Why is extensive reading important for
language learning? And how can students be motivated to read for pleasure?
As an international student and immigrant, I
know how difficult it is to read extensively in English. Diverse backgrounds
and school experiences can create different profiles of reading strengths and
needs. As an experienced
EAP/ESL/EFL instructor, I did a case study about Extensive Reading (ER) for my
MA, and I learned things I wished I had known much earlier! Now I would like to
share that knowledge with other instructors because ER touches every skill we
teach (Reading, Writing, Grammar, Speaking and Listening).
Teaching communication skills to internationally trained professional students has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career. My students have years of experience and vast knowledge in their areas of expertise, yet when it comes to communicating the simplest thoughts and ideas, they often seem to be challenged; confidence and language barriers could be the two biggest reasons behind this challenge.
curriculum that I teach requires students to present only twice over the span
of 4 months. This semester, however, I have started providing my students with
more opportunities to present without making it an official presentation task.
I have named this approach “Reading & Presenting Circles.” The results have
been stellar, so I thought I should share the approach with my TESL Blog
community. The class I have implemented the Reading and Presenting Circle
approach in is 18 weeks, and I meet my students twice a week.
post-secondary, students are often required to work on culminating projects comprised
of various assignments submitted at different deadlines throughout the term. My
teaching partner and I wanted to bring the experience of a post-secondary
culminating project into our classroom, but in a way that was both manageable
and meaningful to our LINC students.
When doing major projects, my teaching partner
and I are always looking for ways to optimize Portfolio-Based Language
Assessment (PBLA) for all four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and
writing). As we focus on teaching our students English to prepare them for
post-secondary education and the workplace, we find ourselves utilizing creative
ways to incorporate PBLA with scaffolded learning. Thus, we came up with the
idea of a cereal box book report.
When I was a student in elementary school, I used to love
“story time.” Some of my earliest and fondest memories as a child were sitting
around in a circle and having the teacher read stories to the class. I’ll never
forget the time my Kindergarten teacher cried while reading us “Love You
Forever” by Robert Munsch. Stories are powerful. Story time was the best!
I love stories, whether they be novels, movies, or a friend’s
adventure. So, naturally, as a teacher I like using stories in my classes.
Here are a few examples of how I have used stories as an ESL
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.
While teaching a module about working in Canada, I found my students were a bit surprised when I told them that volunteer work was not only valuable to have on a resume, but also one of the best ways to gain work experience in Canada. For many, “paid” work experience seemed to be the only valued work experience they had known. So, when I mentioned to my class that employers like to see volunteer experience on resumes and hear about it in job interviews, students started asking how they could do it.
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
For years, I have
been fascinated with the work of Nel Noddings and her themes on care. In one of
her (2010) articles, she presses educators to become role models who shape healthy
and caring students. The students in my class were feeling stressed and
overwhelmed by being constantly assessed on their performance, so I decided to
create a set of lessons on the theme of stress. These lessons were prepared for
a high-intermediate level and each day represents a period of 50 minutes.