Fun Ways to Incorporate (Free) Tech Into Your Classroom

Guest Author
Guest Author

A guest post by Kathleen Berger
In this blog, Kathleen Berger shares a long list of free online resources to help you motivate and engage your ELLs. These web tools will have your students working collaboratively to use language meaningfully.

We as educators love to use technology in our classes, but it’s hard to think of new ways to use it. Out of lack of imagination, students are forced to participate in PowerPoint presentation after PowerPoint presentation. I have found that web tools are the perfect answer for this. This post provides links to web tools to incorporate into your classes to motivate and engage your students. I highly recommend using these tools in groups rather than having your students work alone. In this way, students get the chance to interact with others, make decisions collaboratively, and use the language in a meaningful way. What makes web tools great is that you don’t need to save your work on a flash drive; it’s stored online, accessible from anywhere with Internet.

Oh, did I mention that all of these are free? Continue reading

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New Book on Critical Genre Analysis of Professional Practice

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

It is with pleasure that I am able to announce a forthcoming publication titled Critical Genre Analysis: Investigating Interdiscursive Performance in Professional Practice. A description of the author, Professor Vijay Bhatia, appears on his website:

Vijay Bhatia has recently retired as a Visiting Professor from the Department of English at the City University of Hong Kong. He is an Adjunct Professor (Department of Linguistics) at Macquarie University, Australia, and also at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He is the founding President of the LSP and Professional Communication Association for the Asia-Pacific Rim. Some of his recent research projects include Analyzing Genre-bending in Corporate Disclosure Documents, and International Arbitration Practice: A Discourse Analytical Study, in which he led research teams from more than 20 countries. His research interests are: Genre Analysis of academic and professional discourses, including, legal, business, newspaper, advertising, genres; ESP and Professional Communication; simplification of legal and other public documents; cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary variations in professional genres. Two of his books, Analysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings and Worlds of Written Discourse: A Genre-based View, are widely used in genre theory and practice. Continue reading

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Organize Online Lessons and Resources: Live Binders

Kristen Lindahl
Kristen Lindahl

To follow up on my last post about TESOL curriculum innovation and design, in this post I review online curation software called Live Binders. As an ESL teacher in the 1990’s, I had always kept my “stuff”—lesson plans, handouts, tests, quizzes, rubrics, articles, and so on—in paper form and in huge binders by lesson topic or by class taught. Naturally, much of that moved to digital copies, and I happily recycled all that paper in favor of digital files. Now, as I use more online resources, such as Youtube videos, web quests, blogs, links, and infographics, I have had a hard time organizing them all and saving hundreds of links by either copying and pasting them into a Word document, or by adding them as bookmarks and having a bookmark list a mile long.

Enter Live Binders! I was excited to find a way to organize all of my resources online in a way that matched the conceptual organization of using physical binders or files, rather than a list of links. Continue reading

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Preparing Students for Discipline-Specific Writing

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

Last semester, one of my students in my introductory composition course wrote a paper on the production and use of industrial and biological nitrogen fixation fertilizers. For the first time in my teaching experience, I felt that I had to do some research and extra readings in order to comprehend the content of the paper and provide feedback to the student. Luckily, I found lots of helpful information on the subject of the paper (thanks to Google), which gave me the knowledge that I didn’t have before and allowed me to appropriately respond to the student’s essay. And although this experience turned out to be a success, I am not sure if all writing instructors would have enough time and resources to invest in each of their students’ paper the way I did in that one. Continue reading

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Starting the School Year With Strong Classroom Management

Nathan Hall
Nathan Hall

Two months ago, we were counting down the days until the school year ended, and now we’re counting down the days until the next one begins. We should have a good idea of what our curriculum will cover, how to assess new students’ progress and returning students’ abilities at the next level, and what materials we’ll need to get us through the first week’s lessons. Probably the last thing we’re thinking about is how we will manage the students, especially since we don’t know either what the new students will be like or how well the familiar ones matured.

By this point we most likely have already reflected on what worked and didn’t work. And whether we are returning to our old classrooms or are starting our first year at a new school, we 04Here are some things we need to think about when we visualize how the early classes will go. Continue reading

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Google+ Education: Part 8

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

This latest installment in an ongoing series of posts about using Google features and products for educational purposes is all about Google Groups. Now, before we get started, if you have an LMS, such as D2L or Edmodo, through your institution, Google groups might just duplicate features of that platform. For those of you who do not have access to such a system, Google Groups is absolutely a great way to get students discussing topics online. Either way, I hope that you explore using online discussion boards with your students at all ages and language levels.

Getting Started

Google Groups, like so many other resources I share, is completely free and takes no time at all to get started. Continue reading

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What’s Op-Docs?: A Fantastic Source of Authentic Input

Robert Sheppard
Rob Sheppard

When I first got access to an LCD projector for my English classes, I scoured the Internet for bite-sized videos, short enough to be appropriate for use in class. I used TV commercials, movie trailers, short films, even music videos. These all have their strengths and shortcomings. Commercials are great for their language content but often not substantive enough to generate thoughtful conversation. Trailers are engaging but don’t usually contain long enough stretches of authentic, unplanned speech. And so on.

One of the most successful classes I have ever had was built around a quirky little video that for some reason or other The New York Times (NYT) decided to publish online, entitled “The Man Who Sells the Moon” (note the nod to the wonderful David Bowie song). It clocks in at 6 minutes 26 seconds, in which time it describes the bafflingly successful business of Dennis Hope, a man who claims to have the legal right to sell off segments of land on the moon, and does just that, having marked off his more than 600 million acres in sales on a gridded lunar map since 1980. “There are some people selling properties in outer space that don’t own the land,” says Hope, without irony, “As far as I’m concerned, they are criminal in their intent.” The video raises more questions than it answers: Is this man sincere in his endeavor? Can this possibly be legal? Who on earth is buying this land on the moon!? This, of course, makes it ideal for an English class. Continue reading

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ELT Best Practices: Problem-Based Learning for ELLs

Sherry Blok
Sherry Blok

Mick King has ridden the TESOL trail across Europe and the Middle East, developing a wide range of expertise and approaches in ELT. King, an ESL instructor at the Community College of Qatar, explains how problem-based learning (PBL) can empower students with the skills and confidence they need for the 21st century.

Sherry Blok (SB): In simple terms, what is PBL?

Mick King (MK): PBL is an umbrella term for a whole range of inquiry-based approaches to teaching. PBL stems from education in the medical sciences and business where students are given real-world problem situations to solve. The way I learned it, at Stenden University in the Netherlands, it is an approach to learning in which you do not let students know what the outcomes should be, but feed them a number of scenarios, instances, or clues so that they determine for themselves what they have to do. In the context of L2 teaching, the equivalent would be task-based learning (TBL), but in TBL, students are given an explicit task and outcome. PBL doesn’t always do that. Continue reading

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Why Pre-K–12 Educators of ELs Should Participate in #ELLCHAT

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

In June 2012, Linda Hahner, creator of the Literacy Center Education Network, and I co-founded a Twitter chat group called #ELLCHAT and it has been going strong since that time. This chat is specifically dedicated to the professional development needs of educators of ELs in grades Pre-K–12 and takes place on Monday nights at 9 pm ET. Over the past 3 years, Karen Nemeth and I have comanaged and comoderated #ELLCHAT. Many of you know Karen, a nationally known expert on early childhood education, from her contributions to this blog.

Using Twitter Chat Groups to Deliver PD

Karen and I strongly advocate using Twitter chat groups to deliver professional development to educators of ELs. There are important benefits to teachers who participate in Twitter chats, especially if they don’t have a  learning community that supports their professional development in school. Continue reading

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ESP Project Leader Profile: Tarana Patel

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

Tarana ​Patel is the​ founder of learnEd, LLC with a base in Los Angeles and an office in Ahmedabad, India. Early career starters and corporate employees are learnEd’s primary audience. learnEd​’s first entrepreneurial effort was an internship program for MATESOL students of The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS), Tarana’s alma mater. More than eight MATESOL candidates interned in India to assist in teaching and developing oral skills courses for engineering, pharmacy, IT, and management students at a rural area college campus in the state of Gujrat. For ​this effort and her vision for learnEd, Tarana was awarded the Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2012 by MIIS. Currently, Tarana is building an app for business English communication for engineers and managers in IT and manufacturing industries. Continue reading

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