Archive for Tag: Jenny Fetters

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Going Beyond the Grammar Textbook: Connecting Grammar to Real Life

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

I often help register students for classes at my language school, and when I ask prospective students, “So why do you want to take English classes?”, the answer I receive 99% of the time is, “Because I need to learn English!”. Once I get under the question and tease out the real reason, those answers become, “I need a job”, “I need a better job”, or “I want to go to college.” It becomes abundantly clear to me that one important factor that drives students’ need for English is economic. So why don’t our textbooks do a better job of speaking to that need?

Open up any intermediate or advanced grammar textbook and you’ll find a wide variety of themes around which grammar lessons are organized:  Style and Fashion, Natural Wonders, Controversial Issues, or Inventions, to name a few. Don’t get me wrong:  discussing cutting-edge technology, the environment, or even the latest fashion trends is fun. These topics lend themselves to very lively conversation in the classroom and integrate nicely with many grammatical functions.

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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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