Category Archives: *For Those New to Teaching ESL

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

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(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

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

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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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• Creating Positive Tension during Group Work

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 I’ve gained important perspectives from students over the years. The following insight was shared with me by a student after a group-work activity, and it altered how I organized groups.

Typically, during my first year of teaching ESL, when I wanted students to get with a partner or form groups of three or four, I instructed them to do that and let them choose whomever they wanted to work with. However, early in my second year, this happened.

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• Small Steps for Students Who Are Feeling Discouraged

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A boy wanted to ask a girl to the school dance, but he was too shy to talk to girls. To help him start to overcome his shyness, one day in a store together, his mom told him to walk up to a female clerk and ask where he could find the toothpaste. If he did that, he’d prove to himself that he could interact successfully with a female who was a total stranger, and he’d be able to see himself moving toward his goal. (From Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath.)

I realized that I could apply the principle behind this story to a category of students who seem to be in many of the ESL class that I’ve taught. They are the ones who are feeling discouraged about their seemingly inability to progress in their language-skill development. Many of them have failed the course, and in some cases, more than once.

Some of these learners don’t feel like trying any more.

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