3 Magic Moments in Language Learning (and why ESL teachers need to learn languages too)

Like most ESL teachers, I love learning languages just as much as I love teaching my mother tongue. Most of my colleagues are similar: I haven’t met too many monolingual ESL teachers.

Spanish has been my most recent language learning pursuit. I have a little background in the language from four years of high school and a semester in college, but I’m not fluent by any means. So for the past few months, I’ve been teaching myself. It’s been challenging and fun.

But it’s also given me the chance to go through the language learning experience again, the same experience all my students are going through. In this article, I’ll describe three specific language learning moments, and what they taught me to remember as a language teacher.

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My Favorite ESL Listening Resources

My last post gave a run-down of how I teach listening in class.

I wrote briefly about authentic listening material and why it’s so important. This post is a collection of different sources and examples of listening materials that I think work the best for in ESL classes.

First, I’ll go through examples of listening materials I use in class.

Then we’ll look at resources that you can use to give your students outside of class listening homework.

Finally, I’ll talk about my favorite listening textbooks out of the ones I’ve used.

Let’s get started

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Can Your ESL Students Become Fluent in 3 Months?

I recently finished Fluent in 3 Months by Benny Lewis. As a teacher of language, I’m interested in books that claim to have tips, tricks, and yes, even “language hacks” that can help people learn a language quickly.

This book, on the surface, looks quite different than the last book I reviewed. Becoming Fluent was written by a Foreign Service Officer in the US Department of State and a professor of psychology at a major university. What are Benny Lewis’s credentials? Well, just take a look:

 

Pretty impressive, right? So, what are his methods?

Actually, what he writes in Fluent in 3 Months isn’t too different from some of the content in Becoming Fluent, with some basic language learning/teaching tips thrown in.

And while I  believe that it really is possible to become very good (“fluent” is tricky to define) in just three months, I don’t think we language teachers are in danger of losing our jobs due to a sudden rise in language autodidacticism.

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Talking about your day in English to improve fluency + a funny video

I’m a learner of three languages: Spanish, Korean, and German. In each of these languages, I can verbally put some sentences together and describe my day. And sometimes I do just that – to no one in particular. Either when I’m in the car alone or lying in my bed just before falling asleep, I’ll start rambling on…

Heute habe ich etwas spannendes getan…

Mañana voy a ver mi amigo…

오늘 재미있었어요…

I’ve talked to a few other people who are at similar phases of learning languages, and some of them say they do the same thing.

I really think it helps keep the language fresh in my mind. It keeps me fluent. And it’s just fun to see how long I can go.

I made the connection with this kind of practice (what should we call it? is there an academic name for it yet? how about “unrestrained solipsistic L2 vocalizations”?) when I recently re-watched a favorite YouTube video of mine.

Meet Marko…

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