Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Online ELL Pronunciation Tool

I was just made aware of a new link that was recently made available that offers a free ELL pronunciation resource. It shows an animated flash video of how to pronounce the sounds of English. It also shows a video of the front view of a human mouth pronouncing each sound. Students can record themselves saying the sound, and then compare their pronunciation to the native English speaker's. The link also includes an animation of correct letter formation for the alphabet letters. It's a great resource to use for focused practice of the segmentals (sounds) of English. This tool is especially helpful for English Language Learners. The pronunciation tool is available here on software format, or in mobile app form here. It's a great pronunciation resource that benefits both students and teachers.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2010

This week (September 13-19, 2010) marks the Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, declared by the National Coalition for Literacy. As one of their campaign activities, they've "called all bloggers" to blog about adult education and family literacy and to discuss how literacy impacts areas that concern them. They have featured several of these blogs on their website that promote adult and family literacy.

One of the blog posts I found particularly interesting was by Deb Peterson. She lists several ways that people can get involved in literacy efforts. Her list includes:
A couple more of my own ideas to build upon her list include the following:
  • Check out volunteer tutoring opportunities in your local community. Two organizations I've been impressed with in my neck of the woods include Project Read in Provo, UT, and the ESL Center in Salt Lake City.
  • Learn how to teach someone to read. A helpful, free resource is found at http://www.phonicstraining.com/.
  • Join a book club or an online book-sharing group. I was invited today by a friend to join "goodreads," which allows you to see what your friends have read, keep track of what you've read and what you'd like to read, and get ideas for books to read.
  • Read a little more for pleasure. We often take for granted the fact that we can do that.
  • Write in a diary or journal.
  • Consider how your ability to read and write affects your life. Consider the privilege it is to be literate. I've documented some of my thoughts in the previous blog posts, "Lessons Learned from Life" and "The Value of Literacy."
There's a lot of need out there. But there's also a lot we can do in our personal lives to ensure that we are taking full advantage of the privilege of being literate. When we're reminded of how enriched our lives are by literacy, I think we're more likely to feel a desire to help others gain that same privilege, and then to actually do something about it.

See also my post Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2011: Teaching Struggling Readers.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Teaching ESL - Selecting ESL Texts

As ESOL teachers, we are often faced with the challenging decision of textbook selection. Following is a checklist that can be used for ESL Textbook Selection as found on the CAL website:



Checklist for ESL Textbook Selection

A. Program and Course
Does the textbook support the goals and curriculum of the program?
Is the textbook part of a series, and if so, would using the entire series be appropriate?
Are a sufficient number of the course objectives addressed by the textbook?
Was this textbook written for learners of this age group and background?
Does the textbook reflect learners’ preferences in terms of layout, design, and organization?
Is the textbook sensitive to the cultural background and interests of the students?

B. Skills
Are the skills presented in the textbook appropriate to the course?
Does the textbook provide learners with adequate guidance as they are acquiring these skills?
Do the skills that are presented in the textbook include a wide range of cognitive skills that will be challenging to learners?

C. Exercises and Activities
Do the exercises and activities in the textbook promote learners’ language development?
Is there a balance between controlled and free exercises?
Do the exercises and activities reinforce what students have already learned and represent a progression from simple to more complex?
Are the exercises and activities varied in format so that they will continually motivate and challenge learners?

D. Practical Concerns
Is the textbook available?
Can the textbook be obtained in a timely
Is the textbook cost-effective?

Are there other criteria not mentioned above that you have found to be important considerations? Feel free to share your comments.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Connection Between Oral Language and Literacy

I came across an article that talks about the connection (and interdependence) between oral language skills and literacy. An excerpt from the article explains this connection in a nutshell: "Strong oral language skills pave the way for the development of literacy in a second language...and literacy skills enhance oral language development." (The article can be accessed in full here.)

Something that stood out to me in the article was a section that discusses the importance of both top-down and bottom-up processes in reading. Relevant and interesting contexts are used to generate meaning (top-down processes), while also explicitly teaching sound patterns, syllables, and word families (bottom-up). A few of my previous posts discuss this concept, including the posts entitled "Teaching Reading to Beginning Level English Language Learners," "How do we 'Keep Language in the Teaching of Second Language Reading'?", "ESOL Instruction from the Bottom-Up," and "Why Phonics for ELLs/ESOL Students?"

An additional resource on the topic of oral language and literacy is a discussion on the LINCS adult education English language acquisition list. A summary of the discussion can be found here. (See also my blog post entitled, "Free Online Resource for Developing Oral Proficiency in Adult English Language Learners".)