Getting to Know Each Other Through a Single Word

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

During the first week of classes, it is important to establish a warm and collaborative atmosphere in the classroom and help students to get to know each other. Surely, there are a lot of “getting-to-know-you” activities and icebreakers that teachers can use to accomplish these goals. Some of them were described in my previous blogs: Writing Activities for ELLS: Getting to Know You, and Getting to Know You Writing Activity: Using Names.

Today, I’d like to share ideas that could help learners to get to know each other by using a single word. These ideas are very simple, and they can be adjusted to various levels of language proficiency. Continue reading

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5 Ways To Jumpstart Your ELL Class This Year

Nathan Hall
Nathan Hall

Two months ago, we were wrapping up postservice training. Now we’ve either started our preservice training or are counting down our remaining days of vacation. That means we have to get our classrooms ready for new students, and when our students are English language learners, there are some specific things we can do to make the first few months easier for us and for them. These include:

1. Use name cards.

I’m a big believer in using folded cardboard cards as temporary name tags for my students until I get to know their faces. Instead of filling them out myself, I have the students write on it what they would like me to call them so they can choose whether to use their real names, a nickname, or an Americanized name. I collect these at the end of class so I can use them to take attendance. For the next few classes, I pass these out again so I can see their face and name at the same time, which helps me make the connection a little quicker. Continue reading

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Literature in ELT: Who’s Afraid of Literature?

Guest Author
Guest Author

Sybil MarcusA 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.

I admit it—I’m passionate about using literature, especially short stories, for language learning. As I result, I take every opportunity to talk about this to teachers of intermediate to advanced-level ELLs. Continue reading

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Guest Writer: Independent Online Reading Practice

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

Rebecca Palmer, a colleague of mine at Northern State University, has the unenviable task of teaching beginner reading to a very mixed level group of adults in the Academic English Program. While many of the materials we have dug up seem far too childish to use with adult English language learners, she has really found a great variety of appropriate online resources to use with students both in and out of the classroom. It is my pleasure to have her introduce you to some of them today, and, since many of these sites would work well for a wide range of levels and ages, you can pick and choose what will work best for you, your learners, and your teaching context.

I am encouraging my beginner-level college-age ESL readers to use their smartphones and tablets for easy-reading practice anywhere, at any time. If students use the “share” buttons on their electronic devices, most of the websites below are easy to access with just one click without an app. If an app is required, I steer students to free apps. The key to out-of-class reading practice is to make sure that students choose extremely easy articles to read and that they look for topics they find interesting. Here are a few of my students’ favorite online easy-reading sites. Continue reading

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Guest Speakers in Adult English Classes: The How

Robert Sheppard
Robert Sheppard

Last time we covered the why and the who of guest speakers in adult ed classes. We touched on some of the benefits of inviting guest speakers to your adult ESOL classes, which include authentic listening practice, valuable information about community resources, and the potential to build collaborations that will benefit your students down the line. We also talked about some individuals in your community who can make effective guest speakers, such as former students and reps from other adult ed programs, community orgs, and local businesses. Finally, we covered the who not of guest speakers in class, which was, it seems, limited, perhaps unfairly, to Mr. T (my sincerest apologies, Mr. T).

In this post, we’ll cover the how of guest speakers in adult ed classes, including some ideas for prepping your class for the speaker and vice versa. Continue reading

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Pronunciation Perspectives: A Video Conversation With Tracey Derwing

Karen Taylor de Caballero
Karen Taylor de Caballero

Move over, Perfection—there’s a better, smarter game in town for pronunciation teaching. Starring twin hitters Intelligibility and Comprehensibility, and it’s all about evidence-based instruction and the listener-speaker dynamic.

You see, I recently had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Tracey Derwing, Professor Emerita at University of Alberta, pronunciation teaching practitioner, researcher, and coauthor of the newly released Pronunciation Fundamentals: Evidence-based Perspectives for L2 Teaching and Research (Derwing & Munro, 2015). If you’re not already familiar with their work, know this: Derwing and Munro are to intelligibility and comprehensibility what Howard Gardner is to multiple intelligences. It’s game-changing stuff. Continue reading

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5 Back-to-School Activities Supporting Student Diversity

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

In a previous blog, Creating a Welcoming Classroom Environment for Pre-K-5 ELs, I wrote about how teachers can alleviate many fears experienced by English learners (ELs) who are new to the United States by creating a welcoming environment in their classrooms. A nurturing teacher and friendly classmates can greatly help  ELs cope with the hurdles they face.

In this blog, I’d like to discuss how to link instruction during the first week of school to ELs’ home language and culture. When ELs see their home cultures and languages being studied in the classroom, their culture is validated, and that helps to develop positive self- esteem. Here are five activities for ELLs during the 1st week of school. Continue reading

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Discussing Global Warming and Climate Change in ELT

Alexandra Lowe
Alexandra Lowe

Several recent posts have explored the theme of how best to broach controversial news topics in ESL classes: “Controversy in Adult Conversation” and  “Discussing Same-Sex Marriage in ELT: A Survey Approach.” Despite warnings from a colleague that ESL students, in his experience, tend not to be interested in the environment, my students recently had some of their most engaging discussions on the topic of global warming, pollution, and climate change.

We kicked things off by watching just the first few minutes of a lengthy Discovery Channel video about global warming, which featured dramatic images of receding glaciers in Patagonia: Continue reading

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ESP Project Leader Profile: Evan Frendo

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

Who is Evan Frendo? Some people will know Evan as an author. In my view, Evan is a teacher of ESP teachers. Consider one of his websites (English for the workplace) in which he first writes about Stephanie Schnurr’s Exploring Professional Communication. (Good choices!)

Evan’s bio (below) directs us to his more recent activities as an ESP professional. Continue reading

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In ELT, Does Higher Ability = Hireability?

Kristen Lindahl
Kristen Lindahl

As a TESOL teacher educator, I often consider how effectively we are preparing future teachers for the important job of teaching ELLs.  At the university level, we do not always hear from principals or teachers once they’ve left our setting and entered the “real” world—we send our graduates out with the best training we can possibly offer and the hope that they fulfill their professional goals.

Recently, I had the chance to ask a panel of U.S. public school administrators working in schools with very high numbers of ELLs what they wished their teachers knew before arriving at their campus.  They shared several insights not only about the knowledge base of the teachers, but placed equal importance on the values and ideologies they hoped the teachers would bring with them. The principals said that teachers they would hire should ideally have: Continue reading

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