Community Building: Obstacles and Solutions

Classroom Community Building Activity: Obstacles and SolutionsMy husband and I have been watching the show “Shameless.” Its premise is how five siblings raise themselves because they have an alcoholic father and drug addict mother. The show portrays their struggles as they navigate life in Southside Chicago. Each character has their own unique struggles when it comes to school and being successful with education. Most all of their struggles stem from situational and affective issues rather than ability issues. It really got me thinking about education and the struggles that many of our students face and what we as educators can do to support our students.  Continue reading

English Verb Tenses and Aspects Handout

English Verb Tenses and AVerbs are key to clear sentences, but they’re also something that students struggle with a lot. So, in preparation for my spring classes, I created this handout for my students. It breaks English verbs down by tense and aspect and then gives examples for each. It’s a handout students can keep with them for reference, and it’s also something you can use for activities in class.

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Conversation Class: Art Vocabulary and Discussion Slides

Art Discussion SlideI taught a conversation class a few semesters ago. I used slides for each of the topics because I found that the visual support helped students as they navigated conversations using new vocabulary and structures. It was also a free and easy way to bring vibrant photos into the class to help spark discussion on the topic. The material I’m sharing here is from a week we did on art. We had a great time learning vocabulary and talking about art. It was one of my favorite topics. If you’re leading a conversation class or conversation hour, this just might be your next topic.  Continue reading

Travel Talking Chart: Simple Present

Talking Chart

This talking chart goes nicely with the last post of travel destination cards. It will get students to talk about places in the world where they want to visit. It gets students to practice the question “Where do you want to visit?” though it could be easily modified to practice modals with the question “Where would you like to go?”  Continue reading

Comparison Photos

Comparisons If you haven’t yet heard of Canva.com, you should definitely check it out. It makes the creation of nicely formatted picture resources incredibly easy. You can also make endless flyers, posts, etc. that have beautiful designs and elements.  Two other great websites that go wonderfully with the idea of pictures is www.pexels.com and https://pixabay.com/. These two websites offer free stock photos. Not only are the stock photos free, but they come with a CC0 License that gives you complete rights to use the images for anything you could ever need them for. I used the above-mentioned websites to make these 26 pages of comparison photos.  Continue reading

Conversation Hour: Stereotypes

stereotypes.JPGThis semester a colleague and I started a cross-cultural conversation hour on campus to provide a space for English learners to practice their conversational skills and for everyone who participates to share and learn different perspectives on the topic of the week. We surveyed to see what topics students were interested in discussing, and the topic of stereotypes was voted as a top choice. We came up with this sequence of activities to give students a chance to think about stereotypes, how they affect us, and what we can do to counter them. Whether you lead a conversation hour or are looking for an activity to do in your class, these activities are relevant and can help give students a chance to share their experiences and learn about the experiences of others.  Continue reading

Community Building Unit: Student Packet

Community Building Activities As the fall semester is getting close to winding down, it’s time to start thinking about curriculum for spring. It’s important that my new classes start off on the right foot, so I usually spend a significant part of the first couple of weeks doing community building activities and talking about strategies that can help my students be more successful throughout the semester. I want them to feel comfortable and ready to fully participate in class. I created this “Getting Started” unit to use the first couple of weeks. It comes in handy because not all students have their book the first week. The unit has everything you’ll need to get an intermediate-level class ready for the semester. Just print a copy for each student and you’re ready to go.  Continue reading

Five Ways to put Writing into your Beginning-Level ESL Classroom

pexels-photo-110473I’ve taught English composition classes. We worked on thesis statements, clarity, organization and more. We read, discussed, and wrote about books and academic articles about complex topics and themes. I’ve also taught beginning ESL classes where the students often struggle with correctly creating basic sentences. At first glance, you may think that beginning ESL courses have nothing in common with high-level comp classes. But can they? Should they? Can beginning ESL language learners be asked to write in paragraphs while they’re still learning to form sentences? In my experience, they can. Continue reading

Three Simple Past Tense Activities

Past Tense Practice Handout

Verbs are essential elements in every sentence. They’re also complex and can be a challenge for learners to master. It’s important to give students many different ways to practice. I always have fun coming up with creative ways for students to practice verb tenses. If you’re working on the past tense in your class, try these three activities.  Continue reading

Favorite Holiday Discussion

Holiday VocabularyAt my school, we recently started holding a conversation hour to give language learners listening/speaking practice. For the first week, our theme was holidays. For one part of the event, we did this activity designed to get people talking about their favorite holidays. It sparked a lot of discussion and gave people a chance to learn about holidays from different places. Whether you’re leading a conversation hour or working on a unit about holidays in your class, this activity is perfect.

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The Sunday Review is Back

1Over the summer my fiancé and I traveled to West Africa to visit his native country of Ghana and his family. We had a great visit and spent some time in four different countries: Morocco, The Gambia, Senegal, and Ghana. During the trip, I heard many different languages, which got me thinking about languages in general and the process of learning another language. Every language is unique, beautiful, and intricate. Learning another one gives you new windows to view the world through. Continue reading

Which One – Ask and Switch

Ask and SwitchDo you want a new activity to get your class up and talking? Check out this great resource. It’s a new twist on an old game, the ask and switch. You can use it to practice new vocabulary, questions using which, or just to get students talking and learning more about each other. Click to learn more.  Continue reading

Book Materials to Improve Comprehension Strategies and Expand English Vocabulary 

I Have a Dream by Margaret DavidsonThe feeling of reading your first book in a new language is truly amazing. I remember after I read my first book in Spanish, I felt such a sense of accomplishment. Words that would have previously been unintelligible shapes on paper had become a whole new world of meaning. It was exciting and very motivating. It also really helped me improve my language skills. Adding a full-length book to your ESL curriculum can be a great way to add authentic and engaging material to your class. Check out this article get all you need to use the book I Have a Dream by Margaret Davidson in your class. I used it in my low intermediate class with adult learners and it went really well.
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Verb Cards for Interactive Practice

Capture 2

A while back I posted a set of verb cards to use for a variety of different activities. This is a new set that I created that uses actual images instead of clipart. There is a total of 81 different commonly used verbs in English. You can use these cards for an endless number of activities in your class. Keep reading for some examples.  Continue reading

Syllabus Makeover: Five Ideas to Upgrade Your Syllabus

test_handout_professor_corrected1.jpgWhen I was working on my Master’s thesis, I read a research study on student-teacher rapport which revealed that even if students were shown a soundless clip of only a few seconds that showed a teacher teaching class, those students would form very strong opinions and feelings as to the quality and interest of the given course. Such initial impressions can stick with students and frame how they view the course.

In a way, the syllabus we create and distribute to students is very much one type of first impression that students get. Continue reading

Five Great First Day of Class Activities

Classmate Classroom Sharing International Friend ConceptStephen Krashen once wrote “Motivational and attitudinal considerations are prior to linguistic considerations. If the affective filter is ‘up’, no matter how beautifully the input is sequenced, no matter how meaningful and communicative the exercise is intended to be, little or no acquisition will take place.” As August approaches, and with it the start of school, it’s a great time to look at ways we can lower the affective filter in our language classrooms and create a positive rapport and interconnection where learning can thrive. Check out these five first day community building activities to get your class off on the right foot.  Continue reading