Featured

Tips For Teaching English Online.

This will help you if you are an English teacher teaching online.

Knowing your Students. 

Knowing your students makes all the difference.

And the first step is to introduce yourself and learn your students names, however difficult they may be to pronounce. You may want to introduce nicknames if you can’t master the tones of their language.

When you teach English online, you encounter learners from diverse backgrounds with unique needs. You’ll want to understand these differences and tailor your teaching strategies accordingly. For instance, some students might be visual learners while others prefer auditory methods or hands-on activities.

This brings us to the next piece of the puzzle: your virtual classroom. Creating an environment that’s both welcoming and conducive to learning is key. This isn’t just about having a stable internet connection or using a quality webcam; it’s also about the digital tools and platforms you choose. From whiteboard apps to interactive quizzes, the right tech can transform a lesson from mundane to memorable.

Now, let’s talk about cultural sensitivity. You’re going to be engaging with students from around the globe, and each one of them comes from a rich cultural tapestry that shapes their learning perspective. Understanding and respecting these differences are not just professional; they’re essential to creating an inclusive and effective learning experience.

I’m here to help you make those connections between students’ backgrounds and their learning processes. By doing so, you’ll be setting them—and yourself—up for a much more enriching educational journey.

So what comes after setting this foundation for success? You guessed it: engaging them with effective teaching techniques, which is exactly what we’re going to explore next.

Engaging and Effective Teaching Techniques

I’m going to share a secret with you: the best English teachers are magicians. They transform the screen into a stage and captivate their audience with words. How do they do it? Interactive tools, storytelling, and adaptive feedback are their wands.

First up, interactive tools and resources make a huge difference. I’m talking about quizzes, polls, and games that students can participate in real time.

These are not just fun; they’re essential for keeping attention spans hooked. Use platforms like Kahoot! or Quizlet to create dynamic learning sessions that feel like play.

QuizletStorytelling

That brings us to storytelling. Stories carry the power to transport us to different worlds, and they can do the same for your students. Introduce a complex grammatical structure within the context of a captivating tale. You’re going to find out that narrative context makes abstract concepts much more digestible.

Feedback.

I can’t stress enough how important feedback is. This isn’t just about correcting errors. it’s also about praising efforts and guiding students toward self-improvement. Strive for a balance of positive reinforcement and constructive critique. Remember, feedback is a two-way street, encourage students to give their thoughts on lessons as well.

Choose techniques that resonate with you, because your passion will shine through and enhance the learning experience. And don’t worry too much about each session being perfect; teaching is a journey, and you can always adjust your approach down the road.

You can find some of the best FREE online tools here. Free OnlineTools

Sustaining Motivation and Retention.

Keeping students motivated in an online English class can be just as challenging as the teaching itself. But don’t worry too much about it.

I have some strategies that I use that will help you sustain your students’ motivation and thus increase retention over time.

Goal setting with students is more than just a buzzword. it’s a practical way to steer their learning journey. You’re going to find out about the effectiveness of setting clear, achievable objectives that align with their ambitions. This isn’t just about learning English; it’s also about connecting the language skills to their future success.

Building a community online might seem like a lofty goal, but it’s achievable with the right approach. Choose something that resonates with you, whether it’s group projects, discussion forums, or virtual coffee breaks. These approaches foster a sense of belonging and can turn a disparate group of online learners into a tight-knit community.

Lastly

Your first attempt doesn’t need to be your last when it comes to keeping lessons fresh. Just don’t focus too much on perfection. A lot is happening very quickly in the world of online education, and there’s a lot of opportunity to experiment with new content and teaching methods.

Adaptability is your friend here; you can always adjust your approach down the road.

My name is Steve, hope this helps.

If you like this check out my blogs on speech -to -script and script-to-speech tools on my YouTube site.

youtube link

Please support me on Ko-Fi so I can continue to bring you FREE resources like this.


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Please give me your thoughts, what do you think? Good or bad. Leave a comment below.

Featured

Addressing Cultural Differences In ESL Teaching

Vietnam views

Don’t Be Offensive.

I’m going to be talking about why cultural sensitivity isn’t just a bonus in ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching; it’s a necessity. Imagine you’ve got a classroom bubbling with students from Brazil to Bhutan, navigating not only a new language but also a new cultural milieu. The way you handle cultural diversity can make or break their language acquisition journey.

Cultural differences influence how students interpret language cues and classroom dynamics. For instance, notions of politeness, directness, or even humor vary drastically from one culture to another. Recognizing these differences helps in tailoring teaching methods that don’t just communicate language, but also respect and celebrate individual cultural identities.

Creating an inclusive learning environment goes a long way. It boosts confidence, fosters mutual respect, and makes the classroom a welcoming space for everyone. This isn’t just my opinion; there’s ample evidence from educational research that demonstrates how inclusivity can spur student engagement and improve language retention.

Take a look at some case studies and you’re going to find out about schools where teachers have embraced cultural diversity with outstanding results. From using bilingual assistants to celebrate language days, strategies that incorporate cultural elements into the ESL curriculum have been shown to significantly enhance student participation and performance.

Now, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty of communication. How do we, as ESL educators, facilitate a more nuanced understanding of the language that goes beyond mere grammar and vocabulary? Well, that’s going to include an exploration of non-verbal communication and cultural nuances, which is exactly what we’ll dive into in the next section.

Breaking Language Barriers: Communication Beyond Words

When it comes to teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), there’s much more to consider than grammar rules and vocabulary lists. If you’re an ESL teacher, you’re going to find out about the significance of non-verbal communication and cultural nuances, which are just as crucial as the words used in conversation.

Cultural expression is a huge part of how we communicate, and it’s often overlooked in language education. In my opinion, as an educator, you must balance the technical aspects of language teaching with activities that immerse students in the cultural subtleties of English. This is where the use of culturally relevant materials comes into play. Whether it’s through literature, film, or music, exposing students to a variety of media can help them pick up on idiomatic expressions and societal norms.

Role-playing is another fantastic tool. By simulating real-life scenarios, students get a chance to practice their language skills in a context that mirrors the diverse cultural situations they might encounter. In other words, they’re learning to read the room, not just the textbook. This includes understanding body language, personal space, etiquette, and humor, all of which vary widely across cultures.

So, what’s next? It’s critical to weave these insights seamlessly into the very fabric of your curriculum—that’s going to include designing lesson plans that resonate culturally with your students. That’s what I’m going to cover next, giving you practical tips to integrate cultural competence into your everyday teaching, ensuring your students are not just linguistically prepared, but also culturally attuned.

Curriculum Design: Integrating Cultural Competency in Lesson Plans

When you set out to create lesson plans for your ESL classroom, you’re not just shaping grammar and vocabulary lessons; you’re designing experiences that should resonate with every student, regardless of their cultural background. That’s going to include a variety of tasks to ensure that each individual feels accounted for and understood.

Designing culturally responsive teaching materials requires a blend of creativity and insight. It’s all about making sure that examples, topics, and activities reflect the diverse world we live in. Texts, videos, and images representing a spectrum of cultures can make lessons more engaging and relatable.

Adapting curriculum shouldn’t be a one-off effort. It is a dynamic process that involves regular revisions based on your students’ feedback and the latest pedagogical research. This ensures the materials remain relevant and sensitive to the evolving cultural landscape.

Incorporating cultural celebrations and traditions from the students’ home countries can bring a real-world context to abstract language concepts. Imagine celebrating the Chinese New Year or Diwali in class—I’ve seen it ignite students’ enthusiasm and provide a shared experience for language practice.

But remember, continuous professional development is key. Engage in ongoing cultural competency training. This not only broadens your own global awareness but equips you with the latest strategies to handle diverse classrooms effectively.

You can always adjust your approach down the road by staying responsive to both your students’ cultural needs and the latest teaching methodologies. The ultimate goal here is to construct a learning environment that not only teaches English but also fosters cross-cultural understanding.

Here is a lot more about “Lesson Plans and Free Stuff”

Fostering Inclusive Classrooms: Strategies and Best Practices

I’m here to help you with a few strategies and best practices that can transform your ESL classroom into a hub of inclusivity. It’s not just about acknowledging the mix of cultures but actively promoting an atmosphere where every student feels valued and heard.

In my opinion, the role of the teacher is paramount in cultivating an inclusive space. This involves being proactive in addressing any biases, ensuring equity in student participation, and being open to continuous learning about different cultures.

You’re going to find out about techniques like setting ground rules for respectful communication and regularly checking in with students to understand their perspectives. It’s crucial to make room for students to share their cultural backgrounds and experiences as part of the learning process.

If you want to effectively manage culturally sensitive scenarios, it begins with education. Equip yourself with knowledge about potential cultural conflicts and have plans in place to navigate these with sensitivity and respect.

Peer learning and collaborative projects are instrumental in bridging cultural gaps. Choose activities that encourage students to work together, learning from each other’s strengths and cultural insights.

Learn more here about “How to Teach English in Vietnam”

Finally,

You can always adjust your approach down the road, based on the measurement of success. Assessing cultural awareness growth among students is essential. Use reflective journals, feedback sessions, and inclusive practice surveys to gauge the classroom’s progress toward cultural competency.

Steve


 

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Featured

English Language Centers Facing Shortages | Editorial.

Vietnams English industry is suffering from lack of good teachers and poor administration.

Why Do Some Centers have Staff Shortages?

You could be forgiven for thinking that in Vietnam we are still in the throws of lockdown because of the lack of ESL teachers in language centers. Surely they didn’t all pack up and went home during the pandemic?

Some independent education experts speculated that the recent problem affecting English language schools in Vietnam may be caused by the institutions’ delayed response to changes in the preferred teaching strategies of today’s students.

Independent specialists debated that while modern trends in foreign language learning are growing both in Vietnam and around the world, many Vietnamese English language centers appear to have fallen behind because they cannot adapt to the new waves of change.

Higher Costs Hitting Home.

The Apax Leaders affair, ( They were once well respected and have been around for roughly five years), is one of the most recent scandals involving an English language school.

The current situation highlights a number of issues that many other English-speaking locations are facing in the post-pandemic age. That is higher costs, especially office rent, and little increase in tuition fees from the students and parents.

A center’s rent could be hundreds of millions of dong (100 million dong is approximately $4,200 US), and the majority of landlords are unwilling to lower their rate. Also, the global market is searching for native foreign English teachers, but they are hard to come by as many have gone home during the pandemic and found other jobs. Money Conversion by “XE-Money Converter

Language School Closures.

Overall I would estimate that between 40% to 60 % of language schools have either closed or dramatically reduced their size. Many have stopped renting high-priced offices and moved to cheaper ones. They also used smaller spaces instead of large properties to save money. A lot of this happened while still passing on the higher charges in fees, understandably illegal.

Some companies share their offices with partners. They keep only some parts for teaching and sublet the rest for purposes other than teaching, although this is also not allowed by law.

Additionally, many married immigrants have established “schools” inside their homes that can significantly undercut such businesses with higher prices.

While other schools, like Apax, are allegedly going through “re-opening procedures,” it is unclear whether they will actually reopen. Will it be another case of “take the money and run”?

A Shortage Of Qualified English Teachers.

I have been living and working in Vietnam as an EFL teacher for the last 15 years and I have never seen it this bad before. The pandemic drove people out of the country and the non-slackening of visa or immigration rules has made Vietnam to be a less friendly entry point than some other countries.

Add to that the closures and fly-by-night practices of some schools and you have severely dented the reputation of many language schools in Vietnam.

There are a lot of online communities and Facebook groups that have seen continued publishing of unfulfilled jobs. This has led a lot of the English Centers to lower their standards and accept people with rudimentary English language skills. It is almost like stepping back 15 years to the less controlled environment that was still current then.

It is common to see 20 or 30 jobs for a teacher that can’t be filled. The English teachers who remain get bombarded with calls and offers to teach. At one stage I was getting 10 calls a week for different job offers. however, the offers all tend to be around the same hourly rate, more than likely due to the points raised here.

It’s Time to Relax Administrative procedures.

The need for foreign teachers has grown in the post-pandemic era in line with the rise in student enrollment, although there are significant administrative roadblocks.

Obtaining a work permit for a foreign national is currently quite challenging. This makes it difficult for many language schools to afford to hire enough foreign instructors. And the teachers that are coming through are from countries that were not in favor (For English Teachers) before. Like the Philippines and South Africa.

Regarding this situation, authorities should adopt flexible policies and expedite procedures. In this way, the teacher shortage issue might be quickly resolved.

Money or Education.

Vietnamese language schools frequently place more of an emphasis on business than on education. Quite frequently, I would witness parents barging into the centers and lamenting the abject failure of their child’s external exam. A consequence of the school’s policy of forcing students—whether or not they are prepared—through “the system.”

They 9The schools) simply want to increase the number of centers as soon as possible to achieve expansion. They spend money on marketing and increasing sales to attract as many learners as possible. The parents don’t see the rows of telemarketers calling potential students.

For most Vietnamese, if a school looks good with nice chairs, televisions, and all the latest equipment, it must be good. They don’t necessarily see the poor quality of the teachers behind the scenes.

Additionally, they open additional locations with the majority of their earnings. Therefore, it is uncertain whether they have qualified teachers, the ability to provide services, and the financial management skills to effectively manage for the future.

The Need for Change.

After the epidemic, learning habits shifted globally and in Vietnam, but many Vietnamese English centers do not appear to be adjusting to these changes.

Modern students do not fit the mold of traditional classes held in large, spacious venues.

These conventional approaches are too expensive, and the benefits they provide are not adequate compensation. According to what I have observed, this has caused a significant disparity between the investment and the enrollment of students during the post-pandemic period.

During the coronavirus epidemic, many students discovered the possibility to learn online and stopped attending traditional classes. And it was successful because it cut down on the students’ typically time-constrained commute time.

Final Thoughts.

For students of all ages, online courses have been made available in Vietnam by a number of significant English education providers, including the British Council and others.

Centers can choose how many online and offline units to offer based on the time that classes are offered, but they cannot continue to offer entirely offline courses as they do at the moment. With the combination of teachings, the schools will be able to return to the right side of the ledger book and, ideally, prioritize student instruction over monetary gains.

For English centers, it is now vital to integrate online and offline courses since otherwise, failing schools will keep opening and shutting all the time.

For more editorial content read “Marty Hoares” ” Vietnams ESL Sector, a Series of Disappointments


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Featured

How to engage your EFL students | English in the classroom.

TPR at work in the classroom

Engage your students.

A good teacher should always find new ways to engage the student. Looking for new content and activities for the classroom needn’t be difficult or a chore. There is a wealth of ideas and activities that can be gleaned from the internet alone. Then there are other resources like class books, flashcards, YouTube sites, and teacher forums.

A young student in Vietnam.

A. Classroom tactics.

Almost every EFL teacher has encountered this situation: a class of pupils that are uninterested in what is going on in the classroom, regardless of how hard you worked on the lesson plan. Student involvement is a goal we all aspire for, but we also know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving it, whether we teach online or in person.

Each class has its own strengths, dynamics, expectations, and outcomes. Fortunately, we can utilize the tactics listed below to encourage involvement without appearing to be overly pushy.

Oxford University provides some excellent training videos to help you in the classroom as well, and they can be accessed via Oxford Seminars, How to motivate your students and be a better ESL teacher.

Do a warm-up activity.

A quick warm-up exercise allows you to learn about your pupils’ interests and respond favorably in order to form bonds. Everyone enjoys talking about their passions, so why not allow students to communicate with us and one other through their shared interests?

Five warm-up activities

1. The A to Z Game.

Give students a theme, for example, food, animals, countries, etc. Write the letters A to Z on the board. Teams of students must race to write a suitable word next to each letter on the board.

You can also do this without the students running around. Split the class into at least two groups. I have found the students love competing against one another. Especially a boy vs girl challenge.

You can say the alphabet and the chosen student has to give the answer. For example, A- apple, B- banana, etc.

Or you can choose a student from each team to say the alphabet in tandem. ( Penalty points apply if they get it wrong )

2. Draw what I say.

This is a great game for the listening skill. I draw a simple picture and get the students to copy what I am doing without showing the image. I will talk the students through what the picture is about.

For example, I might say draw a line in the middle of the page and on top of that line draw a house with 4 windows and 1 door. To the left of the house draw 6 flowers. In the sky draw the Sun and 3 clouds in the top left-hand corner.

You will need to pre-teach, top left-hand corner, middle of the page, and other keywords as well. This is a great test of their vocabulary skills and prepositions of place vocabulary as well.

At the end of this activity the students will have drawn some very strange stuff, so play it up and have fun with the results

.3. The memory game.

In this activity, the students need to listen closely and add on extra phrases. I normally start the game by saying something like; ” I am going on holiday and taking a camera.

Then each student adds on something else they can take while repeating everything already said. e.g. I am going on a holiday and taking a camera and a bag. Etc.

Again I split the class into two groups and do this activity several times. You can also allow the students to write down the things taken, but don’t slow down the game.

4. Charades.

Students take turns acting out a word that you offer and their classmates try to guess what it is. This is an excellent way to review vocabulary from a prior session or try out a new word.

You can play this as a team activity as well. Put 2 chairs facing forward and choose a student from each team to sit in them. Then behind their backs write a word on the board and the teams have to try to get the chosen person to say that word.

Repeat the process by changing the students who sit in the chairs. This is a lot of fun and the students enjoy this activity.

Young students especially become engrossed in this activity, and they frequently try very hard to act out the meaning of the word.

5. Hangman.

This popular filler can also be a fantastic way to begin a class with beginners who are still unfamiliar with the alphabet. Simply write a freshly taught word on the board ( In dash format ) and have the children guess a letter.

Choose a topic, let’s say food, and tell the class what the topic is and choose a word for the game. Let’s say “Grape”

On the board draw 5 dashes that correspond with the number of letters. I this case 5 _ _ _ _ _. Now the students take it, in turn, to fill in the word, the first group to guess the word wins the points.

When doing a warm-up activity consider the following;

Keep it simple and age-relevant.

A good warm-up activity should cover these points.

  • Simple to comprehend and implement.
  • Easy to execute, in the sense that they require little to no preparation.
  • Appropriate for the age and grade level.
  • Efficient use of time.
  • Attractive and intriguing and fun.
  • Getting to the point of the lesson or the target language
  • To encourage student participation and confidence, use familiar vocabulary.

B. Total Physical Response and gestures.

Teachers and students do not have to be passive during the learning. Try to generate answers by urging them to raise their hand if they have a question or give a thumbs up if they enjoy something.

Students are more involved if they feel the teacher is having fun. So introduce T.P.R into the classroom. T.P.R involves using body language to help students understand a word or phrase.

An example of this is, brush your teeth then doing the action of brushing your teeth. This is a particularly useful technique for teaching younger students.

Learners in an online classroom can answer in a similar fashion by using emoticons or a group board to write on or even in a chat pod

You can find out more about teaching styles and Total Physical Response on my older blog. “Teaching English Abroad”

C. Praise your students.

Praise has a direct impact on students’ perceptions of success and failure. Many pupils assume that their teachers’ assessments of their abilities are the only ones that matter. This isn’t always the case, though. Even an average student may learn to excel with the right direction and perseverance.

It is critical that teachers recognize their incredible potential to influence their students’ ideas. If a teacher can make kids believe in themselves, they will be able to attain new heights and explore new horizons.

To be useful, positive comments must be specific and related to the outcome being discussed. “Great job” is nice, but “I loved how well-structured your argument was” is even better and gives your students a clear path to follow in order to achieve a better outcome.

D. No negative comments.

There is nothing more demoralizing for a student to be told they are lazy and not doing well in the classroom. Try to find out the reason for their apparent laziness or learning difficulties.

It may well be they are helping their family out in the shop after school and not getting to bed until midnight. Even the truly lazy student can be turned around with words of encouragement and praise.

Students who have received effective praise are not afraid of failure or setbacks. These are seen as stepping stones to achievement by them. They see setbacks as opportunities to develop new skills and expand their knowledge. To them, the method or manner by which they failed becomes one of the methods by which they succeed.

E. Create a positive atmosphere.

A pleasant learning environment is one in which each student feels accepted, at ease, respected, and capable of expressing themselves.

It’s crucial to be receptive to what pupils say, and as a teacher, you should constantly remember to set the tone. So, when a student talks, wait for them to finish; praise them when they give a viewpoint, and act appropriately when they show their feelings.

This is probably easier in an online context, as non-verbal reactions on camera can be used to build and reinforce bonds between students.

If there is only one thing you take away from this article, it should be, have FUN in the classroom. You will enjoy teaching more and the student will enjoy learning much more.

Conclusion

There are many things to think about when trying to engage students whether in the classroom or online, and these are but a few ideas. I hope it has provoked some thought about how you will engage your next class.

What is your favorite strategy to engage your students in the learning process? What have I left out?

Who am I and what do I do?

I am an EFL teacher who has been living in Vietnam for 15 years and now have my own school. . I also do teacher placements in Vietnam. If you want to look at my school click on the YouTube button below.

My School in Vietnam

Life in Vietnam can be both fun and challenging, it depends on you how much you wish to enjoy it. But there are some big cultural differences. Those that can accept that do well, those that don’t, not so well.

I hope you enjoyed this brief read.

Stephen

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.



Featured

What is it like living in Vietnam as an Ex-Pat?

Vietnam has grown in popularity and it is now widely acknowledged as a safe place for ex-pats to live and work. The pleasant weather, inexpensive cost of living, vibrant culture, and gradual improvements in Vietnam’s infrastructure all attract ex-pats. 

These are some of my thoughts and experiences about living in Vietnam for the past 15 years.

My experiences living in Vietnam.

When I first arrived at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh city the first thing I noticed was the smell. The locals smelled different, and that is because they do not eat so much beef and have a more mixed diet.

And I was told later that it is the same for Vietnamese. The Vietnamese can smell the meat coming out of foreigners pores.

That was more than 15 years ago. When I first came it was after the breakup of my first marriage, and I wanted to see a completely different culture.

The first time was a 3 week holiday and I  traveled from Hanoi to Halong Bay then onto Da Nang, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and then Ho Chi Minh city. it was during this time I fell in love with the country.

                                                           You can find out more about Vietnam here.

A brief return home.

I returned home and immediately decided to get a Tesol degree so I could teach English in Vietnam. That was the start.

Returning to Vietnam I secured a teaching job promptly after a mishap in Hanoi. I had been offered a job in Hanoi where it was said to be close to the city. 

My introduction to Vietnam

I flew up to Hanoi and was met at the airport by the school owner, who then drove me around for ages under the pretext of buying books. Just when it was getting dark he took me to his school and my promised accommodation.

The school was 2 hours from the capital and in the country. My accommodation was an unairconditioned room with a hole in the wall. it was a rather sleepless night battling the mosquitos. 

Two days later I packed my bags and headed to Ho Chi Minh city. I arrived in HCMC and got a job in the first week. 

This is when I knew I would be in for some very interesting experiences.

The next few years. 

The next few years went in a blur of working, meeting new friends, and having a great time. I established myself as a well-liked and known teacher and worked in various schools. I even spent 9 months working in Pleiku in the highlands of Vietnam.

During holidays I also traveled to Cambodia and Thailand. It is very cheap to travel around South East Asia and I made the most of it.

Outside my house in GoVap, HCMC. My photo.

Fast forward to today.

I am now living in Go Vap in ho Chi Minh city. A district that does not have a lot of foreigners in it. I have some amazing stories and have been on some incredible adventures. 

But quite often it is the unexpected things that take your breath away. For example, coming home one night I ran into this outside my house. My neighbors were celebrating TET with a dragon dance. 

The dragon dance originated in China about 2,500 years ago. The Vietnamese dragon dance is not just seen as a dance. It is a form of displaying martial arts, as the performers should be Kung Fu masters. 

Without the Kung Fu component, it would be seen as just a soulless puppet performance.

TET holiday

Tet is the big holiday of the year with a lot of activities and things to do. If you have only been in Vietnam for a short time it may seem boring because most activities are done at the home.

Tet Nguyên Dán, more usually abbreviated to Tet, is Vietnam’s most prominent and well-known holiday and festival. The name Tet Nguyên Dán means “Feast of the First Morning” in Sino-Vietnamese.

The dates of Lunar New Year vary from year to year, although it usually falls in late January or early February. Tet Holiday is considered the perfect time for family members to return home and gather together.  

For Vietnamese the Tet Holiday is an opportunity to relax and enjoy life after a long year of hard labor; as a result, people forget about their problems and concentrate on the festivities. They will also spend time shopping and visiting pagodas and temples during this time.

Tet is a time to relax, eat and enjoy life. And shop. district 1 in HCMC. My photo.

Pagodas and temples.

It is the sights, sounds, and smells that make Vietnam such an amazing place to visit. Often at night, you will hear the monks chanting when you are safely tucked up in bed. They will be up early and stay awake late and it is enchanting to listen to as you drift off to sleep.

Buddhism in Vietnam 

Buddhism, mostly of the Mahayana branch, is the most widely practiced religion in Vietnam. The exact date of Buddhism’s entrance to Vietnam is unknown. 

However, it is most likely around the year 200 of the Christian era. It arrived by northern routes from Central Asia and southern routes from India.

Types of Buddhism in Vietnam

Taoism, Chinese spirituality, and the indigenous Vietnamese religion all have a symbiotic relationship with Vietnamese Buddhism. 

The three Mahayana School of Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and Vajrayana, are the most popular among Buddhists in Vietnam.

Pure Land Buddhism  ( Amidism ) and Zen Buddhism have taken over Buddhist life in Vietnam. Pure Zen was largely followed by monks and nuns, whereas Pure Land Buddhism was chosen by the general public.

You will see monks walking down the street wearing no shoes and yes. it is still a common sight in the outlying districts. 

My local Buddhist monastery. My photo.

What do I do now?

I now have my own school and am married to a Vietnamese lady. We have been teaching online as Vietnam has been quite badly affected by Covid. I also do teacher placements in Vietnam. If you want to look at my school click on the YouTube button below. 

My School in Vietnam

Life in Vietnam can be both fun and challenging, it depends on you how much you wish to enjoy it. But there are some big cultural differences. Those that can accept that do well, those that don’t, not so well.

I hope you enjoyed this brief read.

Stephen

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Featured

How to help your child learn English at home.

Why you should teach your child English at home.

Helping your child learn English at home.

With schools closed due to the Corona virus, parents all over the world are wondering how they can help their children learn English at home. Sure, teachers are teaching online, but as parents, we can do a lot more.

When instructors and parents collaborate, children have a better chance of succeeding in school. Every interaction you have with your child during the day can be used to help them develop their English skills.

Here are some ideas to help home study.

Have fun.

We have a lot of duties as busy parents. It’s all about finding the appropriate balance when it comes to teaching or leading the learning process at home.

Teachers in schools must plan timetables and lessons for the entire class. You have more freedom to focus on your child’s preferred interests and activities when you learn at home. You can consider what will be most beneficial to your child.

Learners of all ages achieve more when they enjoy and find their work engaging and meaningful. Don’t be frightened to have a good time!

Try new things.

There are a lot of online resources to help, so do not be scared to try different things. You have English learning apps, websites, English rhymes, and songs to name a few. To find out how your child likes to learn and what things do they enjoy.

Children’s picture books

For young children learning English, this method can open them to a whole new realm of learning. It can be difficult to select the correct books, but it is critical to recognize the advantages of having this one-on-one relationship with your child.

Picture books give parents and children a compelling incentive to change from their native language to English. The predefined text of a picture book is a very valuable prop for parents who perform poorly in English.

Flashcards.

Flashcards can be a very useful tool. Especially for the beginner or younger learner. Teaching individual worlds is an important part of the learning process and flashcards provide pictures along with the words and pictures.

Rather than a boring home lesson you can make it fun by turning learning into a game. For example, You can buy 2 sets of the same flashcards and play a memory-based game.

Place the flashcards face down and your child has to remember where the 2 that are the same were placed. Laugh and learn will also instill a desire from your child to learn.

==> Using flashcards to teach English <==

Rhymes and songs

Repeating rhymes and songs is a fun method of learning new vocabulary in English. You can create a collection of songs that your child can listen to over and over to become comfortable with keywords.

==> Rhymes and songs to learn English <==

Apps that help your child learn English

Improve your child’s English skills with these entertaining and educational applications! These games, podcasts, videos, and quizzes are designed for kids of all ages and will help them learn English at home or on the go. You can learn more about them by clicking here.

==> Apps for children to learn English <==

Comics, TV, and video games.

Who doesn’t love cartoons, comics, and playing online games.? Okay, not everyone. But a lot of children do. And if you can get your child to read comics, watch cartoons and play games in English, they will learn faster.

Find what they enjoy doing and try to get them to do it in English. The cartoon network in English is a great tool for home learning.

Word searches and other games

Word searches can be a great tool as long as they are not overused. They can be used as a reward for a lesson well done.

However, as a stand-alone tool, it is questionable. It certainly helps with word recognition if used in the right way. Find a word search that relates to the topic you are teaching and the words you have taught.

There are online word search makers that you can use to specifically target the words taught in your childs lesson.

Things to think about.

What does your child like to do in his or her spare time? Drawing? going outside to play? comics? Do they enjoy reading stories? Dancing? indoor games or puzzles?

Make an effort to engage in some of their favorite activities in English.

Is your child more active at different times of the day? Do they like the mornings or the afternoons? What do they do after learning? Do they want something to eat? Choose the perfect moment to tackle the most difficult tasks!

What is your child’s preferred method of absorbing information? Is it possible to teach off-the-cuff during these times? Make a list of what works best for them.

Do you want your child to be able to make their own decisions about their education? Or do they prefer to make decisions with you? Always remember to ask them for their opinions and to encourage them as they build their own study skills.

Can I help if I don’t speak English?

Yes! Encouragement and praise are the finest ways to provide the best support for your child. This boosts your child’s self-esteem and belief in their own abilities.

Encourage children when they take charge of their own education and congratulate them on their efforts

You could even give your youngster the task of teaching English to a member of your family. Did you know that one of the most effective methods to learn is to teach someone else? You could even ask that they teach you.

Conclusion.

Whatever you do, make it fun. Your child will love you all the more for you taking the time out of your day to spend with them.

To develop the love of learning in your child will mean they will want to learn and they will increase any learning skill quicker.

Remember the first skill in learning any language is the listening skill, so the more they listen to English, the faster they will learn.

And be patient, learning anything takes time. And learning a language is one of the most difficult things to do. But small steps now will lead to big leaps in the future.

Who am I?

I am an EFL ( English as a Foreign Language ) teacher who owns a school in Vietnam. I have been here for 15 years and experienced most teaching situations.

From teaching in state schools with 50 plus students to a class to one on one private lessons. I have taught in English centers both good and bad, and the bad decided me to open my own school.

You can check out my school in Vietnam below by hitting on the YouTube button.

My school in Vietnam

 

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

AI Tools For An ESL Classroom.

AI Tools In The Classroom

My exploration of AI tools in English as a Second Language (ESL) classrooms starts with a simple observation: technology is no longer just an option in education; it’s an absolute necessity.

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into ESL settings sheds new light on how we approach language learning. It enables a learning environment rich with possibilities that were once beyond reach.

The compelling reasons for incorporating AI into ESL education stem from its unique benefits. AI offers tailored experiences that adapt to their learning pace and style, which is critical in mastering a new language.

In a nutshell, the students love the interactive experience that AI offers, along with the tech-driven experience.

Conversely, teachers gain invaluable insights into student progress, allowing them to fine-tune lesson plans and focus on areas where students struggle the most.

Learning with AI

The Synergy Between Language Learning and AI.

The synergy between AI and language learning extends well beyond the limits of traditional methods. Where textbooks and static lessons falter, AI swoops in with dynamic, interactive experiences that make learning a language as engaging as it is effective. This technology isn’t just about replacing old tools—it’s about enhancing the entire pedagogical approach.

As we delve into the myriad applications of AI in the ESL classroom, we’ll explore how these tools not only support but elevate the learning journey. Students benefit from immediate feedback, a cornerstone of efficient learning. Meanwhile, teachers can harness the power of analytics to illuminate the path forward, ensuring that every lesson leads to substantial progress.

Segueing into the next section, it becomes increasingly clear that AI isn’t just a supplementary resource—it’s transforming the way language is taught and learned. With the introduction of AI-powered language learning assistance, the potential to redefine ESL education is at our fingertips.

Click this Link to Read about more Tech and Online classroom tools I use for free.

AI-Powered Language Learning Assistance

Imagine an assistant that’s available 24/7, never gets tired and is equipped with an understanding of the nuances of English, from pronunciation to syntax. That’s the reality with AI in ESL classrooms. AI-powered language learning tools are changing the game by offering students instant feedback and tailored experiences that adapt to their skill level.

One of the most significant advantages is the capability of speech recognition technology. It allows students to speak naturally, recognize speech patterns, and provide real-time corrections. This immediate reinforcement helps them adjust their pronunciation, improve fluency, and gain confidence without the pressure of a classroom environment.

Natural language processing.

However, speaking is just one part of the puzzle. AI’s Natural Language Processing, or NLP for short, is a driving force in developing reading and writing skills. NLP technology can analyze text input, suggest context-based corrections, and even mimic conversational English to a remarkable degree, offering a comprehensive and interactive learning experience.

These powerful tools don’t just mimic human tutors; in some instances, they surpass them with the ability to handle many tasks at once, ensuring no student falls behind. A teacher can only focus on one student at a time, but AI scales its attention to the needs of each individual learner, ensuring focused practice that’s hard to replicate in traditional classroom settings.

The Best AI Tools for Engaging ESL Classrooms

Nailing down the right tech tools can transform an ESL classroom into a lively hub of language acquisition. Let’s cut to the chase. Here are some AI tools that have proven their worth:

First up, Duolingo – the well-known language learning app. Its AI algorithms adapt to individual learning styles, making practice fun and accessible.

Next, there’s ‘Rosetta Stone’. It leverages AI to provide an immersive learning experience, focusing on full language immersion rather than translation and memorization.

And “Mondly” is a good all-round language learning tool as well.

‘Chatbots’ also deserve mention. They can be excellent conversational partners, offering endless dialogue opportunities without the pressure of a human audience.. ( Although I do not use them and will not provide a link)

Quillbot” is a great paraphrasing tool that can help show students how to rearrange a script.

Grammarly” is more geared toward writing development, with AI providing real-time grammar, punctuation, and style corrections.

For teachers, Quizlet’ and its AI feature, Quizlet Learn, can be handy tools. They help create learning materials and track student progress.

And we can’t overlook Google Translate’, which is evolving with AI. It’s not just a translation tool; it’s becoming a companion for understanding and learning languages.

Note, though, AI tools are supplements, not replacements. The human element in language learning is irreplaceable, but these tools offer valuable support.

I use these tools frequently every month and find the free versions are suitable for 90% of the work you need done. Chatbots are the only thing I have not used, but I know of some teachers who are using them effectively, thus the inclusion.

Fostering a Collaborative Learning Environment with AI

I’ve seen firsthand the dynamic shift AI can introduce in an ESL classroom. By leveraging these advanced tools, educators can not only facilitate individualized learning but also cultivate a spirit of collaboration among students with diverse linguistic backgrounds. AI doesn’t replace the traditional classroom; it augments it, making language learning a shared, interactive, and often joyous endeavor.

One of the remarkable aspects of integrating AI into language instruction is its capacity to engage students in peer-to-peer interactions. Language learning is inherently social, and AI-driven games and collaborative activities can often mirror natural linguistic exchanges more closely than traditional drills. Through these interactive experiences, students are encouraged to communicate, negotiate meaning, and build language skills together.

Beyond the impact on students, AI tools also offer support for teachers. They’re no longer the sole source of language input or feedback—the AI shares that role, allowing educators to focus on facilitating discussions, managing group dynamics, and tailoring lessons to the evolving needs of their class. The ripple effect is significant; this allows for classroom environments where every student’s voice is heard and valued.

From my interactions with other educators who incorporate AI into their teaching, a consensus emerges: the most effective application of AI in ESL classrooms comes from teachers who blend its capabilities with their expertise. You can’t simply introduce a new tool and expect magic. It requires careful planning, a clear understanding of educational objectives, and an earnest desire to enhance student engagement.

Final Thoughts

In closing, AI tools are a powerful complement to the ESL teacher’s arsenal, promising innovative pathways to language acquisition. With a thoughtful approach to their deployment, these tools can undoubtedly help build not just language proficiency but also a classroom environment rich with interaction, support, and shared learning experiences.

 A lot is happening very quickly in the world of online education, and there’s a lot of opportunity to experiment with new content and teaching methods.

Adaptability is your friend here; you can always adjust your approach down the road.

My name is Steve, I hope this helps.

If you like this check out my blogs on speech -to -script and script-to-speech tools on my YouTube site.

youtube link

Please support me on Ko-Fi so I can continue to bring you FREE resources like this.


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.


 

ESL Classroom Management Tips.

ESL Classroom Management Techniques and Tips.

Have you ever been in a classroom with 60 students turning “feral” and wondering what the heck are you going to do? Well, these tips may help you. I have been teaching in Vietnam for 16 years and have taught kindergarten through to adults, and my favorite “ferals”‘ are teenagers.

We need to look at classroom management and what works for you. We all have different teaching styles and the same applies to our “classroom control” or “classroom management” techniques.

Effective Classroom Management.

Effective classroom management is the backbone of successful teaching, especially when it comes to English as a Second Language (ESL). Imagine trying to teach verb tenses or vocabulary to a room buzzing with students who come from different backgrounds and have varying levels of English proficiency. In large groups, the challenge intensifies. Without proper management, the classroom environment could quickly become chaotic, impeding both teaching and learning.

As the size of an ESL class grows, so do the demands on a teacher’s planning, organization, and patience. It’s no secret that a well-managed classroom can result in improved student behavior, a more favorable learning atmosphere, and better educational outcomes. But how do we achieve this with large groups? That’s what I aim to explore.

In this article, I’ll share strategies I’ve found effective in managing large ESL classrooms. These techniques help maintain order, ensure active participation, and foster an environment conducive to learning a new language. You’ll learn how to design lessons that engage every student, utilize the available space to the fullest, and establish ground rules that empower both you and your learners.

Creating an Engaging and Structured Learning Environment

Picture a classroom brimming with eager students, and it’s my task to transform this space into a hotbed of learning and interaction. With a sizable group, it’s paramount to craft lessons that both include and challenge every student.

When I map out a lesson plan for a large class, I ensure the activities are scalable. This means choosing tasks that are easily adjustable to different group sizes and can be managed without excessive prep time. It keeps the workflow smooth and students engaged.

Effective use of classroom space is non-negotiable. I often rearrange desks to facilitate group work or discussions, ensuring each student can see and hear clearly. This might look like a horseshoe arrangement for open discussions or clusters for team projects.

Rules and procedures might sound dull, but they’re the backbone of an orderly classroom. I set these standards on day one and revisit them frequently. By establishing what’s expected, students are less likely to veer off-course, and our class stays on track.

Lastly, visuals and tech aren’t just bells and whistles, they are essential tools that hold attention spans and simplify complex concepts. I integrate multimedia presentations, interactive quizzes, and language apps to keep the energy levels up and the learning relevant.

Preparing the right environment is only part of the puzzle. The next step is addressing the distinct needs of each student. In the ensuing section, I’ll explore how to provide personalized attention, even in a sea of faces.

Strategies for Personalized Attention in Large Classes

I know that meeting students’ individual needs in a large ESL classroom can be daunting. Yet, it’s essential for their language development and overall success. Personalized attention isn’t just a luxury; it’s a necessity even in a crowded room. Here’s how to make this happen even with limited time and resources.

Differentiated instruction might sound like educational jargon, but it’s quite straightforward. Break down your lesson into skill levels and deliver it accordingly. It can be as simple as providing advanced worksheets for quick learners or offering extra guidance for those who struggle.

Peer teaching is a powerful tool. Pair up or group students so they can teach each other. It’s effective – students often explain things in ways their peers understand better than when I do it. And it frees you up to circulate and offer targeted help.

To keep tabs on each student’s progress, develop a consistent system of monitoring. It could be a quick daily check-in or more formal weekly assessments. Remember, what gets measured gets managed.

Feedback is the breakfast of champions, and this is particularly true in education. In a large class, you might worry about having time to offer individual feedback. Fear not. Use stickers, stamps, or short written notes to provide encouragement or suggestions for improvement.

Remember: differentiation, peer teaching, effective monitoring, and timely feedback are your allies. With these strategies, personalized attention becomes a manageable task even in a large ESL classroom.

Maintaining Discipline and Motivation Among ESL Learners

Effective classroom management extends beyond organizing activities and establishing routines; it’s crucial to sustain discipline and encourage ongoing motivation in any large ESL classroom.

Strong discipline and high motivation go hand in hand. When students are motivated, they are more likely to engage positively and less inclined to disruptive behavior. Here’s how I tackle this dual challenge:

Setting clear expectations is my starting point. It lets students know what behaviors are acceptable and helps prevent issues before they arise. When expectations are consistent and transparent, students feel secure and are more likely to contribute in a positive way.

Praise and rewards can be powerful tools. I find that recognizing student achievements, even small ones, can significantly boost morale and motivate others to strive for improvement. Developing a reward system that acknowledges both individual and group accomplishments creates a culture of success.

Dealing with disruptive behavior swiftly and fairly is key. I address problems directly, but with an emphasis on understanding and correcting behavior rather than punishment. This approach respects the student’s dignity and promotes a positive learning environment.

Upfront and Personal.

Classroom rules

Make sure the students respect the classroom rules. These rules should be worked out between the students and teacher in the first week or two of the new class. it does not need to be written in blood and these “rules” should be implemented by both the students and teacher. Giving the students “ownership” of the rules makes them accountable for their actions.

Psychology in The Classroom and CRM ( Classroom Management).

If you wish to learn more about Psychology in the classroom and CRM, this will link you to more information.

And “Bings” Co-Pilot also provides a lot of resources you can tap int, depending on how deep and involved you wish to go.

“Psychology of classroom control involving students.”

Finally.

Keeping students genuinely interested in lessons can alleviate many disciplinary challenges. I make it my mission to present material in a dynamic way that sparks curiosity and elicits active participation. From interactive activities to relatable content, fostering a love for learning is that essential ingredient that keeps disruption at bay and motivation high.

Steve

Please support me on Ko-Fi so I can continue to bring you FREE resources like this.


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Teaching Letter Sounds To Preschoolers.

Teaching letter sounds to young students is very important for their acquisition process.

Young Students at my School in Vietnam

Words With No Meaning

Imagine a toddler’s world full of symbols they see but can’t decipher. I remember when I first recognized the critical role of teaching letter sounds – that aha moment when a child connects sounds to letters is nothing short of magical. Teaching these sounds is the starting point to opening up a universe of words, a fundamental part of early learning that sets the stage for reading and spelling success.

Phonemic awareness.

The ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words is a crucial skill. I’ve seen kids need to grasp for sounds before they can read effectively. So we should teach sounds before words, in my opinion.

As a precursor to phonics, understanding letter sounds helps children in predicting how words are spelled and spoken, which is incredibly empowering for them.

And the ripple effects are vast; studies have shown time and again that strong literacy skills established in these early years have long-term academic and social benefits.

Early literacy education goes beyond the classroom. As a parent, teacher, or caregiver, you hold an incredibly vital role in a child’s literacy journey. Instilling a love for reading starts with your patience and persistence during these early stages. Teaching letter sounds can seem like a monumental task, but remember, it yields extraordinary results: confident readers and eager learners.

Embracing your role as an educator requires understanding and utilizing the right methods. These methods should never be one-size-fits-all, rather they must be personalized.

You tailor your approach based on the child’s unique learning style, interests, and pace. In the next section, we’ll explore how to create a nurturing environment that fosters this learning at home, along with practical strategies to guide your preschooler through the exciting world of letters and sounds.

Read more here about “Teaching Phonics to Young Students”

Choosing the Right Approach: Parents as Educators

In my experience, the role parents play in the early stages of a child’s education can’t be overstated. Every child is unique, and recognizing this is crucial when teaching them letter sounds. It’s all about finding what clicks for your child and nurturing that spark of comprehension.

First off, creating a learning environment at home doesn’t require a classroom setting. A comfortable corner with good lighting and access to books and learning materials would suffice. The aim is to make this space inviting and distraction-free, where concentration on learning activities can occur naturally.

Now, not all children respond to the same teaching methods. I’ve seen that firsthand. You may need to experiment with different approaches to discover what resonates with your child. Some preschoolers learn letter sounds more effectively through songs and rhymes, while others benefit from hands-on activities like letter tracing or puzzle solving.

Positive reinforcement is a game-changer. Be generous with praise and encouragement. When your child successfully learns a new letter sound, celebrate that achievement. It could be a high five, a sticker, or an extra story at bedtime. These rewards reinforce their success and motivate them to keep learning.

I’d say the most important thing is to be patient and persistent. Consistency is key, even if progress seems slow. Regular, short sessions are better than infrequent, longer ones which can tire a young child out and lead to frustration.

Above all, remember that learning should be joyful. When you’re enthusiastic about teaching letter sounds, your child will adopt the same attitude. This love for learning can lead to a seamless transition into engaging activities that further enhance their understanding, which I’ll discuss in the next section.

Also, check out “How to teach ESL to Kids”

Engaging Activities to Teach Letter Sounds to Preschoolers

As a parent or educator, you know that active engagement is the key to making learning resonate with preschoolers. Imagine replacing a traditional classroom approach with interactive games and activities that make the alphabet come alive for the little ones.

One effective tool is to transform learning into play. You might use colorful flashcards or felt letters to craft games that match sounds to symbols. Or consider engaging activities such as ‘letter sound hide and seek,’ where children find objects that start with a specific letter.

In this digital age, technology is a supportive ally. Smartly chosen apps and educational videos can be brilliant resources to help young minds grasp phonics. Look for apps that are specifically designed for preschoolers and focus on phonics fundamentals. Remember to supervise screen time and intersperse tech activities with hands-on learning.

Don’t overlook the power of embedding education into the fabric of everyday life. Encourage your child to listen for the beginning sounds of items you encounter on a trip to the grocery store, or create a bedtime story ritual that emphasizes the sounds of specific letters.

Monitoring Progress and Overcoming Challenges

When I teach letter sounds to preschoolers, I follow through with monitoring their progress. This not only helps me understand how well they are grasping the concepts, but it also indicates when I might need to adjust my methods.

I set realistic milestones tailored to their pace of learning. For example, recognizing the sounds of the first few alphabets might be an initial goal. This approach alleviates pressure and helps build confidence in children.

Addressing common difficulties is another aspect I focus on. I have strategies in place for when a child struggles with a particular sound, like breaking it down further or using different learning aids.

Finally

Understanding when to seek additional support is crucial. Consider consulting with early education specialists or speech therapists if consistent efforts don’t yield progress. They can provide expert advice and resources tailored to each child’s needs.

Steve


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

EFL Student Warm Up Questions.

Warm up questions are important to get your students thinking about speaking in English in the ESL classroom.

Teach ESL Talking

You must become an expert in teaching conversational skills if you want to help your students become better speakers. You must be able to encourage your students to talk, guide the discussion along, offer constructive criticism, and make everything seem natural. Additionally, you need interesting subjects, which is what this tutorial is all about.

Knowing what to discuss with students is one of the challenges a teacher may encounter. When you realize that only five minutes have passed after finishing your conversation about the daily topic or lesson, what do you do?

Selecting a specific topic for a class is a wonderful idea. After you have that subject, proceed through the questions, making an effort to get the students to talk as much as they can.

Basic Questions for ESL Learners

Here is a list of questions to warm up your students and get them thinking in English. I always like to start a lesson with 30 minutes of talking, using games if it is age-appropriate. More on games with links later.

Also check out the ESL teacher survival guide on Amazon, downloadable or paperback version. About $22.00 US for Kindle and $25.00 for paperback. Go the download… Your Special Amazon Link.

ESL survival guide

School.

  1. Do you like school?
  2. What is your favorite subject?
  3. What is your least favorite subject?
  4. Who is your favorite teacher?
  5. Why do people have to go to school?
  6. Do you like homework?
  7. What would you do if you were the headteacher?
  8. How could schools be more fun?
  9. How long are the summer holidays?
  10. Can you learn and have fun at the same time?

Family

  1. How many people are in your family?
  2. Who are they?
  3. What job does your dad do?
  4. What job does your mum do?
  5. Who cooks in your family?
  6. Is your family important to you?
  7. Which is more important, friends or family?
  8. Who is the weirdest person in your family?
  9. Are families less important nowadays than in the past?
  10. What would happen if we didn’t have families?

Home

  1. Where do you live?
  2. What is there to do in your city?
  3. What is your place like?
  4. What is your neighborhood like?
  5. Are there any parks near where you live?
  6. Have you ever lived elsewhere?
  7. How many rooms does your place have?
  8. If you moved, where would you like to live?
  9. Would you prefer to live in the city or country?
  10. Would you like to live abroad?

Learning English.

  1. Do you enjoy speaking English?
  2. What is the best way to improve your speaking?
  3. What is the best way to improve your listening?
  4. What is the best way to improve your vocabulary?
  5. What is the best way to improve your writing?
  6. What is the most difficult part of learning English?
  7. How is English different from your language?
  8. How can you be a good conversationalist?
  9. Do you read English books?
  10. Do you watch English videos?

Everyday Life

  1. What is your daily routine on weekdays?
  2. How do you usually spend your weekends?
  3. What is your favorite meal of the day? Why?
  4. How do you usually travel to work or school?
  5. What is your favorite season and why?
  6. What’s your favorite local restaurant or café?
  7. What is your favorite way to relax after a long day?
  8. What is one thing you can’t live without? Why?
  9. How often do you go shopping for groceries or clothes?
  10. What’s something you want to learn how to do?

Travel and Culture

  1. Have you ever traveled to a foreign country? What was your experience like?
  2. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go and why?
  3. What is the most interesting cultural festival or event you have attended or heard of?
  4. How does the cuisine in your country differ from that in other countries you know about?
  5. Can you describe a traditional outfit or costume from your culture?
  6. What are some customs or traditions from your culture that others might find surprising?
  7. What cultural differences have you noticed between your country and others?
  8. Is there a language you would love to learn? Why?
  9. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen in your travels?
  10. How do you think traveling affects a person’s view of the world?

Hypothetical Situations

  1. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be and why?
  2. If you could live in any era of history, when would you choose and why?
  3. If you had a superpower, what would it be, and how would you use it?
  4. What would you do if you won a million dollars?
  5. If you could have dinner with any person from history, who would it be and why?
  6. If you could instantly learn any skill, what would it be?
  7. Imagine you’re stranded on a deserted island. What three items would you want to have with you?
  8. If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be and why?
  9. What would your perfect day look like?
  10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

There are hundreds of questions you can think up and these are examples only. Make sure you use age and culture-appropriate questions. You know your students, so tailor the questions to their age and skill level.

Also mixing them up in games is a great way to engage your students. If you are serious about ESL you should be building a resource bank and the books I have suggested are a basic staple, invest in your profession.

Games You Can Play.

You can get 101 games to play in an ESL classroom for as little as $10 or on kindle unlimited $0. Check it out NOW at Amazon. Downloadable instantly.

Kindle amazon

  1. Two Truths and a Lie: Participants state two true facts and one false fact about themselves. The rest of the class tries to guess which one is the lie.
  2. Role-play Conversations: Create scenarios (like ordering in a restaurant, asking for directions, etc.) where multiple students must act out a conversation in pairs or small groups.
  3. Picture Storytelling: Show a random picture and ask students to create a story around it. This can be done individually or in groups.
  4. Charades with Vocabulary: Students act out a word without speaking while others guess. Focus on new vocabulary or themes you’re studying.
  5. Find Someone Who: Prepare a list of statements (e.g., “Find someone who has visited another country”). Students must find classmates who match these statements.
  6. Word Association Game: Start with one word, and each student quickly says a word associated with the previous one. This can be tailored to the lesson’s vocabulary.
  7. Sentence Building Race: Give students a set of words and challenge them to create the longest, grammatically correct sentence.
  8. Cultural Exchange: Students share something about their culture or country, fostering cross-cultural understanding and conversation.
  9. ‘What’s in the Bag?’ Game: Place several objects in a bag. Students reach in, feel an object, and describe it (without looking) to the class.
  10. Alphabet Story: Create a story where each sentence begins with the following letter of the alphabet. Each student adds a sentence.
  11. Memory Challenge: Display a list of words for a minute. Hide them and then ask students to recall as many words as possible.
  12. Pictionary with Vocabulary Words: Similar to charades, but students draw the word instead of acting it out.
  13. Taboo Words: Give a student a word to describe without using a list of commonly associated words (e.g., describe “snow” without saying “cold,” “white,” or “winter”).
  14. Opinion Polls: Present a statement and ask students to move to areas of the room based on their opinion (agree, disagree, unsure). They then discuss their reasons.
  15. ESL Bingo: Create bingo cards with different characteristics or experiences. Students mingle to find classmates who match the squares and form a bingo.

And check out my blog, ESL Games for Adults.

Why Asking Questions is Important.

Asking questions to ESL (English as a Second Language) students is important for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to assess their understanding of the material being taught. By asking questions, teachers can gauge the students’ comprehension and identify areas that may need further explanation or practice.

Secondly, asking questions encourages ESL students to actively participate in the learning process. It can help them practice their English language skills, such as speaking and listening, and build their confidence in using the language.

Additionally, asking questions allows teachers to tailor their instruction to meet the specific needs of ESL students. It provides an opportunity to address any confusion or misconceptions that may arise during the learning process.

Teaching Online.

Final Thoughts.

Asking questions to ESL students is a valuable tool for promoting engagement, assessing understanding, and providing targeted support to help them succeed in learning English.

Don’t fall back on textbooks for teaching, use the resources of your brain and make better English speakers of your students.


My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL for over 15 years and have my own school. I also place teachers across Vietnam into both private and public schools. I am also the author and owner of this website.

You can check out my school on the YouTube link below.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

My name is Stephen and if you want to find work as a teacher in Vietnam, I can help. That’s what I do. Bringing the world together one step at a time.

 

 

The Best Travel Cameras

Halong Bay is one of the wonders of the world.

Cameras for Recording Memories.

When you’re embarking on an adventure, capturing those moments is precious, whether it’s the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City or the serene landscapes of Halong Bay.

This isn’t just about snapping pictures; it’s also about retaining memories that’ll last a lifetime. That’s where a suitable travel camera comes in, turning fleeting moments into tangible keepsakes. You want to choose a camera that doesn’t weigh you down yet delivers high-quality images that are sharp, vibrant, and full of life.

The quest isn’t solely for the lightest or the most feature-packed camera; it’s about finding the perfect balance that suits your needs. Portability is great, but not at the expense of image quality. You’re going to find out about various options that combine the best of both worlds, providing remarkable pictures without the bulk associated with professional equipment.

I’m here to help you figure out what clicks for your style of travel photography. Are you an avid adventurer needing something rugged and waterproof? Or maybe a city explorer who prioritizes style and ease of use? It’s also crucial to choose a camera that can be ready at a moment’s notice—because travel is full of fast-moving, spontaneous opportunities that wait for no one.

Once we’ve discussed what to look for in terms of usability and performance, we’ll transition to the next section. There, I’ll introduce you to the top contenders in the travel camera category. You’ll get a rundown of the latest models, a comparison of their standout features, and insights from both users and professionals to help guide your investment. So if you’ve ever wondered if there’s one camera that can handle all your travel needs, guess what? There are several, and I’m going to show you exactly how to pick the one tailor-made for you.

Top Contenders for the Best Travel Cameras of the Year

Now, let’s zero in on some specific models that are making waves as the best travel cameras on the market this year. I’m going to break them down by category and use case, so you can find out about the optimal choice for your adventures.

I’ve taken a close look at the key features you care about the most. We’re talking zoom capabilities for capturing distant details, low-light performance for those dimly lit alleyways and fabled sunsets, and, of course, battery life because who wants to be chained to an outlet when there’s so much to explore?

You’ll benefit from a mix of user reviews and professional opinions that I’ve curated. These insights come from seasoned travelers and top photographers who’ve put these cameras to the test in all sorts of environments. This isn’t just about rattling off specs; it’s also about how these cameras perform in the wild—the real world where you’ll be using them.

And to wrap things up, I’ll spotlight the cameras that offer the best value for money. Choose something that resonates with you, without breaking the bank. Rest assured, there’s a camera out there that’s a perfect traveling companion for your pocket and your passion for photography.

My Top 3 Travel Cameras

Panasonic Lumix.

These are a great camera. I have had one for a few years and they take great shots and you have a lot of options from auto shooting to shooting raw. Well worth the money, and it fits in your pocket. And as you can see it comes with a Leica lens. Who can ask for more at this price?

I used this for vlogging before I bought the Sony camera. But I would say for portability, this is better.

$399.00 for a great camera. Click the “Amazon” link to buy.

Specifications.

  • POINT-AND-SHOOT CAMERA: Large, 1-inch 20.1-megapixel MOS sensor plus 10X zoom LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens (25-250mm) and HYBRID O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) delivers brighter, more colorful photos with fewer image artifacts.Battery Voltage/capacity: 7.2 V/1025 mAh. Microphones: Stereo.
  • EYE-LEVEL ELECTRONIC VIEWFINDER AND LCD DISPLAY: High-resolution 1,166k-dot viewfinder and rear touch-enabled 3-inch LCD (1040K dots) are clear even in bright sunlight
  • 4K VIDEO CAPTURE: 4K QFHD video recording (3840 x 2160), plus exclusive LUMIX 4K PHOTO and 4K Post Focus with internal Focus Stacking allows you to record photos up to 30fps and set your desired focus points after the photo has been taken
  • LENS-MOUNTED CONTROL RING: Manual lens-mounted control ring brings DSLR-like exposure control to a compact point-and-shoot camera body; Temperature: 23 °C (73.4 °F) / Humidity: 50% RH when the monitor is on.
  • USB CHARGING AND WI-FI CONNECTIVITY: Enjoy travel-ready technologies like USB charging and Wi-Fi connectivity to your mobile device; micro-HDMI type D (3) and USB 2.0 micro-B provide additional connectivity to your favorite devices

Panasonic LumixSony Alpha.

An amazing camera that I have been using for all my more professional shots. A devastatingly good camera that will last you a lifetime. A great build with a myriad of resources. The great thing about this camera is it has interchangeable lenses. If you are serious about a good shot, this is the one for you.

$848..00 for an amazing camera. Click the “Amazon link to buy.

Specifications.

  • 20.1MP stacked back-illuminated 1″ Exmor RS CMOS sensor w/ DRAM, large aperture 24-70mm1 F1.8-2.8 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens
  • Enhanced subject capture: wide 425 Phase/ 425 contrast detection points over 84 percent of the sensor
  • Fast and accurate: Up to 11Fps continuous shooting at 24.2 MP raw with crisp, clear natural colors
  • Multiple movie functions: Make time-lapse movies or slow/quick motion videos without post-processing
  • Tiltable LCD screen: customizable for vlogging, still photography or recording a professional film
  • In the box: rechargeable battery (NP FW50) AC adaptor (ac uud12), shoulder strap, body cap, accessory shoe cap, eyepiece cup, and micro USB cable. Metering Type: 1200 zone evaluative metering.
Sony Alpha

Kodak Pixpro.

If you like taking surfing shots or even underwater shots, this is for you. It is dustproof, waterproof, and shockproof. And it comes in at an amazing $149.00. Also, it is a full HD video blogging camera. 16 megapixels and a 4x optical zoom. I have used one and they are simple to use with excellent results.

$149..00 for a freakishly good camera. Click the “Amazon link to buy. This is a great buy and the best value for money.

Specifications.

  • Waterproof to 15m (49′) – 2m (6′) Shockproof Rating – Dustproof
  • WiFi Connectivity – 1080P Full HD Video – Vlogging Camera
  • 16 MegaPixel BSI CMOS Sensor – 4X Optical Zoom – Digital Image Stabilization
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery – 2.7″ LCD Screen
  • SD Card Compatibility: At least Class 4, no larger than 32GB (microSD, microSDHC) – MMC Card not supported
  • What’s In the Box: WPZ2 Camera, Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery, USB Cable, AC Adapter, Wrist Strap, Quick Start Guide, warranty card, and service card

Kodak Pixpro

Three Smartphones with Great Cameras.

If you like traveling light and only want to take your phone, these are my top 3 smartphones.

The One Plus Nord.

It comes with a 108-megapixel camera. The photos are great and you can share them immediately. $249.00 unlocked.

Find out more info on this Amazon link.

Samsung Galaxy A25

This comes with an advanced triple-camera system that shoots great photos. I had one of these for a while and the pictures are great. $264.00 unlocked on sale now.

Find out more info on this Amazon link.

Motorola Moto

An underrated phone with a great 50-megapixel camera. For the budget price of $129.99, you get a great camera phone with all the portability and service you need.

$129.00 unlocked with a 35% discount on sale NOW.

Find out more info on this Amazon link. What can I say, The best value for money.

Travel Photography Tips: Getting the Most from Your Camera

So you’ve picked up one of the top travel cameras. Great! But owning a good camera is just the beginning. I’m here to help you get the most out of it. After all, it’s not only the camera that matters but how you use it. Let’s jump into some photography tips that’ll take your travel snapshots to the next level.

First up, it’s crucial to have a grasp of basic photography principles. You’re going to find out about composition rules like the rule of thirds, which is about dividing your shot into a 3×3 grid and placing your subject off-center for a more engaging photo. Remember, these guidelines aren’t set in stone, but they’re a solid starting point.

Lighting can either be your best ally or your biggest foe in photography. I recommend chasing the golden hours—shortly after sunrise or before sunset—when the light is soft and warm. This kind of lighting adds an almost magical touch to your pictures without needing any fancy editing.

As much as the camera does significant heavy lifting, there’s a bunch of accessories that can add some kick to your pictures. Think about getting a sturdy travel tripod for those evening cityscapes, or invest in an extra memory card so you never run out of space at a critical moment.

Lastly

Let’s talk about protecting your gear. A good camera bag ( Amazon Link) is your first line of defense against bumps and scratches. And don’t skimp on things like lens cleaning kits and rain covers. When it comes to photographs themselves, back them up regularly. Whether you prefer cloud storage or an external hard drive, make sure your precious memories aren’t just stored in one place.

Just don’t focus too much on perfection. The aim is to capture the moment and the feelings that come with it. Your first attempt doesn’t need to be your last, and you can always adjust your approach down the road. I hope that these pointers help you enhance those wonderful travel stories you’re ready to tell through your lens.

And don’t buy the cheapest camera out there. You only get what you pay for. Buy cheap and your travel memories will reflect the quality of the camera. You have splashed out to travel, so don’t skimp on your memories.

Steve


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

TET Vietnam Holiday 2024, A Good Time or Not?

TET In Vietnam 2024.

After living in Vietnam now for 16 plus years I think I am pretty qualified to let you know what TET is like in Vietnam.

From the firecrackers one year that sounded like machine guns (Or were they machine guns) to the cleaning of the house to appease the spirits, or the wife, to the utter boredom of eating pork and eggs until you hate pigs. lol.

This is what it is like over TET in Vietnam.

First What is TET?

You might have heard of the TET offensive, this is when the USA got their butt kicked.

Basically, with a bit of help from AI, this is what it was about. A mixture of butt-kicking and lunar new year.

The Vietnam War.

During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese forces launched a significant military operation known as the Tet Offensive against both the South Vietnamese and the Americans12. On January 31, 1968, the first day of Tet, the lunar new year, it started.

Over 100 South Vietnamese cities and outposts were simultaneously attacked. The goal of the offensive was to undermine American support for the war and incite a rebellion among South Vietnamese citizens.

And it worked. sadly so many good people on both sides died on this day and days before this. I am not trying to be flippant, but it was a terrible time for so many people. It is time we laid it to rest. I salute all.

Now All is Forgotten

Some of the older people remember the war, but Vietnam is predominately a young persons nation and they have forgotten and don’t care as much. But they are still respectful.

They are more interested in V-pop, K-pop, or Techno. Their aspirations are similar to Western culture however they are a lot more family-orientated.

This brings us to, what is it like now.

Vietnam TET 2024.

Now let us get into the good stuff. What is it like now and is Vietnam worth visiting over TET?

Yes and no. Let me explain.

When is TET

It changes with the lunar new year so even the kids do not know. And I am not sure if the adults do as well, lol.

But generally, it is in the first or second week of February. I’ve been here so long and still do not know the exact date, damn I am becoming Vietnamese.

What is TET About?

TET is generally about family but there are traditions you need to abide by. For example, wait till you are invited to see someone as it is important who walks through the door first. If you are not invited and just roll in, then it may be viewed as bad luck for the hosts.

And don’t sweep the dirt out of the house on TET because you will be sweeping out money. Love that, another excuse not to clean the house.

TET starts slow as everyone prepares and buys food and flowers. Much like the pictures above. And the video below.

A year or so ago, but the same stuff, damn almost said Krap.

When you do get to someone’s house, what do you do? Drink beer (Don’t pass out) , and wine and eat an enormous amount of food. When drinking you will commonly hear Morb, hai, ba YO. Which is basically 1,2,3 ..drink. And you might hear something that sounds like “chum a chum”, which means drink your whole glass of beer.

This is a Normal TET for me.

Tomorrow we start with this healthy stuff. I promise it will go downhill from here.

A swim, yippee.

Location: You’ll find it at 48/10 Dien Bien Phu Street, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District.

Operating Hours: The pool is accessible to the public from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m

Entrance Fees:

Weekdays (Monday-Friday):

Adults: VND 70,000

Children: VND 40,000

Weekends (Saturday and Sunday):

Adults: VND 80,000

Children: VND 50,000

What Is My Plan?

Drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll, NO, I can’t say that.. let’s be serious…

Back to normality, we need to take the kids home first.

No Teaching for 2 weeks is a bonus so what is next….hehe…

Next is… Reality

A more family-orientated activity.

Clean the House.

Everyone goes on a cleaning binge and wash the floors, take down and wash the fans and if it is dirty…it gets cleaned.

This is the one time everything is spotless. I try to hide and drink beer all day and pretend I am working on my website.

Pork and Eggs

If you have been in Vietnam for longer than two TET holidays you will know about “pork and eggs”. It is a staple food source over these holidays and the first year I spent with my Vietnamese family I ate it for 5 days straight.

To say I am over it is an understatement. This is what it looks like.

Pork and EggsBuying Flowers

Buying some flowers. everyone must spend money on flowers to leave outside their doors.

Here are 7 of the most popular flowers used during Tet in Vietnam, with their Vietnamese names and meanings:

  • Apricot blossom (Hoa Mai): A symbol of spring and the Lunar New Year, apricot blossoms are often used to decorate homes and businesses during this time. They are believed to bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year.
  • Peach blossom (Hoa Đào): Another symbol of spring, peach blossoms are also associated with beauty and love. They are often given as gifts during Tet to express good wishes for the new year.
  • Kumquat tree (Cây Quất): Kumquat trees are small, citrus trees that are often decorated with red kumquats during Tet. They are believed to bring good luck and prosperity, and they also symbolize wealth and abundance.
  • Daisy (Cúc Mẫu Đơn): Daisies are a popular choice for Tet decorations because they are simple and elegant. They are also associated with purity and innocence, which are qualities that are valued during the Lunar New Year.
  • Marigold (Cúc Vạn Thọ): Marigolds are often used in religious ceremonies and are a symbol of good luck. They are also believed to ward off evil spirits, making them a popular choice for Tet decorations.
  • Orchid (Hoa Lan): Orchids are considered to be a symbol of elegance and sophistication. They are often given as gifts during Tet to express good wishes for the new year.
  • Chrysanthemum (Hoa Cúc): Chrysanthemums are associated with longevity and happiness. They are often used in Tet decorations to bring good luck and prosperity to the home.

These are the favorites and normally sit outside the gates of the house to the left or right. And they are never stolen, although I have been tempted. After TET most are thrown away apart from the very expensive ones which are then sometimes sent back to a farm to look after.

TET Superstitions.

TET is accompanied by some superstitions and traditions believed to bring good luck and ward off bad fortune. Here are some common superstitions observed during the TET holiday in Vietnam:

Cleaning before TET.

It is believed that cleaning the house before TET can sweep away the bad luck of the previous year and make room for good fortune in the coming year. However, cleaning during the TET period itself is avoided, as it is believed to sweep away the good luck.

Avoid black and white clothing.

Wearing black or white clothes during TET is considered inauspicious, as these colors are associated with mourning and funerals in Vietnamese culture. Instead, bright and vibrant colors, especially red and yellow, are preferred to attract good luck and prosperity. Although this is now considered old fashioned with younger people.

Money and giving lucky envelopes.

It is customary to exchange red envelopes, known as “lì xì” or “mừng tuổi,” during TET. These envelopes contain lucky money, which is believed to bring good luck and blessings for the new year. New money is best to give with fresh crisp notes.

Avoiding borrowing and lending.

Vietnamese people believe that borrowing or lending money during TET can bring financial difficulties in the coming year. It is considered better to settle any debts before TET and avoid engaging in monetary transactions during the holiday period.

Firecrackers and loud noises.

Firecrackers used to be a common part of TET celebrations in Vietnam, as the loud noises were believed to scare away evil spirits and bad luck. However, due to safety concerns, firecrackers are now largely prohibited.Apart from a couple of years ago when someone in my area set off firecrackers that sounded like a machine gun. Damn.

First visitor of the year.

The first visitor to a house after midnight on New Year’s Eve is considered significant. The belief is that the first guest can determine the luck and prosperity of the household for the entire year. Usually, a respected and successful person is chosen as the first visitor to bring good fortune.

These are just a few examples of the many superstitions and traditions associated with TET in Vietnam. So was I lucky this year. Read below.

What Happened to Me this TET.

All my good intentions of going to District 1 to look at the flowers and walk around and video for this blog went out the window. How did this happen?

My Vietnamese wifes friend invited us to her shop to drink beer and eat. The food was amazing and the company was great. My wifes boyfriend is a policeman and a big drinker and a big guy. Also very funny.

Unfortunately after drinking about 15 beers, he brought out the whisky. It laid me low for 3 days. but this is what happens over TET and you have to roll with the flow.

All in all, I did have a great TET but did miss out on the flowers in District 1. Walking around with thousands of others….hmmm.

If You Were in Hanoi

You would have seen this amazing show. The video is a live drone show in Hanoi during the New Year festival, showcasing a spectacular display of drones in a 4K60 HDR format. Amazing.

And in Ho Chi Minh City

And if you were in Ho Chi Minh City, this is what you would have seen.

Hanoi is the capital and there is also some leftover animosity so I am sure the funding is not the same.

However, every city and town has its own TET celebrations and each is special in its own way.

Final Words

I hope you liked a look at what Vietnam has to offer and the experiences you can have if you come here to work as a teacher.

So is TET fun and a good time to visit? Vietnam is never boring but be prepared for a lot of shops to be closed over the official TET holiday.

Steve


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

 

ESL Grammar Activities For Teachers

Grammar is the Cornerstone of Language.

I’m going to kick things off by addressing why grammar is the cornerstone of language acquisition for ESL learners. Without a solid grasp of grammar, students may struggle to communicate effectively or be misunderstood, which can lead to a lack of confidence. That’s why it’s imperative for you, as an ESL teacher, to have a strong command of essential grammar rules.

You’re going to find out about the common hurdles you might encounter when teaching grammar. It’s not unusual to face a classroom with diverse language backgrounds or students with varying levels of proficiency. Each student might have unique challenges with different grammatical concepts, and your job is to navigate these waters skillfully.

This isn’t just about memorizing rules; it’s also about understanding how these rules apply to real-world communication. Approaching grammar teaching with a student-first mindset means tailoring examples and exercises to be relevant to students’ lives and interests. It’s about fostering an environment where grammar isn’t daunting but rather a tool for unlocking the full potential of the English language.

Choose techniques that resonate with your teaching style and your students’ learning preferences. Introduce grammar in a way that’s engaging and thought-provoking, ensuring that your lessons stick. That’s the strategy I like to leverage to transform grammar from a feared subject into an approachable one.

In the upcoming section, ‘Fundamental Grammar Building Blocks,’ we’re going to cover the indispensable parts of speech, sentence structure, verb tenses, and subject-verb agreement. Just remember, your first attempt at introducing these concepts doesn’t need to be flawless. It’s a learning curve for both you and your students. Let’s prepare to lay down the foundation for building strong grammar skills.

Fundamental Grammar Building Blocks

You’re going to find out about the core elements of English grammar in this section. Think of grammar as the scaffold that supports language construction; without a firm grasp of these basics, students’ language abilities may remain shaky.

Parts of Speech.

I’m going to start by discussing parts of speech because they’re the foundation of every sentence. Nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections each play a critical role, and they need to be taught early on in ESL education for optimal understanding.

Sentence Structure.

Next up is sentence structure. Crafting sentences that are both clear and grammatically correct is a cornerstone of language learning. I’ll talk about the importance of subject-predicate construction, the use of objects, and how phrases and clauses fit together to convey precise meanings.

Tense Consistency.

I’ll also dive into tense consistency, teaching you how to guide students in using the past, present, and future tenses effectively. ESL learners often struggle with the concept of time in English, so I recommend adopting a consistent approach, using timelines and real-world examples to elucidate this topic.

Verb Agreement.

Finally, I’ll cover subject-verb agreement, because it’s crucial. Whether a subject is singular or plural, the verb must agree. This isn’t just about memorizing rules; it’s about understanding the logic behind them, which can be a sticking point for many learners. I’m here to help you with strategies and tools to explain this concept with clarity.

Contextual Grammar: Beyond the Basics

Contextual grammar takes the rules and principles of English and applies them to real-life situations. This isn’t just about memorizing rules; it’s also about understanding how language works in various contexts. As an ESL teacher, you’re going to find out about some nuanced aspects of grammar essential for your students to communicate effectively.

First up, modal verbs. These helpers (can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, must) are crucial in conveying possibility, ability, permission, and obligation. Your students might struggle with their subtleties, but I’m here to help you guide them through the maze.

Conditionals are your go-to for teaching probability and possibility. They can be tricky because they’re not just about the form—’ if this, then that’—it’s also about the meaning behind each conditional. From zero to third conditionals, it’s vital to show how each one fits into everyday conversation.

Direct and indirect speech is where things can get tangled. You’ll be helping your students learn how to shift from reporting speech (‘She said, “I am tired”‘) to conveying the message without quoting word for word (‘She said she was tired’).

Lastly, let’s talk about relative clauses. These are the bits that connect ideas within a sentence (‘The book that you gave me is on the table’). They’re excellent for adding information without starting a new sentence and they help in keeping stories flowing. But, you’ll need to explain the difference between essential and non-essential clauses to prevent confusion.

So, now you’ve got a handle on these advanced topics, let’s move on to something even more exciting—bringing grammar to life in the ESL classroom. You can always adjust your approach down the road, but with these advanced grammar foundations, your students will be better equipped to express themselves with clarity and confidence.

Click here for over 15,000 downloadable Grammar sheets at “Grammarism”

Grammar and Engagement: Interactive Teaching Techniques

Now, harnessing the power of play in the classroom isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must for helping students internalize grammar rules. That’s where games and collaborative activities step in to transform rote learning into an interactive experience.

Feedback and correction are like the guardrails on the road to language mastery. Done right, they provide direction without discouraging learners. Remember, it’s about building confidence as much as competence.

Grammar teaching isn’t just about the ‘what’; it’s also about the ‘where’ and ‘how’. Folding cultural nuances into your grammar lessons can provide rich, real-world context that gives rules relevance.

Assessment shouldn’t be a source of dread for your students. When you use methods that emphasize understanding over memorization, you promote long-term retention and more meaningful learning. It’s true, that change can be slow, but even small shifts towards engaging, practical assessment can yield big improvements in how students grasp grammar.

How to Make Grammar Fun.

Making grammar fun for ESL students can greatly enhance their learning experience and engagement. Here are some ideas to make grammar lessons more enjoyable:

Interactive Games:

Incorporate grammar games into your lessons, such as grammar bingo, board games, or online quizzes. This adds an element of competition and fun while reinforcing grammar rules and concepts.

Use Multimedia:

Utilize videos, songs, and interactive online resources that focus on grammar. Engage students with visually appealing and entertaining content that demonstrates grammar rules in a relatable context.

Hands-on Activities:

Include hands-on activities that promote kinesthetic learning. For example, create grammar flashcards for students to match, or have them physically rearrange sentence cards to practice sentence structure.

Role-plays and Skits:

Incorporate role-plays and skits where students can use grammar rules in context. This enables them to practice grammar more dynamically and creatively, fostering communication skills alongside grammar acquisition.

Storytelling and Creative Writing:

Encourage students to write stories or engage in creative writing exercises where they can showcase their grammar knowledge. This allows them to apply grammar in a creative and personalized manner.

Gamify Learning:

Implement a points or rewards system where students can earn badges or prizes for mastering grammar concepts. This gamification approach adds an element of excitement and motivation to the learning process.

Incorporate Technology:

Integrate educational apps, online grammar games, or interactive websites into your lessons. These tools can make grammar learning more visually appealing and provide instant feedback to students.

Group Projects:

Assign group projects that require students to collaborate and apply grammar rules. For example, create a grammar poster or a grammar-themed skit to encourage teamwork and application of grammar concepts.

Real-life Context:

Teach grammar within real-life contexts and situations that students can relate to. Incorporate examples from everyday conversations, news articles, or popular culture to help students see the relevance of grammar in their daily lives.

Celebrate Progress:

Recognize and celebrate student progress and achievements in learning grammar. Praise their efforts, offer positive reinforcement, and showcase their work to the class or school community.

Click here to find my “Favorite 10 ESL Websites” to help with resources.

Remember, creating a positive and supportive learning environment is crucial when making grammar fun for ESL students. Adapt your teaching methods to cater to different learning styles, provide ample practice opportunities, and foster a sense of enjoyment and curiosity in your students.

Final Thoughts.

I’m here to help you with these strategies, so you can take your teaching to the next level. I hope that you’ll find this advice not just theoretical but actionable in your next lesson.

Have you got other effective grammar-teaching tactics? Share them with us—we’re all on this journey together! And if you’re looking for even more insights, stay tuned for my upcoming articles on teaching English as a Second Language.

Check out my No. 1 ranking Website “VietnamESL”

Steve


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Vietnam Is Not All Sunshine And Sweethearts.

Things I Dislike about Vietnam

Generally, I love Vietnam and its people and the magnificent landscape that never fails to “awe: me.

After 16 years of living here, I consider Vietnam my home for reasons above and beyond being married to my wonderful wife.

Listening to foreigners whingeing about Vietnam is one of my favorite “sports”. I have heard people complaining about being “shortchanged” 10,000 dong and seen arguments over 50,000 dong.

While this is quite petty, there are some valid reasons for people to feel aggrieved. Especially if they have been here for a while.

Not that we want special privileges for lasting so long, lol. More for the fact that we know that you know the scam about to be perpetrated.

Here is my small list of “complaints”. Just another whingeing foreigner, go home “”Om Tay” or, my favorite “Tay balo”…..Mr Backpack. Lol.

My Favorite Peeves.

My normal response to people who moan and complain about a country they were not born in, is…to go home. But there are things over the last decade and a half that I have tried to avoid but not always successfully.

Before I start my “decompression”, let me start by saying every place has its pros and cons and luckily the cons far outweigh the pros, albeit you can find a lot of them here too. Lol.

Sitting over a hot computer and a cold beer (75c U.S.A)here is the list I have come up with.

The Heat.

It is not so much the heat, but the consistency of the heat. Yes, I could move out of H.C.M.C. Unfortunately, that is where our business is.

One of the best jobs in H.C.M.C Vietnam would have to be a weather forecaster. There are seasons, but they all revolve around hot. For example, hot and dry or hot and wet. Sometimes even hot and windy.

The Traffic.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Vietnam has the second-highest motorcycle ownership in the world, after Taiwan. As of 2016, there were over 37 million registered motorcycles in Vietnam, accounting for more than 90% of all vehicles on the road.

Motorcycles are the main mode of transport for most Vietnamese people, as they are cheap, convenient, and flexible. However, they also contribute to many traffic problems, such as air pollution, noise pollution, road accidents, and fatalities.

And I feel like I am caught in the middle of it. Just crossing the street can be hazardous let alone driving. I do not know of any foreigner who has stayed for a long time and not had a traffic accident of some description or another.

The traffic congestion in Vietnam is mainly caused by rapid urbanization, the lack of public transport infrastructure, the poor road quality and design, and the low compliance with traffic rules.

HCMC is the most affected city by traffic jams, as it has a population of over 9 million people and an area of only 2,095 square kilometers. The average speed of vehicles in HCMC during peak hours is only 15-20 kilometers per hour, and sometimes even lower than 10 kilometers per hour.

Traffic Accidents and fatalities in Vietnam.

The road accidents and fatalities in Vietnam are also alarming. According to the WHO, Vietnam ranked among the top 10 countries with the highest road traffic death rates in the world in 2018, with 26.7 deaths per 100,000 population.

Roads are being fixed and things are slowly changing, but it remains one of my pet peeves. Just about everyone I know has witnessed a fatality. I have seen two very traumatic fatalities and even watching it leaves you shaking.

Higher Prices for Foreigners.

Even after living here for 15 years I am still obviously viewed as a foreigner, and because of that the natural assumption is that you are rich. Because of this when shopping in a lot of markets, especially the touristy ones you are charged triple the normal price.

The best way to deal with this is to quote a reasonable price and if it is not accepted, walk away. Quite often you will be called back grudgingly and the price agreed upon. But please don’t haggle over a few thousand “dong”. The merchants do need to make a profit and it is embarrassing to see foreigners haggling over a few cents.

Petty Crime in Vietnam.

Vietnam is one of the safest countries I have ever lived in. It is safer than Australia and most Western countries.

But opportunistic petty crime can be a pain. It is not rampant, but there is enough to make you nervous about holding your mobile phone in a street situation. I have seen and been a victim, of people on motorbikes snatching your phone or bag if you are negligent in safety.

Vietnam Hospitals and Doctors.

The doctors who have helped me here in Ho Chi Minh City have been great. Let me tell you my hospital story about bowel cancer and then the little niggling things that don’t quite add up.

Approximately 11 years ago my stomach swelled up and I was rushed to hospital after several days of constipation. I had a bowel blockage caused by a cancerous growth.

I was taken to surgery ASAP and operated on over 17 hours. The doctors saved my life, however it did cost me about $15,000. Probably not much for the USA, but a lot here. Anyway, I certainly couldn’t complain.

That being said, medical communication in Vietnam differs greatly from that of medical communication in my own country. In Vietnam they give you only the essential information here, ignoring any things they consider to be “optional.”

Not being able to buy what I want.

After living in Vietnam for so long it can become difficult to buy certain things, especially clothes in Western sizes. Purchasing specialized sports goods, hardware, large-sized clothing and shoes, and other uncommon items can be quite difficult in Vietnam.

I am frequently compelled to buy goods from abroad or arrange for a family member to buy them for me and have them shipped to Vietnam. Of course, this operation means that there are often long delivery delays—up to one month.

A real pain if you want the right-sized underpants.

Final Say.

Overall I love Vietnam, but if you are thinking about staying for a while it is also good to know about the problems.

Steve


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.