I hope you enjoy this second blog by Early Childhood expert Karen Nemeth. In her first blog on the role of play, Karen reviewed the research included in David Kohn’s New York Times article. In this blog, she is sharing trends in play-based education for young learners in the context of the Common Core.
This is my second post based on the New York Times opinion piece, Let the Kids Learn Through Play. In my last post, I described the advantages of using play-based learning for English learners. In this follow-up, I want to address some of the trends that connect the history of play-based learning to the future of education for ELs in the context of the Common Core. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
In the first week of September 2015, I had the opportunity to go to Sydney, Australia! At the University of Sydney, I participated in workshops (presented by Patsy Duff and Aek Phakiti) and a TESOL research colloquium. Two days later, I visited Macquarie University, where I attended a presentation (by Patsy Duff) and discussed my future research. (Note: I obtained my PhD in linguistics from Macquarie University under the supervision of Emeritus Professor Christopher Candlin, who passed away this year, and Dr. Alan Jones.) In this TESOL Blog post, I share some of my adventures down under. Continue reading
As an educator and a linguist, I’m no stranger to the power of words and the hidden social and political dynamics encoded in language use. In my recent work with both preservice teachers (at the university level) and in-service teachers (working in public schools), I’ve been doing a lot of listening as they talk to me about their experiences with ELLs, and what can be done to grow more effective in their practices.
While the overwhelming majority of teachers have their multilingual students’ best interests at heart, I still notice many instances of deficit discourse—expressions or terms that focus on the resources or skills that ELLs lack, rather than bring, to school. Phrases such as “language barrier” or “achievement gap” imply physical obstacles between students and teachers or students and their peers that exist because of language. Continue reading
“When I write in English, I can’t express myself as well as I do in Spanish/Korean/Japanese.” Most writing instructors hear this statement at least once during their teaching career. A lack of vocabulary is indeed one of the most challenging aspects of writing that our students encounter. This problem becomes even more perceptible in academic writing, as students try to develop their academic writing style by using a range of academic and descriptive language and making stylistic choices appropriate for various academic genres. I frequently hear students saying: “I want to sound more academic,” “My writing is so primitive,” and “How can I use more academic words?”
Many of the resources that students can use to enrich their academic vocabulary repertoire are freely accessible online. Today I’d like to introduce only a few of those resources. Continue reading
After I earned my MA in TESOL, I took a job teaching American history through a college’s ESL program. I’ve always been interested in history, and I couldn’t understand why all of the other teachers preferred to teach grammar or reading.
A few classes later, I was so frustrated I couldn’t understand why I chose to teach it. The formative assessments showed—to put it professionally—that I wasn’t meeting my objectives. My students couldn’t tell a pilgrim from a patriot, an Aztec from a Tory, or a colony from a frontier.
I took some time to backtrack over the more important parts of America’s early days to see where, exactly, the gaps were. That gave me enough information to figure out how to get through the year with the students learning at least a little more about history while getting more practice in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Despite the rough semester, I signed up to teach the class again, then taught it at another college, then earned my secondary social studies certification. Over the years, here’s what I learned about teaching American history to English language learners: Continue reading
A Guest Post by Sybil Marcus
Sybil Marcus has lived and worked on four continents. She taught ESL at the University of California at Berkeley Extension and at the Summer English Language Studies on the Berkeley campus. She has presented at conferences in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. For 15 years, she ran a PCI workshop for TESOL on integrating literature into language studies. She has also run workshops internationally for the U.S. State Department on Using Literature for Critical Thinking and Using Literature for Conflict Resolution. She is a coauthor with Daniel Berman of the A World of Fiction series, which uses literature to teach integrated language and critical thinking skills to ESL/EFL students at the high-intermediate to advanced levels.
When I first started using literature in my ESL/EFL classes, I thought all I had to do was teach the stories I enjoyed reading. But I soon found that even my favorite stories wouldn’t always work in class. Sometimes, they lacked sufficient depth for a 2-hour lesson, they failed to engage my students, or I couldn’t find a good way to organize the discussion.
So, how do you compile a successful syllabus for a literature-based course? Continue reading
In the past, when I have written about the flipped classroom, I have usually shared individual websites to help with the process or inspire creativity, such as eduCanon, PowToon, and Padlet. I have also mentioned the occasional application, for example Jing. Today, I want to branch off a little to highlight a free screencasting app, ScreenChomp, that makes flipping with an iPad even easier.
ScreenChomp is completely free and available in the iTunes App Store. Now, if you are an iOS user, you are in luck and can start using ScreenChomp today, but, unfortunately, based on my research, Android users might have to wait a while. Continue reading
In a recent TESOL Journal article, Boisvert and Rao (2015) discuss a fascinating classroom technique called video self-modeling (VSM). Although VSM has its roots in psychology, and Boisvert and Rao’s article focuses on its use with K–12 ELLs, this technique holds a whole lot of promise for adult language acquisition, too. I’m going to explain a bit more about the technique and share five ideas for applying VSM with adult language learners. It’s worth mentioning at the outset, though, that VSM is more effective in some applications than others, and research into its efficacy in language acquisition is still very limited.
The basic idea is this: On video, students perform a language task that they are struggling to master. Some small-scale Hollywood tricks are used to make the student’s performance of the task appear perfect in the final video. The student then uses the video of her own performance as a model for practice toward mastery.Proponents say that this approach not only hastens mastery, but also has significant affective benefits, such as increased self-esteem and self-efficacy. Continue reading
When was the last time you turned to the Internet to solve a problem or find an answer to a question? Minutes ago, right? Well, guess what: Our students are doing it too, and many of them are looking for help with their pronunciation.
When it comes to improving one’s L2 pronunciation, adult learners of English encounter a number of challenges. L1/L2 differences, fossilization, and a lack of opportunities to practice speaking are just three that come to mind. But there’s a bigger, more ironic problem that many learners face: insufficient access to effective pronunciation instruction, even in their own ESL/EFL programs (Murphy, 2014). Continue reading
I would like to introduce guest blogger Karen Nemeth. Karen is an author, consultant, and presenter focusing on effective early education for dual language learners.
A recent opinion piece in the New York Times, Let the Kids Learn Through Play, focused on the role of play in early learning. Advocates for play-based learning highlight benefits that happen to be ideal for young English learners. The article, by David Kohn, described how difficult it is for many educators to rely on experiential learning through play when they are being pressured to meet benchmarks of achievement from many sources.
While it may feel like more is accomplished when teachers are saying things to students and giving them rote practice, research cited in the article shows that this kind of learning is not very effective, especially with children under age 9. Continue reading