Languaging in a New World

Dudley Reynolds
Dudley Reynolds

The TESOL President’s Blog

To understand the world of TESOL 2.0, I have previously looked at changes in the system that provides English language education and the tools of the classrooms where students learn the language. The privatization of education and the rise of technology are factors that teachers across disciplines must adapt to. But there is one major change that is more specific to TESOL: evolving understandings of what it is we are teaching when we say we teach “language.”

Teaching “Language”

How do you describe what you teach? If you describe it based on what is in your textbooks or curriculum standards guides, odds are you will talk about knowledge, skills, and competencies. You will talk about vocabulary as well as the rules and patterns that allow us to turn vocabulary into utterances. You may talk about enabling students to read a certain amount of text or take notes from a lecture, in which case you are talking about the ability to do something with language. Finally, you might talk about what is often described as pragmatic or sociolinguistic competency: knowing how to make an email polite, use voice when writing an essay, or sound authoritative when giving a research presentation. Continue reading

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Get Inspired at TESOL 2017! Apply for a TESOL PD Travel Grant

Sherry Blok
Sherry Blok

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ―William Arthur Ward

Great teachers also engage in professional development to enhance their classroom teaching, networks and opportunities for growth, both personal and professional. Two 2016 TESOL Professional Development Travel Grant recipients, Mawa Samb from Centre Régional de Formation des Professionnels de l’Enfance (CRFPE) in Lille, France, and Laura Hamman, PhD candidate in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, share takeaways and experiences from their attendance at the 2016 TESOL convention in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Continue reading

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90 Tech Resources for Teachers

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

With a hundred posts under my belt, I thought a recap would be good before moving forward with new material. Below are 90 tech resources that have appeared on the TESOL Blog over the past several years, organized somewhat loosely into nine major categories. Click the name of the resource to be directed to the TESOL blog post in which it is mentioned and click the URL to go to the resource itself. Continue reading

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ESOL Community Scavenger Hunts

Robert Sheppard
Rob Sheppard

Scavenger hunts can be a really fun addition to your adult ESOL activities repertoire. They get students out of the classroom and into the community, they can be structured to require a lot of communication in English, and they engage a lot of valuable community navigation skills. I’ve seen successful scavenger hunts with young adults at an academic IEP and adult immigrants in community ESOL, and even a successful Chinatown scavenger hunt for a class of adult Mandarin learners.

The basic structure should be somewhat familiar to anyone who’s participated in a scavenger hunt themselves: Continue reading

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Multilingual ELL Children’s Literature: 6 Great Books

Shannon Tanghe
Shannon Tanghe

One recognized benefit of children’s literature is its ability to act as both a window and a mirror. A mirror in that it may offer a reader a reflection of oneself, which can be a form of validation that one is not alone, and a window in that it opens up new perspectives—introducing new people, places, and experiences.  These windows and mirrors are both important—it is beneficial for all children to both see pieces of themselves reflected in the books they read and also to explore books as a way to learn about the world around them.

This blog posting shares six contemporary children’s picture books, all of which have ELLs as central characters. Each of these stories shares the experiences of a child who is exploring the process of merging one understanding of the world with new insights through learning a new language in a new environment and, in turn, usually discovering and negotiating new aspects of his or her identity. Continue reading

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5 Characteristics of Highly Effective Classroom Teachers of ELs

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

Classroom teacher practices are key to the success of English learners (ELs) in elementary school. In this blog, I will look at the characteristics of highly skilled classroom teachers of ELs. I am inspired by an article by Christine Coombe in TESOL Connections entitled “10 Characteristics of Highly Effective EF/SL Teachers” and wanted to present an elementary school version geared toward classroom teachers. Here are my five essential characteristics of highly skilled elementary classroom teachers of ELs.

  1. A strong relationship with students
  2. A thriving learning environment
  3. Scaffolds to support EL learning
  4. Flexible grouping of students
  5. The value of diversity in the classroom

Continue reading

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Newcomer ELLs: 10 Little Things That Have a Big Impact

Guest Author
Guest Author

A guest post by Patricia Hanson
In this blog, Patricia Hanson shares 10 things that even the busiest teacher can do to ease the transition into a new school environment for both ELLs and their parents.

Having spent time internationally before I started teaching English language learners (ELLs), I have gained insight into how parents feel about having their child away from their side while in a new country. A new school year is a time of uncertainty and anxiety for many mothers and fathers whose children are starting that school year in a country with a different culture.

Over the years that I have worked with ELLs, the teaching assistants and I have engaged in some rituals in order to ease the transition into a new school environment for both ELLs and their parents.  Here are 10 suggestions that should not unduly burden even the busiest teacher and can have a big impact. Continue reading

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ESP Project Leader Profile: Robin Sulkosky

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

In this ESP Project Leader Profile, we meet Robin Sulkosky, who is a leader in the TESOL ESPIS, as you will read below. Born and raised in central Alabama, Robin currently lives in Japan with his wife, an Army veterinarian. He serves as an EFL instructional technician to Japanese engineers and planners at a naval ship repair facility. This year, Robin has plans to conduct a needs analysis on behalf of his division and introduce an ESP course for his students on integrated fleet maintenance. Robin taught ESL at Auburn University Montgomery for 4 years, and, before his post in Japan, he served as a composition lecturer at Auburn University and Howard University. Continue reading

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ELT Best Practices: EAP in Canada

Sherry Blok
Sherry Blok

Scott Roy Douglas, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus and Publications Chair of TESOL affiliate BC TEAL, speaks of EAP in the Canadian context, authentic tasks for authentic purposes using authentic contexts, and how learners from diverse linguistic backgrounds contribute to our campuses and communities. Continue reading

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Graduate Student Voices: Writing as a Nonnative Speaker

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

As a nonnative speaker of English, I know that writing in a second language might be challenging, particularly when it comes to academic discourse. A considerable body of research in our field provides numerous suggestions on how to help undergraduate L2 writers. Graduate students, on the other, somehow tend to receive less attention in the literature. Yet, nonnative graduate student writers face a number of challenges, and I am certainly aware of that based on my own experience.

I asked three graduate students in the field of applied linguistics—Aleksandra (from Poland), Mengying (from China), and Chen (from China)—to share their experiences as nonnative academic writers. I asked them the following questions:

  1. What is the biggest challenge in writing that you face as a graduate student and a nonnative speaker of English?
  2. What assistance/helpful advice have you received in grad school that helped you with your writing?
  3. From your perspective, what could universities/graduate programs/advisors do to alleviate writing challenges of nonnative graduate students?

Continue reading

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