English and Healthy Communities
What makes a “healthy community”? When I first heard the phrase, I pictured UnderArmour-clad model-bodied suburbanites jogging to Equinox past Trader Joe’s, Sweetgreen, and BeGood, scarcely breaking a sweat. But perhaps that says more about unhealthy consumerism than about healthy communities. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a healthy community is “one that continuously creates and improves both its physical and social environments, helping people to support one another in aspects of daily life and to develop to their fullest potential” (2010).
Where ESOL Fits In
So why are we talking about community health on an ESOL blog? Well, notice some of the components of community health: social connections, support systems, access, achieving potential. Compare these with the experience of many newcomers to an English-speaking country: Without English, social connections can be severely limited, accessing support systems can be daunting, potential too often goes unrealized. In order for our immigrant communities to be “healthy,” English is crucial. Continue reading
How long does it take learners to form a first impression of a new class? One study found that students rated professors after attending just two weeks of class roughly the same as their final course evaluations (Buchert, Laws, Apperson, & Bregman, 2008). The research of Laws, Apperson, Buchert, and Bregman in 2010 tightens this timeframe, showing impressions developed during the first class persist until the end of the semester. Others, including social psychologist Nalini Ambady (Ambady & Rosenthal, 1993), have narrowed this window to even shorter time periods, showing lasting impressions are formed in mere seconds. Clearly, the first day of class has a long-lasting influence on the rest of the semester/year.
As summer is winding down, many teachers are busily preparing to return to classrooms this fall. How can a teacher make a great, lasting first impression on students? What messages do you want to convey or what tone do you want to set for the rest of your class? The first day of class can be a great time to begin to develop the classroom community, allowing opportunities for learners and teachers to get to know one another and become comfortable in their new classes. Continue reading
Last Spring, I saw an article about the success of the Tulsa Public Schools Dual Language Academy for elementary-age children. I invited Laura Grisso, whom I met on Twitter, to write a guest blog about her district’s dual language program. Laura is the Director of English Language Development at the Tulsa Public Schools in Oklahoma. Here is her blog:
Oklahoma has long been a leader in early childhood education, so when Tulsa Public Schools designed a plan to launch the Dual Language Academy as a new elementary magnet school in 2011, we started with classes in prekindergarten and kindergarten. In school year 2016-2017, we will be at grade level capacity in offering instruction in English and Spanish to students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. The instructional framework follows a two-way dual language model in which half of the students are English-dominant and half of the students are Spanish-dominant. Our goal is to provide an enriched learning experience in which both English- and Spanish-speaking students develop bilingualism, biliteracy, and biculturalism as a highly valued asset for an increasingly diverse world. Continue reading
A guest post by Kathleen Berger
In this blog, Kathleen Berger shares a long list of free online resources to help you motivate and engage your ELLs. These web tools will have your students working collaboratively to use language meaningfully.
We as educators love to use technology in our classes, but it’s hard to think of new ways to use it. Out of lack of imagination, students are forced to participate in PowerPoint presentation after PowerPoint presentation. I have found that web tools are the perfect answer for this. This post provides links to web tools to incorporate into your classes to motivate and engage your students. I highly recommend using these tools in groups rather than having your students work alone. In this way, students get the chance to interact with others, make decisions collaboratively, and use the language in a meaningful way. What makes web tools great is that you don’t need to save your work on a flash drive; it’s stored online, accessible from anywhere with Internet.
Oh, did I mention that all of these are free? Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
It is with pleasure that I am able to announce a forthcoming publication titled Critical Genre Analysis: Investigating Interdiscursive Performance in Professional Practice. A description of the author, Professor Vijay Bhatia, appears on his website:
Vijay Bhatia has recently retired as a Visiting Professor from the Department of English at the City University of Hong Kong. He is an Adjunct Professor (Department of Linguistics) at Macquarie University, Australia, and also at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He is the founding President of the LSP and Professional Communication Association for the Asia-Pacific Rim. Some of his recent research projects include Analyzing Genre-bending in Corporate Disclosure Documents, and International Arbitration Practice: A Discourse Analytical Study, in which he led research teams from more than 20 countries. His research interests are: Genre Analysis of academic and professional discourses, including, legal, business, newspaper, advertising, genres; ESP and Professional Communication; simplification of legal and other public documents; cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary variations in professional genres. Two of his books, Analysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings and Worlds of Written Discourse: A Genre-based View, are widely used in genre theory and practice. Continue reading
To follow up on my last post about TESOL curriculum innovation and design, in this post I review online curation software called Live Binders. As an ESL teacher in the 1990’s, I had always kept my “stuff”—lesson plans, handouts, tests, quizzes, rubrics, articles, and so on—in paper form and in huge binders by lesson topic or by class taught. Naturally, much of that moved to digital copies, and I happily recycled all that paper in favor of digital files. Now, as I use more online resources, such as Youtube videos, web quests, blogs, links, and infographics, I have had a hard time organizing them all and saving hundreds of links by either copying and pasting them into a Word document, or by adding them as bookmarks and having a bookmark list a mile long.
Enter Live Binders! I was excited to find a way to organize all of my resources online in a way that matched the conceptual organization of using physical binders or files, rather than a list of links. Continue reading
Last semester, one of my students in my introductory composition course wrote a paper on the production and use of industrial and biological nitrogen fixation fertilizers. For the first time in my teaching experience, I felt that I had to do some research and extra readings in order to comprehend the content of the paper and provide feedback to the student. Luckily, I found lots of helpful information on the subject of the paper (thanks to Google), which gave me the knowledge that I didn’t have before and allowed me to appropriately respond to the student’s essay. And although this experience turned out to be a success, I am not sure if all writing instructors would have enough time and resources to invest in each of their students’ paper the way I did in that one. Continue reading
Two months ago, we were counting down the days until the school year ended, and now we’re counting down the days until the next one begins. We should have a good idea of what our curriculum will cover, how to assess new students’ progress and returning students’ abilities at the next level, and what materials we’ll need to get us through the first week’s lessons. Probably the last thing we’re thinking about is how we will manage the students, especially since we don’t know either what the new students will be like or how well the familiar ones matured.
By this point we most likely have already reflected on what worked and didn’t work. And whether we are returning to our old classrooms or are starting our first year at a new school, we 04Here are some things we need to think about when we visualize how the early classes will go. Continue reading
This latest installment in an ongoing series of posts about using Google features and products for educational purposes is all about Google Groups. Now, before we get started, if you have an LMS, such as D2L or Edmodo, through your institution, Google groups might just duplicate features of that platform. For those of you who do not have access to such a system, Google Groups is absolutely a great way to get students discussing topics online. Either way, I hope that you explore using online discussion boards with your students at all ages and language levels.
Google Groups, like so many other resources I share, is completely free and takes no time at all to get started. Continue reading
When I first got access to an LCD projector for my English classes, I scoured the Internet for bite-sized videos, short enough to be appropriate for use in class. I used TV commercials, movie trailers, short films, even music videos. These all have their strengths and shortcomings. Commercials are great for their language content but often not substantive enough to generate thoughtful conversation. Trailers are engaging but don’t usually contain long enough stretches of authentic, unplanned speech. And so on.
One of the most successful classes I have ever had was built around a quirky little video that for some reason or other The New York Times (NYT) decided to publish online, entitled “The Man Who Sells the Moon” (note the nod to the wonderful David Bowie song). It clocks in at 6 minutes 26 seconds, in which time it describes the bafflingly successful business of Dennis Hope, a man who claims to have the legal right to sell off segments of land on the moon, and does just that, having marked off his more than 600 million acres in sales on a gridded lunar map since 1980. “There are some people selling properties in outer space that don’t own the land,” says Hope, without irony, “As far as I’m concerned, they are criminal in their intent.” The video raises more questions than it answers: Is this man sincere in his endeavor? Can this possibly be legal? Who on earth is buying this land on the moon!? This, of course, makes it ideal for an English class. Continue reading