Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tsunami English (ESL) Lesson and the Tsunami Warning of February 27, 2010

Hello English (ESL) Students!

Welcome to class today. My name is Meylysa and I am your ESL teacher. Today we are learning about Tsunami

Tsunami are large waves that travel long distances. They are caused by earthquakes, landslides, or anything that moves a lot of ocean water. Today in Hawaii, we had a Tsunami Warning (Feb 27, 2010). A Tsunami warning is when the government tells everyone that a Tsunami is coming. They tell everyone to leave the water and the beaches and go to higher ground. When the government tells everyone to leave, this is called an evacuation (a noun). The government evacuates (verb) the people during a Tsunami warning.

During a Tsunami warning, there are loud sirens (horns, sounds). When you hear the loud sirens, you turn on the tv or radio and listen to the news. The news will tell you what to do. The sirens will sound when there is danger, and people must turn on tv or radio to find out what to do.

To prepare for a Tsunami, have water, food, warm clothes, flashlight, medicine, first aid kit, phone and charger, and a battery operated radio. Do not drive unless you have to evacuate. Fill your car with gas if you need to drive. Do not use the phone unless you need to call for help. Stay safe and listen to the authorities (government).

Be safe and I hope this English lesson helped you! I went with my boyfriend Anthony Watson to Diamond Head Road in Honolulu Hawaii today to see the Tsunami from high ground. We had no school and Anthony's work was closed too. The beaches were closed, and so were many stores, restaurants and business. Lucky for everyone, there was no Tsunami, and Anthony did go to work tonight! Here is our video:

Keep practicing your English and remember these words: Tsunami, Tsunami Warning, Evacuation and Evacuate, Siren, Authorities

For more information on Tsunamis from the United States government, go to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

Your English (ESL) teacher,


Monday, February 22, 2010

Hawaii Literacy's Drop-In Center

Hello Students and Teachers!

I work for Hawaii Literacy, a non-profit organization. I am the Coordinator for a school called the Drop-In Center. Students: "Drop-In" means come anytime. So students and volunteer teachers and tutors come whenever they have the time. We teach English as a Second Language classes (ESL), and have tutors who help students learn Math and other High School Subjects for their GED test, or practice English for their Citizenship Test, or practice for their Driver's Test...we help students succeed!

Here is our SCHEDULE.

Please watch this video made by my friend Elena Indjieva and myself:

My job there is to teach volunteers how to teach and tutor, and to teach students ESL. I also do other paperwork and emails ( and answer our school's cell phone (808) 352-7797.

The lessons that are on ESL Teacher blog are the same lessons taught at the Drop-In Center. We teach the scheduled lessons live for students on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays from 11:30am-1:30pm, and on Saturdays from 9am-noon. We are at Kaumakapili Church, 766 North King Street (in the downstairs classrooms). I usually upload the Oxford Picture Dictionary lessons on Saturdays after class.

ESL Teacher is for anyone who wants to teach ESL or learn ESL. You do not have to come to the Drop-In Center to use it. However, the Drop-In Center has inspired me to make these videos, and share them with everyone. I am very grateful for my job at Hawaii Literacy, and to be able to work with such wonderful volunteers, students, staff and Board members. 

Your ESL Teacher,


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Teachers: The Importance of Repetition and the Language Habit

Hello Amazing ESL teachers and tutors!

Welcome to ESL Teacher, a blog devoted to the development of the ESL community - both ESL teachers and ESL students. In this post, we will discuss the importance of repetition and the language habit. For anyone who has learned a second language, it becomes clear that we learn a language by getting used to it. We get used to hearing it and understanding it, we get used to saying it and being understood. We hear the same phrases over and over and over, and that's how we remember them. The more we make language a habit, the more we free up our brain to learn more and more language.

It's important that you have a lot of repetition in your curriculum. Sometimes students are motivated and will do the necessary repetition on their own at home or at their language lab. If they really want to learn the language, they will go out in the language community and try to use what they learned in their lessons.

However, if your students are like ours at the Drop-In Center, and they are adults that spend their time raising their kids, and less time on studying. In classrooms like this, it is very important to repeat the vocabulary and key sentences a lot. The more you repeat it, the more the students will come to adopt it for their own, instead of regarding it as that language that they are not good at.

Students learn language out of repetition and habit. This is true of those who do the necessary practice on their own or in the classroom. Teaching students that they have to practice is key to their success.

Thank you for visiting this post today. If you have any comments please write them for us! There are other theories in Linguistics that would perhaps say language is innate, and these theories I am not disputing. From experience in learning and teaching, I've found that in order to teach humans, creatures with the innate ability to learn language, they need to practice and repeat a lot.

Thanks again,


Teachers: How To Introduce Vocabulary to Beginners and Intermediates

Hello fellow ESL teachers and tutors!

Welcome to ESL Teacher, a blog that helps ESL teachers further develop their skills, as well as lets students learn ESL over the internet. In this post, we will discuss how to introduce vocabulary to Beginner and Intermediate students. You can also visit my hubpage for another resource on teaching ESL vocabulary.

Remember to:

1) Breathe - Breathe and slow your words down
2) Speak slowly and clearly
3) Repetition - Say the words you are teaching - a lot! Say the words at least 3 times, and have the students say the words at least 3 times
4) Feel free to let individual students say the words to check pronunciation
5) Review - When you finish a vocabulary lesson, be sure to review all of the words with the class at least 2 times each, this gives the class closure, brings everyone back to focus.
6) Use drawings
7) Act the words out
8) Write the words on the board (if you need to spend time on it)

To Beginner Instructors:

Focus! Remember to take it slow and repeat the words many many times. Stay on the topic. Have the students get lots of practice saying the words, and hearing you say the words =)

ESL Teachers: Electronic Dictionaries

Hello fellow ESL Teachers and Tutors!

Thank you for visiting ESL Teacher, the blog for ESL teacher development and for ESL students to have access to online ESL lessons! Today, we are discussing the use of electronic dictionaries by ESL students. In our classes at the Drop-In Center and in Taiwan, a lot of students are now using electronic dictionaries. There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to them:

1) Portable and compact
2) Can add or update information with modules
3) Can have multiple languages

1) Content is not as accurate as traditional book dictionaries - especially in regards to adjectives and verbs.
2) More expensive than a book dictionary

You may sometimes find that your students will dispute your definitions, if they do not match their electronic dictionary. However, rest assured that the electronic dictionary is most likely wrong. If the students do not believe you, try to explain that your knowledge of the words is common knowledge, and is how you actually understand the word as it is used by native speakers. The dictionary might have definitions for a different demographic, or from a different English speaking country (or just a poorly made dictionary).

I hope this article was helpful. Don't be surprised if your students use their dictionaries and still don't understand. Please post comments on your experiences with Electronic Dictionaries, or if you can recommend good ones that fellow ESL teachers can suggest to their ESL students!

Thank you for visiting this post! If you enjoyed it, add yourself as a follower!

Your humble fellow ESL teacher,


Teachers: Introducing the ESL Textbook Basic English Grammar Third Edition

Hello fellow ESL Teachers and Tutors!

Welcome to ESL Teacher, the blog for teaching and learning ESL on the internet. This post is introducing a wonderful ESL textbook: Basic English Grammar, Third Edition  (Full Student Book with Audio CD and Answer Key) by Betty Azar and Stacy Hagen. Many teachers refer to this book as just "Azar". It is an excellent grammar book for beginning and intermediate ESL students. It has very good explanations and examples and also lots of activities to practice the grammar principles.

Lots of Practice, Manageable Lessons
This is more of a classroom use book than a reference book. It is designed to give students grammar lessons in manageable chunks, so that they can remember what they've learned and use it properly, before moving onto the next topic.

For example, when they teach Past Tense for instance, they don't list all of the past tense forms and tell ESL students to memorize them (which is pretty boring and futile for most). Instead, they introduce students to a group of irregular past tense form verbs (Group 2 on p. 238 has brought, bought, caught, drank, drove, read, rode, ran, taught and thought), and then give them lots of practice using them . After that, they give another manageable group, and so on. So, they teach the verbs in sections to fit well in a class format. It optimizes the introduction of key grammar topics, as well as provides a way for students to practice them and actually learn them.

Variety of Practice in Speaking, Writing and Listening
Practice activities involve speaking, writing and listening. The book has a CD for listening practice. Or, if you don't have a CD player, you can read the script in the back of the book.

Reference List
For those who need a list to reference, they do have a list of all the verbs in the Appendix.

Cost - On the Expensive Side
The book unfortunately costs about $50 US, which is pretty expensive in our school. However, for serious students it is well worth the money.

The book has the grammar and the practice, and is very classroom friendly. This is a great book to make handouts from. If your class can afford it, then it is worth purchasing.

Here is the Table of Contents so that you can see the topics that are covered:

Chapter 1: Using Be
Chapter 2: Using Be and Have
Chapter 3: Using The Simple Present
Chapter 4: Using The Present Progressive
Chapter 5: Talking About The Present
Chapter 6: Nouns and Pronouns
Chapter 7: Count and Noncount Nouns
Chapter 8: Expressing Past Time, Part 1
Chapter 9: Expressing Past Time, Part 2
Chapter 10: Expressing Future Time, Part 1
Chapter 11: Expressing Future Time, Part 2
Chapter 12: Modals, Part 1: Expressing Ability
Chapter 13: Modals, Part 2: Advice, Necessity, Requests, Suggestions
Chapter 14: Nouns and Modifiers
Chapter 15: Possessives
Chapter 16: Making Comparisons
Appendix: Irregular Verbs
Listing Script
CD Tracking Script
Answer Key

While Teaching: Using Words That are Easy to Understand

Welcome fellow ESL Teachers and Tutors!

Today's topic is regarding the words that we use when we teach. It is important to listen to the words we use when we teach, and be sure that we use words that our ESL students will understand. 

The easiest way to improve our ESL students' comprehension is to slow down. Say words and sentences more than once. During the repetition, listen to what you are saying. Are you saying words that are more difficult than the vocabulary of the lesson? Are you using idioms that your ESL students might not understand?

Here are two enlightening examples:

EXAMPLE 1 Use Words and Sentence Patterns That Are Easy to Understand

Say you want to explain what "coffee" is. You could say, for example:

"It's a bitter drink with a lot of caffeine"
"It's brown. You drink it. It wakes you up!"

If you say the first, you are giving your students even more words that they do not understand, like "bitter" and "caffeine". Hence, they will be confused.

If you use the simpler explanation, and act out the last part about waking up, your students will have a fighting chance of actually figuring out what "coffee" is.

EXAMPLE 2 Using Idiomatic Expressions

Today, one of our volunteer teachers in training asked the class "Do you get that?" The class was very quiet, and so he asked the question again.

The reason they were so quiet was because they didn't understand his question, as it is an idiomatic expression. Instead he could ask "Do you have any questions?" or "Do you understand?". Check your level of students before using expressions

Idioms are sometimes hard for native speakers to detect, as they are phrases that to us, mean what they say. But when looking closer at the actual words we are using, the meaning would not be obvious to an ESL student.

Take the following as examples (in parenthesis is how you might explain the idiom or word to your students):

Take: Take this sentence as an example. ("take" means "use")
It's about time: It's about time you came to class. ("It's about time" means "finally")
Tackle: Let's tackle the vocabulary shall we? ("tackle" means "look at" or "work on")
As is: The homework is good as is. ("as is" means "the same" or "unchanged")
Leave it: Leave it as is. ("Leave it" means "don't touch it" or "don't change it" or "Let it stay the same")

A good ESL teacher will pay close attention to the words they use when they are in front of a class. Using appropriate level words makes all the difference (here, "makes all the difference" means "will help your ESL students understand what you say and thus enjoy and learn from your teaching"...that was a joke...)!

Let me know if you have any questions! There is a thin line here between abstract meanings of concrete words (take, tackle...) and idiomatic expressions (It's about time). However, the point is clear, if it isn't easy for students to understand, don't use it...or explain it.

For reference, there is an extensive list of idioms at Wikipedia and also a short list of commonly used idioms at GoEnglish.

Feel free to post other words or expressions that "come out" when we teach, and that are hard to "pin down" =) It will help your fellow ESL teachers "catch" them before they say them.

Your fellow ESL teacher,


Teachers: Teaching Long Sentences or Words Using Chunks

Hello fellow ESL teachers and tutors!

Thank you for joining the discussion today on how to teach students long sentences and word. In the classroom, we can use a technique that I refer to chunking, or to breaking down a larger structure into smaller and more manageable pieces. The video and explanation below demonstrate this teaching technique. Please enter the discussion on this topic in the comment section below =)

If you like this post, feel free to become a follower of this blog!

Thank you from your fellow ESL teacher,

When to use it?
When your class or student is unable to repeat a word or a sentence after you because it is too long. Usually they forget the end of it, or get tongue tied, or brain tied!

How does it work? (Let's use the example: What is your favorite day of the week?)

1) Break the sentence into smaller chunks.
"What is your"
"favorite day"
"of the week"


"What is"
"your favorite day"
"of the week".

 Use your instinct or use common phrasal boundaries to pick your chunks. It is important that these chunks are easy for ALL of your students to say. Repeat as many times as you need to until all of your students can say all of your chunks.

2) Put the chunks together. I usually start at the end. So:
Teacher: "of the week"
Student(s): "of the week"

Teacher: "favorite day of the week"
Student(s): "favorite day of the week"

Teacher: "What is your favorite day of the week"
Student(s): "What is your favorite day of the week"

3) Have the students repeat the sentence with you at a normal speed without any pauses between chunks.

4) Show off your students progress by having them repeat the whole sentence as many times as needed. Try making your speech normal or even fast, and see if your students can keep up (they will be having fun with this)

IMPORTANT TIP: Be sure to remember that your students can say any sentence and word. You are just helping them get that ability to shine through in class. Have faith that every single student in your class can do it, just break it into smaller chunks if needed!

English Students! Oxford Picture Dictionary 2nd Edition p. 20-21, The Calendar

Hello English (ESL) Students!

It's so good to see you today! How are you? Today we are learning about the days, weeks and months on THE CALENDAR. Open your English (ESL) textbook, the Oxford Picture Dictionary, 2nd Edition to pages 20 and 21. Listen and say the words with Meylysa, your English (ESL) teacher. Remember to practice, practice, practice...and practice again!

Thank you for coming to study today!

Your English (ESL) teacher,


Page 20, The Calendar

Page 21, The Calendar

REVIEW of pp. 20-21, The Calendar

QUIZ of pp. 20-21, The Calendar

Great work! I love it!

Friday, February 12, 2010

English Students! Oxford Picture Dictionary 2nd Edition p. 6-7, The Classroom

Hello English (ESL) Students!

Follow along with your English (ESL) teacher Meylysa and learn about The Classroom. Open your ESL textbook The Oxford Picture Dictionary, 2nd Edition to pages 6-7. Practice the words with your English (ESL) teacher. You are great English students!

Your English (ESL) Teacher,


The Classroom, pp. 6-7 Part 1 of 2

The Classroom, pp. 6-7 Part 2 of 2

Review Part 1 Review

Part 2 Review

Part 3 Review

English Students! Oxford Picture Dictionary 2nd Edition p. 44, A Family Reunion

Hello English (ESL) Students!

Thank you for coming to class today! I'm your English (ESL) teacher Meylysa. I'm going to teach about A Family Reunion. "Re" means "again" and "union" means "together", so "reunion" means "together again"! Many of my students from the past 10 or so years can come together again and study with me on the internet =)

Open your English (ESL) textbook, the
Oxford Picture Dictionary, 2nd Edition
, to page 44. Practice saying, reading and listening the words. Your English is really good!!! It's so good to have you back! If you are a returning student, leave me a note =)

Your English (ESL) Teacher,


Part 1 of 3: p. 44 A Family Reunion

Part 2 of 3: p. 44 #4 to B, Practice with your ESL teacher!

Part 3 of 3: Review of Family Reunion on p. 44

You have wonderful English!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

English Students! Oxford Picture Dictionary 2nd Edition p. 5, School

Hello English (ESL) Students!

Please open up your English (ESL) textbook, the Oxford Picture Dictionary, 2nd Edition, to page 5. We are going to be learning about School! Listen and follow along with your ESL teacher Meylysa as she says and explains the words. Practice! Your English is great =)

Your ESL student,


Part 1 of 5: School, p. 5

Part 2 of 5: School, p. 5

Part 3 of 5: School, p. 5

Part 4 of 5: School, p. 5

REVIEW of School, p. 5