The December Dilemma and English Learners

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

Hyungsoo, a second-grade student from Korea, sat across from me at the table in my ESL class with a pained look on his face. “Santa didn’t come to my house!” he complained. “I didn’t get any presents.” I knew the source of his disappointment. Many elementary age public school students in the United States spend a good part of December discussing Santa, elves, and presents. They listen to stories about Santa, make presents for their parents, exchange grab bag gifts with their classmates, and produce Christmas artwork to decorate the halls of the school. In Pre-K–2,  a Christmas-related activity might occur every day during December.

Hyungsoo’s family is Christian, but for them Christmas is strictly a religious holiday. His parents did not realize that most of his classmates would be receiving gifts from Santa, and they were not aware of how left out he would feel. Unfortunately,  many elementary schools give little thought to the children who are looking in from the outside during December. Continue reading

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ESPers as Active Learners

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

As an ESP practitioner, how often do you find yourself in the role of a student? In this TESOL Blog post, I will focus on the ESPer’s role as a learner based on some of my own experiences.

For 30 years, I have had the opportunity to work as an English teacher for professionals in various occupations. Some of my current students in Japan have careers involving scientific and/or social research. These students speak in English at international conferences (e.g., UAE, Australia, France, etc.) about their research. In order to prepare themselves for such conferences, they like to bring to our one-on-one, hour-long sessions articles in English related to their research.

What do such students want from me? Continue reading

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What Is Intercultural Communicative Competence?

Yilin Sun
Yilin Sun

The TESOL President’s Blog

In recent years, several researchers in the ELT field have raised a series of conceptual issues around how we should express our cultures in English (Honna,2005; Byram,2009; Wen, 2013,). As a speaker, should you stick to your own way of thinking? Or should you adapt to the listener’s way of thinking? As a listener, should you impose your own way of thinking on the speaker? Or should you be sensitive to and tolerant of the speaker’s different way of thinking and speaking? Continue reading

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5 Free Online Writing Labs

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

As we all know, the Internet provides a wealth of teaching materials, and many of them are free of charge. There are lots of web-based resources that we, writing teachers, can use to help our students become better writers: websites for ESL teachers, online corpora, discussions and forums, just to name a few. I’d like to share another resource—online writing labs, or OWLs, as they are commonly known. Many universities and colleges offer freely accessible OWLs. I often use the OWL hosted by my university (Purdue OWL), and it helps me both in my teaching and in my research. And, of course, I recommend it to my students as well.

Let me share my five favorite OWLs.

Continue reading

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eduCanon: For Making Videos Interactive

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

Videos can really be a good addition to any class, especially for students who may be struggling readers or those who are visual learners. Additionally, there are so many to choose from online that you can find videos for every imaginable topic. In the past, I have made traditional paper worksheets for students to complete when watching videos in class or at home, but with eduCanon I can now make videos more interactive by embedding my questions directly into a video (called a bulb on eduCanon).

eduCanon is a great resource for instructors wanting to engage students more fully with videos. Continue reading

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Highlights From the WITESOL Fall 2014 Conference

Claire Bradin Siskin
Claire Bradin Siskin

I recently attended the Wisconsin TESOL (WITESOL) Fall 2014 Conference in Eau Claire, Wisconsin—what a group! I met numerous ESOL educators who struck me as being practical, positive, and receptive to new ideas. The conference was well organized, and I especially appreciated the hospitality shown by WITESOL President Melanie Schneider, Past President Johnna Knoke, and other Board members. All in all, my first visit ever to Wisconsin will remain a very pleasant memory.

The theme of the conference was “Finding a Balance in the Digital Age.” I gave a plenary to complement this theme: “Adding Digital Literacies to the Mix.” The room was set up with round tables that made it easy to talk in small groups. During my talk, the audience members had opportunities for brief informal conversations, and they needed no encouragement to engage in lively discussions. Their dedication to their ESL students was unmistakable. Continue reading

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A Roomful of Quotes: A Communicative Activity

Alexandra Lowe
Alexandra Lowe

I often find that changing what’s on the walls of my classroom changes the energy in the class. Recently, I decided to challenge my intermediate-level adult students to a new speaking activity by posting 24 quotes about taking risks around my classroom. I asked my students to walk around the room, looking at all the quotes. I then asked them to choose three quotes that resonated with them and to write them in their notebooks.

Here are some of the quotes that proved to be especially popular: Continue reading

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Teaching ELs to Summarize and Synthesize Texts

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

Good readers need to learn to summarize text in order to highlight the important information that they read. In my last blog, I talked about teaching ELs how to determine what is relevant in nonfiction texts. They also need to learn how to pick out what is important in a text when summarizing. Many times children will want to recall every small detail.

Here are some hints for teaching ELs how to summarize a story: Continue reading

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The Personal Brands of ESPers

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

As an ESPer, what do you consider to be your area of expertise? Do you specialize in working with a specific group of professionals such as medical doctors or lawyers? Do you excel in training others to make presentations or to negotiate business agreements? Do you help students to become admitted to (or to succeed in) a specific major on campus (e.g., biology or economics)? In this TESOL Blog post, I consider how our areas of expertise as ESPers can become our personal brands as professionals. Continue reading

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ESL Classroom Routines

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

Several years ago, when I was doing my teaching practicum in my MATESOL program, I had the opportunity to teach a community ESL class. Most of my students were immigrants who were taking the course in order to increase their proficiency level. The class followed an integrated approach, and, frankly, my coteacher and I found it difficult at times to balance “the right amount” of speaking, reading, and writing. Since for both of us it was our first experience teaching ESL, we were afraid that the course would seem to appear a bit unstructured. Our practicum supervisor suggested implementing classroom routines to help us keep the course more organized. And he was right!

Establishing classroom routines not only helps the teacher organize the course, but it also facilitates learning and motivates students. Continue reading

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