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

Saturday, January 16, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: Collocations As Carriers of Culture in ESL Classrooms

Collocations are known as recurrent word combinations. Words in English (as in any other language) have a natural tendency to co-occur with particular ‘partners’: do a favor, make an effort but commit a crime.
 
Students who don’t notice and retain common word combinations oftentimes find themselves unable to use language fluently despite the amount of hours they’ve put in learning English.
 
What’s more, collocations may also be culture-specific. Think of Kleenex tissues. Kleenex is a brand, a generic trademark that has become colloquial or synonymous with particular products in North America. So when you say: “Give me a Kleenex, please”, how many students will understand you? The same applies to Ziploc bags or Velcro shoes.
 
Combinations such as trail mix, snowbird (person who travels to a warmer climate country to spend winter), open house, pick-your-own farm, all-you-can-eat restaurant may have no equivalents in students’ first languages. These are rather new concepts that have to be explained.
 
Food-related language is another example of knowledge shared by the native speakers of English that isn’t apparent to the second language learners. Think of Oreo cookie, Nanaimo bar (in Canada), Eggs Benedict, Graham crackers.
 
Responding to particular social situations also suggests culture-specific knowledge, often expressed in fixed expressions:
 
- Just looking, thanks.
- Are you being looked after?/Are you being helped?
- I’ll be with you in a minute.
- You’ll be answered in priority sequence.
- Five second rule! (when food is dropped on the floor)
- Give me (high) five!
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 9:15 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment

Saturday, January 02, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: My First Day of the New Year - A Back-to-School Icebreaker

Help your students to settle in and get more comfortable after a lengthy break. This simple icebreaker will let students strike a conversation in an easy and informal way as they share their experiences of the first day of the new year.
 
Assign partners. Ask students to gather information about each other by answering the questions below. Allow about 5-7 minutes for the task. Students then report on the findings about their partners. Encourage to take notes to reduce a chance to go blank in front of the class.
 
My First Day of the New Year
 
With your partner, take turns answering the questions below. Take notes to remember the information your partner shares with you. You’ll be asked to say a few things about your partner to the rest of your class.
 
What was:
 
the 1st thing you did after clock struck 12?
your first meal in the New Year?
the first gift you opened in the New Year?
the first thing you cooked in the New Year?
the first thing you bought in the New Year?
the first TV program/movie you watched in the New Year?
 
Who was:
 
the first person you spoke to in English in the New Year?
the first person you called in the New Year?
the first person you wished Happy New Year to in 2010?
your first visitor in the New Year?
 
In a large class, to take up this activity faster, just ask a question or two only (instead of going over all of them); for example: “William, what was the first thing Christine cooked in the New Year?” and then move on to the next person.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 8:24 PM   1 Comments  Add Comment



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