• Should Students Be Allowed to Use Their Native Language in the Classroom

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    When I first began teaching lessons during the TESOL Course I found myself almost automatically saying to the students, “English please,” after all it is an English class. However, I began to question myself about whether or not this was “correct” practice or if the students should in fact use their native language to assist them in the learning process. After doing some research I found the TESOL Law Code of Ethics. The Law of Ethics provided many vague and open-ended ideas. It suggested things along the lines of, “The foreign language teacher shall direct her whole professional effort to assist the students to develop his/her second language speaking ability.” It also mentions that TESOL teachers are to act with justice and fairness, to act with evolving concepts of the students needs, and to develop their talent suitably and to the fullest extent. These ideas all suggest that as a teacher one must decide based on their students what is best for them and their language learning experience. I have found that different schools and teachers hold different methodologies specifically concerning whether or not students should be allowed to use their native languages in their second language classroom.

    Many language and international schools located around the world have chosen the methodology of not allowing students to speak their native language inside the English classroom. Some of these schools have gone to the extent of not allowing the native language to be spoken inside of the school building. The theory often behind this is that if a student is put in this position they will be forced to use their second language therefore perhaps doubling the exercising and usage of it, which are two important components when learning a new language. It is also speculated that in a classroom with extensive “peer tutoring” an unequal relationship is formed between the teacher and the higher-level students opposed to the less proficient students who spend more communicative time with their higher-level peers. Some articles referred to what is known is caretaker language or foreigner talk to refer to being in the constant presence of someone who only speaks the second language. This replicates how children learn to speak by simplifying, repeating, and expanding. This is what some schools are attempting to replicate by not allowing the native language to be spoken.

    One article, Peer Tutoring an Second Language Acquisition in the Elementary School, reminds us that students learn in a variety of ways and suggested that pupil to pupil interaction leads to more language comprehension. To quote Confucius, “I hear and I forget, I see and I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” The research that was conducted concluded that the pupils are able to use less sentence simplification and therefore their peers learn a more extensive use of the second language. Another study done had a different take on their students and their native language. The Nestor School Bilingual-Bicultural Education Model, suggests dividing the native language and the second language into two separate curriculums. It was found that it was important to first study the native language to ensure accuracy there first, as strong native language development was found to be the key to second language acquisition. Then by separating the two languages it was encouraged among the students to use the languages separately and also promotes the differentiation between the two languages.

    More so then reading these articles, my teaching experience has helped me form my personal opinion concerning this topic as well as my own interpretation of the TESOL Code of Ethics. While I think that it is important as a teacher to always act justly and fairly, what stuck out as most important to me while reading the Code of Ethics were the parts that mention acting with evolving concepts of the needs and developing their talents suitably. Taking this into account I find that it is important in the beginning levels of learning a second language to be allowed to use one’s native language and for peers to assist each other while doing so. However, once the student has reached a higher proficiency level they should comprehend enough of the language to have instructions, new words and phrases, etc. explained using the target language. This also brings the student’s and teacher’s motivation into the picture which is one of the most important components in learning a second language.

  • The best age to learn English as a second language

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    From the early age of a child majority part of parents start to think about the future of their children, including the learning English as a second language.

    The expression “language learning” includes two clearly distinct, though rarely understood, concepts. One involves receiving information about the language, transforming it into the knowledge through intellectual effort and storing it through memorization. The other involves developing the skill of interacting with foreigners to understand and speak the language. The first concept is called “language learning”, while the other is referred to as “language acquisition”. (SCHÜTZ, b)
    The clear understanding of the differences between acquisition and learning makes it possible for the parents to have the better idea about the “language learning”.

    Researchers found out that there are critical periods, or windows of opportunity, in human’s brain for learning language. 
    One of the first windows of opportunity for language comes early in life. We know that infants are able to distinguish the sound of all languages, but not everyone knows that by six months of age they are no longer able to recognize sounds that are not heard in their native tongue. As infants hear the patterns of sound in their own language, a different cluster of neurons in the auditory cortex of the brain responds to each sound. By 6 months of age, infants will have difficulty picking out sounds they have not heard repeated often. (Shiver, 2003)

    Windows of opportunity for language development occur throughout life. The window for syntax or grammar is open during the preschool years and may close as early as 5 or 6 years of age, while the window for adding new words never closes completely. (SHIVER, 2003)

    While critical periods are prime times for the development of specific neural synapses, skills can still be learned after a window of opportunity has closed, but with greater time and effort.

    Hearing two languages spoken at home is a real advantage to the child. If a child hears two languages from birth, he/she will maintain the ability to hear the sounds of both and be able to speak each language with the accent of a native speaker. 
    If a child enters a preschool and is first exposed to a second language after the age of 3, he/she will still be able to acquire the second language easily because he/she knows the rues of communication. In 3 to 7 months the child will begin to understand the second language. After about 2 years he/she will be able to carry on a fluent conversation. (SHIVER, 2003)
    But after the age of 10 or 12 a child’s brain can no longer encode new basic language units in the same way. If he/she tries to learn a second language as a teenager or adult, he/she must do it with the language programming already in his/her brains. He/she will have to use a mental translation process and will speak the second language with the accents of the native tongue.

    There is one more additional benefit of learning language in early stages of life. The latest studies reveal that bilingual children learn to read sooner, they receive higher math and verbal scores.
    As we can see, the younger person is the easier and with less effort they learn a second language. If it is not possible to expose the child to the second language from the birth, so why not to put the child to a bilingual school, to have an English speaking babysitter or to choose school where English is tough from the early stage?

    Aurelija Duleviciute Voulgarelis

  • Volunteer Teaching: What I gained from the experience

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    When I agreed to volunteer at Guadalupe Schools, I had no idea that teaching English as a foreign language would eventually turn out to be one of my future career considerations. It was through this period of time that I developed a sense of why some people need to learn English, as a matter of their livelihood. Moreover, I discovered a few things about myself that would eventually lead me to make the decision that I want to teach English for a living.

    Guadalupe Schools was (and perhaps, still is) an institution in Salt Lake City, Utah that contracted volunteers to teach survival English to Spanish speaking immigrants from Mexico, Middle America and South America. I found out about this program through the university I was attending at the time, and decided to volunteer there because I really had nothing better to do with my time (other than study and go out with my friends). I didn’t very much feel the need to help people, or to make a difference in someone’s life, or to serve the greater good—I simply needed a change from my routine and figured, being the idealist student that I was, that I might as well make some good use out of my time.

    The program went like this: I was required to come into the school, two nights per week, two hours a session. There I was paired with one student per session. Usually it was the same student, every session. Upon receiving this information, the coordinator of the volunteer program simply gave me a packet, pointed at all the people standing around, waiting for a tutor, and said “Pick one and start with your lesson.” I was a bit nervous.

    I paired with a middle-aged Mexican woman. We sat down, I looked at her, she stared at me. We both looked at our packets in front of us. It was awkward for a bit. As we got into the flow of things, I realized that she had absolutely no experience learning English at all. I came to find out that she was enrolled in the program because she needed to pass the U.S. citizenship exam required of all immigrants to get a work visa, so she could stay in the States and be with her husband and two children.

    At first, things were a bit difficult. Trying to explain to someone who has no experience with English contractions, punctuation, grammar etc. wasn’t the easiest task. What drove me through all of this was a growing sense of care for this woman and the state of her life. After about four sessions we really began to like each other. I came to know not only a lot about her but a lot about the plight of Latin immigrants in America. What these people had to go through, and the way they carried themselves through it all really affected me. And to realize that I was basically the only person helping this woman learn English made the volunteer experience much deeper for me. I was her in. I was basically her key to get into the country.

    We worked and worked, and in the process I gained a lot of practical experience teaching language to a non-native speaker. I intuitively used techniques such as repetition, exaggerated mouthing of words, visual aids, texts, and quizzes, before I had ever learned of ITTT. Pretty soon she was constructing basic sentences and correctly recalling a sizeable vocabulary. After awhile, she’d bring in magazine articles and ask me to explain certain passages; turn in her homework with extra questions for me; bring in mail she’d received for me to help her translate; etc.

    Unfortunately, I stopped tutoring at Guadalupe Schools before I could see my student take the citizenship exam. I’d like to think she passed.

    Brandon Gorrell

  • The Use of Media in Learning English

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    Today’s generation of students are living in an information era that is thriving with technological advances. Worldwide, teachers and students alike have become aware of the importance of integrating media in the classroom. Using media in the classroom has become important in every subject, and can be particularly beneficial when teaching English as a foreign language. Media seems to have a language of its own that can unite people from all parts of the world in the learning experience.

    Michael C. Flanigan and Robert S. Boone illustrate the international language of media in their source book, Using the Media in the Language Arts, “In the summer of 1969 millions of people on earth saw a man put his foot on the moon. Instantly people throughout the world understood what had happened. Those watching did not have to understand English. (Flanigan and Boone xi)” It is certainly no disadvantage to learners of English as a foreign language that the majority of media is exported from the United States where the primary language is of course English. In 1996, John V. Pavlik in hisNew Media Technology: Cultural and Commercial Perspectives wrote, “Unlike many U.S. industries, the information services industry has always had a positive trade balance, and the U.S. Department of Commerce expects this trend to continue. (Pavlik 31)” In 2007 we can see that this prediction was accurate and perhaps even an understatement.

    In the past couple of decades, the use of educational media has greatly increased. “There are many reasons for this expansion. One of the most important, certainly, lies in the rapid technological advances that have led to the growing availability of VCR’s, cable TV, home computers, and the Internet (Blumberg, Everson and Rabinowitz 3).” This expansion has taken societies worldwide. People all over the world are watching TV, listening to the radio and using computers. Because these different forms of media have become more prevalent in all of our daily lives, more international students of English are comfortable using these forms of information technology. The teacher of English should acknowledge the use of media in the classroom as the powerful learning tool that it is. Whether the student is a young or old learner, beginner or business, they will understand the information being presented to them through the use of media images.

    All students will be able to apply these images to their personal experiences with English and will benefit greatly from the incorporation of media in the English classroom. The teacher can use media presentations to put their lesson plan into action. There should always be room in the lesson plan for using media, especially with the wide variety of equipment that is available. With television, audio and other media publications, students from different cultures can acquire a greater understanding of the English language. Many successful learning activities can be designed around the use of these media devices. These media tools can also be presented as authentic material for learners to analyze the more idiomatic terms of the English language.

    In the study, Literacies Across Media, Margaret Mackey explored how a group of boys and girls ages 10 to 14 comprehended narrative material presented to them through various forms of media. In her findings she reveals that, “It was always clear that the students moved easily in a complex textual world, shifting gears both appropriately and nonchalantly as demands changed. (Mackey 14)” It is this comfortability, shown from a young age, which will allow for the teacher of English as a foreign language to easily integrate media into the classroom for more effective learning strategies. This information era in which we are living requires a high demand of people who are open to learning and communicating through the use of a wide genre of media. As twenty- first century teachers of English prepare their lesson plans, they should remember the wise words of Stewart Brand, “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road. (Brand 2)”

    Brittany Ryan
    May 16, 2007 
    ITTT Research Article

  • The German language in modern spoken American English

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    In the 1990 United States census, 60 million Americans identified themselves as being of ‘German’ descent. Native speakers of German made up almost half of all immigrants to the United States between 1821 and 1893. These settlers had an almost immediate impact on the language. German borrowings such as sauerkrautnoodle and loafercame into common use as early as the 1820s. As these new arrivals and their descendants gained proficiency in the host language, they modified the usage of English words or substituted German words to fill perceived gaps in English expression. These later, more subtle influences have helped shape modern American English.

    Some German words were translated into English and retained the same usages, even if they did not apply in English. The use of the English adverb of time already to add urgency to an imperative (Get up already!) is unique to American English and is derived from the direct application of the German word schon in similar contexts (Mach es schon! lit: Do it already!). German uses schon to convey urgency in conjunction with an imperative, whilst this usage was not present in the English language until early in the 20th century.

    Similar translations have had other subtle influences on the expression of time. The verbal description of 6:10pm varies between American English (ten after six) and elsewhere (ten past six). This can be attributed to the direct translation of the German (zehn nach sechs lit:ten after six).

    Conversely, the British use of half six to describe 6:30pm (or am) does not exist in American English. In German, halb sechs (lit: half six) refers to 5:30pm and a direct translation of the British demarcation is confusing to say the least. This disappearance of half six in American English must be at least in part due to generations of speakers initially unable to understand it and subsequently unwilling to embrace its usage.

    Cardinal numbers have also been modified. American English omits the ‘and’ from numbers higher than one hundred, just as German does. So the British one-hundred and fifty becomes one-hundred fifty, a direct translation of the German hundertfünfzig (Lit: hundred fifty).

    Perhaps the most interesting area of German influence on modern American English lies with the treatment of adverbs. In German, adverbs of manner are identical to their adjectival form. Thus, well done can be translated into German as gut gemacht (lit: good done). Likewise, driving quickly translates as langsam fahren (lit: driving slow). Adverbs of manner are used with far less frequency in spoken American English than they are spoken British English. Both he talks slow and she drives quick are perfectly acceptable in spoken American English but may well grate on the ears of a discerning British listener.

    The disparity between the grammar textbook and what is actually said is gradually being reflected in the context of TEFL practice. The late 1980s saw an explosion in the number of ‘conversation schools’ in East Asia, which as a region favours the teaching of American English. Conversation schools focus entirely on listening and speaking and theoretically must try to represent natural speech as much as possible.Ten after six has long been taught in East Asia as an alternative to ten past six and in 2004, the two largest conversation schools in Japan, with combined enrolments numbering some 200,000 students, removed regular adverbs of manner from their curriculum entirely.

    The 1990 United States census records German as the single largest ethnic group, however the number of native German speakers in negligible. The long process of linguistic integration of generations of these German speakers has influenced the vocabulary and syntax of modern American spoken English. This influence is now manifesting itself in modern teaching practice.

    • From: U.S. Census, 1990 Detailed Ancestry Groups for States CPH-L-97.
    • From: The influence of German on American English, Elsa Viita
    • Professor Friedrich Walla, University of Newcastle, pers. Comm., 1996
    • American and British English Differences
    • From: Source: Mr. Gareth Atkinson,

    Craig's

  • How teachers can increase their confidence in the classroom

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    After spending most of my 20-some years having a major fear of speaking in public, I feel like my ability to overcome this makes it the perfect topic choice. As a student who’d faint on occasion when brought to the front of the class to present something, I’ve now become the teacher who not only gets a message across, but has also become the entertainer that makes others want to listen. Or at least that what I’d like to think!

    There are several ways I’ve managed to do this, and that I would recommend for others who wish to increase their confidence levels to try, especially in the classroom.

    The first method to consider is what your needs are and what your students needs are, then find a satisfactory medium that combines the two so that everyone wins. In a win-win scenario both the teacher and the student are satisfied with their results and accomplishments.

    One of the ways I’ve managed to push myself out of shyness is to picture myself as a confident person by thinking of all the people I admire, and consider what it is about them that I find admirable, charismatic and interesting. I try to adopt these qualities as my own and basically act like I have them too, imagining I am the other person sometimes just to get myself to speak up, then allowing the natural flow to take over. It’s difficult in the beginning, but once I take myself out of my self-conscious mind frame - it works, and the stage that is the classroom comes to life. To break the ice I relate current events and entertainment topics to the class whenever I can, which on one hand keeps my students interested and engaged, and on the other shows that I’m hip and up to date… crucial with youth I think.

    Another tactic I use is to think negatively, because it comes so naturally, and think about all the worst-case scenarios possible and how I would solve them, which usually brings me to a turning point of positive thinking. Once the worst has been acknowledged and considered, now the only place I have to go is up!

    Facing a class full of unknown people is quite intimidating. It’s especially intimidating when you, as a teacher and according to most students, are supposed to have all the answers and know how to magically insert useful information into the students brain. Unfortunately, we don’t have that capability. So in spending some time getting to know your students and finding out what their purpose for being in your class is, what their hobbies are, what their interests are, turns a classroom full of strangers into a classroom filled with potential friends. And with friends most people tend to be more comfortable speaking, which in turn makes delivering a class more comfortable for both the teacher and student.

    While all these methods I’ve used for myself have helped, the best advice I would give is to just do it, just go out there and force yourself up in front of a class, be prepared, and aim to help others gain a better understanding of what you know. After the first few tries it only gets easier.

    Lena Alazawi


  • Accent Reduction

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    With the expansion of the global marketplace, a new branch of ESL training known as accent reduction or accent neutralization is beginning to emerge. Accent reduction is being driven by what is known in the business world as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), which is the outsourcing to third party service providers of business processes such as customer service and technical support. BPO, which is implemented as a cost-saving measure, usually involves moving the outsourced business processes to 3rd world countries where the cost of labor is much lower than in the country where the company is headquartered. The purpose of accent reduction is to help people who are already proficient in English to speak with a more North American or British accent.

    India is one of the most popular countries for business process outsourcing because it has a large number of highly educated English speakers. These Indians often speak excellent English, but many of the customers they speak to have difficulties understanding them due to their heavy accents. This is where accent reduction comes into play.

    Two of the principle keys to sounding like a native English speaker is to master the way they use stress and intonation.

    One of the difficulties many foreign speakers of English have is the way native speakers stress certain syllables and words while not stressing others. English is considered to be a “stressed” language, whereas languages such as French and Italian are considered to be “syllabic” languages. In syllabic languages, each syllable receives equal importance. Some syllables are stressed more than others, but each syllable has its own length. But in English, words that are not stressed tend to be spoken so quickly that often they are not heard at all.

    Kenneth Beare gives the following example to illustrate this in his article, “Intonation and Stress, Key to Understanding and Being Understood”. The model verb “can” is normally not stressed as in the following sentence:

    They can come on Friday. (stressed words underlined)

    But the negative form of the verb (“can’t”) tends to be stressed, as in:

    They can’t come on Friday.

    The second sentence takes longer to say than the first because both “can’t” and “come” are both stressed.

    So, one thing that needs to be understood by foreign speakers in order to reduce their accent is which words are generally stressed by native speakers and which ones are

    unstressed, and glided over. The general rule of thumb is that native speakers stress content words such as nouns, principal verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Function words such as determiners, auxiliary verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and pronouns do not receive stress.

    Thus, in working to reduce accent, the speaker doesn’t have to be concerned with pronouncing every word clearly (native speakers certainly don’t). Rather they should concentrate on pronouncing thestressed words clearly and correctly.

    What about intonation? Ann Cook, in her book American Accent Training, recommends the use of staircase intonation. For example, take the sentence, “Bob is on the phone.”

    The first word “Bob” is said with a high intonation, then each successive word is said with a progressively lower intonation. The last word in the sentence “phone”, a stressed word, will be said with the same intonation as the first word of the sentence “Bob”.

    To use staircase intonation, as you say your words, imagine that they are bounding lightly down a flight of stairs. Every so often, one jumps up to another level, and then starts down again. Start a new staircase when you want to emphasize a word, generally a noun.

    Stress and intonation are the keys to excellent pronunciation and understanding of English. They are the aspects of speaking to focus students on who are working to reduce their accent. The other key to speaking English like a native is the same as the key to becoming an expert at anything: practice, practice, practice!

    Leonard Bogle


  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Costa Rica

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    Costa Rica is typically thought of as a rather Americanized country and is a very popular tourist destination for Americans as well as natives of other countries. It may be surprising to learn that there is a large demand to teach English to natives of Costa Rica who are eager to learn English in order to improve their financial status.

    “For most Costa Ricans, speaking English is a way to get hired or move up the ladder in their jobs or careers. This means that many people [in Costa Rica] need to know English, and there are many ESL jobs available,” writes Laura Dulin in her article Teaching English in Costa Rica: When, Where and How to Land a Job.

    As the capital of the country and the largest city in Costa Rica, the majority of the schools that teach English can be found in San Jose and surrounding areas.

    “Most paid teaching jobs in Costa Rica are located in the Central Valley. San Jose, the capital, has many schools. There are some schools located in the smaller surrounding cities such as Heredia, Alajuela, and Cartago,” writes Laura Dulin in her article Teaching English in Costa Rica: When, Where and How to Land a Job.

    One of the first things to consider when planning to work in Costa Rica is a work visa. It is actually quite difficult to obtain a work visa in Costa Rica. However, most of the schools that operate there are willing to look the other way on this issue and many teachers of English enter the country on a tourist visa.

    The website for Ingles Empresarial, a school that teaches Business English in Costa Rica has this to say regarding work visas and teaching English in Costa Rica:

    “A large percentage of the foreigners teaching English here are working on a regular tourist visa because of the difficulty in getting working papers. To date, immigration authorities have not paid any attention to this. As long as the teacher is not openly announcing that he/she is working, there are no problems. In the years that we have been in operation, we have never had an incident with our foreign teachers.”

    The website for the Embassy of Costa Rica states that citizens of the United States do not need to require an actual visa. All that is required is a valid passport and a prepaid return airline ticket. This allows you to stay in the country for 90 days. You can leave the country for 72 hours and then return and stay for another 90 days.

    According to Laura Dulin, in her article, Teaching English in Costa Rica: When, Where and How to Land a Job, the best time to look for an English teaching job in Costa Rica is late December or early January as the school year begins the beginning of January.

    Another thing to consider when traveling to any foreign country is required and recommended vaccinations. According to the Treehouse Cityguide website, there are no required vaccinations to enter Costa Rica. Recommended vaccinations include Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, Typhoid and Yellow Fever.

    The website for General Information about Costa Rica states, “You are unlikely to encounter any serious diseases in Costa Rica. Sanitary standards are high and the health system is excellent.”

    As with teaching English in any foreign country there will be trends with how the students learn. Geraldeen Woods, in his article Teaching English in Costa Rica: What to Expect and How to Prepare, lists some teaching tips for Costa Rican learners. As with teaching anywhere he suggests things such as being creative and dynamic, firm but flexible and patient. One interesting point he makes seems to reflect something that is intrinsic in the character of Costa Ricans or tico(a)s.

    “Do not allow them to laugh at one another. Ticos hate making mistakes in public; if anyone laughs at them even once they will never practice again for fear of humiliation,” he writes.

    References

    Article: Teaching English in Costa Rica: When, Where and How to Land a Job by Laura Dulin

    Article: Teaching English in Costa Rica: What to Expect and How to Prepare by Geraldeen Woods

    Nathan Galster

  • Story Telling

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    Title: The value of Reading Aloud and Storytelling to improve comprehension, receptive skills and visual literacy of the EFL student. (99)

    “The language of books is learned - not taught” (Paul Jennings, p 19). Second language students read by sight FIRST - they need words to associate to phonetic learning and by listening they can hear the words in context and learn vocabulary step by).

    The educational value of using stories: Stories are perfect for teaching language because when students, regardless of age, listen they will eventually begin to recognise words and phrases they hear. Storytelling enhances listening skills while Reading Aloud enhances visual skills, listening skills and learning.

    Storytelling and read-aloud sessions are perfect times for engaging in conversation because the reader and the listener can talk about the story, the pictures, the words, the values and the ideas. Stories address universal themes and allow students to think about important issues. This is a non-threatening environment and students can share their ideas without the fear of making mistakes.

    Before long they begin to pick up on ‘visual’ literacy through the look of the print, the way words work in sentences. Listening to storytelling and reading exposes the students to important elements like rhyme, rhythm and repetition. Students can listen to a story on a much higher language level and be exposed to vocabulary and complex ideas. An example is ‘Charlotte’s Web’ which is written for the average eight year old, but can be enjoyed by a four year old, when read to.

    Students need to be taught when they read in a foreign language that not every word needs to be understood. One does not read that way in one’s native tongue and therefore the same rule applies when reading in English.

    Choosing a story to tell/read: Use stories that have an international reputation and contain authentic examples of English as well as literary elements such as repetition, rhyme, humour, suspense, etc. Look for stories that develop social skills and build on general knowledge. (Paula Stoyle Storytelling - benefits and tips.) Use stories that are important to their culture and age.

    Stories can be made up, designed for a specific lesson. Comprehension - the meaning of the text is the key - the teacher can help this process by explaining difficult words as students can get the gist of a word from the meaning of the text - they need to read it silently and then reread as often as necessary. Read the sentences surrounding the new word(s) as to clues to the meaning of the new word(s). The students will hear how the words are used in context of the story and this is far more beneficial then simply memorizing a list of words for spelling!

    How do we tell/read a story: Reading aloud and Storytelling is an art form and we have to hook the listener with the delivery of our first line.

    • One must express emotions and reactions - expressive storytelling/reading will be remembered. One needs to use silence, pauses and emphasize words for dramatic effect.
    • Maintain eye contact and pace yourself
    • Visualize it - think of it as a comic strip
    • Create your own version. Retell it numerous times to yourself
    • Be focused and maintain concentration 
      (Storytelling - benefits and tips. Paula Stoyle)

    Stories are a great initiator for other activities:

    • They can illustrate the story in comic strips - excellent exercise for visual learners
    • students can recount it and write a “sequel” to the story
    • The students can act out parts of the story - there are many interactive stories available that could either be read or told to them. Younger students especially enjoy actions to go along with the story.
    • Another way would be to divide the students into pairs and start telling a story. At certain points in the story one pauses and ask the students to discuss the story with their partner. The various options can then be discussed with the teacher. It is important that the story has a familiar cultural or literary background for the students and traditional fairy tales are perfect for retelling.

    There’s no doubt that storytelling and reading aloud teaches and that ALL students, love being told a story and being read aloud to.

    Bibliography:

    Fox, Mem. Reading Magic. Why reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. New York: Harvest Books, 2001 Jennings, Paul. The Reading Bug: … And How You Can Help Your Child Catch It (Paperback) New York: Penguin, 2004 Muller, Patricia. “The Story of Read Aloud.” Virginia Libraries. July/August 2000: vol. 46: 3.

    Pamela E. Venter


  • TESOL for the young British expat

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    Spain has been a favourite with holidaymakers for decades, and it has become well known that in recent years Spain has been one of the top destinations worldwide for the EU Expats to retire to. The “Costas” (coastal areas) in particular are the most popular, possibly because of the warmer climate, the Mediterranean diet and generally a healthier lifestyle.

    Since joining the EU and with the introduction of the Euro, Spain has seen a large increase in population with EU Expats buying more properties, moving to Spain and starting new businesses, etc. According to the census¹ office, in the Alicante province alone 57,628 EU expats are legally registered residents. Over half of these, 31,409 are British, although in reality it is probably more than double this. This expansion has brought with it a younger generation of expats, 20 years ago the average age of expats moving to Spain was around 55 - 60 years of age, this has now dropped considerably to late 30's early 40's. Younger families are now moving to the warmer climes seeking a better lifestyle in new business ventures.

    Although there are some excellent international schools available to choose from (most teaching the British curriculum), some parents opt for Spanish schooling for their young ones, possibly in the hope that this will guarantee their child fluency in both English and Spanish. Spain understands the importance of the English language and children are introduced to the new language from as young as 4 – 5 years of age, this then becomes a common subject throughout the rest of their schooling. According to the Valencian Government² it is the Department of Education’s belief that the more languages a child is exposed to at a young age the better his ability will be to pick up languages later on. Unfortunately what the 2 – 3 lessons a week do not do is provide enough of any one thing e.g. grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, etc. and many Spanish parents send their children for extra tutoring with an English teacher. It is not unusual for Spanish parents to send their children away to stay with English families during the summer holidays where the child can attend English lessons during the day at a language school and spend their spare time practicing the language and taking part in the typical day to day goings on of an English family.

    Aside from taking on a new language, children attending Spanish school in the Valencian and Catalonian communities come up against another obstacle, this being the different dialects being taught in the schools (Valenciano and Catalán) some schools in these regions teach only in the local dialect until the child reaches 8 – 9 years of age. In the international schools mentioned, Spanish and local dialect are both included in their curriculum although 90% of lessons are taught in English. As well as teaching English as a grammar subject it is also taught as a second language for those students with little or no knowledge of the language, Spanish students and those from other non English speaking countries need to be brought up to a high enough level of English to be able to attend the classes and sit the exams.

    In conclusion, a Spanish child attending Spanish school will leave obviously fluent in their own language and with a general knowledge of the English language, those who were lucky enough to have had extra tutoring might have a better understanding than those who didn’t. A Spanish child that attends an international school will leave fluent in both Spanish and very often English also. The British expat child that attends an international school will obviously maintain their own mother tongue, English, and will have gained knowledge of another language (mainly Spanish). It’s the British expat child that attends Spanish school who appears to be losing out. Children born to British or mixed nationality parents in Spain and British children living in Spain from a very young age attending the Spanish schooling system, inevitably learn Spanish as their first language even though English may be the main, if only, language spoken at home.

    Parents are often fooled as the child appears to speak fluent English at home and excels in the basic English learnt at school. Only when it comes to reading and writing English do the problems become apparent. Not only might the child lack vocabulary and grammar but as Spanish is a phonetic language, the child often starts reading and writing English in the same way, as the words sound or are spelt. Unfortunately parents sometimes just don’t have the time, knowledge or ability to tutor their children with extra English. This highlights the importance of TESOL now, not only to teach a foreign child but also to teach this new generation of children who appear to be missing out on the very basics of this universal language.

    Shelley Maclachlan

  • Strategies to use with the EL Learner

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    The focus of education had dramatically changed over the last 30 years. We have shifted from primarily addressing the needs of native English-speaking students to including a rapidly growing number of children from linguistically and culturally different backgrounds. There has been much debate on the best ways to teach the ELL (English Language Learner) student, and this article will focus on some of teaching strategies that will help maximize learning for them. The strategies that will be discussed will be: input, environment, opportunities, networks, and the importance of guidelines.

    Comprehensible input is imperative to the ELL students’ language acquisition. The student is only able to understand and learn when the information that you teach is meaningful. Some strategies that will assist you with this are: use clear, predictable, teacher talk; reduce the use of idioms; talk more slowly; simplify your vocabulary whenever possible; use key words; use linguistic and visual cues to direct the students attention to important points; and expand on the one-word or two-word sentences that students produce.

    Environment is also an important factor for ELL students. Students who are in a relaxed and stress free environment are relaxed and more self-confident and therefore learn better. Some strategies to assist with this are: show genuine interest in the students, their language, and their culture; allow students to verbalize in their own language to help them understand concepts; avoid forcing students to speak - they will talk when they are ready; accept gestures, drawings etc. whenever possible; don’t correct grammatical or pronunciation errors - corrections can actually impede progress; continually reinforce students progress by keeping charts and cumulative folders to show how far they’ve come; and encourage students to share their backgrounds and cultures.

    The best language learning comes from students’ genuine attempts to communicate. By providing students the opportunity to participate in activities within and beyond the classroom they will learn more. Some strategies to assist this are: promoting friendships - you can help them with this by introducing students to others who share their interests; integrate the ELL students within the classroom by making them feel a part of the group - this can be done by giving them duties within the class; and make cooperative learning an important part of every class - so students learn to work together towards a common goal.

    Networks are important for the ELL learner because they allow them to have a support network within their school and community. This is important to help make the transition for the student a little easier. Networks can be set up by: Learning about the resources within the community - there are many agencies to help immigrants and refugees, so by finding which ones are operating in your community you are able to turn to them if your student needs counseling, answers to questions, or other help.

    The final strategy that is useful when teaching ELL students is to have clear and unmistakable guidelines. This can be achieved by: making your classroom rules very clear - make sure you explain them well, using and interpreter if possible; and making sure that the consequences for misbehaviour are explained to the students - they need to know that unacceptable behaviour will have certain consequences that may be different than the method that they are used to. When doing this keep in mind the different cultural backgrounds that our students come from. It may be, for instance, that some students come from cultures where classes are tightly structured and in our less formal classes, they are unable to figure out what the rules are and how they should behave.

    As classrooms across the world are becoming more richly diverse, every educator needs to consider the needs of the ELL student. When we think of the amount of time it takes to become fully proficient in another language, the opportunities to learn that are available to all students, the use of language as a tool for academic progress, and the creation of a shared learning community, we are taking steps in the right direction. These steps outlined in this paper must be integrated more into the educational setting for the ELL student so that we may effectively support the educational journey of our students.

    Black, Susan. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, v71 n1 p36-40 Sep 2005.

    Flood, James. Literacy instruction for students acquiring English. V50 n4 p356 Dec 1996

    Briggs, Sandra et al. Guidelines for working with Limited-English Proficient Students. San Man Mateo Union High School District, 1985.

    English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development - A Resource Guide - The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1- 8 2001

    Sherri Rutherford

  • Teaching English in Korea

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    After spending the last year in Korea I feel sharing my experiences there will be of great assistance to any ESL teachers who are considering or have accepted a position in the country. Firstly, I would like to outline the basic conditions of employment in the country The average salary is around 2,000,000 Won per month, which is equal to around $2,200, this amount is fairly standard whether working at a government school, university or the most common place of employment the all prevalent language school or “Hagwon” in Korean. Furthermore, your employer will provide free accommodation, round trip air fare and will make a contribution to both the government run health insurance program and pension fund. Additionally upon completion of your contract you will receive one month’s severance pay plus all contributions made to the government run pension fund, which should amount to around $4500.

    The standard contract at a language school states that you will be expected to teach 30 classes a week, which usually consist of a 50 minute session followed by a 10 minute break. If your particular school offers a kindergarten program your schedule will most likely be broken up into split shifts with you working three classes between 10 AM—2 PM and another three classes between 3:30-8:30 with the foreign and Korean teacher alternating days with each group of students. Now, that the basic situation has been outlined I will proceed to pass on my personal experience and resulting advice for those who are interested in the country as an ESL instructor.

    Korea with the exception of some Middle Eastern countries is most likely the easiest destination to save a significant amount of money. The cost of living is low especially if you are able to cook yourself and limit entertainment to one night a week, additionally taxes are minimal. Personally, after an initial period lasting two months while settling in I was able to save an astounding $1200 a month while still maintaining a reasonable standard of living. Now, one reading this article might think this sounds like an ideal situation but in truth there is nothing that could ever drag me back to the country, I would rather live like a pauper in Thailand than a king in Korea. The main reason being the people as much as I tried (and I did try) to understand Koreans it is a nearly impossible task, it could be compared to banging your head against a brick wall for no discernable reason. They are an extremely xenophobic people and there nationalism knows no bounds, to put it simply they do not like other foreigners, especially Americans and look down on all ESL teachers as drunken child molesters who only came to Korea as they could not find work in their native countries. Of course, this can not be taken as a blanket stereotype but it is gives a fairly accurate description of the population in general. I would strongly recommend to not rebel against the facts of life there, as truthfully you are in the country by your own volition and more importantly you will be much happier once you become resigned to reality. While, I do not have space to give specific examples please feel free to email me at the address provided at the bottom of this article for more information on what I am referring to. Next, I will provide the most crucial piece of advice for anyone interested in teaching there. Choose your school carefully, I can not emphasize this point enough as if you do not there is substantially greater chance you will be cheated or blatantly ripped off for which you will have little recourse.

    Government run schools are the exception but the most likely option for ESL teachers the “Hagwon” abound with horror stories of lies to outright fraud. Among the forty or so other foreigners I knew there at least 50% ran into problems with their employers at one time or another. While outside the country the best way to evaluate a school is by researching it online there are numerous sites created by teachers, which in effect serve as a blacklist for language schools. Additionally, get in contact with other teachers at the school and be sure that the communication is via email as if it is via telephone the school director will most likely be standing over the teacher listening to each word, making it impossible to get objective information. Furthermore, ask the school how many students are enrolled and confirm it with the teacher you are in contact with as the probability of issues arising reduces relative to the amount of students at the school. Once again if you would like specific examples please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

    While anyone reading this article may feel it is the subjective views of someone who had a horrendous experience in Korea it is merely a warning that truthfully I feel is very accurate. I am sure there are some teachers in the country who love the country and would not leave for anything but they are certainly a small and in my opinion eccentric group. If you have any questions or comments my email address isrmerchant@hotmail.com, I will be happy to provide any information or advice that is possible.

    Robert Merchant


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