Monthly Archives: December 2016

Introduction to Teaching ESL: Student-Centered Approach

Teaching ESL is teaching a skill.

Teaching ESL is teaching a skill.


YouTube This posting is discussed on my YouTube video • ESL Conversation Class: Student-Centered vs Teacher-Fronted (including some research)

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?


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


Integrating the four skills

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

Fluency Man follows dreams

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


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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