Category Archives: Reading

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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Bring Book Clubs into the Classroom

Vector cartoon illustration of Reading club. Open books on table with human hands top view, letters and words around. Colorful graphic concept
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Do you belong to a book club? My mother-daughter book club is nearing its fourth anniversary! We started it as a way to encourage reading in our daughters, and four years later, not only do we have voracious young readers, but we have also built a neighbourhood community.

I started to wonder if this concept could be applied to my teaching context. I teach LINC online with LINC Home Study. I had attended a few webinars online regarding extensive reading and decided to try it out.

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Summer Reading Bingo Challenge

image that says Summer Reading Challenge 2018Are you teaching this summer? Sometimes it can be tricky trying to get students engaged in the classroom – or even staff in the office – when the sun is shining and the breezy trees are calling. It’s that “happy place” feeling I try to tap into whenever I teach or whenever I want to motivate my team. For me, the best way to do this is through reading…and I mean really reading, the kind of reading that takes you to a place of wonder, reflection, reaction. Continue reading

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Seeing Through My Students’ Eyes

The topic for this post has been on my mind for a while. It is more of a question arising out of my experience with multi-modal text, specifically students’ work when transducing words to image. Perhaps you can help me answer the question:

Whose images should students be required to produce when asked to analyze the author’s writing: The visualization of what they read or what the author intended?

I ask because I have found that controlling what students visualize while reading might be just as controversial as asking students to think in English. Continue reading

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Reading, Reading, Reading. Why it’s so important!

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I was talking with a colleague, Lisa, during lunch break the other day. At our school, the students have a  1-hour class with a pronunciation instructor once per week. Lisa was suggesting  the merits of having a similar intensive lesson every week on reading.  After our discussion, I began to consider the importance of reading versus the other skills. I am beginning to wonder if reading is the key skill to developing English proficiency.

Don’t get me wrong – Teaching pronunciation is one of my favourite classes to teach. I guess I like the focus of language use and playing with the sounds, the stress, intonation and inflection. Many students have expressed that it is important for them, as well.

Anyway, back to reading.  Continue reading

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‘I don’t know why!’

Years ago the ESL program at Brock University welcomed a cohort of remarkable students on scholarships to pursue graduate studies in Canada. All of them were optimistic and highly motivated, but one – let’s call her Marianna – stood out for her exceptional diligence. She was a geneticist, and perhaps that academic focus promoted her extremely methodical approach to studying English; in any case, she wonderfully exemplified the self-aware style that often characterizes successful adult learners. One of my experiences when teaching her was especially memorable.

But first, the background: Guided by theoretical findings that were emerging at the time, we required every ESL student to read one entire easy-reader per week. We offered a large bank of fiction and non-fiction texts, and students could freely select whatever title and difficulty-level they wished. Continue reading

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