7 Poems That Build Proficiency

Every so often I work poetry into my instruction. Since poems are meant to be read aloud, they lend themselves to listening and pronunciation practice. They can help students grow accustomed to reduced sounds in the flow of speech, and they can help students improve linking and rhythm. Although we don’t speak like poets in everyday…

More Tech Tools for Building Vocabulary and Reading Skills

It’s often amazing how much information teachers are able to share within their short presentations at the Electronic Village at TESOL each year. Back in Seattle, I was fortunate to sit at the computer station with Bridget Green of Gonzaga University. Through her talk Focus on Vocab and Reading with Profilers, Sizers, and Rewordify I learned about several…

TESOL 2017 Highlights: Building Independent Readers

Each visit to the Electronic Village helps me fill my treasure box for teaching. Phil Rice of the University of Delaware put three gems in my box during his talk A Suite of Online Reading Tools to Enable Self-study. Let me share what I learned. Readlang is clever web-app that helps readers with any online text. On…

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…