I’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
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
At 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.
Pictures are essential in the language classroom. They’re interesting, they spark discussion, they provide a purpose for tasks, and they relate to people. They can be used in so many different ways. Having a bank of pictures on hand is as essential to a language teacher as a painter having a paintbrush. Continue reading
There’s no doubt that technology has changed education. One of my favorite technology providers for education is Google. They’re an innovative and user-friendly company that has a lot of great services to offer that can make your job a bit easier. Continue reading
Over 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
Do 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
The 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.
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
When 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
Stephen 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
After a wonderful vacation in West Africa over the summer, it’s time to get back to work here at TESOL Planner. Let’s start with a fun activity for beginners. As native or fluent speakers of English, we use the verb BE all the time, often without even taking note. Beginners, on the other hand, have difficulty with its use and very irregular forms. I designed this activity as a vocabulary development activity that also gives students practice using the BE verb with adjectives. It can easily be adapted to fit your classroom. The basic idea Continue reading
This is a great two-part activity that gives English learners a chance to practice question and statement forms in the simple past tense. I used it last night in my beginning adult ESL class, and everyone really seemed to enjoy it. I love using talking charts like this because they give learners at the lower levels something to guide their discussion. They also give me something to walk around and check to make sure everyone is getting the grammar. I can point out errors as students are making them. I can also collect them after the activity if I want to give more detailed feedback to everyone. I use charts like this a lot because it makes the learning process more interactive and helps even the shyer students participate and use English. Continue reading
Since the start of language, it has been used to tell stories. It’s a natural part of the human experience to recount events and experiences in our lives. Using past tense forms can be difficult at first for English learners. This is an activity that I’ve used for several semesters to give students a chance to be creative and practice the past tense. It also promotes the use of the simple past and past continuous together.
One common grammar structure in English is using going to to discuss future plans. It’s something learners will hear and need to use in their daily lives. I created this going to bingo activity to get my adult ESL students a chance to practice the grammar while at the same time giving them a moment to get up out of their chairs and stretch. They really seemed to enjoy it, and it gave them ample opportunity to practice the target grammar as well as learn more activities and plans vocabulary. If you’re planning on covering this topic in class, check out this activity. Continue reading
I came up with this activity on the fly today as I was working on the past tense with my class, and it worked great. My students got into it and didn’t want to stop. I used this activity after I had introduced simple past tense statements (positive and negative) and questions. We did some guided practice, and then I had them play a game with verb cards I had created for another activity previously in the semester. This activity is great because it also gives them a chance to learn more vocabulary. Continue reading
I’m using the book World English Intro by Cengage learning in my beginning integrated skills course. I love this book because it has engaging material and photos by National Geographic. I just completed unit 10 which covers health and illnesses. The unit introduces expressing feelings such as “I feel sick” as well as using should and shouldn’t for advice. This article contains all of the material I created for this unit, but if you’re teaching illnesses, remedies, health, or advice with should and shouldn’t, you’ll get great ideas and materials no matter what book you’re using. Continue reading
In my opinion, teaching is the perfect profession for the creative mind. Teachers are constantly faced with the challenge of creating new and exciting materials that are interesting and useful. Sometimes this process of creation runs us into challenges, which is exactly what this activity did for me, but in the end, I created an awesome and interested activity sequence that I can use in future semesters. We’ve been working on count and non-count nouns and food vocabulary in my class. This week I introduced how much and how many. I wanted to give my students an interactive way to practice this topic, so I came up with an idea for a modified bingo activity that would get students to Continue reading
I’m currently in the middle of a unit on food in my beginning ESL course. One of the topics of this unit is using some and any in questions and statements. I created this grocery shopping activity to give students a chance to ask and answer questions using the target grammar. There is also a hint of competition in the activity, which I find always gets students excited and active. This activity also works to reinforce food vocabulary because students will get food vocabulary cards with pictures on them. Continue reading
I recently covered a unit on fashion in my beginning ESL course. I wanted to do something that would be fun and engaging with students, as well as get them using English vocabulary for clothes. I ended up creating this activity sequence that ultimately gets students to piece together an outfit for a specific occasion from “stores” of magazine clothes created by groups. The great thing about this activity is that Continue reading