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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: I Can Name 5 Trees Native to My Country, Or Can I?

I find that intermediate to advanced students are often after words that belong to a relatively rare word category, academic word list vocabulary or idioms that are quite rare or even old-fashioned. They roam the vast resources of the Internet (which is good, but can present an overload of information) or draw their knowledge from bilingual grammar/vocabulary books that sometimes have inaccurate or out-of-context translations which they put a lot of effort acquiring.

At the same time, students are often wordless in questions of ‘which..?’ type e.g.: ‘which dog do you have?’ (name a breed), ‘what flowers did you buy?’ (roses, answer), ‘which fabric is it made of?’ or ‘what fish did you have for dinner?’ that are more of a day-to-day value.

The fall is here. With warm afternoons and cool nights the trees are starting to change colors and it makes a wonderful small talk topic of the day. Can your students name the trees that are native to their region?
Here are some links that can help your students to explore Canadian trees:
how different trees look
provincial and territorial trees
Ontario trees

What’s more useful than being able to name and describe what you see?
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 12:09 AM   0 Comments  Add Comment

Friday, September 03, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: 'Teacher, What Page?' - Addressing a Teacher in Class

In our adult ESL classes here in Toronto our students call us (the instructors) by our first name or more rarely Mrs./Mr. + last name. I ask my students to call me Olga. Throughout the course I write my name on the board a few times and use it in sample sentences or made-up stories when I explain new words or structures, and yet some students persistently call me ‘teacher’ or Mrs. Olga.
True, we say ‘driver, can you please open the door?’, but ‘teacher, I have a question’ sounds impersonal. Similarly, we don’t say 'excuse me, cashier, or bank teller' - we read a name tag or ask for a name. Addressing each person by his/her name before starting a conversation is an important life skill and worth an effort to emphasize in class.
Mrs. Olga sounds quite amusing too - this probably comes from different perceptions of distance between a student or a teacher. Just ‘Olga’ sounds disrespectful for students with higher levels of power distance and they feel better if they use Mrs.
It’s hard to make students ‘unlearn’ addressing their instructor as ‘teacher’. But I find the following activity can be a memorable way to keep the importance of addressing people in the right way in mind:
Read the list of terms (1-15) below.  Match the term to the correct group of people (A-E) that you could address using this term. 
A-casual friend or acquaintance
B-superior i.e. boss, teacher, customer etc.
C-close friend
D-girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse

bro - C
sugar __
miss __

boy __
ma’am __
old man/woman __
dude __
Mr./Ms./Mrs./Prof. __
sir __
girl __
sweetheart __
baby __
first name (i.e. Lucy) __
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:52 PM   1 Comments  Add Comment


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