Visual Thinking Strategies and English Learners

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS)  is an inquiry-based teaching method developed by Philip Yenawine (2013), former education director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and Abigail Housen, a cognitive psychologist in the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Yenawine describes what VTS is in his latest book, Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines (2013):

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is an educational curriculum and teaching method, which enables students to develop aesthetic and language literacy and critical thinking skills, while giving teachers a powerful new technique they can utilize throughout their career.

When VTS are used in the general education classroom, there are many benefits to ELs. Continue reading

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Beyond Linguistic Borders: Language Learning Cradled in Cognition

tesolconvention2016

Dr. Jeanette Altarriba will present the James E. Alatis Plenary titled “Beyond Linguistic Borders: Language Learning Cradled in Cognition,” at the TESOL 2016 International Convention & English Language Expo, 8 am, Thursday, 7 April.  

The study of bilingualism and how individuals represent and use more than one language inevitably leads to a very basic question: What is the best way to learn a new language? No matter where a presentation on this topic is given, it is typically a question that is raised by more than one audience member. While theories and data abound, it is still quite remarkable that we have no one method that yields the best way to learn a language. Our program of research has added to this literature in many interesting ways, and we continue to examine how the mind best incorporates new words and new knowledge in a second or third language and the approaches that are involved in language learning. Continue reading

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TESOL International Association Supporting Its Affiliates in Africa

Andy Curtis
Andy Curtis

The TESOL President’s Blog

On 26 and 27 January, NileTESOL held its 20th annual conference at the American University in Cairo (AUC), at which I was invited to give a plenary presentation and workshop. I was able to contribute to the conference through TESOL’s Affiliate Speaker Request program, which gives every one of the more than 100 affiliates of the association, twice a year, the chance to apply for financial, logistic, and other support to bring a member of TESOL’s Board of Directors to speak at their affiliate conference. Although funding is limited, the association, through the affiliate speaker program, has supported dozens of affiliate conferences, all over the world, in recent years. Continue reading

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ESP Project Leader Profile: Kevin Knight

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

It has been almost 1 year since the ESP project leader profiles were announced in April 2015. In this TESOL Blog post, you will read the 14th ESP project leader profile! It is my pleasure to take the stance of Schön’s (1983) reflective practitioner as I share with you my own story about the “creation” of the ESP project leader profiles. My hope is that this account will inspire you to become a project leader in the ESPIS and elsewhere! Continue reading

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Great Grammar for TESOL Teachers

Kristen Lindahl
Kristen Lindahl

March 4th in the United States was National Grammar Day!  To be honest, I would not have known it was was National Grammar Day had Facebook not reminded me.  But still, the armchair grammarians of the world apparently celebrated; thus, this post is in honor of grammar and all who (mis)understand it.

Grammar is one of the most taught, most judged, and least understood concepts of language. Over hundreds of years, language teachers and textbook authors have attempted to reduce grammar to a digestible set of rules for students to remember and practice, only to realize that 1) the rules didn’t apply to every instance of use, and 2) the students didn’t really remember them anyway. Teachers can also be wary of grammar instruction, feeling less confident about teaching it than other aspects of language that seem more consistent and stable, such as vocabulary. Continue reading

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Teaching as a Top Education Policy Priority

Guest Author
Guest Author

A guest post by Luciana C. de Oliveira
In this blog, Luciana de Oliveira explains why now is a prime time to value English language teachers more than ever and help them lead and grow professionally.

Teachers and the programs that train them have battled some scrutiny lately.

Those of us who work in teacher education programs have seen a major decline in our student population. People are not choosing to go into teaching. Or, if they are, they often choose alternative programs that lead to certification.

It is no surprise that people are not choosing teaching as a career. Teachers aren’t paid enough, and they’re not given adequate time for all of the tasks they must complete. Teacher salaries in the United States are only 60% of those of other U.S. workers with college degrees. U.S. teachers spend more time per week teaching students than teachers in high-performing countries. Continued professional learning is a must, but U.S. teachers are not always provided these opportunities. Continue reading

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5 Free Resources for Teaching Punctuation

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

In today’s blog, I will describe five online resources that you can use to help your students learn more about the use of punctuation marks in their writing.

1. Guide to Grammar and Writing

This resource can be useful for preparing your lessons on punctuation marks, as it provides detailed explanations with numerous examples. However, learners can also find this resource useful for their individual studies, because they can receive immediate feedback on the quizzes and practice activities included in the punctuation section. Continue reading

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4 Ways Art Can Make Your Activities More Interesting

Nathan Hall
Nathan Hall

The neat thing about visual art is that it’s hard not to have an opinion when you see it. What makes it good or bad? How does it make you feel? What does it remind you of? Anyone who sees a picture feels a thousand words worth of ideas, so it’s an opportunity to get a reaction from students without resorting to paragraphs or lectures. All the teacher has to do is direct the activities to get the students talking, writing, or even drawing to make them practice using English.

Over the years, I found art lessons tended to be my students’ favorite activities, no matter what their ability level. The ones who get frustrated by complicated concepts are happy to see something they can understand and be asked what they think instead of looking for an answer. More visually-oriented learners have input catered to their natural ability. For classes where there is a wide range of levels between students, the teacher has a chance to create common ground by relying less on language.

Some ways to get this benefit in the classroom: Continue reading

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Negotiating “Acceptable” Usage

tesolconvention2016

Dr. Anne Curzan will present a keynote titled “Survey Says…: Determining What English Usage Is and Isn’t Acceptable,” at the TESOL 2016 International Convention & English Language Expo, 8 am, Friday, 8 April. 

Why can’t we end a sentence with a preposition? Why isn’t ain’t acceptable in formal writing? If we regularly use singular they in speech, why can’t we write it down in an essay or article? These are just the kinds of questions that I think we should be discussing in classrooms as students strive to master the conventions of standard edited English.

Admitting that usage questions rarely have “right” and “wrong” answers can seem unhelpfully destabilizing at first, but this approach has the power to make teaching the conventions of formal English an engaging, exploratory activity. Continue reading

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ELT Best Practices: Young Learners in Ireland

Sherry Blok
Sherry Blok

With an ELT career spanning 20 years, Lou McLaughlin’s best practices stem from her dedication to young learners as a teacher and young learner teacher trainer. According to Lou, teacher cognition, focusing on learner capabilities, and setting realistic expectations are key to success in teaching young learners. I had the great fortune to meet Lou at the SPELT conference last fall where she spoke of teacher cognition in her keynote address. Lou, president of ELT Ireland, shares her practices with TESOL practitioners in this edition of the ELT Best Practices blog series (formerly titled Best Practices in ELT—Context). Continue reading

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