Category: updates

Web Site Update – July 2020

Hi everyone,

June was a roller coaster filled with changes—mostly exciting and fun-filled moments.

On the negative side, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take is toll on the world, and people are suffering everywhere. My heart continues to feel pain for those who have experienced loss of life, health, jobs, educational opportunities, and the simply job and living.

That said, I have been busy working on some engaging projects in which I am trying to build new learning communities and opportunities:

1. I have started producing Facebook/YouTube Live broadcasts as a means of sharing ideas on language learning and teaching, and this includes bring on guests who have specialized in certain areas of the profession. You can see more about this HERE. These broadcasts give viewers an opportunity to comment and share ideas in real time as we learn together and build new online friendships and communities. Contact me if you would like to be on as a guest.

2. I have also started a new section of video activities based on these videos to give learners opportunities to practice their skills with longer, unscripted discussions and presentations.

3. I continue to build my Facebook and YouTube channel where viewers can find all of this new content in a familiar place.

4. I created a video presentation to help viewers learn how to control the playback speed of online video, including of content on my site, YouTube, and even Netflix, and this video discusses how to control the video window to make it easier to see as you scroll down Web pages.

This summer will certainly hold more surprises. Just buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Randall

Web Site Update – June 2020

Hi everyone,

I hope you are weathering the COVID-19 pandemic  in your personal, professional, or educational life.

One of the newest projects that I have been working on is creating live broadcasts through Facebook Live and YouTube. Keep an eye on my Facebook page HERE for upcoming events.  You can also see one of my latest broadcasts on my personal and professional life here.

Web Site Update – May 2020

As we move into late spring, the world is still battling the effects of COVID-19, and this continues to impact educational institutions at all levels around the world. The University of Utah where I teach will continue to hold classes online throughout the summer, and what might happen in fall is unclear. For my part with my Web sites, I invite and encourage teachers and students to make use them, for they never close. Open 24/7.

I wish everyone well.

Guest Posts on Online Teaching

In part of response to COVID-19, I have invited teachers around the world to share their experiences in teaching online. My hope is that such stories can help other educators see the possibilities in extending their teaching beyond the walls of the everyday classroom. In some posts, teachers have incorporated my sites into their lessons; in other cases, other online services and tools are used.

Feel free to send me your ideas if you would like to share.

Jose Montoya, Costa Rica

I have been working as a call center coach for about twenty years, and I also made my way up to ESL teaching about ten years ago. It was then that I found out your website; in fact, I’ve followed you ever since. I have used your dialogues and audios once and again with my students who are from all over the world. I love working with your site as all I have to do is to invite my pupils to enter one of the assigned pages so we start learning on it.

You might want to know how I lead learners within. Well, I created my own learning program called Immersion English (IE), and it is based upon the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Learners), applying CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) techniques and encouraging my students into critical-thinking principles. My learning strategy involves a sequence divided into stages that focus on pronunciation-Intonation, vocabulary review, listening and speaking, and finally writing and essay structures.

Your material is highly valuable at this point. I have my students reading the dialogues, playing roles, and then I drill out the texts to improve intonation and accent reduction. Then, we revise applied vocabulary, including those idioms, phrasal verbs coming into your scripts.

In general, your material has been quite useful and effective and fits in to my learning process. Thank you very much, Randall. On behalf of my pupils I want to express my gratitude for your wonderful work.

People like you is what the world needs.

Web Site Update – April 2020

Hi everyone,

Wow! It has been a significant period of uncertainty, anxiety, and loss–of life, employment, and security—as nations, communities, friends, and family struggle with the realities of COVID-19. For my part, I am committed to sustaining and enhancing my Web site during this period so teachers and English learners can find opportunities to improve their teaching and language skills. Here is my COVID-19 response to the situation in my area:

COVID-19 Response

 

May you find opportunities to support those who are most in need of food, shelter, friendship, and so many other daily necessities.

I have also received a number of questions about adding links of specific pages of my site within a content-management system like Canvas.
 
In other words, many teachers are now teaching online classes during the current pandemic of COVID-19, and as part of their teaching, they want to refer students to other online learning materials. Teachers often want to create lessons, and in those lessons, they want to point to a specific listening activity to which students can go outside of Canvas to practice their language skills.
 
This idea of posting direct links to my site is perfectly fine, and I give teachers permission to do this. In other words, teachers are not downloading my content and uploading to their Web sites or Canvas, but are simply putting a link in lesson to an activity on my site for students to do.
 
I also might suggest teachers review my Self-study Guide with organizes my listening activities by topic.
 
If you have an questions regarding this, please let me know.
 
 
I also would suggest talking a look at my other listening sites for more content:
 

Best,

Randall

Web Site Update – March 2020

Hi everyone,

As we move into the Spring here where I live, it reminds me of new life and growth, and soon, I will be working outside in our garden. Besides that, I’m seeing new renewed growth in some of the listening activities I have been working on with the help of family recently. My daughter, Emily, and I did some humorous recordings recently, and it seems like I always take the part of the man who never thinks carefully about the consequences of his choices. Oh well, someone has to take that role. These activities will roll out on my site in the future.

At the beginning of April, I will be presenting at the International TESOL Convention in Denver, and I will be giving a number of presentations, including one on improving listening skills. I will post notes about the session later on.

Finally, if you know of people who could benefit from my Web sites, please pass on the word. Even though I have been doing this for 22 years, I am always pleasantly surprised when I hear from someone who has just discovered my sites. I’m happy they have been of use to many people over the years.

Best,

Randall

Web Site Update – February 2020

Hi everyone,

I hope the first part of the year has been sprinkled with some challenges (because we grow from them) and some small or big successes.

As for an update, I spent most of the month of January redesigning my Web site, https://www.ezslang.com. I first launched this site about 15 years ago, and our son, Josh, helped create the original graphics for the site. The main purpose of the site is to introduce learners to a variety of idioms and slang that they might hear in conversation or in see in the media (e.g., movies, the newspaper, books, and magazines). It was a fun project to do with family, including my brother, wife, and oldest daughter. I hope you find it useful.

My plans, as they have been for the past 20 years, is to create something useful and meaningful for teachers and language learners, and to have fun in the process.

I also want to share some background information that could help users if the encounter problems with the site. Specifically, I had someone contact me this week about not being able to access one of my sites. It wasn’t that the site wouldn’t play an audio file, but an error message (a forbidden 403 error) appeared. For teachers, it might be that the site loads on their phones, but in the computer lab where they are working with students, this message appears on the students’ computers.

So, what can this issue be? Well, in order to prevent attacks by hackers on a server, settings on the server can be put into place to block unauthorized access. However, sometimes, the server might perceive an attack, but being as cautious as it may, it can block completely legitimate activity. When this happens, everyone using the site from a particular IP address might not be able to access the site. I generally error on the side of safety to my sites, but if this ever happens to you, just describe your situation and your IP address (a number of Web sites can look up your IP for you), and I will remove your IP on the block list to get you going again.

So if you see a forbidden 403 error (and you still can access the site from a different location on a different IP address), then contact me.

I’m sure you can imagine the amount of work it takes to run Web sites, and I appreciate your understanding if this ever happens to you.

Randall

Web Site Update – December 2019

Hi everyone,

I want to thank you for visiting my sites over the past 21 years. It has been so exciting to see that many of my visitors are new to the site, some hadn’t even been born when I started it, and even a few who have followed my work during this whole journey. In addition to pointing out holiday-related listening activities in my last post, I also wanted to introduce or remind visitors of the other sites that I have created.

Although most people know of my main listening Web site (esl-lab.com), fewer visitors have tried some of my other Web sites for listening practices. You can find useful fliers and handouts on them here (https://www.esl-lab.com/esl-study-handouts/). Let me introduce these Web sites to you:

1. DailyESL.com (https://www.dailyesl.com) – I created this site to give focused practice on specific topics with a reading that includes many of the related vocabulary. These topics include shopping, going to a bookstore, visiting a flower shop, and so forth. These activities are different from esl-lab.com in that you get a concentrated dose of language in a reading passage verses a conversation. After listening to the passage, you then can answer three questions to check your understanding.

2. Trainyouraccent.com (https://www.trainyouraccent.com) – One of the biggest challenges facing language students is learning how to speak more smoothly and naturally. However, some students come from language backgrounds in which the vowel and consonant sounds are different, and students often stress every sound. However, one of the most common sounds in English is the unstressed schwa sound (ə) that affects stress and rhythm. Thus, on this site, learners can listen to a passage on a particular theme (e.g, breakfast meals) that highlights the unstressed sounds and then answer some questions related to the topic.

3. EZslang.com (https://www.ezslang.com) – This site focuses on introducing slang and idiomatic expressions. Visitors listen to conversation, answer questions, and review the related vocabulary.

Give these Web sites a try!

Web Site Update – November 2019

Hi everyone,

October was a busy month, and I have been energy-filled creating more gap-fill exercises. They are fun to create, and they give learners new ways of accessing their listening skills. You can over 300+ vocabulary activities HERE:

The holiday season is just around the corner, and here are some activities to get you started:

More listening activities to come! Thanks for being a part of my online community.

Randall

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