Tag Archives: cultural misunderstanding

• 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

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

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(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 videoTeach 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.)

Continue reading

• Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Part 2 of 4: Reading aspect)

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

For an extended discussion of this topic with links to some YouTube videos and downloadable exercises, see Four Part Series: Why, How And When to Teach ESL Integrated- and Discrete-Skills Courses. 

Why do Asians often seem so shy in social situations compared to westerners?

To illustrate how the subject of cultural differences is the best subject, I’ll include a reading passage about this followed by discussion and writing activities related to this.

This “shyness” topic is an effective one for demonstrating the important aspects of this “best” subject:

Continue reading

• Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Part 1 Overview)

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For an extended discussion of this topic with links to some YouTube videos and downloadable exercises, see Four Part Series: Why, How And When to Teach ESL Integrated- and Discrete-Skills Courses. 

This post may sound like I am contradicting a previous post of March 13th, “Integrated vs Discrete Skills ESL Courses: Advantages of Discrete Skills”   Despite my support for segregated skills in general, an integrated skills course with higher-level students who are more homogeneous in ability can be effective and practical.

For an integrated skills 1 course to be effective and engaging to the students, the subject should be something which is inherently appealing to the majority of the students.  After all, the students will be spending the course time reading, writing, and talking about the subject.

One subject which has been enthusiastically received by both students and instructors is culture, and more specifically, differences in cultures and the reason for these differences.

Some examples of these differences are:

-Why are people in western cultures more likely than people from eastern cultures to smile at a stranger standing at a bus stop than?

-Why do people in some cultures tend to be less direct in saying their opinions than in other cultures?

-In a study of 4-year-olds, why did the Asian children spontaneously share their candy with another child but the American children only reluctantly share when asked?

Continue reading