Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Live And Learn


As we wrap up the year, let's take some time to reflect on the personal stories of our students. Thanks to Kevin for once again writing up his students' stories in a meaningful way.

Live and Learn, by Kevin Lathrop


Students learn from our courses, and they also learn from life. As teachers, we achieve the best results when we acknowledge and draw on the experience and insight of those we instruct. Students from Level Four on Saturday presented the following as true-life stories they have learned from.

Ratna, a great student from Bangladesh, told a story from when she was sixteen years old. She fell in love with a guy named Masud, who is her husband now. A fairly long time passed between their first communication and actually seeing each other. At the beginning, they just talked on the phone. After one year, they finally met face to face. By then, they had told each other everything about themselves.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Gift Giving Etiquette


Here's a timely lesson for the holiday season! Milena created a lesson on the etiquette of gift giving, including tasks which focus on vocabulary, close listening, grammar, and writing. Her materials supplement two videos - How Do I Choose The Right Gift and Do I Have To Give A Gift To Everyone Who Gives One To Me - and include an adapted exercise from the Speaking Of Values text.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Inocente


Inocente Official Trailer from Shine Global on Vimeo.
Inocente is a film that won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. At its center is a teenage girl named Inocente, a passionate and creative artist. Inocente and her family are homeless, and her art is a way for her to guard her spirit.

At only 40 minutes long, the film is ideal for showing in the classroom, and Neil has created some materials to use along with it. His materials include previewing conversation questions, an exercise for idioms and phrasal verbs in the film, and questions for comprehension. Thank you, Neil!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Culture Shock


Teachers, please mention this in class! All students are welcome.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Reminder: No Morning Or Afternoon Classes On Thursday!


We hope to see teachers at Professional Development Day instead! (Followed by Victoria's retirement luncheon, of course...)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Malala Yousafzai

Photo from Time Magazine
Malala Yousafzai recently became the youngest person to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize, and Kevin Lathrop created some lesson materials that help to explain the significance of her work for our students. He says:
The following is a timely lesson on 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. The focus is her wonderful 2012 speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday ("Malala Day").  It incorporates all four skills and can extend across several class sessions.

There are six parts. How or whether each is used is, of course, up to the individual teacher. The materials are meant to be adapted as needs dictate.
Part A is for web research of people and institutions Malala refers to in her speech. Part B is for discussion of women's rights in the U.S. and in students' countries. Part C is web research on gender equality (and lack thereof) across the globe. Part D gives a link to an article about the global struggle for girls' education and questions. Part E is an answer key with the answers out of order; students are tasked with matching them to questions. Part F is the text of Malala's United Nations speech and a link to the 17 minute video.
You can find all six parts of the lesson here. You can also print this table to give to students if you choose to have them do the web research in Part A. I've included the video of Malala's speech at the United Nations Youth Assembly below. Thanks, Kevin, for creating such timely and relevant materials!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Power Of Candy



From Humans Of New York, a charming slice of life.
This is my neighbor. She only speaks Mandarin, so we’ve never had a conversation. But she’s brought me a handful of candy every day for 20 years.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saturday Technology Workshops: Internet Basics


To those of you who teach on Saturday - please remind your students about this on Saturday morning! If students want to attend, tell Olivia, Christina or Kata in the morning. We encourage all students who need practice with this essential skill to attend!

Friday, October 17, 2014

End Of The Week: Lobster Rolls & Key Lime Pie!


Here are some pics form the Red Hook food tour last weekend. Thanks, Kata, for taking the students on such a cool trip!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Activity Roundup: Music Video As Art



Flying Lotus is a prolific musician and producer whose experimental approach earns him respect across all genres of modern music. (He is the great-nephew of Alice and John Coltrane, so it perhaps runs in the family.) Kendrick Lamar is the most celebrated rapper of recent years. This song is their first collaboration - and this video (directed by Hiro Murai) is a joy to behold. Why don't you consider using it as a writing or speaking prompt in your class? Ideas for writing, speaking, vocabulary, and reading are after the jump.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Save The Date For November 6th!

This year's focus is on transitions to college (and LaGuardia in particular), and we are excited about all the people who have agreed to present. If you have not yet RSVPd, please do so - Liz is the point person.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Spotlight On Students: John Lennon's "Imagine"



Thanks to the morning and afternoon programs for a strong and happy start up - let's hope the same holds true for the start of evenings and Saturdays in the coming week! To close out your week, here's a video made by the students in Kata's rock 'n' roll elective in the summer.

(Vocals: K. Kitabayashi and J. Vallejo. Video Editing: A. Farfans)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Skills Exchange

Staff will be coming in to classes this week to talk about the Skills Exchange partnership that Nursen and Professor Reem Jaafar in the Math Department have launched. The pilot version of this program took place in the summer, and our students loved it! TELC students who are skilled in math get training to become math tutors at LaGuardia, and in the process, they become more comfortable and fluent in their English-language use. Any questions, see Nursen! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cold Spring and Beacon!



Wayne and Rebecca O. have organized this trip for Sunday. There were a number of students at the planning meeting today, but students may still have questions. Send them to C354 or the signup board in the lobby!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Activity Roundup: Everyday USA, New from StoryCorps, and Writing Prompts

Welcome to the fall term! Here are some current things you can use in your classes.


Everyday USA is an Instagram project started this summer by a collective of photojournalists. I created an activity that could be used in an intermediate to advanced class of any skill - there are conversation, writing, and reading elements in this activity, so you can choose how you want to focus on this material. The reading activity is a skimming exercise based on this interview in National Geographic.

If you are in a lab, students can work on this activity at their own pace, on their own computers. You could also do this in a classroom, with one projection overhead, and students using their phones to move through the photography feed. That last option is for the more adventurous teacher, of course, but maybe give it a try!


A new animated short form StoryCorps! I created a listening comprehension activity to go with it. The first exercise is on basic comprehension, and the second exercise incorporates closer listening and some dictation. I drafted a few conversation questions to close the activity as well.


Here's a great site I found for generating all sorts of prompts. It's meant to be used for writing, but I see no reason you couldn't use this to generate new topics for oral communications exercises as well! Some of the prompts that came up for me just now were:

  • What's in your fridge? 
  • The little boy's idea of heaven was...
  • "Sweetheart, what did you bury in the garden?"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 25


As you get ready for the start of the term, please remember that we have no class on the first Thursday!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

TELC To College: Fall 2014

31 TELC alumni started at LaGuardia today! If you see them, congratulate them!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

End Of Term Fun

Please share these events with your students! Rebecca O. is taking students to see The Winter's Tale at Riverside Park, and Peter is organizing a picnic on a Saturday. More information is available with Rebecca, Peter, or in the office - all TELC students are welcome.



Monday, August 4, 2014

Where We're From: Summer 2014

In Summer 2014, our students come from 63 different countries!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mother Tongues



"Mastery of the mother tongue is a prerequisite for creative expression in other languages." Do you agree? You probably won't show this video to your students - it's in spoken Arabic with English subtitles - but the subject matter is interesting for English language teachers. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Word Crimes, Grammar & Parody



Weird Al is back, if you haven't noticed already from your social media feed. He's pulling a Beyonce and releasing a video every day this week to celebrate the release of his final studio album, which makes me wonder - who buys Weird Al albums? But anyhow!

One of the videos is called Word Crimes, and it's a pretty delightful spoof of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, especially for us word nerds. I made a lesson to go with it, and I think it would be useful for advanced writing or grammar classes. I've made a slideshow for the teacher to present, and a worksheet for students. Click through for more!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bill Cunningham and Breakfast At Tiffany's


I love Bill Cunningham, and I thought the video above was a charming segue into themes of New York City, tourism, and the movies. I created a slideshow (see below) that you can use to work with this video in class. It contains a discussion/pre-writing prompt, the opening scene of Breakfast At Tiffany's, a little info about Bill Cunningham, and some questions for further discussion or writing. (If you teach intermediate or high reading classes, have you ever read Truman Capote in class?)



Monday, July 14, 2014

Play Ball


Teachers, can you take a minute in class this morning to mention this meeting to your students? Kata is organizing a trip to see the Mets, and today is a planning meeting.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Happy Stories

Thanks to Kevin for another great installment in our Teacher Ideas series. (Submissions welcome!) Read his thoughts on the power of happiness and play in the language classroom.

 Happy Stories, by Kevin Lathrop

When I asked students on Saturday to bring in happy stories, some said sad ones were easier to find. The assignment was challenging. 

Sonia told a funny story. The headline is “The Butcher.” She is an old woman who was lonely and decided to get a pet. She didn’t have much money, so she went to a second-hand pet shop. She saw many animals: a three-legged cat, a dog without a tail, fish that could only swim backwards and a beautiful bird that could only say one thing: “Who is it?”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Our World As 100 People


Last spring I shared an amazing infographic of the world as 100 people on our Facebook page. That piece was made by a London-based graphic designer named Jack Hagley using statistical data compiled by the 100 People Foundation. You've probably seen it hanging in the teacher's room, even.

I recently came across a similar project by a Hong Kong-based designer named Toby Ng. His project dates from 2011, so the numbers themselves are slightly different from the numbers used in the other infographic, but the general patterns still hold true. He has illustrated each statistic as a separate graphic. If the world were a village of 100 people:
Why not construct a unit out of these infographics? If you teach low-level students, the pictures and language are easy to understand, and could serve as useful input on complicated topics. If you teach high-level students, you can still use these - perhaps in even more open-ended ways, such as asking students to choose the statistic that is most surprising to them and explain why they are surprised. You could also focus on some key words on the Academic Word List as part of this unit: data (List 1), percent (List 1), illustrate (List 3), statistic (List 4), and ratio (List 5) are just a few possibilities for vocabulary study.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Activity Roundup: World Cup By The Numbers, Grandparents, and Reader's Logs

Welcome to the summer term! Here are some current materials you could use in your classes.


I've designed a vocabulary activity to go with this video. Students will decide the meaning of 6 verbs and 4 nouns from the context in the video, and then complete a handful of comprehension questions. Three of the vocabulary items (participation, predicted, and decline) are from the Academic Word List, so the last part of this activity focuses on those word families.




It's always time to remind ourselves how rich a resource StoryCorps is! I chose two stories featuring grandparents and grandchildren, and designed short dictation exercises with the downloadable transcript. The conversation between Kay Wang and her granddaughter features simple grammar, whereas the conversation between Barbara Handelsman and her grandson has more complicated constructions. After completing the dictations, students can speak with a partner or write using one of the prompts I drafted - or one that you think of! This exercise might lend itself to some Venn diagram work, as well.


I'd also like to share more of an idea than a standalone activity. A K-12 ESL teacher friend of mine shared this list of reader's log prompts with me a while back, and I thought I would share it with you. He asks students to choose their own leisure reading, and to write about it in a journal. Each student staples a copy of these prompts in a composition notebook, and then writes a response based on one of these prompts. I was beyond impressed with the volume and scope of the responses he shared with me. Even if you don't keep reading journals with your students, perhaps you will still find this prompts useful for in-class response writing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Registration Reminder


Afternoon faculty, please remind your students to register starting tomorrow! Classes begin on June 30.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Spring Newsletters


The spring newsletters are here! The faculty newsletter was left in each teacher's mailbox, and the student newsletter is here. Thank you to the Level 5.1 writing students, Kevin, Liz, Neil, Nursen, Rebecca, Victoria, Wayne, Yvette, and Wynne (from Pre-College Academic Programming) for all of your efforts and contributions.

Monday, June 2, 2014

This Friday


There's a lot happening this Friday after class. Are you coming along?

The first ever TELC World Cup is happening at McCarren Park after elective classes end. Player sign up has already happened and the teams are set, but we want to see a lot of fans there!

Then, after the matches, Rebecca has organized a Williamsburg art walk ending at the Kara Walker exhibit in the Domino Sugar Factory. Please remind your students, and encourage them to come!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Planet Money Makes A T-Shirt



In December, I shared an interactive piece made by Planet Money on how t-shirts are made. This piece functions as a web-based app, with videos, text, and photos to tell a fascinating story about globalization and the garment industry. Neil created a lesson to go with the series, and he has shared it with us. He says:
In “How to Make a T-Shirt”, National Public Radio’s “Planet Money” host Alex Bloomberg takes us around the world to follow the manufacturing of  a simple t-shirt. From the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta to the garment factories in Bangladesh, the story gives us insight into how the modern global economy works, and how it impacts the lives of people all along its path. This video lesson is appropriate for intermediate and high intermediate classes (4-6).
If you'd like to use this lesson, here are the materialsIf you plan to have the students work through the questions independently in a computer lab, direct them to the homepage of the app and let them navigate the content at their own pace. If you plan to show the videos on a classroom screen, the introduction video is above and the videos for the four chapters - Cotton, Machines, People, and Boxes - are embedded below.

Friday, May 23, 2014

World Cup Time!


Are you coming to cheer your students and colleagues along? You should! We have a final planning meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 4 at 1:00pm (C322), and we would love to see teachers there. Help us generate enthusiasm and spread the word!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Off To The Met

Off To The Met, by Nursen Turan

I remember my first trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a Sunday afternoon in September 2003. I was a 24 year-old new ‘New Yorker’, a little overwhelmed but mostly amazed by the big city. It was an interesting day because it was my first visit to an art museum, ever. The only other museum I’d ever been to was a small museum of archeology in Turkey. And to be honest, as an eight year-old, I was too young to appreciate the artifacts I saw that day. Hence, ‘boring’ was the word that resonated from that visit.


My next museum experience, however, was to change that notion forever. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I was standing across from the works of Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and other giants. After that day, I kept going back until I had seen every exhibit. To this day the Met is one of my favorite places in the city. It is therapeutic when alone on a quiet weekday, hectic but exciting on a Friday, always a great venue to meet with friends.



When I went back there on a field trip last Friday with a group of my level 3 students, the memories of that first trip rushed back in. I saw my old excitement and fascination in my students’ eyes. Most of them had never been to the Met before. And The Met didn’t disappoint. Their jaws dropped to see Egyptian fabrics from around 2000 B.C. “Is this painting real?” one asked pointing to a Van Gogh self-portrait. They especially got excited to see Toulouse Lautrec because we had talked about one of his paintings, At the Moulin Rouge, while studying language of description. It was a lesson where they described to one another their favorite painting so that he/she could draw it without looking at the picture. They took pictures of the paintings, took ‘selfies’ with numerous pharaohs, admired the beautiful period rooms and the sculpture garden.


We walked until we couldn’t walk anymore. And then we walked a little more. By the time it was 6pm, we had seen the exhibits of Egyptian Art, 19th and 20th Century European Paintings, The American Wing, and European Sculpture. It was time to end the day. We decided to do that with early dinner at a Colombian restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens. It was the first Colombian food for those from China and Thailand. And needless to say they loved it. We talked about spicy food, salsa, tongue twisters in different languages, and many other things. We learned more about each other. I saw Jessie’s wedding pictures and learned about Marlon’s goal to be a pilot. And they learned that I’d learned English as a foreign language. It was a nice ending to a fun and informative day.



While saying goodbye, there was already talk of where to visit next and what kind of restaurant to try afterwards. By the time I went home at 8pm, I was exhausted but glad to have had a virtual time machine experience. I saw my younger self in my students. I hope they remember this day as one of the good days they had in this city. I certainly will.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Steve Jobs Commencement Address


A few teachers have been using this speech in their classes for a while, and Kevin was kind enough to share his lesson plan with us. Kevin says:
This lesson based on Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford University blends reading and listening skills and invites expansion in writing and speaking. It is for high-intermediate to advanced classes (4 and up, but can be adapted for use in 3 as well). Jobs offers his own life story as an example of risk-taking and the rewards of independent thinking. Students seeking challenges in New York respond with near-universal enthusiasm to his message: "Don't settle. Stay hungry. Stay foolish."

If you'd like to use this lesson, here are the materials. Kevin has prepared warmup, vocabulary, and note taking exercises.

Monday, May 12, 2014

This Friday: Writing Meeting, Round 2


We had a great conversation at our writing meeting in April, and we are doing it again this Friday. Please come and share your ideas.

Important question...  WILL THERE BE BABKA?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

College Workshop For Saturday Students


Share this information with your students! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Print Shop Closure

We just received word that LaGuardia's print shop will be closed for over a week this month, right as we are gearing up for the end of our term. Plan ahead if you can and send your big jobs over as soon as possible!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spirit Day This Friday!

Group selfie in the cafeteria at 10:30!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Where We're From: Spring 2014

This semester, students at The English Language Center are from 78 different countries. Share these charts with your students!




Monday, May 5, 2014

Support For The Sewol Ferry Victims


A group of students created a banner for us to write notes on - and we will be sending it to the high school in South Korea where the majority of the ferry passengers were students. The board will be in the cafeteria or TELC lobby until Wednesday.

World Cup Sign Up!

Please remind your students about this meeting on Wednesday. We hope to sign up the players and start making teams this week, so it's important that people come to the meeting. See Wayne, Liz or me for details. (Teachers can play, too!)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Workshop Next Saturday

It was a great success this winter, so Kata is running this workshop for Saturday students again this term. Please share this information in your classes today, and encourage students to attend next week. 

Students must sign up in C354 in advance. Space will be limited!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Language Clinic

Spread the word to our students! Someone from the office (Liz, Evelyn, or me) will stop by during first period today to let students know about the clinic. Please let us have just a moment of class time. Thanks!

Monday, April 28, 2014

In 17 Syllables


Thanks to Susan for linking us to the recent project at the New York Times. Readers were asked to submit a haiku about one of six aspects of New York City life: the island, strangers, solitude, commuting, 6 a.m., and kindness. Reading teachers especially, this is a great thing for you to share! Some of my favorites are below.

On the 6 to Spring
two cops help a tourist whose
map is upside down
Frances Richey, 63, Manhattan

Riding through the park
no daffodils blooming yet
— but unbuttoned coats.
Sharon Rousseau, 50, Manhattan 


Union Square Market
Blueberries for ten dollars
New York City blues
Sharon Cohen, 33, Dallas

Friday, April 18, 2014

Activity Roundup: A Girl And Her Eagle, Bodega Cats, and Portlandia

Pictures as prompts, audio, and video: here are some current things you could bring into the classroom.




These amazing images have been making the rounds this week. Meet Ashol-Pan, a 13 year-old hunter in Mongolia. A full photo essay and some text is available at the BBC, and I think these photos and her story could serve as rich prompts: Do people still hunt in your home country? What does traditional hunting look like in your country? What "men only" professions are women starting to participate in? If you could tame any wild animal, what animal would you choose?



WNYC has some fun stories about the bodega cats of New York City. This video imagines a few bodega cats if they could talk. This story (audio and text) reports on the legal and practical issues surrounding our furry grocery guards. And, if you want some pictures, may I present to you Bodega Cats Of Instagram? If you think of a lesson activity to go with these materials, let us know!



I designed a listening, vocabulary, and conversation activity to go with this clip from the show Portlandia. The vocabulary is appropriate for students at higher levels, and the topic is a great satirical take on the state of our social relations.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

TELC World Cup: Co-Ed!


Some students are wondering if the TELC World Cup planning meeting is "just for men." As a daughter of Title IX, I beg you to get the word out that it's co-ed! Thursday, April 17, at 1:00pm in C322.


Monday, April 14, 2014

The TELC World Cup!


Please share this in your classes this week. We are looking for students and teachers to help us plan a fun field day! Wayne and Nursen are the faculty contacts if you have any questions.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Heartbleed Bug: Which Passwords Should You Change?

Image from Mashable
The Heartbleed bug has infected a great deal of the internet, making your personal information (especially passwords) open to hackers. This list of compromised sites and passwords to change is the most useful I've found so far. Set aside some time today and change your passwords!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Your New York Times Digital Subscription

The New York Times online edition is now available to all CUNY employees - and it works from any computer, tablet or mobile! If you haven't signed up yet, here's how.

  1. Go to nytimes.com/passes.
  2. Click on Register, and set up an account using your LaGuardia Groupwise email address.
  3. Check your inbox for a confirmation email, and follow the links to confirm your eligibility and get your Academic Pass.
Once you have completed the registration process, you can sign in (using your Groupwise account) from any computer - and you can do the same via the Times app on any of your devices. The subscription is good for 1 year from the signup date. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Faculty Website Down

Our faculty website is currently down, and IT is attempting to get it back up and running. This means, among other things, that you can't see the book order forms or schedules. Thanks for your patience while we work with IT to sort this out - in the meantime, please send any questions to a member of the administrative staff.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Activity Roundup: Styles of Writing, Prized Possessions, and Modern Family

Welcome to the spring term! Here are some ideas for your classes.


Grant Snider is one of my favorite cartoonists, and I thought this piece would be fun to share in writing classes. There's a lot of rich vocabulary and imagery here!



About a year ago, I shared some photos of children and their most prized possessions. This project by Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti has grown since then, and he has a book out this month. The (truly fantastic) photo blog at Slate has some more images up - use them to spark discussion or writing. (Ideas: What was your most prized possession as a child? Choose two photos and compare and contrast them. Which child do you most identify with?)




I've also designed a short activity that can be done as a warmup in listening and speaking classes. This short clip from Modern Family has some very natural spoken contractions, and the activity is designed to help students concentrate on vocabulary, pronunciation, and the grammatical structure of spoken contractions. It's very short and light, so please use it as a warmup: you can access and print the activity here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Themes Of Interest


Thanks to Kevin for another great installment in our Teacher Ideas series. (Submissions welcome!) Read his account of generating interesting themes for his Saturday classes.

Themes Of Interest, by Kevin Lathrop

Students learn the best - quickest, most efficiently - when the content of the class is interesting. Of course, everyone varies in what themes they find of interest. An instructor of mine in graduate school counseled that in the search for effective materials the best resource is students themselves. In my Level 4 Saturday course, I asked students to choose from among their own stories those they found the most interesting and then to identify the themes.