5 Apps for English Learning and Teaching

Greg Kessler
Greg Kessler

It’s quite common to not allow the use of mobile phones in the English classroom. However, there is an increasing array of opportunities to use them in meaningful ways. Because students today are likely to have their own devices, we should put them to use. This requires integrating them purposefully so that they are not simply a distraction, but rather an enhancement to the existing class activities.

Of course, there are a number of apps available for use on our phones. In fact, there are so many apps today that it can be very difficult to choose the ones that are most useful for our particular students. Here are a handful of apps that I think have a lot of potential for language teaching and learning. Continue reading

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Tidying Up Your ELT: 3 Simple Ways to Declutter Your Teaching

Gabriela Kleckova
Gabriela Kleckova

In this blog, I share a few tips on decluttering your teaching. My thinking about the topic of clutter in teaching has been inspired by recent movements to let go of our possessions in order to be happier and freer—becoming a minimalist. The principles behind the movements, in my opinion, have some application to teaching as well. As you can declutter your houses for better lives, you can declutter parts of your practice for better teaching. Continue reading

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Back to School With Minecraft

Jeff Kuhn
Jeff Kuhn

Welcome back to another TESOL games and learning blog post. As a new school year starts in many parts of the world, it’s a great time to take a look at Minecraft.

Perhaps most everyone has heard of Minecraft at this point. The gaming juggernaut has sold more than 176 million copies by mid-2019, making it one of the most successful games of all time. At its core, Minecraft is digital Lego—a pixelated world of blocks that players can use to mine resources, build structures, and equip themselves with resources for adventure. Since its release in 2011, Minecraft has become a darling of education, and many believe its popularity among educators is what prompted Microsoft to pay US$2.5 billion for the game and its creator Mojang in 2014. After the purchase, Microsoft reached out to teachers to figure out just what they were doing with the game.

What makes the game popular among educators? Minecraft’s open world nature and lack of in-game tutorials position it is an “object to think with” (Papert, 1980, p. 23) that rewards trial and error. It’s a sandbox-style game meaning there are no set goals or objectives. In many respects, Minecraft is more of a toy than a game; the user can apply their own rules and goals to it. The openness of the game allows teachers to use it any way they see fit as well. Teachers have used it for language learning, creative writing, and world history.

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The Unapologetic Advocate: Advocacy is Just a Click (or Two) Away

David Cutler
David Cutler

After a summer hiatus, which included a successful 2019 TESOL Advocacy and Policy Summit, my annual Golden Girls marathon (180 episodes over 3 months, you do the math), and the departure of my boss and mentor John Segota, I’m back to shamelessly and unapologetically plug a great new resource that recently launched for TESOL advocates. Continue reading

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Graduate Students and L2 Writing

Betsy Gilliland
Betsy Gilliland

Much discussion on academic writing revolves around undergraduate students and their transitions from secondary school into university. Despite the large numbers of international students enrolled in U.S. institutions—nearly 400,000 in 2016-17, according to the Migration Policy Institute (Zong & Batalova, 2018), with up to 81% of students in some STEM fields coming from other countries (Redden, 2017)—far less has been written about the genres graduate students write or how instructors and advisors can support their learning to write in those genres. Continue reading

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Back-to-School Basics: Avoiding Civil Rights Violations (Part 2)

Ayanna Cooper
Ayanna Cooper

In a recent conversation, a colleague asked me a number of questions about supporting schools with various program models in place for their English learner (EL) population. In an effort to provide appropriate language support, we often ask simple questions that have complex answers. Sometimes, we don’t know what we don’t know. Last month’s blog focused on student identification procedures and appropriate placement and service models for eligible students. This month’s blog dives into the guidance for that placement and those service models. Continue reading

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11 Back-to-School Strategies for Teachers of ELs

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

Have you ever thought of what kind of support you would need if you were dropped into a classroom in a country where very few people spoke English? Think now of the newly arrived English learners (ELs) in our classrooms who must learn to speak, read, and write in English, but also must become acclimated to a new culture and learning environment. Because August is my fifth anniversary of writing blogs for TESOL, I went back over the list of what I have written to find 11 back-to-school strategies for teachers of ELs. Here are 11 ideas to use when you go back to school. Continue reading

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Virtual Field Trips for ELT

Greg Kessler
Greg Kessler

There are numerous ways to use technology today to take virtual field trips. These activities can be designed in many different ways. I tend to think of them as an extension of simulations or role-playing activities that have been popular in English language education for a very long time. Role-playing in language education allows us to create immersive simulated communication experiences in contextually meaningful spaces.

Traditionally, classrooms have been rearranged to resemble any number of target language practice settings: restaurants, bazaars, museums, historic sites, and so on. Learners can be placed in these spaces with specific language practice goals. With the enhancements available through various forms of technology, we can expand these immersive simulations in very interesting ways. Many of these new contexts allow learners to practice the relevant language with an increased sense of place as well as the ability to interact with and learn from virtual landscapes. Continue reading

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