Archive for November, 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Collaborative Writing, Courtesy of Nigel Caplan

TamaraJonesBy Tamara Jones
ESL Instructor, Howard Community College
Columbia, Maryland

In my most recent blog post, I wrote about the workshop Nigel Caplan recently delivered for teachers at my school. He introduced us to the concept of genre writing, and suggested that in order to help students become the best writers they can be, we follow the steps in the Teaching Learning Cycle as described in Martin (2009) and Rothery (1996).


The first part of the Teaching Learning Cycle is to provide students with good models of different genres to prepare them for the wide variety of writing they may do outside the ESL or EFL classroom.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Genre Writing, Courtesy of Nigel Caplan

TamaraJonesBy Tamara Jones
ESL Instructor, Howard Community College
Columbia, Maryland

How great is it to be an ESL/EFL teacher? To me, it’s absolutely amazing to have worked in a field for as many years as I have and to still be learning new things. I suspect you might feel that way too, no matter how long you’ve been teaching, because you are reading this blog. Anyway, a few weeks ago, there I was in a professional development workshop organized by my school, listening to the dynamic and engaging presenter Nigel Caplan talk about writing, and becoming giddy about learning something new.

Now, these days I don’t teach many writing classes, but I found what he had to say really interesting and potentially applicable to other skills. My two big “take-aways” from Nigel’s presentation were related to (1) genre writing and (2) collaborative writing. Today, I’ll share what I learned about genre writing.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Teaching Vocabulary to Beginners: Research and Resources

Stacy1By Stacy Hagen
Co-Author, Azar-Hagen Grammar Series

Teaching vocabulary to beginners is definitely challenging! In terms of research, Betty and I have a few resources to recommend:

Keith Folse has an excellent book: Vocabulary Myths: Applying Second Language Research to Classroom Teaching. Here’s a link to a summary of the eight myths:

Paul Nation has done extensive research on teaching vocabulary. His article on teaching beginners is short and to the point. His website may also be useful, including download links for free graded readers.

Both Folse and Nation advocate some use of the L1 to teach vocabulary.

American English at State posts short, user-friendly vocabulary lessons on their Facebook page (though I couldn’t find these lessons on their website.) If your students are on Facebook, they might enjoy these.

American English at State also offers a free app for learning English. If you are interested in other English language learning apps, here is a helpful review. At the beginning level, these programs seem to emphasize vocabulary.

Good luck! We hope these resources are helpful.