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ESL Teacher Blog
The teacher's point of view: thoughts, observations and ideas about ESL teaching.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Closed Caption

Closed captioning is now available on most North American television shows. 
Captioning, which means that subtitles are printed across the bottom of the screen, was originally devised in order to allow deaf people to read the dialogue of televised programming. 
Recently many non-native speakers of English are using the captioning as well.  Instead of struggling to try and catch the dialogue of a show, which is often filled with idiomatic speech, and slang expressions that are delivered quickly with excessive emotion, students are turning on the closed captioning and reading the dialogue. 
There is definitely something to be said for the ease in which students can learn dialogue that they may not be able to catch just by listening to a program. 
There is however, a risk that students will rely on the captioning excessively, and not put themselves in positions that will force them to work on developing their listening skills. 
POSTED BY Cecelia Sumi AT 3:06 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Pleasure of Reading

Reading for pleasure is often something ESL learners don’t do.  Learners will read a book, or newspaper article with a dictionary in their other hand. 
Reading for pleasure should be about reading for enjoyment.  If learners are unable to understand the meaning of a story or book without stopping to look up numerous new words in the dictionary, then the material they’ve chosen to read is too difficult.  Learners should be able to read a page of a book without having to look up more than 2-3 words from that page.  That is not to say that they will clearly understand every word that they’ve read, but they should be able to understand the general meaning from the context of the sentence. 
Remember they’re reading to enjoy themselves, not in to study.  Encourage learners to choose works that are the appropriate level.  Learners may favour novels filled with suspense, action and drama, but these novels may also have difficult vocabulary, complex sentence structure, and topic specific expressions that could leave the reader feeling frustrated and discouraged after reading only a few pages. 
There are numerous interesting young adult novels and magazines that may be more appropriate for some learners to read.  They will enjoy the material, review vocabulary and expressions that are familiar to them, learn a few new words and have a positive reading experience.  They will find that reading is a pleasure.
POSTED BY Cecelia Sumi AT 2:05 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment

top Monday, November 12, 2007

Communicative Activities vs. Word Search

Looking for an activity for your class? 
There are hundreds of books, and internet sights that have a wide variety of activities for students of varying levels.  There are many word searches, crossword puzzles, and word jumbles that focus on vocabulary for specific themes. 
While these activities are enjoyable to complete, they are not communicative and don’t promote speaking English.  Students complete them alone and do not need to understand the meaning of the vocabulary, or the context in which to use the vocabulary in order to complete the activities.
A word guessing game using student-generated clues is a much more communicative activity.  Have students work in pairs.  Give each pair a piece of paper with a few words written on it.  Choose words, phrases, or idioms that you feel your class should know and would be able to write clues for. 
Each pair should secretly discuss the meaning of the words on their paper and write 3 clues for each word.  Tell the class that the clues should not be too difficult, but not too obvious either.  Each clue should be slightly easier than the previous one.  As an example, write the following clues on the board.  Write the clues one at a time giving the students time to read and reflect on each clue.
1. teenagers meet their friends at this place
2. you can find a bargain here sometimes
3. a place that has lots of stores
Ask if any students are able to guess the word.  The answer is “mall” or “shopping mall”.
After pairs have finished writing down their clues, have each pair present their clues to the class.  Other pairs can guess the word after hearing one, two or all three of the clues.  Award points to any pair that guesses the word correctly.
POSTED BY Cecelia Sumi AT 10:37 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment


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