Using ESL Pod and testing students to motivate

My thinking on teaching and learning, students and schools, is always evolving.

Research from my Project 400 has shown me very clearly what English my students are going to use after they graduate. It is not the English they were using in their school issued course books so I have abandoned those.

I have discovered some great resources on the web. Chief among those is ESL Pod. I gave my reasons for why I like this learning resource in an earlier message.

I have known about ESL Pod for several years and have recommended it to every single student I have taught. Even with this recommendation, most have probably never visited the site, some have visited it, but none use it consistently.

Before continuing, let me restate three of my current thoughts on learning and teaching:

1. Students never “learn” a word. However they can be introduced to a word.

2. Learning happens through comprehensible input.

3. Generally speaking, college students will not do anything academic that will not be tested.

Each ESL Pod podcast targets a set of vocabulary. This vocabulary is partly subject specific but partly just general advanced vocabulary. I don’t believe ESL Pod can “teach” that vocabulary but I believe it can introduce it.

ESL Pod is full of comprehensible input. The teacher slowly and clearly explains each word in a friendly way. I believe if I can get my students to stick their nose into this comprehensible input that it will benefit them.

I test the students on the vocabulary set as a way of compelling them into the comprehensible input. The effect of this is that there are two teaching events happening. Introduction to new more advanced vocabulary and lots of comprehensible input. All of this done on the business English target that I am charged with and each lesson is only 15 minutes.

So our weekly vocabulary quiz and the final exam vocabulary test all work together to compel the students into the introduction of new vocabulary as well as provide the all important comprehensible input.

The student’s knowledge of this vocabulary is only passive, though. In my next message, I’ll discuss how I am testing passive vocabulary knowledge.

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