The Twenty-First Edition of the ESL/EFL/ELD Blog Carnival


Welcome to the 21st edition of the ESL/EFL/ELD Blog Carnival! This one is full of celebratory goodness, and I promise there will be none of the nasty hangovers that plague some other celebration for getting up to 21.

Let’s start of with a nice base of lessons and resources for you to deploy in your classroom…

The Best Sites For Collaborative Storytelling | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

Reminding us why many of us started reading Larry, he also shares this post on resources for collaborative storytelling. I’m still wondering how he gets the time to come up with all these great lists.

Teaching Vocabulary-links, books, ideas | A Journey in TEFL

Eva Buyuksimkesyan has a great post on vocabulary development in ELs giving background into why it’s critical, why and how students brush it off, then tops it off with a great list of activities you can have students do, and a list of online resources. Overall a very nice, neat, well-rounded post. Bravo Eva!

Animating Your Lessons with Some Drama: 20+ Resources | Teacher Reboot Camp

No one will every accuse Shelly Terrell of not providing enough resources for teachers when she shares lessons. This post on adding drama to lessons has the webinar video, links to video examples, with instructional plans, resources, and MORE resources. I’m embarrassed when I think of the “lessons” I’ve posted. Okay, crawling back in my cave in embarrassment, but first, I’m going to check out that Rumors lesson, hmmmm….

Using no opt-out and its limitations with ELLs (and others) | Reflections on Teaching

Your blog hostess shares this post on a technique from the newest darling of American education, Doug Lemov, and how to make it more appropriate for language learners are other students.

Speaking tips for teaching English with TED | Kalinago English

Karene Sylvester hits it out of the park (sorry, couldn’t resist using idiom after her earlier submission when I hosted this carnival) with some really great tips about activities to do around showing videos, like those from TED, that are meaningful, authentic, and not just worksheets.

English Raven: The ‘live reading’ approach explained (in honour of Australia Day)

I like Jason Renshaw because of his experience teaching both EFL and ESL students. His techniques seem to really fit well for any ELL classroom whether is EFL or ESL. This is a great sounding technique and clearly explained.

Picture Boards « Sandy Millin

Sandy Millin references a request from Jason Renshaw (English Raven) who requested that teachers share their version of a lesson using story boards. She shares pictures (Yea, visuals!) of a lesson she did on Christmas vocabulary with her students where they did pictures to illustrate groups of words on vocabulary cards.

ESL Stories

Mark Chapman shares a number of techniques to have students create stories in the ESL classroom. While you may be familiar with some or even many, there will probably be some surprises even for experienced teachers.

a cLiL to cLiMB, Chiew’s CLIL EFL ESL ELL blog: Online Games & Activities: Idioms Part 5 (Animals – Elephant – Flea) Interactive Game

Chiew Pang shares his activity for teaching idioms to EFLs using purpose games. The one he shares in on idioms using animals and is the fifth in his series, so he just jumps right in. Don’t be afraid to join in.

Up next, some research and policy because the big picture is important

Wasting Money On New Tests For English Language Learners | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

Larry speaks quietly but carries a big blog audience, so when he chooses to take a stand, in this post it’s about efforts to create new tests for ELLs at the federal level, it’s worthwhile to read.

Tongue Tied: Bilingual Education, in Policy and Practice

Jennifer Kobrin shares her interview with a principal on teaching ELLs. This is a great look at the clash of research, policy, and reality that can happen so often at the “ground level” of teaching. Korbin shares this story of a school that is trying to do what’s best, and what is required by both state and federal policy, which often contradict each other and even themselves.

ELL Researchers Weigh In on ESEA Reauthorization – Learning the Language – Education Week

Mary Ann Zehr provides important policy information for educators in the U.S.  on ELLs in this piece summarizing the recommendations from researchers about how ESEA re-authorization (NCLB) should report on ELLs. As always, the arcane is made comprehensible in Mary Ann’s capable hands.

The Spelling Blog: Learned or learnt? Spelled or spelt? – A Google Ngram analysis

This post from Johanna Stirling shares a post on her Spelling Blog about some Google analysis of spelling variations between British and American English is closer to action research, but quite interesting. It was another facet to the discussion, “which English do you mean” that I discussed  in a post based on Henrick Opera’s really interesting post on world English standards.

Finally, reflection is good, and these posts have it…

2011 Challenge: Become a Beginner (again) – Teaching Village

Barbara Sakamoto shares her challenge to TEFL/TESOL teachers to “Become a Beginner Again”, and follows up the general command, with some really great examples. Not all of them involve ed tech, or even teaching, but they all sound fun.

Using technology in the classroom can be quite hard « My Integrating Technology journey

Jennifer Verschoor shares the difficult, but ultimately triumphant story of how using technology to teach English lost her a job, but led to a better one. This post is a wonderful piece of personal reflection, but told in the context of the larger issues of education technology (resisting it vs. embracing it).

Dinner and a Lesson? « lexigraph

Daniel Scibienski shares his idea for restructuring his Adult Ed ESL class by having making it a “potluck” dinner party with students and their children, and centering the teaching around conversations. They are basing their recruitment out of the elementary school the program operates in. They are also involving English speaking parents who want to brush up on Spanish. It looks intriguing, and as an elementary teacher in a school with similar demographics, I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Homework – Moving from “Alfie Kohn” to “Robyn R. Jackson” | Visualising Ideas

Naomi Epstein wins the diversity award. She teaches deaf and hard of hearing students in Israel (already language challenges there), English as a foreign language. As the daughter of a hard of hearing parent, and the parent of a child with an IEP, I really liked this post. It was about her evolving thought on homework, coming from not assigning it, to using it effectively. Even though she has a very different set of students from most folks, most of what she did and discovered is pretty universal.

If this has peaked your interest, you can see all the previous editions of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival here.

Let Larry Ferlazzo know if you might be interested in hosting future editions. David Deubelbeiss at EFL Classroom 2.0 will be hosting the April 1st edition, and there will be a special May 1st edition focusing on Young Learners and hosted by Shelly Terrell. The following edition will be published by Eva Buyuksimkesyan on September 1st. You can send your submissions here.

Image Credit: 21st Birthday Cake on Flickr Photosharing cc licence

Using no opt-out and its limitations with ELLs (and others)


Doug Lemov’s book, Teach Like a Champion, seems to be the hottest thing in teaching since the risograph. Some of the strategies can be problematic with EL students. The “no-opt out” strategy, in particular, is problematic with ELLs. “No opt-out” is essentially not allowing the student to give a non-response to a question you pose to them in front of the class. In other words, if you ask, “What did we just learn?” They can’t say, “I dunno?”

We had a good training the other day that was about some ways to adjust the getting oral responses from students in cultural groups where responding orally in front of the whole class is difficult. I got some good ideas there,  I have some of my own that I’ve used over the years. All of them still do not allow an opt-out, but give students a way to respond that is more culturally/personality congruent. Here they are:

  1. Have the student write their response on a post-it or note paper they have on their desk. This is suitable for higher level students who are just shy about talking in groups. You will still need to have them do oral language development, but start with low/no risk situations like podcasting/Voice Threads that they can do privately and correct.
  2. Have them whisper the answer to another student who will say it for them. This is suitable for students who are shy, but know the answer. You can also do the opposite with non-shy kids who have a hard time with the question by allowing them to “get the answer” from a peer, and say it. This is suitable at all levels, and not just for ELLs, but also for special education students.
  3. Give them a “dichotomy”, which is a fancy way of saying, word the question so they can give a yes or no answer. This is best for primary students at a very low level. This is also a good one to use with students with language development issues (ASD, etc.).

There are caveats. You should not be doing these forever, and when kids are up at Intermediate/Advanced, they really do need to be developing the skills to respond orally in class. You are better off starting with low-risk activities, like one-on-one interviews, so they can build confidence with those students. Other caveats, some African American kids are shy too. Not every black boy is a budding Chris Tucker. Attributions of loquacity and verbal fluency to a culture are ALWAYS generalizations, and there will be exceptions (I also have some real Hmong chatter-boxes, go figure). If they are special education students, whatever their race or culture, they will have issues about responding, and you will need to build that same safety net that ELLs need for them to participate.

Do you have any suggestions to add to this list? I’d love to hear them, and so would readers.

Join the Carnival!


A couple times a year, Larry Ferlazzo asks me to host his ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival, and I guess that I’m just a girl who can’t say no because I usually end up doing it.

What is a blog carnival? A chance to share a blog post or other online piece by you  (or the work of someone else that you feel is worth sharing) on the subject of teaching English as a foreign or second language.  You might want to look at the Twentieth edition of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival which  Sabrina De Vita from Buenos Aires, Argentina, graciously hosted. You can see all the previous nineteen editions of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival here.

“How to participate?” is probably your next question. My answer, use this easy submission form. If the form does not work for some reason, you can send the link to Larry via his  Contact Form. Make sure you get it in by January 28th, and I will be posting it…here, by February 1st. Hope to see you then!


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