The ESL Classroom as an Interdisciplinary Space

Teaching English and other subjects There is a long tradition of the ESL and EFL classroom as a space of cultural instruction. In fact, given the overlapping nature of language and culture, this is almost inevitable. And yet, this interdisciplinary approach need not end with culture alone. There are many ways in which the English classroom can include and in fact exploit a variety of subjects and skills – especially for young students.

Already in young learner contexts, it is common to find elements of music, dance, art, and physical education built into activities, but this incorporation can be expanded into the hard sciences, and even into the higher grades. By conscientiously pairing age and level with the interdisciplinary topics that are appropriate, a teacher can add variety and richness to their classes. Not only that, but this inclusion can help set students up for success outside of the English classroom.

I have included two examples of this, but this integration is limited only by imagination:

About the author: Rosemary Hanson completed the 250-hour TESOL Diploma and the 20-hour TEYL specialist with OnTESOL.

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TEYL: Kinesthetic Activities for Teaching Writing to Young Learners

TEYL activities for writing lesson planYoung children are kinesthetic creatures. Their brains and their bodies are still one unit and as such, they are always moving and dancing and touching things and exploring their world in a physical way. Therefore, when we teach writing – particularly to very young, immature, or active students – it is useful to find a way to harness, as opposed to fight, this whole-body learning. This is especially true when a lesson is otherwise very settled or sedentary as students may need a constructive physical outlet to focus more effectively. In lessons like these, there are a host of options that allow students to not only engage with but embody written language while simultaneously refining the fine motor skills necessary for letter formation.

About the Author: Rosemary Hanson completed our 250-hour TESOL Diploma and the 20-hour TEYL specialist. She has been working as an assistant teacher at a Montessori school in China since March of 2016. She also taught a college-level English course and a preschool class in Xian, China back in 2014.

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ESL Lesson For Public School NETs in Hong Kong: Teaching Writing Skills to Advanced Students

Textbook Used: Longman Academic Writing Series

Authentic Material to Supplement Textbook: 15-minute Video Humans Need Not Apply

Mixed-level classes are the norm in East Asian high schools, and this is especially true in Hong Kong. Due to the prevalence of English content on the Internet, by FC6 Level (grade 12) some students attain native level fluency, and keeping them engaged and drawing on the advanced students as a resource can actually enhance the experience for the entire class and make for a dynamic and fruitful lesson.

When teaching high school students in Hong Kong the teacher needs to be able to devise a lesson plan that engages the fluent students without alienating the lower level students.

This lesson uses the video below to teach about argumentative essay writing, expose students to authentic listening material, and create interest for the writing assignment.

About the Author: Jacob Pejvack completed our 250-hour TESOL Diploma. Jacob has more than 20 years of experience as an ESL teacher, having spent the majority of time in East Asia. Teaching writing skills to advanced students is his preferred subject.

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7 Communicative Activities for EPIK Classes in South Korea

Communicative Activities for EPIK lessonsCurriculum classes in the EPIK program will likely have 20-30 students, a mixed ranged of English proficiency, and limited space for desk rearrangement/movement.  NETs are encouraged to supplement and/or replace textbook activities with their own, while bearing the following in mind:

  • The practice stage has students working as a class or in large groups, and has them drilling the material through the various styles of repetition. As these activities will be teacher-guided, NETS should be wary of having excessive teacher-talk-time (TTT).
  • The production stage has students working in smaller groups, where they have developed sufficient proficiency with the targets to become self-regulatory. Although these activities have students transforming/manipulating the target language, there will be inevitably some overlap with the practice stage depending on how the NET chooses to implement the activities.
  • TPR activities will be somewhat difficult to incorporate into curriculum classes, given the number of students and likely limited space to move around. “Fun” activities can still be devised, but NETs need to think of the logistics (where students will be, if they need to move their chairs / bodies / books to play, etc.) before implementing the game.

About the Author: Tania Sanclemente completed Advanced 120-hour TESOL Certificate program and the 20-hour Practicum. She spent two years in South Korea working as a public school teacher and provincial coordinator.

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Teaching Reading Skills to 6th Grade EPIK Students Using Authentic Material

EPIK reading class for grade 6 studentsAs mentioned in my previous post, South Korean elementary school students do not get enough reading in their English language curriculum. One class hour—a class hour actually being forty minutes—out of every six is dedicated to reading a short contrived passage of just a few sentences, all of them carefully formulated to fit with what the students already know and are currently learning. There is nothing new or exciting in the passages or in the one or two simple comprehension questions that follow them. As a native English teacher (NET) in a South Korean public elementary school, I feel I should introduce the students to longer authentic passages to give them some solid, meaningful reading practice. I found a perfect opportunity to do so with my sixth graders.

   About the Author: Patricia Brooks completed the 250-hour TESOL Diploma. She teaches grades 3 to 6 with EPIK in South Korea. 

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K-6 TESOL in South Korea: Teaching Writing Skills with Authentic Material

How to teach English in South Korea: Teaching Writing SkillsIn South Korea, for every three hours of EFL speaking and listening instruction elementary school students receive, they get only one hour of reading and one hour of writing instruction.  So what can be done to help address the lack of reading and writing instruction in the South Korean classroom, or at least to maximize the benefit the students reap from the little reading and writing time they do get?

In this article, I will show you what I did to help get my fifth graders improve their writing skills. With my fifth graders, I supplemented a lesson on asking permission and expressing prohibition (target grammar: “May I _____?” “Yes, you may [____]”/ “No, you may not [____].”) with a writing activity meant to introduce the kids to things that are and are not permissible in American culture. At the same time, they were encouraged to think about norms of behavior in their own society.

About the Author: Patricia Brooks teaches grades 3 to 6 in South Korea’s EPIK program. She completed the 250-hour TESOL Diploma program with Coventry House International-OnTESOL. 

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Planning for Low Level k-8 Curriculum Classes in South Korea

ESL lesson plan with games for EPIK and TaLK teachers in South KoreaCurriculum classes in South Korea consist of approximately 20-30 students, and generally have the homeroom teacher as the NET’s co-teacher.  These classes are all larger in size, limited in space (for movement), include a mix of students with varying proficiency and interest in English, and are relatively short (40 minutes). EPIK and Talk teachers in South Korea have a textbook that largely follows the PPP lesson planning format, but it does not fully use communicative activities in context. The extent to which  NETs must follow the book will be determined by the school.

About the Author: Tania Sanclemente spent two years in South Korea, where she started as a teacher in rural public elementary schools and continued as a provincial coordinator for the TaLK program. Tania completed our 120-hour TESOL course.

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TESOL: Using Songs with Adult Learners

Teaching English with SongsWhy teach English with songs? Songs are an excellent tool for learning English while having fun. They can be used to learn or practice the target language in a motivating and enjoyable way.

Many teachers think that using songs in the classroom is only for young learners, or as a means for motivating teens. While it is true that children learn most by doing and singing, and teens love learning the lyrics of their favourite singers or bands, songs work equally well with adult learners.

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Production Stage: Supplementing the Grade 6 Cheonjae Textbook with Authentic Material

Authentic material production stage TESOLAuthentic materials are just as useful in the production stage as they are in the presentation stage of an ESL lesson. Incorporating these materials into your lessons will not only generate interest in the material, but will also facilitate interaction between the textbook and real-life situations. This is important for learning, as it requires students to interact hands-on with the material while utilizing the vocabulary and grammar studied in that day’s class. Following are some examples of how this approach to English learning can be applied in your classroom in the production stage of your lesson, using the Grade 6 Cheonjae English textbook as a guide.

About the Author: Karina Dirstein completed the 250-hour TESOL Diploma and has vast experience teaching English with the EPIK program in South Korea. 

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TESOL in South Korea: Using L1 and End-of-Lesson Projects with Beginner Students

teaching beginners in South Korea with EPIKAt the end of a lesson, not only is it important to review what’s been learned in the textbook, but it’s also important to check that students understand and can use the language that’s been taught. This year, with my Grade 6s, I looked for ways to encourage them to think on their own and use English in a creative and productive way. This was a difficult task, as my students are low-level and lack confidence when it comes to English. However, one effective method I found of getting them interacting more personally with English was through end-of-lesson projects that focused on translation. I wanted them to practice moving between the two languages independently, rather than relying on a teacher to hand the information to them, while maintaining their creativity. Translation activities can be great for this purpose, but the drawback is that it requires either your own knowledge of the students’ native language or a co-teacher who is willing to put in an equal amount of effort, so be sure to account for this before beginning this type of task.

About the Author: Kari Dirstein completed the 250-hour TESOL Diploma while teaching English in South Korea with EPIK. Kari has experience teaching grades 4 to 6. 

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