In the Northern Hemisphere, summer is upon us and the sun is out! If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, it might be chilly and cold. Either way, it’s a great time of year to lay out by the pool or curl up by the fire with a good book. In their special report for the Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, Lily Wong-Fillmore and Catherine Snow (2000) detailed “What Teachers Need to Know about Language”. They outlined many of the different roles that teachers assume when they work with language learners: communicator, evaluator, educator, agent of socialization, and one I consider extremely important but sometimes overlooked—educated human being.
At times, we as teachers can be so focused on methodology, assessment, school requirements, and so on, that we do not have free time to consider what is really at the center of our teaching practice—the hearts and minds of our students, and the relationships we are able to create with them. That said, instead of picking up another “How To” teaching book this summer or winter, you might consider some of these highly readable books that highlight English learners’ life experiences as they navigate new school systems and/or learn a new language and culture. Continue reading
When Students Use Some Else’s Words: Fighting Plagiarism at the Secondary Level
We usually know plagiarism when we see it. Our students submit something that shows much stronger grammatical skills and higher-level vocabulary than they seem capable of, and it only takes a phrase entered into Google to find those exact words written somewhere else. And, let’s be honest, the plagiarized paragraphs usually come from Wikipedia.
While all teachers are disappointed when they get a clearly copied assignment, our profession has to take a unique approach to solving this problem. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
In the first two ESP project leader profiles (Kristin Ekkens and Charles Hall), we have been able to gain insights into how these two leaders communicated to influence stakeholders and to achieve success in the healthcare industry and in training the poorest of the poor. (The next ESP project leader profile will be posted next month.) In this TESOL Blog post, I would like to share how I have used Kickstarter to teach leadership communication to university students and business professionals in Japan. Continue reading
In my last blog, I introduced several visual metaphors that teachers can use to explain difficult concepts related to academic writing. Today I’ll add a couple more to the list.
Multilayer Cake (Types of Sentences)
I am a big fan of desserts! And multilayer cakes, in my opinion, are the best achievements in the culinary art. The uniqueness of a multilayer cake is, of course, in its layers, which make it so flavorful. So I compare a piece of cake with a paragraph, where the layers of the cake represent sentences. Continue reading
Like many others talking about education these days, I keep returning to the idea of a flipped classroom. I have talked about making existing videos more interactive using EDpuzzle and eduCanon and even creating new videos with Youtube, but if you really want to create a video that includes images or video of your computer screen, you are going to need a program to do that and Jing will fit the bill. Continue reading
Form follows function is one of the fundamental principles of design, from architecture to fashion to industrial and graphic design. The great American architect Louis Sullivan identified it as the single inviolable rule of his trade. But what does it mean? Well, if you’re designing, say, a coffee mug, then first and foremost it needs to hold coffee. The ornamental choices that you make can’t interfere with that function. Now, like any fashion-forward guy, I’d kill for a denim coffee mug to complement my denim shirt, faded denim jacket, raw denim jeans, and denim Tom’s. But, much to my chagrin, denim lacks pretty much all of the structural and thermo-insular properties that make for a good coffee vessel, so I’m stuck with this clashy ceramic. Form, alas, ever follows function.
In language, too, we talk about form and function, and in language, too, form is subordinate to function. For instance, there’s nothing special about the arrangement of the letters T-R-E-E that signifies a big, woody plant; it’s just an arbitrary form that we’ve agreed upon to fulfill the function of talking about a particular object. Form and function run throughout language, from an infinitesimal tittle to century-spanning discourses and genres.
When the Gershwin brothers wrote “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” in 1937, accent variation was just as much a part of every day life as it is now, but talking about it was edgy, new. With the help of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers—on rollerskates, no less—people found themselves handily equipped with a way to acknowledge what we already know but haven’t always said: Each of us speaks English with an accent, and our accents vary.
“I say tomato” is pure diplomacy; it’s shorthand for saying, “It’s alright that we speak differently; no worries!” Indeed, even my mother and I say certain words differently: bought, egg, Tuesday. We get along even so. (Watch our short video.) Continue reading
It’s important for teachers of English learners to teach or review safety issues that are unique to the summer before the end of the school year. We should not assume that ELs have understood lessons on safety that were taught earlier in the year. It would also be helpful to send the information to parents in their home language. Many the sites listed below have information in Spanish. Continue reading
At the recent TESOL International convention in Toronto, I was privileged to attend an outstanding workshop entitled “10 Tips for Teaching Short Stories” by Sybil Marcus, an inspiring teacher from the University of California, Berkeley. Presenting excerpts from two short stories, she showed us how she uses stories to teach critical thinking skills, style, grammar, and vocabulary, and to lay the groundwork for classroom debates and writing assignments. Sybil’s approach to teaching ESL skills through short stories sounded so compelling to me that I dashed back to my own classroom as soon as the conference was over to try it out. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
In this second TESOL Blog post on the professional communication of ESP project leaders, you will read the profile of Charles Hall. Continue reading