Monday, August 22, 2011

ESL Teaching Tip: Syllable Division in Multi-Syllable Words

In a previous blog post, I shared the five phonetic skills--strategies for determining if a vowel is long or short in a single-syllable word. What about multi-syllabic words? Where do you split the syllable in multi-syllabic words? Here are two simple decoding skills that you can use to teach students where to break syllables. Then apply the five phonetic skills to determine if the vowel is long or short in each syllable. Using the two decoding skills and five phonetic skills in combination can help students with proper pronunciation of multi-syllabic words.

Decoding Skill 1: Look for how many consonants immediately follow a vowel. If there is one consonant following the vowel, that consonant will go on to the next syllable. (Note that blends, digraphs, etc. will stay together and move together within syllables.)

     mo-tel     pro-duce

Decoding Skill 2: If there are two consonants immediately following the vowel, divide between the two consonants. The first consonant will stay in the first syllable, and the second consonant will move on to the next syllable.

     cam-pus     sub-ject

Then apply the five phonetic skills to determine if a vowel is long or short on the syllable level: 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Using Video to Provide Free Education

Two of my passions in life are education and culture. When I say culture, I refer to a wide range of things: backgrounds, values, and interests; stories of good-fortune and misfortune; collective similarities that relate us as a human family; and unique patterns and distinct differences (evident on both an individual level and a group level) which cause the kind of introspection that promotes a metamorphosis in our behaviors, interests, etc. When I say education, I refer to connecting the new with the familiar, all forms of literacy, formal education (lessons learned in the classroom), and informal education (lessons learned from life experiences).

When the two are posited together--education and culture--a myriad of conditions can be conjured up in the mind: education for the poor and for the homeless, international education, higher education, drop-out rates, survival skills, etc.

As I reflect on what is being done in the world to promote education for all, I am encouraged to know that there are individuals out there striving to level the playing field by bringing education to all.
Recently I was introduced to Khan Academy, a non-profit that provides video-based education via the internet. Salman Khan has personally narrated over 2,400 lessons on topics ranging from algebra and computer science to biology and economics. His mission: to provide education that is free for all.

Watch Khan's TED talk on using video to "reinvent education" below:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Free Online Readability Tool to Acquire Lexile® Scores

I have been approached lately about the topic of Lexile® scores. I wrote a previous blog post about readability tools available on the web, including StoryToolz (a tool that averages several different Grade Level Equivalency [GLE] measures and provides an average GLE), and VocabProfiler (a tool that generates the percentage of high frequency vocabulary used in a text). I wanted to add one more web-based resource available to determine a Lexile® score. A Lexile® score takes into account the frequency of the vocabulary used within the text, as well as sentence length. This is an alternative to a Grade Level Equivalency measure. 

The Lexile® Analyzer is a tool developed by MetaMetrics that you can use to determine a Lexile® score for text that you write or select to ensure that the text is at an appropriate reading level for your students. After submitting your text on the Lexile® Analyzer, the tool will generate a Lexile® measure. To do this, you first have to register on the Lexile® website with your email address and password. Then you prepare your text by saving your text as a plain text file (using a ".txt" extension). Then you upload the file, and the analyzer tool will generate the Lexile® score.