Category Archives: Reading

Moving Forward with Extensive Reading in the LINC Context

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In 2014, I posted on the TESL Ontario blog “Encourage Extensive Reading with MReader.” Since then, I have been integrating extensive reading with language learners in different contexts. I have learned a great deal using extensive reading in face-to-face situations. However, as COVID has forced us all online, the new challenge is facilitating extensive reading in a fully online mode.

In late 2021, Sepideh Alavi, a member of the Extensive Reading Foundation Board of Directors and Avenue mentor, and I started an extensive reading research project on the Avenue system. A critical part of this study is a pilot test of extensive reading with literacy-level classes. 

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Students in Charge: Ideas for Reading and Listening Activities

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Recently, I did a small experiment with my students. Instead of me assigning reading and listening tasks, I asked them to read an article and watch a YouTube video, and then make their own questions as if they were teachers. The results and feedback were quite astonishing.

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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

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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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