Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thank You From The Floating Hospital

Thank you to every person who gave to our toy drive in support of The Floating Hospital this year. I'm grateful to work with such a kind and supportive group of people, including faculty, staff, and students.

Their Community Outreach Coordinator, Stephanie Fernandez, sent me this note of thanks to share with you.
I want to extend a huge thank you to The English Language Center for the generous toy donations! Please express to the students and teachers how grateful we are and how their donation will make a homeless child's holidays that much brighter!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Literary Magazine & Newsletters: Fall 2016

We've had three wonderful publications come out of The English Language Center this quarter: a student literary magazine, a student newsletter, and a faculty newsletter (with a special insert). Thank you to every student, faculty, and staff member who wrote something - we are very proud of and impressed by your work. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Websites For Teaching

Are you looking for a new web resource to use in your lesson planning? Have you forgotten about an old favorite? Teguh recently revised a list of websites for teaching that once lived on our wiki (RIP, wiki), removing resources that are no longer active and adding some new ones. They are organized alphabetically by category below.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Meet the New Teachers, Part 3

Today meet Patrick Russell, Eric Sutherland and Jordan Van Horn.

Patrick Russell, TREP, level 6/7

What has been your most challenging teaching experience?
My most challenging teaching experiences was teaching 3 year olds in Taiwan. It was like herding cats. Those kids literally and figuratively ran all over me.
What has been your funniest teaching moment?
I like a light and fun atmosphere in the classroom and I love to kid and joke with my students. I also appreciate my students’ humor even if it means I become the butt of the joke. Once, I had split the students into groups for a timed activity. I set the timer on my iPhone and absentmindedly left the alarm on the “bark” sound effect. After 5 minutes, when my phone started to bark like a dog, I had one witty student speak up to say, “Who is calling you? Your girlfriend?” Of course this student failed the activity;-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

TELC Toy Drive for The Floating Hospital

We are hosting a toy drive in support of our Long Island City neighbors The Floating Hospital this holiday season. The Floating Hospital provides full-service health care to New York City's homeless families, many of whom have become homeless due to domestic violence. Each December, they accept donations of new, unwrapped gifts for children from ages newborn to adolescence, and give these gifts to families at their Candy Cane Lane. We invite students, staff, and faculty to help us support this project this year.

You'll find flyers in your mailbox today, and more information about The Floating Hospital in this video below. We encourage you to share this information with your students!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Meet the New Teachers, Part 2

Today we feature Karolina Formella and Daniel Kaizer.

Karolina Formella, DIP AM, teaching levels 3.3 and 5.1 Listening and Speaking
in Fall 2016

How do your personal interests and passions inform your teaching?
I bring my interests into the classroom all the time. It has been my experience that even seemingly most uninteresting subjects can spark students' attention if they are presented with passion and enthusiasm. I absolutely love using music when teaching. Songs tell stories and music conveys emotions. It is easy to remember a new phrase or vocabulary word if there is a song or tune that goes with it. I also incorporate bits from arts and literature and build lessons around them. Occasionally, I will have students e-mail me afterward with further questions about a book we discussed or artist whose painting we investigated.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Meet the New Teachers, Part 1

In the last year, eight new teachers have joined our faculty. We asked them to answer questions on a variety of topics ranging from: challenging teaching experiences, to funny language learning experiences to their favorite teaching footwear.

Meet Emily Burnett and Jason Chiu below.

Emily Burnett, DIP AM, teaching level 2.2 reading in Fall 2016

What has been your most challenging teaching experience?
This isn't a specific experience, but it is a personal challenge. I became a teacher because of how much I love spending time and learning with other people, and how much teamwork is involved in that, however I am actually a pretty introverted person. As a new teacher, I am definitely in the process of learning how to manage my love for teaching and my need for personal refuel time.
What has been your funniest teaching moment?
Last year, while I was studying for my Masters, I was teaching a class of all women as a volunteer. One day, the word "sassy" organically came up in conversation, and we were able to work out the meaning of it all together. After that, not a class went by that the word didn't come up at least 3 times in natural conversation. It became our class word!

Monday, November 7, 2016

TELC Votes

Early voting will take place in all evening classes tonight (November 7) so we can tally those votes tomorrow morning. Tomorrow (November 8) students will vote in all 8:45am and 1:30pm classes.

We included all 4 official candidates (Clinton, Trump, Johnson, Stein) on the ballots, and also included a write-in option.

We will publish results as soon as we have them!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Professional Development Day: Tuesday, November 1

There are no morning or afternoon classes next Tuesday - instead we will meet for a faculty and staff Professional Development Day. Please RSVP if you haven't already. The agenda is below.

Monday, October 17, 2016

TELC Stories: Nicha

Check out this great story from one of our former students. You can find the whole story under the hashtag #telcstories on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Five Reasons to Use Newsela

All faculty now have free access to Newsela, a website chock full of leveled reading materials. Signing up is as easy as entering your LaGuardia email address and choosing a password. This wonderful resource could be used in class, in the computer lab or as homework. Have you used it yet? If so, leave a comment and share your experiences.

1. Create differentiated reading lessons
Newsela allows you to assign the same reading to a class of learners at five different levels. Print the readings out, or read them in a computer lab or on phones in the classroom.The class can all discuss the same topic, based on their leveled reading.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Student Services Tomorrow!

There are two student-service related meetings tomorrow at 12:45pm. Day teachers, please share with your students.

Students in the intermediate and advanced levels who wish to improve their English speaking and listening can serve as volunteer math tutors in our Skills Exchange program. This is a great way for our students to meet college students, to share their knowledge, and to work on their conversational English. Nursen will hold an informational meeting tomorrow.

Yvette will meet with students in the Media Center to help students with their CUNY Online Applications.

Friday, September 30, 2016

No Classes Monday: Rosh Hashanah

Enjoy the long weekend, and to those who celebrate it, the new year!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Activity Roundup: Stranger Things, A Parisian Pharmacy, An Interesting Robbery

Stranger Things was one of the big TV hits of the summer, and the first 8 minutes of the series are available on YouTube (the rest of the series is on Netflix). I've designed an activity that could be used with intermediate to advanced students in many skill areas - listening/speaking, reading, or writing - that helps students to think about genre, setting, and possible sources of inspiration for the show.

Next up, explore an interesting tourist phenomenon in Paris. Students can read this short article from the What A World column at The New York Times and do some vocabulary and comprehension activities. An ambitious Level 3 teacher could try this, and I think it could work all the way up to Level 10.

The final activity is a new video from StoryCorps in collaboration with Upworthy. In this video, the words spoken by the narrator are animated across the screen. Instead of handing out a printed worksheet to students, why not try working with the video in this way.

  1. Play the video, but don't project the image. Essentially, play the sound only. Ask students to take notes on what they hear, then discuss in groups. Ask them to estimate what percentage of the clip they understood.
  2. Play the video a second time. Ask students to expand on the notes they took, and discuss what new information (vocabulary words, bits of conversation, etc.) they understood the second time. Ask them to estimate what percentage of the clip they understood this time around.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Mid-Term Self Assessment Week: Some Ideas

Chart by Jessica Hagy

It's the middle of the summer term, and therefore the week we encourage everyone to do a self-assessment in their classes. Here are a few ideas you might consider, ranging from no-prep to more comprehensive.

  • The George Washington University Teaching & Learning Center has some excellent resources for Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) based on the work of Angelo & Cross (1993). I particularly like the Minute Paper and Directed Paraphrasing techniques in this list.
  • Exit Slips are an easy favorite. Why not try a slightly longer survey - instead of short slips - and ask a few of these questions? 
  • A Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID) is a great tool for understanding the dynamics of a particular class at the midterm. The facilitator / teacher breaks the class into small groups, giving each group a handout with three questions about the class. After the students discuss these questions in small groups for a few minutes, the whole class comes back together, and students share their suggestions one at a time. The facilitator puts the three categories on the board (Like, Needs Improvement, Suggestions), and notes the student feedback under each category, The greatest strength of the SGID comes next; the facilitator asks how many students agree with a particular piece of feedback, and tallies the count next to each item. The SGID is uniquely powerful in that it creates a whole class dialogue from which a consensus or larger pattern can emerge. More detailed information on how to conduct an SGID can be found here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pokemon Go In Central Park

I showed this video in the Teen English Academy yesterday, and the kids loved it. There are subtitles included, so even students with less-skilled listening comprehension were able to understand much of the video. The topic is timely and lends itself to some interesting discussion.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Activity Round Up: How Old Is Your Body, Cheese In China, and Washed Up

Welcome to the summer term! Here are three ideas you could use in class.

Scientific topics can be nice in the classroom, as long as they are not too technical and can be easily understood by laypeople. This short video from NPR's science channel, Skunk Bear, is both interesting and easy to understand. Students can use both listening and reading skills to learn some new vocabulary in context and answer some short comprehension questions. This activity would be good in any skill area, for intermediate to advanced students.

Illustration by Tamara Shopsin / Love_Life / Boarding1Now /

Here's a short little article on the growing popularity of cheese in China. I've written some questions to guide students through the reading. The focus is less on comprehension and more on developing autonomy in vocabulary building, as well as finding evidence in a piece of writing that supports the main idea.

Photo by Alejandro Duran

Artist Alejandro Duran has a unique and compelling way of addressing the problem of trash in our world's oceans. His photography project Washed Up consists of photos of debris that washes up on the shores of Sian Ka'an in Mexico, a UNESCO World Heritage site. He arranges the trash in such a way that the viewer can be fooled by what they are seeing, and therefore drawn more closely into the image. He has even mapped some of the trash according to country of origin, to demonstrate the global nature of this problem.

You could use this project in a number of ways in class. Here are a few ideas:
  • Flip through this photo essay in the classroom, and have the students choose the image they find the most interesting. Discuss why it is interesting: is it beautiful, ugly, upsetting, creative, funny, sad?
  • Read the National Geographic article on this project, and do comprehension activities.
  • Ask students to choose a photo from this project and write about it, describing what they see in the image.
  • Ask students to write about a natural place they have visited that is being destroyed by human activity. What is it like to visit that place?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Professional Development Survey Results

Thank you to everyone who responded to Kate's survey, and thank you to Kate for compiling this handy infographic (larger image here). Stay tuned for PD opportunities this summer and fall!

Friday, June 10, 2016

TELC Student Literary Magazine

Copies will be arriving in classes throughout the week. Make sure you get your hands on one, and enjoy!

Friday, June 3, 2016

What In The World

Leif Parsons for The New York Times
Check out this new(ish) feature at The New York Times: What in the World, a collection of observations made by journalists working around the globe. The stories are short and accessible, so they are ideal for classroom use. I particularly liked this recent story about the use of seatbelts in the taxis of Istanbul.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Your Input On Professional Development

10 Things Teachers Want for Professional Development
Sylvia Duckworth, shared via CC license (Flickr)

Kate sent an email yesterday with a link to a survey about professional development here at The English Language Center. You can take the survey online, or via a paper copy in your mailbox. Please let us know your thoughts!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Early Bird Registration

Students can save $25 on day, evening or Saturday courses this summer if they register today or tomorrow. Remind them! (We will also honor this discount on Saturday, June 4 for Saturday students.)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend!

Enjoy the long weekend, everyone! You've earned it. To kick off your weekend, here's a fun clip of America's favorite 6 year-old spelling champ, Akash Vukoti.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Teen English Academy

Big news for the summer - we are offering our first ever class for teenagers! Teen English Academy will be open to English-language learners from 13 - 17 years old. They will be in class from Monday through Wednesday, with field trips on Thursdays. The course will run from July 11 through August 11 for $785.

If anybody has questions, please send them to the office!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Social Teacher: 50 Questions

Teach Thought is a blog and podcast focused on professional development for teachers. The content can skew a little K-12, but there are still some very insightful pieces for teachers working in higher education. 

50 Questions To Help Students Think About What They Think is a list of questions to use in the various academic disciplines to help students develop metacognition and critical thinking abilities. Some of the literary questions (If you were this character, how would the story change? How would you change the end of the story and why?) might be of interest to teachers working with literature in their classes. Likewise, some of the scientific questions (How can you justify this information? What are some of the complexities we should consider?) are great for guiding students through a piece of persuasive writing or a research project.

Teach Thought can be found on Twitter (@TeachThought) and Facebook

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Free TOEFL Workshop For Students

Natalia Dunina, a Language Clinic volunteer and MA-TESOL candidate, will lead this workshop for students at Level 4 and higher. Encourage your students to attend!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Activity Roundup: Imperative Sentences, Eileen Myles, and Hamilton

I'm sorry these ideas are a little late, but better late than never! Here are a couple things to consider using in class this spring.

You may be familiar with these popular cooking videos that are all over Facebook. Tasty is a channel that produces short, easily understood videos of recipes for the home cook. I made a grammar activity specifically for low-level students in which they can practice writing imperative sentences about this extremely popular recipe.

Eileen Myles is having a moment in the spotlight. I found this article interesting, and the accompanying video of some contemporary literary and cultural figures reading her poem Milk would be nice for classroom use. I've drafted a simple handout which just contains the text of the poem as well as a few questions to think about, write about, or talk about. Reading teachers might want to do a short poetry lesson using this poem, and writing teachers might use this poem as a prompt for either creative or response writing.

Why not give in to Hamilton fever? The Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording is the first Broadway cast album to reach #1 on the Billboard Rap Album chart, which is just incredible! The first song on the album is called Alexander Hamilton, and introduces the man's life story. I created a vocabulary, listening, and discussion based activity to accompany it. Since the song is complex in terms of content, grammar, and speed, this activity is best done with higher levels.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

From Honduras To New York Runways

Here's a thought-provoking story to share with students in these final weeks of the winter term. Carlos Campos is a successful figure in the New York fashion world; he also walked to New York from Honduras as a child. This Aljazeera America profile is longer and uses some complex language, while this piece in REMEZCLA is simpler and easier for lower-level students to engage with.

As a side note, keep your eyes on REMEZCLA as you look for content for your classes. They tell stories about Latino culture in the US and globally with a young, fresh voice. See this piece about the Univision broadcast of the Democratic debate for a sense of their style.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Teacher Ideas: New York Stories

Image by Sterlin Joe Levy (
From Kevin, here's another collection of student stories. According to him, "the stories are a bit sadder than some others but a good read all the same."

New York Stories, by Kevin Lathrop

People encounter New York City on their own. As teachers, we help our students gain the language to make sense of their experiences and gain control of their lives here. Students in Level Three on Saturday told true stories that could happen only in New York.

Luis introduced his story with a warm greeting to his classmates. The events he recounted took place two months after he arrived in the city. His sister was in high school. One day she invited him to Forty-Second Street to do some shopping. He and his family lived in the Bronx, and they would make the trip downtown together. Luis told his sister he only had two dollars and fifty cents, not enough for the return subway ride, and she said, “It’s okay. I will pay two-fifty before we come back home.”

Luis replied, “Yes, no problem.” They took the train from Fordham Road to Forty-Second Street. His sister had a student pass for the subway. On Forty-Second Street, she bought bags, shoes, a tee-shirt and several other things. Carried away, she spent all her money and had none left for Luis to take the train (apparently the need for help he’d mentioned earlier had slipped her mind). They couldn’t walk home because it was too far to the Bronx.

Luis learned how things stood only when they reached the train station. His sister had passed through the turnstile with her student card and was waiting for him to join her. Luis dealt with the problem creatively. Rather than take her to task for the mistake, he announced he would to jump over the barrier - after all, he didn’t have money and, as he put it, couldn’t swim to Fordham Road from Times Square!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Interviewing and Career Planning for Students

Margaret is putting together a workshop for students on interview skills and career planning. This workshop will be led by Natalia, a Language Clinic volunteer who is currently pursuing her MA-TESOL at NYU. Encourage your students to sign up on the Language Clinic board. Space is limited to 30 people, and it is open to students in Level 4 or higher.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Long Weekend!

We are closed on Friday and Monday. We are open on Saturday for makeup classes from this winter's snowstorm.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Van Gogh's Bedroom

Photo via Airbnb
What would it feel like to live inside a painting? The Art Institute of Chicago has recreated the bedroom from Van Gogh's painting Bedroom In Arles, and has listed the room on Airbnb. Here are some ideas for using this topic in class.
  • Ask students to compare the replica bedroom with the painting. Students can focus on comparison grammar either in writing or verbally. (A good side-by-side image can be found here.)
  • Do reading comprehension exercises using one of the many short articles online about this exhibit. Colossal focuses on the details of the exhibit. TimeOut Chicago features interesting idiomatic language.
  • Talk about whether or not you would like to sleep one night in this room. Ask students to find an image, picture, or painting they would like to spend one night inside, and explain why.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

More Language Partner Opportunities!

Tell your students! We linked to them on Facebook so students can find them easily.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Language Partners

We are working with the Modern Languages department to set up a language partner program between LaGuardia students learning Japanese and Japanese-speaking students enrolled at TELC. Listening and speaking teachers at Level 5 and higher - can you share this news with your Japanese students? If they are interested in finding a language partner, have them see Heather in the office.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter 2016 Book Club

Teachers in Level 6 and up, encourage your students to read this classic in the book club this winter. Rebecca is leading a group in discussion every Thursday after AM classes and before PM classes. Students should see her if they are interested in joining.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Language Clinic: A Reminder & Congratulations!

Please remind your students to join the Language Clinic if they are looking to develop their conversational skills. Sign up sheets are on a board in the lobby outside of C354.

Congratulations also go out to Margaret Culhane for her article about the clinic published in NYS TESOL's Idiom newsletter. We are grateful for her work at the clinic, which is a true asset to our program, our students, and the larger college community, and we are glad that NYS TESOL agrees! This newsletter is subscription-based, but you can read the article here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Activity Roundup: Space Oddity, The League Of Kitchens, and Obama's Achievements

Welcome to the winter term! Here are some ideas to get you started in your classes.

I created a lesson exploring David Bowie's Space Oddity in terms of lyrics, context, and legacy. Beginning students can simply read the lyrics as they listen to the song, and then discuss images in the lyrics. More advanced students can discuss the song in relation to space exploration of the 1960s and the present day. There are discussion, listening, and reading activities, as well as an incredible cover by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Flip through the slideshow above to see all the companion materials; the lesson handout is here.

The League Of Kitchens is a new project in New York City where participants can learn to cook authentic food directly from a skilled immigrant home cook. I designed a reading and listening activity about it for the lower levels. Higher level teachers might adapt this great clip from The Late Show With Stephen Colbert in a more sophisticated way.

Finally, Kevin has created a research and critical thinking activity about Obama's presidential achievements. The video above is not necessary for the activity, but might help you to contextualize the subject and elicit some ideas from students. The activity itself lists 5 of Obama's achievements - the Affordable Care Act, same-sex marriage, the Iran nuclear deal, the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership - and asks students to research 24 separate ideas and identify which achievement the idea represents or is a result of. You can follow this up with group debate or discussion through an evaluative "pro or con?" activity as well.