Too Much or Too Little Grammar

Do you feel like you teach enough grammar in the classroom – too much or too little?

One of my concerns about the current state of EFL, particularly in schools that implement content-based language instruction is that grammar has taken a back seat and sometimes is even left at the curb.

Having taught in a content-based school while also tutoring students from a more traditional program, I noticed something interesting. The students from my school were more familiar and comfortable with academic concepts in English, but my tutoring students had “cleaner” English.

I shared this observation with a friend who owns a language school near where I live. The students in her school represent students from two different systems, one traditional and one content-based, and she seemed to notice the same thing.

Michael Swan, a well-known ELT author famous for his books on teaching grammar, asks us to reflect on the question:

Am I teaching enough grammar?

Watch his video where he discusses his thoughts on teaching too much or too little grammar and let me know what you think below in the comments.

I am curious to know where my readers stand.

Struggling Writers? Let Them Speak!

Which do you find easier, speaking or writing?

I think most people would unequivocally answer speaking.

Writing is not easy. In fact, it can often be painful. I was having lunch with a friend the other day who lamented on the difficulty he had writing a paper for a course he is taking. Even for me, someone who writes fairly regularly, writing can be quite the task, especially a first draft.

But what if I told you writing a first draft could be as easy as speaking?

Great news! It can! Continue reading “Struggling Writers? Let Them Speak!”

My First Google Hangout English Tutoring Session

So… it’s week 2 of my summer vacation, and I already miss teaching.

Thankfully, it’s 2017 and I don’t need a school to get my teaching fix. I can just teach online from home!

Online teaching has become a very popular option for teachers who are looking to reach more students outside of a classroom. And programs such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts have never made it easier to connect with people anywhere.

One problem though… despite its popularity, I have never done any English teaching online.

Today, I braved into this new world. Two of my former students and I took the leap online by doing a 30-minute class together on Google Hangouts.

This post is about my experience.

***SPOILER ALERT- IT WAS A DISASTER!*** Continue reading “My First Google Hangout English Tutoring Session”

3 Things I Learned About EFL Education from ‘B’ Group

The school year has ended. Summer is here. And all the teachers are rejoicing and singing for the new beginning.

Now that the dust has settled from the school year and I have rejuvenated myself on my Icelandic adventure (yes, you should definitely go), I thought now would be a good time to reflect on the school year that has passed.

I am not ashamed to say publicly that this has been the most difficult year of teaching in my career. I never thought anything could beat my year teaching on the east side of Austin, but it seems my students this year certainly achieved something (less hair on my head and a higher blood pressure that even daily meditation could not prevent).

Despite the challenges and frustrations, this experience has taught me a lot about EFL education, and I would like to share with you 3 things I have learned.

Continue reading “3 Things I Learned About EFL Education from ‘B’ Group”

What is a Reading Portfolio?

Learning to read is a journey.

Take a moment to think back to your school days. What evidence do you have of that special journey?

A test? A book report? Maybe a diorama?

Perhaps you answered yes to all of those, but how meaningful were these to you?

(I know…your diorama was the bomb…got it)

And did you ever set them all out at the end of the year to reflect on and celebrate the journey?

I suspect both questions would elicit negative answers (except for the diorama…I know).

So how can we as teachers create meaningful reading experiences for our students that give them an opportunity to look back on the journey and reflect on the success and celebrate it?

One possible way is a reading portfolio.

Continue reading “What is a Reading Portfolio?”

Why Arizona (and Other States) Are Wrong About Teacher Hiring

Arizona is the latest state to sign into law that people with 5 years of “relevant” field experience may enter the teaching profession without teaching training and credentials. (Washington Post)

Why would they do this?

Teacher shortage is a problem in many states and this allows a fast track to fill vacancies.

While many may see this as a solution to the problem, I feel this policy is faulty and may result in causing more problems than it fixes.

Here are three reasons why this is a bad idea.

Continue reading “Why Arizona (and Other States) Are Wrong About Teacher Hiring”