The IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC, OPI English proficiency are designed to gauge a person’s skills using English as a language. Much emphasis is placed on the speaking element of these tests by our students. That is because they discover that reading, writing, and even listening at times can be studied on their own. However, one element many lack is the confidence to use English when conversing. In my own experience over the years, I have repeatedly encountered people who dread the speaking tasks of these tests. That is because despite having knowledge of lexis, structure, and pronunciation, they find it difficult to put it all together when speaking. So, they come to us for help. Some ways that you can help them face and do better in the speaking tests follow. Read more
One of my favourite things to tell new classes is to stop studying English and to learn to use it. Of course, I say it in a nice way. But the reaction I get is humorous. People have a paradigm that to improve in a subject, they must study more. While that may be true for school subjects such as math, science, history, and the like, it does not work for languages.
Language is for communication, not for study alone. That is one reason why the old grammar translation method lost its foothold once new approaches came on the scene. Yet a common mindset until today by both students and teachers is that English is still a subject.
I am also known for saying, put the books down, and let’s learn English. But what do I mean by these words? The idea being conveyed is this: Stop viewing English as a subject to be mastered by memorizing and studying endless rules. Begin to use English as it was meant to be—a language for communication.
Are we not living in a global environment where English is the main mode of communication? How then can one develop their ability to function in this environment? They will need to go beyond the books and pick it up. Read more
Cultural sensitivity is something that is extremely beneficial when teaching to different cultures. When teaching English, the importance of cultural sensitivity becomes even greater. Being a culturally sensitive teacher is to learn about and understand your students’ cultural backgrounds. In doing so, teachers improve the classroom experience, help increase the students’ level of English fluency and their overall ability to learn.
About the Author: Jessica Whitehorne is a graduate of OnTESOL’s 250-hour TESOL diploma, Teaching English to Young Learners Specialist Course and Teaching Business English Course. She currently lives and teaches in rural Madagascar.
There is a long-standing rule that many veteran ESL teachers know about called the 70-30 rule. What is the 70-30 rule? It is a ratio of student talk time to teacher talk time. We can state total class talk time during one conversation class period (60 minutes, 50, 45, 30, 20, etc.) as 100 percent. Seventy percent of the talk time should be student talk time. The remaining 30 percent should be teacher talk time.
Seventy-thirty provides a formula for monitoring talk time in ESL conversation classrooms and an effective strategy. It is a guide for how much teachers should be talking and how much freedom students should be afforded to talk. It is not a hard and fast mandate where measurements need to be made. But it is a rule of thumb that helps teachers manage their conversation classes. The following are five reasons why the 70-30 rule is useful in ESL classrooms. Read more
As English teachers, our role is to help students achieve their English language goals. For some ESL students their goal is to do well on an English proficiency test such as IELTS, TOEIC, or TOEFL. Some want to study or work abroad. Others want to do their jobs more effectively. Some want to communicate with international business clients or colleagues. Some want to become more proficient in giving presentations. For others, it is to be able to participate in the world of English language. They want to watch and understand Hollywood movies, chat with foreigners, or converse with people from different countries.
A teacher may have one of the best lessons of all time prepared, but without providing feedback, learner development can only go so far. Feedback in the context of TESOL is providing information to improve English language use. This information can be grammatical, lexical, or phonetic. When a dull pencil does not produce fine print, […]
After a long and tiring few days of teaching, you see that you have a conversation lesson today. You say to yourself, “oh, this good, I don’t have to teach anything, just talk with my students”. So, you enter the classroom with a potential topic or two to talk about with your class. After all, it is a conversation lesson, so you can talk about anything. But is that the idea of a conversation lesson? Read more
So many new teachers spend hours at a time preparing for a lesson they believe their adult students will appreciate. And why would they not appreciate it—you think it is a great lesson!
Then you bring your lesson to class eager to present it, and to finish it. Why? Because you know it is what the class needs! But do they need this lesson you have laboured over, or do they need something more?
More, you say—I have just spent hours working on this lesson, and I will finish it! Yes, more. Have we ever stopped to ask the question, should I be teaching the lesson, or should I be using the lesson to teach?
Throughout your career teaching English, you are often exposed to technology used to deliver your lessons. Some technology can even run on autopilot these days. You prepare lessons using videos, podcasts, and images that your students finds interesting.
You adhere to pedagogical methodologies using technology to engage your learners. However, there is one critical component missing…the classroom you are now walking into does not have access to the technology you are used to. In fact, the only technology they do have (a computer) is dedicated to the admin office!
You have just stepped through a time warp from modern technology and teaching conveniences into a world where there are no classroom computers, projector screens, podcasts, YouTube, PowerPoint, iPods, iPads, or other electronic teaching aids that we often take for granted.
In fact, all you can see in your classroom is a whiteboard, chairs, windows, and four walls. What do you do now? What is your Plan B? Here are a few fallback ideas for teaching in situations with little to no technology that may help you gain confidence in such situations.