Monthly Archives: November 2016

Engaging grammar group activities (even for hesitant students)

group-work

Engaging group work

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

Group work in a grammar class can be a powerful learning tool if it is carefully structured.  The format for the activities that I’ll present here has been effectively used with students from lower level to advanced. And the structure of these activities makes it easy for even the most passive students to be active; in fact, many times, the normally quiet students seem to shine while doing these.  Another positive aspect of these is that they are non-threatening for students to engage in.

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Conversation class: What if they make mistakes in pairs? Myths about pair work.

Mistake

A teacher once said that she avoided pair work during conversation lessons because she wouldn’t be able to monitor all the students to catch their grammar mistakes.  Is this a legitimate reason?  Researchers have studied what, in fact, happens when students work in pairs with other students and when they work with non-native speakers which can dispel some of the mis-assumptions about the drawbacks to pair work.

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Grammar class: Confusion about when to use “where” vs “which”

Shanghai

Shanghai

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

A tutor recently told me about her student who was confused by “where” and “which.”  She was wondering how I would approach this student’s question.   He had two sentences:

Shanghai is a city which has a population of eight million people.
Shanghai is a city where eight million people live.

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Writing class: Dealing with plagiarism (Don’t take it personally)

A learning opportunity

A learning opportunity

In October 2016, Tiffany Martínez, a Latina student at Suffolk University in Boston, was accused of plagiarism by her sociology professor in front of the entire class. Huffington Post plagiarism story   What caused him to be suspicious?  The word “hence.”  On her paper, he circled the place where she had written the word “hence” and wrote in the margin, “This is not your word.”

In my many years as an ESL instructor, I’ve witnessed instructors over-reacting in suspected plagiarism situations.  It seems as if those instructors were taking it personally, feeling like they were being disrespected.  Too often instructors seem to see it as a “gotcha” opportunity.

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Purposeful reading: Students read faster if they know what they are looking for.

 

Having a purpose.

Having a purpose.

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

One reason that ESL students often take so much time reading a passage is because they think that they need to understand all the information.  As a result, many of them tend to cover a text in translation of every word that they are not familiar with.  We have often heard of international students staying up until 2 a.m. trying to complete reading assignments in their academic courses.

This can change if they know in advance the purpose of the reading assignment.

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