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Tag Archives: teaching resources

It’s not every day I sing the praises of a “crib”…

9781741253474-2T … but I am prepared to laud Maya Puiu and Lisa Edwards for their Pascal Press Study Guide for “Belonging” and Peter Skrzynecki’s Immigrant Chronicle. It really is a thorough and extremely intelligent guide.

It is in fact so good it could be dangerous for some students, if they were to draw on it too closely. Nonetheless, I do commend it and have used it myself – after my own efforts on this site, I should add perhaps. Learn from it, but after reading them search out your own quotes on “belonging” and your own supplementary texts. Use the material on the poems as part of a wider mix, including your class discussions and your own insights. Avoid the exact wording of this very helpful book, lest you and thousands of others begin to sound as if you have been cloned!

Even so, this gets a 10 out of 10 from me. It is that good!

I haven’t seen the other guides in the series, but it has been a good idea to publish comprehensive guides for each set text rather than a catch-all approach in one book.

Maya Puiu is no stranger either to ESL teaching or to Skrzynecki’s work. Some years ago she co-ordinated a book rap on the subject where there is some valuable material, even if not all the current set of poems are there.

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For many kids Civics is arid, deadly dull and is thus hard to teach

That, I suspect, is part of the problem behind the story in today’s AustralianStudents do badly in study of civics. I really don’t think results would have been much better fifty years ago when I was fifteen.

STUDENTS’ knowledge of Australia’s system of government is lower than expected, with only one in three Year 10 students knowing what the Constitution is.

The national assessment of civics and citizenship in Years 6 and 10 found about 54 per cent of primary students and 41 per cent of high school students met the proficiency standards for their year. But about one in five Year 10 students failed to meet the Year 6 standard.

"This was especially the case in relation to information about the constitutional structure of Australian democracy," the report says. "Lacking such fundamental information will restrict the capacity of students to make sense of many other aspects of Australian democratic forms and processes, and they may, therefore, be disadvantaged in their capacity to engage in meaningful ways in many other levels of civic action or discourse."

At Year 6, students are expected to recognise the division of governmental responsibilities in a federation, identify a link between a change in Australia’s identity and a change in the national anthem, recognise the benefit of different political parties and the federal budget.

By Year 10, students are expected to recognise key functions and features of parliament, analyse the common good as a motivation for becoming a whistleblower, explain the importance of a secret ballot, and recognise how the independence of the judiciary is protected. On the Constitution, Year 10 students were asked "what is the Australian Constitution?" and given four possible answers: the rules about how the major Australian political parties are run; the policies of the Australian federal government; the framework for the ways Australia is governed; all the laws that Australian citizens must obey…

Look at the last paragraph there! Did I know all that fifty years ago? Answer: NO! What do we expect then? Why, aside from pious hopes, should we expect 100% of kids to have mastered all that arcane matter?

On the other hand, kids today do have advantages. In the web world there are some marvellous sources of information. Even the Book of Answers from the last government’s ill-conceived citizenship tests is not a bad resource on these and other matters. But then there are sites such as Australian Politics and Oz Politics. Certainly it isn’t hard to find out these days; in my day it was less easy.

There is a big role here too in well organised excursions to parliaments and courts, as many schools do. The information people there are often brilliant, and the whole thing becomes more concrete. On the other hand bureaucratic responses to child safety issues have made organising any excursion a logistic nightmare, so I suspect there has probably been some reduction in such activities. A shame. Mock courts and parliaments are another approach that can bring these matters to life.

Coincidentally, yesterday I found myself with a 15-16 year old from China, a recent arrival whose English is developing, trying to help him with a Legal Studies task on the rule of law – and a whole host of other key terms all crowded into one or two of his school lessons. A challenge. We did our best.

 

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Yes, there is a problem!

I received an email the other day; naturally the first part I find very pleasing. 🙂

I thought about creating an ESL blog for my students, but now conclude that this is not necessary as your site does it all. I passionately support all your ideas on this site and applaud your remarkable work. I am an ESL/English teacher in a … non-selective independent high school. Even though I graduated with HD from my uni ESL program five years ago, I have been using my scales and teaching ESL for only the last year and I am overwhelmed with the learning needs of my students. I am from a NESB [myself], but I do not speak the first language of the students.

My school is currently going through a learning support review and I would like to seek your wisdom. The school has found that students entering from language colleges cannot cope with the demands of our curriculum. Some students have learning difficulties as well as a language barrier. What type of ESL delivery has worked best at SBHS?

Well, I doubt how much wisdom I might have, but I am glad this site has met a need.

To take the last part first: SBHS no longer has an ESL teacher, and I am retired aside from the odd job here or there, and some tuition work, but even when I was ESL teacher as SBHS we didn’t confront problems of the kind the writer mentions, as there were no overseas fee-paying students at the school and only very occasionally did someone come from an Intensive English school to us. Mostly they had already been a few years at least in an English-speaking educational setting. There were some students who had been speaking English for three years or less, however, who fell well within the five to eight years normally required to attain adequate levels of cognitive academic language proficiency.

The writer is correct in saying that some “students entering from language colleges cannot cope with the demands of our curriculum”. I base this on my tuition work rather than on my work at SBHS. It does seem that there is a mismatch between the levels students from some private language colleges attain and the basic level needed even to function in a mainstream school environment, which I would say has to be at least Australian ESL Scales 4; 5 or 6 in some subjects, even in HSC English ESL, if a decent result is to be gained. I should add that many private colleges do an excellent job, and the NSW Intensive English schools for state school students are particularly good.

Some schools have good ESL support structures; one that I know of actually runs its own ELICOS classes for newly arrived overseas students, affording limited or phased participation in mainstream classes until the right level is reached. Others have sufficient numbers of overseas students to allow targeted classes in mainstream curriculum designed for those students in many subjects, while others rely on traditional forms of ESL support such as regular presence of one or more ESL teachers in various curriculum areas, and cooperative planning of work units with the students’ language needs consciously addressed.

There is an ESL strategy document available from the NSW Department of Education that gives many good pointers, but how effective a particular school can be depends on the human and other resources it can afford. You probably know it but here it is: English as a Second Language: Guidelines for Schools (PDF).

One thing is for sure. Some schools may have, I believe, gone into the overseas student business, which is very profitable, without being fully aware of the social, logistical and educational issues involved.

When I was at SBHS I tested all new students, gathered information about them, and assessed their needs from an ESL viewpoint. This material was shared with classroom teachers. Particular cases were discussed with teachers. Some students were interviewed and given some additional tuition in some cases. With some classes I visited in various subject areas, participating in some lessons. Sometimes teachers would refer certain issues to me. This blog in its original form was a way of reaching more students than I could personally.

 

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More good educational/English Studies blogs

Just had this email:

I am a regular reader of your English/ESL–and more! blog and I have found your site to be an inspiration. I am a teacher of high school English at Katikati College in New Zealand and I have been blogging for about nine months…

So I checked them out. I suggest you do the same.

This one is for Year 13 students (New Zealand):

katikati2

This one is for other years, the majority of students at Katikati College.

katikati1

Students here will find many relevant articles and links.

 

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ESL Podcasts

Thanks to James Rudd for this. James is an ex-student whose computer credentials are most impressive.

eslpod

About the site, linked above:

Who is ESLPod.com?

ESLPod.com is run by a team of experienced English as a Second Language professors with over 30 years of high school, adult, and university ESL teaching experience. Dr. Lucy Tse writes scripts and story ideas for the podcasts, and records many of the dialogs and stories. The host for the podcast is Dr. Jeff McQuillan, who helps read the scripts and provides explanations for them.

Both Dr. Tse and Dr. McQuillan received a Ph.D. in applied linguistics and education at the University of Southern California. Dr. Tse was a professor of applied linguistics and education at Loyola Marymount University, Arizona State University, and California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. McQuillan was a professor of applied linguistics at California State University, Fullerton, and Arizona State University. Both are currently Senior Researchers at the Center for Educational Development, the sponsor of ESLPod.com.

Why are you doing this podcast?
For many people around the world, learning English is very important. Unfortunately, there are very few useful, effective sources for learning English. Most people take English classes, which help them up to a certain point. ESL Podcast is designed to help you continue to improve your English.

What’s so different about ESL Podcast?
Well, first, all of our podcasts are free to anyone who wants them. Second, ESL Podcast uses a very different approach than other courses or websites.

We believe the fastest way to improve your English is to listen to conversations and discussions you can understand. Many people try to improve their English by
listening or reading things that are too difficult. They understand only 40-50%, which means they are wasting half of their time!

At ESL Podcast, we provide English at a slower speed and use everyday phrases and expressions. We explain what these expressions mean and how to use them. That’s all! It’s simple, it’s obvious, and it’s very powerful.

It is directed towards adult learners, but I am sure secondary school teachers and older ESL students will find much to look at and/or use as well.

 

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Handy resource for NSW HSC English Module C Elective 1 "Telling the Truth"

martinhoward At one of those cheap remainder bookshops I picked up a copy of We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind by Martin Howard (NY Disinformation 2005) — for $3.95! Some of the content may be, to some readers, a touch paranoid, but the section “The Media Zone” is tailor-made for Elective 1. See the website How They Change Your Mind, which supplements the book.

This illustrated guide presents the full range of techniques that are being used in the battle for your mind–bringing together research from hundreds of different sources. Inspired by the popular book Coercion by Douglas Rushkoff, this book presents key ideas and case examples in a practical, easy-to-follow, illustrated format. We Know What You Want is a course in how to fight back against the advertising and public relations industries, offering powerful tools for individuals to assess their own media environment and to reclaim their free will.

The publishers also have the interesting and well-known site disinfo.com.

Mike Gange, who teaches media studies and journalism at Fredericton High in New Brunswick, Canada — the oldest English high school in Canada — has this to say about We Know What You Want:

Most of these releases are aimed at adult readers, and while they contain ideas that may be useful in the classroom, they are more likely to end up as a library selection than a day-to-day classroom resource. We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind by Martin Howard would be one of the few surprising exceptions. Not only does it stand out from the others in the flood by proving to be enlightening for adults and students, it contains items that could be used alone or as part of a unit on media education.

Howard is a former marketing executive, with over 15 years experience in the marketing field. He became interested in emerging forms of communications and stumbled upon the works of Marshall McLuhan simultaneously. As a result, he targets his book to average consumers; it is especially pertinent to middle school and high school students. Howard states that he wants to encourage individuals to assess their own media environment…

Part of the beauty of We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind is that it will teach both leaders and learners in the classroom and serve parents and kids in the home. Students looking for an idea for a final project in communications courses, language or civics classes, or media studies lessons will revel in the breadth of the topics covered. Another appealing aspect of this book is the use of graphics that will help get the point across. Maybe the best part of the book, however, is its tone: it teaches us what to think about, without preaching to us about what to think. In that regard then, We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind is a stand out.

I agree!

 
 

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A blogging solution for educators?

Visit James Farmer’s Edublogs, a WordPress style blogging tool for teachers, researchers, librarians and other educational professionals. Ad-free and, if it can be judged as a WordPress look-alike, it should be very easy to use. In fact, if this blog was not already here, I would be very tempted to put it there.

Because Edublogs is made by educators for educators we know a lot about how you can effectively use blogs in teaching and learning at all levels. We’re here to provide resources, discussion and suggestions for how you can use Edublogs for education and we’re always adding to them and working on our methods. Thinking of eportfolios, collaborative classwork, online journaling, discussion or problem-based learning or good old social constructivism? So are we!

It is also available to school students and English Language Learners.

See also Edublogs.org – Providing Free Blogs to Educators and Students and The Future of Education is in the Blogs, both by Lorelle VanFossen.

 
 

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