Tag Archives: engaging students

• The Best Technique to Teach ESL Listening Skills (in Classes and for Tutors!)

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                                 This posting includes links to two videos.

I’m always skeptical when I hear someone claim that something in the field of teaching ESL is the best. But I can say from all my 40 years in the field that this technique is the best for teaching listening for teachers and students in so many ways.

What makes this so special is that we can easily match the students’ interests with their level of listening skills. There is no need to search for a book that might come close to doing that.

Here is how it works:

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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

• Terrible Advice to Novice Teachers From a Teacher-Trainer

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One day a teaching intern asked me for some advice about a listening-skills class that she was struggling with. Her internship was for three-month, and she had been assigned to our ESL program. The lesson in the textbook for the class didn’t seem to address a skill that the students needed, but she had an idea for an exercise. However, she didn’t know if she should spend an hour or two or more developing a more relevant activity. Then she added this: “The professor in my TESL Methods class told us that we shouldn’t spend time writing exercises during our internship unless we know that we’ll be able to use them in the future.”

It made me want to cry.

The most obvious reason why this advice is so wrong is that none of us in the field of Teaching ESL can know when an exercise will come in handy in the future. But, besides that, there are more paramount reasons for teachers to write exercises.

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• Quick and User-Friendly Technique to Teach Summarize Skills of a Reading Passage

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The teacher was feeling a bit overwhelmed. He was assigned a Reading course in which summarizing was one of the goals. Where to start? A colleague suggested a rather arduous process of having students identifying and clarifying the topic of the passage. This would be followed by techniques for finding the most important point the author was making for each paragraph. Then they would practice how to identify supporting points.  They would practice recognizing key word and practice paraphrasing those. And on and on.

All those steps above are totally unnecessary.

The easy summarizing-skill technique

Here is the basis for this technique: We always have a reason for summarizing specific information from an article. (In real life, and even mainstream academic courses, are we ever asked to just summarize everything in an article?)

Examples of the technique

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