In my very first TESL Ontario blog post, I shared an activity to help teachers remember their students’ names.1 It also happens that the activity helps students learn each other’s names and, as a result, helps to build community. By addressing each other by name, students are more likely to build bonds and feel valued. Building community is a process, however, and although this activity is a good start, teachers can incorporate other activities throughout the term or academic year to make the process memorable.
The following activity is one I use to help strengthen students’ sense of community by letting them share something about themselves that highlights a positive attribute. This activity also gives the teacher the opportunity to do the same.
I love creative writing. Creative writing can excite so many learners, but it can also terrify more than a few learners. I experimented with a number of activities that would help build experience and confidence with creative writing and this one—writing a character sketch—works as the most manageable and successful.
This two-part blog post focuses on tips for improving your students’ listening skills with both intensive and extensive listening methods. In Part 1, I answer the question “What is intensive listening?”, offer tips for intensive listening practice, and suggest overalllisteninggoals for teachers to bear in mind.After reading Part I, head over to read Listening in Language Learning Part II: Extensive Listening (coming on Monday, July 24th).
Intensive and Extensive Listening
Much research shows that intensive and extensive listening alike are essential contributors tolanguage learning in the areas of vocabulary development, grammatical skills, and discourse awareness. ESL learners need to practice both skills to reap maximum benefits.Though each form of listeningtends to focuson different skills, they are complementary,and both are crucial. However, like extensive reading, extensive listening occurs outside of the classroom.Unlike with intensive listening, teachers need to pay special attention to motivate their students to engage in such extensive skills on theirown. Continue reading →
Are you looking for an engaging way to focus on natural-sounding idiomatic language, pronunciation, intonation, and rhythm? Wanting to focus on these particular elements, I did what I always do when I wanted to fill a gap: I searched the internet. While I found a number of resources for dialogues, I was mostly disappointed with what I had found. I found short dialogues that were disconnected and unnatural where the intention was clearly language-focused – but with the result of feeling meaningless and maybe even pandering. I tried a few of those dialogues and quickly thought: I wouldn’t enjoy this if I were learning a language.
Many educators are now familiar with the black screens and mute students on Zoom and its breakout rooms. While having student cameras turned on can certainly have its own merits, the black screens do not necessarily mean that the students cannot or will not contribute. I have found the following three activities helpful in engaging students regardless of having their cameras on or off.
Whether we teach a class in person or we teach an online synchronous course, Mentimeter can accommodate engaging large groups of audiences. If we teach a class implementing Bloom’s Taxonomy approach, Mentimeter can be a great tool in developing a successful and engaging lesson. Continue reading →
We’re heading into the third month of winter, a time of year when many people I know are starting to feel tired of the cold and the snow and are ready for warmer weather to arrive. On the cold, gray days, it can be harder to feel super motivated about planning. However, February is also home to many different and important days of observance, and we can use these days to inspire conversation and activities in the classroom. February is so much more than Valentine’s Day!
It is clear that one of the goals of ESL students is to improve their listening comprehension skills. This goal might turn into a concern however, when they are preparing for an English proficiency test like IELTS, where achieving a certain score could be life-changing. This has led IELTS instructors and tutors to come up with multiple techniques and tips to help their students. In this blog post, I am going to share a technique that I personally developed and applied in my IELTS class, and discuss how it was viewed by my students.
I call this technique “moving backwards,” and my hope is that it will help my students to improve their listening skills while doing an IELTS listening practice test.
January is typically a time when people are looking forward – considering new goals and new approaches. In this post, however, I’ve decided to look back. I’m revisiting some of the information I gave in my very first professional development activity for TESL Ontario: a webinar I co-delivered in 2016 entitled Getting Animated: Graphic Novels in the ESL Classroom. My hope is that this blog will encourage readers to find ways to incorporate graphic novels and/or comics into their 2023 teaching practices.
When I started teaching online, it was clear to me almost immediately that I wanted to encourage my learners to write and that I wanted to see their writing on a regular basis. I had a CLB 7 Academic class, and I began rather naively and ambitiously. The assignment was straightforward:
You will have three journal topics a week. You will be given 15 minutes a day, three times a week, to write in your journal. You will be given a journal topic or you can write about whatever you want.