Arts Education

A community dialogue exploring issues of concern to ESL educators and students from diverse immigrant communities. KQED Education offers a wealth of ESL Resources for educators - visit

“Everybody, Please Take Out Your Cell Phones”

While most instructors lament the change of tides where every student has a cell phone seeming more interested in a four inch screen than the lesson at hand, I often wonder how quickly the instructor would change their tune if they knew, for example, that their students were tweeting something profound that they heard while listening to their favorite teacher.

photo by psutlt/flickr

Turn Your iPad into a Smartboard

Many of us in the ESL world are regularly watching well-to-do schools getting the latest and greatest in smartboard technology while we are left with the computer someone dusted off from the basement. But never fear! If you've got a projector, your iPad is going to take you to the next realm in EdTech, and I'd argue that in some ways it's even more flexible than a smartboard.

Top 10 Tech To-Dos Over The Summer

“You’re so lucky you have the summer off,” is the first comment anyone who finds out I’m a teacher says. Well, I may not be in the classroom teaching, but in many ways I’m still working. Teachers are so busy on a day to day basis during the school year preparing lessons, grading assignments, attending meetings, and so on, that our To Do lists never seem to get all checked off.

Fun Ways to Use Voicethread with ESL Students

Voicethread’s tagline is “Conversations in the cloud” and that pretty much sums it up. I love using Voicethread activities with my ESL students at City College of San Francisco and have been doing so for years now. It is a great tool to encourage to students to talk to each other, listen and think about each others’ ideas.

Our Learners’ Voices

Immigrant adults come to ESL classes for a number of reasons- communicate effectively in their new homeland, become literate for the first time in their lives, do better in their jobs or get a better job, move on to higher education and career training, and help their children do better in school. While most of adult learners have multiple reasons to learn English,the motivation behind these reasons is to be better integrated in their new land.

What is Noncredit?

The pedagogy of noncredit is quite different from credit. Because students' attendance may be intermittent, teaching requires lot of repetition and "spiraling up," which can be described as repetition with a slight refocus or increase in difficulty each time a teaching point is covered. In ESL, repetition is not a problem - in fact it's a benefit. Language acquisition must involve repetition, and lots of it.

Is Technology Changing Your Brain?

Digital technology may well be the darling of the 21st Century, but is it good for your brain? When I ask college students if the onslaught of information affects their brains, or how they learn, there is a digital divide in responses. The 20 year-olds and under grew up connected, yet will admit that focusing on one thing for any length of time is problematic.

Restarting Your Career with Upwardly Global – Monica’s Story

By Mary Voelbel Monica came to the US in 2006 from Columbia with a Masters degree in Child Abuse Prevention and years of experience in public health. Originally an ESL student, she spent 5 years working minimum wage jobs until she learned about Upwardly Global and how to rebuild her career. “El que persevera alcanza” … Continue reading Restarting Your Career with Upwardly Global – Monica’s Story →

The Listening and Speaking Center at De Anza College – We Help You Lower Your “Affective Filter”!

If you are an ESL/EFL educator, you must remember the Affective Filter Hypothesis … right? It is one of the five hypotheses about second language acquisition proposed by Stephen Krashen. It refers to a psychological barrier that can hinder or promote progress in learning a second language. The Affective Filter can be raised or lowered as a result of the quality of the learning environment - and low anxiety facilitates success in practicing and learning a second language.

What is Noncredit?

What is known as adult education in the K-12 system is generally known as noncredit in Community Colleges. In the ESL realm, there have been two separate entities delivering instruction: some districts have adult ESL classes under their local K-12 district, while credit instruction is provided by the community college; in other areas, the community college district provides both credit and noncredit ESL, though not always

Generation 1.5

Will the Real Generation 1.5 Please Stand Up?

by Julia McGurk If you grew up in California, the chances are you went to school with someone who would be categorized as Generation 1.5, and the chances are that you wouldn’t be able to pick them out from students who spent their whole lives in the US speaking English. In fact you have probably … Continue reading Will the Real Generation 1.5 Please Stand Up? →


The Billion Dollar Question: How Will Immigration Reform Affect Adult Education?

By Lori Howard Business and labor leaders are showing support for an immigration reform bill proposed by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators which would affect approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants who already live in the U.S. The reform being discussed includes the “Dream Act” which would create an expedited path to citizenship for young … Continue reading The Billion Dollar Question: How Will Immigration Reform Affect Adult Education? →

images from ESL Speak (

ESL from the Inside

by Gregory Keech Imagine yourself in Beijing, or Cairo. You did not finish high school in your home country. You know nothing of the language, and you don’t even know the script. You are working full-time, perhaps at two or more jobs. You have a partner and several children, and maybe an elderly relative to … Continue reading ESL from the Inside →