About: tesol

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Reading Survey For Middle School ELA Students

I did the following reading survey for middle school ELA students. It gives some great behind the scenes insight into what Middle Schoolers like to read and why.

The author administered a reading survey to 81 seventh and eight grade language arts students. The students were eager to fill out the surveys because as the author explained, “you can be as honest as you want… the surveys are anonymous.” Students really love anonymity!

Out of the 81 students, the author found: 24 students love to read, 15 students sometimes like to read, and a staggering 42 students (slightly more than 50% of students interviewed) do not like to read. There were several similarities among students who do like to read: most of these students either do not watch television or rarely watch it, and these students were also very kind and innocent in their answers.

Examples of some of the “yes” students answers include: “Reading is important to our everyday lifestyle; ” “I like reading, but I love when my sister reads to me;” “Reading is important;” “Reading means fluency;” “Reading helps your skills in school;” “I love reading it’s a new way to learn about new things;” and “Reading is the best thing in the world.” Also among the “yes” students, the series The Warriors was listed as favorite book.

The responses from students claiming they do not like to read were very different from the “yes” students. Some examples of the “no” students responses to the question “what does reading mean to you” are: “It’s a waste of time;” “Reading means work;” and “Sucks and I hate it.” When asked how do you feel when you are reading, one student said, “I hate it when I read I feel like I”m dying.” One creative response from a “no” student (when asked to say anything else about reading) was “I want a book made of money.”

There were some similarities between the “no” and “yes” students. Every student but one enjoyed being read to as a child. MTV was listed on a majority of students favorite television programs. In the genre category, the majority of students listed they enjoyed romance, sports, mysteries, humor, and adventure.

Based on the reading survey administered to the 81 seventh and eighth grade language arts students, we can always search out new ways to make reading more enjoyable and fun for students of all abilities.

Brief (and Comical) History of English Language

A brief and comical history of the English language in just 10 minutes.

Did you know…over 1.5 billion people speak English! Let’s look out how we got here below, courtesy of the Open Institute:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

English Grammar Practice Online For Free

My students are always requesting for more English grammar practice. When you properly learn English grammar, you are setting yourself up for writing and speaking success. I always encourage my students to practice english grammar online using the Grammar Forms and Functions Student Book website. Not only is the website a great resource…it’s FREE!

English Grammar Practice Online For Free

I have really enjoyed using the Grammar Forms and Functions book by Milada Broukal, Glendale Community College, 2004 McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

The book presents the concepts of grammar in a formula based approach method, which is exactly how I prefer to teach grammar. My ESL students really gravitate towards this method because it’s easy for them to memorize the functions and formulas of English grammar. It also makes English grammar a little less daunting: when you learn the rules you are set up for success.

One of the best features of this book is the online component via the McGraw-Hill website. My students use the website in class to brush up on skills learned during the week, and my students with computer access regularly practice their English grammar online with this website.

My Favorite Online English Grammar Practice

Here are the links to the online grammar practice. Click on the left-hand corner of the page for “units” and choose the activity you would like to work on. These websites will keep you busy learning English Grammar for hours!

Grammar Forms and Functions Student Book 1

Grammar Forms and Functions Student Book 2

Grammar Forms and Functions Student Book 3

Grammar Form and Function

For a more indepth study of English Grammar, I highly recommend buying the books to use with the online component. Check out the books below available on Amazon.

Learn ESL Online Free

HERE is a comprehensive list of some of my favorite free websites to learn ESL online – enjoy!

ESL Dictation Exercises For The Multilevel Classroom: Present Continuous

ESL Dictation exercises can be used for beginning to advanced students. I especially like using them in a multilevel classroom and pairing students of different levels together.

How To use ESL Dictation Excercises For The Multilevel Classroom

This is a fun dictation exercise that will get your students up and moving. It is a great ESL exercise for practicing listening, reading, and speaking skills.


1. Write a dialogue based on the grammar point OR theme/vocabulary you are working on.

2. Make one copy of the text for each group.


1. Divide the students into groups of 2. Pair a higher level students with a lower level student.

3. Tape copies of the text around the room far away from where students are sitting.

4. Tell the groups that one partner is the speaker and the other partner is the writer.

5. The speaker will go up to the text, memorize a phrase or sentence, and then walk back to their partner and tell them the phrase.

6. The writer will write down what they hear.

7. The speaker will repeat this exercise until they are half way finished with the dictation.

8. Switch roles and repeat the above.

Below is an example text I used for reviewing present continuous. Group A is the more advanced learners and Group B is the beginning-intermediate students.

Group A
Tracy: Hello, can I speak to Alex.
Alex: This is Alex, who is speaking?
Tracy: Hi, this is Tracy.
Alex: Hi Tracy. What are you doing?
Tracy: Oh, I’m just watching TV. What are you doing?
Alex: Well, I’m cooking dinner.
Tracy: What are you cooking?
Alex: I’m baking some potatoes, boiling some carrots and grilling a steak.
Tracy: It sounds delicious.
Alex: What are you doing for dinner tonight?
Tracy: Well, I don’t have any plans…
Alex: Would you like to come over for dinner?
Tracy: Oh, I’d love to. Thanks.
Alex: Great. Mary and Jack are also coming. They are arriving at seven.
Tracy: OK, I’ll be there at seven, too.
Alex: OK, see you then. Bye.
Tracy: Bye.

Group B
Amy is going to school to study English.
She always goes to school on time.
She usually rides her bike to school.
If it rains, she takes the bus.
At the moment, she is studying the present continuous in Grammar class.
We use the present continuous tense for something that is happening right now or is in progress. English class is hard, but Amy enjoys her teacher and her new friends.
She is looking forward to getting her Bachelor’s degree.

ESL Pronunciation Exercises Part 3: Online Vocal Recordings

FYI For more reading on ESL Pronunciation please check out my other articles:
Teaching ESL Pronunciation
ESL Pronunciation Exercises Part 1: Warm Ups
ESL Pronunciation Exercises Part 2: Tongue Twisters

ESL Pronunciation Exercises Part 3: Online Vocal Recordings

I always incorporate online vocal recording projects in my classroom based on the theme or grammar points we are working on. You can be very creative with what projects you come up. It can be as simple as recording a speech to doing a mock radio interview. I recommend using Morphbox for these recordings. It’s an easy to use website even for beginning ESL students.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 11.53.29 AM

Whatever you decide the project theme to be, the general steps will always be the same:

1. Students are given project assignment and practice their dialogue.

2. Students record their dialogue online to Morphbox.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 11.56.45 AM

3. Students copy the link of the recording from Morphbox (Chrome is recommended for speed). Students then post the link to our online class forum. If you don’t have a class forum, have the students email the link to you.

4. As a class we create a rubric for grading each pronunciation project.

5. We listen to each recording from Morphbox and grade it according to our rubric.

6. Students are given their feedback for their recordings; reconvene and practice some more; and then record again. As a class we listen to the new recording and comment on how students have improved and what are a few things they still need to work on.

7. I have students write in their notes specific letters, consonant clusters, words, or sentences, that they need to work on based on this project experience.

8. Students continue to work on their specific notes throughout the semester.

9. At the end of the semester, it’s fun to go back and compare a student’s first recording with their final recording. They are always so proud of their progress

So there you go, have fun with online vocal recordings! Students love these projects…especially monitoring their progress.

Be as creative as you like…the sky is the limit! Just be prepared for lots of laughter as it’s a fun way for students to learn. Happy teaching!