TESOL 2011

“The Grammar Blog: Academic English 2.0”

TESOL 2011 Convention, New Orleans, LA. Electronic Village Fair (Friday March 18, 3pm)

The grammar blog is a weekly assignment I use in my high-advanced reading/writing classes for pre-matriculation international graduate students at the University of Delaware English Language Institute. Each student chooses a grammar error or interesting/confusing sentence to focus on each week. Students read their classmates’ posts and  give feedback, and then I answer any remaining questions. The grammar blog is a motivating, student-driven, focus-on-form activity that engages students in important questions of syntax (grammar), semantics (meaning), lexis (vocabulary), and register.

I use WordPress.com, a free blogging site with very powerful functionality. All students are authors on the blog, so they all post in the same place, making feedback and grading simple. You have to add each student manually after they have created their own WordPress account — from the dashboard, click on users, and enter their email addresses one by one in the box at the bottom of the page. The class blog can be customized to suit your style; I use a simple theme called Coraline, but there are over 100 themes to choose from!

I’ve used the grammar blog in two courses at the University of Delaware’s English Language Institute. Initially, I integrated the blog in a course I designed for pre-matriculation international graduate students. Currently, I’m teaching a GRE-GMAT test preparation class for the same population. These courses are part of our conditional admissions programs for graduate and pre-MBA students. Thank you to my colleague from Michigan State University, Ruelaine Stokes, for showing me her original grammar journals assignment, which this blog is based on.

Bio: Nigel A. Caplan is an Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware’s English Language Institute. He holds an M.S.Ed in TESOL from the University of Pennsylvania and is starting the long process of earning a PhD in education from the University of Delaware. Nigel is also a materials developer, and the author most recently of Q: Skills for Success, Reading/Writing Book 5 (with Scott Douglass, from Oxford University Press), and Step up to the TOEFL iBT (two-level series from the University of Michigan Press). He is currently writing a grammar and vocabulary textbook for ESL graduate students. Nigel blogs right here at nigelteacher.wordpress.com.

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