Friday, October 29, 2010

Ten Consistent Spelling Patterns in English

Last weekend at the Intermountain TESOL Conference, I presented on "Ten Consistent Spelling Rules to Boost Your Students' Spelling." I thought I would include the information from my handout in this post since the information was well-received. It can be accessed on the pages link in the right margin of this blog entitled "Ten Consistent Spelling Rules to Boost Your Students' Spelling".

Friday, October 22, 2010

Five Free Technology Tools for ELL/ESL Teachers and Students

I am currently serving as the Past-President of the Intermountain TESOL affiliate, and I am always impressed with the quality of character and scholarship among our membership. I was reminded of this today as I participated in the first day of the two-day I-TESOL Fall Conference hosted at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. I attended some wonderful sessions, one of which discussed five free technology tools that have application both in and out of the classroom that I am very excited to use. I thought it would be worth passing these resources along. I attribute these ideas to Ben McMurry, a colleague from Brigham Young University.

Here are the five educational technology tools that were shared:
1) Do you ever have a YouTube video you want to show in class but you don't have internet access? Download YouTube Videos using "1 Click". Once you download this app, you can choose to save the file in FLV, MP4, 3GP, or HD formats. I like this tool over other YouTube downloaders because you can download the videos right from YouTube rather than having to copy and paste the URL in another website.
2) Google Voice is a great tool for those times when you want to give your students homework assignments involving leaving phone messages. Students call a phone number that Google Voice provides you with, and students call that number, leave a message, and you can access it from your Google account. This tool also allows you to receive voicemail messages and texts using this phone number rather than having to give out your personal phone number.
3) translates typed text into several languages. This tool will also read English text in English using text to speech.
4) Google Forms allows you to create forms and access the information in a spreadsheet format. I love this tool for gathering information from students on a homework assignment, providing practice quizzes, etc. Google Forms can be accessed at
5) Once you create a form or Google doc, the URL is usually quite long. If you're emailing it out and would prefer that it isn't so long, shorten the url using

I will be receiving more information about these tools soon and would be happy to pass it along if this is of interest to anyone.

(See also my post on other free technology tools here.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

RSS Feeds and Resources for ESL Teachers

A colleague of mine asked me the other day if I had ideas for resources (blogs and websites) that would be worth checking into. Here are a few resources I've come across recently that I check into regularly. If you have any additions, feel free to share them!

ASCD EDge is a professional networking community for teachers, primarily K-12 educators. (It's like Facebook for teachers.) Members create a profile page where they can post photos, videos, blogs, articles, comments, etc. to connect with colleagues in the ASCD EDge community. The membership is large, which provides great exposure to a large audience.

ASCD SmartBrief
ASCD SmartBrief is daily news for the education profession. ASCD identifies and compiles top stories for each day and compiles them into a newsletter format with links to the full articles. It's almost like an RSS feed already done for you.

Free Technology for Teachers
This blog provides free resources and lesson plans for teachers using technology. While this blog is not designed for ESOL teachers exclusively, I think there are many adaptations that can be made to fill these kinds of needs.

Randall's ESL Blog
This blog provides a venue for ESOL teachers and students to share thoughts, opinions, and ideas about learning English. A recently added feature to his blog includes English Voices, which allows students and teachers to share their thoughts via voice recording. Randall posts various topics, and visitors to the site respond using a microphone to record their thoughts.

What is on your RSS feed? Feel free to share additional resources that you think are valuable.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Free Literacy Games and Manipulatives

I wanted to share another free resource that you may find helpful for teaching low-level literacy students. On the Reading Horizons website, you will find some free resources for practicing the alphabet sounds, blends, and sight words (called "Most Common Words" in the Reading Horizons program). These resources include manipulatives that can be used to teach literacy skills. I thought I would share this link, along with a few games that could be used with these materials. If this post proves helpful, I will post additional games and activities on a page link on the right. So let me know what you think!

The manipulatives used in the following games can be found here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Free Phonemic Awareness Activities

I read an article the other day published by the International Dyslexia Association about spelling. In the article, the idea is stated that poor spellers often have underlying weaknesses in language issues, including the ability to recognize and segment individual sounds and syllables. I read another article recently about the strong influence of oral development on reading readiness, meaning that the more oral language someone has, the better prepared they are for reading.

Both spelling and reading require a solid foundation of phonemic awareness before reading and spelling instruction can take place. Phonemic awareness includes such language elements as phoneme (sound) identification, syllable identification, rhyme, and identifying words within sentences.

I conducted an ESL training recently for volunteers who work with refugees, and much of their time is spent on developing early literacy skills with their pre-literate and low-literate students. I thought it would be helpful to post the following information about phonemic awareness-building activities for these volunteers, and any others who are seeking free resources for phonemic awareness-building activities. This information was adapted from the Decoding Strategies for Literacy Development teacher's manual published by Reading Horizons, and is posted here with permission. See the page to the right entitled, "Free Phonemic Awareness Activities".