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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ESL Teacher Blog: Wake Up, Class!

Have you noticed that yawning student in your class? ...Don’t take it personally, sometimes it’s okay to get lost in the intricate details of the English language grammar and vocabulary.

How can you shake everyone's drowsiness off? ...Let your students ask you some personal questions. Their curiosity will certainly prevail over their sleepiness and boredom. Set your limitations, though - for example, no questions about age, income or anything else you don’t want to be asked about. Encourage questions about your hobbies, interests and experiences.

It’s better to link this activity to the topic you’re currently teaching. Let everyone think of a question that should be written down on a piece of paper. Collect their folded questions in a hat, cup or any other container. Randomly pull out a question, read it and answer, encouraging more questions as you go. This makes a great listening activity, introduces vocabulary and usually brings in a lot of cultural information. Everyone wants to know what part of the city their teacher lives in, where s/he shops, what his/her next vacation will be, how s/he became an English teacher and what movies/books s/he reads!

If you’re teaching grammar, their questions should be in a particular tense or structure:

Do you sometimes use chopsticks?/Did you use chopsticks at our potluck in December?/Have you ever used chopsticks? Have you been using the chopsticks I gave you as a present for Christmas?/Will you use chopsticks next time you go to an Asian restaurant?

You’ll definitely feel a boost of energy kicking in and see the sleepiest of your students wide-awake!

POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:08 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment

Monday, February 02, 2009

ESL Teacher Blog: Valentine’s Day Activities - Are Your Students Comfortable Talking About Love?

The stores have turned red and pink and it’s time to prep for our Valentine’s Day lesson. It’s largely assumed that topics related to love, romanticism, dating, courtship and partnership are the ones to discuss on that day. Some books suggest activities like ‘finish the sentence: ‘love is...’ or ‘interview your partner about his/her most romantic thing to do’. While these may be fun activities for younger audiences, adult learners often feel intimidated or reserved when asked these types of questions, considering them personal. After all, how easy is it to finish the sentence: “Love means... to me’?

Topics related to parents-children, people-pets relationships and friendship are failure-proof and will guarantee everyone’s participation and good level of comfort. The following ideas may be adopted to complement readings about the origin of Valentine’s Day, serve as warm-ups or transitions between the chosen activities:

1. Talk about chocolate as the most common edible gift presented on that day. Discuss students’ chocolate preferences and talk about popular North American food or dishes that are chocolate-based. A sample worksheet can be viewed here. Wrap up your class with passing around chocolate kisses, truffles or Kit-Kats!

2. Read a fairy-tale. ‘The Frog Prince’ or ‘Snow White’ make a good choice as they talk about the universal values of love, ‘inner beauty’, mutual respect and loyalty. This is an indirect way of bringing up discussions of personal nature. Rewrite the story in your own words, cut up into strips and ask to arrange in chronological order, role-play it or simply retell the story focusing on the new vocabulary.

3. If you’re lucky to have a computer lab available, go over the pictures and commentary posted by Time. This photo gallery called “Wildly in Love” won’t leave you unmoved! Students are sure to be more comfortable talking about animals and nature facts than about themselves.
Find an ESL Valentine's Day related lesson here.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 6:35 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment


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