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 →
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:
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 →
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 →
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 →
Fluency is a critical element of communication and is often a basis for how language levels are judged. Signposting is a technique which makes speech more fluent. Words or phrases that link speech together to make it coherent, and give the listener an indication of where our verbal communication is headed, are considered signposts.
Does receiving an indication of the direction that a conversation will take make a difference to the listener? Absolutely! When we have a good idea about what we will hear, we can process the meaning faster. Hearing something contrary to what we are expecting causes our brain waves to spike. The spike causes a diversion of energy which can contribute to longer processing time. Considering how fast a brain processes language, a matter of milliseconds can slow down comprehension. The delay in comprehending could cause a listener to completely misunderstand what was said. Continue reading →
Images can be a great visual tool especially in ESL, but the process in making them technologically effective can be overwhelming. Images with Impact will be a 3-part series of posts by John Allan in order to give you researched information and the opportunity to reflect at each step.
Instructors and Images
Many instructors are expected to create their own presentations, worksheets, or online learning materials called learning objects (LOs) to enhance their classroom offerings. This situation is tricky since most LOs in the modern classroom include multimedia objects. For now, let’s focus on images. Image handling is a very common problem for instructors. This problem is especially onerous for instructors who may not have access to image editors, image repositories, or media design support. Continue reading →
Carving out more in-class time for student-centered conversation in the past year has had my students progress more quickly as they spent more time speaking, rather than just studying the language. Confidence and experience are essential for developing fluency, and in a safe environment, students’ overall progress can improve significantly. Since doing this in my class, I’ve seen an increase in the quality and quantity of my students’ interactions with each other, and I’ve also learned that they’re interacting at a higher level within their communities.
When adding conversation time in the classroom (which is great for those multi-level classes too), it’s important to have stimulating topics from which interesting questions can be created. I like to choose topics that boost student engagement and that are based on current news events, hot topics such as the latest technology gadget, or seasonal/cultural themes. You may need to tread carefully around Continue reading →
I’ve always wondered how an adult who is learning a new language felt when surrounded by the unfamiliar. Although I’ve once experienced the difficulty and hardship of learning a new language and acclimating to a brand new environment as a child, it doesn’t compare to the emotions and experiences felt by an adult learner.
Having watched both my parents in the past try to interact with other fellow Canadians without the proper use of the English language was noteworthy. Though at times they were clearly frustrated, they seemed to get by. Today, my parents’ command of the English language is vast and they are both able to carry on conversations and express their wants and needs. Aside from their drive to want to learn and acclimate, they also had French to fall back on. But what about those who migrate from Continue reading →
Our blog team would like to take this time to say THANK YOU for your support throughout the past few months. We love getting comments and feedback from our readership, and hopefully you are finding interesting material you can use in your practice.
With the holiday season upon us, we will be taking a break from blogging until the New Year, posting at our regular Monday schedule on January 5th. Maybe you’ve been so busy creating lesson plans, marking projects, and the countless other tasks we educators do on a daily basis and haven’t had much of a chance to read through all of our posts. If you have downtime, revisit some of our great posts and see if any ideas can be incorporated in your teaching in the new year.
As always, if you have any suggestions, an interest in blogging, or comments, please go to our Contact Us page and send us an email.