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…

Top 5 Uses of Top 10 Lists

I discovered a site that publishes top ten lists. That’s all they do. Well, there is some variation.  They have top 20 and top 25 lists as well. The List Universe. The site offers materials that are appropriate for upper level students. Lists contain brief explanations for each item. As an added bonus, the site…

Getting the Most Out of Authentic Texts

If you’ve decided to bring in an authentic text to share with your students, what do you plan to do with it? You can use a text to meet a number of objectives, which include but are not limited to: Teaching text organization and comprehension of main ideas. Scramble the paragraphs of a short article…