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Hello everyone! Hola a todos!   Learning a second language like  Spanish or ESOL can be boring and frustrating sometimes. You just get sick of reading your textbook or completing worksheets that your teacher gives you. But believe it or not...there are several ways to make learning a second language fun no matter what age you are! You're probably thinking right now..."how?" I'll tell you how. First, think of something that you like to do in your free time like listening to music, watching a movie or reading. Say if you really enjoy listening to music...look up one of your favorite genres and see what pops up for Spanish or English music in that genre. For example, Spanish pop/rock - the Colombian artist Juanes will pop up. Check out some of his songs on youtube. Once you find a song that you like, look up the Spanish lyrics online, print them out and then try your best at translating them into English. See if you can figure out what the song means... read more

The above-referenced subjects include different-aged PreK-College student needs I have experienced at the beginning of each school year since Fall 2010, when I first began tutoring in earnest via WyzAnt, instead of substituting daily for lesser pay in 18 area elementaries in our school district. I am not including higher math (Grade 7 and above) in my math tutoring experience. I also have helped adults with ESL/ESOL, general and academic reading/writing/comprehension/test preparation as well as public speaking for different-sized audiences, sometimes at-the-last-minute before "the big presentation day".

My emerging tutoring passion is assisting ESL college students with their coursework. Most of them must also hold full-time jobs to support themselves and often their families as well. Many require online courses to get college educations. They could not earn a college degree any other way. Do textbook publishing companies realize how much cultural bias is written into their online ancillary (supplemental) materials? Do teachers of online college courses realize how hopeless these students feel about merely passing a class when their grades depend on online multiple-choice exams consisting of 60 items to be completed in 60 minutes (60 in 60), for example? This may be a subtle form of cultural bias, but bias it is. Frankly, as a native speaker of American English with a master’s degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin—Madison, I’m not sure I could pass a 60 in 60 exam. I would like to challenge the instructors who teach these online courses and college administrators... read more

Greetings, Today's post deals with a subject that is a quite a controversial subject of discussion among students and their teachers. Generally, students would prefer for teachers to post their Spanish (or any other target language) vocabulary words and then to write the English translations beside them. Unfortunately, according to long-established research by Harvard professor, David Marzano, NLR or non-linguistic representation, in which teachers use pictures, drawings and symbols, as well as gestures and actions, is far more effective. For example, what do you think of when you see the yellow "golden arches?" I can tell you that, when I traveled throughout Europe or Latin America, I never had to see the McDonald's sign to know that I was nearing a place in which I could buy hamburgers. NLR is the same thing, basically! As teachers show photos or act out words with gestures, students learn to associate the Spanish word with a mental picture or a certain... read more

Why do we say we're "on the train" or "on the plane"? We're traveling inside the train or plane, aren't we? Why don't we say we're "in the train" or "in the plane"? We don't for the same reason that we do say we're "in the car." But why don't we say we're "on the car?" The car is a mode of transportation like the train and plane, isn't it? The answer is: Usage. Usage dictates that even if it isn't logical or strictly grammatical to say something a certain way, we do it anyway, because that's the phrase that the culture has agreed on. When a phrase is always used the same way by speakers of a language, it is known as an idiom. A lot of idioms are prepositional phrases.The preposition that begins the phrase may not always seem the best one to use, but English language learners should memorize them if they want to go with the flow--that is, if they want to sound American. Here are a few more: "In the mood;"... read more

ESL - English as a Second Language In English, some things need to be easy to remember, and my English Learners like this little trick. When you Do something, you can't touch, and when you MAKE something you can ... That is the simplest way to memorize the difference. These two verbs are very similar in meaning. In French or Spanish, there is no distinction between the two forms. If you think about the results it will help you. Make often has the meaning of produce, create, or prepare. Do is usually the correct word when we are talking about a general activity; that is, we do not specify its nature. Do is usually the correct word when we are talking about work. (In this sense it is often used with the -ing work activities: cooking, shopping, washing-up, sewing, cleaning, etc.). In other cases, there are no clear rules. If in doubt, use MAKE. Be aware of the following common expressions: Do ... business ... good ... harm... read more

It seems to me that even most adults have an issue with grammar. I fairly often see the same mistakes repeated in essays and normal everyday chat. This isn't just an issue associated with younger children with little or no grasp on grammar, it's a common issue that I see even with graduate students. I. First, is the "Their, They're, There" mistake. Their implies ownership. They left with their jackets on. They're implies an action. Today, they're going to the mall. There implies a place. Please place that book over there. II. Second is the "You're and Your" mistake. You're implies that you are going to do something. Today you're going to take the dog for a walk after school. Your implies ownership You left your pencils on the floor. III. Third is the "It's and Its" mistake It's means it is or it has. It's going to be hot outside today! Its shows possession. The cat... read more

Many international students have a fear of taking the TOEFL test because it can determine whether they are able to get into the college of their choice. The most important issue to remember is that this is a test of how well you can understand, read, write and speak English. The purpose of the test is to make sure that you have the ability to understand what is going on in the classroom. This helps you and the professor. It helps you because it makes sure that you know enough English to do well in a classroom, and it helps the professor because they know that you have the ability to do the work in their classroom. One of the best things you can do if you are afraid of taking this test is to hire a tutor. A good TOEFL tutor will help you not only raise your score on the TOEFL, but they will talk to you about strategies that you can use to do well on the test. Also, if you have test anxiety (a common situation when taking a standardized test) a tutor can help you deal... read more

Are you having, or may have had, trouble remembering the 8 parts of speech? Try the acronym IVAN CAPP: Interjection Conjunction Verb Adjective Adjective Preposition Noun Pronoun The first is “I” for “Interjection.” Interjections are the easiest of the 8 parts of speech to remember. Here are some examples: “Ouch! That really hurts.” “Wow! I got an ‘A.’” “Man! That was a really awesome wave.” “Ouch,” “Wow,” “Man,” are all interjections, but you don’t always have to use exclamation marks with interjections. When you use exclamation marks you’re yelling; however, if you don’t want to express so much emotion, then substitute the exclamation marks with commas. Here are the previous examples but with the comma substitutions: “Ouch, that really hurts.” “Wow, I got an ‘A." “Man, that was a really awesome wave.” (This would also count for one of the comma rules.) Next time with IVAN CAPP “Conjunctions”... read more

I have over five years of experience teaching ESOL abroad. As I wrote in an earlier blog, English is the language of the world. I can illustrate "go" by walking or moving a toy car across a table. Or I may use the word "progress" to speakers of Romance languages. I teach ESOL using the Berlitz method which is highly successful. English is easy! Nouns do not change whether at beginning of the sentence (the subject) or at the end ( the object). Therefore word order is not as important as it is in most foreign languages. Even at the start, students find that people understand them. Having only the Present Tense, students are already communicating.

I have tutored several adults in English as a Second Language through WyzAnt. Over the past year, I have also led an enjoyable, weekly, two-hour adult ESL conversation group at the Brooklyn Public Library. These experiences have some things in common, two of which I'll share here. The best ESL activities ask students to use more than one of the “Four Skills”: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. An exercise might focus on one of these skills, such as speaking. However, if another skill, perhaps reading, is also involved, students learn more quickly. This "integrated skills" approach also helps adults to learn in a way that resembles how young children learn language. My ESL teacher training program has taught me that individuals learn best in different ways. Tutoring with WyzAnt confirms how individual learning is. One size does not fit all when it comes to learning! This wisdom applies to adult learners as much as to children. Some prefer to jump... read more

Dear ESL student: Perhaps you would like my help to improve your English. You have learned to read and write English in your home country. Perhaps you have a solid foundation with a good knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary. I am guessing that you want to be able to speak more naturally and be understood easily in your daily life in America. I am guessing that you would like to "fit in," and enjoy the easy give and take of casual conversation. Is that so? I would like to help you achieve that. One aspect of this is what I call "fluency," that there is a flow in what you say, that the words seem part of a stream of ideas and feelings. I would like to help bring you closer to that flow of meaning, where we are listening less with our minds than our hearts and our imaginations. With your prior knowledge of grammar and with my help, you can think and speak more in phrases instead of individual words. The words begin to flow together. There... read more

Students often come to us with expectations that we will teach them how to write and speak correctly. Why correctly? Because they know it produces rewards: money, jobs, status. Although the scientific linguist says that correctness is just based on the preferences of the cultural group with the most status, and has no intrinsic merit by itself, still the popular attitude has it right: Correctness works to help you get ahead. Similarly, poor spellers have a lid on their success (unless they are musicians or star athletes). Admittedly, there is little correlation of either correctness or spelling ability with heart, or character, or intelligence, or spiritual development. The real reason for correctness is that it works, in certain social and professional situations. It brings rewards. It is not more moral or beautiful by itself. Correct language is just what the power elite says is correct. You need to make a choice: would you like to achieve certain financial and... read more

It is essential to provide students with multiple opportunities to practice activities and connect their learning to their personal and cultural experiences. My lesson plans are designed to tap students' background knowledge, and use visuals, think-alouds and other ways to keep them involved. I modify my instruction to engage ESL/ESOL students with various strategies that include the following: visual and tactile activities that provide adequate repetition and practice of new vocabulary words and concepts. I also include reading comprehension strategies for different grade levels. I assign a variety of homework and assessments that are appropriate for the individual stages of English language acquisition.

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