Compelling Conversations - ESL

Compelling Conversations - ESL The Compelling Conversations page is a place to share ideas, resources and teaching tips for English teachers and English language learners.
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Ask more, know more, share more. Create Compelling Conversations. #ESL #ELT #TEFL #EFL Compelling Conversations books can help you create stimulating English conversations. Our engaging conversation books include self-contained chapters that show ESL (English as a Second Language) students how to ask better questions, provide clearer answers, paraphrase global proverbs, and express personal opinions in English. Focusing on essential fluency skills, all three Compelling Conversations titles (original, American, and Vietnamese) allow English language learners to explore our changing world and learn by doing. We believe that conversation can help improve personal relationships and help heal our world.

“Job-hunting is always mysterious. Sometimes mind-bogglingly mysterious. You may never understand why things sometimes w...
03/23/2021
Collecting Resume Advice Creating Compelling Conversations

“Job-hunting is always mysterious. Sometimes mind-bogglingly mysterious.
You may never understand why things sometimes work, and sometimes do not.”
-Richard Nelson Bolles (1927-2017), Author of "What Color is Your Parachute"

By Samantha Jungheim and Eric H. Roth
How do you help prepare your English students to enter the workforce? How can you introduce authentic texts in your English classroom when teaching resume writing? What career resources can you use to support your English students?

Writing a one-page resume can prove challenging for many non-native speaking students. Condensing experiences onto a single page may seem daunting. What should be included? What should be excluded?

Resume writing requires several specific language skills beyond just self knowledge. For instance, English teachers often introduce and explain professional vocabulary. Action verbs (like this list from the Muse) need particular attention. Verb tenses, previous work experience needs to be written in the past tense. Finally, students want to make a vocabulary shift from vague language to more precise descriptions. How else can we help these English learners?
Quick Tips Include:

Having students look at Glassdoor to read about their field of interest.
Tailor a resume for a specific potential employer.
LinkedIn Premium provides automated resume feedback which is valuable.
Private university students can often access AI resources from their career centers.

Resume Articles: Authentic, Relevant, & Interesting
Activate your English classroom conversations by having your students read a short article that helps job seekers write better resumes. English teachers may already be looking for authentic reading matters for their students. Why not have students select the text for their own specific field and interest at the same time?

Similar to “Collecting Advice on Writing Professional Emails” (page 6 on the Search and Shares Sample PDF), “Collecting Resume Advice on the Internet” (located at the bottom of this blog post) prompts students to find resume advice from reputable sites for business articles. The Search and Share handout guides readers through the article and helps students clarify their ideas. By the end, students evaluate an article by rating it on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest.

Authentic articles on resume advice teach students new phrases, common collocations, and business vocabulary on professional development. Instead of simply providing a sample resume and template, allow your English students to read an article on resume advice. Incorporate reading skills in your resume writing lesson. Before our students write their own resume, they can read professional advice and share what they have learned in class and on the class LMS.
Reputable Sites of Note:

The Muse
The New York Times
Forbes
College Career Centers


Some Advice We've Seen and Shared:

Defining yourself using verbs, not nouns (from "What Color is Your Parachute" by Richard Nelson Bolles).
Don’t forget the impact of AI in sorting out resumes (take a look at this extensive article from Vox).
Resumes serve different functions, so it is always important to remember your audience, context, and purpose (for example submitting a resume to new people versus in support of a promotion).
You can create a word cloud of the job post, like our ESL colleagues in their classes (like Richard Jones a co-presenter at TESOL 2019).


Compelling Classroom Conversations
Search and Shares can transform classroom conversations into more informed conversations. English students can refer to their chosen resume article when conversing with a partner or group. Students can exchange recommendations for what to read next, promoting reading with interesting and relevant texts. It's quite useful to build English students' resume knowledge based on their specific career interests.

In the past, teachers might have asked students to tell their partner what they liked about a text and hear students stumble to speak beyond a simple “I liked it” or “It was good”. Rather than asking students to “say what you think”, teachers can provide the Search and Share handout to aid students in expansive conversations. Students discuss and share their opinion on a deeper level, including specific vocabulary and strength of evidence.
Questions for Job Search Conversations:

What writing tips did the article provide?
Who do you think is the target audience for this article? Why?
Why did you choose this article?
What surprised you about the article?
Did you find any helpful vocabulary or phrases?
How would you rate the article on a sale of 1-5, 5 being the highest?



Students could find the conversation more meaningful and engaging because they are involved in the process. Instead teachers providing a multitude of worksheets, readings, and resume templates, give students a chance to source some of the information. English students can star…

Compelling Conversation Blog for ESL, EFL, ELL students and teachers - Collecting Resume Advice Creating Compelling Conversations

“The classroom should be an entrance into the world, not an escape from it”- John Ciardi (1916-1986), American poet and ...
03/20/2021
How can we help prepare future international students to navigate an American classroom?

“The classroom should be an entrance into the world, not an escape from it”
- John Ciardi (1916-1986), American poet and translator

By Samantha Jungheim and Eric H. Roth
Do you teach English students abroad? Are you educating young adults looking to study in the United States? Or teaching English to adults already located in the States? How do you prepare students to succeed in American high schools and colleges?
A Potential Problem for Your Students
Students want to know about the cultures tied to the language they are learning in class. Each culture carries spoken and unspoken rules on how to behave within a classroom. Many English students outside of the U.S. spend years preparing to use the English skills they required to enter American classrooms. Many take standardized TOEFL and IELTS tests; many score high enough to gain admissions to their preferred colleges.

Yet upon arrival, many international students may also feel utterly unprepared. Maybe students don't understand the Uber driver when they leave the airport. Maybe a different name is called for their order at Starbucks. Maybe their American roommate talks too fast. Living in an English speaking country can be confusing. Even inside their U.S. classrooms, some international students sometimes feel under-prepared and out of place.

Possible Student Questions about American Classrooms:

What do you do when you first walk into class?
What do you call the professor?
What do you do if you have a question in class?
What do you do if you know the answer to a question in class?



Suddenly these students are expected to share their opinions in English in front of the whole classroom. College professors and high school teachers also have different expectations for citing sources. Plagiarism can become a new headache. Professors often assume MLA citations are familiar, but these requirements remain new academic experiences for many international students. Rote learning is often de-emphasized in an American classroom. Individualism often takes a front seat. Given these these potential differences, how can we better prepare future international students for the realities of learning in American classrooms?
Some Suggestions for English Teachers
Why not start by watching a popular TV show, a short movie clip, or a YouTube video featuring an American classroom? For instance, “Freedom Writers” is an inspirational film based on a true story which features many scenes in an American high school writing class. For a more comedic option, you could even select a clip from “Mean Girls” with Tina Fey as the Calculus teacher. (If someone is going to Ireland, they might also enjoy "Derry Girls".)

Note that comedies tend to be exaggerations and some clips may seem dated. Still understanding classroom cultures at different times has value. English students can also watch clips or films at home. After English learners view a clip or film, they can jot own some notes and share their answers with classmates. English students can get started discussing their opinions in pairs or small groups in person or on Zoom.

Other Films of Note:

"Larry Crowne"
"Good Will Hunting"
"Legally Blonde"
"Mona Lisa Smile"
"Dead Poets Society"



You might also have your English students interview an American teacher or student about their experiences. One teaching context is Yonsei University in South Korea where many native English speaking students are studying abroad and could be available for English learners to interview. Many schools have alumni who could be a useful resource for your curious students. The Compelling Conversations Search and Share (samples here) provides the questions for students to ask and learn more about American classroom culture.
Search and Share!
Students can build on a variety of skills just within the “Creating Compelling Conversations Reproducible Search and Share Activities for English Teachers” unit on preparing for college life. Download our Search and Share samples “Understanding Plagiarism” (page 3 of the downloadable PDF) and “Collecting Advice on Writing Professional Emails” (page 6) to start implementing Search and Shares into your classroom.

Our textbook “Creating Compelling Conversations Reproducible Search and Share Activities for English Teachers” includes many other Search and Shares. Approach the subject of American classrooms while guiding students to practice their English skills. In the beginning of your class, use this Search and Share to review your own English classroom norms. Set your students up for success by supporting them in their oral skills and cross-cultural skills.



English students can casually interact with their American peers or native English speakers. Then students report their findings in your English classroom. Next, the students’ can compare and contrast their Search and Share results. These conversations can even lead to other classroom discussions on American culture or holidays.

Compelling Conversation Blog for ESL, EFL, ELL students and teachers - How can we help prepare future international students to navigate an American classroom?

By Samantha Jungheim & Eric H. Roth“Any story hits you harder if the person delivering it doesn’t sound like some news r...
02/15/2021
Podcasts for Real Skills and Compelling Conversations

By Samantha Jungheim & Eric H. Roth
“Any story hits you harder if the person delivering it doesn’t sound like some news robot, but in fact sounds like a real person having the reactions a real person would.”
-Ira Glass (1959- ), American radio personality and host of “This American Life”
Where do you find real world content to bring into your classroom? How do audio stories help your students learn? How do you teach multiple skills simultaneously?
Starting the Conversation
Teachers often look for authentic material to tap into multiple skills (i.e. reading and writing). Suggesting students watch sitcoms to improve their vocabulary and listening skills remains tried and true advice. Likewise, selecting short video clips to build toward a longer conversations helps English students' listening skills. But what other content encourages students to create compelling conversations?

Students encounter the radio and podcasts in their daily life, and may listen to them in their first language. Podcasts provide a range of material to aid you in teaching core skills. Listening to podcasts furthers students' interests in a variety of topics. Many American podcasts showcase American culture or news in the same way American television does. Why not take this opportunity to suggest a podcast like "Six Minute English" to your students instead of the dated “Friends”?

Now most podcasts are available online for free. We are able to recommend a range of podcasts to students before assigning homework to complete a Listening to the Radio Search and Share from Creating Compelling Conversations book.
Using Podcasts in Your Classroom
First, we share with the class a list of podcast recommendations. Then students choose one to listen to for a range of reasons. Busy English students might select whatever podcast is at the top of the recommendation list or advanced students could choose a specific podcast episode because of their field of interest.

Students listen to the podcast before the next class, jotting down a few notes. We provide guidelines, so students know they can listen to any podcast in English with a minimum duration of four minutes. This sets the students up for success because they are able to complete a majority of the homework while washing dishes or doing another task.

However, after listening to just four minutes, many students will switch to devote their focus to listening to the podcast. Some students will be surprised at the amount of vocabulary they pick up and start to acquire from listening to the same podcast more than once. Students use the Search and Share worksheet to organize their notes. This worksheet provides students with a template for pair or small group discussions during the following class session (fore more sample chapters from Compelling Conversations check here).

We engage students' curiosity by allowing them to select the podcast and then listen to it in whatever way they want - while folding laundry or actively taking notes. This freedom helps along the next steps.

During the English class, students expand their knowledge further by hearing about the podcast their classmates selected. Our students practice summarizing and evaluating the podcast they listened to before class. Students share their summaries and ask each other questions.
Building Beyond a Search and Share



English teachers of course can take podcasts to another level. Brent Warner, community college professor and DIESOL Podcast host, makes podcasts the centerpiece of his advanced oral skills class. Students write and produce a thirty-minute podcast in class. He strongly recommends the NPR guide for students. "It's fantastic!" Approaching a podcast from multiple angles (listener and creator) can lead to more exciting classroom experiences.

Depending on your students’ needs, podcasts could be a great gateway into introducing students to multiple skills you need to cover. For instance, you could use podcasts to introduce hedging or boosting language. Students could share their varying levels of certainty about the podcasts’ given topic.

On the other hand, you may just be looking for a homework assignment that reinforces skills students have already started to develop. In that case, having students listen to podcasts weekly or across the duration of your course is a great option. Students can talk to new partners and listen to a new podcast or podcast episode every week or so. This repeated extension activity creates a familiar structure and builds rapport in the classroom.

How do you use podcasts in your classroom? What have you found particularly useful? What's your favorite podcast?

Compelling Conversation Blog for ESL, EFL, ELL students and teachers - Podcasts for Real Skills and Compelling Conversations

“We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), American ...
02/09/2021
Understanding Your Students Better with a Remote Learning Survey

“We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), American human rights leader

By Samantha Jungheim & Eric H. Roth
How do we know what our students already know about edtech tools? Should we, perhaps, ask them?

What about holding conversations with our English students about their prior experiences in English classes and edtech tools too?

Start At the Beginning
Sure. Sometimes being direct helps. When we start a new semester, we endeavor to get to know our students and their learning needs. In the past, we would hand out a paper survey and/or hold individual conferences to understand our students’ individual learning needs. We've asked students to share their English language learning history in surveys for years, and found these surveys very helpful in getting to know the needs, wants, and ambitions of our English language learners.

How can we understand our students’ learning needs in a remote setting? We can set up a class blog, email a survey, set up office hours…the list goes on. However, in the rush to move classes online many English instructors were often missing key information about their remote students. Therefore, we're now extending the same educational philosophy and communicative activities to include students experiences learning online and using edtech tools.

We may also be exceedingly familiar with students’ English language skills and completely unaware of students’ digital literacy. In an attempt to incorporate digital resources, language educators may be teaching without vital information about students’ skills to execute activities in an online classroom. Let me share an example: last semester I met several international students who had never used Google Docs or Slides before. Some had also studied in an American university for years. The survey results did sometimes surprise us.

Set Students Up For Success
Courses might have students collaborate without clear instructions on how to use the classroom applications or software. Some instructors have struggled to devote an exceeding amount of time to introducing new software, which took time away from important content students’ would later be assessed on. Count us among the guilty. Some of us had bumpy transitions to online courses, especially in the early Covid days of exceptional uncertainty and widespread anxiety.

Yet we learn and get better over time too. So diving into another semester online, we chose to survey students’ familiarity with the technology coming into play throughout the semester. Our online English language courses take place synchronously over Zoom with Blackboard LMS. Before the first class session, we sent out a remote learner survey. This short (less than fifteen questions) survey helps us lead our synchronous class sessions and individual student-teacher conferences.

Knowing our students’ digital backgrounds early on will help us shift our focus away from topics they are skilled in towards more valuable topics. We want to prepare our students for success, rather than deterring them from online learning. Gaining more information about our students can help us avoid past creative failures and focus on future classes where students leave with stronger language skills and the bonus of higher digital literacy.
Design a Survey for Your Classroom
How did we design our survey? Here a quick list of steps you can follow to design your own remote learning survey:
1. Find the best way to distribute your survey. Does your school use an LMS that students can access the survey? We decided to use Google Forms and send a link through Blackboard and have it posted on the main page of Blackboard.
2. Determine all of the applications and software students would need to use in the course. For example, we wanted to know more about what citation software students use to better support them in writing an annotated bibliography to align with the course objectives.


3. Create your survey. While designing our survey we included images to help students better understand our questions and the software it referenced. We drafted multiple versions of our survey to improve our material.
4. Distribute your survey. Send your survey with clear instructions and a way to contact you if there are any technical difficulties.
5. Follow up! Use the data you collected to guide you in future class sessions. This could also mean you need to provide video tutorials or individual assistance to students that are less familiar with your classrooms digital tools.



How do you learn more about your students' learning needs? What survey questions have you found most helpful? Why?

Compelling Conversation Blog for ESL, EFL, ELL students and teachers - Understanding Your Students Better with a Remote Learning Survey

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Chimayo Press, an independent publishing house, publishes the Compelling Conversations series to encourage authentic communication in English. We also provide ESL textbooks, ebooks, tips and discussion on learning English as a Second Language and teaching ESL. We also publish a few other quality ebooks - fiction and nonfiction - that we believe add to a humane global culture.

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Compelling Conversations is a series of fluency-focused ELT books. Some conversation books are designed for ESL (English as a Second Language) students, some books for EFL (English as a Foreign Language), and some for English teachers of native and non-native English speakers.

Compelling Conversations books can help you create stimulating English conversations. Our engaging conversation books include self-contained chapters that show English language learners how to ask better questions, provide clearer answers, paraphrase global proverbs, and express personal opinions in English. Focusing on essential fluency skills, all the Compelling Conversations titles (original, American, Vietnam, and Japan) allow English language learners to explore our changing world and learn by doing.

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