Hot Potatoes: Free Software for Making Materials

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

As much as I hate to admit it, fall classes are just around the corner, so I have been spending a lot of time recently creating activities for my students. Vocabulary practice has been one area students always seem to want more help with, and I have been focusing on that for a while now.

At the same time, I am making an effort to reduce the amount of paper I use during the course of the semester, which has forced me to explore new ways of doing things. I have always found Discovery Education’s Puzzlemaker handy, but that works best for printable worksheets. Luckily, a coworker recommended Hot Potatoes, and I have been an activity-making fiend ever since. Continue reading

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Controversy in Adult Conversation

Robert Sheppard
Robert Sheppard

A lot of teachers I’ve spoken with completely avoid contentious topics in their classroom. Of course, the intentions are good: to create an inclusive, congenial atmosphere. And in a world where the language of trigger warnings and safe spaces is spreading rapidly across our higher ed campuses, teachers may feel even more reluctance to introduce any sort of controversy into their classroom.

But at what cost do we excise all disagreement? And does disagreement have to threaten the safe space of the classroom? Continue reading

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Eyes vs. Ears: The Problem of Vowels

Karen Taylor de Caballero
Karen Taylor de Caballero

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a piece about how our eyes play tricks on our ears. We experienced the McGurk Effect and we listened to “Obama’s Elf,” and I believe most of us had fun realizing that no matter how much we know about language, our perceptions of language can still mislead us.

This week, I thought I’d explore how letters—specifically vowel letters—further lure our eyes into deceiving our ears.

I’ve been surveying ESL teachers at conferences for years, asking, “How many vowel sounds do we have in English?” The answers have ranged dramatically, from “five!” (mistaking vowel sounds for vowel letters) to “sixty!” (erroneously estimating total number of phonemes in English). Continue reading

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3 More Ideas for PD on Social Networks

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

In my last blog,  I wrote about using social media–facilitated professional development (PD) that allows teachers to form networks to share ideas and strategies with educators from around the world. I specifically wrote about using Twitter,  Facebook, and blogs.  In today’s blog, I will address three more ways that you can use social networks—LinkedIn, Scoop.it!, and Pinterest—to access professional development. Continue reading

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3 Takeaways From the TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit

Guest Author
Guest Author

A guest post by Judith B. O’Loughlin and Bette Empol

JOloughlin_7-2015

Bette (left) and Judith at the
TESOL 2015 Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Having attended several TESOL Advocacy and Policy Summits, Bette Empol and I, as the official CATESOL delegates to this year’s summit, continue to learn more and more about becoming an advocate for English learners.  We, through our respective experiences as both Summit attendees and advocates in our specific levels, K–12 and adult education, feel that these three takeaways from this year’s Summit provide advocates with some tools to use year round, whether or not you were able to attend the Summit. Continue reading

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ESP Project Leader Profile: Ronna Timpa

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

When you think about the hotel industry, which ESPers come to mind? I immediately think about Ronna Timpa, and in this TESOL Blog post, I am excited to present her ESP project leader profile!

When I think about the hotel industry in Japan, where I live and work, the Tokyo Disney Resort hotels are first in my thoughts because my university is located on the same train line as Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. I imagine that if Ronna were living in Tokyo, she would be active in competing for the Tokyo Disney Resort hotel training business.

Ronna, however, is living and working in Las Vegas, Nevada (in the USA). This blog post is not the first in which I have written about Ronna. Continue reading

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How Aware of Teacher Language Awareness Are You?

Kristen Lindahl
Kristen Lindahl

As language teachers, we think about, talk about, and use language frequently, but we may or may not be aware of the ways in which we do it. This awareness is called teacher language awareness, or TLA, and we access our TLA in many different ways. TLA has three domains, the User, the Analyst, and the Teacher, as described by Edge (1988).

Your User Domain centers on your ability to use the language, or your language proficiency. It also includes all that goes along with being able to use a language proficiently, including knowing the sociocultural norms of the language, the different registers of the language, and how the context of some utterances can change their meaning. Continue reading

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Developing Writing Skills Through Personal Journals

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

A few years ago, when I was studying English in an intensive English program, I asked my writing instructor what I could do to improve my writing skills. I had a hard time coming up with ideas, so I asked my teacher if he was aware of a writing exercise that would be both helpful and motivating. He suggested that I keep a personal journal. To be quite honest, I was a bit skeptical at first, but I thought I’d try it anyway. It worked! As I was developing a habit of writing my personal journal in English, I noticed that my writing apprehension was slowly disappearing, and most of the time I seemed to find topics to write about.

Sometimes my students experience the same problem, so I share my experience with them and suggest they try writing a personal journal. Continue reading

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How Coquís Were My Key for Cultural Connections

Nathan Hall
Nathan Hall

For the past 2 years I’ve been working primarily with Puerto Rican students. Within a few months, I learned how different students from one island can be: some were raised on farms while others lived in cities; some lived on the mainland United States for years while others arrived recently; and they had many different levels of background knowledge thanks to wide variations in educational systems. Science, in particular, is difficult because there’s no telling what fields my students’ previous classes focused on before the students go into my school’s biology program. Continue reading

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Guest Writer: Vocabulary Through Social Media With SayWhat

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

Today, it is my great pleasure to introduce our guest writer, Ivy Li. Originally from China, Ivy recently graduated from Columbia University with a master’s degree in TESOL, speaks three languages, and shares my interest in educational technology. A while back, she brought SayWhat to my attention and, having been involved in its development, she seems uniquely qualified to share it with you as well. I know you will not be disappointed. Take it away, Ivy!

Ivy LiThis era is flooded with social media. Facebook, Instagram, Vine—they are where people spend a good chunk of their leisure time. It might seem unproductive and meaningless at first glance, but what is it all about? Interactions. People from all over the world connect through a little smartphone to read or watch others’ posts and interact with one another. Continue reading

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