The ten to fifteen minutes at the beginning of an ESL class are so valuable to both teachers and students. That is the time when students are fresh and eager to learn. I would go so far as to say that students may even be optimistic and excited about what they are about to do (at least that’s how I like to view the students in that part of the class). In the spirit of that optimism, the warm-up is a great tool to increase students’ confidence, show them what they know and what they need to work on, and give the teacher a clear understanding of where the class needs to go that day.Continue reading
How can college writing classes turn into an active learning environment?
In my writing classes, I try to provide my students with various opportunities to read, write, and receive feedback. One challenge, however, is when students are asked to write individually; they might not be motivated enough to work on their own. On the other hand, when assigning an activity to a group, there is often one student who seems to be working on the activity while the other students don’t get as involved as required.
I believe writing is a complicated topic to teach and asking students to produce written work can be a challenging process. To address these individual and group challenges, I have come up with a neat strategy that I would love to share with the rest of the educators dealing with similar challenges.Continue reading
The Task at Hand
Quilting and knitting circles have existed for a long time for the purposes of pleasure and producing a useful final product, but how did a handicraft project for a group of Master of Education students turn into a feel-good, emotional learning journey? It was an assignment for a research methodology course, but it was so much more than that. It was also collaboration, self-discovery and an emotional roller coaster all rolled into some highly memorable academic presentations. At least that was my observation, if not quite my personal experience.Continue reading
What are some ways you choose to provide feedback to students in higher education? How do you think students perceive and react to our feedback? How effective do you think written feedback comments can be? Nicole and Milligan (2006) have identified seven main principles that effective feedback should entail.
1. Effective feedback helps students identify what good performance is and assists students in grasping a clear understanding of the goals and standards set for their level. Research suggests that there is often a gap between the expected standards set by educators and students’ perception of these standards. Unless students clearly understand the goals and standards set for them, they cannot succeed in self-regulating their learning process.Continue reading
Bringing the L1 into the EFL classroom does not need to be an overhaul of current practice in the classroom, nor does it need to be applied to each and every classroom activity. It is something that can be applied strategically and with intent at the teacher’s discretion. The point is not to create a new method, but to understand that cross-linguistic awareness is one of many useful teaching/learning techniques that are available to us as language teachers.Continue reading
What is an infographic?
Infographics are a contemporary means of transmitting information on media platforms. They appear as printed or digital infographic displays at hospitals, airports, shopping malls and more, and deliver complex information in a visually concise format. The first infographics I remember were positioned in the corners of the USA Today newspaper. They drew my eyes towards them and informed me about trends, recent events or celebrities in many sections of the newspaper.Continue reading
Despite the wealth of research that purports the benefits of a cross-linguistic approach, many learners and teachers are operating in an environment where the L1 is used with trepidation and as a last resort if it is used at all. Why is it that teachers and learners are hesitant to take cross-linguistic and multilingual approaches on board, despite the value of these tools for language learning?Continue reading
Last week, I read over my students’ poems and was reminded how much I love my job. As teachers, we need to savour these pleasures and summon them during the more tedious moments. My students, mostly from Asia, are in a year-long EAP foundation program at Ryerson University. I asked them to write a poem based on “Where I Am From,” by George Ella Lyon.
The scholastic objective was to get my students to explore their identities, but my personal objective was to learn more about their families, their ambitions, their countries…their lives. In class, we went through the author’s life, stanza by stanza. We examined the details, the imagery, and the metaphors. Then my students went home and wrote their own versions.Continue reading
Why is it important for our higher education learners to receive positive reinforcement? Do adult learners have this need? In what ways can instructors provide their adult learners with positive reinforcement?
Sharp (2011) lays it down beautifully, explaining that as we grow up we receive incentives, prices, stickers, and encouragement for the most mundane actions such as making our beds. However, as we grow and become more self-motivated, the amount of positive reinforcement declines exponentially by the time we pursue higher education.Continue reading
In a time where TESOL teaching is turning away from prescriptive methods, and teachers may have the increasing freedom and responsibility of adapting to their students’ needs, a question that faces ongoing consideration is whether or not the first language (L1) has a role in the EFL classroom. The good news for teachers who engage or would like to engage L1 use in the classroom is that this approach is strongly backed by theory and research-based evidence in the field of second language acquisition. Here, in the first part of a three-part series on this topic, I will outline this body of support for incorporating the L1.Continue reading