April 2013

ESL Teachers are Awesome

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”Margaret Mead

Bemiller boardroom tables

ESL teachers creating Grass is Black the world’s first Sound Dictionary in the boardroom at Benmiller Inn, Godrich Ontario

In April 2012 a small group of ESL teachers from London, Ontario committed to helping complete my idea for a SOUND DICTIONARY. Over the summer that team was joined by ESL teachers from a cross the province and Grass is Black hit the shelves November 6, 2012 six months later. A color-coded word list 2,000 strong categorized by vowel sound, including thousands of common expressions was no small feat. One of the teachers sent me Margaret Mead’s quote and I put inside the front cover of the world’s first Sound Dictionary.   

On April 26 the color-coded word list from Grass is Black became available as Teacher Judy’s Sound Dictionary app for Android and Apple products. ESL Teachers are awesome and technology is giving a dedicated team of ESL thought leaders in Canada a place in history.

Until next time,

Teacher Judy

Mary Wuergler – Case Study Georgian College

Mary and Shari 7

Mary at Teacher Training 2.0 OISE

Challenge: For Mary, teaching pronunciation always seemed to be about putting out fires. In other words, correcting individual words that a student had trouble pronouncing. This was not effective.

How She Heard About Us: The “You Scratch my Back, I’ll Scratch Yours” offer came through an email forwarded by the coordinator to the EAP teachers at Georgian College.

What She did: Mary responded to the invitation to attend a free Teacher Training 2.0 seminar in exchange for 20 hours of work on the Grass is Black Sound Dictionary project. In 2011, Mary attended the seminar, submitted the first draft of the Purple chapter and attended an EPA Workbook editing retreat with TLC. She promoted her new pronunciation teaching skills in her hometown of Barrie, Ontario.

Results: At Georgian College in Barrie Mary ran an English is Stupid-based pronunciation course in the fall 2012 semester as an evening course with great enthusiasm from the students! It was a continuing ed course, and not part of the EAP program.  In 2013 the course ran again, but this time it ran during the day and was offered to the EAP students. “It’s very exciting to see these methods work with students and slowly being accepted into the program.”

“The techniques in English is Stupid – Students are Not, provide a method for helping the student correct the word sounds and stresses. These can be applied to a broad base of words, so the correction does not just apply to the individual word the student has mispronounced.” Mary Wuergler

How Does This Affect You?

Lack of confidence teaching pronunciation is a common issue with ESL/EFL teachers. There simply isn’t enough of the right kind of training included in certification programs. The onus is on the teachers to find and pay for up-graded teaching skills. Thanks to pioneers like Mary and progressive organizations like Georgian College, students are going to have more and more access to the speaking lessons they desperately need. Call Thompson Language Center to find out how you can learn about teaching speaking.

The course curriculum Speaking Made Simple replaces the face to face training at a fraction of the price.  The 18 YouTube videos are Free.

What color is your name?

Play the Game! It holds the secret to all of English pronunciation. Your name is one of the colors on this chart. Can you find it? Judy is Blue, Steve is Green, Isabella is Red, Pedro is Gray, Elizabeth is Pink…

There are hundreds of names listed here:

Click Here to Download

Every name in English is somewhere on this chart because every word in English is somewhere on this chart.

The perfect sound of the 2,000 most common words in English are color-coded for you in: Teacher Judy’s EASY Pronunciation Dictionary app in Googleplay and i-store.

EVERY WORD in ENGLISH is a COLOR

Having trouble? I can help you judy@thompsonlangaugecenter.com

It’s not enough to rage against the lie…

…you’ve got to replace it with the truth. Bono

I do plenty of raging in the realm of education specifically screaming for reform in the area of teaching people how to speak English. Raging is a bit too easy; one has to be prepared to offer solutions too. Here is a timely article by Jennifer Jenkins out of Kings College, London.

A Sociolinguistically Based, Empirically Researched Pronunciation Syllabus for English as an International Language

She addresses “the recent shift in the use of English such that non-native speakers (NNSs) using English for international communication now outnumber native speakers” and the serious implications for established norms and classroom pronunciation models.

Changing spells so much work for teachers I wonder how many of us will be up for it?

Until next time,

Teacher Judy

Case Study

My colleagues understand me better, I am making a difference at work.

Sofia Albanez, College Boreal

Challenge: Sofia Albanez is a warm, compassionate, fluent English speaking, highly qualified ESL teacher but her first language is not English. She speaks with a delightful Spanish accent. Sofia was insecure about her accent and concerned she would somehow transfer her accent to her students to their detriment.

How She Heard About Us: At the 2010 TESL Ontario Conference in Toronto Sofia attended the “English is Stupid” presentation and was struck with the realization her own pronunciation issues stemmed from stressing words incorrectly.

What She did: She immediately bought a copy of English is Stupid, Students are Not and arranged to shadow Judy Thompson as Judy taught her speaking course at Sheridan College. Sofia was a teacher and a student!

Results: Sofia teaches full-time at Boreal College in Hamilton Ontario and has persuaded her entire school to adopt the Speaking Made Simple method.College Boreal

“The confidence I gained is priceless. My students love Judy’s method and have improved their speaking skills significantly. This program has definitely equipped me to become the excellent teacher that I dreamed of being.” Sofia Albanez. 

How Does This Affect You?

Sofia is not alone. For more than half the qualified ESL/EFL teachers today, English is not their first language. Although they are often superior spelling and grammar teachers, employers shy away from English teachers who are not native speakers. It is hard to believe that the fundamentals of How Speaking Works is not part of an ESL teacher’s education. Sofia spent $30 on a book that showed her how to ‘fix’ her own weak speaking area and applied herself to filling the holes in her own education. You can too. 

Mary Wuergler – Georgian College

Challenge: For Mary, teaching pronunciation always seemed to be about putting out fires. In other words, correcting individual words that a student had trouble pronouncing. This was not effective.  

How She Heard About Us: At a 2010 TESL Conference in Toronto Mary attended a Thompson Language Center presentation and visited the booth to purchase teaching materials.

What She did: Mary responded to a invitation from Thompson Language Center to attend a free Teacher Training 2.0 seminar in exchange for 20 hours of work on the Grass is Black Sound Dictionary project. In 2011, Mary attended the seminar, submitted the first draft of the Purple chapter and attended an EPA Workbook editing retreat with TLC. She promoted her new pronunciation teaching skills in her hometown of Barrie, Ontario.

Results: At Georgian College in Barrie Mary ran an “English is Stupid” based pronunciation course in the fall 2012 semester as an evening course with great enthusiasm from the students! It was a continuing ed course, and not part of the EAP program.  In 2013 the course ran again, but this time it ran during the day and was offered to the EAP students. “It’s very exciting to see these methods work with students and slowly being accepted into the program.” 

The techniques in English is Stupid – Students are Not, provide a method for helping the student correct the word sounds and stresses. These can be applied to a broad base of words, so the correction does not just apply to the individual word the student has mispronounced.” Mary Wuergler

How Does This Affect You?

Lack of confidence teaching pronunciation is a common issue with ESL/EFL teachers. There simply isn’t enough of the right kind of training included in TESL certification programs. The onus is on the teachers to find and pay for up graded teaching skills. Thanks to pioneers like Mary and progressive organizations like Georgian College, students are going to have more and more access to the speaking lessons they desperately need. Call Thompson Language Center to find out how you can learn about teaching speaking.