This blog post is about the verb “to get,” and how sometimes this verb can get in the way of progress. Biber and Conrad (2001) list the verb “to get” as one of the twelve most commonly used verbs in spoken English, which explains why it would be an important verb to know. However, too much of a good thing can sometimes get in the way of progress. The verb “to get” and all its inflections can end up replacing every other possible verb, which in turn might prevent some learners from moving to the next stage of language proficiency. Continue reading
I imagine we’ve all had classes in which one or two students dominate the room. Maybe they ask questions at every turn or monopolize discussions, not leaving room for others to speak. Making room for everyone in the classroom without alienating these students can be a difficult task. Here are some methods that can be used to keep a balanced classroom: Continue reading
One of the best things teachers can do for their students is to help them learn to help themselves. To promote learner autonomy, we need to build students’ self-confidence and give them strategies for teaching themselves. Some of the ways we can do this include the following. Continue reading
Do you limit teacher talk time in favour of active learning? Good!
Do you limit teacher talk time because your students seem disengaged or don’t understand? Bad…
Let’s face it, teacher talk time (TTT) is valuable. Although it should not be the focus of any lesson, it can certainly be an opportunity to mediate learning, not just facilitate it or curate it. Hence, done purposefully, TTT can help students take better notes, recall valuable information, and differentiate between main ideas and extraneous detail. How can this be?
Let me explain . . . Continue reading
Have you ever explained a task to your students, checked to make sure they understood, and then let them go to work – only to realize as they stared blankly at their work, that they actually didn’t understand? In my first years of teaching, I was so puzzled by students telling me they understood when they clearly didn’t. Even when I would ask directly, “Do you understand?” the answer I was given was often “Yes, teacher” before it became clear that the opposite was true. This was frustrating! It seemed so obvious Continue reading
As language teachers, many of us agree that technology is useful for assisting our instruction. Videos, animations, virtual tours, audio clips, interactive games, self-correcting quizzes and digital online resources are some of the possibilities offered through technology. Until recently, technology based learning events have been delivered on institutional workstations, laptops or tablets. The personal device revolution is migrating learning events/objects to mobile device applications or apps.
For security reasons, institutions have been organized to control digital resources. This includes networks, hardware, software, online subscriptions and website access. The advent of Bring Your Own Technology or B.Y.O.T. tests this control. Continue reading
Teaching critical thinking through reading in the information age
Attending PD conferences of your local chapter of TESL Ontario is a great way to meet other teachers, network, and learn new ideas and techniques to add to your teaching toolbox. On May 13th, I attended the Waterloo-Wellington Spring AGM and PD event. The theme was “Thinking Critically” and the guest speaker for the plenary session, Tyson Seburn, spoke on the topic of teaching critical reading in an age of (mis)information and fake news. Tyson Seburn is Lead Instructor of Critical Reading and Writing in the International Foundation Program at New College, University of Toronto, and he recently published a book entitled, Academic Reading Circles.
In this blog, I want to share some of the strategies that Tyson raised in his address Continue reading
I was browsing the web the other day (what else is new!) and I stumbled upon a great article by Rusul Alrubail. She answers what she calls the myths of ESL learners.
The 5 myths she addresses are:
- Students can’t use their L1 in class
- Students need to be corrected when they’re speaking English
- All learners are immigrants
- A student must assimilate with the North American culture if they want to learn properly
- All learners share similar backgrounds, status, and culture.
This activity is meant to be a student’s journey to self-regulation (see Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997). The activity can take place at any time during the school term and is meant to awaken in students the desire to achieve their goals one step at a time. Hence, the process to self-regulation is the goal. Continue reading
During the fall term, I was privileged to teach a group of 10 ESL Literacy students. Although in the past I had volunteer-tutored a literacy student and had taught various computer literacy classes, teaching a whole class of beginner ESL students with literacy needs was a whole new challenge. I have to say it was thoroughly rewarding Continue reading