Category Archives: *Inductive Approach & Exercises

• Memorizing: Not the Optimal Approach to Learning ESL

Cover surprised shot

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

This posting is an update of a post from September 2019: Mistake: He surprised to see it snowing. (Adjectives that look like verbs)

Back in my high school days, learning my first foreign language, French, I remember often hearing the teacher say, “You’ll just need to memorize this.”

Fortunately, the art of teaching foreign languages, including ESL, has come a long way from those “just memorizing” days. We understand the importance of comprehensible input and the effectiveness of engaging with new concepts and vocabulary in multiple contexts.

To illustrate this, I’d like to refer to a posting from 2019, in which I discussed a common mistake that ESL students make with adjectives that look like verbs. Instead of telling students that they need to memorize these words, we lead them to internalizing these though a series of four exercises. By the end of these, students tend to remember because the words“sound” right rather than wracking their brains searching for what they had been told.

When students see an –ed at the end of a word, they tend to automatically assume it’s a verb, and this assumption can lead them to grammar mistakes.

(* mistakes—These sentences are missing a verb.)
*Kai embarrassed during his speech.
* Rumi interested in horses.

To help students in the most efficient manner, I will sometimes paint with a broad brush.  So I simply tell my students that these words are adjectives: surprised, embarrassed, confused, interested and shocked. They need a verb with them.

(correct): Kai was (v) embarrassed (adj) during his speech.

Avoiding unnecessarily complicated information

It’s true that those words can be can be used as verbs, for example:
– It embarrassed (v)  Kai that he forgot some of his speech.

But in all my years of teaching writing, I rarely see students use them that way. They almost always use them as adjectives, so I don’t waste their time/mental energy talking to them about using these as verbs. Instead, I just generalize and tell them that they are adjectives.

Four-step exercises to teach these to students (Handout included.)

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• ESL Students Can Increase Positive Emotions in Readers/Teachers with This Writing Technique

smiling teacher

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

After reading Curry’s essays, I often came away feeling especially good. This kind of surprised me because she wasn’t among the top writers in my class. Her grammar tended to breakdown at times, and her sentence style could be a bit simple. And yet, there was something special about her papers.

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• Four-Part Series: Why, How And When to Teach ESL Integrated- and Discrete-Skills Courses. 

Revised Cover 4 parts shot

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

This posting expands on the discussion in the most visited posting on Common Sense Teaching ESL:  Integrated vs Discrete Skills ESL Courses: Advantages of Discrete Skills

In that posting, I explained the many advantages there are for both students and teachers when Conversation, Reading, Writing and Listening are taught in separate classes.

However, it may not be possible to teach them separately due to the structure of the ESL program. And on top of that, there is a situation in which integrating the skills around one subject or topic in one course has several important advantages for students.

YouTube To explore this more, I put together a four-part YouTube video series.

In PART 1, I discuss the best way to teach students in a LOW- or INTERMEDIATE-LEVEL class in which all four skills need to be taught in one class due to the program’s design. Here is the link to the video: Teach All ESL Skills in a Class But NOT Integrating Around a Topic-PART 1 Integrated/Discrete Skills

In PARTS 2, 3 & 4, I focus on ADVANCED-LEVEL classes. At this level, especially in Academic ESL programs, an integrated-skills course that revolves around a topic or subject area can best mirror the types of mainstream (non-ESL) college classes which student will be taking.

About PARTS 2, 3 and 4. (Including a link to two academic, integrated-ESL skills units for advanced levels which you can download for free to use with your students.)

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• Missing WHO and WHICH/THAT: Common ESL Problem and Solution

Cover missing who Shot

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

Sometimes I get the feeling that some of my ESL students (including advanced ones) believe that there are a limited number of “who” and “which” out there, and they are afraid of using them all up before they die.

The problem happens when students are trying to write more advanced styles with a dependent and independent clause in a sentence.

Some examples:

Mistake: The people are walking their dogs should keep them on a leash.
Correction: The people WHO are walking their dogs should keep them on a leash.

Mistake: I try to give money to charities help homeless people.
Correction: I try to give money to charities WHICH help homeless people. *

I’ve also notice that this mistake often happens when students start a sentence with there”.

Mistake: There was an accident happened near my house.
Correction: There was an accident WHICH happened near my house.

* We could substitute the word THAT for WHICH in these sentences.

Solution: Helping students with this. (Handout included.)

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