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 →
Happy Monday TESL ON members! Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I don’t know about you, but I love poetry! Although most of us may not use it very much to teach English to our students, many are aware that it can be a good way to teach the rhythm of English. However, I think there are so many more ways that we could use this rich form of the English language. Continue reading →
We’ve all been there and heard it – “Why are these two words spelled the same but sound different?” or “Why do I need a comma there? You might have answered, “Because you don’t want to eat your mom; it’s “I want to eat, mom.””
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 →
I hope my title did not conjure images of technology-enhanced learning with visions of smartphones, iPads, and laptops dancing up through the air. On the contrary,
this blog is about students stirring, moving in circles, and engaging in conversation. I’m talking about face to face interaction, where students are talking and listening to each other while the teacher is watching.
In the ESL classroom: LINC, ESL or EAP – we teachers need to have many ideas up our sleeves to make sure students are not yawning but interacting with one another and having fun while learning. Last year in September, I shared two of these strategies. You can read them here: http://blog.teslontario.org/an-active-start-to-the-academic-year/ In this blog, I share another one that I have found students also enjoy: Continue reading →
I find myself asking this question often, but in all seriousness, where has the time gone?
I can’t believe November is a week away! It’s fair to say that some of us don’t have that drive we once had at the start of the school year to get up first thing in the morning, eager to start the workday. And honestly, no one can be blamed for feeling run down already. Our profession can take a lot out of us. There’s no
denying that. And with the influx of newcomers – due to what’s been happening in the world – it hasn’t lightened the load any. So teacher burnout is a real possibility.
So much demand is placed upon teachers, and the needs of the students can really affect your will and drive to stay motivated. Especially around this time of year, it’s easy to 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 →
When we are submitting a cover letter to a perspective employer, we want to showcase our skills and to communicate the fact that we have confidence.In work preparedness classes we promote the idea that confident vocabulary and sentence structure is essential to having our cover letter read.But where is the line between confidence and over confidence, and how do we teach that to our students?
I once received a homework assignment that was a sample cover letter written by a student.The format was good, the sentences well formed, and there were no spelling mistakes. However, a few lines made me wince:“I am brilliant.I am the best person that your company could hire.”This surely was confidence, bordering on hubris, that may in fact have the same effect as grammatical error on the reader of the letter.If I were the hiring manager, I’m not sure I would have read much further. So, where do we draw the line?Continue reading →
It all started with Lynn Hainer. She’s a local councillor in St. Marys and a good friend. She’s also a bit of a techie. During her recent campaign, she asked friends to provide adjectives to describe her. I provided a few. The result was a word cloud full of positive attributes. I wondered if I could take this idea and use it in my ESL classroom. I decided to try it.
First, I asked my class to put adjectives on a white board that they could use to describe a person, both positive and negative. They came up with many. I added a few. We used them in sentences
to help define the meanings. For example, we discussed different ways to say that somebody was thin, such as slender and skinny, and that using slender was much more polite than using skinny.
Second, I gave them recipe cards. The students put their names on the top. The cards were Continue reading →