As an ESL teacher with over a decade of progressive teaching experience, no notion in English language pedagogy was as mind–blowing to me as the idea of learner autonomy. The way that learning and learners are seen as autonomous has always resonated highly with me; I always thought if anyone masters independent learning, they can learn almost anything with joy and efficiency. Recently, however, I’ve been thinking differently about this. Not because I am now a skeptic of this approach, but because I have been wondering if all learners want to be independent learners! Based on my recent encounters and experience at work, I now think maybe there are some learners who learn best without being independent. In this blog post, I’d like to share my own experience with this type of learner. Continue reading
It is often said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. One of the challenges cited by teachers in the language classroom especially is creating effective lesson plans (Velikaya, 2020).
So, what is an effective lesson plan?Continue reading
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.Continue reading
When we went back to class in March, my students appeared larger than life. More human, tangible. Lots of smiles, welcoming faces, laughter, and excitement. They had a willingness to learn and interact with each other, as well as with the teacher.
I was curious to see how teaching would function in a “post-COVID-19” period. I was happy to see them in class.
I developed a learn-as-you-go approach. I didn’t know who would attend on a day-to-day basis and hoped more students of various backgrounds would join.Continue reading
Learning English (or any new language) requires student focus, repetition, and practice, so it’s easy to see why students may often feel disengaged or even bored in the classroom. This is why ESL teachers love to try off-the-wall ways to liven up their classes and infuse some enthusiasm into the topic. Continue reading
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
(Carroll, L. 1865. Alice in Wonderland)
I wrote this piece about three years ago, reflecting on an old lesson and the role imagination plays in our ESL curricula. I believe this activity could be modified for an online classroom. If you give it a go, please let me know how it works out!Continue reading
In general, teachers have an unwavering commitment to their profession and an unparalleled work ethic; when COVID-19 hit, they applied this to online learning. However, the hours spent learning how to teach in this new environment have taken a toll on both their mental and physical health. Many teachers have had to strike a whole new work-life balance.
During an in-person lesson, it is natural to take a break, whether that be leaving the room briefly or stepping into more casual conversation between teachers and students. But what happens in the online classroom when we take a break? For most of us, continuing our work is the norm. How does this ultimately make us feel? Are we better off working through our breaks for the benefit of our students? Continue reading
Over the past two years, I have been attending a lot of webinars, presentations, conferences, dialogues and online courses. I’ve also been reading blogs and articles as well as doing presentations and writing blogposts. I’ve gained knowledge and collected remarkable resources. Tools like the ones below can help us design tasks that will engage and motivate our learners.
It is a new year and some of us may need some fresh ideas to add energy, motivation and tasks to our classes. One possible means of accomplishing this is to include relevant project work into the syllabus.
The tools listed below are just that – tools. As the instructor, you can guide the learners to themes as focal points for project content. These free, digital tools include how-to guides, an online example, and orientation blogs for the instructors to read and consider before embarking on a digital venture with their learners.Continue reading
Reduce, reduce, reduce. Make every word count. I repeat these instructions every day in my EAP classroom. Session after session, I hand out exercises to reduce wordiness and replace empty, abstract words with those that are strong and specific.
And yet, the students have a hard time going “beyond the exercise” to apply these skills to their writing. They continue to fill their pages with “in the event that,” “as a result of,” and “in our society today” as well as abstracts such as “the meal was good,” “the lake was beautiful,” and “the people looked happy.”
I needed to find an authentic writing form that would encourage rich, yet spare, prose. And then it struck me—the haiku. The Japanese poem is inherently concise and relies on specific, sensory words. A win-win!
So, I initiated a “holiday haiku” activity. First, I explained the basic form: one line with five syllables, the next with seven, and the third with five. Secondly, I divided the class into small groups to brainstorm specific, image-worthy words that evoked their celebrations back home. This second stage worked beautifully. Not only did the words flow, but also the students enjoyed sharing their cultural traditions.Continue reading