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27 August 2012

That's What They Say

I found a great show from Michigan Public Radio called, "That's What They Say," and it's with University of Michigan professor Ann Cruzan. Lots of great segments on langauge, so check it out here.

23 August 2012


This is from one of my favorite sites, There's a lot of good stuff about language, and this image perfectly sums up quantifiers.

Words for Small Sets

As I always say to my students, language isn't black and white!

So funny!

This is one of the funniest posts I've read on an ELT blog.

22 August 2012

Northern Cities Vowel Shift

I have pretty much been obsessed with the Northern Cities Vowel Shift since I went to college and all of my friends from other places (ahem, Tom) highlighted how my Michigander friends and I said his name ("Tam"), as well as many other words, "weirdly." 

Here's a summed up version of this phenomenon from Slate. While it's mainstream and doesn't get into much detail, I wanted to share because, well, I love reading about NCVS. Also love the picture at the beginning of the article:

Still from the classic SNL sketch “Bill Swerski’s Super Fans,” who were speaking in Northern Cities accents.

DA Bears....

Service-Learning Conference Abstract

I would like to share the abstract for the conference at which I will be presenting in October. I am assisting Dr. Elizabeth Cameron (Professor of Business Administration), Dr. Peggy Thelen (Associate Professor of Education), and Ms. Anne Ritz (Coordinator of Service Learning), all of whom are from Alma College.

     Theme:   Service-Learning
     Proposal Type:  Panel Discussion
Presentation Title:  A Collaboration in the Pursuit of Civic Engagement through Service Learning
This panel will explain unique collaborative programs between the Alma Community and Alma College.  The panelists will discuss cross-disciplinary collaborations with the Alma Public Schools and the powerful learning experiences of college students and elementary students.  The panelists will discuss the unique experience of blending college education majors with business majors to provide an innovative impact on our community.  This discussion will provide models from Alma College programs that have successfully turned theory into practice.  The panelists will provide examples of service learning projects, both domestic and international, from a variety of disciplines including: Spanish, Sociology, Communications, Chemistry, Business, Education, and Political Science.  The panelists bring extensive applied experience in service learning and civic engagement.  The presenters will discuss the achievements and challenges of many service learning projects.

As an undergraduate student, I went on a service-learning trip through Alma College (I attended the University of Michigan) to Quito, Ecuador, and I will be discussing my experience as an undergraduate participant. When I volunteered, I not only had the opportunity to learn how to speak Spanish, but I also worked at an after school program, where I taught English lessons, assisted with homework, created crafts, served snacks and dinner, among other responsibilities. It was a wonderful experience which solidified my decision to become a teacher of English, so I look forward to sharing at this conference.

13 August 2012


It's a fact: I'm obsessed with Pinterest. I love it for decorating, clothing, food, hair, and crafting ideas; but I also love it for teaching ideas. There are an abundance of teaching ideas on the internet, which can be daunting to sift through. However, looking through Pinterest is fun (right?!?!), so it doesn't seem like "work," when looking for new teaching ideas. For ESL teaching, I sometimes gloss over the non-language learning material on other websites, but when it's on Pinterest, it is totally relevant to my teaching (I realize this is all mental and only because I love the site so much).

I just found a link (from Pinterest, of course) that has great ideas for using foldables in reading, social studies, language arts, and math. Some of my favorite pre-, during, and post-reading activities are also on here, and I admit, I never thought about using foldables for old standbys, such as "Somebody, Wanted, But, So" and "Know, Want to know, Learned (KWL)." ESL teachers could also use these for verbs (present, past, participle) in grammar class. The possibilities are endless. I'm here on Pinterest, with lots of boards, which I add to daily!

I have a couple days away from the office before I am back for planning week. Before I know it, students will be back on campus, and I will be back in the classroom. But not before a small (and deserved, if I do say so myself) break.

02 August 2012

Teaching is worth it

Despite the endless hours spent grading, whining, and repeating (over and over and over) the directions, one student gives a token of his/her appreciation, and I remember how much I love what I do and how special teaching is.

This is a magnet I received from a very special student who is a hard worker, bright, and determined to succeed. It's the little things in life that help me remember to keep going.  Thanks!

Service Learning in ESL

This summer one of my colleagues had a brilliant idea (as many of our colleagues do, right?) She created an assignment for her intermediate-level speaking and listening students to volunteer through the CMU Volunteer Center. By participating in a few hours of community service of their choice, they got to practice their language skills in a new setting in context. They then discussed their volunteer experiences in class, which was yet another opportunity to use speaking and listening skills.

I think you could also incorportate writing a follow-up piece (length depending on the level of students), as well as pre- and post-experience disucssions readings about volunteering. It would be very interesting to learn about what (if any) volunteering students have done in their own countries.

This idea of service learning got me thinking. I will be teaching Advanced Speaking and Listening again in the fall, and I think this course (students are enrolled in both language and academic courses) would be perfect for an assignment in which students volunteer. I am not sure about the scope of the assignmnet yet (especially for the first time I try it), but I plan to incorporate this wonderful resource into this course. I think service learning can be a valuable tool for English language learning.

I am also excited to say that I will have the opportunity to attend (and hopefully assist!) a service learning conference this fall. I will be attending the 2nd Annual Intercultural Horizons Conference, which focuses on intercultural strategies in civic engagement,  in New York City in October. As you can see from the conference details (below), this is going to be a great opportunity for me to learn about civic engagement, service learning, and how to implement these into my teaching practice. Fortunately, I will be able to implement what I learn immediately in my listening speaking class. And as a bonus, my brilliant mother, a professor at Alma College, is also presenting! I can't wait to learn from (and help with) her presentation and implement her ideas into my own teaching practice!

Intercultural Exchange Conference Details:
The State University of New York at Geneseo, Siena Italian Studies, and the Associazione Culturale Ulisse at the International Center for Intercultural Exchange are hosting "Intercultural Horizons 2012: Intercultural Strategies in Civic Engagement," a conference dedicated to exchanging ideas, practices, and experiences in the development of intercultural competence. The conference will be held at the SUNY Global Center at 116 East 55th Street in New York City.
This conference is intended to engage educators and experts from a variety of perspectives in examining the challenges and achievements of civic engagement in a global context, and the evolving definitions of civic engagement in service learning and general education, with an emphasis on turning theory into practice. It will be of interest to those interested or involved in intercultural education or exchange, from faculty and administrators to coordinators and counselors, as well as those active in the fields of service learning, language instruction, intercultural or cross-cultural communication, and international education.
The conference plenary sessions include Anthony Appiah as the kenote speaker on October 3, as well as plenary sessions by Larry Braskamp and Richard Kiely, and concurrent panel sessions. Presentations and panels will address the following themes:
  • Service Learning
  • Intercultural Competence
  • General Education
  • Technology
  • Changing Definitions of Civic Engagement

My first post: Summer teaching

This summer (May-August 2012) I have been teaching advanced English language learners at the Central Michigan University English Language Institute. I have had the opportunity to teach four courses: Advanced Reading (ELI 082) and Advanced Listening and Speaking (ELI 081) during the first six weeks and Advanced Grammar (ELI 083) and Academic Writing for Graduate Students (ELI 094). Each class met for 2+ hours per day for four days a week. I had many wonderful students with a lot of great lessons and ideas that I would like to share in the near future.

But now, I must grade final tests and papers.