4 Ways to Learn from Headlines

A learner asked me about the grammar in news headlines. Indeed, it can be confusing when words are omitted: Prison Escape Fails — Did it already happen? Why is the verb in the present tense? Mayor in Hot Water — Is this happening now? Where’s the verb? Local Team Gets New Coach — Can they write…

World Storytelling Day 2016: Got a story to tell?

Join in the fun of celebrating World Storytelling Day. In my last post I offered suggestions for working with fables. What else could you do? 1. Create a story chain. Perhaps my YouTube colleagues and I can inspire your students. This week we released a collaborative playlist for World Storytelling Day 2016. We each told…

Beneficial Ways of Working with Fables

When I learned a month or so ago that someone had actually organized a World Storytelling Day, I grew excited. The official date is March 20, but storytellers are welcome to celebrate the art anytime. Even before my discovery, I had been thinking about making more use of stories in my online lessons. Short stories have helped me contextualize target…

Thinking Outside the Box: Exploring Different Ways to Interact with a Text

I believe there are different ways we can read a text with students. There can also be different objectives. Do we want students to read for general comprehension, for example, or to find details? Reading skills also overlap with pronunciation skills. I’m a big believer in oral reading. It shouldn’t be the default format, but I think…

More than Words: Using Graphs for Discussion

When I have private lessons with upper level students, we often work with articles on a range of topics. We study the vocabulary, look at grammar in context, develop a summary of the key points, and react to the content. Recently, I considered the value of purposefully choosing articles with graphs. A different kind of reading skill is…

Creative Use of Word Clouds

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending the ITBE’s 41st Annual Convention. I arrived on Friday with just enough time to attend one session. I quickly browsed the offerings (which were very impressive on both days!), and chose “Summarizing and Comprehension Activities for Adult ESL Reading Classes.” What a hot topic! Jeanette Diller…

Finding Fluency through Oral Reading

I’m a big believer in the power of reading and the need to maximize the benefits of a text. With private students, I’ve often asked them to work with a particular reading multiple ways. We read for comprehension. We study vocabulary and new structures in context. We discuss the content and make time for summaries…

A Summer Reading List or Anytime Reading List for ELLs

As I scanned through my children’s summer reading list compiled by their elementary school, I began to think of the the types of reading I’ve recommended to adult ELLs during time-off from studies.  I began to see some parallels, not in titles, of course, but in the nature of the assignment. A recommended, realistic amount. My…

The Secrets of Poetry

This month I’ve chosen to highlight a poetry collection on my YouTube channel. I’ve taken quiet moments here and there for my own pleasure and listened to poetry readings by Tom O’Bedlam of Ireland. The one that I enjoyed most recently is The Secret of the Machines by Rudyard Kipling. The poem in plain text…

Seeing is Believing: An oral reading activity in the present tense

In my private lessons with Natasha, I’ve finally begun to place more emphasis on reading. We are working with a textbook, and while I appreciate the convenience of ready-made materials, I still feel the need to design some original materials to practice specific skills that match her needs exactly at this moment. Natasha is mostly…

Reflecting on How We Ask Students to Read

Recent consultations on lesson planning have encouraged me to reflect on all the ways we can use texts in the classroom. I’ve written in the past on ways to read with students, from silent reading to choral reading. I’ve also suggested activities to help teach text organization and suprasegmentals. I’d like to offer some additional…

Inquiring Minds: using headlines to practice embedded questions

Click here to listen to my introduction to the activity Inquiring Minds. A while ago I suggested a writing activity to practice embedded questions. Questionable Qualities focuses on identifying sentence structure (embedded questions as subjects, objects, and complements) and limits self-expression to sentence generations based on fictitious characters. The activity allows for communicative practice, but…