Category Archives: Education

Embracing Indigenous knowledge to Help Save the Planet

“Nearly two decades ago, when the New Zealand highway authority was planning the Waikato Expressway, people from the Māori tribe Ngāti Naho objected. The highway would encroach on an area that, in Māori tradition, was governed by a water-dwelling creature, a taniwha.” R. Cernansky, The New York Times, July 10, 2021

Maori leaders and members of the Australian Defense Force. Lisa Maree Williams:Getty Images NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Indigenous Knowledge, Innovative Solutions, By Rachel Cernansky, The New York Times, July 10, 2021

“The authorities took those concerns into account and rerouted the road to circumvent the area in question. As a result, a year later, when the area was hit by a major flood, the road was unharmed.

‘I’m still waiting for the headline, ‘Mythical Creature Saves the Taxpayer Millions,’  said Dan Hikuroa, a senior lecturer in Māori studies at the University of Auckland and member of the Ngāti Maniapoto tribe.  He has often wondered if, once the flood hit, the technical team later said, ‘Why didn’t you just say it’s a flood risk area?’

Violet Lawson, a land owner in Kakadu, Australia, studies her land for the right time to set fires that are not too hot but still clear the underlying debris and fuel to prevent larger wildfires. Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

Like many Indigenous peoples around the world, the Māori have developed their understanding of their environment through close observation of the landscape and its behaviors over the course of many generations.

Now the New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency regularly looks for ways to integrate traditional Māori knowledge, or mātauranga, into its decision-making…Western-trained researchers and governments are increasingly recognizing the wealth of knowledge that Indigenous communities have amassed to coexist with and protect their environments over hundreds or even thousands of years. Peer-reviewed scientific journals have published studies demonstrating that around the world, Indigenous-managed lands have far more biodiversity intact than other lands, even those set aside for conservation… This is ever more urgent, particularly as the climate crisis unfolds…Indigenous scholars warn, though, that while traditional knowledge can be used to benefit the world, it can also be mishandled or exploited.

Dominique David Chavez, a descendant of the Arawak Taíno in the Caribbean, and a research fellow at the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona and the National Science Foundation, says that, as Western scientists, ‘we are trained to go into communities, get that knowledge and go back to our institutions and disseminate it in academic journals.’

That can be disruptive to traditional knowledge sharing, from one generation to another, she says, which should be the priority — ensuring that Indigenous knowledge systems are preserved in and supportive of the communities that developed them…Ideally, the shared use of Indigenous knowledge can help mend broken relationships between Indigenous and Western communities.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

II. While Reading Activities:

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You usea dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Indigenous people help their countries world-wide.
  2. Maori leaders and members of the Australian Defense Force worked together.
  3. The highway would encroach on a sacred area.
  4. The Māori have developed their understanding of their environment through close observation.
  5. The New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency regularly looks for ways to integrate traditional Māori knowledge.
  6. Indigenous communities and governments have learned to coexist.
  7. Indigenous scholars warn, traditional knowledge can be used to benefit the world, it can also be mishandled or exploited.
  8. Many believe that Indigenous knowledge systems should be preserved.
  9. Bridging Indigenous and Western science also means respecting the ecosystem.
  10. Some people still use industrial pesticides.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. The New Zealand highway is planned two decades ago.
  2. The Māori are ilke many Indigenous peoples around the world.
  3. The authorities rerouted the road.

II

  1. Mr. Hikuroa has been appointed the culture commissioner for UNESCO New Zealand.
  2. Western-trained researchers is recognizing that Indigenous communities have valuable knowledge.
  3. Indigenous knowledge can deepen Western scientists’ understanding of their own research.

III

  1. Traditional knowledge should be shared from one generation to another.
  2. The scientific method are designed to be indifferent to morals or values.
  3. Government regulations had already restricted the  harvest of sweetgrass.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “I’m still waiting for the headline, ‘Mythical Creature Saves the Taxpayer Millions.”
  2. “Why didn’t you just say it’s a flood risk area?”
  3. “As Western scientists, we are trained to go into communities, get that knowledge and go back to our institutions and disseminate it in academic journals.”
  4. “That can be disruptive to traditional knowledge sharing, from one generation to another, which should be the priority.”
  5. “In Indigenous sciences, it’s not possible to separate the knowledge from the ethics of the responsibility for that knowledge — whereas in Western science, we do that all the time.”
  6. “The scientific method is designed to be indifferent to morals or values. Indigenous knowledge puts them back in.”
  7. “That’s one of the reasons Native people were systematically removed from what are today’s national parks, because of this idea that people and nature can’t coexist in a good way.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Do you have ways of helping our planet? For example, recycling helps address climate change.
  2. Why did the Māori tribe object to having the highway built?
  3. Why do you think the authorities in New Zealand listened to the Māori?
  4. From the article,Dan Hikuroa, a senior lecturer in Māori studies stated, “I’m still waiting for the headline, ‘Mythical Creature Saves the Taxpayer Millions.” Why do you think he said that? Was he joking?
  5. What is ‘regenerative agriculture’ ?
  6. Who  did Australian authorities consult last year while combating wildfires?
  7. List three new ideas  that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.
  8. With your group members make a list of ways you can help with global warming.

ANSWER KEY

A Teacher Taught Online This Year and It Was Bad

“At the diverse Washington, D.C., public charter school where I teach, and which my 6-year-old attends, the whole point was that our families chose to do it together… Then Covid hit, and overnight these school communities fragmented and segregated…The wealthiest parents snapped up teachers for ‘microschools’…The families with the fewest resourceswere left with nothing.” L.  Almagor , The New York Times, June 16, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post wiht Answer Key

Lelac Almagor

Excerpt:  I Taught Online School This Year. It Was a Disgrace. By Lelac Almagor June 16, 2021

” …No child care, only the pallid virtual editions of essential services like occupational or speech therapy…Many times each day, I carefully repeated the instructions for a floundering student, only to have them reply, helplessly, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t hear you,’ their audio squealing and video freezing as they spoke… Children deserve attentive care. That’s the core of our commitment to them.

I am still bewildered and horrified that our society walked away from this responsibility, that we called school inessential and left each family to fend for itself…Some children may have learned to do laundry or enjoy nature during the pandemic. Many others suffered trauma and disconnection that will take years to repair.

I don’t know the first thing about public health. I won’t venture an opinion on what impact the school closures had on controlling the spread of Covid.

What I do know is that the private schools in our city quickly got to work upgrading HVAC systems, putting up tents, cutting class sizes and rearranging schedules so that they could reopen in relative safety. Public schools in other states and countries did the same.

More of our public school systems should have likewise moved mountains — repurposed buildings, reassigned staff, redesigned programming, reallocated funding — to offer consistent public schooling, as safely as possible, to all children.

Instead we opened restaurants and gyms and bars while kids stayed home, or got complicated hybrid schedules that many parents turned down because they offered even less stability than virtual school. Even now, with vaccinations rising and case rates dropping, some families remain reluctant to send their kids back to us in the fall. I can’t help thinking that’s because we broke their trust.”

 

A Guide To Gender Identity Terms, By Laurel Wamsley, NPR, June 2, 2021

Image- Kaz Fantone for NPR

“Pronouns are basically how we identify ourselves apart from our name. It’s how someone refers to you in conversation,” says Mary Emily O’Hara, a communications officer at GLAAD. “And when you’re speaking to people, it’s a really simple way to affirm their identity.” L. Wamsley, NPR, June 2, 2021

ALSO:

NAVAJO NATION CELEBRATES GAY PRIDE

Drag performer Anya C. Mann

Navajo Nation celebrates its first official Pride parade after a devastating year, By Cecilia Nowell, Washington Post, June 21, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

I. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Ms. Almagor teaches fourth grade at a public charter school in Washington, D.C.
  2. Our pre-pandemic public school system was imperfect, and plagued with inequities.
  3. But it was also a little miraculous: a place where children from different backgrounds could stow their backpacks in adjacent cubbies.
  4. At the diverse Washington, D.C., public charter school our families chose to do it together.
  5. We would be grappling with our differences and biases.
  6. Then Covid hit, and overnight these school communities fragmented and segregated.
  7. The families with the fewest resources were left with nothing.
  8. Home alone with younger siblings or cousins, kids struggled to focus.
  9. Many times each day, I carefully repeated the instructions for a floundering student.
  10. Even under optimal conditions, virtual school meant flattening magic of the classroom.

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. The public charter school was diverse.
  2. My 6-old attends classes.
  3. Our pre-pandemic public school system was imperfect.

 

II

  1. A little middle-class parents could work remotely from home.
  2. With schools closed, the health risks didn’t disappear.
  3. Families with the fewest resources were left with nothing.

III

  1. Some kids got a couple of hour a day of Zoom school.
  2. Some kids were left home alone with younger siblings.
  3. Others lay in bed and played video games or watched TV.

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

I don’t know the first ___about___ health. I won’t___an ___on what impact the ___closures had on ___the spread of Covid.

What I do know is that the private ___in our___quickly got to work ___HVAC systems, putting up___, cutting class sizes and rearranging ___so that they could___in relative safety. Public schools in other and countries did the same.

WORD LIST: states, reopen, tents, schedules city,   thing, school, venture upgrading, opinion schools, controlling,  public,

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Describe the public charter school where  Ms. Almagor taught before Covid-19 outbreak.
  2. What changed within the school after Covid-19?
  3. Why did these changes occur?
  4. What happened to the families that had little resources?
  5. According to Ms. Almagor, what were some of the problems facing her fourth-graders at home?
  6. Ms. Almagor states, “More of our public school systems should have likewise moved mountains — repurposed buildings, reassigned staff, redesigned programming, reallocated funding — to offer consistent public schooling, as safely as possible, to all children. Instead we opened restaurants and gyms and bars while kids stayed home.”
  7. Do you agree or disagree with her? Why?
  8. Write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education | Tags:

Back in the Spotlight: Higher Salaries for All Teachers

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, debates over school closures and student safety grew in an understandable way… Covid-19 revealed how teachers — in addition to nurturing, protecting and mentoring our children — are essential to a smoothly running society. It’s time to pay them accordingly.” C. Coleman, The New York Times, May 28, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Teachers protest. – Credit: New York Times

 

Excerpt: The Case for Paying All Teachers Six Figures, By Colette Coleman, The New York Times, May 28, 2021

“Significant raises can keep more people from ending up like me and countless others: a passionate educator who turned to another line of work largely in response to what I saw as incommensurate pay.

Image-credit- Pete Gamlen. The New York Times

In 2019, Kamala Harris, then a Democratic presidential candidate, said at a rally on the campus of Texas Southern University what teachers sadly know to be true: ‘We are a nation and a society that pretends to care about education.’In a PDK poll from that year, most educators reported that they don’t want their children to enter the profession. About half of teachers surveyed said they had seriously considered quitting. A troubling number follow through.

During her campaign, Ms. Harris proposed something that, if enacted, could reverse this trend and prove we do care about education: federally subsidized $13,500 teacher raises.

This would be a sound prescription for our near-term teacher shortage and serve as a long-term investment in our children’s futures, increasing our nation’s lagging productivity.

Ms. Harris’s plan to use federal and state funds to boost educators’ annual salaries to an average of $70,000 or more would be good; getting them to six figures would be even better.

Teacher salaries protest in Miami, Florida | Joe Raedle: Getty Images

After all, entry-level Facebook engineers earn well over $100,000. On average nationally, teachers start at under $40,000… Research collected by the Center for American Progress found that ‘the teacher labor market is responsive to changes in pay just like other occupations and that changes in pay can affect not only teacher attrition, but also the pool of candidates choosing to enroll in teacher preparation programs.’

Years ago, when I quit my Wall Street job to teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I thought — as the culture has taught us all — that a pay cut was just the cost of following a calling, a reduction taken to do meaningful work. I soon learned I was wrong…After I left that role because of pay that didn’t make up for the burnout I felt and went to teach in Indonesia, I got those nice gifts, too. But more crucially, I got better working conditions and objective confirmation that my time and expertise were valuable: It came in the form of money. The school paid me like the well-educated professional that I was.

Photo- American Enterprise Institute

Here in America, although they’re not paid like it, teachers are in high demand. Covid has made what’s known as the broken teacher pipeline worse, but it has been around since long before the pandemic. A large survey conducted in 2020 found that 67 percent of teachers ‘have or had a second job to make ends meet.’

A 2019 report revealed that fewer college students are studying to become teachers and that because of ‘low salaries, difficult working conditions and a lack of career pathway opportunities,’ teaching generally cannot compete ‘with other high-status professions such as medicine and law.’

My dissatisfaction and that of many other former teachers extended beyond compensation. Attracting and retaining highly qualified educators will also require, for instance, improvements in working conditions. Meaningful raises are a strong start, though. Competitive salaries would lower attrition rates and attract fresh talent that would push everyone to do better.”

 

Celebrating Gay Pride Month:

Frank Kameny

Franklin Edward Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011) was an American gay rights activist. He has been referred to as “one of the most significant figures” in the American gay rights movement. n 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the U.S. Army‘s Army Map Service in Washington, D.C., because of his homosexuality,[3] leading him to begin “a Herculean struggle with the American establishment” that would “spearhead a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s”.  Wikipedia

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with afocus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. During the Covid-19 pandemic, debates over school closures and student safety grew.
  2. There was no conversation about lagging salaries for K-12 educators.
  3. Each week brings more vaccine jabs and more news of school districts fully reopening in the fall.
  4. Covid-19 revealed just how important educators are to our children. 
  5. Significant raises can keep more people from ending up like me.
  6. Vice President  Harris proposed a solution.
  7. Ms. Harris’s plan is to use federal and state funds to boost educators’ annual salaries.
  8. Entry-level Facebook engineers earn over $100,000. 
  9. High-quality teachers can boost student performance on reading and math tests twofold.
  10. I left that role because of pay that didn’t make up for the burnout I felt.

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Attracting highly qualified educator will also be required.
  2. Competitive salaries would lower attrition rates.
  3. Significant raises can keep teachers from leaving.

II

  1. A pay cut was just the cost of following a calling.
  2. I got grown-up goody baskets from parents.
  3. Many teacher get nice gifts.

III

  1. Here in America, although they’re not paid like it, teacher are in high demand.
  2. The cost of living and the price of raising a family is  higher than ever.
  3. Even before Covid-19, many students lacked permanent teachers.

 

Reading Comprehension

Directions: Students choose the correct word (in bold) to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

“After I left/leave that roll/role because of pay/paid that didn’t/don’t made/make up for the/an burnout I felt and went to teach in Indonesia, I get/got those nice gifts, too. But more crucially, I got better working conditions and objective confirmation that mine/my time and expertise were valuable: It came in the form/from of money. The school paid/pay me like the well-educated professional that I was.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Why did the issue of increasing educator’s salaries stop receiving attention?
  2. The author mentions three important areas teachers deal with when teaching. What are they? Can you think of other areas educators cover?
  3. The author states, “Significant raises can keep more people from ending up like me and countless others…”  What situation was she referring to?
  4. Vice President Kamala Harris  once stated, “We are a nation and a society that pretends to care about education.”  Why do you think she said this?
  5. What solution did Vice President Harris propose? How could her plan help our education system?
  6. According to the author what is the average starting salary for teachers? For all of the work that teachers do is this a fair figure?
  7. What function does the RAND corporation serve?
  8. What idea did the author have about taking a ‘pay-cut’?  What do you think about teachers taking a cut in pay?
  9. In which country did the author find satisfaction as a teacher? Why?
  10. What is the ‘broken teacher hotline’?
  11. Which two professions compete with teaching? Why?
  12. What are your personal thoughts on becoming a teacher?
  13. List three new ideas  that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education

Learning (and Teaching) English Can Be Rewarding…and Frustrating!

“Last month, we published a story in collaboration with the NPR podcast Rough Translation…Dozens of readers wrote in with their own stories about how challenging — and frustrating and rewarding — it can be to learn and teach English.” C.McCusker, NPR, May 16, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The Word You Never Heard. Image By Marc Silver/ NPR

 

Excerpt: Prepone That! Your Accent Is Funny! Readers Share Their ESL Stories, By Carolyn McCusker,NPR, May 16, 2021

“We’re featuring three responses that we found especially insightful: an English professor from India shares an English word she’s used for years — not found anywhere in the dictionary; an author points out the politics behind terms like ‘native language’ and ‘mother tongue’; and an engineering professor discusses why stereotypes about ‘accented English’ are totally hypocritical.

Brave new word

Aparna Gollapudi is a professor of English at Colorado State University who grew up in New Delhi. She used a word in her classroom one day that made her see her relationship to the English language in a totally new way.

A month or two after I began teaching in the U.S., I had to make some changes to the class schedule. ‘We’ll need to prepone the quiz, I’m afraid,’I said, steeling myself for the groans from students that were sure to follow. Instead, there was deafening silence.

I looked around to see blank expressions on my students’ faces — that look of ‘I have NO idea what you just said,’ which stops any teacher worth their salt mid-lecture to backtrack and explain a concept further… I believed that prepone meant the opposite of postpone — moving an event to an earlier time rather than putting off something to a later time. So when I realized it wasn’t ‘proper’ English, I was dumbfounded…I was an English major with a robust vocabulary, a ‘convent school’ accent and fondness for reading Dickens, Austen and other such august writers…But that day in the classroom, my incomprehensibleEnglish taught me that being an linguistic “have” is unstable and delusional at best. It is a lesson I have learned many times over since then.”

Who gets to have the label “native speaker”?

Srikanth Chander Madani is an author with interests in climate change, social equity and the creative arts… Madani shares his experiences being asked to prove his language proficiency time and time again.

The words we use to describe the many ways to speak English — like ‘mother tongue,’ ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ speaker — are often fraught.

Srikanth Chander Madani is experienced with many languages: “My ‘mother-tongue’ is Hebbar,” Madani says, ‘a language specific to a certain group of Indians who moved between two linguistic regions centuries ago, with words from Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada.’ He speaks English, Hindi, German and French fluently. He’s in the process of learning Italian and trying to improve his written French…Madani has found it frustrating to be so frequently asked to credential his ability to speak languages he is both proficient and prolific in… The whole concept of “mother tongue” is a political construct to keep certain people out, says Madani. According to Madani, the hoops that many non-American or non-British English speakers are forced to jump through in order to credential their English seem nonsensical when their American and British counterparts with equal or lesser proficiency are never asked to prove it.

‘Having lived in the U.K., I know many whose first (and only) language is English and who make routine errors when speaking and many more when writing,’ says Madani. ‘Why should they get a free pass and not be forced to go through a TOEFL [Test of English as a Foreign Language] or IELTS [International English Language Testing System]?’

All accents welcome

Sergio Serrano is a professor of engineering science and applied mathematics at Temple University.

Having lived in North America for 40 years after growing up in Bogotá, Colombia, Serrano shares his experience speaking English in academic settings and dealing with accent stereotypes.  Sergio Serrano has participated in many international scientific conferences across the globe. ‘In a typical situation, a group of foreign researchers are discussing a complex technical issue with very precise and elaborate formal English,’ Serrano says, ‘until an American joins the group.’  The research found that communication is inhibited in part due to native speakers’ use of language not held in common, like culturally specific idioms…Serrano also discusses his experiences being singled out for his accent.

‘After 40 years living in North America,’ he says, ‘I still encounter the situation when a stranger interrupts me after a few words I spoke to interrogate me: ‘You have a strong accent. Where are you from?’ It is a continuous reminder that you are forever an alien in your own country.’

‘I politely explain my origins, and then I add, ‘I cannot catch your accent. Where are you from?,’  says Serrano. Indeed, those who single out Serrano for having a strong accent  seem to be unaware that everybody (themselves included) has an accent.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. There was deafening silence after I asked my question.
  2. Any teacher would backtrack and explain a concept further.
  3. It is believed that  all legitimate words in a language must be found in a dictionary.
  4. When I realized it wasn’t ‘proper’ English, I was dumbfounded.
  5. It was akin to a paradigm shift in my linguistic self-image.
  6. I had grown up in India, where fluency in English is synonymous with education.
  7. I was an English major with a robust vocabulary.
  8. But that day in the classroom, my incomprehensible English taught me a lesson.
  9. I would sometimes use my Britishisms in class.
  10. Leaving India took me out of my insulated and privileged linguistic bubble.

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. I begin teaching English in the U.S 20 years ago.
  2. I looked around to see blank expressions on my students’ faces.
  3. I had grown up in India.

II

  1. Their are many varieties of English.
  2. Many words [from these languages] have stayed with him.
  3. Madani is asked to prove his language proficiency time and time again.

III

  1. Sometimes I stumble while pronouncing some word.
  2. There are  words we use to describe the many ways to speak English.
  3. Sergio Serrano has participated in many international scientific conferences.

 

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “A month or two after I began teaching in the U.S., I had to make some changes to the class schedule.”
  2. “We’ll need to prepone the quiz, I’m afraid,” I said.
  3. “I was an English major with a robust vocabulary, a convent school accent and fondness for reading Dickens, Austen and other such august writers.”
  4. “The words we use to describe the many ways to speak English — like ‘mother tongue,’ ‘native’  and ‘non-native’ speaker — are often fraught.”
  5. “I grew up with three languages, as my parents did not share the same ‘mother tongue’.”
  6. “Having lived in the U.K., I know many whose first (and only) language is English and who make routine errors when speaking and many more when writing,”
  7. “On the contrary, communication ends because [the foreign researchers] cannot explain to the American, in simple language, the advanced topics they were discussing. Yet, the American takes over the conversation.”
  8. “After 40 years living in North America,… I still encounter the situation when a stranger interrupts me after a few words I spoke to interrogate me: ‘You have a strong accent.”
  9. “I politely explain my origins, and then I add, ‘I cannot catch your accent. Where are you from?”

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Have you ever used an American English word that made perfect sense to you but was not in the American dictionary? What was the word and it’s meaning?
  2. After explaining the meaning of ‘prepone’ does it make sense to you? Why?
  3. Which two letters of the English alphabet did Professor Gollapudi have difficulty pronouncing? If English is not your first language, do you have difficulty with these two letters?
  4. Give an example of a Britishism.
  5. According to Professor Gollapudi was she better off leaving her privileged linguistic bubble? Why?
  6. Why are there so many varieties of English?
  7. Why does Srikanth Chander Madani say English is his mother tongue? Do you agree?
  8. According to Sergio Serrano, what happens when an American joins in  a conversion? Have you ever experienced this with American speakers?
  9. Make a list of other words  that you think should have meaning in an American dictionary (e.g., prepone). Share the list with the class.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions:  List three new ideas  that you’ve learned from the reading,  two things that you  did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.

ANSWER KEY

 

Category: Culture, Education, Language | Tags:

“How Children Read Differently From Books vs. Screens”

“Scrolling may work for social media, but experts say that for school assignments, kids learn better if they slow down their reading.” P. Klass, M.D., The New York Times, March 16, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Cristina Spanò, The New York Times

 

Excerpt: ByPerri Klass, M.D. The New York Times, March 16, 2021

“In this pandemic year, parents have been watching — often anxiously — their children’s increasing reliance on screens for every aspect of their education. It can feel as if there’s no turning back to the time when learning involved hitting the actual books. But the format children read in can make a difference in terms of how they absorb information.

Naomi Baron, who is professor emerita of linguistics at American University and author of a new book,“How We Read Now: Strategic Choices for Print, Screen and Audio,” said, ‘there are two components, the physical medium and the mind-set we bring to reading on that medium — and everything else sort of follows from that.’

Because we use screens for social purposes and for amusement, we all — adults and children — get used to absorbing online material, much of which was designed to be read quickly and casually, without much effort.

And then we tend to use that same approach to on-screen reading with harder material that we need to learn from, to slow down with, to absorb more carefully. A result can be that we don’t give that material the right kind of attention…Dr. Jenny Radesky, a developmental behavioral pediatrician who is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, said that apps designed to teach reading in the early years of school rely on ‘gamification meant to keep children engaged.’ And though they do successfully teach core skills, she said, ‘what has been missing in remote schooling is the classroom context, the teacher as meaning maker, to tie it all together, helping it be more meaningful to you, not just a bunch of curricular components you’ve mastered.’

Any time that parents are able to engage with family reading time is good, using whatever medium works best for them, said Dr. Tiffany Munzer, also a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Mott Children’s Hospital, who has studied how young children use e-books.

However, Dr. Munzer was the lead author on a 2019 study that found that parents and toddlers spoke less overall, and also spoke less about the story when they were looking at electronic books compared with print books, and another study that showed less social back-and-forth — the toddlers were more likely to be using the screens by themselves…Dr. Radesky, who was involved in the research projects with Dr. Munzer, talked about the importance of helping children master reading that goes beyond specific remembered details — words or characters or events — so a child is ‘able to integrate knowledge gained from the story with life experience.’ And again, she said, that isn’t what is stressed in digital design. ‘Stuff that makes you think, makes you slow down and process things deeply, doesn’t sell, doesn’t get the most clicks,’ she said…Parents can help with this when their children are young, Dr. Radesky said, by discussing the story and asking the questions that help children draw those connections.”

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ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Compare/Contrast Chart

Directions: Have students list the similarities and differences between two things or ideas. Have students share their ideas with the class. The chart is from ReadWriteThink.org

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Scrolling works for social media.
  2. The format children read in can make a difference in terms of how they absorb information.
  3. We use screens mainly for social purposes and for amusement.
  4. Many educators believe fervently in the value of reading print books to young children.
  5. Many apps and e-books have too many distractions.
  6. Reading apps are just a bunch of curricular components children have mastered.
  7. Apps have all these visually salient features which distracts from the core content.
  8. It should be the job of the software developers to design electronic books that encourage language and interactions.
  9. When kids enter digital spaces, they have access to an infinite number of platforms and websites.
  10. Professor Baron said that in an ideal world, children would learn how to read contiguous text for enjoyment.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

In/On elementary school their/there’s an/and opportunity to/too start a/an conversation about the advantage/advantages of the different media: It goes/go for print, gone/goes for an/a digital screen, goes for audio, goes for video, they all have/had their/there uses — we need two/to make kids aware/awareness that knot/not all media are best suited to/too all purposes.

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “there are two components, the physical medium and the mind-set we bring to reading on that medium — and everything else sort of follows from that.”
  2. “…apps designed to teach reading in the early years of school rely on gamification meant to keep children engaged.”
  3. “What has been missing in remote schooling is the classroom context, the teacher as meaning maker, to tie it all together, helping it be more meaningful to you, not just a bunch of curricular components you’ve mastered.”
  4. “In an ideal world, children would learn “how to read contiguous text for enjoyment, how to stop, how to reflect.”
  5. “Any time that parents are able to engage with family reading time is good, using whatever medium works best for them.”
  6. “With younger children it makes sense to stick with print to the extent that it is possible.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Do you  prefer reading online or reading actual books? Why?
  2. In your opinion, which is better for young children, reading books or reading online? Why?
  3. According to the article what are the two main purposes for online reading?
  4. Why are print books better for parents and children?
  5. What is  dialogic reading?
  6. What is missing in online schooling for children?
  7. According to a 2019 study, what happens when parents and children read electronic books compared to reading print books?
  8. According to Dr. Radesky why is metacognition important for children to develop?
  9. After reading this article write down three new ideas you have learned about this  topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing that you would like to know that the article did not mention.

ANSWER KEY