Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fluency Exercise: Working Life: Talking About You!

This is a great fluency exercise for people in the workplace.  This can be used successfully in a virtual classroom or in a traditional classroom.  The first slide consists of several pictures and the trainer asks the students to describe the picture.  Then the trainer asks the students to relate one of the pictures to how they feel about their job.  The students start talking a bit about what they do and how they do it.  The next page is a list of questions about their job, corporate culture, their attitudes towards work and allows the students to expand and develop their fluency and increase their confidence talking about a relatively familiar topic:  their jobs and work life.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Discussion Activity: Youth & Old Age

I wrote this activity about seven years ago to be used in a virtual classroom although anyone can use this in a traditional classroom as well. Anyway,  the basic premise for this lesson is to allow the students to activate passive vocabulary, learn new vocabulary and to practice speaking about a relatively familiar topic in order to increase and/or improve the students' fluency.  The first page is a list of vocabulary words that the students can define, practice pronunciation and/or discuss.  The second page is a blank slate for the students and/or teacher to write 'rites of passages' in their culture.  The final slide is a list of questions that the students can ask and answer.  The level for this activity is intermediate to advanced.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Business Writing Presentation for ESL/EFL Teachers

This PPT is a quick presentation on the difference between American English (AmE) and British English (BrE) in regards to phrases and the small differences between AmE and BrE when writing for business purposes.  Many times, non-native speakers will combine rules from both AmE and BrE because they are not aware of the minute differences.  So, they run the risk of losing credibility when writing to clients because of these differences.  This PPT can be used in addition to other writing activities that allow the students to practice their writing following different scenarios.  The material from this PPT has been used successfully in a virtual classroom or a traditional classroom.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

EFL/ESL Discussion Activities: Your Products & Services

How many times have you talked to a non-native speakers of English and asked them about their job?  Where they able to talk much about what they do and about their products and services?  If not, this discussion activity will give them the chance to practice in an environment where they can receive feedback=their English class.  The PPT starts with some pictures and depending on the level, the teacher can have the student describe the profession related to the picture or just describe the picture.  They then tell the teacher which picture relates closest to their own job.  The final slide is a list of questions related to the students' jobs as well as their products and services.  This PPT has been used successfully in a virtual classroom as well as traditional classrooms.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Learn Business Idioms

I wrote this worksheet on Business Idioms about ten years ago. This is a worksheet for advanced level Business English students. I took the words/idioms  from the Economist Magazine. Although I'm not a huge believer in teaching idioms to students for them to actually use (until it comes out naturally), I do believe that students should have idioms in their passive vocabulary so that they can understand native speakers who do use idioms without thinking.  In my opinion, non-native speakers should use idioms the same way, without thinking.   I have taught this worksheet with one-to-one students and group lessons.  The students can also use this as homework and then the teacher can have them explain the idioms during the class session. Anyway, I have used this worksheet successfully in traditional classrooms as well as virtual classrooms. The students really enjoy this worksheet because they feel that they are learning something new.  Here is an example from a virtual classroom:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What would you say?

I wrote this activity about seven or eight years ago as a discussion activity. This activity has been used successfully in a virtual classroom and a traditional classroom.  This activity encourages the students who are intermediate and above to explain what they would say about a certain situation and in addition to give the students a chance to provide their opinion about certain issues.  For example, on the first slide, there is a picture of a pregnant woman smoking.  The activity asks what the students would say to this person.  I have used this activity in several consecutive class sessions as the students can normally talk a lot about many of these issues.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

ESL/EFL Activities: Giving Advice

I wrote this activity when I was in the LANCELOT course, which was a course funded by the EU that taught language teachers how to effectively use virtual classrooms plus best practices in the virtual classroom for language training.  This PPT came out of one of the modules from that class.  I have used this activity successfully in the virtual classroom as well as the traditional classroom.  The lesson starts out with a quick review of the modals of advice and then each page in the PPT slide gives a scenario and the students increase their fluency by giving advice for each situation. The teacher can use this in several different ways.  First, the teacher can divide the students into small groups or pairs and have them discuss what advice they would give and then have a whole group discussion. Alternatively, the teacher could choose one volunteer from the class to give the advice for the particular scenario and then the class could have a discussion.  Additionally, the teacher could use this as homework for the students to practice writing and have them write their advice in an email, blog, advice column or letter format.  These are just three ways I've thought of to use this material, but I'm sure there are many ways the teacher can choose to use this material based on their personal teaching style.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

EFL Spoken Grammar Activity: Practice Asking Questions

I wrote this Spoken Grammar Activity while I was in graduate school which seems like only yesterday and yet it was fifteen years ago.  Anyway, this is a very simple activity where the students practice using the WH questions and at the same time work on tense and also on their conversation skills.  The activity consists of a chart of all kinds of nouns with the question at the top:  Who/What/Where is/was your favorite...?  So, what the students do is choose a noun from the chart, for example, 'brand of shampoo' and then the student must form the question "What is your favorite brand of shampoo?"  Another example is "person", so the student can choose how they want to form the question:  "Who is your favorite person?"  or 'Who was your favorite person when you were younger?"  This activity can be used with any level because it can be adapted to focus on what the students need.  Some of the students will need practice forming the question and answering.  Some of the students will need practice developing fluency and the teacher can use this activity as a springboard to free discussion.  I have used this with groups where only one question was actually asked as we were able to use that as a way to get into a conversation everyone was interested in.  I have also used this with groups were just asking the question was the goal and so we went through the entire table.  This activity has been used successfully in the virtual classroom as well as in traditional classrooms with every level.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Discussion Activity: I took a trip and...

This is a discussion activity that I wrote about seven or eight years ago.  The basic premise of this activity is to get the students to talk about the pictures and possibly to start talking about the issues or personal experiences that the students may think of as a result of these pictures.  Except for the cover page, this activity does not have any English so it could be used for any languages being taught.  There are several ways one can teach this lesson.  First, the teacher can have the students guess where each picture was taken and then discuss the picture.  Second, the teacher can have the students describe what they see in the pictures.  Third, the teacher can have the students ask and answer questions related to the pictures.  Beginning level students can describe colors, shapes, etc. whereas advanced level students can discuss deeper issues and talk about memories and experiences they remember based on these pictures.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dependent Prepositions

This is a grammar activity I came up with in the late nineties where students can systematically practice using prepositions.  First, the students do a matching activity where they link the sentences together based on the prepositions.  Then the next page is a chart with a bunch of words that require prepositions such as 'similar TO' or 'Angry WITH/AT'.  The students must first choose the correct preposition and then ask a question or make a sentence using the word correctly.  The other students or teachers respond to the question or statement and they try to talk as long as they can as a chance to practice and develop fluency.  There are some words like 'discuss' that do not require a preposition, but a preposition is commonly added by non-native speakers of English so it gives the teachers a teaching opportunity to go over common mistakes made with prepositions.  I have taught this activity successfully with large groups, small groups and one-to-one situations in traditional and virtual classrooms.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Business Writing Activities

Have you ever received emails from students and realized that although they speak well in class, their writing is well below their ability to communicate?  How about students who just refuse to write because they have a lack of confidence?  Or the students who know they need help with their writing, especially in the area of business communication.  This Writing Activities PPT can help you give the students tools to practice.  You can use this PPT for a portion of several classes or spend the entire time on each page in the PPT.  Each page has a different scenario for the students to practice writing.  Here are some ideas as to how you can use this material:  You, as the teacher, could have them write for each scenario as homework and then you could copy/paste it into the PPT to give the student(s) feedback.  You could have the student write during class into the whiteboard in the virtual classroom.  If you are teaching a group of students, you can put the class into pair or small groups and give each group a scenario to write and copy/paste it on the whiteboard to receive immediate feedback.  There is a section on the PPT to put the student's creation into the PPT either during class or before class, depending on how you use the material.  I have successfully used this material in face-to-face and virtual classes and I know it will work for you as well.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Live Online Discussion Activity to Develop Fluency

One of my favorite discussion activities is an activity called 'What would happen if...' which I wrote about seven or eight years ago.  This activity can be done successfully with upper intermediate to advanced students who want to practice and increase their fluency.  This is also good for students who want to improve their ability to give opinions about all different types of topics. Students are given a scenario and they have three things they can come up with that 'could' happen. This can be used in a virtual classroom or a face-to-face classroom with a data projector set up. This can be taught utilizing small group, pair work or whole group discussion. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Live Online ESL/EFL materials

One of the needs expressed by many freelance teachers is the need for good, quality material for the virtual classroom.  It is really easy to find great material out there on the internet, but very few have been converted to PPT and gives the trainer the ability to use it in the virtual classroom without doing a great deal of adapting.  Or the trainers just use the material that is not ideal for the virtual classroom although it does work okay.  I have decided to see if I can contribute to this need and have changed my Teachers Pay Teachers account to a different name and will try to write new discussion material everyday which I hope freelance teachers are able to find.  Here is the link to the store where freelance teachers can purchase the PPTs for a very low price.  For now, I will be using the Teachers pay Teachers site to sell this material and eventually, I plan on setting up a website so that freelance teachers could have a subscription model.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wages for a live online language trainer?

With so much competition in this field and people competing from countries with a lower standard of living, I have struggled for years as to what a fair wage would be for live online language trainers.  I have my opinion and I have talked to trainers and a couple of language schools.  The language schools are all looking for native speakers with a TESOL certificate, a college degree and at least three years experience and they want to pay very little.  Quite frankly, less than some countries want to pay people who work their first jobs at places like McDonalds.  The trainers, however, have taken the time to get qualified and certified, are professional and they want to get paid a fair wage where they can live and have work-life balance.  What is fair?  As a recruiter and a language trainer, I struggle with this a lot.  What is the correct answer?  As I start to talk to language schools and work on growing my company, I plan on really understanding this.  Why are the expectations of many language schools so different than the trainers?  A question I will eventually be able to answer.   Check back for more on this issue and maybe I'll have an answer.

Friday, August 8, 2014

How can I find a job teaching English online?

You have been teaching abroad for many years and you realize that you can supplement your income by teaching online. You have just returned to your home country and there are no ESL jobs available in the area so you decide to turn to the internet.  You have always wanted the flexibility to work from home and you have heard that English teaching online is a good way to do that.  Whatever your scenario, your question is-- Where do you go to find that job?  Facebook and LinkedIn are both good places to start, but I have found some other sites that cater to the online teacher and/or freelancer. The following are some places online where I tend to go to when looking for a position:

1.  Dave's ESL Cafe  This is one of the most popular sites on the internet for people who are searching for their next job or looking for information.  Not only does the site have job links, it also has a very active forum where teachers can get their questions asked.  When I am teaching abroad and/or online, this is one site I always go to.  I even go there when I'm not looking for employment just to see what is out there.

2.  This site has been around for almost as long as Dave's and is also very popular among job seekers.  You can upload your profile and put your CV out there for employers to look at.  Periodically, online jobs are advertised.  Again, this is a great resource for job hunters for face-to-face and online EFL/ESL teaching jobs.

3.  This is the site where I usually advertise for positions for my company as they have an 'online' section.  This site probably has the most comprehensive links for online teaching jobs.

4.  ESL Teachers Board  I go to this site when I'm looking for contacts, either teachers, students or schools.  They have a comprehensive list of schools and students/teachers advertise on this site for services.  If you are wanting to invest in a language school or find a partner/agent, this is also a good site to look at.

The following are sites for freelancers, but I am finding a lot of online English teaching companies are starting to advertise for teachers on these sites:

5.  Elance  As I just said, this site is for freelancers in many different fields.  I had to set up a profile and then I had to write short proposals to be considered for the many different jobs that are out there.  I usually use the search function and type in esl, efl, tesol and I get several jobs to apply for.

6.  Odesk  This site is similar to Elance in many ways.  I have been interviewed by several companies on both sites looking for ESL instructors.  My first impression was that Odesk had lower rates than ELance, but no longer think that, at least for online teachers.

There are several other sites out there for live online language teachers to find steady employment.  Do you have any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I'm back online!

So, it has been a year since I posted anything on this blog or online journal talking about live online language training.  I got sidetracked about a year ago and left the online world to experience the life of a corporate trainer.  For the first time in 20 some years, I had to actually work for 8-10 hours with little flexibility.  About two weeks ago, after I had been with the company for a little over year, I started to rethink what I really wanted and realized that I wanted to return to live online language training.  Here are some reasons why I love this type of training and why I returned:

  1. I can train from anywhere.  If I choose to take a trip, I just have to make sure that I have internet and the time to do my work.  I just love the flexibility.
  2. Live online language training is still new to many people and I have so many ideas that I want to get started.  I've dreamt up a curriculum project which I will introduce on a later journal entry.  This is bringing out the creative side in me.
  3. The market is now ready for live online language training.  When I first started this journey or adventure there was a lot of resistance among language teachers and students.  Now, people have a greater understanding of this type of training.
  4. I love meeting people from around the world and encouraging them in English.  I also want to be close to my family, so live online language training allows me to enjoy the best of both worlds.
  5. There are so many websites that can be used in training and it is so fun to google tidbits with my students.
  6. I love introducing language teachers to this type of training and watching them grow and learn how to be an effective live online trainer.
  7. Bottom line is that I just love working online and the world that is there!  So I'm back and am hoping to blog everyday!  The first thing I'm going to look at is how the industry has changed in the past eight years since I first thought of the possibilities that a web camera can do in live online language training.