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Assessment of Writing / Magoosh for writing assessment
« on: April 16, 2019, 09:18:18 PM »
Magoosh is an App that helps students preparing for GRE test.
Their blog provides GRE writing prompts and analysis for the prompts. It can be used for writing assessment preparation or assessment for certain classes.

Intensive Reading / Biography and Autobiography for Intensive Reading
« on: April 16, 2019, 09:08:10 PM »
Biography and autobiography is a genre that can sometimes easily be neglected in ESL/EFL classrooms. However, biographies and autobiographies are not only engaging and provide students with meaningful reading materials, but can be very motivational as well. By reading the hardships and experience of influential figures, students may be motivated not just academically, but mentally and spiritually.
Additionally, biographies on famous and historical figures will enhance student’s background knowledge. Students are exposed to cultural conventions, history background, important historical events in their reading. The information acquired by reading biographies can be applied in their future academic writing.

This blog offers many resources for teaching biographies in your reading class:

This is a lesson plan for 3-5 graders. It teaches students how to get the most out of their reading while introducing them to this nonfiction genre. You will expose your students to a wide variety of biographies while guiding them toward choosing one person of interest they will research further.

This is a lesson plan for 6-8 graders or high school students in EFL context. In this lesson for biography project, it requires reading comprehension, writing production, and oral production.
Set the stage for high-interest reading with a purpose through a biography project. Students work together to generate questions they would like to answer about several well-known people, then each student chooses one of these and finds information by reading a biography from the library and doing Internet research. Students create a graphic organizer (a web) to organize the facts they have found and share what they have learned about their subjects through oral presentations. Students evaluate themselves and their classmates by using a rubric during the research and graphic organizer-creation process and by giving written feedback on one another's presentations.

YouTube has been used as an effective educational tool for a long time ever since the emergence of technology in classroom. However, with the abundant and overwhelming resources on YouTube, both teachers and learners will spend more time discriminating the appropriate resources from the bad ones.

YouTube provides authentic input for ESL/EFL learners. Especially for EFL learners who are lacking of authentic resources and materials, the usage of YouTube deserves more attention and appreciation in classrooms. There are many benefits of using YouTube in pedagogical practice and classroom exercise.

•   A place for teachers to learn. Teachers can learn more about their content or their teaching practice from these resources too!
•   Videos are interesting and engaging. There’s something about videos that make them easy hooks that get students interested in watching and learning more.
•   A wealth of resources from experts. Although there are loads of cat videos, there are also loads of experts who are sharing their knowledge and perspectives for free.
•   Visual and audible means of learning. The video medium helps students learn by both seeing and hearing, which helps understanding and retention.
•   Watchable anytime and place. As long as students have Internet access, they can view the useful videos any time it’s convenient for them.
•   Easily shared. As students themselves find useful content, they can easily share it with teachers, friends, and classmates.
•   Student can contribute themselves. And don’t forget this is YouTube, which means that students themselves can create original content and share their own expertise with viewers. This is a great way for students to develop an online presence and have a creative way to show what they know.

Here are some of the YouTube Channel that can be used for teaching English.
1) British Council LearnEnglish This is the official YouTube channel of the British Council. Videos are professional looking and include skits of real-life scenarios. They also boast several animated grammar lessons.  
2) Anglo-Link Run by Minoo Short of the UK, this channel provides lessons that are several minutes long and focus on subjects such as phrasal verbs, vocabulary, and listening skills. 
3) JenniferESL When you learn English with Jennifer, you feel like you’re learning from a caring mentor. Geared more toward beginning students, Jennifer’s videos cover a wide variety of topics and include colorful slides and graphics to assist with learning. 
4) Rachel’s English Rachel knows American pronunciation. She has a background in classical singing, and she brings her expertise of voice and pronunciation to all of her videos. If you’re looking to “reduce” your accent or refine your pronunciation, Rachel’s English is a great place to start.
5) EnglishLessons4U One of EngVid’s 8 teachers, Ronnie brings a quirky sensibility to learning English. Her lessons are informative, practical, and a lot of fun. 

For more information:
11 Of The Best YouTube Channels For Learning English. (August 3rd, 2018). Retrieved from
Jordan Catapano. Technology in the Classroom: Using YouTube. Retrieved from

Motivation / Incorporate CLT to motivate L2 reading
« on: March 03, 2019, 11:19:42 AM »
How to help L2 learners to develop reading habits and build L2 reading confidence and interests can be tricky. There is an indispensable relationship between agency and motivation. So, giving students more agency and control in a reading course may motive them.
The Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) has been commonly used to enhance L2 learners’ 4 competence: grammatical competence, discourse competence, sociolinguistic competence, and strategic competence. There are some aspects that can be borrowed and incorporated into reading courses, especially for adolescent and adult learners, to motivate them and give them more agency.
[/size]Adolescent learners are becoming more self-conscious and discovering their own identity during this period, which makes it more challenging to ensure concentration and participation in classroom. With this factor in mind, the instructor can select reading materials related to identity, gender issues, and life pursuit. Open-ended questions discussing the themes and topics in the reading, presentations on topics of interests related to the readings, and collaborative activities among peers may also provide motivations. These CLT-based activities will allow students to apply their values and beliefs in meaningful conversations and will immediately attracted their attention and interests, deriving intrinsic motivation as well as eliciting more oral production in class.
Based on CLT, offering students choices in the types and content of activities and giving some control to the students, teacher’s role should teacher shift away from “the initiator of language” to facilitator. Learners should also have more independences and control over reading strategies and reading pace. For those with more advanced vocabulary knowledge and reading strategies, they could read faster and do not have to look up every unfamiliar word in the text, while for those who are less proficient, they could slow down and build up their vocabulary. CLT suggests that giving more autonomy outside of the classroom could potentially enact students’ agency and encourage them to make more investment in their own learning process.
For adolescent or secondary L2 learners, in order to create a safe space for discussion and a sense of equality between the teacher and students, the teacher should treat students like adults rather than using “caretaker” talk. When incorporating CLT into reading courses, students will enjoy the non-fearful and supportive atmosphere and student-centered instruction, thus have more motivations to actually read and learn.

Brown, H.D. & Lee, H. (2015). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy (4thEd.). New York: Pearson Education ESL.

Vocabulary / Pragmatics for Vocabulary Learning
« on: March 03, 2019, 10:50:55 AM »
It is acknowledged that lexical item is the basic to 4 skills, so it should not be considered as a skill. Instead, word learning is incremental. Information about a word is gathered gradually over time, so it is important for teacher to ensure repeated exposure to target words in context.
Based on Brown & Lee's 4 strategies for teaching vocabulary, here are some suggestions:
1.Allocate specific class time to vocabulary learning: meet target words several times. Ideally, 7-16 encounters. Spacing between the repetitions is also important.
2.Help students to learn vocabulary in context. The meaning of within the context can be in discourse, interactions, or printed readings. Pictures, gestures, and dictionary can be used as effective aids.
3.Engage in “unplanned” vocabulary teaching. When a student asks about a word or when a word has appeared that you feel deserves some attention, you can elaborate on the meaning and use of this word or you can ask the students to explain.  This can elicit oral production and enhance their strategic competence.
4.Encourage students to develop word-learning strategies: suffixes, prefixes, roots, definition clues (parentheses, synonyms, superordinate)
Brown, H.D. & Lee, H. (2015). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language
pedagogy (4th Ed.). New York: Pearson Education ESL.

Vocabulary / Learning Vocabulary from Movies
« on: March 03, 2019, 10:33:57 AM »
Traditionally, learning vocabulary gives many L2 learners headaches and nightmares. Although intentional vocabulary focus accounts for significant gains in acquisition, it can cause fatigue, lack of motivation, and many other negative effects. So, integrating some incidental vocabulary learning or contextualized vocabulary learning can enlighten the classroom, motivate students, and enhance students’ vocabulary knowledge.
So I came up with an activity that can be used:
·      [/font]Asking students to prepare a 3 minutes clip of a TV show or movie that they are interested in.
·      [/font]The clip has English subtitle.
·      [/font]A handout with subtitle transcripts should be prepared. The transcript should leave the vocabulary that the students think is worthy of learning for their classmate blank.
·      [/font]The student will present the clip and the classmates will watch the clip while trying to fill in the blank.
·      [/font]Then the student will debrief with the class explaining the meaning.
·      [/font]The handout should look like this:
* answers in parenthesiswill not be provided for the class
How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the ___________(straps) on your shoulders. Feel ’em? Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things. The things on shelves and in drawers, the knick-knacks, the collectibles. Feel the weight as that ________________(adds up). Then you start adding larger stuff, clothes, table-top __________(appliances), lamps, linens, your TV.
The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. And you go bigger. Your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it’s a studio apartment or a two-bedroom house. I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now try to walk. It’s kind of hard, isn’t it? This is what we do to ourselves ________________ (on a daily basis). We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. And make no mistake, moving is living.
Now, I’m gonna set that backpack on fire. What do you want to take out of it? What do you want to take out of it? Photos? Photos are for people who can’t remember. Drink some ginkgo and let the photos burn. In fact, let everything burn and imagine waking up tomorrow with nothing. It’s kind of ________________(exhilarating), isn’t it?
Now, this is gonna be a little difficult, so stay with me. You have a new backpack. Only this time, I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual _____________(acquaintances), friends of friends, folks around the office, and then you move into the people that you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your cousins, your aunts, your uncles, your brothers, your sisters, your parents and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend or your girlfriend.
You get them into that backpack. And don’t worry. I’m not gonna ask you to light it on fire. Feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake – your relationships are the heaviest ____________(components) in your life. Do you feel the straps cutting into your shoulders?
All those ______________(negotiations) and arguments, and secrets and ______________(compromises). You don’t need to carry all that weight. Why don’t you set that bag down? Some animals were meant to carry each other, to live symbiotically for a lifetime – star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not those animals. The slower we move, the faster we die. We are not swans. We’re sharks.
Although students are paying attention to the vocabulary in this activity, contextualized vocabulary learning can assist their conceptualization and memorization. Students will have more agency as well as motivations to learn.
The authentic input also helps them to truly know a word. According to Zimmerman, there are certain aspects involved when learning to a word: grammatical function, register, collocations, considerable amount of information about the meaning of a word.
·      [/font]Collocations: how it is used in combination with other words.
·      [/font]Grammatical function: transitive verb, uncountable noun, etc.
·      [/font]Register or level of formality: old words, everyday words, etc.
·      [/font]Meaning: subtle distinction between words.
Up in the Air transcripts:

Zimmerman, C. B. (2014). Teaching and Learning Vocabulary for Second Language Learners.
In Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D., & Snow, M. (Eds.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language. (394-408). Boston: National Geographic Learning.

From my own experiences as a L2 writer, I have received many writing feedback and I found teachers’ feedback is extremely beneficial for my improvement and L2 test preparation. One of the most helpful type of feedback would be face-to-face writing conference, especially for L2 writers. In my freshman year, since I was newly exposed to the academic writing and college life, I was overwhelmed and unconfident. So, for my writing course assignments, I scheduled face-to-face meetings to get feedback to keep up with my classmates and ensure that I was on the right track. During our meetings, the instructor provided me with suggestions on inappropriate vocabulary use, essay structure, how to paraphrase and cite sources effectively. Although this type of feedback may be demanding and time-consuming, it benefits learners in many aspects and in a broader sense.
First of all, often times, L2 learners may not even be able to read teacher’s handwritten feedbacks on their draft. Or they might struggle with interpreting teacher’s response correctly when a few sentence or words on the draft may not make sense to them. In this sense, conference seems like more direct and more efficient for learners to receive feedback.
Moreover, other types of oral corrective feedbacks can be provided and thus benefit learners in the meantime. For L2 learners, recasts and metalinguistic feedback is likely to occur when talking with the instructor about generating ideas, linguistic features, grammatical errors.
In addition, during face-to-face conferences, students may use negotiation of meaning in discourse. They will not only advance writing strategies and gain writing feedbacks to improve their linguistic competence, but will be encouraged to elicit more oral productions as well.

Negotiation of Meaning
Instances in conversation in when participants need to interrupt the flow of conversation in order for both parties to understand what the conversation is about

Backchannel cues (head knods, ‘uh huh’, ‘right’)
Comprehension checks: “Do you know Nagasaki?”
Confirmation checks: “When can you visit?—Visit?”
Clarification requests: “I don’t know this word.”
Questions with answers/choices provided: “Do you want to have dinner on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…?”
Topic shifts

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