Teaching as a Top Education Policy Priority

Guest Author
Guest Author

A guest post by Luciana C. de Oliveira
In this blog, Luciana de Oliveira explains why now is a prime time to value English language teachers more than ever and help them lead and grow professionally.

Teachers and the programs that train them have battled some scrutiny lately.

Those of us who work in teacher education programs have seen a major decline in our student population. People are not choosing to go into teaching. Or, if they are, they often choose alternative programs that lead to certification.

It is no surprise that people are not choosing teaching as a career. Teachers aren’t paid enough, and they’re not given adequate time for all of the tasks they must complete. Teacher salaries in the United States are only 60% of those of other U.S. workers with college degrees. U.S. teachers spend more time per week teaching students than teachers in high-performing countries. Continued professional learning is a must, but U.S. teachers are not always provided these opportunities. Continue reading

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5 Free Resources for Teaching Punctuation

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

In today’s blog, I will describe five online resources that you can use to help your students learn more about the use of punctuation marks in their writing.

1. Guide to Grammar and Writing

This resource can be useful for preparing your lessons on punctuation marks, as it provides detailed explanations with numerous examples. However, learners can also find this resource useful for their individual studies, because they can receive immediate feedback on the quizzes and practice activities included in the punctuation section. Continue reading

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4 Ways Art Can Make Your Activities More Interesting

Nathan Hall
Nathan Hall

The neat thing about visual art is that it’s hard not to have an opinion when you see it. What makes it good or bad? How does it make you feel? What does it remind you of? Anyone who sees a picture feels a thousand words worth of ideas, so it’s an opportunity to get a reaction from students without resorting to paragraphs or lectures. All the teacher has to do is direct the activities to get the students talking, writing, or even drawing to make them practice using English.

Over the years, I found art lessons tended to be my students’ favorite activities, no matter what their ability level. The ones who get frustrated by complicated concepts are happy to see something they can understand and be asked what they think instead of looking for an answer. More visually-oriented learners have input catered to their natural ability. For classes where there is a wide range of levels between students, the teacher has a chance to create common ground by relying less on language.

Some ways to get this benefit in the classroom: Continue reading

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Negotiating “Acceptable” Usage

tesolconvention2016

Dr. Anne Curzan will present a keynote titled “Survey Says…: Determining What English Usage Is and Isn’t Acceptable,” at the TESOL 2016 International Convention & English Language Expo, 8 am, Friday, 8 April. 

Why can’t we end a sentence with a preposition? Why isn’t ain’t acceptable in formal writing? If we regularly use singular they in speech, why can’t we write it down in an essay or article? These are just the kinds of questions that I think we should be discussing in classrooms as students strive to master the conventions of standard edited English.

Admitting that usage questions rarely have “right” and “wrong” answers can seem unhelpfully destabilizing at first, but this approach has the power to make teaching the conventions of formal English an engaging, exploratory activity. Continue reading

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ELT Best Practices: Young Learners in Ireland

Sherry Blok
Sherry Blok

With an ELT career spanning 20 years, Lou McLaughlin’s best practices stem from her dedication to young learners as a teacher and young learner teacher trainer. According to Lou, teacher cognition, focusing on learner capabilities, and setting realistic expectations are key to success in teaching young learners. I had the great fortune to meet Lou at the SPELT conference last fall where she spoke of teacher cognition in her keynote address. Lou, president of ELT Ireland, shares her practices with TESOL practitioners in this edition of the ELT Best Practices blog series (formerly titled Best Practices in ELT—Context). Continue reading

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Take a Spin on the App Wheel

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

Well, now it is official. Having recently purchased both a tablet and a smartphone, I have, as so many people have gleefully pointed out to me, joined the 21st century. While I still maintain that neither is necessary for functioning in today’s society, I have also understood for some time now how handy smart devices can be for both personal and professional reasons. In honor of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, I give you the the Padagogy Wheel or, as I call it, the App Wheel, which is essentially a collection of apps for educators.

As far as I can tell, the Padagogy Wheel was first posted in 2013 and has undergone several revisions since then with the most recent English version coming out about a year ago. Its name is a mash-up of pedagogy and iPad although presumably most, if not all, of the apps are available for Android devices as well. Available online, it can also be downloaded as a PDF and printed out so that you will always have it nearby. Continue reading

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In Defense of My Defense of the 5-Paragraph Essay

Robert Sheppard
Robert Sheppard

I posted last month on what I see to be the value of the five-paragraph essay. Though I was responding to another author’s post, I thought I was making a fairly innocuous and common-sense point: basically, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. A paradigm shift doesn’t mean we should toss out all that was done before and sneer smugly back at the previous generation. The post generated some enthusiastic responses from other teachers, mostly echoing my argument that there is some utility to be found in the five paragraph essay (hereinafter, the 5-PE) before moving on to more complex and authentic formats.

When I heard that there was a rebuttal to my post, and, at that, one written by Nigel Caplan and Luciana de Oliveira, whose names I know and whose work I greatly respect, I was both honored and a bit intimidated. Needless to say, as I read their words, my feelings turned to dismay as I found my ideas so misconstrued. As I revisited my first post, I can see that in the process of editing down from my 2,300-word first draft down to the 1,000 published, some sections were lost and my ideas were a little muddled. Still, I read Caplan and de Oliveira’s response with distress and confusion, seeing my ideas so misunderstood.

Much as I respect the scholarship and authority of Mr. Caplan and Dr. de Oliveira, I feel a responsibility to respond. In this post, I will respond to their argument, clarifying that the 5-PE is entirely compatible with the teaching of genre. Continue reading

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Pull-Out vs Push-In ESL Programs in Elementary Schools

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

After lively discussions on the NJTESOL/NJBE member hotlist and during a Twitter #ELLCHAT, I realized that pull-out ESL vs. having ESL teachers push-in to the general education classroom is still a hot-button issue for practitioners in the field. I invited Monica Schnee, an ESL practitioner in River Edge, a K–6 district in New Jersey, to write a guest blog on this issue.  Monica has gone from teaching exclusively using a pull-out ESL model to mostly coteaching, and I feel that she sees the benefits of each model. Her ESL program is a NJ model program  benefiting all students and practitioners. 


Pull-Out ESL Instruction

Pull-out ESL instruction means that the ESL teacher pulls students out of the general education classroom to work in a small group setting in another room. During pull-out instruction, ELs miss instruction that takes place in the general education classroom. Continue reading

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Turning 50: Looking Back, Looking Forward

tesolconvention2016

Andy Curtis will present the 2016 Presidential Keynote, titled “Reflecting Forward, Reflecting Back: Looking in the Mirror at 50,” at the TESOL 2016 International Convention & English Language Expo, 8 am, Wednesday, 6 April. 

Turning 50 can be tough! Having done it myself in recent years, I know that, in spite of the taglines of advertising agencies claiming that “50 is the new 40,” the truth is still that “50 is 50”! In both British and American English, the phrase “fifty-fifty” relates to percentages, and means “two equal halves.” So, as we celebrate the first half-century of TESOL International Association, in my TESOL 2016 Presidential Plenary, I’ll be looking back, at where we’ve been and how we got here, and looking forward, to where we might be headed and how we might get there. Continue reading

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ESP Project Leader Profile: Esther Perez Apple

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

In this ESP project leader profile of Esther Perez Apple in Miami, Florida, you will learn about how the communication skills of an ESP project leader include the ability to conduct an effective needs assessment. Esther is founder and principal of Perez Apple & Company, which specializes in business communication. (See www.perezapple.com.) Esther is currently the English for occupational purposes (EOP) representative of the TESOL ESPIS, and she also has experience as community manager. She will become chair-elect of the ESPIS at the annual convention in March. Continue reading

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