Archive | September, 2011

How many of the Top 100 Fiction Novels have you read?

24 Sep

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post – 25 Challenging Vocabulary Words from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina – I’ve undertaken a Literacy Project with a couple of my advanced ESL students who were interested in joining me in reading books from the Modern Library’s 100 Best Books List.

This extra-curricular reading project was inspired when, after browsing the list and realizing I had only read a mere 17 on the list of 100, I felt quite embarrassed with myself!  Since then I’ve read two more to up my count to 19 – Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, which was fantastic, poetic, quick and wonderful that I read it in two short days (keeping in mind that I’m a working mom to a toddler, I felt this was a great feat! ^^).

I wonder how many of the books from this list you’ve read?  What’s your count?  How literary are today’s English teachers?  If you don’t mind sharing your answer, please leave a comment.  This could be interesting!  Again, the link is here.

While on the topic, I thought I’d throw in a couple of helpful links I’ve found for teachers on…

PROMOTING LITERACY in the ESL CLASSROOM

Adult ESL Literacy Survival Guide for Instructors – By Janet Massaro for ELSAnet

Literacy Connections – Promoting Literacy and a Love for Reading

BC Ministry of Education – Resources for Teachers: Improving Literacy

Learn to use Word EMPHASIS for English Fluency

14 Sep

I can’t emphasis enough how the proper use of  ’emphasis’ helps the ESL learner to sound more fluent when speaking English.  Learning how to use emphasis properly is helpful not only in preparing for English proficiency exams such as the TOEFL, IELTS or the TOEIC Speaking Test, but is equally important for academic and business situations.

Emphasis is the word in a sentence which is spoken with emphasis, in other words usually at a higher pitch and/or accompanied by a pause in speech.  There are a variety of reasons why emphasis is used.  Look at this list below for some reasons.

WHEN IS EMPHASIS USED?

  • the speaker wants to call to attention what is most important.  This is common when expressing opinions.
  • the speaker wants to imply or infer something without saying it directly.
  • the speaker is being accusatory.
  • the speaker is disagreeing with something said.
  • the speaker is being argumentative or sarcastic (emphasis is used liberally in arguing) ^^
  • the speaker has used inversion – in other words, changed the order of a sentence by adding a prepositional phrase at the beginning (example: SUDDENLY, the cat jumped up and scratched his face.)
  • the speaker wants to affirm or deny some action.  (example:  John DIDN’T go to school yesterday.)

LEARNING TO UNDERSTAND EMPHASIS

This is no easy task.  Becoming fluent in English is all about practice, exposure and time.  My husband is Korean and although is English is great, he still has difficulty with emphasis.  In fact, our conversation today inspired this blog post.  He said that when I speak Korean I add in English-style emphasis, when instead, I should learn to use proper Korean emphasis in all cases.  I suppose I had thought emphasis to be a more universal language tool… I was wrong.  There’s my ‘English-centric’ point of view creeping in again! 🙂

Since I’ve found that giving good examples is often the easiest way to “explain” something to my students, take a look below.  This is excerpted from a printable worksheet I created earlier which is in a matching activity for students. You can download it here: Jennifer Teacher – Using Emphasis

Take a look at the following examples, where the bolded words are emphasized.  Say them aloud and notice how the meaning, intention, inference or implication of the sentence changes.

a)   I did not say you stole my red bandana.  —>  Someone else said it.

b)  did not say you stole my red bandana.  —>  Disputatious denial; Argumentative.

c)   I did not say you stole my red bandana.  —>  Disputatious denial; Argumentative.

d)   I did not say you stole my red bandana.  —>  You stole something else.

e)   I did not say you stole my red bandana.  —>  Someone else stole it.

f)   I did not say you stole my red bandana.  —>   You did something else with the bandanna, not steal it.

g)   I did not say you stole my red bandana.  —>   You stole someone elses’ bandanna.

h)   I did not say you stole my red bandana.  —>   You stole one of a different colour.

i)    I did not say you stole my red bandana.  —>   I “implied/wrote/suggested” you stole it, not “said.”

TEST YOUR UNDERSTANDING!

Do these examples help you to understand the proper use of emphasis?   If so, try explaining the meanings of the following three sentences (leave a comment with your answers):

Q1)  Did you happen to get me a coffee, too?

Q2) What time are we supposed to meet on Saturday?

Q3) Why are you studying English?

MORE RESOURCES

If you feel you need some more help, try these external resources.  There aren’t many available on this unique subject, but here are a couple I’d recommend:

About.com: Learning to use Emphasis in English

Prof. Argenis A. Zapata: Ways of Expressing Emphasis in English

Challenge Yourself with English Vocabulary from Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’

9 Sep

As part of my recent “Literacy Project” – I’m encouraging my advanced ESL students, to join me in reading all the books on Modern Library’s 100 Best Books List.   This extra-curricular reading project was inspired when, after browsing the list and realizing I had only read a mere 17, I felt quite embarrassed with myself!   So, I’m catching up.

Number 18 was Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina.  And although it’s a long read it remains interesting and engaging throughout.  I feel some of the context must have been lost through translation.  How I would love to read (and understand) it in Russian! 🙂

This seems a very academic book, with clear themes threaded from start to finish, and strong characters.  The themes of spirituality, meanings of life and death, and how one creates and responds to adversity, were enjoyed.  But, I also love highlighting great vocabulary words with my Kobo eReader Touch!  Here are some words I loved and wanted to challenge you to see if you know the definitions:

Do you know the words pecuniary, laconic, loquacity and coterie?  If so, you may be a word master!  If not, play a matching game, download flashcards, or enjoy a crossword with my 25 Challenging Words from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina on WORD DYNAMO.  

Or, if you’d prefer, you can download a copy of my free 25 Vocab – Anna Karenina on these words

And, because I’m curious…. How many books have you read from the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels?   The Board’s List or the Reader’s List?  Please share your answers and comments below.

 

Teaching Children ESL through Yoga

4 Sep

I’m so excited to have the opportunity of bringing together two of my interests, yoga and teaching, this September here in Seoul.  I will be teaching children English Yoga at a studio not far from our villa in Hwagok-Dong.  Actually, it’s my husband’s new Fitness Studio – very exciting!

So, here I am preparing lesson plans for these English Kids Yoga classes that will integrate functional English vocabulary, conversational English skills, relaxation, enjoyment, and a breath of light into world of yoga poses and philosophies.

I thought I would share some of the online resources I’ve come across in my preparations and research:

Prep & Lesson Planning for Teaching Kids Yoga:

General Yoga Resources I Refer to:

  • Teaching Yoga by Mark Stephens
  • Light on Life – B.K.S. Iyengar:  Great for intricate knowledge into correct positioning and the yogic lifestyle (in other words, not eating a cookie while I write this^^).
  • Yoga Journal : Nothing beats sitting down with a copy of this magazine and a pot of herbal tea!
If you teach yoga for children, ESL or otherwise, please leave a comment and tell me about your classes!  I’d love to see your blog or website!  Thanks, and …. namaste.
^^
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