It happens across the board. It is a pervasive notion that seems to have been adopted with little to no research. It is somehow implicit in most English-learning environments, explicit in many course outlines and used as an evaluative tool in measuring the efficacy of language instructors. I have actually been refused employment because of my “renegade” attitude towards this ill-researched tenet of TESL. However, it stands in complete opposition to evidence-based educational research in second-language acquisition; not to mention a panoply of related motivational issues.
We’ve all heard it, said it and even followed it. “Only speak English in my class!” I used to insist. “Hey, you guys in the back, no Spanish!” was another one. “Stop translating everything! Focus on English!” I used to believe, only to my students’ dismay of course.
By doing this, we inadvertently omit how the brain works from our teaching and learning strategies. Continue reading →
With the ever-increasing availability of technology in education, and ever-shrinking institutional budgets, there seems to be a lot of movement towards online learning.Blended learning combines face–to-face and online activities, and is much better suited to language learning than online learning alone. The opportunity to use language in real-time situations is important for developing good communication skills. Well-developed blended courses provide an experience for the student where the face-to-face and online parts work together to support the learning in an integrated way.
From an institutional point of view, online and blended courses have the ability to provide more revenue with less overhead owing to the cost savings realized by potentially allowing for delivery of the course to a greater number of students, while at the same time freeing up physical space.Pedagogically, students are not only able to learn how to use a language, but also how to use technology.A blended set-up looks like it is beneficial from many points of view.But how do students and teachers feel about blended language learning?Continue reading →
What is student-centred learning? There are many facets to this idea. It can be lessons based on students’ needs. It can mean choosing topics based on students’ interests. But one of the concepts that is most commonly related to student-centred learning is learning through discovery. When someone learns through discovery, they are given enough autonomy to interact with materials and consequently discover how things work (think figuring out grammar rules implicitly). On the other side of the coin you have teacher directed learning where knowledge is transferred from teacher to student (think explaining how grammar rules work). Continue reading →
Fear of making a mistake or asking a stupid question is a legitimate problem. Sir Ken Robinson in his TED talk: “How schools kill creativity” talks about how the education system makes people fear being wrong. This fear of being wrong can squash our creativity. If we always keep ourselves in check, so that we don’t make mistakes, we will never take chances. He states we need to be prepared to be wrong.
I often say to my students “There is no such thing as a stupid question!” I’ve said this many times. However, when I put myself in the position of student, I sometimes feel like my question might be stupid.
As ESL teachers, we all know that the techniques we need to employ while teaching adult learners differ from those techniques used with children. Jack Mezirow, a well -respected theorist in the field of adult learning, suggests that adults need to experience a disruption as a catalyst for the learning process. In his theory of transformative learning, he lays out the steps in the process which result in learning. The first step toward adult learning comes in the form of a disorienting dilemma. This dilemma provokes a period of critical reflection to help us make sense of the disturbance. As a result of our examination of what is happening, we grow.
In my experience as an ESL teacher, most of the participants attending the classes I teach have experienced a lot of Continue reading →
I’m sharing 5 teaching resources I have read and often revisit. They have helped me consolidate theoretical knowledge with my teaching practice (praxis). My hope is that in your response to this post, you will add a resource that you feel has helped you shape your teaching. The list is in alphabetical order:
Of recent, it is becoming increasingly clear that more and more ESL students entering our classrooms are expecting a rapid transmission of information, structured presentations, concrete outcomes, a course syllabus, and direction from teachers. Such expectations are not new; they come with most formal classes. Such expectations, common in traditional classroom settings, coming from Adult ESL learners, necessitate a rethinking of our present learner-centered or constructivist approach. It raises a question: Is there a place for direct instruction in today’s adult classes? Or, is there not a place for the traditional approach? By that, I don’t mean the uncreative and non-liberating approach to education so well described by Paulo Freire. I mean a Continue reading →