31 May, 2009

Top 10 Downloads, Updated

Last year at this time, we published our Top Ten Downloads for the past year. We continue this tradition with the list from last May through today, in descending order of popularity:
Logistics Vocabulary.htm
Business E-Mails.doc
Business Idioms 1.doc
Formality vs Informality in Correspondence.doc
Logistics Terms.doc
Presentations 1.doc
Telephoning 1.doc
Agreement, Tentative Agreement, Disagreement 1.doc
Asking Questions in Meetings.doc
Business Idioms 2.doc

There are a few interesting aspects to the list this year. For one, only a few of the items repeat from the previous year's list. For another, this is the first time that an HTML interactive computer exercise has been on the list, never mind at the #1 spot! Finally, it's clear that Business English continues to reign supreme.

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28 May, 2009

Eliminate L1 Metalanguage in Classes?

An interesting fictitious debate between two Japanese EFL teachers on the forthcoming requirement to teach all EFL classes in Japan entirely in English. Sample exchange:
Saito: OK, what about classroom management? I'm fine with the target language being demonstrated in English, but what about metalanguage, those explanations of language points, information about homework and projects, tests and grades, arranging an activity, warnings and comments about exceptions or irregular cases in English, common pitfalls, that sort of thing? And imagine you're giving instructions like this:

"Work with your partner. Choose words from the right side if you are the partner on the right, and from the left side if you are on the left, then fill in the blanks verbally, using the correct form of the verbs from the list. After you've finished this do it again but in reverse, but this time change the tense to the continuous form, so keep in mind you'll have the change the other parts of each sentence accordingly."

If I say all that in English, it will take about 20 minutes just to get the activity started and students will be frustrated and demotivated and probably with even less actual comprehension. It just doesn't make sense when the class management or instruction language is more complex than the target language points. So why not say it in Japanese in one or two minutes so that everyone understands what to do and can get right to work on the target language points? Then they'd be spending more time on the actual English task!

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19 May, 2009

Jill Biden Now a TESOL Teacher

The U.S. "Second Lady" is keeping herself busy:

After husband Joe became vice president, she took a job teaching English as a second language at Northern Virginia Community College.

No word yet on whether her Secret Service detail can explain the past perfect continuous... .

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12 May, 2009

Subscriptions vs. Gift Packs

Remember, you don't have to buy a subscription to get ten credits, and then cancel it immediately. Use our new Gift Packs instead. You get twelve exercise credits for a one-time charge: nothing to cancel, you'll never be billed again. Details can be found here.

06 May, 2009

The Black Hole of ESL Funding

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard a case -- argued by Kenneth Starr, of Clinton impeachment fame -- in which Arizona is trying to stop paying for endless TESOL training for non-English-speaking students in their public schools. Article here; relevant quote here:

Their brief says the lower courts overstepped their power in telling Arizona it must specifically set aside funding for all its ELL program operational needs. "The lower courts’ approach will create perverse incentives to keep students languishing in special-language programs" since it’s based on the number of students in the programs, rather than those who become English-proficient.

And, if they lose and must earmark ELL funds? Bistrow says opponents suggest Arizona would need to spend $300 million more on ELLs: "This fight is more than an academic exercise. It’s about real money."

Tim Hogan, executive director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest and a co-counsel for Flores, estimates the amount at closer to $200 million.

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