ESL

23 Ways to Use a Text in Your ESL Classes

Reading. One of the big four, along with elephants, lions and rhinos. Or is it listening, speaking and writing? Who knows. Either way, my question for you is: when was the last time your students were actively learning a new skill through reading, instead of just answering comprehension questions? There is so much that English language students can learn through a text, and we have a whole bag of ideas for you to use in your next class. Through these methods, you’ll learn how to squeeze a text for all its worth. As you’ll see, these tips don’t just help students become better readers. They’ll also help students develop better critical thinking skills, better vocabulary skills and better writing skills.

1. Make a prediction. This is a great skill for learners to use. Super simple – give students the title of a text and see if they can make some guesses about what the text will be about. You can also develop this as you go along. If you’re reading a story, make more predictions after reading each paragraph or chapter. How do they think the story will end? Students will learn how to pre-empt information and adjust their predictions as they go along.

2. Recognise text type or genre. One thing I like to do before a reading exercise is ask students what kind of text we seem to be looking at, and what kind of information therefore might be included. For example, they might identify that we’re going to read a personal email, and therefore it might include information about what this person and their family have been doing recently, some questions and maybe an invitation. This process enables students to improve their speed reading and prediction skills. What was that about speed reading?

3. Speed read. Adult students will often feel like they have to understand Every. Single. Word. In. The. Text. before they can breathe out. Speed reading can help students get to grips with a text in a matter of seconds. This works particularly well with essays and news articles. Ask students to read only the first and last sentence of each paragraph. They’ll see that the first sentence of a paragraph is often the ‘topic sentence’, which summaries the main point of the paragraph. Not only does this help them prepare for exam situations where they have to understand the outline of a text fast, it also helps them learn how to structure their own writing. (more…)

MA, PGCEi or Diploma?

Question from a reader:

I’m after some advice. I can’t decide which professional development course to do. I have a CELTA plus five years’ teaching experience and I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a DELTA or Dip. Then again, I’ve heard that for university jobs like teaching pre-sessional courses it’s good to have an MA. But recently I’ve heard people mention the PGCEi as a future-proofing qualification and I’m like… aargh! Which course should I do?

My comments:

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12 conversation strategies worth teaching

One thing my CELTA course skimmed over was how to develop learners’ conversation strategies.

There seems to be a good amount of focus on conversation strategies in recent coursebooks. However, at times I find these can be problematic. Models of effective convo strategies/techniques can be naff sometimes. Where there are no models, and instead there are tip boxes for maybe using a convo strategy during a task, these can lack detail. They require the teacher to elaborate quite a bit. While the teacher notes can help, you might find (as I do on occasions) that there’s a bit of a mismatch. I.e. the language that is anticipated to come up during the task isn’t actually needed/is needed but is already known/needs to be built on. (more…)

Review: NILE Membership

The NILE Membership area is a new section on the Norwich Institute of Language Education site. It includes various resources created for language educators by the NILE trainers. There’s new content added each month and (best of all) it is completely FREE to become a NILE member. So, with that in mind, sign up!

Let’s take a look at what’s on offer…

The platform is very easy to navigate. There are nine sections on the site which are all displayed on the member’s area homepage. These are: (more…)

Lesson idea: environmental issues

We did this activity a few weeks ago as an intro to our module on environmental problems/issues. It’s a context builder more than anything, and introduced some of the language that the learners needed for their final task (produce a leaflet describing an environmental problem and listing solutions). So, basically…

(Oh, sorry, learners were 10 years old, A2).

Step 1:  Learners list all the natural features of a beach they can think of: sand, sea, birds, cliff, etc.

Step 2: A4 paper, fold into quarters so there are four boxes.

In the top left-hand box (landscape) instruct learners to draw a beach. BUT they can only include natural features, nothing manmade.

Give them a time limit, like 3 minutes or something. I did a quick 30-second sketch on the IWB as an example. So… um… don’t laugh…

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ELT Twitter chats

I did a digital reset of my Twitter account recently. I now see a much wider range of content than before, and have found loads of awesome EAL/ELL/ESL teachers to follow.

One really useful thing about the reset is that I now see loads more tweets from organised ELT chats. The only chat I used to get involved in was #ELTchat. I say involved… I’d normally dip into the 24-hour slowburn. I probably joined the actual hour-long chat no more than five times, as it was always after midnight here in Thailand. Also, I found it a bit difficult to get involved in sometimes – they’d discussed so much stuff already that I wasn’t really sure what to add without going over old ground.

#ELTchat may be on hiatus at present, but there seem to be loads more organized chats around for EL teachers. Here are some of those I’ve come across since the new year… (more…)

Wordwall with young learners

I wrote an overview of Wordwall last year. Here’s a more practical example of how I actually use Wordwall, rather than just as a load of games… Well, still as a load of games actually, just in a more purposeful way!

I’m teaching a PP1 class at the moment (aged 6/7). This week we were reviewing/learning vocabulary for fruit as the task was creating your own fruit juice (bit random…). So, I started planning by making a Find the Match… (more…)

30 Role-plays for TEFL

Do you want to bring some drama and creativity into class? Are you looking for new ways to motivate and engage your teen/adult learners? Are you on the lookout for a good value TEFL resource written by real teachers, for real teachers?

If you answered YES to any of the above…. Here’s 30 Role-plays for TEFL! Woohoo! (more…)