Monday, 1 April 2019

Online Classroom Guidelines

*Setting out clear expectations for both teachers and learners is key to success in the classroom*


*We are better prepared when we are informed*

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Creating An Interactive Classroom

A variety of activities is an absolute need in a modern classroom. Not only various activities enhance the development of different language skills, they also provide different learning opportunities. We know that some people learn better by speaking first, and some like to see the writing before they initiate speech. Some people learn better by bouncing their ideas off of each other, while others need a solitary concentration time. Ideally, we want to engage all kinds of learners and provide multiple opportunities to master English. Interactive classroom is a classroom that takes into account different learning approaches and engages learners on different levels: analytical, creative, experimental, observational, etc. Also, the learning materials include different ways of material delivery, such as visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.
Personally, I enjoy creative activities. One interesting vocabulary-focused activity would be asking students to make as many words as possible out of letters in an original word, and then identifying a winner who came up with the longest list of words.
For ex., such a word as abbreviation could generate the following word list: tin, rat, bar, via, note, tone, not, no, tan, net, ten, bat, bite, bit, aviation, rob, vet, ratio, ban, ran, riot, rot, beat, bet, vary, very, variation, abate, van, vote, etc.
The activity that I would stay away from is extensive writing as I believe it is not an efficient way of spending class time.  I think brainstorming ideas, feedback and even correction could be done in the class while actual writing could be accomplished during independent study time.
Brown, H. D., & Lee, H. (2015). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Jones, L. (2007). The student-centered classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Teaching Contexts: The Difference Between EFL & ESL

There are several important differences when it comes to comparing the teaching contexts of EFL and ESL classrooms.
Normally, EFL students choose to learn English due to academic or career goals. Some choose to learn English out of personal interest. Whereas, ESL students feel the need to learn English to fully integrate into their new environment. Therefore, ESL students have a greater communicative need for learning English quickly while EFL learners are more receptive to learning reading and writing.
EFL learners do not undergo a formal assessment. Theirs is more of an informal feedback on how they advance in their learning. Students do not feel the pressure to perform, or upgrade to next level. Thus, EFL learners are more relaxed and enjoy a more positive environment which in turn greatly affects the learning outcome.
For EFL learners, their teacher might be well the only representative of the culture while ESL learners are immersed in their new cultural environment. Because the EFL learners remain living in their comfortable environment, they often learn about the new culture in their own pace, taking time to process the information. At the same time, ESL learners feel the pressure of adapting and integrating which might take away from the voluntary and comfortable pace of intake of new cultural concepts.
These and other key differences of teaching in different environments should be taken into consideration when formulating teaching strategies and techniques.


Southwick, N. (2014) 9 Tips For Being The Worst EFL Teacher. Go Overseas. [website]. Retrieved from

Lake, W. (2019) The Difference Between ESL & EFL: Teaching English. Bright Hub Education. [website]. Retrieved from

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Technology in ESL classroom

Technology has become part of our daily lives, and has made its way into education too. Technology has changed the way we experience life and communicate with others. It facilitates processes and makes goals unattainable before achievable and realistic. Let’s how exactly technology is helpful in ESL classroom.

Because technology has changed how we interact with others, it is not surprising that one of the aspects where technology proves beneficial is facilitating social interaction and cooperation. Various social media, apps, gadgets speed up and enhance communication and collaborative effort (1).
Also, for younger generations technology is essential part of their leisure, entertainment and even learning lives. Consequently, it is not surprising that technology leads to higher engagement for these categories of people. The fact that technology devices are so interactive is another reason why it enhances motivation and engagement. Learners are excited to use tools that allow them to pay, type, observe and perform many other functions (2).
Another important function of technology is individualizing and customizing curriculum. With technology, materials and tasks could be adapted to accommodate the unique needs of learners. Provided technological means are used knowledgeably, students could benefit from this function and stay motivated, focused and reach their educational goals more efficiently. Using technology is a great way of managing multi-level classrooms (3).
No less important feature of using technology is learners’ independence. By controlling when and where to use it, learners can dive into the learning process at home and on the go. Additionally, technology provides many opportunities for self-study. With learning materials available in many different formats, it is not impossible as it used to be in pre-technology era (4).
Technology enables access to authentic materials. News sites, sport-related sites, social media, online forums, etc. provide opportunities to read, speak, listen and respond to English native speakers, which previously was unimaginable. Technological advancement eliminated the issue of adequate language resources. Now they are abundant and diverse (5).
Many claim that using technology in ESL classroom is beneficial for learners of the 21st century. Technology is something learners will most probably encounter in their future personal and career lives, therefore preparing them for the demands of modern life is logical and insightful (6).


Gorman M. (2017). Technology in the ESL Classroom. Touro College. [blog]. Retrieved from

Makovsky S. (2013). Instructional Technology Tools in the ESL Classroom. Mater’s in ESL. [blog]. Retrieved from

Technology in ELL Classroom. University of Cincinnati. [website]. Retrieved from

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Adapting Materials

Materials are adapted for a range of reasons that include teacher’s and learners’ factors. As Maley (2011) indicated there will never be a perfect fit between the materials, the teacher and learners. Such teacher factors include:

 *On picture is one example of adapting a task:
 instead of reading a text, learners are asked
 to put the mixed parts together, which
 enhances their understanding of discourse and
 deepens comprehension.
 Highlighted parts serve to call
 attention to peculiar
 words and phrases.

-degree of language proficiency and confidence
-previous personal learning experience as learners
-own personality (introvert/extrovert, etc.)
-preferred teaching style
-cultural background
Maley (2011), among the factors that prompt adaptation, includes the fact that for reasons to do with the economics of publishing, the materials are intended to be used by the largest possible number of learners. Due to this, the teacher is called to bridge the gap between the materials and the learners.
McDonough (2013) identifies the following ways of adapting materials:
1.    Adding
2.    Deleting or omitting
3.    Modifying
4.    Simplifying
5.    Re-ordering
Maley even suggests creating own materials (2011).
Madsen and Bowen (1978) outline such adaptation techniques, as: supplementing, editing, expanding, personalizing, simplifying, modernizing, localizing, or modifying cultural/situational content. The objectives that are kept in mind in the process of adaptation are among the following: to include tasks that are missing, to increase communicative value of materials, to make materials more simple, to fit the context, to add more comprehension, to meet learners’ needs, to adapt to different styles of learning, to make activities more exiting, to make use of more authentic materials, to diversify task, to include tasks that improve different language skills, etc.
In conclusion, even though writers and publishers work hard to produce high-quality materials, there will always be a need to adapt materials, to accommodate the needs of students and teachers alike.


Maley, A. (2011) Squaring the Circle – Reconciling Materials as Constraint with Materials as Empowerment.

McDonough, J. et al. (2013) Materials and Methods in ELT: A Teacher’s Guide. 3 ed., Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Madsen and Bowen (1978). Adaptation in Language Teaching. Newbury House Publishers.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

The Strategies for Using Authentic Materials in The Classroom

Unit 2 of TESL 0150 explores the course materials evaluation process and discusses the use of authentic materials in the classroom. Because to me the use of authentic materials in the SLA is obviously beneficial, and even necessary, I would like to investigate the so commonly talked about “drawback” of authentic materials, e.g. their complexity for students.
Image source: Seany D - (Keep It Real)
I agree that different authentic materials represent different complexity for comprehension, therefore cannot be treated in the same manner. However, I believe, there is still a way to attempt comprehension and attain a learning value when dealing with authentic materials, even if students do not understand each word.
Moreover, in my view, the value of authentic materials holds itself only when they aren’t adapted. Thus, altering authentic texts or simplifying them would completely undermine the purpose.
There are many ways of extracting a learning value from using authentic materials in the classroom. First, vocabulary and certain grammar aspects can be pre-taught. Second, as noted by Rogers and Medley (1988) students could and should make use of comprehension strategies that are partly developed by using their first language and partly by learning the second language. They include guessing the meaning of words from context and other cues such as redundancy, illustration, example, parenthetical expression (Rogers and Medley, 1988). Other strategies that could be used are such that relate to dealing with texts, e. g. scanning and skimming, as well extensive reading skills. And third, it is the design and focus of the task – not the text itself – that must be tailored to students. The task defines understanding and determines the effectiveness with which the students “understand” the materials (Rogers and Medley, 1988). Students could be presented with an authentic text from a magazine and asked to be focused on a certain element or elements used in the sample. For beginners, the task could entail understanding the main topic of the article, for intermediate learners – the use of tenses, and so on. The tasks could be various in complexity and should not always be aimed at understanding the language sample word for word.
In conclusion, authentic texts are indispensable for acquiring a language, and it is worth knowing that there are strategies of extracting a learning value out of each real-world language sample. The strategies are both helpful for teachers and learners alike and can bridge the gap between the classroom learning and real-world knowledge.


Rogers, C., & Medley, F., Jr. (1988). Language with a purpose: using authentic materials in the foreign language classroom. Foreign Language Annals, 21, 467-478.

Lynch, L. (2009). Throw Away the Course Book and Adapt Authentic Materials. [website]. Retrieved from

Pesce, C. Keepin' It Real 8 Best Authentic Sources of Reading Material. [website]. Retrieved from

Chou, E. (2019) 4 Creative Ways to Use Authentic Materials for Teaching English. [website]. Retrieved from

Zyzik E. and Polio C. (2017) Authentic Materials Myths. University of Michigan Press.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Developing materials and the trends

Image source: HotChalk Education Network
The Unit 1 of Resource Development and Integration course explores materials development and copyright law. While reviewing the current trends of materials development as outlined in Developing materials for language teaching (Tomlinson, 2017), the focus on language learning versus acquisition among the negative trends of materials development piqued my interest.
As acknowledged by Krashen (1988), acquisition is different from learning, and the relation between them can be characterized as nature vs. nurture. Further, Krashen claims that central place of grammar in the language curriculum serves to the interests of learning rather than acquisition. I had a revelation when I learned that “the teaching of grammar can result in language acquisition only when the students are interested in the subject and the target language is used as a medium of instruction. Both teachers and students are deceiving themselves. They believe that it is the subject matter itself, that is responsible for the students’ progress, but in reality, their progress is coming from the medium and not the message”. Therefore, the thorough study of grammar back in my university years “was not language teaching, but rather linguistics”, which is fine since I studied translation where both the knowledge of linguistics and the language itself are necessary. However, I have not explicitly realized until now that I could have acquired the language had the subject matter been other than the one focused on language.
In general, Krashen (1988) outlines 5 core principles of acquisition. Among them are the acquisition/learning hypothesis, the natural order hypothesis, the input hypothesis, the affective filter hypothesis, and the monitor hypothesis as listed here.
For teaching practice this theory means getting to know ELLs as individuals, and their language proficiency levels; work to establish a positive classroom environment with low stress and anxiety; consider using small groups for instruction and activities; scaffold student learning; use technology where it can fill in the gaps for busy teachers; apply SIOP model, teacher-tested model based on language acquisition research (Centre for Applied Linguistics, 2019); see the link here.
With the above in mind, it is important for teachers to look out for those materials that incorporate both the elements of acquisition and learning in its contents. Both of them work together, and as specified by the monitor hypothesis, acquisition is the utterance initiator, while the learning system performs the role of monitor or the editor responsible for the correcting function of language output.

Tomlinson, B. (2017). Materials development for language learning and teaching. Introduction: Are Materials Developing?, 1-17

Krashen, Stephen D. (1987). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Prentice-Hall International. Retrieved from

Krashen, Stephen D. (1988). Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Prentice-Hall International. Retrieved from

Centre for Applied Linguistics (2019). The SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) Model. Retrieved from

Broderick, M. (2016) Language Acquisition Theories for Teachers of ELLs. HotChalk Education Network. Retrieved from

Online Classroom Guidelines

*Setting out clear expectations for both teachers and learners is key to success in the classroom* 👈👈👈👈👈👈👈 *We are bet...