Have Fun With It!

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

A common piece of advice I give my students is

“don’t read the newspaper.”

Their hearts are in the right place – they want reading practice – but most of them have zero interest in the news and end up getting very little from their daily ritual of reading Metro on the subway.

If students are looking for extra work, it’s important that it’s something fun and interesting for them. My students are upper-intermediate/advanced. For the most part, their English is very good – most of the errors they make are small, basic errors like prepositions and collocations -so they just need practice rather than pouring over grammar rules.

What I tell them instead of reading the newspaper, is

“It doesn’t matter what you read, as long as it’s in English!”

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Centred and Balanced

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

What is student-centred learning?  There are many facets to this idea.  It can be lessons based on students’ needs.  It can mean choosing topics based on students’ interests.  But one of the concepts that is most commonly related to student-centred learning is learning through discovery.  When someone learns through discovery, they are given enough autonomy to interact with materials and consequently discover how things work (think figuring out grammar rules implicitly).  On the other side of the coin you have teacher directed learning where knowledge is transferred from teacher to student (think explaining how grammar rules work). Continue reading

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Create Learning Objects Quickly with Quizlet

The Hook

image used with permission from Quizlet
image used with permission from Quizlet

Quizlet allows instructors to create or borrow flashcards, tests, and study games that can improve learning engagement and allow students to access materials at school, at home, or anywhere on their mobile devices. Quizlet learning opportunities are easily embedded into web pages, learning management system (LMS) courses, or social media offerings such as Facebook.   Continue reading

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WorkPlace ESL

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

Struggling to communicate, being misunderstood, or not being understood at all, is a very stressful and daunting feeling for anyone especially when it affects your lively-hood. The class I’m currently teaching is experiencing this very feeling. And although they attend ESL classes on a daily basis, their English comprehension levels are lacking.

This is where WorkPlace ESL comes into play. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this branch of ESL, it’s a program that was designed some time ago to help those who need specific language training in order to excel in the work force. Continue reading

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About Reflective Practice

Young woman on a train writing notes
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How many of us sit down at the end of the day and reflect on the lesson?  I mean really sit down and think about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the potential.  For many of us, I’m sure the intentions are there, but on a really bad day, we’re probably more inclined to pack up our things, get home, call it a day, and think “tomorrow will be better”.  In these moments, as much as with the great days, it’s important for us to reflect because reflecting doesn’t mean kicking us when we’re down, but rather it means finding ways to bring us back up and truly know that tomorrow will be better because today wasn’t terribly horrible.

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Mouth-selfies Make Pronunciation Real

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Most EFL teachers savour a ‘teachable moment’ where, by plan or serendipity, some magic happens. Let me tell you a story about one of mine.

During the 7 years I taught in the Middle East, all teachers lamented the prevalence of mobile phones in the classroom. Sometimes, even, multiple phones during exams had to be removed from students under the protests of “We’re just sharing teacher….honest…..just sharing.”

Phones were a problem.  And as so often happens, problems are the source of an inspiration.  One day I got all 24 of my 17-19 year old male students around in a circle of desks and got them to explain to me, in English of course, all the features of their many varieties of mobiles or cells. All the new terms and features were written Continue reading

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Live Poets Society

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

It had been a total failure. I had tried to introduce poetry to my class and have them write some, but they were reluctant and bored. However, something inside told me to give it another shot a few months later. I had been introduced to the concept at a TESL London workshop. The presenter was a convincing person and very nice, so

I had to try again.

I looked at ways I could do things differently. Since I teach levels 6 to 8, there were several resources I could draw on.

First, I asked them what they thought poetry was. You know what? I didn’t get much of a response. Things didn’t look too good – again.

So I went to phase two with a clip from Dead Poets’ Society.

I asked the question again,

“What is poetry?”

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What is EAP?

bigstock-Writing-Steps-Pyramid-Edit-Wri-59394623I have been teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) for a little over five years now. Compared to my previous jobs teaching general ESL and Business English, I find it incredibly satisfying; I think this is partly due to the course having a clear objective: preparing students for college and university.

But an important question that arose early on in the course, was

What does it mean to prepare students for college and university?

Are we talking about having their English at an equivalent level to their peers? Or is it more about mentally preparing them with academic skills needed for success? Continue reading

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To Err is Progress

Learn From Mistakes Move Forward gears people marching, climbing
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Fear of making a mistake or asking a stupid question is a legitimate problem. Sir Ken Robinson in his TED talk: “How schools kill creativity” talks about how the education system makes people fear being wrong. This fear of being wrong can squash our creativity. If we always keep ourselves in check, so that we don’t make mistakes, we will never take chances. He states we need to be prepared to be wrong.

I often say to my students “There is no such thing as a stupid question!”  I’ve said this many times.  However, when I put myself in the position of student, I sometimes feel like my question might be stupid.

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Images with Impact: Accessing Images (Part 3)

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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 third and final post of a 3-part series of Images with Impact by John Allan.

 

Placement of Images

Word Processors are the most common authoring tool used by teachers to create learning objects or LOs. Generally, worksheets are the most common kind of LO. The Microsoft Word word processor offers two practical ways of positioning images in a LO.  The first is using tables.  Tables are a standard feature in word processors.  The image occupies a single cell in a document.  The table is then positioned within the documents as the instructor deems appropriate.

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