The “summer slide” is an education phenomenon during which students regress in their learning and language development over the summer months when they are not in school. In her 5 May 2016 post, “11 Tips to Help ELs Avoid the Summer Slide,” fellow TESOL blogger Judie Haynes mentioned how the summer slide can particularly impact students from lower income households, wherein caregivers may not be able to pay for expensive summer camps or extended learning programs. She also provided some effective, less expensive ideas for ELs to continue engaging with content and language over the summer.
However, since the focus of this blog is TESOL teacher education, in this post, I’ll highlight some ways for teachers to prevent their own summer slide, and continue their professional development during June, July, and August (summer time in the United States). Continue reading
The TESOL President’s Blog
2017 marks TESOL International Association’s 51st year as an organization that promotes professional expertise in English language teaching worldwide. As we embark on our second half-century, it is fitting that the theme for our 2017 convention will be TESOL 2.0: Engage, Enrich, Empower. The choice of the 2.0 metaphor to frame our annual convention isn’t just a sign of advancing age, however; it is a reflection of a new world for English teachers.
When TESOL started in 1966, nonnative speakers were thought of as “problems” for the U.S. education system, and teachers of English to speakers of other languages were called in to handle the problem. In 2016, language learners around the world are still too often thought of as problems, but unfortunately professional English teachers are not always seen as the answer. Educational systems everywhere are asking whether a combination of technology and a few yearly “ELT” workshops can achieve the same results for less money. Continue reading
As part of my TESOL MA program, I had to take a language testing class. One of the hardest tasks of the course was—believe it or not—working in a group with other graduate students to create a writing test. Some of the group members had been teaching writing for at least some time, and thus they had their own understanding of what “correct” writing prompts and rubrics should be. Honestly, our group had a really hard time finding a common ground on these issues.
When I started teaching writing in an intensive English program, one of the responsibilities of academic writing teachers was to prepare students for the TOEFL; therefore, once a week, I had my students compose 30-minute essays on a variety of prompts. Since I created my own prompts, I soon enough realized that in addition to the skill of designing effective grading criteria and rubrics, I needed to learn how to write clear prompts. Not uncommon were situations when I was reading a student paper thinking “Oh no, this is not what the prompt asked you to do!” Then I would go to the next paper only to find out that the author understood the prompt the exact same way as the first student! Continue reading
It’s that time of the year when the days are longer and sleeves are shorter. We think about our final tests while reflecting on what worked and what didn’t during the school year. Students and teachers alike are counting down the last days of school.
For the ELL specialist, that means measuring the progress students made since September and considering where to place them next year. But we’ll see some students who may not be ready to exit ELL programs yet are still set to graduate because they’ve earned enough credits, are about to “age out” of the educational system, or passed through goals-based requirements. This is especially problematic for students with special needs or who came to the country in their late teens without the benefit of previous English classes.
In these situations, we need to focus our final lessons on the students’ needs outside of school. Here are some methods I found to be effective. Continue reading
Common Sense Media returns again and again as an invaluable source of information and materials for educators. Previous posts have pointed to Graphite, where educators can read and post reviews of various resources, and the topic of digital citizenship and how to address it in the classroom. Today, as promised, I have information on part of the professional development component of Common Sense Media. Continue reading
Two learners, both smart, both with strong extrinsic motivations to learn English, beset by similar adversities: one adapts, persists, overcomes, and emerges that much the stronger. The other becomes frustrated, loses heart, gives up, and ultimately fails to achieve fluency. Why? What is that quality that distinguishes them? What does the former have that the latter lacks? Can we name it? Quantify it? Perhaps even teach it?
Answers to these questions are popping up around the field of education, borrowed over from mainstream psychology. We hear of perseverance, grit, positive psychology, metacognition, something about children being tortured with marshmallows. We get a lot of nebulously defined, apparently overlapping concepts that run the risk of muddling more than they clarify. Continue reading
The summer slide is a well-documented phenomenon that refers to the loss of academic learning that many students experience during summer break. This loss is especially prevalent among children from low-income households because families cannot afford to send their children to camps or other expensive summer programs. Due to school district budget cuts, there are fewer summer ESL programs for our students than there used to be. Many of the suggestions below depend on your students having access to the internet and a device to use. It is important for you to find out if students have this access. Enlist the help of your local library to assist students with the use of library computers.
What can teachers do to help their students avoid the summer slide? First, I would build a class page on your school website where students can post activities during the summer. Have them sign into the page and open accounts before the end of the school year. Schedule a meeting with the parents of your ELs so that you can review some of the activities that you want students to do during the summer. Remember to include reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities for your students. Here are 12 suggestions to help you prepare ELs to read and develop language during the summer. Continue reading
Hello, ESPers worldwide!
In this TESOL Blog post, you will read about Dr. Robert T. Connor, who is the current chair of the TESOL ESP Interest Section. (Before becoming the ESPIS chair, he had been coeditor of ESP News, the ESPIS newsletter.) Outside of TESOL International Association, Robert is an EAP professor and program director and has continuing projects in academic English in Rwanda and Panama. His academic accomplishments include a Bachelor of Engineering from Vanderbilt University, a Master of TESOL from American University, and a PhD in linguistics and educational research methodology from Louisiana State University, where his dissertation focused on pronouns in scientific discourse. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso and taught at university in Japan and the Caribbean. He currently directs Tulane’s English for Academic and Professional Purposes Program. In his responses to the questions below, you will read about an online collaboration with a university in Rwanda. Continue reading
Alyssa Swanson, manager of Penn’s Intensive English Program, believes that best practices are routed in envisioning new avenues, bridging the gap between administrators and teachers, and engaging in professional development.
With a background in international education and public relations, Alyssa Swanson was first introduced to the field of ESL while working as an administrative assistant in international affairs at a U.S. university. After receiving an MSEd in TESOL and several years of teaching and advising in ESL, Alyssa is now the manager of the Intensive English Program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Sherry Blok (SB): We met at the English USA conference in Monterey, California last January—a conference specifically for IEP programs. You are very active in attending and presenting at conferences, such as the recent TESOL 2016 convention in Baltimore. Can you speak to the importance of professional development in your own journey as an educator? Continue reading
In México on 30 April, el Día del Niño is a celebration of children, where youth is honored and adults are reminded of the importance of the caring for and raising of children. The holiday has also been celebrated recently in the United States as Día de los niños/Día de los libros, a day led by the American Library Association (ALA) to celebrate diversity and promote literacy as a “powerful tool for strengthening families and communities,” according to Andrew Medlar, president of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALA, 2016).
With Spanish as the most prominent L1 spoken among ELLs in the United States, it is critical for teachers of ELLs to promote and model cultural inclusivity, as well as enable students to make cognitive and emotional connections to academic content and their lived experiences. One way to achieve this is by including literature that is relevant to their lives and families; as such, this post is dedicated to books that both highlight the magical world of children and the richness of Latino culture. While there are too many books to name here, the following resources can help you begin or add to your collection! Continue reading