Category Archives: Activities

Add fun to your vocabulary lessons with Quizlet Live

image source: John Allan

Quizlet Live is the latest feature on the Quizlet suite.  This is in addition to current learning activities which include: flashcards, test, learn, spell, as well as two games: gravity and match. In May of 2015 I posted about the attributes of Quizlet from a teacher-developer’s perspective. More recently, Continue reading

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Aboriginal Lessons

Native American Inukshuk road side stone marker.
image source: bigstockphoto.com

When we’re educating ELLs, how many of us have the opportunity to expose students to Canadian history? I love teaching history and having learners explore how we got to today. At times, I wish I were more like a history version of Ms. Frizzle (I kind of have the hair for it minus the red).

It’s common to talk about the government, Confederation, and the iconic symbols of Canada, but I have found Continue reading

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‘Tis the Season! Bringing students’ holiday traditions to the classroom

Image Source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image Source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Hello, December! I realize it’s a few days away, but
with all the songs being played in malls and on radio stations and the stunning decorations everywhere, you can’t help but feel like you’ve been in December for the last 2 months! Every student and teacher (admit it!) is thinking more about his or her time off, and less about the time spent in the classroom. Holidays are both wonderful and important in one’s culture and society. They bring families, friends, and strangers together as they unite in the celebrations.

Holidays give us a sense of connection and perhaps more importantly, a sense of self. When you feel like you are part of something big, your life has that much more meaning. It’s a time when people make the effort to come together no matter the distance. People are more forgiving, and the desire to help is felt everywhere.

So how would you feel if you had no clue what holidays are like here? Continue reading

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An Active Classroom is a Student-Centred Classroom

image source: www.bigstockphoto.comI hope my title did not conjure images of technology-enhanced learning with visions of smartphones, iPads, and laptops dancing up through the air. On the contrary,
this blog is about students stirring, moving in circles, and engaging in conversation. I’m talking about face to face interaction, where students are talking and listening to each other while the teacher is watching.

In the ESL classroom: LINC, ESL or EAP – we teachers need to have many ideas up our sleeves to make sure students are not yawning but interacting with one another and having fun while learning. Last year in September, I shared two of these strategies. You can read them here: http://blog.teslontario.org/an-active-start-to-the-academic-year/ In this blog, I share another one that I have found students also enjoy: Continue reading

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Back to school: First day jitters for students and teachers

Learn it's cool! Joyful teacher showing thumbs up. Photo adult teacher near blackboard education concept
Image source: www.bigstock.com

While many of you may already be going into your 2nd or 3rd week of classes, we  wanted to share some ideas to get over those first day jitters that so many new instructors and students may be feeling.  For more ideas on get-to-know activities, please click on the link to read Cecilia’s blog posted previously: Get-to-know activities in the language classroom 


I don’t know about you, but I find the first days of class can be a little scary, yet exciting at the same time. Students probably wonder what the teacher will be like and how they will fit in with the other students. Thoughts such as, “Will everybody be at my level of English?” or “I hope I’m not at the bottom of the class!”  are likely common.

But what about us – the instructors? Continue reading

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Learning English through Music

Music items doodle icons set. Hand drawn sketch with notes instruments microphone guitar headphone drums music player and music styles letterig signs vector illustration isolated
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

No matter what language you speak, music has a universal tongue, wouldn’t you agree? Its power in bringing people together, no matter what language they speak, is priceless. So, if music has the ability to unite us, why not use it in the classroom to help your students learn English?

I have my kids to thank for inspiring this post, partly due to their love of watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood every day. You find inspiration everywhere.
On the show they sing the lesson of the day repeatedly throughout each episode. It sticks in your head and is really catchy, and the nice thing is that the lessons are useful for children in helping to problem solve or deal with certain emotions that may arise out of unpleasant situations.  Continue reading

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Flipping Classroom Strategy to Empower Student Learning

Image source: bigstockphoto.com
Image source: bigstockphoto.com

Do you have students who never do their homework? Are you tired of presenting topics only to have less than half the class actually care? Is it a challenge to get students to practice English when not in class? Do you find them usually unprepared for class? Do you hear a collective ‘sigh’ when you say the term “oral presentation”? Don’t fret! All of these problems disappear when you flip your class!

Lectures as Readings

A very good way to pass class time is to spend it “presenting” topics or content to a class of semi-interested ESL learners. Nowadays, the “teaching and learning” of any topic, within any discipline, can be done wholly without direct instruction – and this is a good thing! How many college lectures do you remember? How many oral presentations do you remember giving in college? I believe most of you would remember more presentations than lectures for one simple reason: When giving a presentation, you were engaged. All of your faculties, from the cognitive to the affective, even the psychomotor, were called upon to deliver that presentation. Continue reading

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Student-Lead Discussions

Meeting Of Support Group
Image source: bigstockphoto.com

During my TESL practicum, I was privileged to work with a wonderful instructor in an EAP class. My practicum supervisor* was great at scaffolding and layering; as the course progressed, each language skill was incorporated into subsequent lesson activities until it all culminated in a final project. The class was in oral skills with the final project being a presentation. Along with using the targeted language from the semester, the presentations also included a focus on appropriate body language, strategies to engage the audience, and the use of technology.

While presentations are common in English language classes, they can be very stressful and time consuming. In order to add variety to the assessments during the course, another activity that was required of the students, and that could easily be adapted for any type of ESL classroom, was leading a discussion group. Not only did we use this in the EAP context, I used the same activity in an EFL class that I taught in Ecuador in which the students were preparing to take the First Cambridge Exam.  Here is how I did it!

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Rediscovering our inner child: Games in the classroom

Close up portrait of hard laughing young man. Isolated on white background, mask included
Image source: www.bigstockphotos.com

Every day I watch my kids play all day long. And they never seem to grow tired of it either. So surely there’s something to their favourite past time other than having fun. When you think about it, for children, the act of playing is a way of learning. Except, it’s not just about using brain power but also about using all of their senses alongside their schema to help them solve whatever mystery or problem comes their way. I view it as a holistic approach to learning. So how is it that we lose that as we enter into adulthood?

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The Multilevel Merger – Can It Work For You?

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Hello again, dear colleagues!

I was at a friend’s house the other day discussing the usual things moms talk about, when my friend expressed her frustration about her daughter’s multilevel classroom. I asked how her daughter is handling the setup, to which she replied: “She doesn’t think much of it because she’s in the upper grade of the split class. I don’t feel like she’s being challenged enough.” I wondered then how our ESL adult learners — especially the advanced students, might feel about their multilevel classes, should they happen to be in one.

Every class you teach as an adult ESL instructor can be considered multilevel to a certain extent. However, a true multilevel class takes place when there’s a substantial difference in learning levels in the same classroom, (e.g. levels 2-7). I’m sure some welcome the challenge; maybe even thrive on it like: “Who are you because we need to talk?!” While many others dread the thought of being in this situation, dealing with a multitude of learning levels. 

So here are a few tips that I hope you’ll find beneficial: Continue reading

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