My Life Untranslated

The Secret Adventures of an ESL Teacher in NYC

Archive for the tag “English”

Really, Every Day Math?!


Dear creators of Every Day Math,

You have clearly never taught ELLs, because you give the most useless suggestions EVER. How about not creating a curriculum that assumes all child the world over learn the same math the world over at the same time?

A Teacher of actual ELLs

Welcome to the 19th ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival

One of the best aspects of being an edublogger and being on twitter has been all the inspiring teachers I have gotten to interact with daily. That’s why I was happy to host this Carnival, because it’s my chance to promote some really wonderful teachers and hopefully increase the communication and sharing among all of us in the ESL/EFL community. If you’d like information about contributing to the next carnival, please scroll to the bottom of this post.

Although there was no specific theme for this Carnival, several interesting themes emerged:

  • A Conversation on Language
  • Dynamic Teaching…Games, Teaching Tools and Strategies
  • Classroom 2.0
  • Learning and Teaching with Eyes Wide Open (reflective teaching)
  • On the Job Front

So, here we go:

A Conversation on Language

First in line is a post many teachers of ELLs will find compelling. Henrick Oprea, an English teacher in Brazil, has written a post on the issue of pronunciation and World Englishes.
blog: Doing Some Thinking
post: World Englishes and Standards
quote: (after describing how there are more non-native speakers of English than native and the need to understand the differences):But this has always been something that kept me wondering: if I’m learning a language in order to be able to communicate with people from other cultures, and if this is the so-called lingua franca of the world, should teachers let their students get away with something that’s really distant from native-like pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar usage?”

His post ties nicely in with this post by Ms. Mercer which covers a topic many American teachers (not just ESL teachers) ought to be very familiar with: AAVE, or African American Vernacular English. At the same time, it touches on the much broader issue of the climate in the classroom, and how teachers must and can invite students to bring their culture into the classroom in a real way. Also, helpfully, she provides links to pages, topics and trainings on the topic.
blog: Reflections on Teaching
post: English Language Development of Standard and Academic English
quote: “Imagine The Color Purple, or any of Roddy Doyle’s work in standard academic English. By removing their language, you may be killing a literary voice.”

Next in this set is from Eric Roth who discusses ways to support ELLs in developing their critical thinking skills and ask –you guessed it — clarifying questions.
blog: Compelling Conversations
post: Conversation Tip #9: Ask Clarifying Questions!
quote: “One crucial skill that needs to be explicitly taught – after being informally modeled in class discussions – is asking for clarification. In fact, I consider the ability to ask appropriate follow-up questions a vital life skill.”

Dynamic Teaching…Games, Teaching Tools and Strategies

In this post, Jennifer provides some interesting ideas for teaching English through poetry, such as using it to teach culture, grammar, and vocabulary She also includes links to videos and sites you could incorporate into or use as inspiration for lessons.
blog: English with Jennifer
post: The Potential of Poetry
quote: Useful information can be retrieved in the target language with the help of a rhyme. Do your students know Thirty Days Has September?

If you’re not familiar with Larry, this is a great post to show you how his site is a teacher’s best friend. This post, with its useful links and resources, shows how teachers can incorporate music videos as a language-learning tool.
blog: Larry Ferlazzo’s Website of the Day
post: How Subtitles In Music Videos Teach Literacy

This post provides handy websites that your students can use themselves to improve their English, especially written English, although there are also links to podcasts for those working on listening skills.
blog: Online Education Database
post: 50 Essential Resources for ESL Students

In the same vein, this post by Jennifer Verschoor, uses advice from her own students for deciding on ten sites where students can learn English, and her #1 criteria was making sure students would have fun while doing it!
blog: My Integrating Technology Journey
post: Top 10 Websites to Learn English

Here, Maria Markaki shows us how to use flashcards in a fun memory game with young language learners to practice and revise their pronunciation of words.
blog: Maria Markaki Language School Students’ Page
post: Pre-Junior Flash Card Activities

Many teachers use movies as a tech-friendly way to bring a multimedia spin to their lessons. But did you know there might be a better way to show them? Check out these ideas from Mathew Needleman.
blog: Creating Lifelong Learners
post: The Right Way to Show Movies in Class
quote: “[S]tudents should not view watching a film in class as any less rigorous than reading a book.”

Classroom 2.0 — using different forms of interactive/collaborative technology with students

In this post, we see Henrick Oprea and Maria Markaki’s shared experience leading their students in Greece and Brazil to interact! There are examples on topics like books, music, and tourism. What a great way to see the effect of bringing together classrooms from two totally different places in the world.
blog: Maria Markaki Language School Students’ Page
post: The Blogging Challenge Continues
quote: “[This experience] has enabled the students involved to get a true sense of what a global audience is and the important role it plays in students’ developing their language as well as communication skills”.

Here is an enthusiastic, detailed post from Mike Harrison on how to use the photo-sharing site Flickr with language learners and students of all kinds.
blog: Mike Harrison’s Blog
post: In the Flickr of an eye

I hear about Glogster a lot on twitter, but have yet to try it. In this post, a teacher shares one she did with her class.
blog: Trying Out Web 2.0
post: Going Digital with Young Learners with a link to the project here, which has the details for the actual lesson.

Next up is a post by Vicky Saumell that introduces some of her favorite voice recording tools and includes some links to other teachers who share their experiences and ideas on how to use them with students.
blog: Educational Technology in ELT
post: 8 voice recording tools for language learning
quote: “These tools lend themselves for a myriad of tasks you can set up for different levels and purposes.”

In this post, edu-blogger Karenne shares with us how she has used PowerPoint to engage learners to create visual aids for practicing English for such functions as giving directions, or creating a visual of sequencing words or prepositions.
blog: Kalinago English
post: “This we share with all the peoples”
quote: “The height of teaching in a blended learning environment is when your students recognize the value of sharing their work with the rest of their community”

This teacher shows how she turned a writing assignment on animals in her 5th grade class into a fun project using online tools that let your photos do the talking. She includes a sample video, a link to her class blog, and a tutorial you can use with your students.
blog: Sabrina’s Weblog
post: Easy Ways to Make Your Photos Talk

Learning and Teaching with Eyes Wide Open (reflective teaching)

In the first post featured in this theme, Shelly Terrell writes an informed and moving guest post on her own experiences as a Mexican immigrant in the US. She invites readers to comment on the experiences of immigrants in their country.
blog:Ken Wilson’s blog
post: Children of Immigrants
quote: “My parents told me they wanted to make sure I had a chance and for that reason I was given an American name like Shelly and not allowed to speak Spanish. Somehow, my parents seemed to do the impossible, they managed to raise all 5 of their children to graduate from college and break the poverty cycle.

Mr. Foteah, a general ed (and now special ed) teacher, writes a poetic account of teaching next to a class of ESL students at his school.
blog: From the Desk of Mr. Foteah
post: On Neighbors
quote: “Our neighbors, though, have done their own sensational things, and being next to them has provided me unexpected, vicarious treats and thrills.”

In this reflective post on listening in the classroom, Eva shares with us a really fun activity to teach why we should listen to each other (it’s like an activity on being a good friend, which adults and children alike could benefit from!)
blog: A Journey in TEFL by Eva Buyuksimkesyan
post: Dynamics of a New Classroom
quote: “When the classroom is a place where all the students trust and respect each other and when they don’t bully the weaker ones, it will be easier for the teacher to help the students to move one step further.”

In this post submitted by Shelly Terrell, we find her reflecting on her new August teaching post in Athens, Greece. Here, she gives us a picture of the students she’s teaching and how that is affecting her as their teacher. She includes a video that gives you a peak into the center where she’s teaching.
: Teacher Reboot Camp
post: Learning to be a Better Educator
quote: “Teaching them is a gift! Everyday I get to teach them I feel I am the fortunate one. I have never worked with refugees before and they have taken my teaching to a new level.”

On the Job Front
Now that you’re inspired, how will you find that ELT job?
blog: TEFList
post: Staying Competitive, Job Search Tips” in the ELT job market


Next ESL/EFL/ELL Carnival: Anne Hodgson is organizing a special Blog Carnival on November 1st specifically dedicated to teaching Business English (BE) and English for Specific Purposes (ESP). You can submit your post here or here. It’s also a good idea to inform Larry Ferlazzo of your submission via his site contact form. Deadline is October 21st,

Lastly, Sabrina will be hosting the next one on Dec. 1st.

Contribute to the next ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival (#19!)

Update 9/11/10: I am back from vacation and back into the swing of school, as many of you are. So, if you’ve sent a submission — not to worry — I received it, but if you’ve been waiting to send, please hesitate no more! :)

The 19th edition of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival is looking for your contributions! Deadline is Sept. 27th. For many of us who teach in schools, the carnival will be coming out at the start of a new school year, so many of you may have that on your mind. What’s great about the Carnival, though, is that it brings together teachers from many different contexts, student age levels, countries, years of experience, and perspectives.

Like many of the previous carnivals, there is no overarching topic for the 19th either, but I have come up with a few ideas for mini-topics to hopefully get your fingers typing. Your posts can be to share great experiences and ideas, resource recommendations, your personal reflections, as well as the knotty questions that still plague you.

  • The issues/experiences surrounding standards & teaching ESL/EFL in a world of “Englishes”.
  • Teaching beginners of English
  • Posts written with the needs of new teachers in mind
  • The particular social emotional learning needs of newcomer/immigrant ELLs
  • Use of web 2.0 technology with ELLs
  • Experiences of/perspectives on non-native English-speaking teachers of English
  • Cross-cultural exchanges in the multilingual/multicultural classroom
  • Experiences with ELL students or teachable moments that changed you as a teacher/person

Consider these as springboards for writing. It’s an eclectic list intended to bring forward different kinds of teachers, not as a way to limit anyone.

Note to general education classroom teachers:

If you have ELLs in your classroom, you teach ELLs, even if you aren’t a trained ESL teacher. So, I hope you consider posting for this carnival as well. Sharing your experiences/frustrations can be helpful for you, but also for ESL teachers who support teachers like you. If you’ve never written about the ELLs you’ve taught, consider yourself invited to do so!

You can submit directly to me here, via my contact form or you can submit via the Blog Carinval form here.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Blog Carnival, check out the most recent one, #18, on David Deubelbeiss’s blog (he even has a random blog generator!), and visit all previous carnivals on Larry Ferlazzo’s site.

Language Death and the Tower of Babel with John McWhorter

World Affairs Journal – The Cosmopolitan Tongue: The Universality of English.

[tweetmeme source=”laflecha” only_single=false]

A really intriguing and interesting article if you love languages as much as I do. McWhorter fails, in my opinion to grasp the worthiness of maintaing the wealth still hidden in the majority of the world’s languages, which are on the brink of death. While he nominally concedes to this fact, he basically argues that many of these languages are just too hard to speak (especially for westerners and speakers of English — and his using this as the default audience was not intended to be ironic), especially since learning a language past age 15 is “fiendishly difficult” (so why bother?).

Do you agree that the loss of languages worldwide is merely a question of aesthetics, as McWhorter argues?

Why does he ignore the very roots of this death at the hands of “big languages” and how, yes, losing one’s native tongue is very much wrapped up in the loss of one’s cultural, social and personal identity — nevermind the loss of environmental and historical knowledge. Is that truly so disconnected from language?

Even on the scale of my new immigrant students who are frustrated over no longer being able to practice being literate in their first language and some feeling compelled even to take an English name. They fear that language loss, so how is language DEATH so unimportant?

For more of my feelings about the importance of understanding and appreciating language and how the world would NOT be a better place if we all simply spoke fewer and fewer “difficult” languages, please click on my Why The Name of This Blog page. Feedback is welcome as always.

Most crucial language lesson

“We screw up royally by making people feel they don’t have a mighty important role in contributing to their children’s education,” she says. “Don’t do it by assimilating children into a language in such a way that they’ve got to put aside their native language to succeed in school. We do that at our peril.”

“What do teachers need to know?” she asks. “They need to know how a language is learned, what role they’ve got to play in supporting it, how languages work and how they differ. It’s akin to a school of medicine turning out doctors who’ve never had a course in anatomy. You just wouldn’t do that.”

-Lily Wong Fillmore, San Francisco Chronicle (July 18, 2004)

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