Read Your Way Across Canada

bigstock-Book-Covered-With-Canadian-Fla-20361425Have you ever met any students who don’t want to improve their speaking skills?  I haven’t.  It’s more of a challenge to get them to read and write. I did something that got them into reading.

A few years ago, I was trying to encourage my students to read. Fortunately, there was a public library nearby. Once a week we would go there, and I would help them find books. Still, I wanted to give them more motivation to read, so I decided to get them to read across Canada.

I believe this activity will work regardless of your level. All you have to do is adapt the activities to the abilities, and that includes the books that they read.

I did this with my level 1 students. For those who were particularly weak, I had them take out books by Mo Willems. They are fun and easy to read.  Here is an example of one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq77-6zsCSg

Canada is about 7,250 km from coast to coast. I had about 10 students. For every book they read, they earned 100 km, Continue reading

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Facebook Club!

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In May 2014, while volunteering at the TESL Toronto spring conference, I was lucky enough to see a presentation by Chris Harwood and Tracy Manning about their experiences implementing a Facebook-based Book Club in their EAP program.

Inspired by their talk, I decided to try this out with my students. It took some weeks of planning, and some trial and error with different books, but in the end it’s become a successful and popular part of my course!

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Images with Impact: Using and Referencing Images (Part 2)

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Images can be a great visual tool especially in ESL, but the process in making them technologically effective can be overwhelming. This post is the second post of a 3-part series of Images with Impact by John Allan.

Copyright & Images

The best way to approach copyright with your images is to assume that the images are copyrighted by someone.

4 means of including images legally for your LOs are

  • purchase a license to use images,
  • locate images in the public domain meaning that they are on open repositories,
  • have expired copyright, or
  • as Kelly Morrissey posted on January 13, create the images yourself.

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It’s Grammar Time…

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We’re always out to find what’s the best way to effectively teach our learners. I don’t know about everyone else, but it’s been my experience that grammar gets the short end of the stick in the sense that everyone dreads teaching it, and most learners dread learning it.  Am I the only one who actually enjoys spelling? (Crickets)…

I’m here to tell you that if you turn anything into a game, it’ll be fun. Even grammar! And who said that games are meant only for kids?

A typical student’s thought process is “why do I need to learn how to spell properly? The important thing is to speak properly.”  Yes and no. What if you needed to write a note or a statement to your son’s teacher? What about at work? You need to write toyour supervisor about something important. Or you’re a student and obviously grammatical errors are a no-no. Even if a student doesn’t work, go to school, or doesn’t need to write anything for their kids, don’t they still Continue reading

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The TESOL Electronic Village 2015

TESOL2015_logoThe TESOL International Convention is happening in my own backyard, and I can’t participate as I am working in Qatar.  I hope that my fellow TESL Ontario professionals have the ability to attend and participate in the massive spectacle that is the annual TESOL Convention.

I have had the good fortune to attend three conferences in person and a few more online. My favourite part of the conference, after the professional and personal networking, is the Computer-Assisted Language Learning Interest Section (CALL-IS) TESOL Electronic Village.  It is a place where one can Continue reading

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The Power of Disorientation

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As ESL teachers, we all know that the techniques we need to employ while teaching adult learners differ from those techniques used with children.  Jack Mezirow, a well -respected theorist in the field of adult learning, suggests that adults need to experience a disruption as a catalyst for the learning process.  In his theory of transformative learning, he lays out the steps in the process which result in learning.  The first step toward adult learning comes in the form of a disorienting dilemma.  This dilemma provokes a period of critical reflection to help us make sense of the disturbance.  As a result of our examination of what is happening, we grow.

In my experience as an ESL teacher, most of the participants attending the classes I teach have experienced a lot of Continue reading

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Resources Worth Reading

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I’m sharing 5 teaching resources I have read and often revisit. They have helped me consolidate theoretical knowledge with my teaching practice (praxis). My hope is that in your response to this post, you will add a resource that you feel has helped you shape your teaching. The list is in alphabetical order:

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Taking the Tech-less Challenge

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I’ve been using, and embracing, technology in the ESL classroom for a few years now.  Working with Level  2 learners in a course partnered with a workplace experience, it was a natural fit.  I had a SMART Board from day 1, access to a computer lab, and training and support provided by LearnIT2Teach to set up a Learning Management System using a Moodle platform.  I also had free and dependable Wi-Fi in the classroom.  I have to admit, I had been getting spoiled.

Some of my colleagues had joked with me about what I would do if I were to be stripped of the technology that I used every day, or if my location were to change,  say, to a church basement or similar.  Then one day last November, it happened.  New location.  No SMART Board.  No Wi-Fi.  Continue reading

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Moodling – Part 2

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Review

I currently teach an Academic Preparation course, and as I wrote in my previous blog, last summer I set up a Moodle-based course site. The purpose of the Moodle site is to give students access to course material from home, as well as give them experience with using these kinds of sites, since they will most likely have to use them in whichever college or university they go to from my class.

Practical Moodle Usage

Moodle is an incredibly versatile platform, and there are a number of things it can be used for. If desired, an entire course or program could be run entirely through such a site.

My course consists of 3 modules of 4 weeks each. Each day, there are 4 classes (Vocabulary, Reading/Writing, Listening, and Speaking), so the content on the site Continue reading

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Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane?

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Want something for lower-level ESL students that is fun and informative?

When I taught benchmark one classes, I did something that increased their vocabulary by about 100 words in a month or so. It was also fun. It’s not a very original idea. In fact, I borrowed it from my days as an occasional teacher when I had to teach kindergarten.

In many kindergarten classes, they have show and tell. A child brings in an object in a bag, and the rest of the students have to guess what it is by asking questions. I decided to do this with my ESL class.

We sat down and thought of all of the properties that might be associated with an object, things like shape, size, colour, age, and material.  I got poster paper for each attribute, and then had them make one for each. They supplied me with the words, and I Continue reading

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