ESL Games: Parts of Speech Lingo

Marc Anderson
Marc Anderson

The Game: This classroom game gets your students actively focusing on identifying parts of speech while competing in a fun, interactive environment.

Research Says: Parts of Speech Lingo fits many of the advantages of using games in the ESL classroom:  It is “motivating and challenging; it helps sustain effort of learning; it provides language practice in speaking, listening, and reading; and it encourages students to interact and communicate” (Forum Vol. 33, No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 1995, Lee Su Kim). Continue reading

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What Does It REALLY Take to Succeed? A Speaking Activity

Alexandra Lowe
Alexandra Lowe

At the NYS TESOL Applied Linguistics Conference at Columbia’s Teachers College earlier this year, much was made of Bloom’s Taxonomy and the importance of giving ESL students ample opportunities to practice “higher order thinking skills” (HOTS).

This caused me to take a fresh look at  my own lesson plans to make sure I was including activities that challenged my intermediate-level adult ELLs to sharpen their  critical thinking skills.  Assured by several presenters at the conference that “ranking” activities promote critical thinking, I took what otherwise might have been a pedestrian discussion topic focused on “What success means to you . . . ”  and turned it into a lively HOTS activity.  Here’s how: Continue reading

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Collaborative Teaching: Addressing ESL Teacher Concerns

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

Twelve years ago, I was interested in how collaborative teaching might work for our ESL program. I had read about ESL teachers who were “pushing into” the general education classroom to collaborate with classroom teachers and wanted to see for myself. After meeting with administrators and some classroom teachers, I had the advantage of being able to choose the teacher, the grade level, and the subject area for this experiment. I decided to push into Ms. Parson’s 3rd grade social studies class, where I had a group of intermediate English learners (ELs). Continue reading

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ESP with a little e: Identifying and Meeting Learner Needs

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

One-on-one conversations with our students are valuable because we can often learn about their specific needs for English language communication skills. Such needs are not always apparent and not always covered in a particular kind of English class. You have to ask questions to get more details from the students before you can address such needs. (Think of a typical ESP needs analysis on a small scale here.)

Consider the following five conversations that I had with adult learners recently. Continue reading

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Demystifying Myths About Leadership: An NNEST Perspective

Yilin Sun
Yilin Sun

Who can become a leader for a professional organization? As nonnative-English-speaking (NNES) educators, especially new teachers, many tend to say, “I’m just a graduate student,” or  “I’m just a new teacher in the field. How can I take a leadership role with established professionals?”

Let me share a personal story of how I got started. When I was a young graduate student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)/University of Toronto in Canada about 29 years ago, my professors encouraged us to attend professional conferences. I remember my first: It was TESOL Ontario’s annual conference. Continue reading

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Please Don’t Stop the Music! Using Music in a Writing Class

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

As many of us know, music is a great tool for teaching English.  It provides wonderful grammar exercises, opportunities for practicing listening skills, and topics for class discussions.  Moreover, reflecting social values, ideologies, daily life, and human relationships, music provides an intercultural component to teaching the language.  Music is also a source of authentic language use.  Finally, it creates a more pleasant setting in classroom.

Unfortunately, music is rarely used in writing classes.  Yet, there are various ways how music can enrich a writing classroom and provide an excellent ground for practicing important writing skills. Continue reading

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Teaching Intros and Conclusions to ELLs Without a Safety Net

Guest Author
Guest Author

WaltonBurnsA Guest Post by Walton Burns
Walton Burns has taught English for 13 years, starting in the Peace Corps in Vanuautu. Since then, he’s worked around the world. His  students have been Kazakh oil executives, Afghan high school students, and Chinese video game champions. As a writer, he was on the author team for Inside Writing, a genre-based writing course book for Oxford University Press. He currently writes ESL materials and blogs at englishadvantage.info.

Writing is like art. It’s hard to describe exactly what makes for good writing, but you know it when you see it. This is perhaps most true for introductions and conclusions, where you are targeting your audience most directly. And it’s hard to write something for a general audience. Unfortunately, as teachers our job is to explain to our students exactly how to produce effective writing. To make it easier to teach, we often build up a safety net of rules. However, the more I go over the rules in class, the more I realize how vague they are or how often great writing breaks the rule: Continue reading

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Typing Practice: For Young Learners

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

Earlier this year, I wrote about Typing Practice and shared a site, Typing Web, to use with students who need to improve their typing skills and in classes where you might want to track student progress. As great as the site is, it is not very engaging and would not be appropriate for all ages, so I found another resource from the BBC that would be perfect for younger students. It’s called Dance Mat Typing.

Dance Mat Typing is divided into four levels with three stages each. It has some crazy characters that lead you through the basics of keyboarding, such as the home row keys, all the way through to more advanced levels, including punctuation and shift keys. The characters are entertaining, everything is colorful, the directions are clear, and the pace is good. While students are on the site, their progress is tracked along the bottom of the screen, so they can see how far they have progressed through a level. Unfortunately, progress is not saved from one visit to the next, but students can easily complete a level in one sitting. For a free activity that does not require any type of registration, it is exceptionally well put together.

This game scores only two out of five stars in quality and learning on Common Sense Media, but you can read their review for more information. Every situation is different, and you never know what will work out best until you try it with your students. Let me know what you think!

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ESL Games: Synonym Clues

Marc Anderson
Marc Anderson

The Game: The object of Synonym Clues is to review vocabulary words. These words can come from everyday language or they can be related to any area of curriculum. Knowing synonyms helps students understand the meanings of words and it helps them explore how words are similar, yet different.

Research Says: This game fits the criteria for classroom games as outlined in How to Choose Games (Tyson, 2000). Synonym Clues is:

  • more than fun
  • involves “friendly competition”
  • keeps all of the students involved and interested
  • encourages students to focus on the use of language rather than on the language itself
  • gives students a chance to learn, practice, or review specific language material

Continue reading

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Teaching Nonfiction Writing to Beginning English Learners

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

It is essential that  English learners (ELs) are  taught to write from the time they first learn English. I have always been convinced that English learners write more comprehensively if they begin with nonfiction reading and writing and their writing is scaffolded. The emphasis of the Common Core Standards for nonfiction reading and writing supports this view. I don’t want to give the impression, however, that beginning ELs will be able to participate in grade-level writing using Common Core Standards.

When students first begin to write in English, I suggest the use of sentence frames to provide ELs with structure and organization. Continue reading

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