Narrowing In on Narrow Input

Robert Sheppard
Robert Sheppard

In this quick post, I want to introduce the concept of narrow input. We’ll go from what to why to how: what it is, why it’s a good idea, and how you can implement it in your classroom.

Defining Narrow Input

So, we know input: the language that our learners take in, via either reading or listening, the two receptive language skills. Accordingly, the two forms of narrow input are narrow reading and narrow listening, the former being much more heavily discussed than the latter. But what exactly makes them narrow?

What it means is limiting the texts students read, generally by subject matter, but also possibly by author or genre. Continue reading

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11 Apps to Build Literacy for Elementary ELs

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

In my last blog, I talked about online resources for building English learners’ literacy skills. I would like to expand on that topic by listing some apps that also help build literacy. It became apparent as I examined these resources that free apps are not always the best choice. Many app designers create a free version, and this is certainly a way to explore an app. However, the complete versions of most apps  are more likely to provide a real learning experience for ELs.  You’ll want to look at samples of apps to see if they are developmentally appropriate, linguistically complex, and interactive.  Many apps have free “trailers” that you can view.  If you find a free app that you like, consider upgrading to the complete version.

Here are a few apps that I suggest:

1. Little Bird Tales is an app that allows students to tell digital stories using their own photographs or art work. It’s good for young students because it allows them to tell a story. Beginning ELs could use one-word labels or short sentences for their stories. (Grades K–2) Continue reading

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ESP Project Leader Profile: Shahid Abrar-ul-Hassan

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

In this ESP project leader profile, you will read about Shahid Abrar-ul-Hassan. Shahid is a seasoned EAP educator, academic researcher, professional development consultant, and official ESOL examiner (speaking, writing) based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He has also worked as section editor of TESOL Journal (Scopus-indexed) and as associate editor of the TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching (a pioneering work of the TESOL International Association and Wiley Blackwell). Shahid is an alumnus of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (California, USA). He was a recipient of the Charles Wallace Fellowship (British Council/Charles Wallace Trust) and the Fulbright Fellowship (U.S. Department of State). He has also received a Best Teacher award for excellence in research and teaching from Sultan Qaboos University (Muscat, Oman). Shahid has led commissioned/invited professional development workshops in Albania, Canada, China, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey. Continue reading

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ELT Best Practices: Empowerment in Nepal

Sherry Blok
Sherry Blok

First introduced to the English language under the shade of a tree in rural Nepal, Ganga Ram Gautam has dedicated his life’s work to improving the standards of ELT in rural Nepal to empower students and teachers with English language education and to open doors to higher education.

Ganga Gautam (GG): I am from rural Nepal and some of the classes were given under the tree in the open field. There were no desks, we wrote on a stone slate with stone chalk. After high school, I went to university. It was a 3 days walk from my hometown; I carried a big rucksack on my back. I would walk the whole day, stay in a tea shop overnight, and then walk again next day to reach to the university campus. I stayed there in a rented room and studied there for about 3 years before I started my undergraduate study in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. Continue reading

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Teaching Writing to Young Learners: 10 Online Resources

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

Today I will share a few websites that contain helpful resources and materials for teaching writing to young learners.

1. Creative Writing Teacher Resources

This collection of printables, graphic organizers, lesson plans, and activities helps teachers to build learner’ creative writing skills. The resources include poetry writing activities, journal topics, art projects, short-story writing exercises, scoring rubrics, and other printable worksheets. Continue reading

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How 3 Tiers of Vocab Make It Easier to Learn New Terms

Nathan Hall
Nathan Hall

Despite almost 40 years of speaking English, I often reach for a dictionary when adapting lessons for my ELLs. And, most of the time, I’m not happy with what I find. I usually get a concise definition that, while accurate, is at a level higher than what my students can easily understand. In these situations I have to find a way to articulate the meaning to my students in a way they can understand. But my goal isn’t to have the students understand the words for a few minutes—I need to move it through the exposure phase through conscious learning and ultimately to unconscious acquisition for them to get a step closer to fluency, even if it is for words they won’t hear outside of school often.

Thankfully, our colleagues have a similar problem when they teach academic vocabulary. Researchers such as McKeown (2014) have found a framework that helps students better understand difficult words they see for the first time in the context of what they already know. Although these techniques are often meant for students mastering their first language, I found they can be very applicable to ELLs, too. Continue reading

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Free Books for Your Classroom 3: Storynory

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

Despite the fact that many educators have access to a wide selection of books from school and public libraries, it can still be challenging to choose the “right” ones and keep students supplied with material they are interested in. For contexts with limited resources, these struggles are even more pronounced. Luckily, there are many free online resources available, such as Storynory, that vastly increase the amount of material with which students can engage.

Storynory is simply a website with a collection of stories sorted into categories such as fairytales, myths and world stories, and classic audio books. Storynory is unique in that each story has a recorded reading so that users can read the text and/or listen to the story, which is beneficial in many ways and gives you added flexibility. Continue reading

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5 Tips for Enriched Vocabulary Presentation

Robert Sheppard
Robert Sheppard

Even in integrated skills courses, we often have some kind of time dedicated expressly to vocabulary. Many of us approach it in a similar way: listing out words on the board, providing definitions and sample sentences for each. In this post I’ll present five easy ideas for enriching that board work and ensuring that this explicit vocabulary-focused time is as valuable as possible.

Activating Schema

Before presenting, some kind of warm-up is in order. I have two ways that I commonly do this. The first is to tell a story into which I incorporate several of the words I’m about to teach. As I tell it, I’ll ensure that students can understand the words from context, and I’ll place extra emphasis on them in the telling. Another warm-up option is to activate students’ schemata by having them tell you what they think or know or can guess about the words you’ve written. Continue reading

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Revolutionizing Education by Reshaping Narrative

tesolconvention2016

Aziz Abu Sarah will present the Opening Keynote, titled “Revolutionizing Education: Building Peace in a Divided World,” at the TESOL 2016 International Convention & English Language Expo, 5:30 pm, Tuesday, 5 April.  

“The West wants to destroy the Arab and Muslim world,” one of my Syrian friends told me as we were drinking coffee in Amman, Jordan. He is an educated man who works with humanitarian organizations, but I wasn’t surprised by his comment. I grew up exactly like him, believing the world is against us.

This idea of a “clash of civilizations,” or a struggle between “East” and West,” is part of a widespread narrative in the world today. Whether I am speaking to Arab audiences in the Middle East or Western audiences in the United States and Europe, I frequently receive questions about why “they” are against “us.” For instance, after almost every lecture I give in the United States, I am confronted with statements like “They want to destroy our culture” and “They hate us because we believe in democracy and human rights.”

I understand where those fears come from. Often, these fears begin in youth, with exposure to media, comments from adults, and narratives taught in elementary school. Continue reading

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10 Online Resources to Improve EL Literacy

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

Many elementary school ESL teachers are now looking at materials for their 2016–2107 classroom. During a recent #ELLCHAT   discussion, we shared ideas for choosing materials for ELs. One of the liveliest discussions was about online resources.

I’d like to share some online resources that feature books for children and really work well for ELs. The best books sites for  ELs have an audio component, and the words are highlighted as they are read. If your budget is limited, some of these sites are free. Continue reading

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