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

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: The New Words of the 2000s and 2010s

Coined in the previous decade and having potential power to stay in the next, the new words just keep on coming. New technologies and brands, cultural tends and events, and of course economy - all contribute to adding to our daily lexicon.

Quite a number of words has been suggested to describe a modern woman:

frugalista - someone who lives frugally yet stays healthy and fashionable (mostly associated with a woman rather than a man)

she-conomy or sheconomics - a study that analyses the relationship between women and money. Money needs to be controlled emotionally!

While there is an alpha female (the strongest female in an animal pack), we now talk more about an alpha woman - a dominant woman who likes to take control in all aspects of her life.

There are also ‘spinoff’ words from the previously existing ones:

cheeseburger/fishburger/lobsterburger (from hamburger)

floatel/boatel (from hotel or motel)

Google is now commonly used as a verb and so is twitter. Twittiquette is the rules of the polite use of Twitter.

This video sums the new words that were unknown a decade ago. Some of the examples mentioned in the video:

green-collar worker (someone who does an environmentally friendly job)

frenemy (someone who is both friend and enemy)

stacation (stay-at-home-vacation)

locavore (someone who eats locally grown food)

An interesting site that keeps track of new words.
POSTED BY Dan S Galperin AT 6:33 PM   2 Comments  Add Comment

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: English Mad Minutes

Mad minutes is a drill usually applied at schools where children are timed  to solve basic math problems. It has been argued that timed work helps students improve speed and accuracy with basic mathematical operations (until it becomes automatic).

Quizzing has long been a way to assess students, but it can also be a way to help retain information and even help them learn. Read about the effectiveness of quizzes here.

We know that English has more exceptions than rules, don’t we? English mad minutes can stimulate students remember these pesky words in a fun way. Use it as a warmer, filler, transition between topics/activities or 5 minutes before the end of the class. It will definitely energize everyone and bring lots of laughs. Make it competitive (between teams) or not. As a listening drill or writing.

Based on the level (and competitive spirit!) of your class decide on a number of items you want your students to know to automaticity and allot a certain amount of seconds per each item (e.g.: 10 seconds for 10 items = 1 min. 40 sec.) You can focus on:

- irregular verbs

- noun plurals exceptions (mouse-mice, wife - wives)

- spelling patterns (knee, friend, ceiling), or rules regrading adding -ing/-ed/-s

- homonyms (ate - eight)

- prefixes/suffixes (impolite, agreeable)

- apostrophe use or a lack of in contractions (its vs. it’s)

- British/American equivalents (truck/lorry)

- telling time/reading or spelling numbers (1906, 2050, 1600s)

- pronunciation irregularities (goes/does/shoes)

Does frequent and immediate testing work for your class?
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 12:18 AM   1 Comments  Add Comment

top Friday, December 03, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: Citizenship Test - Can ESL Teachers Play a Role?

There has been a lot of discussion in the media about the recent changes in the Canadian citizenship test. Canada has had a phenomenally high 84% citizenship acquisition compared to other countries. Ever since a newer version of the test was introduced last spring, the failure rates have soared.

The new test is harder to cheat on and allows a smaller percentage of wrong answers, but these aren’t the main problems for the newcomers determined to get their citizenship. The main culprit is the ability to understand and interpret written English or French.

No matter how hard students study for the test, without sufficient vocabulary and ability to understand rephrased information, they’re not going to make it. Candidates who have not reached intermediate+ level of English, are not going to understand ‘merger of colonies’, ‘pursue of freedom’ and ‘constitutional monarchy’. Look at the test through the eyes of your students - isn’t it challenging language-wise for those who are  still struggling with the basics even after 3 or more years in the country?

The government wants the test to be meaningful which it might be for those who are able to function at higher levels of English. But then there are always the ones who will never go beyond basic levels - don’t you know a few? Does that mean they can’t be citizens?

Mandatory citizenship classes (usually taught by ESL instructors) might be the win-win situation in which all parties benefit. A teacher who observes students in class over a period of time can judge and assess their knowledge more objectively than a one-off test with a limited number of questions. In addition to covering the subject-matter (history, geography, economics and political system of a country), students will get a chance to expose themselves to different sources this information comes from teacher presentations, videos, books, student discussions - all of which use various structures to convey the same information. They’ll become more comfortable with the language and have a sound basis in their knowledge of the country.
A certificate upon course completion and/or recommendation letter from a teacher might say more about a candidate than the immigration consultant translating from English to another language (for the ones who failed the test). These classes also help develop attachment to the principles and ideals of the country and identify with the basic values we share as Canadians.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:17 AM   1 Comments  Add Comment

top Friday, December 03, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: Famous Movie Dance Scenes

Times just published a collection of most memorable movie dance scenes. It’s not just the moves, but also the films, songs and of course, the iconic dancers who represent various decades of the century.
Disco, twist, rock-and-roll, slow dance, ballet and just anything in between look so effortless, fluid yet energizing when danced by Fred and Ginger, Elvis, Swayze and the other classic screen actors. The facts and factoids in the commentary are informative too.
Enjoyed every moment!
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:12 AM   0 Comments  Add Comment

ESL Teacher Blog: The New Words of the 2000s and 2010s
ESL Teacher Blog: English Mad Minutes
ESL Teacher Blog: Citizenship Test - Can ESL Teachers Play a Role?
ESL Teacher Blog: Famous Movie Dance Scenes

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