As a person and as a language instructor, I hear the words ‘small talk’ and I shudder. However, I have learned – after teaching online for nearly three years now – not to underestimate the opportunities and utility of focusing specifically on Small Talk in class. Focusing on Small Talk has always been successful. When surveyed, learners consistently report that they want more Small Talk rather than less.
I started teaching virtually with a fairly small class (CLB 7) who really responded to Small Talk. For one thing, I found the class needed to deal with mental health issues – near the beginning of COVID – and needed to feel as social as possible in a virtual environment. That’s when I started to develop Small Talk as an integral activity. Most recently, I had a much larger class that also responded very well to the Small Talk activities. This activity is not a one-off lesson but rather focuses on best practices, routine, feedback, and refinement.
According to IELTS Cambridge books, an expert user of English is someone who has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate, and fluent with complete understanding. This user gets the score of 9 in the IELTS speaking test which is the highest score in this English proficiency exam.
I often hear students say they like any chance to have a casual conversation in English. Literacy learners, however, are much more likely to avoid a conversation because they’re not confident enough to use the language yet. As ESL teachers, we prepare well-thought-out lessons that focus on grammar, composition, pronunciation, and structured activities, but we rarely foster a free flow of dialogue that encourages the students to just “use the language.”
Hello everyone and welcome to my Language Teaching and Learning talk show. I’m Language Pedagogy and here with me is Conversation. Today we’re going to have a fantastic talk about the history and current standing of this amazingly popular ESL task. Well, I have been in this profession since day one and frankly I haven’t seen any classroom task as appealing to students as conversation, so I thought, why not sit together and talk?
Language Pedagogy: Thanks for being with us today. I am sure that our audience is excited to hear from you.
On October 23, 2020, teachers from Ontario and other provinces gathered on Twitter to discuss representation in ELT (English Language Teaching). This #teslONchat was a joint event with the popular #CdnELTchat. The hour-long chat was guest moderated by Tyson Seburn (@seburnt) while Vanessa Nino (@vnino23) kept the questions coming, and Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), and Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) from the #CdnELTchat team welcomed participants and kept the conversation flowing.
Ah, the public library – the place you perhaps went to as a child to sign out books so you could read and escape to new worlds in your imagination. But when was the last time you walked into your local public library as an educator (before social distancing)? And when did you realize the library offered more than just books? While there are some avid library users in the education field, there are still many who don’t recognize the underrated value the library has for the ESL community.
When I was a student in elementary school, I used to love
“story time.” Some of my earliest and fondest memories as a child were sitting
around in a circle and having the teacher read stories to the class. I’ll never
forget the time my Kindergarten teacher cried while reading us “Love You
Forever” by Robert Munsch. Stories are powerful. Story time was the best!
I love stories, whether they be novels, movies, or a friend’s
adventure. So, naturally, as a teacher I like using stories in my classes.
Here are a few examples of how I have used stories as an ESL
If you’re on Twitter, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, April 16th – Advocacy in #ELT. Below is a recap of the March 25th chat from the #CdnELTchat moderators.
Dealing with Sensitive Topics in ELT
On March 26th, ELT practitioners from across Canada and beyond connected on Twitter for #CdnELTchat to talk about Dealing with Sensitive Topics in ELT. Bonnie Nicholas (@EALstories) kept the conversation moving by posting questions, while Augusta Avram (@LINCinstructor) helped out by replying and retweeting, and Svetlana Lupasco (@stanzasl) and Jennifer (@jennifermchow) provided background support.
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 →