December 10, 2012

Accents And Some New Punctuation Marks

Linguists say thuht way all hav an accent.

Some accents iz distinct an obvious, while sum iz far more subtle. Ah live in uh part uh thuh USA whar way all assume...

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February 18, 2012

You Expect A Master Teacher To Be Young?

One of the frustrations common among many teachers is, just when they feel that they have become masters of their craft...

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April 07, 2010

Heard Any Great Poetry Lately?

Most people think of learning a language as practicing pronunciation and memorizing vocabulary and sentence structure. That's all very important, but learning has to be engaging and inviting. I urge my students to attend poetry slams and other...

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January 24, 2010

Anguish Languish - English language

Yes, I love the English language. This language is like a persistent linguistic weed - it seem to flourish the more you mangle and mess with it. Thanks to the sheer number of words in the language, we can take words far beyond their intended meanings. In fact we can distort perfectly good words and yank them from their contexts to make entirely new stories, songs and...

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September 21, 2009

Twenty Questions

To inspire discussions or writing for English learning students, I have found open-ended questions to be a good place to start.

I have found that a little introductory discussion can help a student with a context and a framework to continue developing...

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July 23, 2009

Doh! Where's my Whatchamacallit ? Whatshisface lost it!

The English language - especially the American version, absorbs words from every culture, industry, life style, sport or distraction. Many words, like "whatchamacallit", "whatshisname", "doodad", "gadget", "widget", "whatnot", and hundreds more...

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July 18, 2009

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Those of us who study language have realized that there are two approaches to language; how it should be used correctly - and of course....

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June 27, 2009

Poetry in Translation

There is far more to learning a language than just memorizing vocabulary words and grammar. Poetry is a valuable and memorable entry point into the nuances and possibilities of language. In fact W.S. Merwin, recent Pulitzer Prize winning poet, makes the observation that poetry leads us...

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June 16, 2009

What's Your Ideal International Job?

Is there a particular place you'd like to live? Is there some specific attribute that you'd like to experience - or share....

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May 25, 2009

Tell me a Story

Everybody like to hear stories - and when learning a language, there is nothing better than HEARING a story to learn how native speakers not only speak....

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May 10, 2009

Preparing Language Teachers for the 21st Century

"Designed for practitioners and researchers involved in the preparation and ongoing professional development of language teachers, LTE 2009 will address the education of teachers of all languages, at all instructional and institutional levels, and in many national and international contexts in which this takes place including: English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) instruction; foreign/modern/world language teaching; bilingual education; immersion education; indigenous and minority language education; and...

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April 11, 2009

The Comma Manifesto - Eats, Shoots & Leaves

"A panda goes into a café, orders a sandwich, eats it, takes out a revolver, fires it into the air, and goes out. When the waiter calls to ask what is going on, the panda plunks a badly punctuated wildlife manual onto the table and growls: "Look me up." ....

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March 29, 2009

Who Is The Real Foreigner?

So who's the real foreigner?

Have you ever noticed that in just about any ESL context, someone is the foreigner?

Whether the teacher or the student, someone....

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February 27, 2009

British VS American English

Learning a new language is always a daunting challenge. The English language is difficult enough to learn even without the usual differences in accents and regional variations. And then there is the never clear, and always confusing set of differences between British and American….

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February 18, 2009

Swimming with the Dolphins

In many resorts in warm climates, one of the options is to swim with the dolphins. This is sort of like running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain - except much safer - and in water.

I mention it in relation to language learning because...

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February 13, 2009

Happy New Year!

All around the world we have just celebrated the coming of a new year. In the Chinese calender, we have just entered the year of the ox. This is a perfect metaphor for the language learning experience. The ox does its work slowly but steadily.

This is the time of year to reflect and look forward. Where have we been? And where are we....

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January 25, 2009

Finding Your Voice

Colleagues,

Most students of other languages lack confidence in public speaking of the new language. Shyness is a major barrier to making a language your own.

In essence, the main principle is practice, practice, practice.

But what is a safe and practical way to to do this?

Thanks to the internet there are . . .

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January 19, 2009

Words - Short & Memorable

Dear Readers,

As Winston Churchill put it "Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all."

One of the mistakes English language learners make is to . . .

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January 17, 2009

Simple Does Not Mean Easy

Hello Friends,

In many ways, English is a very “simple” language. But simple does not mean easy. The English language has only 26 letters. You'd think a language with so few characters would be easy to master. ...

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March 11, 2006

Living on a Budget – Free Movie Rentals?

Readers,

Living abroad? On a budget? Love to watch movies or read? Spend too much money on entertainment (a standard movie ticket in Japan is approximately $17 US!)? It’s time to checkout your local library!

Ok, so maybe this seems like pointing out the obvious, but I’ll tell ya, though I like to think I’m pretty quick, it took me a few months living in Japan before learning about the library and I couldn’t have been more surprised! Not only did I not expect English language movies and magazines, but the book selection was pretty impressive! To get a . . .

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March 07, 2006

What Were the Actors Saying?

Hi Everyone,

Beginning today and continuing throughout the month, I’ll be discussing the use of films in the classroom. I'll begin by sharing the comments of a former language student.

Marlen: “Hi Naoko, did you ever watch movies in your English classes?”

Naoko, 28, Kyoto, Japan: “We did watch movies in class, especially in high school, but the few times we did, there were Japanese subtitles at the . . .

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December 11, 2005

Teaching ESL WITHOUT An Employer

ESL at Joes.jpg

"Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell and advertise." ~Ted Turner

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November 25, 2005

Lesson Planning - Using Halloween for ESL Class: Anytime!

ESL Halloween.gif

"There is nothing funny about Halloween. This sarcastic festival reflects, rather, an infernal demand for revenge by children on the adult world." ~Jean Baudrillard

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November 24, 2005

Lesson Planning - Impromptu ESL Teaching Demonstrations

"It usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech" ~Mark Twain

Hi friends,

Have you ever been asked to give an extemporaneous speech or to perform on the spot? How embarrassing is this if you don't feel prepared?

Presently, this is exactly what's happening in some ESL schools when job applicants are "invited" to an employment interview. Like the ESL students who are often asked to demonstrate their English language abilities (so that they can be properly placed), potential ESL teachers can also be expected to be held to a similar standard by demonstrating their teaching ability. Plus, if the ESL school has organized these interviews wisely, they could theoretically charge students for a pre-semester session of ESL classes while getting some free labor from their ESL instructor applicants (let's hope that schools aren't really doing this!) . . .

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November 23, 2005

Workplace Issues - ESL Jailbirds and Stool-Pigeons

"I don't like jail, they got the wrong kind of bars in there" ~Charles Bukowski

Dear Readers,

ESL Inmates? Sounds like the title for a new blog on the horizons.

Your ever-present ESL advocate here, Lee Hobbs. As usual, I am on the case scouring the net for relevant ESL articles that might spark your interest. Patricia Dean's highly informative blog, ESL School, takes the perspective of the ESL employer, advising them with employer-related woes. I try, where possible, to offer you at least a counter perspective, that is the perspective of the ESL teacher/employee so that the discourse can continue on various levels of engagement. Check it out; it might give you some insight too on how the management world is presently thinking about us, their most important asset! Don't forget to leave her some comments.

In PD's most recent post, found here, she writes, and I quote:

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November 17, 2005

ESL Vitas, Reference Letters and You!

ESL CV Submission.jpg

"It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles." ~Niccolo Machiavelli

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Posted by lhobbs at 04:02 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (2)

November 14, 2005

Lesson Planning - Encouraging ESL Students to Talk

"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names" ~ John F. Kennedy

Hello everyone,

Ever wonder what to do on the first day of class? Nervous about remembering new students' names? Well, the first day of class is the perfect opportunity to satisfy both of these apprehensions.

In the last newsletter (here), I offered one of the first-day-of-class lessons I like to use in the ESL classroom . . .

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Posted by lhobbs at 04:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (4)

November 09, 2005

ESL Classroom Observations

ESL Class Observation.jpg

"This inescapable duty to observe oneself: if someone else is observing me, naturally I have to observe myself too; if none observe me, I have to observe myself all the closer." ~ Franz Kafka

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November 08, 2005

Workplace Issues - Plagiarism in ESL Part II

"To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism, to steal ideas from many is research." ~ Anonymous (of course)

Dear Readers,

Even this quote must have been attributed to someone. Here are just a few additional comments on "Plagiarism in the ESL Classroom," a topic begun a few days ago on this blog.

Thanks to everyone for all your comments on my previous rant. Since copyright infringement and the issue of legality floats over the implications of plagiarism, I found it interesting that one concerned reader of this blog (I won't say who!) sent me this discussion today online here with thanks to Kenneth Burgess.

Burgess summarizes . . .

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November 07, 2005

Workplace Issues - Evaluating Student Work in ESL

"True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information." ~ Sir Winston Churchill

Dear Readers,

Perhaps one of the most daunting aspects of teaching, particularly a class with writing as its focus, is how to fairly evaluate a student’s classwork assignments. Of course, I’m speaking for myself, perhaps some of you out there actually like this part of the job (sickos!)

I’ll be honest, I really can’t stand the process of grading papers (although I do love reading them and providing helpful advice). Evaluation, it seems, is a necessary evil and has got to be done (so says the institution) but why does it have to be so stressful?

Distinguishing between the various . . .

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Posted by lhobbs at 03:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)

November 06, 2005

Workplace Issues - ESL & PowerPoint Presentations

"Professors known as outstanding lecturers do two things; they use a simple plan and many examples." ~ W. McKeachie

Dear Readers,

If my memory doesn't fail me, it seems that the business types latched on to this technology first, the publishing field being no exception. The administrative branch of the school system used it to “preach” their new policies to the faculty branches.

When their use first became prevalent in teaching, I thought that they were the greatest thing since sliced bread. I still use them a lot, not only for course lectures but also for conference presentations, etc. If you suffer from stage-fright, it certainly gives your “audience” something to look at besides yourself! Even more importantly, as the quote suggests, they keep any “lecture” you feel compelled to impose upon your class "simple" by sticking to a planned outline and even entertaining with the ability to use graphics, examples and even “quotations” as writing prompts. I shouldn't even have to make a comparison to the expense or making (and trouble of making) overhead transparencies, the older method.

Apparently, students are now being prepped to . . .

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Posted by lhobbs at 02:39 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (2)

November 05, 2005

Workplace Issues - Plagiarism and ESL

"The more laws & order are made prominent, the more thieves & robbers there will be." - Lao Tzu

Dear Readers,

What a day.

Today I had my first “plagiarizer” of the semester. With the accessibility of the internet, plagiarism in papers has become easier and easier for students to do and, at the same time, simpler for instructors to detect. Even though I always demonstrate this simple procedure to my own students, there always seems to be someone determined to try and slip through the system.

My colleagues tell me that . . .

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July 13, 2005

Interview Anyone?

Ah yes, the new school year is upon us, and we all know what that means--interviews!

Does anyone else hate them as much as I do??

If you're preparing for a change in your ESL position, or are a newbie going for your first interview, here are a few simple tips to help get you through it.

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Posted by msimmons at 02:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 06, 2005

How Much Can You Earn Teaching ESL?

Many times people new to the industry write in and ask how much they can expect to earn as an ESL teacher. Well...here's my favorite answer again...it depends.

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Posted by msimmons at 05:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (3)

May 02, 2005

Do You Do Homework?

Hello everyone!

Today I'd like to talk about homework. This can be a touchy subject for some because people tend to either love it or hate it! But there is one thing that I know: students who are willing to do homework simply learn faster. But--at least in the area that I teach--not many of them are willing to do it. In fact, the one thing that I have learned is that if I assign homework, I can count on at least half of the students not showing up for the next class!

But really, how can anyone expect to learn another language by coming to class two times a week, and doing nothing in between?

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February 27, 2005

Welcome to my ESL Blog...

If you are an ESL teacher, then I don’t have to tell you how wonderful, frustrating, eye-opening, and adventurous this work can be. My name is Michelle Simmons, and I’ve been there! (Still am, in fact.) Welcome to my blog — a place where we can just hang out and explore each one of these aspects of ESL teaching in detail, along with many others. We’ll talk about the silly aspects of the job, as well as delve into the more serious matters of the profession. Ready to get started?

The topic of the day is...those students who have learned English from a book. Have you ever had one? They spend months or years learning English, but never truly learn how to pronounce the vowels or figure out where the word stresses are. They know all of the grammar rules and can use phrasal verbs with the best of them, but when it comes to pronunciation, well...let’s just put it this way, a one-year-old child with a pacifier in his mouth is easier to understand.

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