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Listening to Stories While You Read Them: Supporting ELL’s

17 Mar

Supporting English Language Learners through their comprehension and engagement in a text is vital if they are to come to a love of reading in English.betty white

In preparing for a presentation on Supporting the ELL’s in our Ontario Classrooms, I was looking for current Canadian resources teachers can easily incorporate into their language arts curriculum for ESL students.  One such resource I wanted to share right away was StorylineOnline.   Storyline Online is a fabulous website that has popular English children’s picture books being read aloud by celebrities!  How interesting.  Not only can children experience a range of pronunciations by listening to books read aloud, they can increase their engagement in a text either in the class on the computer or at home.

I recommend choosing a text with a student and doing a “picture walk” with them through the book.  Discussing the pictures helps students to make predictions, and it activates the schema they already have for the topic making learning more meaningful.  You may want to ask them to share any experiences they have with the topic either orally or in writing.  Go over any challenging or new vocabulary, idioms, slang, and cultural references in the book.  Next, read it along with the student and let them have some time alone to read through it at their own pace if they’re able to do this.  You can then pull up this resource Storyline Online and have them listen to the book alongside reading it.  They may wish to do this a few times.  Finally, choose a consolidation activity you feel will best match their learning goals and needs.  This could be drawing pictures and describing their favourite part.  Identifying parts of the story such as the main characters, plot, setting, etc.  And one of my favourites is to have them change one of these parts and re-tell the story aloud.

Definitely check out this free online resource and let me know your thoughts! 🙂

One of my favourites?  Harry the Dirty Dog ready by Betty White

Developing ESL Vocabulary with Clusters

30 Jan

There are many strategies to consider when wanting to teach or learn vocabulary.

Hands-on vocabulary learning seems to be the most effective that I’ve found, as having students use multiple senses when learning a new word seems to increase retention.  Although, with this method the word gain is slow and it’s not always practical in the common classroom setting.  Instead, I often try teaching vocabulary that is related to eachother, together – clusters!

Clustering, or using semantic clusters, basically means learning words around one theme  or idea.  These themes or ideas can be quite large such as “the world” (learn: countries, ocean, continent, to discover …) or can be more focused such as “coffee” (steam, espresso, to roast …).

A few ideas on how to teach using clusters:

  • use theme-based ESL lessons instead of grammar-based.  Grammar can be “snuck” into the lessons along with vocabulary that is related on a particular theme.
  • use brainstorming charts where one word branches to another with visible cluster-like appearance.
  • challenge students to find appropriate synonyms (words that have the same meaning).
  • play Scattergories or Scrabble with a theme.
  • If teaching reading, try to use a variety of resources – news articles, journals, dialogues, stories, podcasts – but with the same theme.  This will increase the kinds of vocabulary that students are exposed to (expressive vs. written, for example).
Take advantage of some online resources! ^^

Cluster/Cloud Graphic Organizers and more Vocabulary graphic organizers – free printables

Teaching and Developing Vocabulary article by Houghton-Mifflin Reading.

Dictionary.com Word of the Day to help you increase your own vocabulary.

 

Get writing! Why it’s important for ELL’s to write daily

18 Oct

This Thursday, October 20th is National Day on Writing (in the USA) and it’s a great way to promote literacy, writing as a hobby and as a profession.  I am a firm believer that all teachers should be encouraging their students to write, but this is especially true for language learners.

Check out the blog: Common Grounds

My advice ‘to write’ comes not only from my experience as an ESL Teacher, but as a learner of the Korean language.  I tell my students to imagine that they have a separate muscle in their body that is strictly for learning a new language.  They need to work it out! Otherwise, it will become flabby from misuse and underdeveloped from lack of attention.  On my own personal road to learning Korean,  I try to take a little bit of time regularly to relax and write down some thoughts in my journal in Korean, without full regard for grammar and spelling.  If I’m consistent in my discipline to keep writing in Korean, I can quickly see improvements in even my verbal use of the language.

There are so many resources available on the internet to teach you how to write properly, correctly, effectively, and so on.  But the most important thing you can do as an English Language Learner (ELL) is this:

1) Write.

2) Then, write some more.

How Writing Can Improve on your Language Learning:

Writing in English helps you to overcome fears and build confidence.  It pushes you to expand your vocabulary to find the exact word you’re looking for.  It helps you to realize that language is not always “translatable,” and that your first language and the English language come from different cultural contexts.   Writing also helps you discover your language weaknesses or soft spots (what you need to work on).  And writing helps you to improve your overall use of the language.

So, if you want to improve your English, or encourage your students’ to improve theirs – I suggest getting cozy with a cup of coffee, a fresh notebook and a pen that makes your words sing… and start writing!

 

 

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

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