Monthly Archives: December 2016

Introduction to Teaching ESL: Student-Centered Approach

Teaching ESL is teaching a skill.

Teaching ESL is teaching a skill.

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “the student-centered lessons.”  Teachers who experience this type of approach for the first time will often say, “I don’t feel like I’m ‘teaching’” using air-quotes when they say “teaching.”  In their minds, a teacher stands in front of the class lecturing.

But in a student-centered approach, the teacher is more like a coach because teaching ESL is mostly about skills not about teaching content.

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Inductive Grammar: Why are there commas in these sentences? Here are some clues. What’s the rule?

jigsaw

Grammar can be fun, like a puzzle.

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

During a teacher-training course that I was teaching for American college students who wanted to teach ESL, we were discussing where to put commas.  Several of the students said that they decide according to their breath.  As they are re-reading something that they had written, if they stop to take a breath, that’s where they put a comma.  Wow!

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Fluency writing: reading, speaking in triads, and listening culminating in a writing task

triads

Integrating the four skills

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

This is the perfect activity for integrating four skills into one activity.  And it culminates in a writing task in which students focus on controlling their grammar and on their sentence style.  It’s also one in which students can practice those two aspects of writing without having to spend time thinking about what to write.

These fluency activities can be used throughout a term when instructors would like to have students work on their grammar in a writing context and/or when they would like to add some group work in their writing classes.  Also, it’s a good lead-in to teaching paraphrasing skills.

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Pronunciation practice: Easy and Effective One-on-One Technique

smartphone-recording

Recording on a smartphone

This technique requires minimal preparation, but it will help you zero in on the words/sounds that a student is struggling with.  And it will enable you to help him/her improve their pronunciation in a non-threatening way.

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Purposeful Reading: Read faster and create a tolerance for ambiguity

 

Slow reading because of translating

Slow reading because of translating

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

The other day, Mari, an ESL student of mine, asked me if I could help her with an article that she had been assigned for one of her courses.  I could see that the article would be quite challenging for her.  And I couldn’t help but notice that she had covered the article with translations.  It was obvious that she had little confidence that she’d be able to understand any of it unless she translated almost every word, even words she actually knew.

As mentioned in a previous posting (November 2nd ), if student know the purpose of a reading assignment, they tend to read faster because they don’t get bogged down in trying to understand unnecessary details and vocabulary.  Also, they are more likely to become tolerant of ambiguity. Included in this posting is a unit (an article and study guide) that begins with a focus on the reason students would read the article.

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