All posts by Andrew Shedden @Andrew_Shedden

Teach The World!

Retro camera on world map with word Travel on wooden table background
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The ability to easily live and work overseas can be one of the greatest benefits of teaching ESL. For me, it was actually the reason I fell into the field!
If the travel bug has you, or if you’re just looking for new teaching experiences, there is a plethora of options for you out there (depending somewhat on citizenship, level of education, experience, etc.). Below is a quick breakdown of two common destinations for ESL teachers:

East Asia

China, Korea, and Japan are by far the most popular destinations for Canadian ESL teachers, especially for those with little or no experience. For many jobs, the only requirement is a bachelor’s Continue reading

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Listen to Me!

Man Listening to gossip
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One of the five classes in my EAP course is a 50-minute a day listening class. It’s always been the most difficult for me to teach, partly because it’s directly after lunch, when students are  not the most awake!

Over the years I’ve tried various teaching resources, searching for the most effective texts and material to help students. These are the  best ones I’ve come across for teaching listening  skills in EAP:

English for Academic Study: Listening

I love Garnet Education’s EAS series, and use the Vocabulary and Reading & Writing books as a major part of my curriculum. When my course first began, our listening curriculum was based entirely on the EAS: Listening book. Continue reading

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Have Fun With It!

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A common piece of advice I give my students is

“don’t read the newspaper.”

Their hearts are in the right place – they want reading practice – but most of them have zero interest in the news and end up getting very little from their daily ritual of reading Metro on the subway.

If students are looking for extra work, it’s important that it’s something fun and interesting for them. My students are upper-intermediate/advanced. For the most part, their English is very good – most of the errors they make are small, basic errors like prepositions and collocations -so they just need practice rather than pouring over grammar rules.

What I tell them instead of reading the newspaper, is

“It doesn’t matter what you read, as long as it’s in English!”

Continue reading

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What is EAP?

bigstock-Writing-Steps-Pyramid-Edit-Wri-59394623I have been teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) for a little over five years now. Compared to my previous jobs teaching general ESL and Business English, I find it incredibly satisfying; I think this is partly due to the course having a clear objective: preparing students for college and university.

But an important question that arose early on in the course, was

What does it mean to prepare students for college and university?

Are we talking about having their English at an equivalent level to their peers? Or is it more about mentally preparing them with academic skills needed for success? Continue reading

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Facebook Club!

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In May 2014, while volunteering at the TESL Toronto spring conference, I was lucky enough to see a presentation by Chris Harwood and Tracy Manning about their experiences implementing a Facebook-based Book Club in their EAP program.

Inspired by their talk, I decided to try this out with my students. It took some weeks of planning, and some trial and error with different books, but in the end it’s become a successful and popular part of my course!

Continue reading

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Moodling – Part 2

Online Education
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Review

I currently teach an Academic Preparation course, and as I wrote in my previous blog, last summer I set up a Moodle-based course site. The purpose of the Moodle site is to give students access to course material from home, as well as give them experience with using these kinds of sites, since they will most likely have to use them in whichever college or university they go to from my class.

Practical Moodle Usage

Moodle is an incredibly versatile platform, and there are a number of things it can be used for. If desired, an entire course or program could be run entirely through such a site.

My course consists of 3 modules of 4 weeks each. Each day, there are 4 classes (Vocabulary, Reading/Writing, Listening, and Speaking), so the content on the site Continue reading

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Come and Moodle with Me!

Online Education
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Technology and using it in the classroom have become a major issue in the last few years. Teaching online and using more computers and computer-based resources in the classroom are becoming commonplace in almost every school. One word that you may have heard in passing (or may have already been using in class) is Moodle.

I have been working with Moodle for almost two years, and it has the potential to be a great resource for any ESL class.

What is Moodle?

Moodle is a Learning Management System (LMS) platform that many education providers use to host either a few courses, a whole program, or a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)! Continue reading

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Plagued with Plagiarism

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Recently, a colleague stopped me mid-rant and asked:

“How many hours a week do you spend looking for plagiarism?” The question made me realize that

  1. I don’t know, but
  2. it’s a lot.

In the EAP course I teach, students are required to write 2 essays each month. The essays need to be at least 750 words and include proper referencing, etc. Even though we spend a lot of time in class discussing plagiarism, the penalties both in our school and in a proper university, and the likelihood they will be caught, over the 3 months that students are in the course, many will copy / plagiarise in their first month for 2 main reasons: cultural plagiarism or simple plagiarism.

Cultural Plagiarism: As our Arabic counsellor told me a few years ago, when she was completing her university studies in Kuwait, she was penalized for not simply copying, word for word, from the sources. The requirements for university were just that. Continue reading

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