Archive for October, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A-MAZE-ing Activities are a BALL

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

Don’t you just love those professional development sessions when great teachers sit around and share practical teaching ideas? I always walk away with ideas for fresh ways to prompt student practice. Even better, instructors often remind me of old activities I used to use but now lie moldering in a file somewhere, and they often suggest ways to tweak these old activities for use in other lessons. That happened to me recently when I was at a PD session for instructors at the English Language Center at Howard Community College, where I work, and I walked out with one new idea and one resurrected idea.

One of the teachers talked about a way she promotes class involvement when reviewing grammatical forms. Now, I have experimented with using a ball in class before, but her take on this practice was fresh, at least to me. She bought a big cheap ball (in my mind, this would work very well with an inflatable beach ball), which she wrote target grammar prompts all over. She was working on forming questions with her class, so she had written question words on the ball. In the lesson, she had the class stand up in a circle and she tossed the ball to a random student. When the student caught the ball, she had her make a question with the question word that her thumbs were touching or closest to. So, if a student caught the ball like this,

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Place for the L1?

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

If there is anyone out there who reads this blog regularly, you might know that after several years of living in Belgium, I returned last fall to the USA. When I was in Belgium, I taught EAL (English as an Additional Language) in the Secondary School Immersion program at the British School of Brussels (BSB). Now, I am an ESL program coordinator and instructor at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. As I have readjusted to life in North America, I’ve noticed so many differences between my life in Europe and my life here. Some things here are great, like being able buy groceries on a Sunday and free soda refills at restaurants. On the other hand, I miss some things from Belgium, including long, slow meals out and being able to drive to a completely different country in a few hours.

Mother Tongue …

One of the things I’ve noticed as being a little different in my professional life is how teachers seem to feel about the role of the L1 in their classrooms. I first heard the term “mother tongue” while I was teaching at the BSB. Basically, as you might easily guess, the phrase refers to a person’s first language. My mother tongue is English; however, my mother was born in Canada but in a Russian-speaking community, so her mother tongue, the first language she spoke, is Russian, even though her English is much stronger than her Russian.

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