I recently blogged on creating meaningful and authentic opportunities to apply student learning to real-life experiences. Most of the activities I suggested related to an ESL teaching context in which students are living in an English-speaking environment. Finding authentic opportunities for students to connect with English in an EFL context may take a bit more effort, but it is possible with some research and creativity! Continue reading
The TESOL President’s Blog
In 1973, the German economist E.F. Schumacher published a book subtitled A Study of Economics as if People Mattered, making its financial focus clear, but it is the main title that he is best known for: Small Is Beautiful. As an indication of the importance of the book, The Times Literary Supplement ranked Small Is Beautiful as one of the top 100 most influential books published since World War II. I referred to Schumacher’s book in my reflections at the closing ceremony of the seventh biennial international conference of the Penang English Language Learning and Teaching Association (PELLTA) last month.
The conference, which took place on 25, 26, and 27 of May, drew approximately 100 participants, mostly from Malaysia, but also from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam. Around 30 workshops and 20 papers were presented, as well as an opening keynote from Emeritus Professor Tony Wright, and five plenary speakers, of whom I was one. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
Next month (July), we will have another ESP project leader profile to add to those of Kristin Ekkens (May; healthcare industry) and Charles Hall (June; tourism, helping the poorest of the poor). In this TESOL Blog post, I consider “ESP best practices” in view of conceptualizations of leadership. I expect that I will have more to write on this topic by March 2016 as more leaders contribute their profiles.
As many of you may have read, ESP is already conceptualized as “providing leadership.” According to Johns, Paltridge, and Belcher (2011): Continue reading
What do you think of when you think of your “classroom”? A place to learn, a place to study, a place to talk, a place to share experiences, a place to grow as a student and as a teacher…
In second language settings, the world outside the classroom serves to supplement English language instruction that goes on inside of the classroom. In foreign language settings, sometimes the transition between what students learn in the classroom and finding opportunities to use it can be more difficult. In both cases, most research supports the need for interaction in the language classroom. In this post, though, I’m going to encourage you to go even deeper beyond interactive activities in the classroom and begin to think of your English language classroom as its own discourse community. Continue reading
This is yet another interactive activity that may help learners better understand the concept of audience (readers), the importance of the writer’s background knowledge about their audience, as well as the importance of writer-reader relationships.
For this activity, you will need to prepare in advance a character description (see an example below). Continue reading
A sad reality of being an ELL specialist in secondary schools is that our hardest working students are usually the ones who leave our program. We do our best to give them the skills they need to learn and demonstrate what they know for other teachers. Our role is often limited to monitoring to find out how well our students can compare to their native-born classmates.
But that’s not to say we have to take a reactive role for our students’ needs. We are still the experts of adapting content so the underlying information comes through without distracting or needlessly complicated language. Newer teachers may receive the benefits of linguistic-specific classes as a part of their education, but they will lack the experience, while more experienced teachers may be reluctant to make huge changes to their tried-and-true materials. And neither group has time to spare when it comes to planning their lessons.
So to make this sort of interdisciplinary collaboration work, we need tips that are both practical and easy to apply. Here are some I found that work: Continue reading
Despite drastic changes over the years, many educators still use presentation software, such as PowerPoint, for a variety of reasons. Such presentations in class reinforce content delivered orally, serve as supplemental material, and scaffold learning. Turning these types of presentations into videos serves the same purpose for flipped classrooms. Additionally, whether delivered in class or submitted as videos, presentations are also commonly used as assignments for students. Presentations are great and not going away any time soon; however, it might be time for an update to their format. I previously suggested Prezi as an alternative, and another great option is Haiku Deck, whose tagline is “presentations that inspire.” Continue reading
There’s probably a whole slew of reasons that you don’t love résumé writing. As a real-world imperative, it can be stressful, frustrating, tiresome work, and it doesn’t generally coincide with the best times in our lives. Do I want an objective or a profile? Which should I cut, my intermediate proficiency in Esperanto or my passion for ornithoscopy? Once you’ve worked out the content and sorted out your duties and responsibilities from your accomplishments, then comes the typographic tedium of formatting it all: Do I bold the workplace and italicize the title or bold the title and italicize the
workplace? Gah! how do I turn off strikethrough!? Is Times New Roman really the sweatpants of fonts? These bullets are boring; where do I get a webding!? Attached please find my…rèsume? Résumè? Resumé? CV!?
So what sadistic impulse, what pedagogic perversity would possess me to inflict this awful process on my students any more than is necessary, especially when half are housewives whose goals for their English don’t relate to career advancement? Well, if we approach résumé writing not as a mind-numbing process in and of itself, but as a series of distinct, transferable writing exercises, it becomes a whole lot more appealing for teachers and students alike. Continue reading
Do you need some activities for your ELs during the last week of school, or are you teaching ESL summer school this year? Try these six activities for teaching ELs about U.S. customs for Independence Day on July 4th.
Teach them about the American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, the U.S. national anthem, and other patriotic songs associated with Independence Day. Read books, hold an Independence Day parade, or have a picnic. Immigrant families often feel left out when everyone around them is celebrating a holiday that they don’t understand. Research the Independence Day activities in your town and share the information with ELs and their families Continue reading
In the Northern Hemisphere, summer is upon us and the sun is out! If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, it might be chilly and cold. Either way, it’s a great time of year to lay out by the pool or curl up by the fire with a good book. In their special report for the Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, Lily Wong-Fillmore and Catherine Snow (2000) detailed “What Teachers Need to Know about Language”. They outlined many of the different roles that teachers assume when they work with language learners: communicator, evaluator, educator, agent of socialization, and one I consider extremely important but sometimes overlooked—educated human being.
At times, we as teachers can be so focused on methodology, assessment, school requirements, and so on, that we do not have free time to consider what is really at the center of our teaching practice—the hearts and minds of our students, and the relationships we are able to create with them. That said, instead of picking up another “How To” teaching book this summer or winter, you might consider some of these highly readable books that highlight English learners’ life experiences as they navigate new school systems and/or learn a new language and culture. Continue reading