If you're preparing for the IELTS exam (academic OR general), you may be tempted to memorize several lines of answers to common questions, especially for the easier Part I of the exam. Watch the video to find out why that is a bad idea.
The short answer to the headline question is, "Yes!" Even if you're teaching students online in an environment with more than one student, your students can have the interaction they need to improve their English language skills.
So how can you, as a teacher, structure a lesson in an online lesson where they can have meaningful communication? How can they negotiate meaning with other students so that they feel that they are flexing and improving their language skills?
The key is skillful coordination of the online classroom. Just as in a traditional classroom you pair students of similar or different proficiency levels depending on your teaching objectives for the lesson, you put students in small groups or pairs to work on a problem that requires them to use language to solve a certain problem.
If your online classroom offers a microphone feature for your students to use, learn to utilize it skillfully. In particular, turn off the microphones of students who are not working together. For instance, you might say, "John, ask Mary what her favorite sport is," or "John and Mary, look at the role play situation on the screen. John, you will play the part of the customer, and, Mary, you will be the manager. Work together to act out the situation and solve the customer's problem."
Being able to turn the microphone on and off is also important if you have a student who is dominating the conversation in a small class with about four students. Enable students to chat with you and each other through the chat feature of the class if students feel the need to communicate. You can simply tell a rather chatty student, "Thank you for your contribution!" and then open up the floor to other students.
Some online classrooms offer the opportunity for small breakout groups to work together on a particular task. You, as the teacher, can assign students to a particular breakout room and then check in with them to see how the conversations are going and to answer questions students may have.
Small group and paired interaction is important for students to develop their speaking and listening skills in English. Some students will feel that online classes in which they are not working one-on-one with a teacher directly will limit their opportunities to practice. However, the opposite is true! You can skillfully guide your students and help them to practice English in an online environment just as you would in a traditional classroom.
As an English as a second language teacher in a public school, I learned quickly that it could be difficult to get my parents engaged. I had to relearn what engagement means, however, and consider the culture from which my parents come.
Writing an introduction to an essay or report can be tricky, or difficult. The tone of your entire paper depends on what you say in the beginning. There are several ways to start an essay or report, but here are a few of the more common ones.
1.) Quote - A relevant and bold quote by someone famous is a popular way to start an article or other type of lengthy paper. Make sure that your quote supports your thesis in some way.
2.) Statistic - People like to read numbers, fractions, and percentages. They pack a punch (get the reader's attention in a strong way). They focus the reader's thoughts on your subject right away.
3.) Anecdote - An anecdote is a little story, and by little, I mean three or four sentences at most. This story should relate to your thesis and your subject.
4.) Background information - Tell your readers a bit about the history of your subject. Keep it brief and to the point, however. You want to leave room in your introduction for your main point, your thesis.
5.) Contrast - Start your essay out with a story, a quote, or some other piece of information that is nearly the opposite of what you will discuss in your paper. You will startle the reader when you switch the viewpoint of your topic at the end of the introduction essay. For example, you might start out talking about how your mother used to put on make-up every morning before she left the house, and how now, she doesn't care, and how she would rather sleep late than get up early to do her make-up. This might be appropriate for an essay on the importance of self-image.
Check out the Pronunciation Check feature on my site to help you discover what types of words you are mispronouncing. First, click on a link to either the BBC or Voice of America and listen to a news story of interest to you. Read along with the transcript a few times. Then record yourself reading the transcript using the recording tool on the page. Play it back a few times to listen to yourself.
In addition to helping you improve your pronunciation, recording yourself helps you with your speed and intonation. Listen to the story you chose a few times, and compare how quickly and accurately you read with what the reporter says.
Ideas for teaching English abound in your community and in your classroom. These ideas use resources that are readily available and free to use. While you can try any one of the ideas offered, combining methods of learning English will provide the most effectiveness.
Take the English language learners in your class to the local grocery store for a scavenger hunt. Prepare a list of items for students to find in several departments of the store. Provide a store map that details what is on the various aisles and in different parts of the store. Pair students up to find all of the items listed, and ask them to write down the number of the aisle on which each item is found to practice reading English words and navigating an American grocery store. Ask for permission from store management before you bring your class to the store.
Meet your English students at the library. Students can take public transportation or carpool to reach the library. Have them bring their identification cards with them and a utility bill or other documentation that they do, indeed, live in the community which the library serves. This will help them practice asking store clerks and receptionists for assistance in English. Students will have to tell the librarian what they want when they reach the circulation desk and answer basic information about themselves such as their names and addresses. Ask a librarian to show your students around the library, focusing on the children’s and ESL sections for easier-to-read material in English as well as the computer lab.
Students can get a lot of practice navigating various social and workplace situations by pairing up and playing out a situation in role plays. Following a standard dialogue the teacher provides or innovating and using a list of vocabulary words the teacher posts on the board, students can do run-throughs of situations such as asking for a job application, meeting new people, or asking where an item is in the store.
Invite a teacher in your community to come and speak to your English class. Ask the teacher to focus on information such as checking their children’s backpacks for notes from school, about coming to the school to enroll their child, calling the teacher with concerns about their children, and reporting students’ absences to the school receptionist. Follow up with a scheduled tour of a local school.
Print out news stories from Breaking News English or the Voice of America’s website for English language learners. These sites provide simplified English news articles for students as well as activities to help them learn new words and about concepts in the articles. Students can also listen to the news stories published on the VOA website if your school is equipped with Internet access.
Incorporate these ideas for teaching English language free in your classroom. They can help break up your traditional lessons by getting students out of the classroom and into the community to practice their English with native speakers.
Students who have a good understanding of basic vocabulary and grammar structures in English are ready to present to audiences. Intermediate to advanced level students will benefit from learning how to give speeches and presentations. This skill is important especially in the business world in which a presentation can also be simply stating your opinion on a certain topic.
Prepare your students for giving presentations by teaching them the vocabulary
necessary to smoothly start and finish their presentations as well as how to
move forward during it. Giving opinions and assessments are also part of making
presentations. Teach your students vocabulary related to this topic as well.
This list of vocabulary and sentences for making presentations will help
your students give more seamless presentations:
-Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is. . ., and we will be talking about. . .today.
-Thank you for having me today. I’d like to get started by
saying that. . .
-If you have any questions, please feel free to raise
your hand during the presentation and ask.
-We will have a time for
questions at the end of the presentation.
-Let’s move on to the next
-The next point is that. . .
-Moreover / However / In contrast (to) / Additionally (and other transition words and phrases)
I believe that. . .
I disagree because. . .
I think you’re right.
I don't think that's correct / right.
I agree with. . .
I respectfully disagree.
I disagree in part because. . .
We will talk about that shortly.
From (date) to (date), we experienced / saw a rise (fall) in. . .
Increasing / decreasing / rose or fell sharply (and other words to describe graphs)
First / second / last / finally / in conclusion
Thank you for your time, and have a good day.
This concludes my presentation.
Talking about students’ families is just one of many topic ideas for
presentations. Topics for ESL students should not generate anxiety in your
students. Choosing a topic with which they are familiar and for which they do
not have to do much research is especially appropriate for intermediate or
low-advanced level students. Family is something almost all students are
familiar with in the upper level classes. They may learn some new family member
vocabulary as they put together their presentations. Encourage your students to
use words related to family throughout their presentations. Give students a page
or time limit to keep their speeches manageable.
Have students pick one custom from their countries they want the class to
know more about. They may need to do some research to know more about the
background and history of the custom. This aspect of this topic makes it more
appropriate for more advanced students. Tell students to provide a picture or a
PowerPoint presentation (provided your classroom is equipped for them) to
provide a visual reference for students in the audience. They might also dress
up or do a demonstration of the custom.
Provide hypothetical line or bar graphs or pie charts to your students.
Split the class up into a few groups, each with a different graph or chart. The
job of each group is to describe the trend on the graph, provide background
information for why the trend is what it is, and to give ideas to improve the
trend, if necessary. They might also provide ideas to build on the current
success of the company. Each person in the group can address a different aspect
of the trend. This gives students a taste of what presenting as part of a team
in a business environment might be like.
Many students will naturally be nervous about giving presentations.
Topics for ESL students that speak to what they already know or are easy to
research help them concentrate on learning the essential vocabulary of giving a
presentation. Giving a presentation is also about style and knowing the customs
of the country in which the presenter is speaking. Students have to think about
not reading from their note cards, injecting humor into their presentations,
keeping to a time limit, providing relevant visuals, and other behaviors that do
not necessarily involve learning vocabulary and grammar. Vocabulary and grammar
are also integral to giving a presentation, however. So, choosing topics for
your students that let them focus on mastering vocabulary and grammar when
making a presentation will help them become more effective presenters. Finally,
students should practice giving presentations more than once to their classmates
and to native English speakers. As they gain confidence, bring in a small
audience of native English speakers to the classroom and have students prepare a
presentation for them. This may be more appropriate for business English
learners and more advanced students.
Approximately 1 billion people around the world are learning English, according to EnglishEnglish.com. Join the ranks of thousands of teachers who are sharing their knowledge of this global language by earning your English as a second language certification. CELTA
The CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is one of the most widely-recognized certifications. It is accepted by most employers around the world, and it is administered by Cambridge University. CELTA training centers are located in several places, and certification is only available on-site, and it is not available through distance or online education.
The DELTA is a certification offered by Cambridge to teachers of English who want to pursue more advanced study of the topic.
Online English as a second language certification programs allow students the flexibility to learn from home and on their own time. The price tag is manageable for most students as well: usually around $300.
Talk to other English teachers who pursued their certification online. There is no one accreditation body for any English as a second language certification program. This is especially true for online education providers. Find out from other teachers what their experiences with specific companies were. Look for companies who have good communication with students and with those that offer video trainings to allow teachers to connect what they read about teaching with a classroom.
Conferences that take place over a few days are another option for pursuing your English teaching certification. You will get a chance to practice your teaching skills once or twice, get feedback from other students and teachers, and earn your certification in a short amount of time. Conference trainings take place around the country throughout the year. Many companies that offer online training courses also offer conference trainings.
Take at least a 40-hour training for any type of certification you pursue. This is the minimum many overseas employers will accept. A 100-hour or more course is preferable.
Certifications from Colleges
Community colleges and universities often offer certification courses as well. These are often a semester to a year in length, and they are more in-depth than other types of certification courses. Certifications from colleges are often more accepted at adult English as a second language programs in the United States than other types of certifications.
Master's degree programs are also available for those who want to learn more of the theory behind teaching English as a second language. These programs usually take about two years to complete, and you will likely need a Bachelor's degree to enroll in such as Master's course.
References and Resources
TESOL Directory of Degree and Certificate Programs
ESL Teachers Board: Discussion Forum
Dave's ESL Cafe: General Discussion Forum
What does multicultural education mean, anyway? This is something that I'm learning about as a teacher. I thought it was mostly about sharing information about different cultures of students in the classroom and throughout the world.
I'm coming to find out that it is so much more than that. I'm not too sure of all of the ins and outs of it, but it seems to me that multicultural education focuses on making education equal and open for all students. Students also learn about oppression and disrespect, about the contributions of all cultures to the country and the world. They take it a step further and maybe write letters to a store that only carries dolls of the dominant ethnicity in society.
Multicultural education does affirm and respect people from all walks of life, but it goes beyond this. It looks long and hard at society and the reasons it is why it is. It tries to change this one person at a time. It begins with the teacher examining his or her cultural values and thoughts about other cultures and perhaps making changes to how the teacher interacts with students, their parents, other teachers and others in their communities. Then it may move to students as they observe his or her model.
I imagine my understanding of this idea will develop more and perhaps even change significantly, but these are my first impressions of this new and interesting idea. It's been around for a while, but I'm just now getting around to it.