Archive for March, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Ideas for Technology in the Classroom

Jenny FettersJenny Fetters is an ESL instructor at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland.

As teachers, we have a love/hate relationship with technology, don’t we? We’re always on the lookout for tools that will push language production in our students. However, what often happens is that the very technology we seek ends up making our students passive receptors of language rather than active users of it. Here are two fun ideas that provide opportunities for students to put all that English learning to good use!

A New Way to Use Cell Phones in Class

Running out of new, engaging ways to get your students to practice that vocabulary or grammar structure you just taught them? Are you frustrated with how often they’re looking at their cell phones instead of speaking with their classmates? Use some of your class time and send them outside of class! This past summer I asked my Vocabulary and Idioms class to grab a partner and their cell phones and look for examples of what they learned in class. The task was to take snapshots all over campus, either of places or objects, that represented an idiom they had learned. The students could place themselves in the photo interacting in the situation if it helped explain the idiom. After they had collected at least 5-6 examples, they were to text all of them to me and be prepared to present their photos to the class.

I know what you’re thinking:  I would never give out my personal cell phone number!  Fortunately, Google Voice has made it easier by allowing you to choose your own phone number. When students text that

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Flipping Your Grammar Classes with Azar-Hagen Grammar Series

tesh croppedGeneva Tesh is an ESL teacher, materials writer, Azar-Hagen Grammar Series contributor, and grammar enthusiast. She teaches in the Intensive English Program at Houston Community College.

The flipped classroom model is not a new concept for most ESL teachers. We’ve been flipping classes long before it became the latest trend in education, long before we even knew what to call it, understanding intuitively that students will not acquire a language by passively listening to an instructor’s lecture. Flipping the classroom happens naturally in conversation and reading classes, which lend themselves to class discussions or role-playing activities, or in writing classes, where students can spend valuable class time writing and peer editing.  But what about grammar classes? This seems to be where many teachers get trapped in the common pitfalls of providing lengthy explanations and reading through a list of rules, followed by reciting answers to fill-in-the-blank activities. How can grammar teachers apply the flipped model to create engaging, dynamic lessons?

Today’s flipped classroom typically requires students to watch online mini-lectures of instructional material, followed by interactive practice in the classroom, but it could just as easily require students to study from a textbook rather than watch videos. Most ESL textbooks are designed with this flipped model in mind, again not because of a conscientious decision to follow the latest trend but because of an understanding that language fluency is achieved through practice, not lengthy explanations.  The Azar-Hagen Grammar Series works especially well for a flipped class because it presents the grammar in small bursts of instruction without requiring students to wade through long contextualized reading passages. Take this chart from the first chapter of Understanding and Using English Grammar.

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