Publisher: Pro Lingua Associates is now Pro Lingua Learning

I’ve recently received emails from readers who have been unable to follow links to Pro Lingua Associates (PLA) about textbooks in in some of my posts and downloadable exercises. As of October 1st, PLA has a new owner and website:  Pro Lingua Learning. The transition is expected to be completed soon.

• “Read-Aloud” Method for Collaborating with Colleagues to Assess ESL Students’ Writing Level

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Traditionally, when evaluating students’ writing levels, the “evaluators” silently read the essays in their offices, oftentimes fill out a rubric and come up with a score. Most of us would agree that such a process is onerous and often results in students being misplaced.

The method that I’ll describe here has important benefits for teachers and the ESL program as a whole. I’ve used this in several ESL programs for two situations(1) determining which students should be promoted to the next level at the end of a term, and (2) placement of new students. It’s especially helpful for determining the proper Writing-class level of borderline students, in other words, ones whose writing levels are not obvious.

To demonstrate how the method works, let’s look at those two situations.

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• Starting and Ending a Conversation (Includes a Group Mixer Activity)

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(This posting includes a POWERPOINT presentation and HANDOUTS which you are welcome to use with your students.)*

“I wish I had more chances to practice my English outside of class.”

“How can I meet some native-English speakers?”

“I went to a party last weekend. There were about 20 people there, but nobody seemed to want to talk to me. I just kind of stood in the corner looking at my cell phone. Why didn’t anyone talk to me?”

“I sat next to someone, and I wanted to talk to him, but I was afraid that I would be bothering him, or he wouldn’t say anything. What do you think?”

I’ve been asked these types of questions frequently by my students.  Naturally, some of them were low-level students with little confidence in their skills, but surprisingly, often more fluent ones also asked me for advice.

For students from some cultures, starting a conversation with someone they don’t know might be a new concept to them. (See Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Part 2 of 4: Reading aspect) 

Exercises for starting-a-conversation skills Continue reading

• Easy Editing-Awareness Technique for ESL Students

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This can drive a teacher crazy. You remind students to proof-read their paper before turning them in. However, after class, as you read them, you continually see basic grammar mistakes that you are sure they should have been able to have caught.

It’s quite common for ESL students to have a distorted view of their writing skills. They think that they can adequately edit their papers as they are writing, and thus, feel little need to re-read them before turning them in.  Little do they realize that a plethora of simple grammar and spelling mistakes on a paper can give the reader/teacher a lower opinion of the students’ skills.

I have found that the following little requirement has greatly transformed students into much more diligent self-editors.

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