Have you ever explained a task to your students, checked to make sure they understood, and then let them go to work – only to realize as they stared blankly at their work, that they actually didn’t understand? In my first years of teaching, I was so puzzled by students telling me they understood when they clearly didn’t. Even when I would ask directly, “Do you understand?” the answer I was given was often “Yes, teacher” before it became clear that the opposite was true. This was frustrating! It seemed so obvious Continue reading
Not too long ago I created an activity with my students where I asked them to write three types of literary genres they enjoy the most. The task involved writing three words on index cards. I then asked them to meet in groups to share their words. Group by group, they would come to the podium and add their words on Wordle.net – adding each word repeatedly at times and only once other times. At the end, I would let WordleTM do its thing. The result was a collective word cloud that would visualize the commonalities among everyone in my class. Continue reading
We’ve all been there and heard it – “Why are these two words spelled the same but sound different?” or “Why do I need a comma there? You might have answered, “Because you don’t want to eat your mom; it’s “I want to eat, mom.””
I came across this humorous article Continue reading
This activity is meant to be a student’s journey to self-regulation (see Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997). The activity can take place at any time during the school term and is meant to awaken in students the desire to achieve their goals one step at a time. Hence, the process to self-regulation is the goal. Continue reading
I just got off the phone with a student who was not happy. As manager of ESL programs at the college where I work, I have just finished with a major overhaul of all our language courses, essentially flipping them, individualizing the syllabi and encouraging the active participation of students in class. I have followed all of the cutting-edge research in educational techniques and I know that my program is now excellent. So why was she angry? Continue reading
I find myself asking this question often, but in all seriousness, where has the time gone?
I can’t believe November is a week away! It’s fair to say that some of us don’t have that drive we once had at the start of the school year to get up first thing in the morning, eager to start the workday. And honestly, no one can be blamed for feeling run down already. Our profession can take a lot out of us. There’s no
denying that. And with the influx of newcomers – due to what’s been happening in the world – it hasn’t lightened the load any. So teacher burnout is a real possibility.
So much demand is placed upon teachers, and the needs of the students can really affect your will and drive to stay motivated. Especially around this time of year, it’s easy to 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!
Do you ever feel like you’re faking it? If you do, you’re not alone. The Impostor Syndrome or Imposter Phenomenon (IP) is found in people who have skills and abilities but who do not feel that they are successful. Many of the sufferers of IP have achieved high rates of success through earning advanced degrees, gaining professional recognition in their field, or obtaining senior management positions. But despite their accomplishments, those affected by IP believe they do not have the ability to perform in their roles; instead they attribute achievement to luck, or some external factor. People from many different types of professions report feeling like an impostor.
Impostor Phenomenon and Teaching
Due to the public nature of our jobs, teachers tend to experience high rates of IP. Part of the problem with having IP is the anxiety caused by fear of exposure. Often we feel like we should know all of the answers to all of the questions asked by students, and if we don’t then we are at risk of being exposed. Continue reading
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?
Something that I have struggled with for the last ten years as an ESL teacher has been whether or not to properly inform my students about the implications of studying a new language. There seems to be a prevalent preconception among many ESL students that learning to speak English is easier than say, learning the subjects in a college level math course.
To many, abstract subjects like theoretical mathematics or computer programming are obviously more difficult than linguistic subjects. There may be some truth to this concept. However, these courses are often very specific in scope, last anywhere from thirty-two to ninety hours, and require students to simply “remember” and maybe “apply” what they learn. Even though it is a common practice to segment English language programs by level of ability, say levels 1 to 5, or like the CLB, 12 levels in total, these courses are often far from adequate in providing enough time to properly “learn” the content of these levels. Continue reading