I used to be very good at remembering names. So good, in fact, that I probably would have been great at selling cars. This ability is a definite asset for a teacher. In my early years of teaching high school, I could remember the names of 30 students after one class. Lately, I have been teaching writing to international university students (EAP), and the classes are smaller but I don’t put the same effort into remembering their names. Why? I am older (my memory is not what it used to be) and lazier. What I do now is I give the students large index cards to write their names on and place in front of them. This way, I know their names right away and I have a quick way of taking attendance—I collect the cards at the end of class and the cards of absent students would have remained unclaimed. This semester, I have such small classes that during one class I didn’t bother with the cards. Suddenly, Continue reading
Imagine if someone said something overtly sexual or crude to you. What would your reaction be? Disbelief? Shock? Anger? Now imagine that the speaker is your ESL student. Of course, your response has to be different.
Sometimes because of pronunciation or improper word usage, ESL students inadvertently say or write the most shocking things. A while back, one of my students wrote this in a peer review (a student response to a student assignment, in this case an essay): “Your hooker is not very appealing and is unlikely to attract the reader.” Of course, he meant hook. What a difference two letters can make. This situation was easier to deal with because the student had not uttered this sentence aloud to the class. I took him aside and explained the meaning of the word, resulting in him blushing quite a bit.
Sometimes students mispronounce words such as sit, beach, can’t etc. I deal with this issue Continue reading
Teaching grammar is a challenge. Making grammar fun is the real challenge, especially when deep questions about existence emerge during a lesson.
One of the things I do as an ESL instructor is to try to find a fun application for a grammatical point I am teaching. Recently, I came up with a great idea for teaching punctuation. After I finish teaching a class on punctuation, I ask the students to imagine that they are a punctuation mark and pick which one best defines them. I prompt them to say: “If I were a punctuation mark, I would be…” This exercise is not only fun (there are a lot of giggles when I introduce this), but helps reinforce the students’ knowledge of the role of punctuation and use of the conditional. Students say things like: “I would be a period because I like things to be clear and definite” or “I would be a question mark because I have a hard time just accepting things. I want to know why.” Although I could usually predict what punctuation mark a student would select, there were times when I was completely flummoxed. Usually, it was Continue reading