Category: updates

Web Site Update – June 2021

As we move into the summer months, I am plowing away at a variety of projects, including interview teachers and students from around the world. Recently, I had a wonderful conversation with Ines Ben Rebah and her students in Tunisia on Ramadan in their country. I continue to be amazed at the level of thoughtfulness of young people who are changing the face of our world.

You can see all of my interviews on my YouTube channel HEREhttps://www.youtube.com/esllab

I am also still developing language games to accompany my listening activities, with the goal of helping learners maximize the content in different ways. Give them a try HERE.

 

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 – 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.