Category Archives: Classroom Ideas

Ideas and suggestions to use in your classroom.

Using Authentic Materials for EAP Students

Have you ever considered how you might conduct effective and enjoyable EAP sessions? Despite the limited duration and high-stakes nature of EAP classes, the emphasis on learner autonomy, critical thinking, and authentic academic situations renders the teaching process potentially more engaging than that of a standard English course, provided appropriate delivery methods are employed. 

As per Tomlinson’s (2013) perspective, classroom material ought to offer an array of authentic input in the target language, encompassing diverse styles, forms and functions. Based on this notion, I developed a lesson plan aimed at introducing my EAP students to academic research reports, facilitating their exposure to an authentic lecture and enabling them to independently explore the subject matter. To achieve this objective, I selected a TED talk and a pertinent research article as the primary resources for this lesson.  Continue reading


Getting to Know Each Other Better in the Language Classroom

Image from Padlet search engine “Team Work.”

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.

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Listening in Language Learning Part II: Extensive Listening 

This two-part blog focuses on tips for improving your students’ listening skills with both intensive and extensive listening methods. If you haven’t yet, go read Part I: Intensive Listening, then come back to read Part II. In this second part I will focus on extensive listening by offering tips for extensive listening practice, some resources for teachers to utilize, and some overall listening goals for teachers to bear in mind.  

Extensive Listening 

Just like extensive reading, this activity involves listening to self-selected listening material slightly below the student’s proficiency level and in large quantities. The focus is on overall understanding because the task is more relaxed and self-directed, with learners listening to longer audio or video selections without necessarily trying to understand every word. The goal of extensive listening is to develop overall listening comprehension skills, get used to the sounds and rhythm of speech, and become more familiar with the language in a natural way. 
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Suffering from Recycling Prompts? “SQT Prompt” to the Rescue


I have been hearing the word “prompt” a lot more lately. “Prompt engineering” to be exact. This recent IT term is all the buzz, and it is paired with terms like artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLM). This blog post, however, is about another type of prompt: the one that language and communications teachers at the college level have been engineering since time immemorial and students write in response. And there lies the problem! The prompts are being recycled and passed on from the classroom to students’ sharing sites such as Studocu and Course Hero, and then making their way back to the classroom. It is not the type of recycling teachers want to see. Going viral is not always a good thing; it kills originality for everyone, so I have started to retreat my prompts and generate new ones. This time with a different twist.

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The power of music in second language learning

Source: Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Music, as one of the fine arts, has its own status among its fans, and the influential and contributing role of music in various areas of life is undeniable. In language learning, music has been linked to better linguistic performance and is used as a tool to enhance language learning. Recent research has shown that ”happy” background music positively influences second language learners’ accuracy and fluency. In this blog post, the effective role of music in the language learning process will be discussed from three standpoints: culture, stress, and motivation.

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Active Learning Strategies for Post-Pandemic Zoom Breakout Rooms

Image taken from: Big Stock Photo

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. 

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Activities for February

Image source:

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! 

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Moving backwards!

Paradoxical direction arrow

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.

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Rev-Up Reading with Graphic Novels and Comics

This comic was created at by Heather Donnelly

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.

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