-camera, making presentations monotonous.

Here are six tips for more successful online presentations that address these challenges. Continue reading

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EL Teacher Self-Care: Setting Boundaries Between Work and Home

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

In December, 2020 I heard from many teachers who reported how stressed and burnt out they felt. One of my fellow NJTESOL/NJBE Executive Board members, LeighAnn Matthews, wrote on her Facebook page,

I consider myself a pretty positive and upbeat person. I don’t complain. But I am tired. I’m exhausted. Burnt out. The weight of worrying and keeping track of literally 100s of English learners is catching up with me. What’s going on at home? Why aren’t the students coming to school? Are they OK? What do they need?

These are unprecedented times. Most of you have had to adopt changes in your teaching environments, moving from face-to-face instruction to virtual or hybrid environments. Families of your English learners (ELs) might be in crisis as parents lose their jobs or need to stay home to help their children with their schooling. Your responsibilities have probably grown during the pandemic. Your district may rely on you to translate notices to the parents of your students. They may expect you to troubleshoot difficulties that your ELs have in academic classes. You may feel fatigued and overwhelmed. Most teachers reported that they found it easier to set boundaries when teaching in-person than they did in a virtual classroom. Continue reading

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