Two learners, both smart, both with strong extrinsic motivations to learn English, beset by similar adversities: one adapts, persists, overcomes, and emerges that much the stronger. The other becomes frustrated, loses heart, gives up, and ultimately fails to achieve fluency. Why? What is that quality that distinguishes them? What does the former have that the latter lacks? Can we name it? Quantify it? Perhaps even teach it?
Answers to these questions are popping up around the field of education, borrowed over from mainstream psychology. We hear of perseverance, grit, positive psychology, metacognition, something about children being tortured with marshmallows. We get a lot of nebulously defined, apparently overlapping concepts that run the risk of muddling more than they clarify. Continue reading
The summer slide is a well-documented phenomenon that refers to the loss of academic learning that many students experience during summer break. This loss is especially prevalent among children from low-income households because families cannot afford to send their children to camps or other expensive summer programs. Due to school district budget cuts, there are fewer summer ESL programs for our students than there used to be. Many of the suggestions below depend on your students having access to the internet and a device to use. It is important for you to find out if students have this access. Enlist the help of your local library to assist students with the use of library computers.
What can teachers do to help their students avoid the summer slide? First, I would build a class page on your school website where students can post activities during the summer. Have them sign into the page and open accounts before the end of the school year. Schedule a meeting with the parents of your ELs so that you can review some of the activities that you want students to do during the summer. Remember to include reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities for your students. Here are 12 suggestions to help you prepare ELs to read and develop language during the summer. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
In this TESOL Blog post, you will read about Dr. Robert T. Connor, who is the current chair of the TESOL ESP Interest Section. (Before becoming the ESPIS chair, he had been coeditor of ESP News, the ESPIS newsletter.) Outside of TESOL International Association, Robert is an EAP professor and program director and has continuing projects in academic English in Rwanda and Panama. His academic accomplishments include a Bachelor of Engineering from Vanderbilt University, a Master of TESOL from American University, and a PhD in linguistics and educational research methodology from Louisiana State University, where his dissertation focused on pronouns in scientific discourse. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso and taught at university in Japan and the Caribbean. He currently directs Tulane’s English for Academic and Professional Purposes Program. In his responses to the questions below, you will read about an online collaboration with a university in Rwanda. Continue reading
Alyssa Swanson, manager of Penn’s Intensive English Program, believes that best practices are routed in envisioning new avenues, bridging the gap between administrators and teachers, and engaging in professional development.
With a background in international education and public relations, Alyssa Swanson was first introduced to the field of ESL while working as an administrative assistant in international affairs at a U.S. university. After receiving an MSEd in TESOL and several years of teaching and advising in ESL, Alyssa is now the manager of the Intensive English Program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Sherry Blok (SB): We met at the English USA conference in Monterey, California last January—a conference specifically for IEP programs. You are very active in attending and presenting at conferences, such as the recent TESOL 2016 convention in Baltimore. Can you speak to the importance of professional development in your own journey as an educator? Continue reading
In México on 30 April, el Día del Niño is a celebration of children, where youth is honored and adults are reminded of the importance of the caring for and raising of children. The holiday has also been celebrated recently in the United States as Día de los niños/Día de los libros, a day led by the American Library Association (ALA) to celebrate diversity and promote literacy as a “powerful tool for strengthening families and communities,” according to Andrew Medlar, president of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALA, 2016).
With Spanish as the most prominent L1 spoken among ELLs in the United States, it is critical for teachers of ELLs to promote and model cultural inclusivity, as well as enable students to make cognitive and emotional connections to academic content and their lived experiences. One way to achieve this is by including literature that is relevant to their lives and families; as such, this post is dedicated to books that both highlight the magical world of children and the richness of Latino culture. While there are too many books to name here, the following resources can help you begin or add to your collection! Continue reading
Another academic year is close to the end. For many students in my introductory composition course, it was the first time being away from their home countries and families, the first time being in a different culture, and certainly the first time studying in a new academic environment. I wanted them to reflect a little bit on their first year in college, and asked them two questions:
- “What was the biggest challenge you faced this year in college?” and
- “How do you think the university or professors can help you and other students with similar challenges?”
Students’ thoughts and ideas were quite illuminating. I asked their permission to share their responses. Here they are: Continue reading
Cars hold a high position in the American culture’s teenage psyche. Cars may be necessities for students attending schools in rural areas or background noise to kids in cities, but you’re not likely to find a student who is completely apathetic about automobiles. They can symbolize freedom, a rite of passage, a future career, or just things students think are cool. Whatever the situation, they can be a nice break from dry academic activities or a nice way to keep the students engaged during a short week.
So when you need an “evergreen” activity, or if you want a fun writing activity, here are some car-related categories of activities I found to be effective.
1. Morphology and Language Change. Since cars are newer inventions, the English names for their parts are often simple compound words that explain their function—windshield, hubcap, airbag, rearview mirror—which you can put together, take apart, and define as separate units and combined words. Continue reading
A guest post by Elizabeth Mosaidis
In this blog, Elizabeth Mosaidis shares how she used the free online mind-mapping tool Coggle to help her ESL/EFL students better learn vocabulary and improve their essay writing.
After reading some disappointing essays in my intermediate ESL reading/writing class, I surveyed the students to determine what they considered their greatest hurdle to overcome in essay writing. I discovered that 9 out of the 14 students found a lack of vocabulary to be the most challenging factor in writing. Several students expressed frustration in trying to remember new vocabulary words, while others mentioned not knowing the words in English to accurately express their ideas. Some felt stifled because the words wouldn’t flow. As one student described it, “I come to the English class, but the English class doesn’t come into me.”
With this in mind, I considered how I could help the students to better remember and retain new vocabulary words. We had tried several methods already—online flashcards, vocabulary BINGO, and a vocabulary journal—to some degree of success, but I still wasn’t reaching all of the students. Continue reading
Whether it is for listening practice, the basis for a discussion or writing assignment, an extension of a reading activity, or something else altogether, videos are an excellent, often underutilized, resource at our disposal. Despite that fact that there is an enormous number of educational videos available online via YouTube and other websites, it seems that I could always make more of an effort to integrate them into my classes. While I do not want to give up valuable class time to video viewing, I also want students to engage with the content while and directly after they watch. This is where sites like eduCanon, EDpuzzle, and now Zaption come in to play. Continue reading
Adult learners, especially immigrants who have various competing priorities which may take precedence over English, need to see an immediate application for their new language. In many contexts, English can be a luxury; for adult immigrants, it cannot be. As teachers, we must approach it with an urgency and immediacy that might be unusual in, say, a business EFL program. A student-driven environmental/authentic text time is one way to add relevance, immediacy, and authenticity to your adult English classes.
The implementation is simple: Set aside a portion of each week, maybe 15 minutes, for students to bring in authentic texts. These could be anything from bills and notices that have come in the mail to student-made cell phone recordings of the announcements on the subway, to photos of billboards, to email correspondence. Anything that they’ve encountered in the world around them and felt a need or desire to understand. Continue reading