Category Archives: Tips

Lessons learned in an ESL Literacy Class

image source: bigstockphoto.com

 

During the fall term, I was privileged to teach a group of 10 ESL Literacy students. Although in the past I had volunteer-tutored a literacy student and had taught various computer literacy classes, teaching a whole class of beginner ESL students with literacy needs was a whole new challenge. I have to say it was thoroughly rewarding Continue reading

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Mid-term blues – Keep Going!

image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I find myself asking this question often, but in all seriousness, where has the time gone?
I can’t believe November is a week away!  It’s fair to say that some of us don’t have that drive we once had at the start of the school year to get up first thing in the morning, eager to start the workday. And honestly, no one can be blamed for feeling run down already. Our profession can take a lot out of us. There’s no
denying that. And with the influx of newcomers – due to what’s been happening in the world – it hasn’t lightened the load any. So teacher burnout is a real possibility.

So much demand is placed upon teachers, and the needs of the students can really affect your will and drive to stay motivated. Especially around this time of year, it’s easy to Continue reading

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IN PURSUIT OF LEARNERS’ EMPOWERMENT: CAN WE TEACH GOOD WRITING HABITS?

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Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

As I’ve shared with you in previous blogs, one of my ongoing interests is finding ways to empower my students to become better writers of English. What is the formula?

  • Vocabulary skills are important (Checked √)
  • Grammar is important (Checked √)
  • Controlled practice is important (Checked √)

…Wait a minute… Modeling is super important…

Modeling Writing

According to Cumming (1995), language teachers need to not only provide text models of a good writer’s final product (what an assignment is supposed to look like at the end), but also model the cognitive process of writing. In other words, we as teachers should model writing-as-a-process that mimics the actions performed by effective writers (hint: we need to write a lot to be one too). Continue reading

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Solve the Question

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I’m privileged to have been teaching newcomers for the last few weeks. It’s definitely been an interesting class, more so because of the extreme level differences in learning. Having a multilevel class can be quite challenging because you want to ensure that no one is bored and everyone is engaged.

Forming questions to match answers is a great way to challenge your students at any level. (Although I wouldn’t recommend this to first time English language learners). I’d say it works anywhere from from a high CLB 2 or low CLB 3 and up.

The usual Q & A

I’ve been working on getting my students to think about asking and answering questions, and up until last week, it’s been the usual — I ask and they answer – the same concept applied on their worksheets. They read the questions and answer accordingly. Continue reading

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Anaphylaxis in the Classroom – Do you know what to do?

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Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Food allergies are on the rise, so it’s safe to say that you may know at least one person who has to stay away from common or obscure dietary allergens and intolerances.  With both adults and children affected, (mine included), you will inevitably come across someone dealing with food allergies in your classroom. In fact, this topic may have already been covered in your work module. Here are some good facts and tips that may simplify this topic, helping to create a healthy discussion amongst coworkers and students alike.

Disclaimer: The following content is for information purposes only. I’m not a health expert, but I know a lot from personal experience. Always seek advice from a trained professional. Continue reading

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Presentations that feel like home

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Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Presentations are ubiquitous in modern life, so it makes sense to include them as a component in ESL classes.  In North American culture we have certain expectations about how presentations will be given.  The format is low-context, meaning the presenters are making sure that they can be understood by the audience.  The students in our classes not only require the appropriate language skills, they also need to understand how to format a presentation so that the audience can understand its structure.  The following house analogy is one way to teach about how the format of a presentation gives it structure.  This structure makes the content more coherent to the audience.

Welcome

The introduction welcomes the audience to your presentation.  It tells them who you are, why you are giving the presentation and, maybe most importantly, it shows them what to expect.  It’s the first impression that the audience has of what will be delivered.  Much like the front lawn or the walk way to your house, the first impression of the introduction adds value.  Continue reading

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Organizing your Personal / Professional Learning Network (PLN)

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Symbaloo starting page courtesy of www.symbaloo.com

As presented in my last post, Personal Learning Network Sources, a Personal Learning Network (PLN) can include numerous  resources           that assist communication, resource sharing and professional growth.  I have found that one of the most challenging aspects of PLNs is organizing the content for efficient retrieval.  As PLN resources are added or removed it becomes clear that arranging them is necessary to enable efficient access.   A single starting page, or PLN home page, is a solution that I have found provides effective access to my PLN.

A starting page is the first page of your PLN based on the chosen tool.   One example is using your Twitter account page, Twitter being the tool,  as Anna Bartosik details in her post, How to Connect the Right Way: Using your PLN on Twitter.  I use the tool Symbaloo as my starting page for my PLN. The Symbaloo organizer uses tabs, thumbnail icons and text to provide quick access to my PLN resources.

Below, I offer some PLN starting page options.  Each of these possibilities embody their own strengths and weaknesses.   As a language instructor, you may want to choose one of these options based on your experience with digital organizers, your personal technology skills and the quantity of resources in your PLN. Continue reading

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The Multilevel Merger – Can It Work For You?

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Hello again, dear colleagues!

I was at a friend’s house the other day discussing the usual things moms talk about, when my friend expressed her frustration about her daughter’s multilevel classroom. I asked how her daughter is handling the setup, to which she replied: “She doesn’t think much of it because she’s in the upper grade of the split class. I don’t feel like she’s being challenged enough.” I wondered then how our ESL adult learners — especially the advanced students, might feel about their multilevel classes, should they happen to be in one.

Every class you teach as an adult ESL instructor can be considered multilevel to a certain extent. However, a true multilevel class takes place when there’s a substantial difference in learning levels in the same classroom, (e.g. levels 2-7). I’m sure some welcome the challenge; maybe even thrive on it like: “Who are you because we need to talk?!” While many others dread the thought of being in this situation, dealing with a multitude of learning levels. 

So here are a few tips that I hope you’ll find beneficial: Continue reading

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How do I write faster?

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Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

A typical conversation that I have with students near the beginning of a semester goes like this:

Me: How are things going? What would you like to do today?

Student: Ugh I have so many assignments you know, and I have to study a lot and write so many papers. It took me a long time to write this essay… like 6, 7 days. That’s too much. Please teach me how to write faster.

Me: Writing essays takes me a long time, too.

Student: No. It can’t take you this long… you are a professional and English is your first language. I want to write essays in maybe 4 hours total.

For many students, this request is a very logical one. How do they juggle the multitude of assignments in a 14 or 15 week semester? Writing faster is more efficient and beneficial to them than not writing at all. After all these years, I still don’t have a clear answer because I can’t even write a 10 page paper in 4 hours. Once we get through the initial conversation, here are some strategies I do provide: Continue reading

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