This post is sure to incur some teacherly ire. A lot of teachers aren’t going to like this, because a lot of teachers love using music in English class. That includes me. However, I have come to the reluctant conclusion that music doesn’t have many of the benefits I once thought it did. I think there’s a very strong case to be made against using music in class, or at least against using it to teach certain aspects of the language.
A lot of student books, TESOL texts, even much of the literature related to the CEFR, treat music as a valuable source of authentic English input. Authenticity is a concept whose importance, and even meaning, have been brought under scrutiny, and music is a perfect example of why. Continue reading
Breaks are important, but that does not mean you have to waste them. Choose any of the four activities below to engage students in a fun way without taking up a lot of time either in class or at home. I have mentioned the first two in blog posts of their own, but that was quite a while ago, so I will take this opportunity to refresh your memory before introducing two new resources.
1. Vocab & Grammar Quizzes
Freerice is a free site that students can use to practice a variety of subjects, including English vocabulary and English grammar, by answering multiple-choice questions. Start at a low level and work your way up. Visitors to the site support a good cause with 10 grains of rice being donated to the World Food Programme for every correct answer. Although a very basic concept, I often give myself just 5 minutes to visit Freerice and then get sucked into the “Just one more question.” mentality. There is no need to sign up unless you want to track your totals. If you have a competitive group of students, this might be an additional motivator. (See my previous blog on Freerice.) Continue reading
Language discrimination is far from new. Ancient biblical stories describe a “shibboleth,” when pronunciation of this word alone was used to identify fleeing Ephraimites, a tribe defeated by the Gileadites. Those who pronounced the word without the /sh/ sound, a phoneme not used by Ephraimites, were identified and killed instantly.
Thankfully, humankind has moved beyond the need to identify and persecute other humans based on linguistic differences…or have we? Linguistic discrimination, or linguicism, involves “ideologies and structures that are used to legitimate, effectuate and reproduce an unequal division of power and resources between groups which are defined on the basis of language” (Phillipson, 1988, p. 339). Continue reading
According to Reading Rockets, fluency is composed of three features: accuracy, automaticity, and prosody. These features of fluency are regularly assessed in schools. It’s my opinion, however, that ELs can’t be held to the same standards as their English-speaking classmates while they are still learning English. Reading ability is not a predictor of reading comprehension in ELs (Lesaux & Crosson, 2010). Accuracy may not be a realistic goal for many ELs because they may have difficulty correctly pronouncing the words in a passage.
However, I think that activities that improve automaticity and prosody are very helpful to ELs, and it is worth providing explicit instruction to them to improve their fluency. It is my experience that activities that help develop reading fluency also improve oral language. Here are some strategies that help build fluency in ELs. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
At Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) in Chiba, Japan, there is an internationally renowned self-access learning center—the SALC. The KUIS SALC is described as follows on its website:
The Self-Access Learning Centre (SALC) at Kanda University of International Studies is a learning community designed to help KUIS students to develop lifelong language learner autonomy. The SALC provides a social space to motivate learners and to facilitate the development of fluency and confidence. The SALC is filled with over 10,000 resources such as books, magazines, games, DVDs, CDs and online resources in order to provide individualised learning opportunities for students. In addition to the large variety of materials, there are different areas and rooms within the SALC where students can carry out language learning. There are areas equipped with everything students need to use the materials. The SALC is designed to enable students to learn in their own time and to develop language skills for the real world. Learning advisors and other staff are on hand to help users and the SALC offers various modules and courses designed to promote learner autonomy.
A new and bigger SALC is under construction and will be completed by April 2017. The director of the SALC is Dr. Jo Mynard. As colleagues at KUIS, Jo and I have been collaborating on creating a global leadership competition in the SALC. Continue reading
I am happy to introduce the first of two posts by guest blogger Raichle Farrelly, a longtime TESOL educator and advocate who is currently assistant professor of applied linguistics at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, USA. “Rai” has worked in multiple ESL and EFL contexts across the United States, Africa, and Europe, and focuses much of her work and advocacy on preparing teachers to be effective with adults, particularly immigrants and refugees. In this post, she discusses LESLLA—the acronym for Low Educated Second Language and Literacy for Adults—which is becoming more commonly known as both an association and a field of study.
A growing area of expertise within TESOL is teaching English to adults with refugee and immigrant backgrounds who have had interrupted formal education (see TESOL International Association’s website for the Adult Education Interest Section and Refugee Concerns Interest Section). Sometimes, these learners are referred to as SIFE (students with interrupted formal education), but discussions and workshops about SIFE tend to focus on young learners and adolescents. For adults, the acronym that is becoming more widely used is LESLLA. But before I spell out what LESLLA stands for, I’d like to share some background information. Continue reading
Caroline Payant, MA TESL Director and Assistant Professor of TESL at the University of Idaho and President-Elect of WAESOL, shares insights and practices of her recent study, “The Dynamic Rhetorical Structures of TESOL Conference Abstracts” (2016), coauthored with Jack A. Hardy.
Sherry Blok (SB): Your recent article, entitled “The Dynamic Rhetorical Structures of TESOL Conference Abstracts” (2016), will be of great interest to many TESOLers as your study examines the rhetorical style of previously accepted TESOL abstracts and presents guidelines for writing successful conference proposals. What prompted your study? Continue reading
I’d like to continue my conversation about implementing issues related to feedback into teacher training/education programs. In today’s post, I provide three ideas that writing teacher educators can use in their preparatory courses: 1) helping teachers develop their philosophies about feedback, 2) giving teachers tools for continuing professional development, and 3) implementing observations of experienced teachers’ feedback performance. These suggestions are based on an analysis of the literature on teacher feedback.
1. Helping Teachers Develop Their Philosophies About Feedback
In order to help beginning teachers recognize their own views and beliefs about feedback, teacher training programs should encourage them to develop their philosophies about response to student writing. At the beginning of the course, for example, teachers would be asked to reflect on their learning experience and identify factors that could have shaped their views on feedback. Continue reading
Writing is one area where students tend to lack confidence, so I am always on the lookout for resources that can help them. Previously, I shared Quill and NoRedInk, which both guide students through independent practice of writing and grammar skills. They really appeal to the teacher in me that believes students need to practice their way to mastery. Today’s post, however, is about an entirely different type of resource and one about which I feel some amount of conflict.
Let’s take a look at it first. Grammarly is a browser extension that works with both Chrome and Safari that is designed to proofread your work automatically. According to the site, “It checks for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and suggests citations.” An ad for Grammarly on Facebook caught my eye, so I decided to try it. Who doesn’t want to improve their writing and avoid making embarrassing mistakes like using the wrong their, there, or they’re? Even if people know the rules, it is still easy to make mistakes from time to time. Continue reading
Placement testing is tough. Doing it well can be time consuming and resource intensive, and doing it with insufficient rigor can lead to “slippery” leveling, where, say, a level 3 one year is different in ability from a level 3 in future years.
I don’t have any all-encompassing answers to this problem, but in using a popular computer-adaptive test for placement purposes, I’ve begun to recognize a few broad categories that students can be broken into, according to the grammatical complexity of their utterances. Continue reading