Cultivate Curiosity in English Students
Jan 28, 2009 English as a Second Language (ESL) 5668 Views
Cultivate Student Curiosity in ESL Classes
“Curiosity is the best teacher,” goes the ancient proverb. Push your English language students to develop their own interests and passions. ESL students- adult, high school, or college - will remember the language they want and need to know to deepen their life experiences in English
Ironically, our job remains helping students become autotelic – or self-directed. Encouraging students to find and create their own vocabulary logs is just one useful, too seldom used technique in English language classrooms.
My standard homework assignment for English students remains having students find, summarize, and present newspaper articles on a topic (elections, housing, job interviews). The worksheet asks them to list core citation information, summarize the main idea, identify the best supporting evidence, etc.
The worksheet also includes finding five new vocabulary words or phrases and writing new sentences. When the students complete their homework, they get together in groups of four and "present" their articles. I circulate around the room checking homework and having small chats. Students, meanwhile, build their own vocabulary logs from their own readings and discussions – and deepen their own interests.
Once students master the format, they choose both the subject and articles. In my high-intermediate writing course for international students, these homework readings provide the foundation for their research papers and final project. Students soon move beyond the worksheets and simply provide concise article summaries and evaluations.
Bottomline: We must find ways to gently cajole students to take responsibility for their own education – and become more self-directed.