Want something for lower-level ESL students that is fun and informative?
When I taught benchmark one classes, I did something that increased their vocabulary by about 100 words in a month or so. It was also fun. It’s not a very original idea. In fact, I borrowed it from my days as an occasional teacher when I had to teach kindergarten.
In many kindergarten classes, they have show and tell. A child brings in an object in a bag, and the rest of the students have to guess what it is by asking questions. I decided to do this with my ESL class.
We sat down and thought of all of the properties that might be associated with an object, things like shape, size, colour, age, and material. I got poster paper for each attribute, and then had them make one for each. They supplied me with the words, and I Continue reading →
Fluency is a critical element of communication and is often a basis for how language levels are judged. Signposting is a technique which makes speech more fluent. Words or phrases that link speech together to make it coherent, and give the listener an indication of where our verbal communication is headed, are considered signposts.
Does receiving an indication of the direction that a conversation will take make a difference to the listener? Absolutely! When we have a good idea about what we will hear, we can process the meaning faster. Hearing something contrary to what we are expecting causes our brain waves to spike. The spike causes a diversion of energy which can contribute to longer processing time. Considering how fast a brain processes language, a matter of milliseconds can slow down comprehension. The delay in comprehending could cause a listener to completely misunderstand what was said. Continue reading →
Have you ever seen the movie Lost in Translation? The main character, played by Bill Murray, has some strange experiences while working in Japan. The situation seems almost surreal to someone who has not experienced Japan. However, if you’ve ever lived there, what happens to him is not all that extraordinary. After having been exposed to a bit of Japanese culture, what happens to him seems closer to everyday life. Culture has a big impact on our activities and our perceptions of what is happening. How much impact, then, does culture have on something as integral as communication?
It is very difficult to teach Canadian communication norms. Most people who have been raised in Canada aren’t even aware that the language structures they use may carry a different meaning when literally translated, simply because the meaning of the expression has been internalized. Often we think our expressions are logical. Continue reading →