I am happy to introduce the first of two posts by guest blogger Raichle Farrelly, a longtime TESOL educator and advocate who is currently assistant professor of applied linguistics at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, USA. “Rai” has worked in multiple ESL and EFL contexts across the United States, Africa, and Europe, and focuses much of her work and advocacy on preparing teachers to be effective with adults, particularly immigrants and refugees. In this post, she discusses LESLLA—the acronym for Low Educated Second Language and Literacy for Adults—which is becoming more commonly known as both an association and a field of study.
A growing area of expertise within TESOL is teaching English to adults with refugee and immigrant backgrounds who have had interrupted formal education (see TESOL International Association’s website for the Adult Education Interest Section and Refugee Concerns Interest Section). Sometimes, these learners are referred to as SIFE (students with interrupted formal education), but discussions and workshops about SIFE tend to focus on young learners and adolescents. For adults, the acronym that is becoming more widely used is LESLLA. But before I spell out what LESLLA stands for, I’d like to share some background information. Continue reading
Caroline Payant, MA TESL Director and Assistant Professor of TESL at the University of Idaho and President-Elect of WAESOL, shares insights and practices of her recent study, “The Dynamic Rhetorical Structures of TESOL Conference Abstracts” (2016), coauthored with Jack A. Hardy.
Sherry Blok (SB): Your recent article, entitled “The Dynamic Rhetorical Structures of TESOL Conference Abstracts” (2016), will be of great interest to many TESOLers as your study examines the rhetorical style of previously accepted TESOL abstracts and presents guidelines for writing successful conference proposals. What prompted your study? Continue reading
I’d like to continue my conversation about implementing issues related to feedback into teacher training/education programs. In today’s post, I provide three ideas that writing teacher educators can use in their preparatory courses: 1) helping teachers develop their philosophies about feedback, 2) giving teachers tools for continuing professional development, and 3) implementing observations of experienced teachers’ feedback performance. These suggestions are based on an analysis of the literature on teacher feedback.
1. Helping Teachers Develop Their Philosophies About Feedback
In order to help beginning teachers recognize their own views and beliefs about feedback, teacher training programs should encourage them to develop their philosophies about response to student writing. At the beginning of the course, for example, teachers would be asked to reflect on their learning experience and identify factors that could have shaped their views on feedback. Continue reading
Writing is one area where students tend to lack confidence, so I am always on the lookout for resources that can help them. Previously, I shared Quill and NoRedInk, which both guide students through independent practice of writing and grammar skills. They really appeal to the teacher in me that believes students need to practice their way to mastery. Today’s post, however, is about an entirely different type of resource and one about which I feel some amount of conflict.
Let’s take a look at it first. Grammarly is a browser extension that works with both Chrome and Safari that is designed to proofread your work automatically. According to the site, “It checks for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and suggests citations.” An ad for Grammarly on Facebook caught my eye, so I decided to try it. Who doesn’t want to improve their writing and avoid making embarrassing mistakes like using the wrong their, there, or they’re? Even if people know the rules, it is still easy to make mistakes from time to time. Continue reading
Placement testing is tough. Doing it well can be time consuming and resource intensive, and doing it with insufficient rigor can lead to “slippery” leveling, where, say, a level 3 one year is different in ability from a level 3 in future years.
I don’t have any all-encompassing answers to this problem, but in using a popular computer-adaptive test for placement purposes, I’ve begun to recognize a few broad categories that students can be broken into, according to the grammatical complexity of their utterances. Continue reading
I’m happy to introduce guest bloggers Rik Rowe, a secondary math teacher from Wilmington, Massachusetts, USA, and Anabel Gonzalez, a Grade 7–12 ESL teacher from Mooresville, North Carolina, USA. Rik and Anabel met on Twitter while chatting on #GoodCallsHome, a movement to encourage teachers to make positive calls to the homes of their students.
What started out as a simple hashtag, #GoodCallsHome, has evolved into a powerful movement that is changing lives and altering academic destinies. #GoodCallsHome is an undertaking that encourages teachers to commit themselves to making positive phone calls to the homes of at least two of their students each week in the hopes of reaching the families of every single learner by the end of the semester or year. But this goes beyond positive phone calls. #GoodCallsHome is a mindset shift for educators to proactively reach out to families, thereby establishing an invaluable parental rapport.
Are you intrigued, but think you don’t have the time? If you are like most educators, you probably have way too much on your plate already, and time is a precious commodity. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
One thing that I really like about the classroom is the opportunity to “create” on the spot. I love those “magical moments” when seemingly unconnected things are brought together to make a lesson. The joy is in seeing a connection and in making the connection visible to my students. In this TESOL Blog post, I share one example of how such a magical moment occurred.
A few days before a business English class, I watched a video titled, “Johanna: Under the Ice.” (If you have not seen the short video, I advise you to watch it now before you read the remainder of this blog post; it is fewer than 4 minutes.) The video is introduced with the following:
Finnish freediver Johanna Nordblad holds the world record for a 50-meter dive under ice. She discovered her love for the sport through cold-water treatment while recovering from a downhill biking accident that almost took her leg. British director and photographer Ian Derry captures her taking a plunge under the Arctic ice.
Homework and school have gone hand-in-hand for so long that it’s mostly assumed, if not ingrained, that studying outside of the classroom is an essential part of any schooling experience. Like any other part of education, homework trends have come and gone, and currently some pushback against homework is emerging in the United States, possibly in response to cultures of high-stakes assessment and worksheet packets of test preparation that leave students uninspired at best and marginalized by the system at worst.
Recently, a post about a North Texas teacher went viral, in which she stated her “homework policy” for the school year would actually be a NO Homework policy, and that she would instead encourage learners to eat dinner with their families, exercise outside, and go to bed on time—factors which she argued (and much research agrees) can be greater predictors of student success than completing homework. Continue reading
When I first started teaching writing, I remember asking myself questions that Joy Reid addressed in her article “Responding to ESL Students’ Texts: The Myths of Appropriation” (1994): “When might I interfere with their objectives or crush their creativity? In what ways might I assume control or ownership over their texts? What might I say that would deter them from becoming independent writers?” (p. 277).
I was confused by the two seemingly contradictory objectives of feedback. On the one hand, I knew I had to provide students with guidance and suggestions, and offer my recommendations on how they can improve their writing. On the other hand, I was supposed “not to interfere with their writing, not to impose control or authority over their […] writing” (Reid, 1994, p. 277). Then I turned to my own writing experience in English and realized that I wouldn’t have learned how to write if I hadn’t received meaningful feedback on my papers. Continue reading
The TESOL President’s Blog
To understand the world of TESOL 2.0, I have previously looked at changes in the system that provides English language education and the tools of the classrooms where students learn the language. The privatization of education and the rise of technology are factors that teachers across disciplines must adapt to. But there is one major change that is more specific to TESOL: evolving understandings of what it is we are teaching when we say we teach “language.”
How do you describe what you teach? If you describe it based on what is in your textbooks or curriculum standards guides, odds are you will talk about knowledge, skills, and competencies. You will talk about vocabulary as well as the rules and patterns that allow us to turn vocabulary into utterances. You may talk about enabling students to read a certain amount of text or take notes from a lecture, in which case you are talking about the ability to do something with language. Finally, you might talk about what is often described as pragmatic or sociolinguistic competency: knowing how to make an email polite, use voice when writing an essay, or sound authoritative when giving a research presentation. Continue reading