I was talking with a colleague, Lisa, during lunch break the other day. At our school, the students have a 1-hour class with a pronunciation instructor once per week. Lisa was suggesting the merits of having a similar intensive lesson every week on reading. After our discussion, I began to consider the importance of reading versus the other skills. I am beginning to wonder if reading is the key skill to developing English proficiency.
Don’t get me wrong – Teaching pronunciation is one of my favourite classes to teach. I guess I like the focus of language use and playing with the sounds, the stress, intonation and inflection. Many students have expressed that it is important for them, as well.
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 →
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!”
Have you ever met any students who don’t want to improve their speaking skills? I haven’t. It’s more of a challenge to get them to read and write. I did something that got them into reading.
A few years ago, I was trying to encourage my students to read. Fortunately, there was a public library nearby. Once a week we would go there, and I would help them find books. Still, I wanted to give them more motivation to read, so I decided to get them to read across Canada.
I believe this activity will work regardless of your level. All you have to do is adapt the activities to the abilities, and that includes the books that they read.
I did this with my level 1 students. For those who were particularly weak, I had them take out books by Mo Willems. They are fun and easy to read. Here is an example of one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq77-6zsCSg
Canada is about 7,250 km from coast to coast. I had about 10 students. For every book they read, they earned 100 km, Continue reading →
In May 2014, while volunteering at the TESL Toronto spring conference, I was lucky enough to see a presentation by Chris Harwood and Tracy Manning about their experiences implementing a Facebook-based Book Club in their EAP program.
Inspired by their talk, I decided to try this out with my students. It took some weeks of planning, and some trial and error with different books, but in the end it’s become a successful and popular part of my course!
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:
My multiple initiatives to kick-start an extensive reading program using the MReader resource at 4 different institutions flopped for a variety of reasons. My disbelief in these failed attempts led to another kick at the can.
Dozens of outreach attempts through email, voice messages, coffee break chats, and scheduled meetings resulted in the opportunity to run a formal presentation to appropriate stakeholders. At last, the concept of using MReader as a motivational measuring stick while promoting an extensive reading culture was accepted.
At the college where I teach, the extensive reading program, monitored by the MReader, has now completed its first pilot and will encompass additional students and instructors in the fall. Why was I so persistent in promoting this package? Continue reading →