Are Your EL Expectations High—or Hurried?

Barbara Gottschalk
Barbara Gottschalk

January brings the beginning of a new year and an opportunity to start fresh. We make resolutions and hold ourselves to high expectations. After a few weeks, however, resolve dwindles. Why? Experts say we need to set achievable goals and hold reasonable expectations for ourselves.

We need to do the same for our English learners (ELs). Slow and steady worked for the turtle in the classic tortoise and hare fable, and it works for reading too. As we begin a new year, let’s take a fresh look at our reading expectations for our ELs. Are we aligning them to our students’ developmental needs as well as to the curriculum? In other words, are we holding students to high expectations or just hurrying them? Continue reading

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5 Ways to Use Padlet as an Icebreaker

Brent Warner
Brent Warner

As we settle into January, many of us are starting a new semester with new students, and maybe our old “Find Someone Who” icebreaker is just feeling a little stale. There are lots of ways to mix things up, and if you have access to Padlet, your students can have a lot of fun sharing about themselves. Continue reading

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4 Reasons to Celebrate “Random Acts of Kindness Day”

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

Multilingual learners’ (MLLs) well-being, as they return to school at the height of the spread of the Omicron variant, is at risk. Our MLLs spent 17 months of isolation during virtual learning. Many of them returned to school last fall demonstrating the effects of trauma from that seclusion. Teachers reported fatigue, lack of focus, anger, and depression in children that have been quarantined during the pandemic. Students also had difficulty relating to each other socially, and MLLs struggled to fit into their classrooms. As they return to school in January, they feel like they are starting all over again. What should teachers do? Continue reading

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Game-Based Learning With Electronic Village Online 2022

Jeff Kuhn
Jeff Kuhn

Hello, Happy New Year, and welcome to another edition of the TESOL Games and Learning Blog. It’s January, and that means it is time once again for the Electronic Village Online (EVO). Continue reading

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STEM and ELT: How to Build Background and Prior Knowledge in STEM

Darlyne de Haan
Darlyne de Haan

Happy New Year! May 2022 bring you health, joy, and peace.

Sir Isaac Newton said it best: “If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” I like to interpret this as meaning he gives credit for his successes by building upon his prior knowledge, which he learned from those before him. In other words, new learning is built on the foundation of previous learning. If building upon prior knowledge works for Sir Isaac Newton, imagine what it can do for struggling students and English learners!

True, building background knowledge and assessing prior knowledge are challenges for teachers who teach students whose first language is not English because the students come to classrooms with varying degrees of prior knowledge, academic experiences, and language proficiency, but it can still be done. Our English language students, regardless of prior knowledge and language proficiency, need activities that activate deep thinking and set the stage for the lesson that is to follow. Continue reading

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Podcasts as PD for Tired Teachers

Brent Warner
Brent Warner

As we settle into our post-holiday haze this year, many of us are tired. Dog-tired. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for taking their precious vacation for themselves and telling the little devil on their shoulder shouting to get more work done, “Not today.” Others of us are open to learning a bit, but aren’t quite ready to jump into online courses or conferences, or deep-diving into pedagogy books at the moment. That’s okay! As much as we tout the benefits of active learning, we also understand that maybe—just maybe—“sit & get” professional development (PD) can have its place, too.

Today, in the spirit of keeping things light, I’ll do a surface level look at the very deep world of podcasts, and share a few shows that are aimed directly at English language teachers to get you started. Continue reading

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Navigating the Reading Wars With English Learners

Barbara Gottschalk
Barbara Gottschalk

If you follow literacy issues, you have probably heard of the Reading Wars. If you haven’t, Jill Barshay’s recent article for the Hechinger Report does the best job I’ve seen yet of explaining the nuts and bolts of this disagreement over how to best teach young children to read. As comprehensive as the story was, however, it failed to mention English learners (ELs). This is disappointing but not unique. ELs often suffer collateral damage in the Reading Wars because both sides overlook their specific needs. Let’s address this issue from an EL’s perspective. Continue reading

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4 Steps to Create a Circle of Mentors

Laura Baecher
Laura Baecher

The end of a calendar year is usually just a midpoint pause for us on academic calendars. We feel the hectic rush to the finish line with grading, and yet the lure of a fresh new year tugs at us as well. What has this year meant for us personally and professionally? Where do we see ourselves going next year? This can be a time for renewal and carving out some plans for new directions. Mentors in our place of work play a critical role in this process. Mentoring programs particularly benefit minoritized employees and women. Continue reading

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