Category Archives: Classroom Ideas

Ideas and suggestions to use in your classroom.

The Role of Extensive Reading in Language Learning

Why is extensive reading important for language learning? And how can students be motivated to read for pleasure? 

A young woman reads a book and drinks coffee. A lot of books. Concept for World Book Day, lifestyle, study, education.
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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).

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The Rewards of Team Teaching

Mandeep Somal and teaching partner Emily Imbrogno
Photo credit: Mandeep Somal

It’s the end of day and I have just finished writing an email update to my teaching partner about what students did in class. I have a sense of relief that I made it through the day, while at the same time I’m glad about what we have accomplished. I’m also delighted that I have someone to share my experiences with who knows the students, the content, and the design of the class. Team teaching works for me!

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Hello, Class! Today We’re Going to Talk About…

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“Hello, class! Today we’re going to talk about [fill in the blank].”

If you are an ESL teacher, you have probably started at least one class this way. You might have finished the above phrase with one of these themes: food, pets, sports, or music.

Whether teaching grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, listening, speaking, reading, or writing, teaching language within a theme can be very useful.

However, choosing the right theme can be tricky.

Here are some of my tips for choosing the right theme.

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Cereal Box Book Report

Cereal box book reports produced by Mandy’s students
Source: Mandeep Somal

In 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.

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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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The Top Five Ways to Support ESL Learners

Teacher helping high school students with technology
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Do you feel uncomfortable when you visit a new place? I imagine how our students feel when they arrive to Canada. Not only are they here to learn English, but they’re also here to adapt to an unfamiliar culture.

Speaking from experience as a current ESL teacher and a former ESL learner, I thought I’d compile a short list of the top five ways that teachers can support their learners in their transition to help them adjust and become confident and effective learners.

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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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