Years ago, a social worker friend taught me that the best way to help people tackle difficult challenges was to focus on past instances of success rather than on failure. Success, he told me, was worthy of detailed investigation: What factors contributed to successful outcomes? And how can we encourage more of what has worked well in the past for others who are similarly situated?
When I began teaching English as a second language, this advice came to mind. As I watched my adult immigrant students struggle to master our verb tenses or wrap their tongues around our sound system, I decided that it might be useful to investigate how successful adult ELLs went about achieving fluency in English. What were the secrets of their success? What strategies had worked well for them?
Perhaps as a teacher you’ve found yourself thinking about how great it would be to go back to school and learn more about different aspects of the field of education, brush up on some of your skills, or even learn something entirely new. Or not. Either way, it’s not a bad idea. Let me introduce Coursera and edX, which are both websites that offer free courses from top-notch universities around the world.
Last month, NYS-TESOL’s Applied Linguistics Winter Conference included an excellent workshop led by Samar Aal of CUNY’s LaGuardia Community College on developing content-based lessons using authentic materials from the Internet. Near the top of Samar’s list were TED Talks, a cornucopia of riveting short talks on an enormous array of topics, available on the TED website.
TED Talks are also at the top of my list of authentic listening materials. For advanced students, they provide an unparalleled opportunity to hear some of the foremost thinkers of our day speak on hot topics in the fields of science, business, technology, design, and global concerns.
The day before the start of a conference there is a sense of excitement in the air. The long hallways await the shuffle of feet from one session to the other; the many rooms are ready to accommodate the hundreds of TESOL attendees. What old friends will reconnect? What new colleagues will be welcomed? Continue reading
I looked forward to the TESOL Convention in Dallas this year, even though I had to arrive late and in fact couldn’t get there until Saturday morning. By chance I walked right into the plenary, rather than the main entrance, where I could register. I finally found the Electronic Village, where my friends of many years were doing their usual things, preparing for webcasts, finding cables, trying to make things work. I love the Electronic Village; though I am incompetent at such things, they’ve always accepted me as part of the CALL-IS and as a regular presenter. I gave my presentation, which was about the influence of grammar technology (translators, grammar checkers, etc.) on student writing and learning, I felt lucky to be part of TESOL and part of this group. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
I am more excited than ever about the future of ESP because there is a growing need worldwide for communication skills in professional and academic settings. At TESOL 2013, I came across a wonderful book at the Routledge booth:
S. Schnurr (2012). Exploring Professional Communication: Language in Action. Abingdon, England: Routledge. Continue reading
Do you have certain communicative activities that you find work no matter what level you are teaching? Are there activities that you can always turn to when the energy in the classroom starts to flag?
In this regard, I wanted to share with you an activity that Irina Climovici, a colleague from SUNY Westchester Community College, taught me last year and that has stood me in good stead ever since. I used it last week when it became apparent that my Level 5 evening students, who had enthusiastically debated the merits of investing in derelict buildings in Detroit and had written at length about the impact of the Great Recession on their own lives, were running out of steam as the clock ticked toward 9 p.m.
The TESOL Graduate Forum and the TESOL Doctoral Forum are wonderful one-day events usually held the Wednesday before the TESOL Annual Convention & English Language Expo. If you are a graduate student in TESOL, ESL/EFL, or applied linguistics, I would encourage you to attend.
At TESOL 2013, the Doctoral and Graduate Forums joined talents and forces. We had a great event in which students were involved in vibrant discussions about teaching, researching, and learning in the TESOL field. Continue reading
Coming to the TESOL conference? I’ve said it before (last year) and I’ll say it again. Whether it’s your first time or your fifteenth, there are always new things to learn. Here are some tips on having the best experience you can.
Plan your schedule. There’s lots to do at the conference. Take time to use the online itinerary planner, download the program book, or get a copy of the TESOL 2013 app for iPhone and Android smartphones. Leave yourself time to review the program book once you arrive. Make your own schedule. You can write it down on a piece of paper if you want. But give yourself a plan. Continue reading