ESOL Educators Conference 2014 – Keynote by Dr. Rebecca Oxford

Hi, tutors!

I am happy to say we had another great ESOL educators conference on October 24th.  I know it is hard for  some to get to a weekday conference, so I will be sharing portions of it over the next few weeks.

We were very privileged to have Dr. Rebecca L. Oxford with us to speak on “The Language of Peace:  How it Relates to Teaching ESL.”  Dr. Oxford’s work sheds light on peaceful versus destructive ways we use words, body language, and the language of visual images.  She is particularly interested in narrative research in,  a) how learners and teachers experience–and foster–collaboration and peace, b) how individuals learn languages in diverse sociocultural contexts, and c) how existential well-being and positive psychology influence education.  To give you and idea of how special it was to have Dr. Oxford speak at our conference, she is right now in Istanbul presenting on the very same theme!

I have attached Dr. Oxford’s Power Point presentation for you here:

1 LangofPeaceUpdatedOct23.2014

Enjoy!  lder

ProLiteracy’s Fall Notebook Available

Hi, Tutors,

We can always count on ProLiteracy to give us a quarterly publication chock full of good ideas and helpful resources.  The Fall, 2014 edition is no exception.

Mentioned in this edition’s “Exploring Resources” section is Dr. David Rosen’s MLoTS—Media Library of Teaching Skills.  Dr. Rosen has provided YouTube videos on a wide range of adult education subjects from Basic Literacy to ESOL.  Check out this and all of the fine articles in this e-journal.

Happy Monday!  lder

Literacy Includes Knowing How to Manage Your Money!

I learned today of an excellent website dedicated to improving fiscal literacy among non-English speakers and low level English readers.   It is a great resource covering such topics as how to make a budget, how to open a bank account and how to avoid credit card scams.  There is an amazing array of offerings available at the click of the “Help for You” button, including a series of easy to understand videos on many money management topics.   The website is available in both English and Spanish.


Please share with your learners, whether ESL or Basic Literacy!  lder

Those Grammar Thingies

Hi tutors,

Whether we are working with basic literacy or ESL learners, we often run into grammar points that are difficult to explain…even to ourselves!  Below is a link to grammar expert T. Leo Schmitt’s Grammatically Speaking.  Even though it is in a TESOL web article, basic literacy tutors will also find Schmitt’s explanation of our language’s quirky grammar helpful.  As lifelong speakers, our grammatical intuition lets us know when something “sounds right,” but we would be hard pressed to explain why.

I hope you find this useful!  lder

Keep It Simple with “Plain English”

Hi tutors!

I know it’s been awhile since the last post, but I think most of you are now aware that we have been dealing with the aftermath of the fire in our building on May 22nd.  We are in temporary quarters now and finally settling in.

TLC is a member of the Alabama Health Literacy Coalition, which led me to do some research on how to write for low-literate or non-English speaking adults.  I came across a great website–I Heart Health Literacy that offers suggestions for “plain” English for the health care field.  The website below offers an archive of their emails that you will find interesting…and just sensible.  If you are in health care, or know someone who is, check out this website.

And even if you aren’t in health care, I bet you can think of some other places where plain-speak would be helpful! 

If you are in Birmingham, come by and see us at our temporary home at 2218 2nd Avenue, North!  lder

Tossing Out an Interesting Story!

Hi tutors!

I ran across an article in Mental Floss magazine that my fellow word nerds among you might find interesting.  It is about “contranyms”—words that are their own opposites.  Number 25 on the magazine’s list was “tossing out,” which can mean “to suggest” OR “to discard.”    Here’s the link I am suggesting…I hope you don’t discard it without giving it a read!

Hope you’ve had a good week-end!  lder

Spring “Notebook” is Online from ProLiteracy!

Hi, Tutors:

The Spring issue of Notebook is now available online: .  As always, Notebook offers many interesting articles for tutors of both Basic Literacy and ESOL.  In this issue you will find tips on using apps with your learners, as well as a lengthy article on working with students who have learning challenges—dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, and more.  And of course, don’t forget to check out the list of websites for even more information and ideas.  Take a look at this issue; share with us what you found especially worthwhile.

Have a great week-end! lder

Perplexing Prepostions

Hi, tutors!

I have heard from both native English speakers and English learners alike that prepositions are a most perplexing part of speech. For such small little words, they can cause some big comprehension problems. I have in my library here at TLC a book that should be a big help. It is The Ins and Outs of Prepositions: A guidebook for ESL students and all others seeking help in correct use of prepositions, by Jean Yates (Barron’s: Hauppauge, NY. 1999). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more comprehensive book—an analysis of 61 of the most common English prepositions! There is a newer edition, revised in 2011, if you would like to buy one; the ISBN is 9780764147289. The book may be ordered from Barron’s at, or other online and brick-n-mortar stores you like.

Happy Tuesday, lder

It Might Just Be a Tone of Voice!

Hello, Tutors!

For those of you who have taken ESOL tutor training with me, you will remember how much time I spend talking about inter-cultural communication. You will also remember, during the phonology portion of training, the discussion of supra-segmentals—including intonation. Here is an interesting story from National Public Radio given in remembrance of UC Berkley linguist John Gumperz. The story is about how Dr. Gumperz was called to help explain a clash of cultures that began simply with a “tone of voice.”

Please share your thoughts! lder

Is Getting a Job Your Learner’s Goal?

Hi, tutors!

Do you remember the top three reasons our learners want to read better? Along with reading to kids and grandkids, and reading the Bible, the third one is getting a GED or a better job. If that is your learner’s goal, check out the website below. I first heard about this Michigan Adult Education site at the USCAL last fall, and I was reminded of it today on one of the online Communities of Practice I subscribe to.  It has a ton of teaching material to use with learners who want to get into the workforce.

Check it out…let us know what you think!