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.
Last Spring, as I was sitting listening despondently to students mangling stress, I decided to give up on words, and create a sound pattern that was so visually simple, they’d be compelled to listen.
If you can’t hear a sound, it is very difficult to reproduce it. Our students hear stressed syllables, which would be okay, except in English over 60% of our syllables are unstressed, and we often forget to teach them how to listen for those unstressed syllables.
“I’m just going to find a video quickly online!” I’ve said to myself many times, clearly delusional. A “quick” online hunt for material to use in class often becomes a lengthy goose chase. It’s hard to find just the right thing, at the right level, on the right subject when searching the vast reaches of the World Wide Web. The better option? To make it myself. Sometimes this can seem intimidating though, especially if videography is a medium one is not used to working in.
Considering that fact, below is my summary of a video presentation my business partner, Larissa Conley, and I made for this year’s TESL Ontario Conference explaining how to make your own videos for classroom use. Continue reading →
I recently came across a web resource that reminded me of using Data-driven learning (DDL) with students. I have not tried using DDL for a few years but I think that WordSift will allow instructors to use basic DDL techniques with their students.
What is DDL?
Data-driven learning is a learning approach in which learning is driven by research-like access to linguistic data (Johns, 1991). DDL examines a corpora or body of text. WordSift can generate useful usage data 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 →
If you are considering leading a webinar in the near future, I have some suggestions that might make your experience a little more enjoyable. I was on the TESL Ontario Social Media Committee and became interested in the idea of running a webinar as the team matured and the range of session titles expanded. I have to admit that I thought it would be a walk in the park as I have facilitated online workshops, meetings, courses and presentations before. However, the experience surprised me, as webinar facilitation involved additional features that required attention. Continue reading →
I am trying to fully understand the translingual approach – specifically how it aligns with English for academic purposes (EAP) or the much needed skill of clear, concise written communication. The idea is great, but how do we go about it?
Horner, Lu, Royster, and Trimbur (2011) propose a translingual approach for dealing with student writing in academia.
Although I agree with most of the underpinnings behind the new approach, I am not so sure how they envision it. I agree with many of their ideas, but…
I agree that students’ right to use their language (English and otherwise) should be respected. I also agree with the authors’ opposition to the monolingual “view that varieties of English other than those recognized as ‘standards’ are defective” (305). Varieties of English, they explain, include what monolinguals Continue reading →
While working on ESP books for a technical program, I found that QR codes were a great solution to add quick links to additional resources. These resources included interactive activities, worksheets, images, videos, animations, graphs and further readings. I am not the first person to think of using QR codes for educational purposes. Links to fantastic resources providing a myriad of uses of QR codes for educators can be found in the additional resources section below. I am offering a few simple practices that you might consider to improve access to resources in your classroom, on your class website, or in your instructional documents.
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 →