Stickyball ESL Blog

Tips for Connecting With Students from Different Cultures

Explaining the mechanics of the English language to young students with little or no background knowledge of English demands a teacher who is not only highly qualified and experienced but also equipped with the necessary skill set.

Teaching children in a language different from their native language requires first and foremost patience. Children can get restless and bored very quickly if they are unable to understand what is going on in the class. It may be easy to misinterpret such restlessness as bad behavior, when in reality it is simply the result of students' inability to understand what is going on in the classroom.

On the other hand, students can become very engaged and interested if the teacher can find a way to communicate with them. To accomplish this, teachers should ideally have the ability to interact with the children in a fun manner, using not only language but also gestures, facial expressions, motions, and even pictures drawn on the white board when necessary. This keeps students' interest in the classroom and ultimately leads to a class that is learning quickly.


Teaching ESL Grammar with Games and Activities

It can be quite difficult for young ESL students to get comfortable using English, especially given the notoriously daunting nature of English grammar. With the specific parts of speech and extensive array of tenses, each with specific uses and rules, it is no wonder that students find themselves frustrated in English classes. For teachers, the use of grammar games and activities is a highly effective yet often overlooked way to teach English grammar. In many cases, games will be as instructive and informative as the lectures and assigned reading in classes, and they have the side benefit of getting kids to actually enjoy and look forward to learning English!


Adapting Childhood Games for the ESL Classroom

Adapting childhood games for the ESL classroom can result in a learning experience that is simultaneously constructive and fun. Games are a good way to reinforce speaking and listening skills, and students as well as parents will inevitably appreciate the effort devoted to incorporating games into class.

Newcomers to the field of ESL teaching quickly learn of the importance of playing games. In situations where the students speak a different language than the teacher, games are a useful way to bridge this language gap. So what kinds of games work in the ESL classroom?

Perhaps the best games to bring into class are the games that you, yourself, played as a child. Adapting standard children's games to become ESL games can be quite easy. After all, most children's games involve some form of speaking or listening anyways, so these are naturally adaptable to the ESL teaching environment.


The Gamification Concept: How to Include It in Language Lessons

Guest Post by Brenda Savoie

In a very popular TED conversation, game designer Jane McGonigal explored important questions: why are games so attractive, and how can we get as much from our games as we’re giving them? As a collective, people spend 3 billion hours a week playing video games. Older generations take those numbers for granted, and they are devastated by the way young people are wasting their time.

However, educators have found great ways to implement games into the classroom, through a concept called gamification of education. Since student love games, we cannot prevent them from enjoying them no matter how hard we’re trying to awaken their love for reading. Instead, we can embrace this inclination of theirs and use it to make learning fun. Gamification is especially useful for the ESL classroom.

In the continuation, we will list 4 methods that help you introduce games in the teaching processes.


Teaching Similar Phonics Sounds to ESL Students

Teaching ESL students to speak English fluently and naturally requires a strong emphasis on phonics. Many of the sounds of the English language are simply not used in other languages, and ESL students can easily confuse many of the sounds, or treat two different sounds as if they are the same.

A prime example of this is the “short e” sound (as in “met”) and the “long a” sound (as in “mate”). To many ESL students, the words “met” and “mate” will sound exactly the same, and this can make it difficult to understand them in casual conversation. (Imagine someone asking over and over, “Do you know Jane?” when they are really talking about someone named “Jen”.)

Students also tend to confuse the “short I” sound (as in “hit”) and the “long e” sound (as in “beef”). This can easily lead to confusion. Imagine someone saying “John beat me!” when he/she really means to say “John bit me!” Or take the more classic example of someone talking about how much they love the “beach”, when it sounds like they are saying something much, much different (and much more inappropriate).


Effective Writing Instruction for Foreign ESL Students

Teaching writing to students in foreign countries can be quite difficult, especially when the school schedule allows little time for English classes. With a little creativity and planning, however, teachers can ensure that their students get a well-rounded education and become skilled writers.

One reason that teaching ESL writing can be very difficult is because of the constraints of the normal school schedule. In many elementary schools in foreign countries, the students may only have one or two English classes a week, for 40 minutes each class. This is not enough time for students to learn and improve their English ability overall, and it is an especially limited amount of time for honing writing skills, which are among the most difficult for students to learn and require a great deal of practice, rewriting and correcting.

Students need time to review what they learned and also learn new material. This means giving them a chance to incorporate new grammar, vocabulary and punctuation ideas into their writing, and they can do this by writing journal entries, formal essays, or creative stories. However, studying for a mere 80 minutes each week does not give them enough time to do this.


Ways to Learn Thinking in a Foreign Language


Ways to Learn Thinking in a Foreign Language: Guest Blog by Sophia Anderson

Although most people don't really pay attention to it, we all have our own internal monologues going on all the time. It is this very ability that can help you improve your knowledge of any foreign language. But, learning to think in another language is easier said than done, which is why we have put together a list of 7 practical exercises and tips to help you start doing so. Keep on reading.


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