Friday, January 31, 2014

Our Students: Winter 2014

Each term, we look at demographic trends that shape The English Language Center. One piece of information we look at is country of origin. Who are our students, and where do they come from? This is the data for Winter 2014.

All Programs
There are students from 77 countries enrolled in our programs overall. The top 5 countries of origin are Colombia (15%), Ecuador (15%), Poland (7%), South Korea (6%) and Thailand (6%).

Day Programs
There are students from 65 countries enrolled in our day programs (full-time morning, full-time afternoon, and afternoon part-time workshops). The top 5 countries of origin are Colombia (15%), Thailand (10%), South Korea (9%), Ecuador (8%) and China (7%).

Evening Programs
There are students from 41 countries enrolled in our three evening programs (four-night, two-night with a focus on oral communication, and 2-night with a focus on written communication). The top 5 countries of origin are Ecuador (23%), Colombia (14%), Poland (13%), Dominican Republic (6%) and Mexico (6%).

Saturday Program
There are students from 33 countries enrolled in our Saturday program. The top 5 countries of origin are Ecuador (19%), Colombia (16%), Poland (9%), Mexico (8%) and Peru (7%).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Apps For English

Finding directions, listening to music, sharing photos, splitting checks, ordering dinner, crushing candy - we use apps for nearly everything. Why not encourage students to download an app or two for practicing English on their own? What better to do on the subway? Here is a list of apps with links for more information on each. Leave suggestions in the comments if you've seen any other useful ones.

American English Listening by Axidep
This app connects American pronunciation samples to written text. It is $2.99 for Apple or Android (phone or tablet); there is a free Android version as well.

This was Apple's App of the Year for 2013! This is best suited for low level students, and uses games to deliver grammar and translation exercises. It also has French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish versions. It is free for both Apple and Android (phone or tablet), with no in-app purchases.

English Irregular Verbs by Schoolsoft
This is a pirate-themed game for studying irregular verb forms, with both text and audio. It is free for Android only.

This app has been featured in School Library Journal and has been called the "Schoolhouse Rock for the 21st Century." Users play games and earn badges as they study parts of speech in their various neighborhoods on a map (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections are covered). The full app is $12.99 for Apple or Android (phone or tablet), but a free, less comprehensive version can be downloaded as a trial.

Headway Phrase-A-Day by Oxford
This app contains text and audio for 365 common English phrases, with similar phrases listed after each entry for greater variety. There is a game play mode with challenges to unlock. It is $0.99 for Apple or Android (phone or tablet).

How Good Is Your English? by Oxford
A companion to the Bookworms leveled reader series from Oxford, this app offers a My Level test, and provides free sample chapters of appropriately leveled books. It is free for Apple (phone or tablet), and complete books (with comprehension activities) are available as in-app purchases.

Idioms by Webrich Software
This app has study, search, and game modes for common English idioms. It is $2.99 for Apple and $1.99 for Android (phone or tablet).

Irregular Verbs by Thuy Nguyen
I listed an irregular verbs app for Android above; this is a nice one for Apple. While there is no game functionality, it is a nice reference tool for irregular verbs commonly found on standardized tests, and is completely free with no ads or in-app purchases.

Mobile English Test by Bitutopy
This app provides games, readings, tests, and word lists to help students prepare for the types of items they will face on various standardized tests (ASVAB, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, PCAT, SAT, TOEFL, and TOEIC). It is free for Android only.

Phrasal Verbs Machine from Cambridge
The Amazing Phraso is a circus performer who leads the user in games for choosing the correct phrasal verbs - supported by animation. So cool! The nuanced and varied meanings for each phrasal verb are also presented. It is free for Apple or Android. It will operate on phone or tablet, though some users report that visibility is difficult on smaller devices.

Sounds: The Pronunciation App by Macmillan
This is THE interactive app for learning English pronunciation. It has an interactive phonemic chart (for both American and British pronunciation), word lists with audio, practice activities, quizzes, and for the paid version, the ability to record your own pronunciation and have it compared to the app's sample. The full app is $5.99 for Apple and $6.27 for Android (phone or tablet); a free, less comprehensive version is also available.

WordWeb Audio Dictionary
This is an offline audio dictionary with over 70,000 recorded samples for over 285,000 total entries. It is $3.99 for Apple and $4.99 for Android (phone or tablet).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Student Choices

Thanks to Kevin for another great installment in our Teacher Ideas series. (Submissions welcome!) Read his account of the expressiveness that results from choice in the classroom.

Reflections on Learning English in New York at LaGuardia, by Kevin Lathrop

It’s a good idea to be specific when assigning students tasks. Clear instructions give confidence, which promotes risk-taking, all-important in learning a language.

However, freedom matters too. Students who make choices learn more, remember more, and their skill increases accordingly. In level 3 last term I gave an assignment that involved two alternatives. Members of the class could prepare either to present an experience that showed the difference between New York and their hometown or between LaGuardia Community College and schools attended in the past. The purpose was to know more about how students see our school, with an eye to improving it. (There was also the option of talking instead about a friend, for those who preferred not to discuss their own lives).

Students responded generously.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Between Heaven and Earth

Here's an idea for an on-campus field trip. Check out this colorful and poignant exhibition in the photography gallery of the B Building - start watching the video below at the 10:06 mark to hear the artist talk about his photographs taken in northern Mexico. You can find more information in this article in the Times Ledger.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hashtags For Learning

We're always thinking about ways to help our students become autonomous learners, and recently I started thinking about hashtags and how they might foster autonomy. There is a vibrant community of educators on Twitter, and I'm familiar with the various hashtags they use to talk to each other about our learning needs as teachers, so I started to look into what English language learners might use among themselves for their own development. Teachers, meet #twinglish and #engpls.