4 Reasons to Teach the 5 Paragraph Essay (and 1 Reason Why You Shouldn’t)

Love it or hate it, the five paragraph essay is a core part of writing curriculum in the United States. There are many arguments against it, but for most teachers and students, it’s here to stay. And while some people like to grumble about it, there are some solid benefits to writing in this style for both students and teachers.

So here’s my thesis statement: there are four reasons why teachers should teach the five paragraph essays, and one reason why they shouldn’t.

Not repulsed yet? Read on.

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Teaching Academic Vocabulary

ESL students and teachers alike are often concerned with how to improve vocabulary, and for good reason. Words are the building blocks of any language. The more vocabulary you know, the more you can use and understand. Some studies show that students need to understand about 98% of the vocabulary in an academic reading passage to understand it. Standardized tests often use vocabulary as a measurement stick. Needless to say, if you’re an ESL teacher, you will always be integrating some type of vocabulary-building into your classes.

But once students have a solid foundation of vocabulary, how can you make it even better? This post is written with a very specific demographic in mind: ESL students who are entering or are already studying at American universities.  A lot of these tips and ideas might apply to classes, but I wanted to focus on this specific group because sometimes it’s so hard to find practical ways to improve their vocabulary. At times, they seem to know it all already. 

But then, of course, they don’t. And that’s why they need you.

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How Teachers Can Actually Help “Quiet Kids”

A recent article by NPR describes the difficulties that introverts and “quiet” kids face in traditional classrooms. It presents some reasons why students might be quiet in class and states the need for their participation.

The article is nice, but it doesn’t offer many practical solutions to the question posed in the headline. How can teachers actually get quiet students to participate in class?

I’ve got a few ideas.

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How to Kill Creativity in the Classroom

Have you ever found yourself thinking these thoughts?

I wish my students would take fewer risks.

My students should really stop coming up with new ideas.

I need to structure my classes to reduce creativity.

If you have, then you’re on your way to becoming a good teacher. Every teacher should try to find ways to kill creativity in the classroom before it becomes a problem.

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6 Teaching Tips from Fluent Forever.

I’ve been reading books with the word “fluent” in the title. First, I reviewed Becoming Fluent. Then Fluent in 3 Months.

This time, I’m looking at Fluent Forever, a book by Gabriel Wyner, who was an opera singer before he became a polyglot and language hacker.

Like the first two I reviewed, this book is aimed at adults who are thinking about learning a foreign language. And again, I’m going to be reversing the point of view and looking at how it can be applied to teaching English as a foreign language.

So let’s take a look at the aspects of this book that are useful for ESL teachers.

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Pronunciation versus Accent: Why it Matters for ESL Teachers

Picture this: You and your friend meet someone for the first time and have a conversation with her. She speaks a little differently from you and your friend.

Now imagine scenario 1: When you finish the conversation and the woman leaves, your friend says this to you:

Where do you think she’s from?

Now scenario 2: the woman leaves and your friend says:

What was she saying? I couldn’t understand most of it.

To me, this is the difference between accent (scenario 1) and pronunciation (scenario 2).

If you’re a language teacher, you should focus on improving your students’ pronunciation, even if they say they want to speak with an American/British/Australian/whatever accent. Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll be able to convince your students to focus on improving their pronunciation and accept, maybe even embrace, their accent.

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3 Ways You Can Use VIRTUAL REALITY in Your ESL Class!

Virtual reality is here and it’s only going to get bigger and bigger in the next few years.

If you don’t know much about virtual reality and don’t believe me, go to YouTube on your smartphone and search for “360 VR” (360 degrees, virtual reality). Choose a video that looks interesting and start watching, but move your phone around. That’s right: you’re controlling where the camera goes.

Now, that’s cool. But can you use VR to teach? I’m sure there’s going to be tons of apps and equipment hitting the markets, but you can already do some activities in class with VR that’s already available, and you won’t have to spend more than $20.

Introducing: Google Cardboard.

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Why classroom seating matters: 3 seating arrangements to maximize learning

When most people think of a classroom, they think of a format something like this:

traditional seating

Students all at their own desks, all facing the teacher, who stands in front of or next to the blackboard, whiteboard, projector screen, etc.

Does this look like your classroom?

If it does, that’s OK. It’s been used for a long time for a reason: it’s effective. There are a lot of advantages of this seating arrangement.

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