I like to use current events in my ELL classes, but I hate seeing immigration in the news. This politically touchy subject comes up everywhere from the presidential candidate debates to my own state’s legislature, where politicians want to make English the official language to save on translation fees (exactly how much they’ll save is never specified). One of the bill’s defenders said denying these services will “help immigrants to assimilate.”
Without going into my political problems with this legislation, the part that struck me was the idea of promoting assimilation. It made me think of an excellent book I read in graduate school, The Inner World of the Immigrant Child by Christina Igoa. The author grew up in many different countries and later became sympathetic to the plight of her English-language-learning students. She describes how damaging the pressure is for children to give up their native culture to fit into a new one that often seems unwelcoming. Some children may give up and surrender their identities to be assimilated; some may retreat into the safety of their culture’s community; and some may see themselves as a part of neither world.
But there is a fourth option. Instead of being assimilated, some students become “accultured.” Continue reading
A Guest Post by Gabriela Kleckova
Gabriela Kleckova, chair of the Department of English at the Faculty of Education, University of West Bohemia in Plzen, the Czech Republic, is a university professor, language teacher, teacher trainer, researcher, consultant, and materials developer. She is interested in the effectiveness and utility of visual design of ELT materials, materials development, content and language integrated learning (CLIL), and teacher education. She is a past member of the TESOL Board of Directors (2012–2015).
Like everybody who plans for an engaging lesson, I always look for various types of materials to bring to my classes. About 2 years ago, I discovered infographics as a new resource that could enrich my teaching and tap into the students’ needs as well as experiences with visuals. You may not be familiar with the term infographics, but I am sure you have seen infographics everywhere. Continue reading
Quite a while back, I wrote a post about blogging for educational purposes and introduced Kidblog as a teacher- and student-friendly platform. For part seven of this ongoing series about using Google+ for education, let’s talk about using Blogger, another great tool from Google, for the same purpose.
Getting started with Blogger is pretty straightforward. If you already use other Google products, for instance Gmail, it is as easy as signing in using the same email and password. If you do not currently use any Google products, you will have to take a minute or two to create an account by filling out a basic registration form. Once you have signed in, you should be on the Blogger home page and able to start setting up your new blog. Continue reading
In everyday usage, fluent is often used interchangeably with proficient, as in, He’s pretty fluent in Arabic. But in language teaching, fluency is a bit more technical and just one component of language proficiency, often discussed in tandem with accuracy: Some learners speak very fluently, but their speech may be riddled with errors. Conversely, some learners speak haltingly but with a great deal of accuracy.
Generally, accuracy is the complement to fluency, and most classroom activities focus on either accuracy or fluency. More importantly, I can tell you that before I learned about fluency activities, virtually all of the activities I was doing in class were working on accuracy.
I’m going to discuss the characteristics of accuracy and fluency activities and provide examples that you can easily try with your adult learners. Continue reading
Culturally relevant or responsive teaching is a pedagogy grounded in the idea that educators teach to students’ unique cultural strengths. Geneva Gay is one of the early leaders in this field, and her book Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice (2000) became popular as a way to teach ethnically diverse students. Early work in this field focused on African American and Native American students in the United States.
In 2004, I published an article on my website entitled ESL Teacher as Cultural Broker after hearing James Banks speak on multicultural education. I urged classroom and content-area teachers to avoid interpreting the behavior of others through the eyes of their own culture. The idea that teachers should be culturally responsive to ELs became a passion of mine. Today, the term “culturally responsive teaching” has been expanded to include culturally and linguistically diverse students. In her recent book, Making Connections: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain (2014), Zaretta Hammond relates the term to culturally and linguistically diverse learners and links classroom instruction and cognition.
Here are four pathways to a culturally responsive classroom that teachers need to take: Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
In this TESOL Blog post, you will read the ESP project leader profile of Anne Lomperis, who has been an English for occupational purposes (EOP) leader in the English for Specific Purposes Interest Section (ESPIS) for many years. In my eyes, Anne has been a global consultant who works with powerful clients, especially in the Middle East. In TESOL conferences, I have heard her explain how she navigates various mazes to get her projects done without ever revealing specific information about her clients!
As I write this blog post, Anne is actively involved in the production of a video marketing interview on her small business. That video (which she was invited to produce) will be broadcast on IFE (in-flight entertainment) on American Airlines (and now U.S. Airways, too, due to the merger) on all U.S. business and first class flights in December 2015 and January 2016. Continue reading
As English language teachers and teacher educators, we spend countless hours thinking about English itself—its sounds, its symbols, its features, its use, its development…the list goes on and on. We spend so much time thinking about English that we don’t often look to the students’ first language as a source of pedagogical help. O
ne way knowing about our students’ L1 might help us is explaining why students make the errors that they do, some of which are due to cross-linguistic influence. The interaction of two or more languages in the mind can be seen as a positive thing, as it indicates the learner’s growing interlanguage and developing proficiency in the additional language.
But, if teachers are unaware of the differences between their students’ language(s) and English, they may not understand why English learners make some types of errors (and whether or not we should consider them “errors” at all—but that is a larger debate). Continue reading
Tutoring second language writers has a lot in common with teaching writing in the classroom. However, there are a number of things to keep in mind when working with students one-on-one.
Here is a list of strategies that I learned from my colleagues as well as from my own teaching experience:
1. Start your tutorial by establishing an agenda. Because tutorials normally have a limited amount of time, it’s practically impossible to cover everything students want to talk about with regard to their papers. Therefore, decide together with the student what should be the focus of the tutorial. Be realistic and specific about the things you can accomplish in a limited amount of time. For example, you can focus only on one passage in a student’s paper or look at several recurring grammar mistakes. Continue reading
Ten years ago, U.S. teachers grumbled about “teaching to the test” as administrators told them, repeatedly, how important it was for the school to make annual yearly progress—the dreaded “AYP.” The worst part for us ELL/ESL specialists is that our students only have one year from their enrollment date in an English-speaking school to either not take the English language arts portion or take the reading/writing in their native language, despite the fact that learning a new language through a school environment can take much longer.
For those intervening years, we’re allowed to use few accommodations beyond word-for-word translations and interpreters, and these usually aren’t allowed for the English language arts sections. But that often doesn’t account for how our students may not be familiar with the tests’ formats. Continue reading
Professional development has always been near and dear to my heart as I am a self-declared lifelong learner. Sounds like a cliché, I have to admit, but it has transformed my career as an educator and my life. Like many of you, in addition to all of my teaching duties, I do my best to keep abreast of advancements in the field to keep relevant, dedicated, and inspired. Most of all, I do it for my students, because they deserve it.
Almost a decade ago, I spearheaded a professional development program at my institution, inspired by my learning at TESOL conventions. What began as simple, informal brownbag lunch discussions have blossomed into a professional development program for the entire department. So what’s stopping you? Here is a trouble-shooting guide to help you get your professional development program off the ground. Continue reading