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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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The Power of the Warm-Up

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The ten to fifteen minutes at the beginning of an ESL class are so valuable to both teachers and students. That is the time when students are fresh and eager to learn. I would go so far as to say that students may even be optimistic and excited about what they are about to do (at least that’s how I like to view the students in that part of the class). In the spirit of that optimism, the warm-up is a great tool to increase students’ confidence, show them what they know and what they need to work on, and give the teacher a clear understanding of where the class needs to go that day.

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Summer Camp – Where Learning Can Be Fun

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Over the summer, I worked as an ESL teacher at a summer camp for children and teens from abroad. This was my third-year teaching at the camp and I had a great time!

Camp Chaos

As expected, it was chaos, with students arriving every week from countries like Mexico, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. There were lots of new faces with students coming and going.

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Caring About Students: A Lesson About Stress

Introduction: Caring is the First Step

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For years, I have been fascinated with the work of Nel Noddings and her themes on care. In one of her (2010) articles, she presses educators to become role models who shape healthy and caring students. The students in my class were feeling stressed and overwhelmed by being constantly assessed on their performance, so I decided to create a set of lessons on the theme of stress. These lessons were prepared for a high-intermediate level and each day represents a period of 50 minutes.

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Good Practice in teaching vocabulary

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If you’re on Twitter, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, June 25th. Here is a summary of the June 4th chat compiled by Bonnie Nicholas

On June 4, 2019, the #CdnELTchat community brought their best and briefest words to talk about good practice in teaching vocabulary. We chose good practice over best practice because what is best can change and can depend on context. Agree? Disagree? Tweet your comments using the #CdnELTchat hashtag.

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On Assignment (An ESL Interview)

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I recently completed an assignment as part of an interview process for an ESL teaching position. This is the first time I was asked to do something like this and I enjoyed completing the assignment immensely because it put my teaching to good use and also demonstrated my abilities. It really gave me a chance to shine.

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Spring Reflections

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The cherry blossoms are out! It’s spring and finally warm enough to ride my bike to work.  I do my best thinking on that bike. With a new semester starting, I find myself reflecting on the semester gone by.  Peddling on cold, rainy days tends to cause me to remember my failures, but on warm, sunny mornings, I recall my successes.  For 16 years I have been teaching university prep writing, grammar, reading, speaking, and listening to students from around the world. 

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Storybird

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Do you ever teach CLB 5 narrative paragraph writing? Do your students usually write something with pencil on paper that they later discard? Have you ever thought of using Storybird to engage and enhance writing skills or create a class anthology of stories?

Publish it

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Why I became a teacher now, not then

I recently got certified as an adult ESL teacher, more than a decade after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English. Although teaching had been an option in the past, I decided to pursue other avenues—and I’m glad I did.

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Over the years, I had many great experiences, learned many things, and acquired skills that make me a better teacher today. There truly are many different roads to teaching and I would like to share mine.

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