TLO 13: How to Teach Online: Assessing Online Learning

Andy Curtis
Andy Curtis

Welcome to the 13th in this series of 16 TLO (teaching and learning online) blogs. Here in eastern Ontario, Canada, there’s been a period of record-breaking, severe winter weather with temperatures getting down to 40 degrees below zero, where Fahrenheit and Centigrade meet. So, you can imagine the disruption to daily life, including schools, colleges, and universities having to shut down due to dangerous driving conditions on the roads. It’s also been a good reminder of some of the benefits of TLO, saving students and teachers, who can work together online, from having to go to and from bricks-and-mortar institutions.

However, one of the challenges of TLO is assessment of student learning. In traditional, physical classrooms, teachers and students can see immediately and constantly who is paying attention, who is on-task, who is working together, etc. Likewise, who’s not paying attention, who’s off-task, and who’s not working is equally evident. But to a large extent, much of that kind of face-to-face interaction can be masked in TLO courses.
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Teaching the News: A Great Site for Everyone

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

From time to time, I worry that I might run out of topics for these posts. It happened today, and then I remembered a great site that I use with my students called News in Levels. News in Levels is a site with the tagline “News for students of English,” and that’s exactly what it is.

When you visit the site, you’ll notice that there is no need to register and that all materials, except for premade exercises, are absolutely free. There are currently three full levels with a level zero for very beginners still being developed.

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ESL Games: Gimme the Word

Marc Anderson
Marc Anderson

The Game: The game of Gimme the Word helps students with their knowledge and review of vocabulary words by using oral language and description. It builds on listening skills and higher level thinking skills.

Research Says: This creative language game “…provides language practice in various skills—speaking, listening and reading. It encourages students to interact and communicate. It creates meaningful context for language use” (“Creative Games for the Language Classroom” in Forum, Lee Su Kim, January—March 1995).
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Incorporating Pronunciation Instruction Across the Curriculum

Char Heitman
Char Heitman

Editor’s Note: This blog post follows up a TESOL virtual seminar titled “15 Content-Based Activities for Incorporating Pronunciation Instruction Across the Curriculum” that took place 10:30 am to noon, 29 January 2014. The virtual seminar was jointly planned by the Speech, Pronunciation, and Listening Interest Section of TESOL International Association (TESOL) and the Pronunciation Special Interest Group of International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL).

Thank you for attending or viewing my virtual seminar on pronunciation instruction and your interest in pronunciation instruction in general. In my presentation, I discussed Continue reading

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Metaphorically Speaking: How Does It Feel When You Speak English?

Alexandra Lowe
Alexandra Lowe

As readers of my blog know, I stress the importance of speaking and listening to English outside of class from the very first day I meet my students.  I find myself spending an increasing portion of the first class on this topic – as many as 90 minutes in a 3-hour class – and am always looking for new ways to help bring this topic to life for my students on Day 1. Continue reading

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Two Global Resources for ESPers: A New ESP Book on Global Best Practices and an International LSP Conference

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

As we all know, TESOL 2014 will be taking place in Portland, Oregon from 26 to 29 March 2014. In this TESOL Blog post, I would first like to share with you information about a new edition of a TESOL ESP book that you will hopefully be able to obtain at the convention.

A New ESP Book on Global Best Practices

Kay Westerfield is a founder of the TESOL ESP Interest Section, a former member of the TESOL Board of Directors, and one of the authors of the new ESP book. I received permission from Kay to post her response to a question I asked in an e-mail exchange with leaders and former chairs of the TESOL ESP-IS. My question was whether the old edition of her book could be considered to contain “global best practices.”
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Back to the Basics: Typing Practice

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

Many of the sites I discover come from efforts to help my students. Since I teach in an intensive English program where students aspire to obtain a college degree, it makes sense for them to improve their typing skills. Very little of what they produce in writing will be done by hand and poor typing can really slow a person down. Now typing isn’t something we teach in our classes; however, students have approached me and asked how they can improve this skill on their own, so I found Typing Web.
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Composing Professional and Academic E-mails

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

Sometimes I hear teachers complain about so-called lack of appropriateness of student e-mails, such the absence of a greeting, a signature, or a subject line. The winning award for “the most unprofessional e-mails” goes to those students who simply send a blank e-mail with an attachment.

Well, believe it or not, most students have never been taught the professional e-mail genre. And this is true not only for English learners. I made similar observations when I taught a composition class for native speakers of English. When I first started teaching, I realized that many students don’t know how to compose an e-mail in an academic setting. However, instead of getting frustrated by students’ lack of professionalism, appropriateness, or even politeness, we—teachers—could take time at the beginning of the semester to help our students acquire the conventions of writing a professional e-mail. In what follows, I will share some activities that I used in the past.
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TLO 12: How to Teach Online: Building Trust

Andy Curtis
Andy Curtis

In TLO 11 (posted 8 Jan 2014), I wrote that: “When we think and talk about building relationships online, we move beyond the Technology of TLO to the other ‘Big T’, which is Trust. In all relationships, personal as well as professional, face-to-face and at-a-distance, nothing meaningful and lasting can be achieved until we have established Trust.” A number of readers responded to that idea with the very good question: Yes, but how can trust be built in an online environment? If you can’t be in the same physical space with someone, shake their hands and look them in the eye, how or why would you trust them?
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ESL Games: Words of Fortune

Marc Anderson
Marc Anderson

Please welcome Marc Anderson as the newest TESOL blogger. Marc’s biweekly blogs will focus on sharing fun, interactive games for you to use and adapt in your English language classes. Marc’s previous blogs with TESOL as a guest blogger include the highly popular “Best Language Learning Games” series. 

The Game: The object of Words of Fortune is to form the best possible words from any of the 8 letters that describe the word challenge card in each play.

Research Says: Research supports the use of a vocabulary game like this to bring real world context into the classroom and enhance students’ use of English in a flexible, communicative way (Asian EFL Journal, December, 2003.)
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