In September 2014, I had the great honor of being invited to speak at the 30th anniversary of the Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers (SPELT) conference in Karachi, where I spent 4 days interacting with local teachers and researchers. I was hosted by Professor Zakia Sarwar, along with two other international speakers at the conference: Professor Anne Burns, from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and Les Kirkham, from IATEFL.
What a wonderful experience it was to meet such energetic, motivated, and spirited teachers. Their zest for life, sense of humor, and warmth stood in sharp contrast to the somber and unsafe climate portrayed by the media. Following is a series of vignettes and reflections that I recorded during my trip. Continue reading
With all the media that we are exposed to every day, it is no wonder that people are often overwhelmed by the amount of information they come into contact with. For example, some of us are being told to use more technology in our classrooms, but researching what tools we would like to use and what might work best with out student populations and classroom setup is a daunting task. Others are just searching for content to use in our lessons, but even that can turn up more than what is manageable.
Just from doing one search online, you might find a ton of interesting and useful information, but without a useful way of organizing it, you will inevitably lose or forget about it in no time at all. Enter Evernote. Continue reading
The TESOL President’s Blog
In this blog, I’d like to share a new way of conducting teacher evaluation. In his book, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, Stephen Brookfield (2007) argued that conversations with faculty peers are essential to the development of teachers. However, he emphasized the need for creating a clearly defined reflective culture, so that faculty can shift away from faultfinding and defensiveness toward the possibility of transformation.
How to turn this “utopian” vision of colleagues’ discussion about teaching and learning into reality is a difficult task, but not an impossible one. Continue reading
The Game: Connect Four and More! helps students practice their pronunciation in a fun way. It is modeled after the basic Connect Four math game for younger children, where the goal is to get four in a row and win. This version combines the traditional, simple logic with a focus on ESL skills. Played either with a partner, in small groups, or even in a larger group setting, it is sure to bring excitement to language learning. Continue reading
As many TESOL members head back to the classroom for the fall semester, I wanted to share what I learned from some work I did recently for the Community College Consortium on Immigrant Education (CCCIE), a national network of community colleges focused on improving educational and career opportunities for immigrant students.
Last spring, CCCIE (which is based at SUNY Westchester Community College, in Valhalla NY, where I teach) asked me to research and write an “issue brief” outlining some simple steps that ESL instructors can take to help connect their immigrant students to supportive resources available on the wider community college campus. As those of you who teach in a community college setting already know, many adult immigrant ELLs take their first step toward realizing their American dream by enrolling in ESL classes at their local community college. Continue reading
Today I am writing this blog with my co-author and friend Debbie Zacarian, author and professional development provider. (See her bio at the end of this blog.) In our experience, identifying culture shock at the beginning of the year is crucial to an English learner’s adjustment to school in the United States.
Moving to a new school can be difficult for any student, but for those who have to learn a new culture and language, the change can be devastating. If your English learners are coming to a U.S. school for the first time, they will experience culture shock. In fact, culture shock can dramatically affect a student’s first year in a U.S. school. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
I was recently inspired by an article by Heather Hiles about the life of John Sperling, the founder of the University of Phoenix. Sperling was focused on meeting the needs of “nontraditional” students. For ESPers, I think that there are lessons here about “building the workforce of tomorrow” (in the words of Hiles). Continue reading
And once again—a scavenger hunt! From my experience—and perhaps I am just lucky—student tend to enjoy activities based on the scavenger hunt idea. It gives them a chance to do something different from mundane classroom activities. While accomplishing a task, they also get to interact with each other. And also, scavenger hunts often require getting up and moving, which brings in a new dynamic to the classroom.
In one of my previous blog posts, I shared a peer review activity based on a scavenger hunt. Today I would like to describe an activity that can help students express their opinions—both in an oral and a written form. Continue reading
Almost a year ago, I blogged about one resource, Project Gutenberg, for finding free books for your classroom online, and now it is time for another one. While Project Gutenberg is great because it has so many classics, the site seems to be more appealing to an older audience and, because the copyright has expired on these texts, the language tends to be fairly archaic, and therefore challenging. Children’s Storybooks Online, on the other hand, appears better suited to young and/or lower level students. Continue reading
The Game: The game True or False? is a fun, interactive game for students to share interesting facts about themselves and to sharpen creative thinking, creative problem solving skills, and listening skills…all while have fun with the English language. What’s more? Your students will learn more about each other by guessing which statements are true or false about others in the class. This inevitably helps build classroom cohesion. Continue reading