I often joke that the difference between an ESL specialist and an English teacher is like the difference between an engineer and an artist: The ESL specialist is concerned with the mechanics of language to solve problems, while the English teacher focuses on the meaning behind the prose.
The more I discuss the difference with colleagues, the more I come to realize that the answer for best feedback often lies in-between—we can use science to determine what is right or wrong, but we need to take an artful approach when showing how it affects the overall meaning of the message. That means we have to consider what to correct (marking up every error is, in my experience, ineffective, time-consuming, and overwhelming for teachers and students alike) to get our students to the next level.
To make this happen, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself about how you deliver feedback. Continue reading
The TESOL President’s Blog
As part of a previous blogpost on TESOL 2.0, I argued that “if we are to engage, enrich, and empower a 2.0 world, we need first to understand the changes that are happening both outside and inside the profession.” One of the most significant changes I see today is an increase in the influence of the private sector on education. According to the World Education Forum 2015 Final Report,
while the state plays a central role in the provision of education, the scale of engagement of nonstate actors at all levels of education is growing and becoming more diversified. This is partly the result of growing demand for voice, participation and accountability in public affairs. But it is also in response to the need to relieve pressure on public financing given the spectacular expansion of access to all levels of formal education witnessed worldwide over the past two decades. (pp. 16–17)
For TESOLers, this change means that more of us are working for private companies, nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofit institutions. Continue reading
While I have already written a couple of posts about Khan Academy, I really wanted to come back to it in order to highlight some of my most favorite videos of all time, which happen to be from Crash Course.
Crash Course started out as a YouTube channel, which is where I first stumbled upon some of the videos, that now also has a Khan Academy page. From the main page, you can see that the topics are world history, chemistry, biology, and ecology, so this would most likely be a good resource for high school educators and not even specifically those working with English language learners, either. Each topic has a large number of short and engaging video lessons delivered by John Green or Hank Green. The visuals are stunning, and I have been very impressed with the content that I have watched (mostly from the world history course).
“So what?” you ask. Well, let me tell you why these are awesome. Continue reading
Gasp. Really? Phones? In class? Blasphemy! Heresy!
If this is your attitude, you’re fighting a losing battle. Can phones be a distraction? Certainly. But they are also a resource, and one that is fundamentally altering the way we communicate. Here are some ways to use phones as a resource in your English language classroom.
When students are out of class and don’t have native-speaking friends around, Google Translate is probably already their go-to resource. I know some teachers who try to wean students off of the service, but I favor shaping how they use it. Continue reading
This week, the campus I teach at in South Korea is abuzz with the sounds of English. Last week, about 100 international student-teachers moved onto campus—beginning their summer study and teaching abroad adventures. When I meet these student-teachers, glimpse their experiences through their fresh, eager eyes, observe them exploring Korea for the first time, I sense changes happening already. If their international teaching experiences are anything like mine, they will never be quite the same. In talking with them and hearing about their adventures, their interpretations and understandings of themselves and their experiences, these two ideas keep coming up:
- The world is bigger than my own backyard, and
- My backyard is connected to the rest of the world.
Saima Haq is founder and principal of the Special Children’s Educational Institute in Karachi, Pakistan. Her best practices stem from her goal to create a safe, supportive place for special needs students to learn, grow and contribute to the community through education and the English language.
Sherry Blok (SB): Tell us how you became involved in teaching special needs students.
Saima Haq (SH): I was fortunate enough to travel back and forth from the United States to Pakistan during my formative years. What I noticed in the West was that regardless of your disability, you could still engage in a quality life. In the West, people with disabilities do things that “normal” people do. However, in countries like Pakistan, India, or Saudi Arabia, there is a correlation between poverty and disability. The smallest disability is the source of not being able to live a normal life. If you are missing a leg or limb, people become marginalized. In Karachi, polio victims move around in carts and are of a begging culture. Of course, they could still be from lower income brackets, but because of their disabilities, they have become poverty stricken. Seeing the disparity between the two worlds made me want to do something. Continue reading
I have written several blogs on engaging parents of ELs in their children’s education. In this blog, I want to focus on young students in Grades Pre-K–3. I asked Karen Nemeth, a nationally recognized expert in early childhood education, to address this issue. I hope you will work with your administrators to implement some of these suggestions for the 2016–2017 school year.
Family engagement is on every educator’s mind. It is most important for the youngest ELs because family literacy and language experiences have such a big impact on learning for ELs in preschool and early elementary. Most programs address family engagement by offering a variety of special events and hoping family members will attend. I don’t know any school that gets 100% attendance, and it seems that the families who don’t attend may be the ones who need the most support. Maybe it’s time for a completely different view of what family engagement can mean to support very young ELs. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
In this ESP Project Leader Profile, you will read about a former president of TESOL International Association—Dr. Yilin Sun. Here is a portion of her bio on the TESOL website:
Yilin Sun has served as president of TESOL International Association, as chair of the TESOL Affiliate Leadership Council, and president of Washington Association for the Education of Speakers of Other Languages (WAESOL). In 2011-2012, Dr. Sun was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Taiwan at the National Taiwan Normal University. Dr. Sun received her doctorate in applied linguistics/curriculum and instruction from the University of Toronto, Canada. She has more than 28 years of experience in the field of TESOL as a teacher educator, a researcher, a classroom teacher, and a program leader with various institutions of higher education in China, Canada, and the United States.
Recently in the United States, some states have been turning to hiring people who are not certified or trained teachers to fill open classroom positions. States such as Utah and Georgia are allowing schools to hire individuals with a bachelor’s degree in any content area, who are then supervised by a master teacher and/or complete an alternative teacher training program in their first 3 years of teaching. Those states are not alone, as some programs such as Teach for America place people with bachelor’s degrees in public schools with a summer training program and a student teaching experience to help them complete their required 2 years of teaching.
How does this specifically relate to TESOL education? This larger trend impacts TESOL teachers and teacher educators in that it supports the notion that one does not need extensive education about education to be a teacher. We see this often in the myth that one does not need to know much about English or education to be a TESOL educator—one only needs to be a native speaker of English. (Quite obviously, I disagree with both of these notions.) Below are my five reasons we need TESOL teacher education; feel free to add yours in the comments. Continue reading
Two semesters ago, I was interviewed by someone from the Writing Lab here at Purdue University as part of her professionalization project; she needed a second-language learner who could share their experience in writing in English. The interview was focused on my initial writing experience—both positive and negative, my feelings about writing in English, as well as my writing strengths and weaknesses. Our conversation was helpful for me as well, as it gave me a chance to reflect on my own writing practices and articulate the achievements that I have made so far as a nonnative English speaker and the challenges that I still face. Finally, as a writing teacher, the discussion provided me with valuable information on how to help my students. Continue reading