Category Archives: Activities

Once Upon a Time: Using Stories to Teach ESL

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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 Teacher.

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The Power of the Warm-Up

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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.

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A Positive Group Volunteer Experience

multi-ethnic volunteer group hands together showing unity
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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.

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Summer Camp – Where Learning Can Be Fun

Summer Camp word cloud , education concept
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Over the summer, I worked as an ESL teacher at a summer camp for children and teens from abroad. This was my third-year teaching at the camp and I had a great time!

Camp Chaos

As expected, it was chaos, with students arriving every week from countries like Mexico, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. There were lots of new faces with students coming and going.

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Write, Share, Edit, & Post: An Active Teaching Approach in the EAP Class

How can college writing classes turn into an active learning environment?

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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.

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Caring About Students: A Lesson About Stress

Introduction: Caring is the First Step

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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.

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June is Bike Month – Let’s Get Active

image source: Toronto Public Health

Summer is a great time to get active outdoors, and getting active is something we can all use a lot more of! The World Health Organization has identified a lack of physical activity as the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality. The Government of Canada recommends Canadians should get onto their feet more and sit less during the day to maintain good health. Engaging in physical activity allows you to strengthen your body and improves your overall sense of wellbeing. Getting active is something everyone can take part in.

Our last TESL blog on physical activity looked into ways to stay active in the classroom. We hope that this month’s blog will help you promote an active lifestyle for your students outdoors.

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