Category Archives: Speaking

Daily Small Talk

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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.

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Ever just chat with your students?

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.”

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Summary of the #English Language Skills discussion with Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna, OCELT

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Post by: Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna and Vanessa Nino

On April 30, 2021 people in the TESL Ontario community discussed teaching the English language skills on Twitter. The guest moderator of the evening was Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna (@capontedehanna). Cecilia is a full-time professor at Centennial College, where she teaches English communications courses to local and international students. With over 15 years of teaching experience, Cecilia has taught children as young as 3 years old to adults in their golden years.

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Does Online Learning Enhance Learners’ Language Ego?

Person covering one side of face while smiling.
Image source: Photo by 青 晨 on Unsplash

Language ego is a real phenomenon. A concept coined by Guiora (Brown, 2000) “language ego” is a learner’s second identity as they come to see themselves picking up a second language. One of the most vitally important responsibilities of an ESL teacher is to ensure that students’ language ego is well protected.

Conventionally, in physical classrooms, due to the existence of face-to-face communication, learners might experience more fragility and defenselessness with their peers.  I have personally experienced the sheer fear and anxiety that the physical interaction and presence of others with their eyes placed all on one person can create.  However, through online platforms of teaching and learning, I have noticed that learners feel safer and more secure about their language ego, and I have seen improvements in learning.

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A Short Talk with Conversation!

conversation between two people
Image by josemiguels from Pixabay

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.

Conversation: Oh, glad to be heard.

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Hello, My Name Is ED And I Have a Story for You

ENGLISH DICTIONARY inscription coming out from an open book, educational concept
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Hi ESL Teachers,

My name is ED – English Dictionary – but most language learners call me “Oh, you again”. But I’m pretty sure that I’m one of your favorite things in life. For a while I’ve wanted to have a talk with you about something shocking I recently came across. It’s all about my casual talk with your students about my presence and role in their language learning. And believe me, that talk came out as a big surprise!

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EAP Speaking Rubrics: A Student-Centred Approach

A Brief Introduction

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In this blog entry, I will attempt to briefly describe the contents of a presentation my colleague Glenn Ewing and I shared at TESL Niagara on February 8, 2020.

Glenn and I have been interested in EAP Speaking rubrics for many years. Information shared here and during the presentation is based on our personal reflection, professional experience, education, and research. Our focus is mainly on EAP speaking rubrics for midterm assessment. We maintain that typical EAP speaking rubrics often present some flaws which make them ineffective for the learner. We attempt to explain some of the problems, propose some principles of rubric design, and finally, promote, as an alternative, student-centred, formative speaking rubrics.

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Once Upon a Time: Using Stories to Teach ESL

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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 Teacher.

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April is Poetry Month!

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Happy Monday TESL ON members!  Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I don’t know about you, but I love poetry!  Although most of us may not use it very much to teach English to our students,  many are aware that it can be a good way to teach the rhythm of English. However,  I think there are so many more ways that we could use this rich form of the English language. Continue reading

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