As teachers, we often encourage learners to expose themselves to as much English as possible. One way for learners to do this is by listening to English songs. They are readily available through apps like Spotify and YouTube and can be enjoyed ‘on the go’ as people go about their busy lives. In the classroom, many teachers use songs to enhance their lessons, especially when teaching children. Using a song from a children’s story, one study found songs could potentially contribute to vocabulary learning (Medina, 1993). However, we know very little about the impact of listening to popular ‘everyday’ songs on vocabulary learning as very little research has been conducted in this area (Maneshi, 2017).
If you can’t hear a sound, it is very difficult to reproduce it. Our students hear stressed syllables, which would be okay, except in English over 60% of our syllables are unstressed, and we often forget to teach them how to listen for those unstressed syllables.
English spelling compounds the problem. Continue reading
Happy Monday TESL ON members! Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I don’t know about you, but I love poetry! Although most of us may not use it very much to teach English to our students, many are aware that it can be a good way to teach the rhythm of English. However, I think there are so many more ways that we could use this rich form of the English language. Continue reading
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
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!
One of the five classes in my EAP course is a 50-minute a day listening class. It’s always been the most difficult for me to teach, partly because it’s directly after lunch, when students are not the most awake!
Over the years I’ve tried various teaching resources, searching for the most effective texts and material to help students. These are the best ones I’ve come across for teaching listening skills in EAP:
English for Academic Study: Listening
I love Garnet Education’s EAS series, and use the Vocabulary and Reading & Writing books as a major part of my curriculum. When my course first began, our listening curriculum was based entirely on the EAS: Listening book. Continue reading
I have been teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) for a little over five years now. Compared to my previous jobs teaching general ESL and Business English, I find it incredibly satisfying; I think this is partly due to the course having a clear objective: preparing students for college and university.
But an important question that arose early on in the course, was
What does it mean to prepare students for college and university?
Are we talking about having their English at an equivalent level to their peers? Or is it more about mentally preparing them with academic skills needed for success? Continue reading
Want something for lower-level ESL students that is fun and informative?
When I taught benchmark one classes, I did something that increased their vocabulary by about 100 words in a month or so. It was also fun. It’s not a very original idea. In fact, I borrowed it from my days as an occasional teacher when I had to teach kindergarten.
In many kindergarten classes, they have show and tell. A child brings in an object in a bag, and the rest of the students have to guess what it is by asking questions. I decided to do this with my ESL class.
We sat down and thought of all of the properties that might be associated with an object, things like shape, size, colour, age, and material. I got poster paper for each attribute, and then had them make one for each. They supplied me with the words, and I Continue reading
Fluency is a critical element of communication and is often a basis for how language levels are judged. Signposting is a technique which makes speech more fluent. Words or phrases that link speech together to make it coherent, and give the listener an indication of where our verbal communication is headed, are considered signposts.
Does receiving an indication of the direction that a conversation will take make a difference to the listener? Absolutely! When we have a good idea about what we will hear, we can process the meaning faster. Hearing something contrary to what we are expecting causes our brain waves to spike. The spike causes a diversion of energy which can contribute to longer processing time. Considering how fast a brain processes language, a matter of milliseconds can slow down comprehension. The delay in comprehending could cause a listener to completely misunderstand what was said. Continue reading
Have you ever seen the movie Lost in Translation? The main character, played by Bill Murray, has some strange experiences while working in Japan. The situation seems almost surreal to someone who has not experienced Japan. However, if you’ve ever lived there, what happens to him is not all that extraordinary. After having been exposed to a bit of Japanese culture, what happens to him seems closer to everyday life. Culture has a big impact on our activities and our perceptions of what is happening. How much impact, then, does culture have on something as integral as communication?
It is very difficult to teach Canadian communication norms. Most people who have been raised in Canada aren’t even aware that the language structures they use may carry a different meaning when literally translated, simply because the meaning of the expression has been internalized. Often we think our expressions are logical. Continue reading