Author Archives: commonsenseesl

• Engaging Student-Centered Classification Writing Unit Using Inductive Approach

WAI Cover shot

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

Teachers, if you prefer to be the center of attention during a lesson, THIS UNIT IS NOT FOR YOU. But if you to play the role of a coach, setting up the lesson, briefly explaining the exercises and stepping aside to let students engage in assignments allowing you more time to work individually with each student, THIS UNIT IS FOR YOU.

YouTube In this YouTube video Engaging, Student-Centered ESL Writing Unit Using Inductive Approach , I describe the unit exercises

  • which use an inductive approach,
  • the rationale for each one,
  • how they engage students,
  • how they lead students to write a four to five paragraph essay with a variety of details.

After you watch the video, you’ll be all set to download the unit for free and use it with your students.

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• An Early Course Correction: Making Sure You Are Evaluating Your Students’ Writing Accurately Before It’s Too Late

Early course correction Cover

This posting is directed specifically to teachers in these categories:

  • You have experience teaching ESL Writing, but you have been assigned to teach a new level.
  • You have just been hired to teach in an ESL program and are assigned a Writing class.
  • You have been teaching an ESL Writing class for a few terms, but this term you have some students who have “unusual” writing characteristics.

Imagine that it’s the third week of the term. You just picked up your students’ first writing sample (e.g. a paragraph or essay) and are starting to mark/evaluate them. (See Most Effective Technique for Marking Grammar on Essays to Develop Self-Editing Skills)

You start with Adey’s essay and soon some questions come to your mind:

Next, you read Naomi’s essay and wonder about this:

  • She uses complex sentences, but sometimes her grammar breaks down, especially word forms. Would these kinds of mistakes disqualify her from passing to the next level? How “perfect” must a students’ grammar be to pass?

Another student, Dante had this characteristic:

  • His ideas seemed quite simplistic; he doesn’t develop them with enough details. What is the expectation for students passing to the next level concerning idea development?

Help is on the way!

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• Taking On Phrasal Verbs

Cover phrasal verbs screen shot

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

YouTube This posting is discussed on my YouTube video Big Mistake ESL Teachers Make With Phrasal Verbs:

Ernesto was looking unusually pale when he walked into my class. I asked him if he was feeling all right, and he said that his stomach was hurting. Then I asked him:

“Do you feel like you are going to throw up?”

He just kind of looked at me, not knowing what to say. I realized that he didn’t understand the phrasal verb, “throw up,” and I was sure that he wouldn’t understand “vomit,” so my only recourse was to pantomime someone throwing up.  Then he got it.

According to The Grammar Book by Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman, outside Germanic languages (English, German, Dutch and the Scandiavian languages), few languages have phrasal verbs. “Thus most ESL/EFL students will find such verbs strange and difficult. Yet they are such an important part of colloquial English that no one can … understand conversational English easily without a knowledge” of them.

About once a term at my college, we invited a guest speaker to give a talk to all the international students, from beginning-skill levels to advance. For example, a policeman talked about how to stay safe on and off campus; a counselor discussed common misunderstandings students have with plagiarism; a student leader provided information about campus clubs and activities.  Even though the speakers were making an effort to make their talks comprehensible to non-native speakers, they couldn’t help but continually peppered their speech with phrasal verbs. Some examples:

Policeman: If you drink and drive, you could end up at the police station.

Counselor: One reason students copy from a classmate is because they’ve taken on too many courses.

Student leader: We hope you’ll help us put forward some ideas for improving our clubs.

Imagine substituting these phrasal verbs with phrase blah-blah.  This is kind of what many of the students heard:

     “… you could blah-blah at the police station”
     “…they’ve blah-blah too many courses.”
     “…help us blah-blah some ideas.”

No wonder so many of students had blank looks on their faces.

Working on phrasal verbs. Where to start, knowing that there are over 10,000 of them.

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• 7th Free ESL Reading Unit. Experiencing Discrimination

Cover Discrimination Excrp Shot 2

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

See Select Category > ESL Reading Units Free: Reading for Insights (Introduction) for an introduction to these reading units.  Reading Units: Reading for Insights (Introduction)

Article,  Study Guide and Answer Key for  Experiencing Discrimination (and more excerpts)

 

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