Why I Refuse to Call My Colleagues “ELL Teachers”

I can hear my grandmother’s voice echoing through her house as she called. “Get your feet off the davenport!” My mother still calls remote controls “clickers.” My siblings and I have found humor in their use of these antiquated terms. In recent years, I’ve found more and more commonality with my grandmother and mother as some of the words in my vocabulary Rolodex are now notably different from the mainstream dialect.

I’m a teacher educator and an applied linguist. Like any progressive linguist, I bristle at those who identify as “grammar snobs,” knowing the colonial and elitist backdrop that such a posture implies. It is because of my deep respect for language evolution and variation, as well as my Midwestern aversion to disruption, that I’ve struggled to voice my dissent on a vernacular change in my field.

My field is the Puff Daddy (Puffy? P. Diddy? Sean Combs?) of education disciplines. We go by many names. In my home state of Minnesota, I earned a teaching license in English as a second language (ESL). In other parts of the country, our field is known by terms such as English as a new language (ENL), English academic language (EAL), English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) and teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). While there is potential for healthy debate around the propriety of these terms, one thing is true. They all describe academic disciplines.

The times they are a-changin’, my friends. Immigration to the United States is slowing to a halt and our immigrant communities are growing increasingly cautious. The nation’s public education system is undergoing radical reform initiatives that undermine the rights that English learners in our nation have known since Lau v. Nichols was passed in 1974. It is happening quickly. I see the change in nomenclature in our field as a gateway toward a precarious future. My K–12 applied linguist colleagues no longer refer to themselves as ESL teachers; they now identify as ELL teachers.

ELL stands for English language learner. On one hand, I’m thrilled that the mantra “All teachers are language teachers” appears to have caught on. We’re seeing mainstream teachers taking up the work of integrating academic language objectives into their curriculum and in many schools mainstream teachers are coached by their language expert colleagues (This is what I do with the ELM Project). Three cheers for a community approach to language support! So now to the other hand, and why I cannot bring myself to use the term ELL teacher as a replacement for ESL teacher.

ELL is not a discipline. It identifies a student population. If all teachers are ELL teachers, then what becomes of those who are professionally prepared to teach language through content? I prepare applied linguists. Call them ESL, EAL, ENL, ESOL, or TESOL teachers, but please do not call them ELL teachers. Beyond serving students who are identified as English learners, they are masters at understanding the intricacies of language and translating that understanding in order to make content accessible. Their skillset is the product of an understanding of second language acquisition and linguistics, as well as language teaching methodologies.

While the redundancy of terms like ELL learner and SLIFE student get my goat every time I hear them, neither makes me grit my teeth as much as ELL teacher. This is because district, state, and national policies are being crafted in ways that greatly diminish the role that ESL teachers have in the educational experience of English learners.

I can’t bear to hear another graduate tell me that she has launched into a career that doesn’t value her expertise or that his deep linguistic knowledge was for naught because he is working as a masters-prepared tutor. More importantly, I see the work of ESL teachers as morally imperative as educational opportunity gaps result in stunted socioeconomic mobility for those who have already endured the trauma of displacement.

Those who dedicate their careers to teaching English to our nation’s newcomers know that language and names matter. This is a call to critically analyze how we identify ourselves as professionals in this specialized field. Because of my deep respect for all of you who take up this critical work, I won’t call you ELL teachers. Just keep your feet off the davenport and pass me the clicker.

from TESOL Blog http://blog.tesol.org/why-i-refuse-to-call-my-colleagues-ell-teachers/


Teacher Education Intersections at TESOL 2018

One of the most interesting aspects of working as a teacher educator is the various ways it intersects with other aspects of English language education, such as teacher identity development, social responsibility, and the use of technology in formal and informal contexts. For you teacher educators who plan to attend the TESOL International Convention this year in Chicago, the Teacher Education Interest Section has some excellent intersection panels planned for you! Check them out below.

An Identity-Oriented Lens to TESOL Teachers’ Lives
1:00–2:45 pm, Wed, 28 Mar 2018

Many studies on ELT identity focus on native/nonnative speakers of English, a dichotomy neither stable nor universal. This panel highlights perspectives that construct teacher identity as intersectional, multidimensional, and contradictory. It provides teacher educators and administrators with a lens to understand teacher learning, professionalization, and ongoing negotiation/reconstruction of identities.

Education Standard 2e, Teacher Training, Technology, Apps, and Digital Resources
3:00–4:45 pm, Wed, 28 Mar 2018

Considering the 2017 TESOL Draft Teacher Education Standard 2e, the CALLIS and TEIS panel showcase what pre-/in-service teachers need to know about uses of technology, apps, and digital resources to assist teachers in their lessons, activities, instruction, assessments, and communication with co-teachers, supervisors, students and their families, and the leadership.

Integrating Social Justice Into Teacher Education
9:30–11:15 am, Thu, 29 Mar 2018

A diverse panel of TESOL experts share international and U.S.-based research and practice to address the integration of social justice topics into preservice and in-service teacher education. Topics include increasing student and teacher agency, advocacy, examining linguistic ideologies, gender, regional sociopolitical justice issues, and developing critical literacy.

You are also invited to our Teacher Education Interest Section open Business Meeting held in Chicago 2018, which is an excellent opportunity to contribute to TESOL teacher education and become involved in the organization. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, 28 March, 5:00–6:30 pm. For more information see the TESOL 2018 Schedule at a Glance. We would love to see you at these and all of the other Teacher education-related sessions in Chicago!

from TESOL Blog http://blog.tesol.org/teacher-education-intersections-at-tesol-2018/

💕 Friday freebie!💕

Hello Teachers!
Here is a great math freebie just for you!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Multiplying-by-8-Math-Games-and-Lesson-Plan-28642Multiplying by 8 – Multiplication Math Games and Lesson Plans

Check out this 26-page package freebie that focuses on multiplying by 8. Teaching elementary students to multiply is quick and effective when students practice their multiplication facts with these fun and engaging reproducible multiplication games, lesson plans and activities.


This package includes 5 Math Games:
*Multiplying by 8
*Match It Up!
*Multiplication Bingo
*Flash Card Bingo

*Homework Black lines
*Timed Tests
*Score Graphs

Each multiplication game includes game boards, cards, practice sheets, a 5 minute-timed test and graph for efficient assessment.

Also included are 5 black lines, which can be used to differentiate your instruction, as seat work or sent home as homework. Flash cards also come in this packet.

These games are effective ways to reach and teach your English language learners and at risk students. Differentiate your elementary instruction with this great 26-page multiplication game and activities.

Please follow me and don’t forget to rate this product!

Click here to download this freebie!

Happy teaching!💕 

from Fun To Teach ESL – Teaching English as a Second Language http://esleld.blogspot.com/2018/03/friday-freebie.html

Learning English Through Lyrics

I thought it might be fun to start this blog out with a song. As most English teachers know, music can be a great way to engage learners to listen extensively and intensively. Music can make learning English fun while allowing teachers to focus on any of these aspects that are relevant to their current teaching. It can provide students with welcome opportunities to listen repeatedly and carefully to understand the English lyrics. Lyrics can be used as a source of authentic language to support the instruction of all language skills.

Very early in my career I had the opportunity to create my own classes using interesting resources. One of the first ones that I created was a class built around music and lyrics. It was an integrated skills class that intentionally shifted focus to speaking and pronunciation, listening, reading, writing, and grammar as course material and student needs allowed. Songs were intentionally selected to address each of these areas as well as to appeal to students’ personal musical interests. This class was completely paper-based and the music was played on cassettes.

Today, a variety of websites present opportunities for learners to interact with music and lyrics in a variety of ways. Songs and lyrics are easy to find on the Internet. It is also easy to find examples of fan created video mashups, including their favorite songs and performers. If fans are doing this sort of thing on their own, I think we can welcome similar activities in the language classroom. Students can reflect on the language of lyrics and respond through their own creations. They can create alternate versions of lyrics, changing grammatical forms, song settings, or characters to address language goals.

Some sites also allow learners across a continuum of abilities to practice interacting with English. Many of these sites provide learners with opportunities to adjust enhancements so that they are most salient for their particular needs at that specific point in their acquisition process. Like so many recent developments in educational technology, these sites put the control in the hands of students, which allows them to take responsibility for their own learning and engage meaningfully in the process.

New resources are always available; one current example that I like is Lyrics training. This website presents learners with a lot of control and numerous options. When they enter the site, learners have the option of choosing from four levels of difficulty. As you can see they offer a range of challenges.

Lyrics Training Screenshot

Once a level is selected, learners can interact with the music videos in progressively more challenging ways. Each phrase or sentence is presented for students to complete as they anticipate the next one, as can be seen in this photo:

Lyrics Training Levels

Learners are also invited to compete with others, upload their favorite lyrics, and save their favorites. There is also a portal for teachers to be able to manage students’ performance. Lyrics training also provides resources for learning 11 other languages so instructors who work across languages may find this useful.

There are many helpful resources online for guiding teachers in using music in the ESL and EFL classroom. Here are a few of my favorites:

How to Use Songs in the English Language Classroom (British Council)
Using Songs to Teach English (US State Dept. webinar)
Teaching English With Music: 4 Effective Ways to Use Music in the ESL Classroom (FluentU English Educator Blog)

Teachers can use songs, lyrics, and music videos in so many creative ways to design engaging learning experiences. As I often say, you are only limited by your own imagination and creativity.

In the next episode we will look at some other resources for using video in English learning. Some of these also support the use of music and lyrics, but they also present a variety of authentic examples of spoken English in ways that allow learners to control delivery and access to the resources.

from TESOL Blog http://blog.tesol.org/learning-english-through-lyrics/

ESP Project Leader Profile: Jennifer Roberts

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

In this ESP project leader profile, we meet our incoming English in occupational settings (EOS) representative for TESOL ESPIS. If you would like to speak with Jennifer and other ESPIS members in person, please attend the ESPIS Open Meeting at TESOL 2018 in Chicago. Jennifer’s bio highlights her background as an aviation English specialist, her international experience, and her research interests:

Jennifer Roberts is a faculty member in the College of Aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide, serving as the Aviation English Specialist to develop and implement aviation English programs both locally and internationally. Before coming to Embry-Riddle, she served as an English Language Fellow in Indonesia where she focused on teacher training and program development, shortly after receiving her MA in applied linguistics and ESL from Georgia State University. Her research interests are in the pedagogical applications of corpus linguistics, language policy and planning, and curriculum and materials development in English for specific purposes settings. Currently, her research focuses on the level of English language proficiency necessary for ab initio aviation personnel, such as those beginning flight training.

In her responses to the interview questions below, Jennifer shares how she uses through promotional methods to get stakeholder buy-in for an aviation English course.

Jennifer Roberts
Faculty, Aviation English Specialist
College of Aeronautics
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide

1. Define leadership in your own words.

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.”

Paul Hawken (1987, p. 39)

Although “management” isn’t always synonymous with leadership, Hawken’s quote embodies what I try to do as a leader; i.e., advocate for solutions by highlighting the issues in a way that engages, inspires, and ultimately drives others to contribute because they see the value in what we are doing and find the context to be so interesting. Leaders in ESP settings should strive towards developing and implementing innovative solutions to complex problems, but with the mindset of doing whatever it takes to adhere to best practices while accommodating the specific needs of the target audience. Additionally, great leaders capitalize on opportunities and find ways to say “yes” in an effort to allow those we service to move forward based on the support they receive from our courses, programs, etc.

Prior to working in aviation English, I was privileged to work with many diverse groups of English language learners, beginning with adult immigrants and refugees, transitioning to university IEP students, traveling to China to train teachers and excite summer camp students, and finally working with Indonesian university students, future teachers, lawyers, and even ornithologists. These experiences taught me that our most important responsibility is the identification of the specific need and the careful consideration of how to appropriately and effectively respond to that need.

2. Tell me an ESP project success story. Focus on your communication as a leader in the project. How did you communicate with stakeholders to make that project successful?

Today, aviation is growing exponentially in countries where English is not the first language. Coupled with the looming pilot shortage, the need for new pilots to be trained quickly and permitted to enter the job market has become a hot topic and is contributing to the increase in nonnative English speakers traveling to countries where the language of flight instruction is English. To successfully complete flight training in a manner which is safe, cost-efficient, and time-sensitive, cadets should ideally enter the program with adequate English language proficiency.

Through conversations with flight schools and an outpouring of anecdotal evidence, I learned the unfortunate truth that if a student pilot’s English skills are found to be insufficient after beginning training, most flight schools do not have a viable solution to offer. Students are often “grounded” and told to find private tutoring, or they continue to try and fail, spending money and time in an effort to obtain their pilot’s license. Additionally, common complaints from flight school instructors and administrators reference the student’s lack of technical English skills, such as aviation-related vocabulary knowledge.

Here at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, we decided to create a program that could be offered to students prior to entering flight school, to facilitate the acquisition of language skills and foundational aviation knowledge, designed to support the communicative demands the student will encounter during their journey through flight school. Importantly, these demands extend beyond pilot–air traffic controller radio communication, to include a student pilot communicating with his flight instructor, both on the ground and in the flight deck, or a student pilot in a classroom during ground school, listening to lectures and taking notes.

Our major goal in the “Aviation English for Flight Training” course is to provide language skills that will allow nonnative English speakers to participate fully in flight training without language proficiency interfering with safe and efficient flight operations or overall program cost and time. The intensive program we have developed utilizes a content-based approach, focusing on foundational aviation materials and the language skills put forth by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO): comprehension, interaction, fluency, pronunciation, structure, and vocabulary.

An important component of the course implementation has been, of course, the “selling” of the course. Communicating with stakeholders, including flight school administrators, flight instructors, and the student pilots themselves, has been most effective when the value of the program is emphasized in an educational and supportive manner through outreach initiatives such as newsletters and webinars.

In her conclusion, Jennifer focuses on an important skill for ESP practitioners. We all need to be able to obtain stakeholder support in creating and implementing our courses. Jennifer uses the word “selling,” and I see a relationship between “sales” and “leadership” when the act of persuading stakeholders involves obtaining stakeholder support for achieving a shared vision. The creation of the shared vision (or goals) in an ESP program is a collaborative effort.

If you haven’t read Jennifer’s article titled “Responding to the Unique Needs  of Aviation English Students,” please take a look at it and the other two aviation English-related articles in the October 2017 issue of ESP News.

Do you have any questions or comments for Jennifer? Please feel free to contact her directly.

All the best,


Hawken, P. (1987). Growing a business. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster.

from TESOL Blog http://blog.tesol.org/esp-project-leader-profile-jennifer-roberts/

💃Regular Past Tense Verbs💃

Hi everyone,💃

A few years ago I was teaching past tense verbs to a group of my students.  I started to roll out the songs and old charts and realized I needed to make some new ones.   I like beginning my past tense unit with “The House That Jack Built”.  I thought I would post a variety of charts from the past.  They aren’t the prettiest charts in the world, but they are effective.

I love this song I wrote!


The brown paper showed the marker well.


The orange paper reflected light.

The white made the marker show easily.

There they are….now I am off to make some new ones!

Happy Teaching!


from Fun To Teach ESL – Teaching English as a Second Language http://esleld.blogspot.com/2018/03/regular-past-tense-verbs.html