Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Metacognition Brings to the Homeschool Learning Environment

Boston - Boston Common: Parkman Plaza - Learning
Boston - Boston Common: Parkman Plaza - Learning (Photo credit: wallyg)
By Dr Rebecca Keller

In learning, our goal is to have the student take control of his learning and move beyond just remembering facts for a test and then forgetting them at a later time.

We want our homeschooled kids to remember information and be able to apply it in various situations. We want them to make neural connections that will allow them to access the information when it is needed and useful.

What Is Metacognition?

In the book How People Learn metacognition is defined as "people's abilities to predict their performances on various tasks (e.g., how well they will be able to remember various stimuli) and to monitor their current levels of mastery and understanding.

Teaching practices congruent with a metacognitive approach to learning include those that focus on sense-making, self-assessment, and reflection on what worked and what needs improving. These practices have been shown to increase the degree to which students transfer their learning to new settings and events."

In simple English, metacognition is the point where learners can monitor and take charge of their learning. When students use metacognition, they are able to think about how they are learning. Metacognition allows learners to come to an understanding of concepts, not just a rote memorization of facts.

Metacognition is developed by encouraging home school students to think for themselves. As teachers, we want to provide help and many times do more than we should while we are trying to help. Asking questions that guide our kids to think helps them to develop the skills necessary to take learning to a higher level.

What Metacognitive Thinking Looks Like

Think about how science (or other content) vocabulary is learned. One way students study vocabulary is to repeat the definition to themselves ten times each night for a number of nights before a test. This helps them to memorize definitions and parrot them back on the test. The words are quickly forgotten and serve no useful purpose.

When a student is thinking about vocabulary in a metacognitive sense, they are asking questions about how these words work within a context. For example, learning that a molecule is "the smallest physical unit of an element or compound, consisting of one or more like atoms in an element and two or more different atoms in a compound"( may help a student pass a test but they do not really understand molecules.

A student using metacognitive thinking may ask what are atoms and how do they affect molecules? If I can identify the molecules in a compound, how does changing those molecules affect the compound? They have now taken the definition and have asked themselves further questions. As they do this, molecule becomes more than just a vocabulary word, it becomes an essential part of the chemistry or physics they are studying.

Metacognition allows students to learn deeply, to take information and make it a part of their long-term memory. They will remember what they learn and will be able to apply it when they see it again. They will be able to think about the importance of what they are learning and how they can learn it better.

Learning becomes the student's job and we as teachers become facilitators for their learning. Try to look for homeschool curriculum materials that allow your child to use metacognition and not only learn but retain information.

Dr. Rebecca Keller is the founder of Gravitas Publications, which produces Real Science 4 Kids homeschool science curriculum. RS4K includes student textbooks, lab workbooks and teacher's manuals on the topics of biology, chemistry, astronomy, geology and physics which makes teaching these difficult subjects easy and FUN!

Please join her and other homeschool parents on Facebook or visit the Real Science 4 Kids blog. Receive Dr. Keller's 10 Tips for Teaching Real Science by visiting either page!

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homeschool Classes Online - Find Out What Is Available And If Your Student Is Ready

E-learning short courses
E-learning short courses (Photo credit: London College of Fashion short courses)
By Heidi Johnson

When looking for homeschool classes online, there are a few factors parents need to consider first before they start making any payments. Although having their child complete all their coursework online sounds like a great idea, online classes have some definite requirements.

Here are some factors to consider before you enroll in an online class:
  1. Full Curriculum or Individual Classes - Does the student want to take all their classes online or do they just desire to take a class or two online? If a student has never taken a class online, then they might want to consider taking just a few classes at first instead of jumping into a complete curriculum right away.

  2. Cost - Parents need to make sure that their homeschool budget allows for paying for online classes. If the parents don't have the money, then they should seriously consider whether homeschool classes online would be the best option. Most accredited school classes start at around $775 each.

  3. Teachers - Parents should take a good look at the teachers at the school that they are looking at using. They should pick teachers that have a good approval rating so that they don't end up wasting money on a class or having a very frustrated student.

  4. Testimonials - Check the references and testimonials for the school in question. There are probably forums online that can be searched to see what kind of reputation each school has.
Students who want to take homeschool classes online might enjoy a more interactive approach where some of their lessons are on video instead of in a textbook. Students who struggle with reading or who don't enjoy reading a lot of textbook material might learn more in an interactive environment.

When choosing individual courses, there are some questions parents need to know about their student:
  • How motivated is the student?
  • How important is class discussion and instructor involvement to the student?
  • Is the student a good reader and writer?
  • How much time does the student have available to complete the course?
There are also a few free online courses that have been created by people who just want to share and help others. The classes will probably not be accredited, but accredited courses are not usually necessary for homeschoolers even if they plan on attending college.

Online classes can usually be chosen in an a la carte method. Most schools do not require students to sign up with them on a full time basis. Parents can pick and choose which courses they want their students to take.

Usually the instructor or course description will spell out the cost, what kind of time frame is required to complete the course, and what will be required of the student during the course. Some courses will be more interactive than others, so it is important to look for that when reading the course descriptions.

Do you want to know more about homeschool classes online? Download the free homeschool eBooks How to Find the Best Homeschool Resources or How to Get Started with Homeschooling at

Heidi Johnson enjoys helping people find resources to simplify and improve their lives.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Home Educating: Why More and More Families Are Choosing Home Education

Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first c...
Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first class day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Ellen Black

The number of families who are choosing to home educate (in the USA - Ed) is rising every year.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics that there are approximately 1.73 - 2.35 million children in grades K-12 being homeschooled at this time.

Research shows that the homeschool population is growing at a rate of 2% - 8% per annum.

Just a decade ago home educating was still considered a rogue alternative but today it is almost mainstream. How their children will be educated is a very personal choice for every family. However, some of the reasons families are choosing home education are:

The Educational Choices in Your City are Less Than Ideal

All public schools are not created equal. First and foremost, each family needs to evaluate if the public school in their area is meeting the needs of their child.

If your child is falling behind academically, being bullied at school or generally not thriving in the public school environment it may be time to closely evaluate what is going on at school.

Many teachers have a large number of students in their classroom and are not able to meet the needs of each child. In some cases, the classroom atmosphere itself may be hard for very kinesthetic children to adjust to. In the traditional public school setting, young boys are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Parents Want to Customize the Learning Environment for Their Child

Children almost always benefit from having one on one instruction. Daily interaction with your child will uncover his strengths and weaknesses and can greatly encourage him over a learning hurdle.

Many home educating families also realize that certain curriculum choices can have a huge impact in how well your child processes the information. We observed this first hand with all of our children. What curriculum worked for one may not necessarily work for the others.

In a traditional school setting the teacher must find the best teaching approach to reach the greatest number of children. However, if your student is not able to respond well to that teaching approach, your child may end up falling behind.

Academic Performance

Scoring 15 to 30 percentile points higher on standardized achievement test than their public school counterparts, homeschooled students typically do better academically.

This also holds true on the ACT and SAT tests used by college admissions. Homeschool students score above average.

An interesting fact from the National Home Education Research Institute ( NHERI ) states, "Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents' level of formal education or their family's household income."

Social and Emotional Health

Home educating children also do above average when being measured for emotional, social and psychological development. Leadership skills, peer interaction, self-esteem, family unity and community service were among the research measures evaluated.

This research also shows that homeschool students are regularly participating in educational and social activities outside of their homes. Scouting, 4-H, sports teams, church programs and volunteering in the community expose children to many people outside of their immediate families.

Naturally, education choices for your family require much thought and will look different for each family. Home educating families are here to stay, and may represent what can happen when parents truly get involved in their children's education.

Visit my website for more information about home education and for Home Education Resources.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Defiant Quebec Students Reject Shabby Government Offer

by Richard Fidler, Global

Quebec college and university students are now in the 13th week of their militant province-wide strike while voting by overwhelming majorities to reject a government offer that met none of their key demands. 

After a 22-hour bargaining session involving ministers of the Charest government, university and college heads, and leaders of the major trade-union centrals, the student leaders agreed on May 6 to put the offer to a vote of their respective membership without recommending acceptance. 

If the offer (the French-language text is here) were accepted:
The 75 per cent hike in tuition fees (now spread over seven years, but indexed) would remain, albeit with slightly liberalized access to scholarships and loans, and provision for repayment of loans geared to future income.

A provisional committee would examine university budgets and propose possible cuts. Each dollar cut would go to reducing incidental fees not related directly to tuition (admission, registration, sports services, technology, etc.).

The committee would include four students, but also fourteen other members: 6 university rectors, 4 trade union representatives as well as 2 representatives of business, 1 from the ministry of education, and a chair with a tie-breaking vote - the latter four all designated by the minister of education.

The committee would table its recommendations by December although if necessary its mandate could be extended by one more year. It might then be replaced by a permanent committee appointed by law, its composition undetermined at this point.

Pending the provisional committee's conclusions, the students’ incidental fees would be deferred. However, these fees would apply retroactively to the students in any amount the committee is unable to cut from current expenses.
There is no assurance that the proposed committee would agree on budget cuts sufficient to reduce or eliminate the hike in tuition fees. Furthermore, the committee would be composed largely of members with a vested interest in opposing cuts in expenditures, especially in research and funding of pro-business courses.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

The Effects of Homeschooling on Socialization

Homeschooled children in the kitchen
Homeschooled children in the kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Maureen Paradise

Why the debate about homeschooling and socialization?

A common criticism of homeschooling is that homeschool children will not be properly socialized and therefore will lack social skills.

So what is it about school that is so important for socialization? As kids develop psychologically they go though many stages. The stages vary depending on the psychologist you happen to be reading, but there is a basic pattern.

Kids are attached to their parents, then kids like to play around other kids (but not with them), then kids desire to make friends and play with the other kids (this is a simplified version of course).

So the concern with homeschooling is that with homeschooled children not leaving to go to school when they are five they will not have the opportunity to go through proper psychological development because they will not have the other children of similar age to interact with.

This of course means critics are assuming that homeschoolers lock their children in a room or chain them to a table making them do countless hours of school work and never letting them "socialize" with other children.

In reality, because of concern for the social development of their homeshooled children many parents overcompensate involving their children in many group activities, even more than their public school peers.

What is the effect of public school on socialization?

Take a walk through a public school and listen to the conversations that kids are having, or check out one of the millions of Facebook pages of today's students and you will most likely find yourself weeping for the future of mankind.

There are epidemics of drug and alcohol abuse, sexual pressure, bullying, and a culture that celebrates ignorance over intelligence and creativity. The public schools promote an environment that overemphasizes the importance of athletic achievement and downplays academic or creative endeavours.

Football and basketball players have rallies that celebrate their achievement whether or not they have a winning season, while exemplary performers in academics, music and art are lucky to receive a letter home acknowledging their accomplishments.

When a student puts forth a good effort in class the common ridicule is to be labeled a "try hard". Can you think something any more ignorant to demean someone for? Trying hard is now somehow something to be ashamed of.

This is the "Jersey Shore" Generation, a mindset that if you party, get drunk and make yourself sound as stupid as possible you can be rich and famous, trying hard and working for something is for chumps. That is the socialization that is taking place in public schools today.

Socialization is a pro for homeschooling not a con.

Homeschooling and socialization go hand in hand and give parents more say in their child's psychological development. What is wrong with choosing who your child associates with when they are young?

As a homeschool family you can join groups, go on playdates and of course your child can play kids in your neighborhood (after the public school kids finish their homework!). Educating your children at home does not mean they wont ever get to see other kids. They will probably get to interact even more. If I recall, most of the time kids got in trouble in my classes, it was for socializing!

Additionally socialization is public schools is not diverse. In a typical class you have 30 children all of the same age and socioeconomic background. These groupings delay maturity because the young student have no older students to emulate.

Homeschooled children interact with a much wider variety of people with diverse background and participate more within the community, you know the "real world". Public schools claim to be preparing students for the real world yet foster an environment that is nothing like it, where being bad at a sport is more important than being good at math or science.

The socialization debate is one that s long overdue to be turn on its head. Public schools should be asking "how can socialize our students in the way that homeschooled children are?"
Homeschooling Hub - Advice, Resources, Curriculum Reviews and More.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Benefits of Long-Term Home-Tutor Use

A tutor with this students in the classroom of...
A tutor with this students in the classroom of a plantation house. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Rob J Nightingale

Getting a well-rounded education means studying a wide variety of subject matter. Imagine the limitations of only studying those subjects at which you excel! So for many students there is at least one problematic subject that causes them consistent strife throughout their school years.

Rather than allowing your child to suffer through their education consistently relying on the traditional educational model of classroom tutelage consider hiring them a private tutor (in home, or online). The benefits of long-term tutor education include:

One-on-One Attention

One of the greatest down falls of today's public schools (and even some private ones as well) is the class sizes. In many public schools today your child might be sharing one teacher with as many as 30 students. In this setting it is difficult if not impossible for your child to receive specialized attention that is tailored to their specific problem areas.

With a private tutor your child should receive one-on-one attention that is all about their learning, making it easier for the tutor to zone in on their problem areas and help them find solutions. Sometimes all a child needs is for someone to assess why their having difficulty understanding a problem and helping them work through it in a way that fits with their thinking.

Consistent Aid

One-time tutoring might temporarily solve a student's problems in a given subject but long-term attention can be truly beneficial in the long run. As your child goes through school many of the subjects will gradually increase in difficulty, so one-time tutoring might help them clear the hurdle at hand while not necessarily preparing them for future changes in the subject matter.

For instance, a child who is performing badly in math might see improved scores with temporary tutoring only to fall behind again the next year when the subject matter becomes more advanced.

Keeping your child in long-term tutoring with a tutor who truly understands their best learning approaches means success in the long run as they'll always have that tutor's aid to help them as the problems become more advanced. After years of tutoring in a given subject they'll eventually master the best problem-solving skills with relation to their poorest subject.

Helping your child succeed at school in the early years of education will not only propel them through their childhood, it will give them the skills and knowledge that they need to eventually continue on to an institution of higher learning.

By providing a tutor to give them one-on-one, specialized attention that is attuned to their specific needs and deficiencies your not only helping them pass to the next grade, you're helping them learn skills that can be used over a lifetime of learning.

This is the kind of service you can find out about over at Feel free to get in contact with us to discuss any requirements, and how we might be able to help you.

Written be Rob Nightingale of, providing in home and online tutors to states across the US for GED, K12, ASVAB, K14, K16 students.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Secular Homeschool Curriculum at a Glance

Secular Homeschooling (magazine)
Secular Homeschooling (magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Carol A Henderson

In the United States and abroad, the secular homeschool curriculum is not only considered to be the most common type of curriculum for families that elect to educate their children, but the most commonly accepted.

In reviewing homeschooling definitions and guidelines, you will quickly discover that the secular homeschool curriculum is a bit on the open-ended side. There are numerous explanations on what the secular curriculum encompasses.

It is generally agreed that this form of homeschooling does not affiliate itself with any type of religion. The curriculum and the individuals that engage in it are considered to be neutral when it comes to religious and/or spiritual beliefs.

If you are interested in educating a child in a homeschooling environment, you will find that there are several types of educational methods and teaching philosophies that you may choose to utilize.

Examples of the most popular types include "Unit Studies", "Classical Education", "Unschooling" and "Public Virtual School". While all of these methods and philosophies may integrate religious concepts, they may also be taught utilizing a secular homeschooling curriculum.

Many families elect to homeschool their children due to their religious beliefs. The families that utilize a secular homeschool curriculum typically are not engaging in this educational preference due to religious beliefs and/or purposes.

However, based on statistics involving families that utilize secular homeschool curriculum materials, it has been found that many Christians find that this type of curriculum is ideal and utilize it to educate their children.

Many are under the impression that homeschooling with secular materials indicates that the family considers themselves to be agnostic, or even one that holds atheist beliefs. Then, there are many that believe that this type of curriculum is used by those that refuse the concept of God or religion or at least question these concepts.

While there are cases where this holds true, it is not the case in most instances. A family may consider themselves devout when it comes to their religious beliefs, but they find that the secular homeschool curriculum is most appropriate when it comes to the educational agendas that they have for their children.

Secular homeschooling is not only an educational philosophy or type, but it is also an identity. If you are searching for curricula that are not based on or stem from religious and/or spiritual beliefs, you will find that you have numerous options available to you.

As you research homeschooling curricula that are secular based, you will quickly find that there are numerous publishers that specialize in this type of educational system. The following highlights some of the most popular publishers:

*Addison Wesley Longman
*Barker Creek Publishing
*DIVE Into Math
*Educational Fontware
*Great Source Education Group
*Hooked on Phonics
*Jensen's Grammar
*Key Curriculum Press
*Life Education
*McGraw-Hill School Division
*Oak Meadow
*Robinson Curriculum
*Scott Foresman
*The Shurley Method
*W.H. Freeman and Co.

Several of the above-listed publishers offer a curriculum that includes a variety of subjects, such as math, grammar, handwriting, social studies, science and art. However, there are several that focus on just one subject such as grammar or math.

When choosing from these publishers, it is considered ideal to review the subjects that you want your child introduced to and the subjects that your state requires. This will allow you the freedom to select multiple publishers, or to choose one publisher that offers information in all subjects.

As far as reviews from families that utilize these publishers of secular homeschool curriculum materials are concerned, the highest rated publishers include Calvert, Hooked on Phonics, McGraw-Hill School Division, Scott Foresman and Zaner-Bloser.

These curriculum options are not only used in homeschool environments, but they are also used in public schools, public virtual schools and private educational facilities as well. All come from a long line of educational tradition and are known for their attention to detail and accurate, unbiased facts.

I hope the information contained in this informative guide will assist you in easily identifying and choosing the homeschooling materials that are most appropriate for your child's education.

Carolann Henderson, homeschooling mom, website editor and researcher. You'll find lots more homeschooling information, free resources, tips and encouragement on my website. I also have a free gift for you that you will find instrumental in getting and staying organized in homeschooling and all areas of your life. Claim your free gift by visiting my website and signing up for our free newsletter "Homeschool Helping Hands".

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Supporting ESL Students: 10 Tips For Mainstream Teachers

One of many signs for schools in Vancouver, BC...
One of many signs for schools in Vancouver, BC teaching English as a second language. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Robyn D Stoller

From the 1997-98 school year to the 2008-09 school year, the amount of ESL learners enrolled in U.S. public schools increased from 3.5 million to 5.3 million, a 51% increase (National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, 2011).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2008, there are now over 200 languages spoken in the United States.

The number of ESL students is highly disproportionate to the amount of ESL and/or Bilingual teachers in the US today.

Without the number of necessary trained ESL/Bilingual teachers, and lack of first language support, it is imperative that mainstream teachers play a major role in contributing to the success of the ESL student. ESL students can and will be successful given that all teachers provide the necessary platform and ongoing continuum of support.

This support must come from both an ESL pedagogical view, as well as, an emotional, social, and developmental lens.

The 10 tips and strategies below are intended to help mainstream teachers meet the needs of our wonderful, diverse population. The first 5 tips focus on social, developmental and emotional needs, while the last 5 focus on ESL pedagogy, methods and strategies. Using these tips together will provide a balanced approach, as they are both integral to English acquisition.

Social, Emotional and Developmental Needs

1. Cultural Awareness
All teachers should take a moment to self-reflect about their own understandings and questions in regard to cultural differences. Take the time to learn about different cultures, gestures, and traditions and celebrate these differences with all of the students in the classroom. Encourage all students to share their culture with classmates.

2. Empathize
Try to imagine how overwhelming it must feel to leave your home country and family members while trying to assimilate, learn, and socialize in a foreign language. Be aware that ESL students will be in culture shock and feel highly alienated for some time. Garner patience and understand that it will take time for ESL students to talk, as a silent period is highly expected. Smile and show support to your best ability.

3. Provide A Comfort Zone
Assess where the ESL student's abilities are in relation to basic survival skills and needs. Assign a friendly and welcoming buddy to assist with common school locations, requirements, and routines. If possible, keep an extra eye out during busy transition times to assure the student gets to the correct location. If possible, find someone in the school, another classmate, parent or volunteer that may speak the student's language. Connecting the student with someone who speaks his/her native language will provide a great deal of comfort.

4. Spotlight Respect For All Cultures
Reaffirm the message about being supportive of one another, kind, understanding and patient. Encourage everyone to openly talk about their personal cultures, traditions, and languages. Have parties celebrating the different cultures in the class, sharing music, historical family photos, dances, games, food and traditions. Hold discussions about the history of America, immigration, and the value of diversity and differences. Encourage students to share their own stories of immigration, passed down from generation to generation.

5. Community
If parents and/or guardians do not speak English, request an interpreter if possible for all school communication, including parties, conferences and special events. Invite parents to all school community functions to encourage and foster a sense of belonging. If possible, introduce other students and/or families who speak the same language as the ESL student. Sharing cultural commonalities will provide strong bonds for students, parents, and teachers.

6. Assess Student Informally
Assess ESL students on an informal basis when they first arrive to class, and ongoing during the school year. It is imperative to primarily check for understanding in regard to basic and social needs. Pay attention from the sideline to see if they know numbers, letters, and/or short English phrases. Continuously check for comprehension and growth informally, make notes, and never be afraid to raise the bar and challenge a bit.

7. Don't Discourage Native Language Use
With all good intentions, this is a common mistake teachers can make. ESL students who have a stronger foundation of their native language will have a shorter route to acquiring English. Don't discourage native language use, as this will result in negative feelings about the student's language, culture, and may cause delay in English language acquisition. Provide free time for the ESL student to read and write in their native language.

8. Use Manipulatives, Visuals, Games, Music and Hands-On Activities in the Classroom
According to William Glaser, we learn 80% of what we experience, and 95% of what we teach others. ESL students do exceptionally well when this theory is followed. Involve them in projects that will encourage them to talk as much as possible with their classmates. Some ideas for projects are the following: cooking (following easy directions), art (drawing, painting, sculpture), musical activities (music provides an amazing platform for learning), and acting (for example, charades).

9. Provide Various Opportunities For Talking and Consider Seat Placement 
It is very important to consider seat placement in the classroom for the ESL student. All too often, ESL students are seated in the back of the classroom, which leads to a great lack of contribution, listening, and participation. Try and seat the ESL student close to the front, especially with other students who are inviting and enjoy conversation. Provide the most opportunities as possible for talking and listening to others in the class via group work. You will be surprised how much shorter the silent period will end.

10. Communicate with the ESL teacher
Maintain communication with the ESL teacher as much as possible. The sooner both teachers are working together, the quicker the student will learn English. Be open to the ESL teacher's suggestions, let him/her share in the modification of classwork, and invite the ESL teacher into your classroom. If there is a concern, a question, or if you simply need some advice, build this bridge together, as both teachers are there to support and help the ESL student succeed.

If you would like information about all degree programs from Lesley University, please click here, and I will send you a personalized link to fill out. The form goes directly to the university.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Where Should I Teach English Abroad? How To Determine Which Asian Country Is Right For You

By Lindsey M Fontana

If you're looking for an extremely rewarding and enriching experience, you may want to consider teaching abroad in an Asian country such as Cambodia, China, Taiwan, Thailand, or Vietnam.

Teaching opportunities in Asia generally carry high salaries due to their flourishing economy and the commitment to education common in their culture.

English is the universal language of business, information technology, and science, so ESL (English as second language) classes are in high demand. Schools in these Asian countries particularly value native English speaking teachers.

Are you interested in teaching English in Asia, but unsure which country would best suit you? There are many attractive opportunities to teach abroad in the different countries around Asia and each country offers a unique culture, language, way of life, and experience. Here are a few important things to consider when choosing where to teach abroad:

Teach English in Cambodia

With war and the Khmer Rouge a distant memory, Cambodia has become one of the top travel destinations in Southeast Asia. The beautiful architecture of Angkor Wat, jungle covered temple of Beng Mealea, and the sights and sounds of Siem Reap are just a few reasons to visit Cambodia. There is a high demand for English speaking teachers in Cambodia. With tourism on the rise, the ability to speak English is hugely important to the livelihood of many Cambodians. The opportunity to teach abroad in Cambodia truly is a life changing experience for students, as well as teachers.

Teach English in Taiwan

Taiwan is a small island off the coast of China. The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese, although English is taught regularly in schools. Taiwan has a past rich in Chinese culture with influences from Japan, the Netherlands and the US. Taiwan is a safe country with a variety of scenery from picturesque lush mountains and forests to tropical beaches, and is quickly becoming one of the top tourism destinations in Asia.

Teach English in China

China, one of the world's oldest civilizations, is a popular destination to teach English abroad for many reasons. If you decide to teach English in China, you will gain invaluable knowledge about the country, culture, and language. Most programs will also teach you enough Mandarin Chinese to live comfortably. Having hands-on knowledge and experience with China is an in-demand asset in nearly every industry. When you teach in China you are expanding your options for the future.

Teach English in Vietnam

Vietnam is a very popular destination for individuals wanting to teach abroad. The low cost of living in Vietnam allows for teachers to save money while working abroad. Vietnam boasts some of the most spectacular scenery including sloping mountain ranges and breath-taking beaches.
No matter what country you choose to teach English in Asia, it is guaranteed that you will have the adventure of a lifetime.

Language Corps offers programs in 21 locations in 18 countries, with opportunities to teach English in Asia, Europe and Latin America for talented people who desire to teach English abroad. All of their programs include an intensive, four-week TESOL training certification program (also known as TEFL certification) and job placement assistance. Find out more about the international education jobs available to you.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

English Worksheets For ESL Students Vs. Native Speaking Students

By Aaron Whirl

It goes without saying that English worksheets, and especially English grammar worksheets, are anything but one-size-fits-all. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. For example, lesson plans for ESL classes will almost certainly differ a great deal from lesson plans devised for native English speakers.

English worksheets come in all forms, including worksheets for college-level native speakers, worksheets for beginner-level children who grew up speaking different languages, and everything in between, from phonics and grammar lessons to creative writing assignments and literature-themed worksheets. For teachers of English, it is important to differentiate among these different types of worksheets. Unfortunately, many teachers fail to do so.

ESL teachers should take extra care to ensure that the worksheets they incorporate into their classes are suitable for the context in which the students find themselves.

Students of ESL did not grow up speaking English, and therefore many of the grammar aspects or idiomatic expressions that native speakers take for granted will be confounding to these students. Teachers must therefore modify their lessons and develop worksheets that use clear language, simple vocabulary words, and translations, if necessary.

For English grammar worksheets, it may even be necessary to provide translations to help explain the intricacies of the grammar rules to students using their own language. In many cases, such as when teaching future perfect tense or past progressive tense, it can be very difficult to clearly explain how these are used - especially when the students are not fluent in the language used by the teacher. Therefore, translations can, in some particular cases, be helpful in ESL classes.

Moreover, teachers must provide several examples of sentences using the target grammar points, as the students can first copy these sentence patterns and then build upon them, creating more diverse sentences of their own.

In contrast, the English worksheets developed for use with native speakers can be much more challenging, focusing more on creativity and usage rather than the tedious mechanics of the language.

Creative writing assignments, for example, can help native speakers practice expressing themselves in interesting ways while also using the language correctly. This, in effect, makes it possible to kill two birds with one stone.

In this day and age, when people are busy texting and writing messages to each other on the internet, people's writing skills are gradually declining. Therefore, writing lessons are one area in which it could be said that there is somewhat of an overlap between native-speaking students and ESL learners.

Even native speakers often fail to understand the many rules involved in writing English, so both ESL and native English lessons can focus on the rules of punctuation, usage, and structure. This will help ensure a productive English writing class, regardless of who the students are.

There are many free ESL grammar exercises that can be instantly downloaded and printed for use in your classes. Some of these exercises can also be used with native speakers, but it may be necessary to make some small changes before introducing them to native-speaking classes.

For more useful worksheets and printables for teaching ESL, check out >> ESL Worksheets

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Warm-Up Activities for Elementary-Level ESL Classes

Patrick Henry Elementary School student teache...
Teaching and Learning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Ross P Purdy

The warm-up is one of the most important elements of any English lesson. Warm-up activities relax your students, get them into "English mode," and - perhaps most importantly - set them up for success in your class.

For this latter reason, your first activity in any ESL class should not be more challenging than the rest of the lesson.

I have observed lessons in which the teacher's warm-up completely flummoxed the student(s) and visibly sapped all their confidence before the class had even truly begun! For elementary students, therefore, it is especially important to keep it simple.

Here are some straightforward warm-up activities for beginner- and elementary-level ESL classes.

1. On-the-Board Concentration

To prepare, draw two 3x3 grids on a piece of paper and choose nine key vocabulary words to write in the squares in each grid. The positions of the words should be different in grids 1 and 2, but you must use the same nine words for each grid. At the start of your class, draw two 3x3 grids on the board. Label the squares in the first grid 1-9, and in the second, A-I.

Students can play this game in teams or individually, depending on class size. Have the first student say a number and tell the class the corresponding word from your first grid. Then, have this student say a letter and tell them the corresponding word from your second grid. If the words match, and the student can spell the word correctly, a point is awarded. If not, it is the next student's turn. As an alternative to having students spell the word, ask them to use it correctly in a sentence.

To make it more challenging, you can have concepts in the first grid, and examples in the second, or you could ask the students to match opposites or synonyms.

2. Odd One Out

Write some groups of four words on the board, and have students discuss in pairs which words do not belong in the group. For added difficulty, make each odd word belong to another group in the list, so students have to reallocate them. Here is a very simple example:
  1. Monkey cow brown octopus
  2. Train car bus broccoli
  3. Coat scarf sheep jacket
  4. White red bicycle orange
  5. Potato pants onion cabbage
To make the activity more productive, give the student an extra point if he or she can use the word in a sentence.

3. "When" Chain

Using only the present simple tense, use the word "when" to start a sentence like the one below.
When I am lonely, I see my friends.

Then write:
When I see my friends...

And encourage a student to continue the sentence. For example:
When I see my friends, I play football.

Write "When I play football ..." on the board and have another student continue. Then, have students take turns to make sentences. For example:
When I am lonely, I see my friends.

When I see my friends, I play football.

When I play football, I get tired.

When I get tired, I go to sleep ...
You can try this activity with other words like "if" or "because" - if your students enjoy it.

Each of these warm-ups will help to build on your students' confidence and loosen them up before the hard work of your ESL lesson starts.

Ross Purdy was an ESL teacher and teacher-trainer in Japan for four years, before returning to the UK. He now teaches at and manages Eiremes Online English School.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Socialization for Homeschoolers

homeschooling afternoon
Homeschooling afternoon (Photo: hbakkh)
By Heidi Johnson

When thinking about socialization for homeschoolers, many people don't realize that public school children are really the students who are at a disadvantage. They are stuck in school all day while homeschoolers are free to explore the real world.

Homeschoolers will learn to be responsible for their own education and not be like their public school counterparts who have everything done for them. Homeschoolers also have the advantage of learning house management skills and work experience and real life skills needed later in life.  

Here are some ideas for opportunities for socialization for homeschoolers:
  1. Volunteer Opportunities - Homeschoolers have more opportunities to volunteer at local businesses or ministries. Whether they volunteer on their own or with a group, they can look around their community and find places that need their help. Some visit nursing homes, help build Habitat for Humanity homes, help with local soup kitchens or food pantries, help Salvation Army volunteers pick up items or organize items in their stores, along with a whole host of other ministries that need extra help.

  2. Homeschool Group Field Trips - Since homeschooling is becoming so popular, just about every county in the United States has a homeschool group available. These groups can often get discounts to local museums or attractions because they have a greater number of students. There are also more ideas available for field trips because there are other moms and dads who want their children to see and experience the activities in the area.

  3. Local Sports Teams - Almost every community I have ever come in contact with has some type of summer baseball/softball leagues. There are often many opportunities for traveling basketball, soccer, volleyball, and baseball teams. Many sports open their elementary and junior high sports programs to anyone in the community. Homeschool groups often band together and form soccer or basketball leagues where homeschool students can compete against other homeschool students.

  4. Church Activities - Besides volunteering to help people, many churches also have youth groups, children's groups, and choir and singing groups. These are all open to homeschoolers and can have a positive influence in their lives.
Many different studies have shown that homeschoolers tend to have a better self esteem and adapt better socially than public school students. Sometimes there is negative socialization in the schools which is actually a disadvantage for socialization that the homeschool students can avoid.

Every state in the United States has some form of state and local homeschool organization that make it even easier for students to find socialization opportunities. Many of these organizations have websites where parents can get lists of activities and attractions in their area or state where they can find even more socialization for homeschoolers.

If parents are choosing not to homeschool their children because of their view that their children will be unsocialized, then they are not really looking at the big picture.

Do you want to know more about socializaion for homeschoolers? Download the free homeschool eBooks How to Find the Best Homeschool Resources or How to Get Started with Homeschooling at
Heidi Johnson enjoys helping people find resources to simplify and improve their lives.

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Crisis of Student Debt in America

Copy of a Photograph of Charles Dickens
Copy of a Photograph of Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Devon DB, Global

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way ~ Charles Dickens.
We are in a time of crisis, a time of austerity, a time the where poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer at a faster pace than at any other time in recent US history. We have gone from having a well-functioning economy to a real unemployment rate of 14.5%. During all of this, the situation has greatly affected college students, who are taking on massive debt just to further their education. With student debt at over $1 trillion, an examination is underway of how we have gotten into this scenario and how we can get our way out of it.
The situation began in 1964 when Lyndon B. Johnson established a task force to examine the role of federal government in student aid, headed by John W. Gardener. The taskforce firmly believed that cost shouldn’t be a barrier in attaining a college education and to this end they concerned themselves with how lack of funds contributed to students being unable to attend college. 
Gardener focused on a study which revealed that one out of six students who took the National Merit Scholarship test in high school did not attend college. Of the students who did not attend college and who had families who could contribute only $300 or less to their education, about 75 percent of the men and 55 percent of the women indicated that they would have attended college if they had had more money available.

Upon seeing this information, Johnson was shocked as he viewed the situation as a loss in human capital. This drove him to sign the the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 1965 into law. 

The bill included the recommendations put forth by the Gardener taskforce that the federal government should aid student in their journey to attain a higher education by providing loans, remedial classes, and grants to college-aspiring students as well as special programs and projects for low-income students who have an interest in attending college. This allowed for low-income and middle-class students who have an opportunity to go to college.

There was an uphill battle, though, as the American Bank Association was against the loan guarantee provision. The ABA was mainly concerned about possible government encroachment in their business, arguing that “the federal government could not replicate the working relationships that locally-owned financial institutions had with state and private non-profit guarantee programs” and “the federal government would end up taking over the industry because there would be little incentive for the state and private non-profit agencies to establish their own programs.”

To solve this problem, the Johnson administration met with the ABA and worked to “[assure] the bankers the loans would pay them back handsomely over time because they were investing in young people who would become their best customers in the future,” as well as telling the banks that the government would be the ultimate loan guarantor if there was no one else available. Thus, with the banks placated, the bill could be passed.

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Building a Learning Environment to Be Proud Of

Teacher (Photo credit: tim ellis)
By Garfield Morrison

One of my earliest memories from school in South Africa was of a teacher shouting, "children should be seen and not heard!", the same teacher had a severe squint and a tendency to throw the blackboard duster at kids she caught talking. Trying to watch her gaze to see if you were the potential target was always a challenge.

Classroom participation meant primarily listening to the teacher, keeping quiet and doing what you were told. Apartheid era South Africa in the 70's was a strange place to go to school, especially in the later part of the decade. Every Friday we were handed rifles, we marched, drilled and practiced for the possible invasion of the school.

Computers were unknown in the institution, I remember the outrage expressed by teachers when the first calculators started appearing. The consensus seemed to be that the only possible consequence was the complete cessation of future generations to be able to do mental maths.

When televisions first appeared in 1976 many teachers and religious leaders lamented the collapse of morality and frequently referred to a TV as "the devils box".

Today I live in Northern Ireland, my children (7 and 8) would look at me as if I were insane if I asked if they knew what a blackboard duster was. They really would think I was delusional if I told them about carrying guns at school or being caned for minor infringements of the rules.

My children love school, their opinions are sought by their teachers, there is no corporal punishment, they do not have to learn to shoot. Technology is embraced, learning is interactive, the teacher facilitates learning rather than being the font of all knowledge. Textbooks are useful but Google, iPads, game based learning etc all play a role in their classrooms.

Working for a company that allows me to help transform the classroom experience from one of the passive absorption of information to active learning means I get to make a difference in people's lives.

It is not just the technology we create and sell that makes a difference but also the pedagogical approaches that we encourage. It is not just about acquiring information, it is about gaining understanding, knowledge and insight.

Who knows what the learning experience is going to look like for our grandchildren one day, it is enough to know that we are in the vanguard of learning technology today. By making a difference today we change the world of tomorrow.

Twitter: @garym213
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Friday, May 4, 2012

16 Incredible iPad Apps for ESL Learners

The iPad on a table in the Apple case
The iPad on a table in the Apple case (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Staff Writers, Best Colleges Online:

English’s bizarre turns of phrases and seemingly boundless tendency toward exceptions to rules intimidates even native speakers, so one must hold sympathy for those learning it in a secondary or tertiary situation.

Those with access to an iPad enjoy some seriously cool lesson supplements harnessing digital age technology in the service of their educations.

Whether students only have a few minutes to scan a dictionary listing or an hour or so to sit and intently study mouth formations and pronunciations, an application exists to meet the needs of all ages and skill levels.

Download the following when hoping to receive a relatively comprehensive look at one of the world’s most widely-spoken tongues.

To read further, go to:
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Making Mistakes While Teaching And Learning

IT Students
IT Students (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Richard D Boyce

A Young Teacher's Guide

We all make mistakes as teachers. These mistakes don't always have to be seen as a negative. They can be used to improve our learning/teaching techniques.

Students, too, make mistakes. One of our responsibilities as a teacher is to show students ways to reduce mistakes. This will improve their learning, their results and their confidence in their own ability to succeed.

Below are some strategies that I have used to make the most of mistakes made in the classroom.

Additionally, there are strategies to help students avoid mistakes, improve their learning and their confidence in their ability to use their learning effectively especially in an assessment situation.

Strategy No 1 - The 'deliberate teacher made mistake' during a teaching session

Here, a teacher makes a deliberate mistake to test which students understand what the teacher is doing and which students are actually on task, i.e. they are listening actively.
  1. Make the sort of mistake that students usually make and tell them so.
  2. Sometimes you do make mistakes accidentally, so encourage students to catch you out by concentrating carefully on what you say and do. Then it is important that they point it out in a courteous way. Congratulate the student on their observation skills.
  3. I always claim I made the mistake on purpose to see who was 'awake' and who was 'asleep'.
  4. Sometimes I put in an error, a written explanation or solution and ask students to find it.
  5. When students don't see a mistake I've made and I did not tell them I've made a mistake, I say something like, "I've tricked you again" or "How did you let me get away with that?" I do it in fun. Then I ask who saw the mistake but did not want to butt in. Encourage them to do just that. Tell them that in the future you will make errors on purpose to test them out. Remind them we all make mistakes so, "Make sure you catch me."
Strategy No 2 - Teach the students how and why mistakes are made

Show them actual examples:
  • Careless reading of the question
  • Careless copying of the data from the question
  • Not answering the question correctly or fully
  • Careless calculations, spelling, grammar and so on.
Strategy No. 3 - Errors in exams cost marks

Detail those errors and their cost as a percentage of the whole paper to show students their real potential in terms of what their level of achievement ought to have been without those errors. Use this to motivate students to develop their own checking procedure to reduce or totally eliminate these errors.

Strategy No 4 - With every new topic you teach, point out when errors, misconceptions and mistakes are made

Include this discussion in any revision program that you organise.

Strategy No 5 - Always review every assessment task

Point out when students did not recognise the areas where errors could be made as a follow-up to the last strategy.

Strategy No 6 - Encourage students to highlight their own errors as learning experiences

They could then share them with others in the hope that it will save them from making the same mistake/s.

Strategy No 7 - As a teacher, don't give perfect answers all the time

Do this particular for the more difficult tasks. Students often believe that they can never be 'that good', so they say to themselves, "Why try?" (This is a good strategy in subjects like Mathematics).

Strategy No 8 - Some textbooks have exercises where there are deliberate mistakes made

Use these or design your own to give students practice in the skill of finding errors.

Strategy No 9

In subjects like Science, Maths and others where proofs are required, sometimes students take a wrong approach. Teach them that this error is a real learning experience not a failure as now they know that you can't solve the problem that way.

Students, more often than not, take a mistake to mean that they don't understand what they have been taught. Our job, as teachers, is to show them that, most of the time the mistake is just a lapse of concentration not a lack of understanding of the subject. If we can do this, then the students can use the mistake as a learning experience and, hopefully, not repeat it.

One last point: Making mistakes and admitting to them to the class will show the students that the teacher is 'human' after all. This often improves the repartee between the teachers and the class. This is a positive outcome. is a website developed by three teachers with over 120 years' experience teaching in both primary and high school classes. The aim of the group is to provide advice to young teachers on what really happens in the day to day running of the classroom.

This article is an example of the practical advice offered by our writer, Rick Boyce, to help young teachers begin their careers on a positive note. eBooks available on the website include, "The First Year Teacher's Book"; "A Checklist for Teachers New to a School" and "The Discipline Book".

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