Category Archives: Reading

Enhancing Reading Comprehension II: Structured Experience Techniques

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The key feature of structured experience techniques is their combination of hands-on learner involvement, with a reassuring framework to reduce anxiety and promote active engagement. The trick is to provide supportive, structural guidance without lapsing into full-on, direct instruction. For comparison purposes, it might be helpful to begin by reviewing my earlier suggestions in ‘Enhancing Reading Comprehension I: Explicit Teaching Techniques.’ Structured experience strategies require teachers to gauge their own participation very carefully. The goal is not only to enhance learner skills but also to bolster their self-esteem through encountering success with experiential activity.

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Enhancing Reading Comprehension I: Explicit Teaching Techniques

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Reading can be a very challenging skill for ESL learners. Teachers also know that individual students may respond differently to different styles of instruction. Fortunately, we have access to both explicit teaching techniques and structured experience techniques. Even though ESL teachers themselves may be more comfortable with one or the other of these options, it is well worth taking both of them seriously because each can make a contribution.  Part I of this series covers explicit teaching techniques and Part II covers structured experience techniques. I will offer practical advice regarding both approaches, and explain three proposed techniques for each.

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Summary of the #English Language Skills discussion with Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna, OCELT

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Post by: Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna and Vanessa Nino

On April 30, 2021 people in the TESL Ontario community discussed teaching the English language skills on Twitter. The guest moderator of the evening was Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna (@capontedehanna). Cecilia is a full-time professor at Centennial College, where she teaches English communications courses to local and international students. With over 15 years of teaching experience, Cecilia has taught children as young as 3 years old to adults in their golden years.

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Put Your Reading Socks On!

A Perfect Time to Read

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“Books are a uniquely portable magic,” as Stephen King wrote, so spend the rest of this pandemic with your reading socks on! It is a stressful time; reading a good book or an educational article can be extremely therapeutic! 

In this blog entry, I will briefly review some professional articles and Canadian books I think you might enjoy. I would love an exchange of ideas if you read or have already read some of my suggestions listed below.

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Have a Holly Jolly Practice!

A person using a laptop while surrounded by holiday gifts, decorations, and treats.
Image by Samira Rahi from Unsplash

You may be wondering if you need to send off students with some work over the holidays to make sure they keep practicing. The reality is that everyone wants to feel free for a couple of days! So why not make the practice fun for them?!

Due to COVID students probably are spending most of their time at home, so they may thrive watching fun movies or exploring websites. Here are some fun websites that your students could use to practice their English language skills for free:

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Five Ways Your Public Library Can Support Your Learners

Toronto Canada - Oct 12 2017: Bookshelves at the Toronto Reference Library. This library is one of the three largest libraries in the world. Province of Ontario Canada
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Ah, the public library – the place you perhaps went to as a child to sign out books so you could read and escape to new worlds in your imagination. But when was the last time you walked into your local public library as an educator (before social distancing)? And when did you realize the library offered more than just books? While there are some avid library users in the education field, there are still many who don’t recognize the underrated value the library has for the ESL community.

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Extensive Reading Resources

Hands with books. People holding and reading book and magazine, public library literature reader. Academic knowledge vector learning information in opening textbook concept
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Since Extensive Reading (ER) is a crucial part of language learning, I have compiled some important ER resources to help you promote ER in your classroom. ER can build learners’ confidence, enjoyment and autonomy.

If you missed my first blog post, The Role of Extensive Reading in Language Learning, please read it when you get a chance so that the resources below will be most helpful.

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Reading & Presenting Circles

Teaching communication skills to internationally trained professional students has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career. My students have years of experience and vast knowledge in their areas of expertise, yet when it comes to communicating the simplest thoughts and ideas, they often seem to be challenged; confidence and language barriers could be the two biggest reasons behind this challenge.

The curriculum that I teach requires students to present only twice over the span of 4 months. This semester, however, I have started providing my students with more opportunities to present without making it an official presentation task. I have named this approach “Reading & Presenting Circles.” The results have been stellar, so I thought I should share the approach with my TESL Blog community. The class I have implemented the Reading and Presenting Circle approach in is 18 weeks, and I meet my students twice a week.

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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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