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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

ESL Teacher Blog: Halloween Teaching Ideas

While we all like to read a story or two about the origin and traditions of Halloween, the following can be used to warm up a Halloween related lesson or provide supplementary activities for the holiday.

Vocabulary-related:

- This is a great opportunity to review clothing articles and accessories with the class. Based on the level, the vocabulary can range from basic items (dress, robe, pants and boots) to intermediate (gown, cloak, shawl, tiara) to advanced when students are asked to add adjectives or descriptions to the costumes (glow in the dark mask, detachable wings, belt with a metal buckle, puffed sleeves, clip-on tail, etc.)

You can do it the other way around by providing students with examples of clothing articles on index cards and having them to guess a costume/character.

This idea is easy to implement by looking at cut-out pictures from newspapers or magazines or real costumes that instructor/students bring to class on that day.

- Teach idioms related to describing fear. Have students share their scary experiences using these idioms. Use this worksheet for detailed explanations.

Grammar-related:

Talk about present and past participle adjectives related to the holiday. Compare frightening and frightened, shocking and shocked, horrifying and horrified. Have students write sentences showing the difference between –ing and –ed adjectives.
 
Cultural Element:

Ask students to create a list of Halloween appropriate costumes (can even be narrowed down to age or gender suitable). Take it up as a class and add additional characters.
 
Talk about the origin of the costumes inspired by popular movies, books or folklore. A possible list can include a cheerleader, candy corn witch, master of doom, skeleton, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Hannah Montana, Iron Man, werewolf, Jack Sparrow, etc.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 3:49 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment

Sunday, October 12, 2008

ESL Teacher Blog: Thanksgiving and Elections – Is There a Connection?

In a few days Canadians head to the polling stations to vote in the Federal Elections. This time the Elections Day falls on the day right after Thanksgiving. Planning to cover both events as two separate topics in my ESL class, never have I expected to find them so connected.

After describing the structure of the Canadian government to the class of newcomers, little did I know how difficult it would be for them to talk about the structure of the government of their home countries. A seemingly simple question “Is your country a democracy?” couldn’t be clearly answered. “My country has Parliament, but they have their way to tell us who to vote for” – was a very common explanation.
Usually proud of the food, customs and traditions of their countries of origin, this time the students seemed rather confused and undecided. They took in every piece of the new information, bombarding me with questions about the Canadian government.

When the turn came and we were answering the Thanksgiving question “What are you grateful for?”, the answer was obvious to most of the students - exercising their citizen rights and responsibilities in a truly democratic country and having no fear to do so.
 
The timing of the elections couldn’t have been better.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:07 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment

top Wednesday, October 01, 2008

ESL Teacher Blog: Turning a Technical Problem into a Teachable Moment

The lights are dimmed and a hush falls over the classroom. We’re about to watch a movie. The students lean forward in anticipation, peering into the screen. I push the ‘play’ button and …a second goes by, another, 20 more seconds… nothing comes up – there is a technical problem…

All eyes are on me watching my next move. Yet, instead of feverish attempts to fix the problem, I put the remote control away and tell the following:

Talk to your partner and suggest 3 ways to troubleshoot a VCR.

Students spring into action trying to come up with the vocabulary they need for the task, or even understand the meaning of ‘troubleshoot’. As they happily chat with each other sharing their ideas and work their electronic dictionaries full time, I check the connections and find an unplugged cable. I turn to the students and listen for their suggestions (replace batteries in the remote, check the settings and antenna – are the most common ones). I tell them what went wrong with our VCR, they nod their heads in understanding.

Shifting the focus of students’ attention let me calmly deal with the problem while giving the students an additional learning opportunity. I felt both sides benefited.

I look forward to my next technical problem now – I’m going to ask them to write down the names of the buttons on VCR (eject, fast forward, rewind, etc)! No spelling mistakes accepted!
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:40 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment



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