Being married to an English teacher, I’ve had many conversations about the value of literature in education. My wife talks about the beauty of classic stories and the need for students to reflect on the ideas while the beauty of the prose enhances their own writing. When she does, I think, “How are students going to understand those old-fashioned words? And if they can’t do that, what chance do they have to understand past generations’ ideas?” There have been cases where she had ELLs who couldn’t grasp why The Crucible was a metaphor for the Red Scare or the moral of a Nathaniel Hawthorne story and called me in for help.
That being said, secondary school ELL teachers are expected to give students the cultural and academic background they need to succeed in the mainstream. ELLs need to have a degree of knowledge about the classics to pass the state English tests as well as the ability to decipher the ideas and sometimes archaic words they’ll find in passages and short stories.
We can make this happen by being careful about how we select, implement, and assess our students’ literary lessons. Here are a few questions to ask to guide your decisions. Continue reading
As you know, I am always searching for material to incorporate into my classes. In the past, I have written about TED Talks and News in Levels as great resources for supplemental listening materials, but it is, quite frankly, shocking to me that while Khan Academy is a widely recognized name and well respected educational organization, I have yet to really explore and use its resources to my advantage as an academic English instructor.
After much thought, I think I have largely ignored Khan Academy because I associate it with math, not English. While that may have been the case in the beginning, Khan Academy has definitely grown over the years and now covers a wide array of topics including art history, biology, and macroeconomics. Continue reading
Today I’m going to discuss a technique that I’m calling deferred self-correction (an entirely forlackofabetterword term; don’t google it; four hits; other suggestions welcome). I’ve been using this technique for a long time but never really gave it much thought until the other day, when I recommended it to one of our teachers: She’d been having students check their neighbors’ exercises for errors, and a couple of students voiced a concern that for certain activities, they didn’t feel completely comfortable being corrected by their peers and didn’t feel capable of identifying errors.
The technique I recommended works like this: Continue reading
I’m delighted to introduce readers of this blog to the work of Rita Platt and John Wolfe. Rita and I became acquainted through #ELLCHAT, the Twitter chat for teachers of ELLs that I comoderate. I have since read her wiki and enjoyed the work that she and John write. I’m sure you will too.
ESL teachers have many roles. You are among the hardest working teachers in the profession. You are charged with the enormous responsibility embodied in Lau v. Nichols: to provide meaningful access to grade-level content learning and to support English language development. As we have written before in “Out of the Peaceable Kingdom: The Three Roles of the ESL Teacher,” there is a tension in these roles. It is not always an easy balance. Continue reading
Happy New Year, ESPers worldwide!
In this ESP Project Leader Profile, you will read about the experiences of Dr. John Butcher at the University of Akron in designing the English program for young Saudi participants learning to be Elastomer Technicians in the future Saudi rubber conversion industry. John is currently on the ESPIS steering board as English for occupational purposes representative. He is also designing and piloting a Level 7 EAP program for Manatee Technical College in Bradenton, Florida. His profile below focuses on “Elastomer English”! Continue reading
In my previous blog entry, I posed some ideas for helping future TESOL teachers transition from the role of student to teacher. To follow up on that, I focus this entry on the next step: how to support those new TESOL educators once they are in the workforce and heading up their own classrooms.
Below are five online resources that focus on providing support for new teachers in different ways: the first two are sites that provide both classroom tools and online communities to help out new teachers; the third is a letter by a teacher to teachers to help them imagine their future selves as teachers; the final two are aimed more at teacher educators, administrators, or mentors to consider as they help support new teachers in their profession. Continue reading
Happy New Year! It’s a great time to start a new semester with a holiday-related activity that would help your students to get to know each other and practice English. I thought I would share a few activities that you could do during the first week of classes.
Activity 1. Collage: The Year in Review
For this activity, you should have 1) several magazines and other periodicals with pictures, 2) scissors, 3) glue, and 4) papers (format A4) according to the number of the students. Each student will receive each of the above materials. The task is to create a picture collage—a personal overview of the previous year in pictures, that is, major activities and events, interesting stories, and highlights. Continue reading
If your school is like mine, your administrators are constantly evaluating various data to give everyone something to discuss on the in-service days. All of these facts gets condensed into an easy graphic with lines, bars, or fractionally divided slides presented on a PowerPoint and projected or passed out on handouts. All it takes is a little explanation and we can get a snapshot of what’s happening and where it’s headed.
While it’s easy to take for granted that graphic organizers are easy alternatives to large chunks of text, we have to remember that these could be very confusing to ELLs. Other cultures may not use the same layouts we use, different schools the students previously attended may not have incorporated these into the curriculum, or the whole process of how to make sense of weird words and lines may be overwhelming. So, as ELL teachers, we may want to take the time to go over how charts and graphs work as a part of academic language.
Some ways to make this happen are to: Continue reading
The TESOL President’s Blog
In another year of “fifty-firsts,” in other words, a year of first-time events in our 50th year, TESOL International Association held its first regional conference in Asia, on 3–5 December, in Singapore, in partnership with the National Institute of Education there. The title and the main conference theme was “Excellence in Language Instruction: Supporting Classroom Teaching and Learning,” under which there were a number of related subthemes. As with all of these events, the association works closely with a local organizing committee, in this case, the NIE conference organizing committee, supported by our Global Strategic Partner, National Geographic/Cengage Learning, and our Global Event Partners, the British Council, IELTS, and Tutor Group.
The attendance at the conference exceeded all expectations, with more than 350 participants from nearly 40 countries! Continue reading
The Electronic Village Online (EVO), a project organized by TESOL’s Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) Interest Section, is coming up! Participating in the EVO is an exceptional opportunity for free professional development, and sessions are available to anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world.
The EVO is a collection of 5-week sessions that run from 10 January-14 February and are moderated by professionals in the field. Many of the sessions have a tech focus, for example “EVO Minecraft MOOC” and “EVO VILLAGE 2016,” while others, such as “Classroom-Based Research for Professional Development” and “Teaching EFL to Young Learners and Teenagers,” do not. Continue reading