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Messages - Dana

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General Writing Resources / Email Writing
« on: December 04, 2008, 10:44:00 AM »
Attached is a handout of four email samples from the British Council-- They range on a scale from bad, ok, semi-formal, and formal. Students will have to look for language, audience, (required) parts of emails, and lexical choices. I am attaching the British Council website here, but look for the handout that I prepared (attached); it's easier to give to students.

General Writing Resources / Teaching Register in Writing?
« on: November 24, 2008, 11:07:34 AM »
Browse through the hyperlinks attached; there are good examples explaining and testing different forms of maintaining 'register' in writing. Examples include Phrasal Verbs, Over-Assertiveness, Informal Negatives, Informal Quantifiers, and Run-on-Sentences.


Language Issues / Re: TEACHING AT, IN and ON
« on: November 11, 2008, 11:23:13 AM »
Another way to teach prepositions would be to present examples then practice using different kinds of prepositions; you can give them lots of examples about directions, location, space etc, have them notice patterns and come up with their own "rules of usage." Keep providing examples and make charts if needed.

Try also to use the same verb but with different prepositions like:
I walked to the store
I walked at night
I walked in the park
I walked on the grass
I walked by the river

make sure to quiz them on that too
Just a thought  :book

Vocabulary / Learn Vocabulary and Fight Hunger!
« on: November 08, 2008, 03:12:59 PM »
Someone sent me this useful website; sounds like a GRE vocab test at first, but it's a good way to sharpen your and your students vocab. Go to where supposedly they donate grains of rice every time you guess the right word  :?don'tknow

Thanks for sharing Jenny; I will adapt it in my class too. Though I might also want to include a warm up just to introduce the idea of comparison/contrast. Like show them two book covers, two movie trailers, two toys, two paintings etc to start a more informal comparison/contrast.

As a pre-reading activity for this class, show students this clip :Contact Opening Scene

And before they watch it, I'll ask them to write a list of words they see in the clip. They should be able to write words like earth, mars, galaxy, outer space etc just as Accessing Prior Knowledge strategy after they've watched this clip and connect the list of vocab with what they are going to watch and also read in the article.

Persuasive Paper / Re: Spotting Red Herrings
« on: October 04, 2008, 11:54:15 PM »
I wonder if it would be the same as the 'straw man' argument. It's good to attend to logical fallacies, but I think using red herring/strawman arguments should not always be considered as a "logical fallacy."   :?don'tknow It might be a helpful pragmatic method that learners should also be aware of (especially in political discourse as the video shows). I might be wrong though, and different teachers have varying views on this. Suggestions?

Conclusions / Strategies for Writing Conclusion
« on: October 04, 2008, 11:47:29 PM »
Find attachment for a list of Dos and Don'ts on writing a conclusion and a list of examples

Beginning Readers / Halloween Games
« on: October 04, 2008, 10:46:28 PM »
This lesson is for young ESL/EFL learners (beginners). It is a small reading comprehension passage adopted from the website with a few comprehension questions that teachers can use (and provide any ending to it). It is a Halloween story!  >:D

Make ESL learning much more fun and related to the culture! The website has more Halloween games and vocab exercises! :tasmanian devil

More games here

Though modified literature can be used in an ESL classroom to make a text shorter and/or easier, there's another sort of a must-be-modified literature that ESL/EFL teachers and educators should consider: Political (In)correctness

Here's a website that has an explanation of the term PC and its historical evolution (that can be made into a reading activity actually), it also has some examples from English and modified English, as well as tasks to be used in class.

I'm attaching both a Word doc and the URL just in case

Authentic v. Modified Materials / Reading and Writing Newspaper Articles
« on: September 30, 2008, 09:49:02 AM »
If you ever want to use newspaper in your reading/writing class, here's a good lesson plan by Kenneth Beare (from who has lots and lots of ESL lesson plans that you can have a look at.

Quoting Beare; "Students often read newspapers for a wide variety of reasons, not least of which is to keep informed in English. As you know, newspaper writing style tends to have three levels: Headlines, leading phrases, and article content. Each of these has its own style. This lesson focuses on calling students' attention to this type of writing style on a deeper, grammatical level. It ends with students writing up their own short articles with a follow-up listening comprehension opportunity."

Find attachment!

Also, here's the website

Reading/Writing Humor / Create your own comics
« on: September 27, 2008, 11:21:33 PM »
I found this really cool website where you can actually create your own comics.. choose characters and write whatever you want, and who knows, use your creative comics in teaching ESL


Reading/Writing Humor / Our own ESL Comic Blog!
« on: September 26, 2008, 10:49:31 PM »
When you have the least motivated students, using comics is the therapy (one of many of course). So I started this very humble ESL Comics blog where I will be "borrowing" comics from others and add my own ESL/EFL questions. If anyone wants to add, give feedback, or simply become an editing member let me know. It can be a really good thing to do and use occasionally in class.

Here's the link: 

Vocabulary / Vocabulary Learning in the form of Quizzes
« on: September 26, 2008, 09:00:33 PM »
This website, in the bottom of the page, has quizzes to match words together. It has of course a lot more, but here's a quick sample  :book


Alternative medicine
British Vs. American English
British Vs. American English 2
British vs. American English 3
Classoom objects
Computer vocabulary quiz.
Culture questions
Farm animals quiz
Jobs and occupations quiz
Money and Banking words
Personality adjectives quiz
Phrasal verbs
Vegetables quiz 1
Vegetables quiz 2
Vegetables quiz 3
Verbs opposite match
Verbs opposite match 2
Word association

Summary & Paraphrase / Summary Tutorial
« on: September 26, 2008, 08:48:15 PM »
Here's a 'Summary' tutorial I used in my ESL 115 class as an intro to writing a summary

Prewriting / Simple pre-writing activity
« on: September 26, 2008, 08:23:10 PM »
One very simple and quick pre-writing activity, which is in a way similar to concept mapping minus the graphic organizers, is have students write their own questions before they actually start writing. Simply make the five Wh- words the basis for a successful start. Ask them to write and try to answer the "what," "why," "where," "when," "where," "which," and eh the 6th would be "how." This doesn't mean answering them all, of course it depends on the topic and the rhetorical mode. The idea is to try to give an answer in only one well formed sentence.  ::)

Prereading Activities / Fun Pre-reading activities
« on: September 26, 2008, 07:44:17 PM »
Fun pre-reading activities to teach synonyms, using words in various contexts and also good activities if you're teaching Harry Potter or any lesson with similar themes. The topic is about "Magic" and there are two attachments; students' worksheet with five short activities and a teacher's sheet.  ;D

"A light-hearted lesson on a perennially popular topic. Activities include lots of useful themed vocabulary as well as common topic-related idioms. Students are encouraged to exercise their fluency through both general and personalised conversation questions such as: "Why are magic stories so popular with children?" And, "What was your favourite magic story as a child, and why?"

For more topics and activities see

Vocabulary / fun ESL/EFL activities
« on: September 26, 2008, 07:18:43 PM »
I found this really good website on teaching words (synonyms, opposites), phrases etc interactively. It has all levels fun (puzzle) activities. All you need is computers, students, and good memory! Enjoy!

Prewriting / Making 'Sense' of 'Nonsense'
« on: September 13, 2008, 01:08:48 PM »
Here?s a fun writing activity (for about 15 minutes roughly)

Pair up students and label them, give group #1 a piece of paper and ask them to write ANY sentence they want. Then, pass the paper to the next pair (#2) and have them write another sentence based on the first one (more like a story completion). Now fold the paper and cover the first sentence before passing it to group #3, the third pair will continue the story based on sentence #2 (which is the only one visible), now before passing it to the next groups, make sure all the above sentences except the LAST one (in this case it?s #3) are covered. Etc etc?

Basically, students will write a story based on the last sentence they see. Keep folding and rotating the ?story? among groups as much as you want, they can go for a second turn or even more depends on how much time you have (or if you want it pretty short for a warm up activity, it should work too).

Finally read the end product (the whole story) together and you?ll see that it?s going to be absolutely hilarious. You?ll see that some students will pick up and elaborate on the subject while others choose the object and/or the actual event (verbs etc). This can be a good activity to teach coherence, cohesion, story telling, emphasizing the importance of context in writing among other things? or simply just to have 100% guaranteed fun!

Harry Potter Lessons! / Re: Using Harry Potter in writing class
« on: September 11, 2008, 06:55:56 PM »

I really like the idea.. let the students be creative and complete the story. I guess it shouldn't matter if they have watched/read the Harry Potter already. I am sure they can still be creative and use their own imagination (or just as you said, memory). I'd assume you'll give them the reading beforehand to be read at home and have then write the follow-up story in class.

Harry Potter Lessons! / Using Lit (Harry Potter) in Writing
« on: September 11, 2008, 06:50:37 PM »
The Harry Potter series have proved to be suitable for any age and possibly level. If I am to use the first chapter of Harry Potter, of course I'd assume most people/students have already read/watched at least one of the Harry Potter movies/books, I'd take out certain words, phrases, and possibly sentences and have students fill in the gaps.

Professor Sadler mentioned a popular American game; the MadLib  which is (Wikipedia) "a word game where one player prompts another for a list of words to substitute for blanks in a story; these word substitutions have a humorous effect when the resulting story is then read aloud"

Before having students work on the activity based on the 1st ch. of HP, I'd elicit words (nouns, verbs, adj etc) from students beforehand and basically get students to use them in filling the gaps I made with the original text. After the work is completed, students will realize that the end product makes no sense whatsoever. But maybe try to re-write it again in pairs/groups. Just a thought.  :)

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