If you can visit another country, you should do it! I had the chance for a very short visit to Manila in the Philippines and it was really interesting. My friend and I visited Guam Island for a week and we transferred planes in Manila so it didn’t cost any more money to stay there for 2 nights. We stayed at a hostel near the airport and we arrived pretty late in the evening. The next day, we spent the whole day looking around Intramuros, an old Spanish walled city, the museum and main park, as well as Mall of Asia (a lot like West Edmonton Mall)! We travelled by jeepney, which was very cheap, to get around the city. We saw very poor areas and we also took a train to visit a big mall with very expensive stores. There was a lot of history in the city and there were also many American businesses. I was very surprised to see so many guns because every business and building had guards with guns. For a short trip, I saw a lot!
Because I’m teaching in an English-speaking country, some students learn to listen and speak very quickly and confidently. However, I also teach many students who spend almost all their time outside of school communicating only in their first language. Even if they work, they often work in a place where there is very little spoken communication. Some of those students look terrified every time I open my mouth. They don’t have any confidence at all about their listening skills. Those students will need to do more listening practice outside of class. Here are some great tips for improving listening, especially later in the post. There are also great ideas for ESL teachers to introduce listening.
Are your students struggling with authentic listening activities? Below is a brief guide I wrote to help my EFL students overcome both confidence issues and poor strategic choices when doing indepe…
Pokémon GO has only been available in Canada for about 10 days, but it’s become extremely popular, in a very short amount of time. Players should pay attention to their surroundings, and they should be considerate of people who live and work near Poké Stops & Gyms, where you collect weapons and have battles. Unlike other video games, players have to get out and move around their communities to play Pokémon GO. It’s very interesting to see how much exercise players are getting, and how much interaction is happening, when players meet each other. So many strangers have given me advice about how to play! Think about some skills that you want to learn and how you can use Pokémon GO to help you learn those skills. Prepositions are one area of vocabulary and grammar that are often difficult to learn. Ask for advice and give it about where to locate Pokéstops, gyms, and monsters! Find new places around your neighbourhood, as well as when you go someplace new.
Educators from around the web offer ideas for incorporating Pokémon GO into the classroom.
This video is actually created from outtakes of an advertising campaign for instant noodles! The scenery is from many regions of Viet Nam.
This video of Japan really portrays the contrasts between ancient and super-modern, nature and highly technical man made.
Enjoy a short trip to Asia!
A lot of my students are very interested in fashion, shopping, and makeup. There is a LOT of vocabulary about these subjects, but you can learn it pretty easily if it’s important for you. I recommend that you look for English fashion magazines, which contain a lot of photographs. Generally, there will be a very detailed description of each of the styles that are in the book, including colours and styles. Many women’s magazines also contain a lot of ads and articles that relate to cosmetics. Take some time to browse, if fashion is important to you!
Aaron’s Phrase Mix covers a lot of English expressions and idioms, and you can follow Aaron on Twitter @phrasemix
One of the reasons that I have chosen to teach ESL as a second career is because of my lifelong fascination with words. Words have brought me so much joy in my life. Reading has always been one of my favourite activities, first in print, and more recently in audiobooks. When I listen to music, I’m only drawn to songs with interesting lyrics. The harmony and melody are very important, but I’m only really interested when the words of a song are meaningful in some way. I only took Latin for 1 year, but I’ve always been grateful that my early teachers took time to point out the patterns in the English language. They helped to notice prefixes (word beginnings) and suffixes (word endings), and to recognize the roots of many common words. When we know a little bit more about the origins of a word, we can understand much more about its meaning, as well as pronunciation and usage. As I studied to teach ESL, I was fascinated to learn that most of our food and government vocabulary came from the Norman French when they controlled England.
I hope that this webpage will help you a bit in your journey to understand new words. Often, the new word will have some clues that will help you to guess at the meaning.
Travelling by air from one country to another usually means that you will need to understand some English. English is the international language of transportation, and it is used on most international flights, as well as in the airports. Here are some of the stories that my students wrote about their air travel.
A Trip that you took by airplane:
I’m from Brazil. I came to Edmonton. The date of the flight was March 17, 2015. I departed from Brazil at 11:00 A.M and arrived in Edmonton at 3:00 P.M the next day (March 18). I bought a one-way ticket, because I’m staying in Edmonton for a long time. I had connections from Belo Horizonte to São Paulo, São Paulo to Toronto, and then from Toronto to Edmonton. I used a travel agency to book my flights. After I made my reservations, I needed to request a new passport and a visa to stay in Canada. It took 45 days to release my visa for a four-year stay. I needed to go to a doctor for an exam and send my documents to the Canadian Embassy. My immigration interview was in Toronto. I needed a new check-in and to have a conversation about why I’m staying in Canada. My permission wasn’t possible for a long time because I don`t speak English. This is important for immigration. The pre-flight instructions in Brazil were the same as in Canada. When I arrived at the airport, I needed to take my baggage to the check-in counter and get my boarding pass with my passport. After that, I went through security and I wasn’t allowed aerosol, dangerous materials, or smoking on the flight. For security, we had to turn off all electronic devices and put on our seatbelts before departing from the airport.
1/My last trip that I took by airplane was last week when I went to Vancouver.
My departure was from the International Airport of Edmonton. For this travel, I took WestJet airline, and it’s a Canadian company.
I arrived early at the airport because I like to take my time. My flight was on time. I took my luggage to the check-in counter and I got my boarding pass. I ate something in the departure lounge.
When I arrived in Vancouver Airport, I took a taxi to the city’s downtown. During my visit, I took a ferry to Victoria city. It’s a very beautiful and peaceful city!
2/I travel a lot, and for me it’s in America where the immigration staff control a lot. So when I travelled to San Francisco for a road trip in California, I spoke to a customs officer and immigration. I showed them my passport and I answered all the questions.
I’m from Harbin, China. I left China and came to Edmonton on April 27 by myself because my husband had to work in Edmonton. At that time, I couldn’t speak English. I could speak Chinese in Beijing International Airport and the steward on the flight could speak three languages. I felt ok about that. However, when I arrived in Vancouver, I had to visit the immigration officer who spoke English. They had to ask me some questions, but I didn’t understand. They showed me some papers and I had some answers in Chinese. I showed them my passport, immigration paper and answered the questions. Luckily I was allowed to enter Canada, and I could go to my next flight to Edmonton. A friendly guy did me a big favour. He helped me go through security and I arrived at the departure lounge. I saw my husband when I arrived in Edmonton. I had good luck on my trip. I met a lot of friendly and helpful people on my trip
My trip to Marrakech, Morocco: I went with my friends for a presentation project at the University Cadi Ayyad competition of International Marketing Days. On Sunday, I departed, and we met each other at the airport. I took the train to go the airport. Before that, I got up at 6:00 because my flight was at 9:30. I arrived at the airport, and I saw my friends so we took our suitcases to the check-in counter. Then we went through security and sat down in the departure lounge. After the announcement at our departure gate, we got up, and we passed by an agent, and showed him our boarding pass.
When we arrived in Marrakech, after showing our passports to the customs officers, the school delegation met us, and then we went to the hotel.
In December when I went to visit my boyfriend, I took some planes, and my flights were from Guadalajara City, Mexico.
In Guadalajara my flight took off at 7:45 pm and I had to arrive two hours before, so that I could take my luggage to the check-in counter and pass through security. When the hour arrived, I went to the gate where my plane was departing from. Then I showed my boarding pass to the agent and got on the plane. I had a good flight but that night was very long, because I didn’t sleep in a bed. I was in the airport all night, I had to take my luggage to the check-in counter at 3:30 am for my other flight.
3 weeks ago, I arrived at Edmonton International Airport from Spain.
The flight attendant gave me the immigration documents. I wrote them in French because I don’t know English. In the airport, the agent spoke English and he asked, “Do you speak English or French? I answered, “No. I don’t speak English or French”.
The agent asked why I was visiting Edmonton. I answered, “Because I’m visiting my boyfriend”.
How much time will you visit Edmonton? “I will return to Spain on September 2”.
What is your job in Spain? “I don’t have a job, I’m studying”.
I didn’t go to immigration at the airport.
On June 25, 2015 I arrived at the airport in Gdansk, about an hour before my flight at 1300 hours. I had a flight to Munich, Germany. In the airport I received a boarding pass and I went to the gate. In the plane, the flight attendants were very friendly. I really liked this flight. In Munich, I didn’t have enough time. I had to go to the gate very fast. My next flight was to Toronto. It was a very long flight, but I wasn’t bored because I read my book. In Toronto, it was very hard because I had a conversation with an officer. I had to go to pick up my suitcase because next flight was a domestic flight to Edmonton. It was very bad because I sat next to an awful girl. The girl coughed and bounced around all the time. It was late and I wanted to sleep. I was very tired and she gave me no rest! I was very angry. When I arrived in Edmonton I went to arrivals to pick up my luggage. My aunt was waiting there already. She drove me to my uncle’s home. My uncle couldn’t pick me up because he was at work, about 800 kilometers from Edmonton. It was very late and I went to sleep.
When you fly to a new country, you will have to go through several interviews, especially with Customs and Immigration Officers. This is often very stressful since you may not understand the questions you are being asked. Stay calm and pay attention. Sometimes, another passenger or officer can help you to answer your interview questions. These videos will help you know what to expect.
This video takes you through all of the steps when you are entering the United States. It’s not an ESL video, so some of the words may not be familiar. However, they are words that officers may use, so it’s useful to check words you don’t know. Unfortunately, I didn’t see an audioscript. Repeat sections that are confusing.
This is a video by a Brazilian ESL teacher. She speaks slowly and clearly, and many of the questions and answers are written on the screen. The only problem was that she pronounces the word “customs” like “costumes”, clothes that you might wear for Halloween.
Here’s a short and simple set of questions and answers.
We are very lucky here in Edmonton because the library sells many of their used books, several times a year, in a massive sale. All books cost only $1-2 each, and they have books of every variety available, including cookbooks, kids’ books, and science and nature books. I always take my class to the sale, since you’ll never have another opportunity to buy such high-quality books so inexpensively! Reading for pleasure is an excellent way to improve all of your language skills, especially vocabulary and grammar. When you own the book, you can write in it, and make notes about what you read, allowing you to read quickly for the main idea, and then go back to read more deeply for understanding.
I’m very lucky that the food trucks usually park near my work at lunchtime, but lots of people can’t try foodtrucks very easily. Luckily, there are festivals several times a year, where many foodtrucks will gather. Go ahead, try something new! For this event, there will even be some alcohol available in the area. Northlands is close to the Coliseum Station on the train.
I’m very interested in how the brain takes in new information, and how to improve the learning process. I always encourage students to learn more about their brains, to better understand how to learn well. There are a few things that I do regularly, based on what I’ve learned about the brain so for.
- Ask students to talk about “what’s new”. This builds social skills, but it also allows them to practice using vocabulary they already know, and to expand on that vocabulary with new words, expressions and idioms that relate to their everyday experiences. I hope that this regular activity will also encourage them to “English” any of their everyday activities, since they know they’ll have to share something with the class.
- Work on exercises individually, review with a partner, then correct the exercise with the whole class. Good students will also do the connected workbook exercises after each class. This provides several repetition and reinforcement opportunities since we rarely learn something new, the first time we’re exposed to that information. It also allows connections to be strengthened between existing and new knowledge.
- Individual, narrative writing that connects to each new subject area, as well as grammar. Again, this allows students to reinforce new knowledge, connect it to existing knowledge, and expand their “English” thinking about the current subject. As students write, I collect their writing, edit it, and send back the writing that all of the students have done, so that they have a grammatically correct “template” for expressing themselves on the subject. Also, this provides reading material that is interesting, and not too challenging for students to read independently.
- Regular “fieldtrips” to go use the target language in a real, yet safe and enjoyable environment. This means visiting restaurants or grocery stores when learning about food, a nearby gym while learning about staying in shape.
I hope that these various methods are helping students to incorporate their language learning as quickly as possible! Please share any other tips and tricks that have helped you to learn or to teach a new language.
Click the link below to see what scientists are saying about the brain.
All summer in Edmonton, there are many interesting events, and a lot of them are free! Many students know that I’m crazy about canoeing, and it looks interesting to them. They wanted to know where they can find out more about this activity. An excellent opportunity is at Edmonton’s “River Day”, when many clubs and businesses that use the river meet together to show Edmontonians how they can enjoy the river. One of the activities is lessons for boats, including kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards. The classes are low-cost, so they’re very popular. Go sign up soon after the event begins at 10 am. There will be 4 canoeing classes and 2 kayak classes, and possibly 2 standup-paddleboard classes. Instructors will make sure you have the correct equipment, and they’ll give you the main idea for these activities. You can also enjoy a free pancake breakfast, and you can try fishing and other activities.
Another time and place when you can learn about paddling is at MEC Paddlefest, which will be held on Sunday, June 28, at Astotin Lake, Elk Island National Park this year.
Edmonton Paddlefest, Astotin Lake, Elk Island National Park is another great place to try out paddling sports. Many vendors and clubs provide instruction and the chance to try out their equipment for free. You can also register to take quite a few different classes for free.
If you want to try out paddling, and you can’t attend these special events, you can also rent equipment from MEC or Totem Outfitters to try at any river or lake, or you can rent at Astotin Lake from Haskin Canoe, for $25/hour. I recommend that you search YouTube first for a video about how to canoe. It’s not so difficult, but if you have no idea how to steer the boat, it’s really frustrating!
If you want to get more involved in paddling, and have regular practice, you can also join a paddling club. There are several in Edmonton, but I’m a member of one of the more active clubs:
Ceyana has weekly practice evenings at Rundle Park Paddling Centre (Tuesdays), instruction for many kinds of paddling, trips, and practice sessions in the big (voyageur) canoes. Members enjoy a wide range of paddling, from whitewater river paddling, to practice on a pond. For me, my favourite activity is going on canoe trips, spending at least one night away from home. A canoe club is a great place to meet other paddlers, to learn new ideas, and to share gear and knowledge.
In, on and at can be some of the trickiest English prepositions to learn correctly, but they are used very frequently, so you should take time to get familiar with when to use each one. This is UK English, so they say “at the weekend”. In North America, things happen “on the weekend”. We also use in/on/at to describe locations, so take time to find out what we use when!