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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Are 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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
Teaching critical thinking through reading in the information age
Attending PD conferences of your local chapter of TESL Ontario is a great way to meet other teachers, network, and learn new ideas and techniques to add to your teaching toolbox. On May 13th, I attended the Waterloo-Wellington Spring AGM and PD event. The theme was “Thinking Critically” and the guest speaker for the plenary session, Tyson Seburn, spoke on the topic of teaching critical reading in an age of (mis)information and fake news. Tyson Seburn is Lead Instructor of Critical Reading and Writing in the International Foundation Program at New College, University of Toronto, and he recently published a book entitled, Academic Reading Circles.
In this blog, I want to share some of the strategies that Tyson raised in his address 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 →