As teachers we prepare lesson plans for many reasons. We do it because it helps us keep track of our lesson delivery and also because it is required of us. The latter one, however, can make us lose sight of its true purpose, which is to help our students achieve the learning outcomes of the lesson. Through my many years of teaching, I have learned that lesson planning is most useful when I put myself in my students’ shoes.
Effective Lesson Planning
Let’s face it. For a lesson plan to be effective, it needs to focus on what students need to demonstrate at the end on the lesson. Lesson planning is about meeting learning outcomes for our students; the objective of the lesson is not for us to deliver content or for administration to see that we spent hours on prep-time (Yes, we do!), but for us to think of ways for our students to demonstrate learning. Continue reading →
The following are diary entries from a fictional ESL student.
I started my new English class today. I was excited to meet my teacher and classmates. I like my teacher a lot. Harry was very friendly and he made us laugh right from the start. I already feel very comfortable with him and the rest of my peers. I really think I’m going to enjoy this class and I hope I can really improve my English.Continue reading →
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.
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 themwhat 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 →
What happens when you take ESL learners outside the classroom? There’s a peak in interest in the class and in the lessons, a growth in connection among the class members, and an increased sense of belonging to the wider community.
Over the past number of years, I have taken adult learners in small, mixed-level ESL classes on field trips in the community. We have visited the public library, a farmers’ market, a curling rink, the local fire station, a nature park, our city hall (including sitting in on part of a city council meeting), an outdoor nativity play, and a maple sugar bush.
Something that I have struggled with for the last ten years as an ESL teacher has been whether or not to properly inform my students about the implications of studying a new language. There seems to be a prevalent preconception among many ESL students that learning to speak English is easier than say, learning the subjects in a college level math course.
To many, abstract subjects like theoretical mathematics or computer programming are obviously more difficult than linguistic subjects. There may be some truth to this concept. However, these courses are often very specific in scope, last anywhere from thirty-two to ninety hours, and require students to simply “remember” and maybe “apply” what they learn. Even though it is a common practice to segment English language programs by level of ability, say levels 1 to 5, or like the CLB, 12 levels in total, these courses are often far from adequate in providing enough time to properly “learn” the content of these levels. Continue reading →
For the purposes of this post, curation is defined as aggregated content that has been identified and vetted by a human curator. You might choose to leave the searching, sorting, repackaging, organizing and publishing to curators. Serious curators are area specialists who spend a great deal of time and effort to provide their networks with relevant content. The majority of curated content is located, and shared on a casual basis by common social media participants on an ad hoc basis. This can be seen daily on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Part-time curation is something that we do when we have a few spare minutes but the dedicated few that are professional curators are tremendous sources for up-to-date content.
Discovering a curator and trusting that they will curate relevant content that meet your professional requirements may necessitate determination and patience, but the results will be worth it. Just imagine, someone else combing through dozens of sources and hundreds of items to repackage and present the most relevant to your on a daily basis. Continue reading →
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 →
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.
While clearing out my cupboards, I came upon an old boxed set of classic books that I had bought for my children when they were younger. Rather than putting them into the donation bin, I thought they might come in handy in my level 3 LINC class. As it turned out, I found them to be quite a useful tool in the classroom.
I focused in on one particular student (I will refer to him as John) who I felt was just about ready to be promoted to level 4, with the minor exception of a weakness in his reading skills. He was an excellent, hard-working student, but he was lacking confidence in his own abilities.
I suggested that he take home one of these books and read a little each evening. The books are small, about 4 inches by 5 inches, and about an inch thick, with brightly coloured illustrations on the covers – not very intimidating looking. They are adapted Continue reading →
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 →