Attending the annual TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo transformed my career. Let it transform yours! Not only does it renew and refresh my teaching practice through attending a variety of sessions offered each year, but it also connects me to like-minded educators who share the same passion as I do for English language education. This year, I am honoured to be coordinating the Professional Development Travel Grant for Practicing ESL/EFL Teachers as it offers opportunities to new members to experience a formative professional development opportunity like no other. I’ve reached out to a few recent recipients to share their experiences. Continue reading
This is my 100th post for the TESOL Blog, and I want to take the opportunity to celebrate this milestone by looking over the highlights of the past several years, which started with my introduction on December 21, 2012 and continued with regular posts mostly about educational technology as well as a stint live from the TESOL convention in Portland in 2014.
3 Most Viewed
1. Tech Break: Running Dictations is the post that I wrote that has been viewed the most. In this post, I shared an active and engaging activity where students work in pairs or groups and use all their language skills to compete against the clock and other groups. It has always brought a lot of excitement and energy into my classroom and can be used with just about every language level and age group. For another similar exercise, try Move It, outlined in another post from the tech break series. Continue reading
Every innovation in tech has the potential to be or become an advancement in ed tech. So, every time we hear about a new technology, we ought to pause and ask ourselves, what could this mean for my classroom and my students?
The term virtual reality has been around for decades, as has some form of the technology itself. The basic concept is that the user is immersed in a simulated—or virtual—reality: you not only see an image, but if you look to the left of you, you see what is to the left. Turn your head to the right and you see what’s to the right. In the 80s some consumer VR products were released, but they were very expensive, and they were primarily a novelty: There just wasn’t much you could do with VR, so interest faded. Just 5 years ago, the very term VR was obsolescing its way to the tomb of dead tech terms, to join the likes of beeper and phonograph, velocipede and 8-track, carburetor and zeppelin. But in the past few years, the concept has been resurrected and interest in it reinvigorated. Somewhat surprisingly, one of the driving forces behind the return of VR is Facebook and smartphones. Continue reading
As English learners enter school this year, one of our most important jobs as teachers is to help them adjust to the American classroom. It is important to make our ELs feel welcome and accepted. With all of the anti-immigrant and refugee rhetoric that children are hearing in the news, teachers have a genuine opportunity to address the issue around immigration and build empathy. One way to do this is to design lessons around students’ stories about their cultural heritage. These lessons should not only be told by immigrants and refugees but for all of the students in the classroom. Here are a few ideas of how students can share their stories, and a few lesson ideas that are inclusive of all students. Continue reading
The TESOL President’s Blog
In fall 1983, I was hired as an undergraduate Spanish teaching assistant. Over the course of a weekend, I was trained to:
1) speak and dramatize a Spanish sentence from a pattern-practice drill,
2) snap my fingers,
3) point at an unsuspecting student lined up in one of two rows,
4) look at that student while he or she tried to get the answer out before I moved on to snap at someone else,
5) repeat the correct answer (if the student had provided it), and
6) then cycle through steps 1–5 with a different student and eventually a different exercise.
When I was observed, the performance metrics were how many times each student had spoken in an hour and whether I had caught all the mistakes. Known as the Rassias method, the goal was to help students quickly move past any affective barriers to speaking the language and begin developing fluency in the phonological and grammatical forms of the language.
Today, there is no need to hire a human being to do what I did. Cell phone apps efficiently cycle through spoken and written pattern-practice drills, tracking problematic forms for repetition; meanwhile, gamification achieves the motivational effects of my histrionics. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
It is my privilege to be able to introduce to you Dr. Prithvi Shrestha, who has worked closely with the TESOL ESPIS over the years in his role as a leader of the IATEFL ESP Special Interest Group. In his profile, he shares information about a project in Bangladesh involving training for 80,000 English language teachers that has become a model for projects in Pakistan and India. Continue reading
Students and teachers in the United States are packing up their summer gear in favor of backpacks and briefcases to get ready to go back to school. Although calendars around the world differ, the first days of a new school year or instructional cycle are crucial to setting the tone and pace for the teaching and learning that follow.
With that in mind, I offer a list of 10 items that teachers of English learners should have ready for the first days of class, regardless of context, age, or proficiency level. Continue reading
Last month, on 4–6 July, the 7th International English Teachers’ Association of Israel (ETAI) Conference took place in Ashkelon, Israel, which is on the Mediterranean coast, about 50 km south of the capital, Tel Aviv. Ashkelon describes itself as “one of the world’s oldest cities…steeped in history,” which has “absorbed more than 40,000 new residents, some of whom include immigrants and young families.” And according to ETAI’s website, the association was founded in 1979 “as a grass-roots non-profit teachers’ association run on a voluntary basis, by teachers for teachers.”
ETAI’s aim is “to provide professional support, advice, teaching ideas and background knowledge to teachers of English in Israel.” The site also notes that ETAI has around 800 members “from Jewish, Arab, Druze and Circassian schools all over Israel.” Although ETAI has been an association for more than 35 years, its international conference is only held every 5 to 6 years, on average, which is why this event was only the seventh in its history, with the previous one held in 2010. Continue reading
An impressive amount of research has been done on teacher response to L2 student writing. It seems like feedback scholars have taken nearly all possible directions trying to understand this “controversial yet ubiquitous pedagogical issue” (Ferris, 2004, p. 49). However, a deeper look at the literature on response to student writing reveals that despite the “rapid growth in interest in different areas of research into feedback on writing” (Hyland, 2010, p. 172), the understanding of how writing teachers develop their feedback practices in a particular teaching environment over time is fundamentally lacking.
In other words, previous research seems to overlook the issue of feedback as a developmental pedagogical phenomenon. How do novice composition instructors develop their expertise in feedback practices? How do their beliefs and practices change over time and what influences this change? Does their feedback to student writing become more sophisticated over time and does it reflect teachers’ growing understanding of the pedagogical and social value of feedback? Surprisingly, the answers to these questions are fundamentally missing in the existing literature. Continue reading
Another school year is about to begin, but even though it’s still summer your classroom may be a cold place. Your new students won’t know who you are or how the school works, and the returning students may not know what to make of the change. Add the tension to this mix that can come from a multicultural classroom or a monolingual classroom where students can easily revert to their native language, and you’ve got a situation that will set the tone for your class for a long time. Picking the right icebreaker can make everything much easier.
The classic game for teachers is “Two Truths and a Lie”: It’s easy to implement and can yield some fun answers. In practice, though, I find it less effective for English language learners. Some may misunderstand the activity, some who are less willing to talk may steal someone else’s lie, and lower-level students may struggle with the vocabulary. The end result is that you rarely get the quick assessment and introduction you could get with something more targeted. Continue reading