Tag Archives: ESL

ELLSA Conference 2013


English Language Learning Specialists in Asia 2013

Learning in a “High Challenge, High Support” classroom: Supporting Success for English Language Learners in International Schools

The inaugural conference was alight with enthusiastic English Language specialists in Asia. With millions of language learners in the region, a conference of this sort was long time coming. As Stroupe (2011) has highlighted, many Asian English Language Learners (ELLs) have a positive view about using English in classrooms especially with their governments implementing educational policies to support this learning.

A conference or workshop is always a good excuse to head out of school for a few days. Indeed, it is a rejuvenating experience, in my opinion, to get out of one’s little comfort zone, explore a new city and be challenged with new ideas. Many of the sessions at ELLSA were an affirmation for me – of my teaching methodology and the teacher training programme I conduct in school.

Pauline Gibbons, English language education guru, opened the conference with her keynote speech on the pedagogy of explicit teaching of the English language as a scaffold for ELLs; an affirmation for many of us, like a pat on the back before we headed off to our selected workshops. Every topic was backed by research and experience. Every one a chance to share our successes and frustrations. It was good to know that many of us have had similar experiences.

*Collaboration with mainstream classroom teachers is an ongoing work in progress

*Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) can happen through collaboration

*Scaffolding learners in mainstream classrooms is a necessity in the 21st century

*Technology is our friend especially in today’s classroom

*L1 development is vital along side L2 or L3 acquisition despite the desire to intensify English language learning

**ESL/EAL teachers are not the panacea for learning difficulties or students’ inability to access the curriculum

I walked away from the conference believing in myself as an ESL specialist a little bit more. There are now many more books I want to read and many more activities I would like to try. On my to-do list:

*work with my fellow ESL teachers to create a framework for collaboration and co-teaching

*incorporate more practical activities and strategies in my PD sessions in school

*put together an improved PD on Academic Language for the teachers

Despite having to learn the conference and Bangkok city, we agreed that the conference provided a wonderful networking opportunity and many a name card and emails were exchanged. Nothing could put a damper on our experience as English Language Specialists in Asia, not even the red nor yellow shirts.

A fabulous #ELLSA… wishing more good years

I believe…


Every now and then, I feel it is necessary to take stock and think about what is important in our lives. It does not matter if you are old or young, studying or working, happy or sad.

Thinking about things that matter, makes us more focused, helps us prepare our journey in life and when we achieve our goals, we feel proud of ourselves and our success. Success usually stems from hard work and hard work is a result of knowing our goals, knowing where we are headed is part of reflection.

Take the time to think of what you believe in, what you live for and how you can adjust the things in your life to make it meaningful and successful.

I believe…by Mrs Misso-Veness

I believe that everyday when I go to school,

   I will make a difference in a student’s life,

             I will inspire a teacher and

                     I will make a small change as a teacher, a wife, a mother and a daughter.

I know many things are possible because ‘I BELIEVE’.

What do you believe you are able to do? Write down your own mantra.

Curse of Knowledge


Teachers should never stop learning.

This week, I came across a very interesting phrase, the “curse of knowledge”. In their book, Make it Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die, Dan and Chip Heath write about this “curse” in which teachers have loads of knowledge but find it hard to deliver the nuances of their subject area. It made me sit up! It explained a little more about what some teachers have said to me repeatedly, that they  do not understand why a student had not grasped an idea, a grammar rule or a concept despite doing various activities, exercises and talking about it over and over again. BINGO!

You know too much, Mr Teacher. You know lots of background knowledge in your subject area that you are finding it hard to whittle it down to the essential or the core, so students can understand it.

This is the book.

Make it Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die

This is a video on the concept of the curse of knowledge

This lands itself well to the course I’m conducting at the moment – TESMC. The teaching and learning theories that underpin the course talks about the need to deconstruct a concept, a writing task, an outcome so that students understand the components that make up that concept, task or outcome. We need to provide proper scaffolding so that we guide the students in the direction they are suppose to go. Then when they have the necessary tools, we set them off to work on tasks individually, just like our parents letting go off our hands as we learn to walk.

I love learning new things. I hope you do, too.

Fluency in Speaking


Have you felt that once you start teaching pronunciation, intonation and word stress in class, your own goes downhill? It feels stilted at times and suddenly, I am so conscious of my lips, teeth, tongue and how they all work that I trip over my words as well! It can be hilarious but darn painful when you are being observed! I think my observation went well with my 13-year-olds. Bless the boys! They were co-operative, well-behaved and did all the right things 🙂

We tried these out. I revisited the theme of ‘Nature is a friend, not a foe’.

1) Stress Moves – a game of selecting cut-out words that fall into different stress sound categories. For eg. friend- single stress, reuse – primary stress on 2nd syllable, modern – primary stress on the first syllable and disaster – primary stress on the middle syllable. Of course, I modelled this for them.

2) Word Stress in a sentence- “I love the sun”. I highlighted one word to be stressed in each sentence. I love the sun. I love the sun. I love the sun. Each pair read that aloud and I elicited the meaning of each sentence.

3) intonation – We listened to my daughter’s all-time favourite, Eeyore. They loved listening to his droning voice, and we talked about what intonation meant and how important is it. We went into what rising and falling sounded like and when we used them.

4) Dialogue – I gave out a short dialogue for pairs to practice their word stress and intonation. At the bottom of their card was a scenario that read, “talk to each other as a friend visiting another in hospital, as a policeman to a suspected criminal, as a teacher to a student,”. When the pairs read aloud their dialogues, the rest of the class had to guess the scenario and explain their reasons. Oh, we did discuss body language, too, as the boys seemed to depend on it more to express their ideas than using their voices.

5) Idiomatic language – Most of my ELLs struggle with this especially prepositional phrases. I reused vocabulary from our previous sessions. Each pair had a card with some phrases from previous readings. They had to write a paragraph using those phrases.

6) Accuracy – The next stage was to talk about how we can ensure accuracy in our work. Pairs exchanged their word for peer marking of Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation (GSP) as well as the use of the phrases.

7) Fluency – Having had their corrected work back, students had time to practice reading aloud their paragraphs before presenting it to the class.

The lesson flowed well and they had fun with the variety of activities.


“learning a language, learning through that language & learning about that language” MAK, Halliday

This has been a very inspirational quote for me as an ESL teacher teaching ELLs in a mainstream setting. As a teacher, I challenge myself with preparing custom-tailored lessons for each class, working on my methodology and hoping to pass on some some spark of knowledge to my ELLs In this mix, my students are grappling with all these 3 language features! They are an amazing bunch! I take my hat off to you.

All the best in the upcoming exams.

“learning a lan…

Language Lounge Launch


A place to relax, have a biscuit and put your grey matter to the test.

We challenge you at the Harkness Table with a ‘guest’ speaker each round.

Open up and speak your belief with our Big Question time – Is religion important in the 21st century? Is God a man or a woman? Is it permissible to break the law?

Come, invent and persuade us to your cause through our Inventive Sessions.

Listen to the news, watch controversial new clips and discuss it’s glocal effects (global + local).

Be part of a Game Show, answer a question, win a prize.





Idiom Competition



I’ve posted a new ESL Competition. It’s an idiom competition where old sayings die heard.  It’s up on the ESL noticeboard outside GS 211. Give it a go. There will be a prize for the winner or winners.

What’s an idiom?

The dictionary defines an idiom as, “ a group of words that have a different meaning from the usual meaning of the separate words.”

For example:

To pass : to not accept an offer

To pass on : to die

To make a pass : to show someone romantically that you like them  (if you do it to the wrong person, you might get a slap!)

Why do we use idioms?

Idioms add a little ‘something’ to language. What do I mean? It can make a description more vivid and brief instead of a long literal translation, and it’s part of language, not just the English language. Learning idioms and using them would give you a much richer understanding of the English language and culture. To do well, you need to roll up our sleeves (get to start work), put your nose to the grindstone (start working hard) and read, learn, apply. Good luck!

The History of English


Though the title of this blog sounds dull, I’ve come across some spiffy videos on YouTube that we can all enjoy. A quick fun look at the history of English – a little humour, a little rude, all very English. Enjoy.


Thank you to the people from the Open University in the UK. If you are interested in looking at more entries about English, use this link: 

The Open University – English Language

Click on the ‘Leave a comment’. Do let me know what you think of this video and what you have learnt. Remember to leave me your name and that all posts are public.

Happy Holidays to all my students in Jeju.


Global Language


I have had the wonderful opportunity of living in Singapore, Thailand, the UK and now, Jeju Island. In my time away from home, I have relied on my English language to get through day to day. I did try learning certain Thai phrases for my daily encounters in the shops and restaurants. My husband was very much better at this though. And now, I’m trying rather hard to learn some Korean.

However, it seems that no matter which part of the world you are in, there is someone who can speak some English or lots of it. We have come to depend heavily on English as a means of global communication for business, the Internet and cross-cultural events.

Here are some quotations from lecturers, linguists and educators about English being a global language.

“This is the first time we actually have a language spoken genuinely globally by every country in the world.” (David Crystal author of “English as a Global Language).

“English is dominant in a way that no language has ever been before.” (John McWhorter, linguist, Manhattan Institute)

“English as become the second language of everybody.” ( Mark Warschauer, Professor of Education, University of California)

From The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/09/world/asia/09iht-englede.1.5198685.html?pagewanted=all

ACTIVITY QUESTIONS: What do you think of English being a global language? Do you think the influence of English in business, the media, the Internet and a means of cross-cultural communication, is a positive one? Or do you think it’s negative?

Click on “Leave a comment” to post your answers, thoughts, ideas and opinions. Remember to leave your name and class. Remember, all posts are public.