The 31st ESL Blog Carnival

One thing I haven’t always been able to do is to visit as many other blogs as I’d like and comment on the great ideas that you all have. Let this celebration of your work be a small token of thanks for all those who have visited this blog and offered their support. Please now make your way through this fine selection of posts, brought together under the banner; ‘a blog post you want more people to read.’

Welcome to the latest ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival. Enjoy!

The Blog Carnival seems like the perfect way for me to celebrate my 200th post. During my time blogging I’ve made a lot of friends and learned a great deal from my fellow professionals. However, one thing I haven’t always been able to do is to visit as many other blogs as I’d like and comment on the great ideas that you all have. Let this celebration of your work be a small token of thanks for all those who have visited this blog and offered their support. Please now make your way through this fine selection of posts, brought together under the banner; ‘a blog post you want more people to read.’

1. First Week of the School

Eva Buyuksimkesian is someone I’ve gotten to know firstly through her blog and more recently through having attended conference with her. We now work together as roving reporters at conferences for the British Council in Turkey. In a recent blog post, Eva discusses the start of a new school year:

‘School’s started. I have new classes and I have classes that I know from last year. We started working hard. We, as the English Department of our school, prepared lessons to motivate our students.’

2. Noticing as a Learning Strategy

Stephen Greene was the first person to respond to my initial blog post and I’m delighted to have the chance to highlight his writing here in the blog carnival. Here is Stephen, describing in his own words why he wants you to read his post: ‘One that I am particularly proud of is about encouraging students to notice English around them, even if (or especially) they don’t live in an English speaking country.’ Here is a short extract from the post:

‘Unfortunately, not all my students are good at noticing English.  It was for this reason that I have developed a number of activities to use in class to encourage them to pay attention to the English around them.  Feel free to download any of the activities and use them as you wish.’

3. Willing to Learn

Eva Fruin describes her blog as a diary of an ESL teacher, travel addict, and life long student. This lovely post reflects those themes really nicely:

‘Over the past few years, I have come to see and believe, time and time again, that willingness is one, if not the most, important quality that one can have. Willingness to take action, willingness to be accountable, and willingness to take risks are essential in any full and meaningful life. In many different areas of my life I have seen firsthand that the willingness to learn and to grow are of paramount importance for any human being, and doubly important for any teacher.’

4. Marisa in Edtechland

Marisa Pavan is an important part of my Facebook PLN… and not only because she always ‘likes’ my musical choices on the nightshift group! Marisa goes deep into the vault to share this post with us, all the way from 2010: ‘I’ve chosen the following one for you to read (if you feel like doing so), since it shows my feelings when I started using technology in my classes about 3 years ago.’ Here is a short extract from the post:

‘Some of my students felt flabbergasted to see I had devised a blog for their class. In this class blog I included a link to a Wallwisher for my students to share their plans, expectations and wishes for this learning year. I have also introduced a link to a dictionary for my students to look up words and phrases at home. Besides, there is a link to a picture dictionary so that my students can develop visual and auditory skills as they can see the picture, read and hear the word. Apart from that, I have included a Website through which they can practice pronunciation in a motivating way.’

5. EFL Through iPads

My former colleagues Sevhan Acar Hammudeh and Denise McQueen Özdeniz are embarking on something of an ‘imposed’ adventure at present, as their institution has made the switch to using tablets in the classroom. Thankfully, they have decided to share this journey with us in the form of their new blog. Denise notes, ‘As I have only been blogging for 5 weeks about teaching EFL through iPads I only have a limited number of blogs and so I invite you to have a quick look and comment on one that is relevant to you.’ Here is their blog’s mission statement:

From September 2012, we will deliver all of our lessons through iPads. Our vision is to empower students with 21st century skills, whilst developing their level of English. Our college, along with many others in the U.A.E, is working towards a dynamic new interface between teachers, learners, ESL material and task types. We will push ourselves beyond the boundaries of our educational experience, so far. This will be a steep learning curve both pedagogically and technologically. This blog will track that curve.’

6. A Matter of Confidence: Personalizing

Fiona Mauchline is another vital part of my PLN who shares her great thoughts on teaching not only on twitter and Facebook, but on her – award winning – blog. Fiona notes: ‘I’ve started a series on confidence in the classroom. One of them won the Teaching English blog of the month ‘badge’ earlier in the year.’ Here is a short extract from the post:

Personalizing. I’m avoiding the word ‘personalization’ as, for me at least, it has connotations of activities of the “Now tell your partner about your last holiday / Describe your house / Write five sentences about your brother‘ type and that is not what I think personalizing language input for learning means – at least not for teens. Let me explain…

7. 5 Key Strategies for Teaching Beginning ELLs

Judie Haynes’ blog is a new one for me; finding great blogs like this is one of the benefits of hosting the carnival! Judie explains: ‘I blog about teaching English language learners in the U.S. Here is a sample of my blog: Five Key Strategies for Teaching Beginning ELLs.’ Here is a short extract from the post:

Language is not “soaked up.”  A beginning level English learner must understand the message that is conveyed. In schools where there are no bilingual programs, ELLs are assigned to a general education classroom and spend most of their day in this environment. It is especially critical for them to receive comprehensible input from their teachers and classmates. If possible bilingual aides should be employed to help translate key concepts and vocabulary.’

8. How games can be used (and misused) for motivation

Gamification is something that interests me greatly, so I was delighted when Chris Wilson offered forward his excellent post on this very subject: ‘I’ve been blogging about lots of different things recently but my favourite recent post was about gamification and it’s use for motivation (and some of the ethics as well).’ Here is a short extract from the post:

For a long time I had a system where classroom rules were in plain sight and students knew they would get a reward at the end of the lesson if they kept to the rules. Many did but many also didn’t care for the rewards and so just wouldn’t bother. In the end the motivated students got more rewards and the unmotivated students got no reward. What if I had a system of rewards that was more ambiguous and wasn’t as regular would have motivated students more? What if I had considered marks on a particular exercise each class (or every few) and given a reward for that piece of work, based on effort or completion  Would that have actually been more motivating?

9. Language Matters: Lost in Translation

A chap by the name of Paul actually recommended another’s post: ‘My friend Griffin actually just wrote a cool post on ESL using examples of things getting lost in translation that I thought was interesting.’ Here is a short extract from the post:

Ad campaigns are meant to be clever, witty, and memorable.  Sometimes, however, translating ads into other languages can cause unexpected problems.’

10. “What If” Everyone Had the Opportunity to be Literate?

You’re certain to find something of interest on Sandy Bornstein’s fascinating blog. Sandy explains her carnival entry: ‘In 2010, I had the unique opportunity to teach at an international school in India. Soon, I will be publishing a book about my experiences.’ Here is a short extract from the post:

If everyone was miraculously provided the opportunity for a quality education, what would happen? Even when one dismisses the economic, political, and social issues that forestall such a fanciful dream, the ramifications would be endless. Many of the factors that cause divisiveness between people would be removed, but new concerns and problems would inevitably develop. Yet, the human condition would be vastly improved because ignorance and illiteracy would be erased.’

11. What is affective teaching?

Juan Alberto Lopez Uribe’s area of passion is the affective language learning of English with children. Indeed, this is the theme of his blog and is evident in his excellent posts. In his selection for this blog carnival, he introduces us to the notion of affective teaching.

Affective teaching requires respecting our students. This happens when we value and accept their background, beliefs, religions, sexual preferences, political views, and social status, even when different from ours. We respect our students when we attentively listen to them, sincerely ask for their opinions, and truly value their previous knowledge.’

12. The Tragic Case of the Riyadh Bar Brawl

That’s right, folks, I’ve saved the best ‘til nearly the last! This is one of my posts and it’s utterly wonderful and you should immediately click on the link and read it, OK?

March is hot in Saudi Arabia. Temperatures might not reach the barmy heights of mid-summer, when thermometers can on occasion tip 50 degrees Celsius, but averages for this month are still around 35˚C. Wherever you are in the world, extreme heat and alcohol binges are never a good mix, but they can prove to be deadly in the peculiar world of Middle East English language teaching, as was the case in early March of last year.’

13. Pronunciation Camp 4 – Habits: Revealing, Correcting, Practising and Linking

Alex Brevett’s Breathy Vowel blog promises us healthy doses of ELT, Applied Linguistics and Korean, as well as being an outlet for thoughts, ideas, lesson plans, activities, photos and anything else related to teaching English and linguistics.. In Alex’s words; ‘This one’s on how to identify and try to correct bad pronunciation habits.’ Here is a short extract from the post:

In my view, pronunciation is something that, most of the time, happens unconsciously in first and second language production. Especially in one’s second language, the cognitive load of meaning making, accuracy and fluency mean that concentrating on the physical act of making sounds is impossible. And so it should be.’

14. Emphasizing Pride, Not Shame, In Classroom Management

Larry Ferlazzo is the inspriation behind the blog carnival, so it is only fitting that we should round off with one of his posts from the ever excellent Websites of the day blog:

As regular readers of this blog, and readers of my latest book (Helping Students Motivate Themselves), know, I have written a lot (see My Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control) about helping students strengthen their capacity for self-control. Among the strategies I’ve discussed is helping students learn about the famous marshmallow test and, as part of the lesson, encourage them to identify ways they can distract themselves when feeling the tug of temptation (for example, when they want to throw a paper wad at a friend, instead they can think of the fun times they’ve had with him/her).

Thanks to all who have contributed. Please com back soon and read my continuing series looking into the physical aspects of the language classroom.

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