Thursday, January 31, 2008

5 Must-Have Tools on your ESL Class Blog!

Blogs are wonderful free tools teachers can design to meet the needs of their particula syllabus, curriculum, students' learning styles and personal teaching philosophies. My students like our ESL class blog because it incorporates a variety of tools they are using EVERY day in and outside class. This is a list of 5 "must-have" tools I put together and recommend to any ESL teacher who wants to use blogs as a tool rather than as a simply instructional media:
1. Online Dictionaries
(with visual and audio/pronunciation features, also with ESL learner features)
Merriam-Webster online dictionary, , VisuWords, and Thefreedictionary:

2. Grammar Girl: wonderful free podcasts for anyone interested in improving writing skills in English:
3. Online Essay Map: great tool for students who can not organise ideas in paragraphs or don't know how to write a topic sentence:
4. Free online Puzzle and crossword makers, great fun tools to improve students' spelling and vocabulary: (a Web-based service, with a variety of puzzles to choose from (Letter Tiles, Crosswords, Fallen Phrases).
Kelly's Multiple Choice HTML Quiz Generator, (which may be used to generate interactive self-study quizzes, where the sample questions are replaced with one's own.).
5. Media Sharing Tools:
Slideshare - the world's largest community for sharing power point presentations on the web
TeacherTube – an online community for sharing instructional videos
Just demonstrate the students how to use them and then they will take over the classroom! How about your list of must-have blogging tools for teachers and students?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ugly Betty, SCI Miami, Grammar Girl and Merriam-Webster in one package!

It is true that Web 2.0 opened new horizons to both teachers and students. Anyone can easily access information on an infinite variety of subjects in just a couple of seconds: we are became legitimate participants in the world outside our classroom. The problem is now – how can we face the amount o information bombarding us n a daily basis. How can we teach our students select appropriate material and be effective while surfing the web? A possible answer is RSS – a great tool to make classroom blogging more productive for the students and professors. At the beginning of the semester, I included a list of links I want my students to check on a regular basis. These are online dictionaries (Merriam Webster check on the ESL Learner section!!!), CNN, US Today and BBC news, Grammar Girl podcasts, and of course some fun stuff: like Ugly Betty Blog (believe it or not, I am watching that too from time to time J ), or CSI Miami blog (I am a big fan of that !!!!). My students started complaining that it became time consuming to check on all these blogs and links daily, so the RSS solution was perfect for me! I asked all of them to create a Bloglines account, subscribe to their favorite blogs and check on the headlines that appear on the right section. This is how they can skim for information they might find useful, or just have fun browsing on the latest posts – just like browsing a newspaper! Easy, time saving and just very cool! Try it out with your students and let me know if it worked for them!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

English is a Crazy Language - Do you agree?

Dear ESL Grammar students! Welcome to our ESL Class bklog. this is the first post I want you to read and comment on.
English is the most widely spoken language on our planet, used in some way on every continent. Half of the world's books are written in English, and the majority of international telephone calls are made in English. Nonetheless, it is now time to face the fact that English is a crazy language. In what other language do people drive in a parkway and park in a driveway? Why is it that when we transport something by car, it's called a shipment, but when we transport something by ship, it's called cargo? Why are people who ride motorcycles called bikers and people who ride bikes called cyclists? Why -- in this crazy language -- can your nose run and your feet smell? Why is the word abbreviation so long? If olive oil is made from olives, what do they make baby oil from? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian consume? If pro and con are opposites, is congress the opposite of progress? A writer is someone who writes, but fingers don't fing and hammers don't ham. One goose, two geese -- so one moose, two meese? One blouse, 2 blice? ? One index, two indices -- one Kleenex, two Kleenices? If the teacher taught, why isn't it also true that the preacher praught? Why is it that the sun shone yesterday while I shined my shoes? Why is it that when the sun or the moon or the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible? English is a crazy language.
Do you agree with author that English is Crazy? Give examples of things that confuse you about this language. Have you ever had any confusing, embarrassing or funny situations related to misunderstandings in English?