My name is ED – English Dictionary – but most language learners call me “Oh, you again”. But I’m pretty sure that I’m one of your favorite things in life. For a while I’ve wanted to have a talk with you about something shocking I recently came across. It’s all about my casual talk with your students about my presence and role in their language learning. And believe me, that talk came out as a big surprise!
In this blog entry, I will attempt to briefly describe the contents of a presentation my colleague Glenn Ewing and I shared at TESL Niagara on February 8, 2020.
Glenn and I have been interested in EAP Speaking rubrics for many years. Information shared here and during the presentation is based on our personal reflection, professional experience, education, and research. Our focus is mainly on EAP speaking rubrics for midterm assessment. We maintain that typical EAP speaking rubrics often present some flaws which make them ineffective for the learner. We attempt to explain some of the problems, propose some principles of rubric design, and finally, promote, as an alternative, student-centred, formative speaking rubrics.
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
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 →
I hope my title did not conjure images of technology-enhanced learning with visions of smartphones, iPads, and laptops dancing up through the air. On the contrary,
this blog is about students stirring, moving in circles, and engaging in conversation. I’m talking about face to face interaction, where students are talking and listening to each other while the teacher is watching.
In the ESL classroom: LINC, ESL or EAP – we teachers need to have many ideas up our sleeves to make sure students are not yawning but interacting with one another and having fun while learning. Last year in September, I shared two of these strategies. You can read them here: http://blog.teslontario.org/an-active-start-to-the-academic-year/ In this blog, I share another one that I have found students also enjoy: 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!
I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the ACPI-TESOL National Conference in Costa Rica earlier this month. Although it was a relatively small conference (under 60 participants), the organizers were able to attract presenters from the U.S., Panama, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and UAE (and me from Canada).
I believe as teachers, we can always learn something new no matter how many years we have been teaching. This conference was no exception in that there were many take-aways from the presentations. However, before I provide some of the conference highlights, I wanted to talk about my experience trying to navigate in a Spanish-speaking country as a non-speaker of Spanish. (I did take some lessons a few years ago, but I didn’t even have enough language skills to function.) I forgot how it feels to be unable to communicate – even a simple request! The last time I experienced this kind of powerlessness and vulnerability (not to mention feeling dumb) was when I got lost in Hong Kong; I actually got lost 3 times in 3 different taxis in Costa Rica! There is certainly nothing more meaningful for a language teacher than experiential learning and appreciating the daily challenges for many of our students!
Imagine if someone said something overtly sexual or crude to you. What would your reaction be? Disbelief? Shock? Anger? Now imagine that the speaker is your ESL student. Of course, your response has to be different.
Sometimes because of pronunciation or improper word usage, ESL students inadvertently say or write the most shocking things. A while back, one of my students wrote this in a peer review (a student response to a student assignment, in this case an essay): “Your hooker is not very appealing and is unlikely to attract the reader.” Of course, he meant hook. What a difference two letters can make. This situation was easier to deal with because the student had not uttered this sentence aloud to the class. I took him aside and explained the meaning of the word, resulting in him blushing quite a bit.
Sometimes students mispronounce words such as sit, beach, can’t etc. I deal with this issue Continue reading →
While clearing out my cupboards, I came upon an old boxed set of classic books that I had bought for my children when they were younger. Rather than putting them into the donation bin, I thought they might come in handy in my level 3 LINC class. As it turned out, I found them to be quite a useful tool in the classroom.
I focused in on one particular student (I will refer to him as John) who I felt was just about ready to be promoted to level 4, with the minor exception of a weakness in his reading skills. He was an excellent, hard-working student, but he was lacking confidence in his own abilities.
I suggested that he take home one of these books and read a little each evening. The books are small, about 4 inches by 5 inches, and about an inch thick, with brightly coloured illustrations on the covers – not very intimidating looking. They are adapted Continue reading →