Category Archives: Approaches

The Role of the L1 in the EFL Classroom Part III: Where to Begin? Ideas for Incorporating Cross-linguistic Strategies


Foreign language school persons. International languages people teaching communication translations, men and women foreigners students, vector illustration
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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.

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Spring Reflections

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The cherry blossoms are out! It’s spring and finally warm enough to ride my bike to work.  I do my best thinking on that bike. With a new semester starting, I find myself reflecting on the semester gone by.  Peddling on cold, rainy days tends to cause me to remember my failures, but on warm, sunny mornings, I recall my successes.  For 16 years I have been teaching university prep writing, grammar, reading, speaking, and listening to students from around the world. 

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The Role of the L1 Classroom in the EFL Classroom Part II: Roadblocks to Using a Cross-linguistic Pedagogy

Rear view of a puzzled businessman in front of a huge chalkboard written with the word hallo in different languages and colors. Opportunity for learning many languages for students.
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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?

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Thinking about Grammar

Handwriting text Grammar. Concept meaning System and Structure of a Language Writing Rules Bearded Man and Woman Faceless Profile with Blank Colorful Thought Bubble.
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Does grammar make you nervous?  Do you wonder if you know enough to be able to help your students with their grammar?  Let’s take pronouns, for example.   Can you explain when to use  who or whomYou and I  or  You and me?  You can Google these issues fairly easily and find helpful explanations, or you can find good ESL grammar exercises and worksheets online, or you can use a good textbook. 

The bigger question is what grammar should we teach? 

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#CdnELTchat: Join the chat on Tuesday

If you’re on Twitter, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, April 16th –
Advocacy in #ELT.  Below is a recap of the March 25th chat from the #CdnELTchat moderators.


Dealing with Sensitive Topics in ELT

On March 26th, ELT practitioners from across Canada and beyond connected on Twitter for #CdnELTchat to talk about Dealing with Sensitive Topics in ELT. Bonnie Nicholas (@EALstories) kept the conversation moving by posting questions, while  Augusta Avram (@LINCinstructor) helped out by replying and retweeting, and Svetlana Lupasco (@stanzasl) and Jennifer (@jennifermchow) provided background support.

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The Role of the L1 in the EFL Classroom Part I: What Research Says

College students learning in class room and having fun with learn english concept.
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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.

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Discussing Matters of the Heart – How to Keep Your Heart Happy and Healthy

image source: Toronto Public Health

With the arrival of winter comes an entire month devoted to the hardest working muscle in our bodies – the heart. February was heart health month, but it’s important to continue to talk about what we can do to make sure we keep our heart in tiptop shape. The heart works hard to pump blood to all parts of the body 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

But what happens when we don’t have good heart health? And why is it important for ESL educators to know about this?

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Timely Talk About Tobacco

image source: Toronto Public Health

You’ve noticed that many students in your class smoke.  Is quitting smoking something you should talk about? Is it any of your business?  Many of your students have children.  Do they smoke around their children?  Is it part of your role as an instructor to discuss the negative health effects of smoking?  Continue reading

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Better, Best, or Next Practices in English Language Teaching

Best. Choice, practice or Service. Wooden letters on the office desk, informative and communication background
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I find the term best practice troubling; and I say this as I wear my language instructor hat and my consultant hat. Full disclosure: I am working on TESL Ontario’s Directory of Best Practice Resources. The Directory is a compendium of online (and hard copy) high quality resources for adult ESL and FSL instructors and administrators. Please check it out: http://bestpractices.teslontario.org/ . In putting together our Directory, Continue reading

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