Category Archives: Activities

Moving Forward with Extensive Reading in the LINC Context

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In 2014, I posted on the TESL Ontario blog “Encourage Extensive Reading with MReader.” Since then, I have been integrating extensive reading with language learners in different contexts. I have learned a great deal using extensive reading in face-to-face situations. However, as COVID has forced us all online, the new challenge is facilitating extensive reading in a fully online mode.

In late 2021, Sepideh Alavi, a member of the Extensive Reading Foundation Board of Directors and Avenue mentor, and I started an extensive reading research project on the Avenue system. A critical part of this study is a pilot test of extensive reading with literacy-level classes. 

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Students in Charge: Ideas for Reading and Listening Activities

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Recently, I did a small experiment with my students. Instead of me assigning reading and listening tasks, I asked them to read an article and watch a YouTube video, and then make their own questions as if they were teachers. The results and feedback were quite astonishing.

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Ever just chat with your students?

Video chat, virtual morning meeting. A young woman with cup of coffee is greeting and waving to multiracial team on the PC monitor. Side view
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I often hear students say they like any chance to have a casual conversation in English.  Literacy learners, however, are much more likely to avoid a conversation because they’re not confident enough to use the language yet. As ESL teachers, we prepare well-thought-out lessons that focus on grammar, composition, pronunciation, and structured activities, but we rarely foster a free flow of dialogue that encourages the students to just “use the language.”

I recently wrapped up an introductory English course with literacy learners and got some valuable feedback from my students. After three months of students learning verbs, adjectives, and nouns, and practicing sentence structure and pronunciation, during our last lesson I decided to take a break from the routine and just engage students in a casual chat.   

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Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction: Praxis in Motion

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Praxis, the process of enacting theory, has played a significant role in my teaching practice, especially whenever my adult learners have a difficult time grasping a concept or feel like they are not learning as fast as they should. I find that when students begin to ask “why” and “how” questions or err repeatedly, I can rely on theory to explain and demonstrate the issue at hand. This methodology (Seabury, 1991) has worked for me and my adult learners, whose problem-solving curiosity is driven by their andragogical needs (Knowles, 1971).

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SAMR Says

Have you been asking yourself what technologies you could- or should- use to deliver your online courses? Maybe you’re looking for some guidance as to what to use and when. Online teaching challenges us to try a lot of new things, but we don’t have to imagine what functions well and when on our own. Instead, we can refer to the technology and learning pedagogy models which are out there to assist us in making informed decisions about technology in our lessons.

Puentedura’s SAMR model is used to describe the integration of technology into learning pedagogy. This model is sometimes viewed as a staircase, as depicted here, but the levels are not necessarily sequential. Each can be chosen independently to suit a lesson (H.L., 2017). The SAMR model aims to capture how technology can be used in teaching and learning practices.

In this article, I will discuss the first two steps in the SAMR model and how they can be applied in your teaching. Continue reading

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Listening Comprehension with the Cloze Test

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Most language teachers are likely familiar with the Cloze Test – the omission of specific words in a written passage (every 5th or 9th word, for example) to assess students’ reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge. I have also found them to be extremely useful to teach listening skills.  

When creating your own Cloze Tests, the first step is to find a passage that is at the students’ language level or no more than —as Krashen would advise— i+1 (just ONE above the students’ comprehensible input). The first two sentences and last sentence in the passage should also be kept intact as they give students important background information about the text.

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An Epic Battle of the Imagination

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

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(Carroll, L. 1865. Alice in Wonderland)

Introduction

 I wrote this piece about three years ago, reflecting on an old lesson and the role imagination plays in our ESL curricula.  I believe this activity could be modified for an online classroom. If you give it a go, please let me know how it works out!

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Google Earth in your class? (Part Two)

Photo Taken by: John Allan

Last week, I talked about the application Google Earth and explained how it works. Check it out if you haven’t already! Today, I will discuss several possible activities and examples of ways to incorporate Google Earth into your language or immigration classes.
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Effective Online Tools & Resources for Teachers and Learners

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Over the past two years, I have been attending a lot of webinars, presentations, conferences, dialogues and online courses. I’ve also been reading blogs and articles as well as doing presentations and writing blogposts. I’ve gained knowledge and collected remarkable resources. Tools like the ones below can help us design tasks that will engage and motivate our learners.

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