Archive for July, 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Incorporating Content

TamaraJonesBy Tamara Jones
ESL Instructor, Howard Community College
Columbia, Maryland
jonestamara@hotmail.com

The Content / Grammar Divide

After a lifetime of teaching English to adults in an IEP (or similar) context, when I first started teaching at to secondary school students in Belgium I found myself scrambling to find (and often create) materials that would meet two needs: (1) help students improve their English and (2) prepare them for the academic content they would encounter as they matriculated to their mainstream classes.

Every day that my students spent in EAL (English as an Additional Language) Immersion was one less day they had to learn the stuff the rest of their peers were learning in secondary school. Therefore, our goal was to get them proficient enough to join their regular classes as soon as possible, and I found the irregular past tense taking a back seat to physics and chemistry vocabulary.

Read more »

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A, E, I, O, U, … Y Teach Vowel Sounds? – Part 2

TamaraJonesBy Tamara Jones
ESL Instructor, Howard Community College
Columbia, Maryland
jonestamara@hotmail.com

The Trouble with Teaching Vowels

In last week’s post, I described why vowel sounds are so difficult to teach – they are hard to describe, there may be differing phonemic symbols for a single sound, and there are just so many of them in English. But, I also acknowledged that, even though they are daunting, we should cover them in all of our ESL and EFL classes because they are essential to communication. Specifically, the stressed vowel in a focus word needs to be pronounced comprehensibly or speakers risk obscuring the entire thought group. This is even more important for conversations between non-proficient English speakers who, research shows, rely more heavily on the sounds articulated than on the context for making sense of an utterance. I concluded the post with a promise for practical and painless suggestions for teaching vowel sounds.

Read more »