Web Site Update – May 2021

At the beginning of 2021, there was high hope that we were looking at the pandemic in our rearview mirror. Yes, in some areas around the world, things look more hopefully, while COVID-19 is raging in others. That said, the pandemic continues to present opportunities to reach out and help others.

This continues to be true of language teaching and learning. For my part, I am working on several projects:

  1. developing language games to recycle the vocabulary and grammar used in the listening conversations
  2. editing the Web pages to correct spelling and grammar mistakes
  3. revising the quiz format for the listening activities for improved performance
  4. planning additional Facebook Live broadcasts with teachers and students

As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Web Site Update – April 2021

Spring has arrived in many parts of the northern hemisphere, including in Utah, USA, where I live, and this new season is the source of new life and hope. I always enjoy watching spring floors bloom and the blossoms on our fruit trees in the coming weeks.

Reflecting on the newness of spring, I ponder over the fact that it has been over a year since the pandemic radically altered every aspect of our lives, including how education is carried out throughout the world. Personally, I have been involved in a number of initiatives and projects that have helped me see people, teaching, and learning in new and exciting ways.  Some projects are readily apparent, and the manifestations and results are readily apparent, like a new listening activity, video, or learning activity. Other urgent tasks are often less visible, but they still take a lot of time and coordination.

Over the past several weeks and for the next few months, I will involved in these activities:

  • update the quiz delivery system to handle the data and traffic coming to my site. I am speaking of the quiz that comes after most of the listening and video activities.
  • add additional supporting activities around each listening activity. These might include interactive games.
  • evaluate and test the possibility of packaging some of the listening activities into a book format for teachers in low-resource environments.
  • continue to produce live broadcasts with teachers and students from around the world as means of sharing learning challenges and successes.

Outside of these activities, I also plan on taking time to relax and disconnect from technology. So critical in today’s world.

Best wish to all of you.

Randall

 

Grammarly.com – A Writer’s Secret Weapon


grammarly

In my 30+ years of teaching, I have only recommended a few products to teachers and students, and Grammarly.com is one of them. I even use it myself. It is simply the best writing, grammar, and spell-checking tool to improve one’s your writing skills. I can save teachers AND students time in the writing almost anything: email messages, social media and blog posts, and academic paper. It can catch both basic errors (“they’re” instead of “their”) and advanced writing mistakes with vocabulary, tone, and plagiarism.

In the end, it can help people write faster and produce better papers (and better grades), and it can help teachers with their own projects, presentations, and class lessons.

Some of the best features of Grammarly is that it offers a Chrome browser extension so it checks your writing on the Internet (email, social media posts, etc.), and it can check your writing within Microsoft products such as MSWord.

The basic version is completely free and well worth using. Of course, if you need more features and advance writing feedback, then you can upgrade to their premium service which provides feedback on:

Writing fluency and vocabulary suggestions (if you are using the word “really” way too many times)

  • sentence variety so you are not just using simple sentences
  • common spelling and punctuation mistakes
  • the tone and formality of your writing generally need for academic purposes
  • plagiarism so you can make sure you are not copying the writing of others (a real plus for students)

So, which Grammarly should you get (free or the premium)? Well, I always encourage to sign up for the free service to test things out, and if you are really serious about saving time and improving your writing to the next level, then the premium service is well worth it. I have used the premium service myself, and I am a native speaker.

For complete transparency, I receive a financial incentive if you sign up for the service through the links on my site, and this is one way that I can support my work on my Web sites and Facebook Live broadcasts which are completely free to learners around the world. In the end, whether you use the service or not, I am happy that you have found my free Web sites useful since 1998.

Web Site Update – March 2021

Hi everyone,

Well, I don’t any of us anticipated that the COVID-19 pandemic would still be a part of our everyday lives into 2021, but here we are. As I have done since the middle of 2020, I have continued to interview teachers from around the world on how to make the most of online teacher and learning, and that is my plan for the foreseeable future. It is just exciting to meet so many engaging and top-notch teachers who are making a difference in their classes.

After this broadcasts, I usually use the video to create a language-learning activity out of it. You can see some examples HERE.

In this broadcast, Elaine Oliveira and I talk about how to speak more effectively in front of the camera.

Web Site Update – February 2021

With the pandemic still raging around the world, it was difficult to predict how the first month of the year would unfold. Fortunately, I have had some deeply meaningful conversation with a number influential educators in the field of language education, and I enjoyed presenting at the Bolivia English Teachers’ Association International Convention.

New friendships have formed, and a whole host of ideas have blossomed.

Here are some of the broadcasts that I have done since the beginning of the year, and I will continue to create new content for my Web site based on this great interviews. I also produced a fun-filled episode with a teacher and her students from Tunisia, and I would love to do similar interviews in the future.

You can see all of my interviews on my YouTube channel HERE.

Web Site Update – January 2021

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Whew! We have finally moved on from the chaotic year of 2020, and I look back on the year with mixed feelings. In this video, I discuss what I have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic period (which still continues with us today), and outline some of my goals for the coming year.

Web Site Update – December 2020

Well, we have finally made it to the end of 2020, having experienced the enormous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on every aspect of life on the planet. For my part, there have certainly been highs and lows, but I have experienced a certain transition and transformation in the way I live my life and they way I teach.

That said, I have witnessed the suffering of many people, and teachers, students, and parents have been among those who have had to adapt—often with great inconvenience and some loss of community—during this difficult time. That said, there has been new growth along the way.

I have continued my live broadcasts as a means of giving teachers and students a voice to share their experiences, something I plan to continue, and I have also set up a LinkedIn profile HERE for myself that may provide another source of community where teachers can connect with one another.

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. Here is one of my interviews in which my guest, Paulina Rojas Ceciliano, and I discuss how the pandemic has changed our lives.

Best wishes,

Randall

Web Site Update – November 2020

Hi everyone,

As you move into the fall and winter months, I am constantly thinking about new directions for my work and Web sites. Recently, I have been refocusing on some of my other Web sites, including Dailyesl.com. It is a fun Web site in which students can read and listen to recordings on everyday language and topics in the community. There are also comprehension and discussion questions. Give it a try.

In addition, I continue to do regular Facebook Live broadcasts with teachers from around the world. This has been a great way to reach out and connect with people who are trying to thrive in the teaching profession in spite of current pandemic difficulties.

Keep an eye on my Facebook and YouTube channel for new content and information.

Web Site Update – October 2020

Wow! Thank is all I can say about the past few months of Web site development and the live broadcasts I have been doing. I have met so many amazing people, and this has led to my creating new video activities based on these interviews and broadcasts. Take a look here:

https://www.esl-lab.com/broadcasts/

My plan is to continue reaching out to students and teachers with such fun and rewarding content throughout the rest of the year. I also suggest taking a look at my YouTube Channel and Facebook Page for a list of all these broadcasts as well.

I love what I do!

Randall

Web Site Update – September 2020

Hi everyone,

This has certainly been a busy month, particularly with the new Facebook Live broadcasts that have featured teachers from around the world (see list of past episodes). I also have been hosting a monthly meeting called Teacher Swap Shop in which teachers from different parts of the world have shared their ideas on a range of topics. I will be continuing these projects as a way of providing teachers support for our changing times, especially since many more teachers are having to conduct online classes in so many cases.

Keep an eye on my Facebook page for more details.

Randall