I’ll Take One Order of Mice Please!

For  the ESL courses at our school, we generally use textbooks that are specifically made for English language learners. However, there is one exception- our reading textbook, and it has proven to be hilarious on some days for us.

In reading class yesterday, we were doing an activity in which we needed to understand how topics are related so that we can better comprehend how paragraphs are organized. The activity asked us to mark out the word that does not belong in the group and then to say a very specific topic in which all the words could belong.

The words were cows, sheep, pigs, mice, goats, and chickens. The students should have marked out the word mice and the topic was “farm animals that are kept for meat.” My Chinese student thought this was a very poor question, because, in fact, some Chinese people do eat mice, especially in Guangzhou province. We probably laughed for ten minutes about this. So, all textbooks are not created equal. ūüėȬ†

Helping ELLs in the Mainstream College Classroom

Let’s face it. Most college professors have no ¬†training in working with English language learners. So in order to help my colleagues better support the ELLs in their classroom, I sent an e-mail to all the faculty and adjuncts with the just a few ways in which they can help these students.

Give extra time to take a quiz or a test.

>For these students, it takes much longer for them to read and comprehend what the questions are asking. If you feel comfortable, please give them extra time.

Do not write in cursive.

> I have had several international students come in and ask me to read the feedback from their teachers at the end of their papers. Most people who learn English only learn print letters, not cursive, so cursive is usually unreadable to them.

Use visual aids, gestures, and write on the board as often as possible.

>Writing key words and even homework assignments on the board is so helpful for these students. Showing instead of only telling can really assist these students as well.

Simplify your language and slow your speed.

>This does not mean you have to ‚Äúdumb down‚ÄĚ your language. Try to use less slang and idioms, which hinder comprehension for these students. Try to watch the speed of your speech. I know I am guilty of speed talking sometimes when I get going in a lecture!

Offer supplementary materials.

>This might be offering an outline of the lecture of a copy of the PowerPoint. Listening comprehension is often most difficult for these students, so they may have trouble catching all the details of your lectures. Introduce them to a top student in the class who would be willing to share their class notes.

Get to know your international students.

>Take a minute to talk one-on-one with these students, so you can gauge their English ability and their comprehension of class material. You may think they are understanding and keeping up, but most of the time, to be polite, they will just nod and pretend to understand. Did you know that in some cultures, especially Asian cultures, it’s rude to tell the teacher you don’t understand, because you are basically accusing the teacher of not teaching well?

These were just a few quick and dirty tips I wanted the faculty to know. I hope you can make use of a few of them too if you have ELLs in your mainstream classroom. Are there any you would add? Please share with others that might find this helpful.

 

Foreign Students, ESL

Acronyms for the Teaching English as a Second Language World

When I first started getting into teaching ESL, the amount of acronyms was overwhelming! I knew ESL stood for English as a second language, but I wondered what TESOL, ELL, and EFL stood for. As with any profession, there are abbreviations or words that only make sense to people in that field. So I’d like to provide a few explanations of acronyms for those of you who are as confused as I was when I first started in ESL.

  • ELL- English language learner; Anyone learning English is referred to as an ELL.¬†
  • EFL or TEFL- (Teaching) English as a foreign language; Although ESL and EFL are often used interchangeably, they are, in fact, different. EFL is teaching or learning English in an environment where English is not spoken by the majority. So, teaching English in the US or the UK would be ESL. Teaching English in China or Costa Rica would be EFL. This is similar to learning French in high school as an American student.¬†
  • TESOL or ESOL – (Teaching) English to speakers of other languages; This refers to teaching English to anyone whose native language is not English¬†
  • TESOL, Inc.- An international, ¬†professional organization of TESOL teachers.¬†
  • TOEFL- Test of English as a foreign language; This is a common test worldwide to gauge English ability. Most universities require a TOEFL score for admittance if English is not the student’s first language. TOEFL iBT is the TOEFL internet-based test
  • IEP- Intensive English program; This type of program is solely English classes focused on helping ELLs master the English language. Most IEPs are found in university settings.¬†
  • CALL- Computer assisted language learning; Language learning done through special software on the computer or online
  • SLA- Second language acquisition; the process of learning a second language
  • L1- first language; Example- Spanish is the L1 of someone from Colombia.¬†
  • L2- second language; Example- English is the L2 of someone from Colombia learning English.¬†
  • NNS- non-native speaker; anyone who does not speak a certain language as their first language¬†
  • ESP- English for specific purposes; this is English for certain jobs, such as English for medical professionals, English for tourism, ETC. ¬†

 

Hopefully these were helpful to you. I’ll try and post another set in the near future! Share on your social media site if you think you have friends that would find this useful! Thanks for reading.