Author Archives: commonsenseesl

• DON’T Teach This as an ESL Speaking Skill

Reduced Forms 2 Cover shot

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

In the video, I explain how ESL teachers can best help their students deal with reduced forms of speech. Some examples of reduced forms are
• whaddya (what are you)
• gonna (going to)
• din (didn’t)
• isn (isn’t)
•  cha > / t / + you) > I want you to start now.

It’s vital that we help students UNDERSTAND what OTHER PEOPLE are saying when they use these, but it’s COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE to tell students to use these when they speak.

The link to the video and two handout-activities

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• Getting The Most Out of Information-Gap Chart Activities PART 2 (Vocabulary Reinforcement)

Cover info gap 2 shot

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

You can see my video discussing Part 1 & Part 2 here: VIDEO Getting The Most Out of ESL Information-Gap Activities: Six Recommendations

I have found these information-gap chart pair-activities to be a great go-to interactive activity when I’d like to review and reinforce vocabulary words and conversation strategies. And best of all, they are quite easy to make and customize.

In my previous posting, PART 1, I shared a chart in which the categories were:

Relationship         Personality         Birth Year

Cover Info Part 1 shot

See • Getting The Most Out of Information-Gap Chart Activities PART 1

I had made that one because I wanted to review vocabulary for relationships like cousin, nephew, niece, and aunt, and for personalities like serious, cool, and funny.  Later in the course after students had developed more vocabulary, I revised the chart to so that they could review:

Slide 1 less familiar

I’ve also made charts that included some of these categories:

Slide 2 categories

Here are two sites that have been helpful for the vocabulary in these categories:

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• Getting The Most Out of Information-Gap Chart Activities PART 1

Cover info Part 1 shot

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

You can see my video discussing Part 1 & Part 2 here: VIDEO Getting The Most Out of ESL Information-Gap Activities: Six Recommendations

At first glance, these activities can appear to be just a fun way for students to interact with each other. However, the more I’ve worked with and developed them, the more I realize what an effective skill-building tool they can be.

For this PART 1 posting, I’ll…
1) briefly review what an information gap activity is.
2) describe three important ways to make these most effective for students and the mistakes that teachers sometimes make with these.

In my next posting, PART 2, I’LL …
3) explain ways to customize them to review and reinforce vocabulary words and conversation strategies.
4) include more samples of these types of information-gap activities.

Here is an example of an information gap activity and a common mistake teachers make with them.

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• Don’t Give Points. Give Green Instead. Save Time from Counting and Recording Points.

Cover grade book shot

While working at my computer, I heard my officemate, Nadya, sigh. She had a stack of homework papers that she was in the midst of marking, counting points and recording. She told me that she was starting to feel burned out from all the paper work and wondered if I felt the same.

She showed me how she was evaluating her students’ homework. They had written 10 items, and next to each one, she had written points. For example, a 2/2 meant that the student did that item correctly, a ½ meant it wasn’t completely correct, and 0/2 meant it was completely incorrect.

That morning she was in the process of (1) totaling the points, (2) writing a score at the top, and (3) recording the scores in her grade book.  She said that she didn’t have time to write anything more specifically about the reason for the points on the students’ papers.

I then showed her a set of papers that I had recently marked. I don’t write points next to each item, but instead, I marked each with green or blue. Then I explained that by doing that, I’m able to specifically reinforce what they did correctly or point out what was incorrect. At the same time, I don’t need to write and record points, which saves me a tremendous amount of time.

Here are samples of our different approaches to marking assignments:

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