Those of us who aren’t in adult ed most often think of literacy as a noncount noun. But in adult ed, we’ve long since moved beyond literal literacy (from littera, the Latin for letter, meaning “able to read”), and we now think of literacies, countable and plural, as life skills essential to survival in a particular place. Because these skills are so essential to life in a new country, many adult ESOL programs choose to incorporate these nonlanguage skills into ESOL curricula. In this post, I’m going to give a quick rundown of some literacies you might want to consider addressing in your adult English classes.
1. Visual Literacy
Just like texts, we decode images. We identify the focus and action of a photo, identify how it connects to the text that it illustrates. We look to charts and graphs to recognize meaningful patterns in data sets. All of this constitutes visual literacy, and it is a vital way that we extract information from our surroundings: advertisements, subway maps, street signs, IKEA assembly instructions. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
Ismaeil Fazel is an EAP professional and instructor (UBC-Ritsumeikan Program) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He has also earned, as part of his doctoral program, a subspecialization in measurement, evaluation, and research methodology from the University of British Columbia. Ismaeil has been engaged in the field of ESP for over a decade now, in a variety of leading roles such as practitioner, curriculum specialist, and researcher.
He has published in numerous well-known journals including English for Academic Purposes, TESL Canada, and BMC Medical Education. One of his recent publications is a coauthored encyclopedia entry on English for Specific Purposes (Abrar-ul-Hassan & Fazel) in the TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching (in press), published by Wiley-Blackwell. Ismaeil has regularly presented at the TESOL convention, the American Association for Applied Linguists Conference, and the Canadian Association for Applied Linguistics Conference. He aspires to make a difference in the lives of ESP educators around the world by promoting research-based pedagogical practices and practice-based research that address real-life issues in the field. Continue reading
This weekend, I participated in the Southwest Fulbright Symposium in Texas, and it was just what I needed for renewed inspiration about the importance of international perspective in our field. In one morning, I listened to colleagues talk about brokering peace in Colombia, pharmacy student exchanges between Brazil and the United States, analysis of how the Mexican economy is portrayed in film, optometry innovations in Perú, and ways small private universities are promoting international experiences for their students.
I, in turn, spoke about how transnational teachers (specifically U.S. and Mexico) undergo different teacher identity and language awareness development than other types of teachers. All in all, the conversations were fascinating and helped me grapple with something with which I continually struggle.
Sometimes, I wonder if, as a TESOL professional from an anglophone country (i.e., the United States), I am promoting linguistic imperialism, or the transfer of a dominant language to other people, often at the expense of the languages already present in that context. Continue reading
Crusan’s (2011) article “The Promise of Directed Self-Placement for Second Language Writers” underscores the advantages of directed self-placement (DSP) methods over so-called “classic” placement approaches, which, as Crusan rightly noted, assume financial expenses and political decisions, and which may not be fully appropriate if used as a sole evaluation criterion (e.g., the case with standardized tests). I absolutely agree with these claims, but I’d like to address a few caveats that we need to keep in mind when implementing DSP.
Reflection as a New Concept
First, I share Crusan’s (2011) position that DSP “seats accountability squarely on the shoulders of those who purportedly know their writing skills better than anyone else: the writers themselves” (p. 777). However, I noticed that most students need to be exposed to the genre of reflective writing before they can make accurate judgment of their own writing abilities. Continue reading
We content-based teachers often struggle with how to make students focus on the specific reading skills we want them to learn without being distracted or overwhelmed by the language. This gets more difficult when my activity focuses on fiction, especially elements such as character and setting, because it demands a more holistic style of analytical thinking—in other words, you want students to focus more on the structure than the meaning.
Most native English speakers learn these elements through the canon of literature, which acquaints students with everyone from O. Henry to F. Scott Fitzgerald. For ELL instruction, though, we have to acknowledge that some students didn’t get this cultural education, and many will know more about their own culture’s stories. This may sound like a problem, but it actually can work to your advantage in two ways: You can use folktales from an English-speaking culture, or you can use stories from the students’ original cultures so students are already familiar enough with the plot and characters to focus on other aspects.
I’ve had the opportunity to do both of these over my career and found folktales can make fiction lessons interesting, but there are some things to consider before you hand out the readings and questions. These include: Continue reading
Fauzia Shamin, recipient of the 2016 TESOL Leadership Mentoring Program Award and professor at the English Language Centre at Taibah University in Madinah, Saudi Arabia shares her best practices in teaching large classes with TESOL readers.
Sherry Blok (SB): You are the recipient of the 2016 TESOL Leadership Mentoring Program award! Can you speak to the goals of this program and your learning objectives with your TESOL mentor?
Fauzia Shamin (FS): The objective of the award is for a TESOL leader to mentor an affiliate member to add perspective and encourage inclusiveness at TESOL International Association. I am working with my mentor, Yilin Sun, past president of TESOL. The first thing I want to understand is the governance structure of TESOL. It has a complex structure and is so much larger than other associations. I would also like to investigate the interconnection between TESOL and affiliates. I would like to play a role in redefining TESOL and affiliate relationships and exploring partnerships on a different level than a parent-child or an insider-outsider perspective. On a personal level, I feel like I have a lot to learn from Yilin. I met her at the TESOL convention and I feel she has a lot to offer in terms of personal development: how she became president of TESOL, how she manages time and meets commitments. All of these endeavors require a lot of time. Continue reading
I realize that since the bulk of my current teaching is done at the university level, I need to make an effort to explore what is available for teachers and students in other contexts. Having said that, I think Seesaw, the topic of today’s post, might actually work for any age group despite being self-described as a K–12 resource.
Seesaw was brought to my attention by an attendee of last year’s Dakota TESL conference and promotes itself as a platform for student-driven digital portfolios. I think we can all agree that portfolios are a great way for students to demonstrate learning and an excellent alternative (or addition) to high-stakes assessment methods. Unfortunately, it can also be intimidating to break from tradition and take on the task of integrating portfolio development into your curriculum or revolutionize how portfolios are organized and used at your institution or in your classroom. The good news is Seesaw can help with all of that. Continue reading
In adult ed, there’s plenty of passion, tons of motivation, and certainly a lot of need. What there’s less of a lot of is money. One way to address this is with volunteers. In this post, I’d like to share some tips for bringing in and supporting volunteers, as well as some different roles volunteers can take on in your program.
Getting interested volunteers in your door is easier than you expect. Place a few standing ads on volunteermatch.org, idealist.org, and your program’s social media pages and website. Post a clear “job” description and call to action (“Email Carl for more info” or “Fill out an application at our offices”). You might not get flooded with responses immediately, but keep the ads out there and spread the word, and you’ll get a steady flow of applicants over time. Continue reading
Hello from TESOL’s newest blogger—2016 TESOL Teacher of the Year, Shannon Tanghe!
My name is Shannon Tanghe, and I am currently the department chair of the Graduate School of TESOL at Dankook University, a graduate school in a suburb of Seoul, South Korea. My background includes teaching and learning experiences in various locations around the world. My own formal schooling has been in Minnesota and Korea, and I recently completed a PhD in TESOL & Composition at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I have short-term teaching experiences in Egypt and Guyana, and for the past 16 years I have been living and teaching in South Korea. Each of these experiences has been powerful in shaping and influencing my philosophy of teaching and my general world view. Continue reading