inspiration Archives – adaptivelearnin

Students respond to meaningful texts. I have found this to be true with traditional texts, with poetry and prose and […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

Have you ever felt malaise in the workforce?  What did you do about it?  What can you do about it? […]

I wrote this several years ago for a school I worked at, as a thank you and goodbye.  And to […]

For some students, the arrival of summer means the opportunity to lounge around and do — well — pretty much […]


Five Minute Friday Archives – adaptivelearnin

On adaptivelearnin I have featured Five Minute Friday bits as examples to help you (teachers) incorporate free writing practice.  Students often struggle with […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

Today Glogster EDU published a post I wrote called, Anxiety-Free Writing: Five Minute Friday and Glogging.  I share ideas on how […]


Media Literacy: How to (and why we should) Teach a Music Video

Students respond to meaningful texts. I have found this to be true with traditional texts, with poetry and prose and art. I have also found this to be true for media texts. I bring in media messages that cause me to pause and question and think and usually find the same pieces are compelling for my students. For example, last summer my brother introduced me to pop-star, Kimbra, from New Zealand. He showed me the video for her song “Settle Down” on her 2011 Vows album, and I was captivated by the song, the lyrics and the decisions she (or the art directors) made in the creation of that media message.

“Settle Down” is a song by New Zealand singer Kimbra from her debut studio album, Vows. (source:, accessed on 10/02/2013)

As an English teacher, I have used music in the classroom in the past, both lyrics as poetry and vocals/instrumental as a lesson in tone, but this song presents the opportunity to move further than that. I start the class reading the lyrics as poetry in a traditional literary way. We read for imagery, allusions, rhyme, rhythm and many of the tools we encourage students to find and unpack when reading a poem. I ask students to write their personal interpretations of the song using concrete support from the text. At this point, the lesson looks a lot like a traditional poetry lesson. We identify the tools and techniques used to achieve an intended focus, and my students are able to draw on their experience with poetry to identify the use and outcome of using poetic tools.  But the music is much different than the lyrics, so we move on to the music.

I play the audio of the song for the students and asked them to listen for the different instruments and to pay attention to the tone in her voice and her inflection as she sings various parts of the song.

Students are interpreting a media message without words, and, maybe it’s because they listen to a lot of music on their own, but they are really good at recognizing the techniques that convey meaning in music. They revise their interpretations and support their ideas with concrete evaluations of the vocals or the bass or the quick pause in the song.

Kimbra – Settle Down from Forum5 Recordings on Vimeo.

The next step adds the very complex visual image to the already seemingly conflicted message students received from the lyrics and the audio performance. The visual provides a strong narrative for the song and stark contrasts in costuming and imagery serve to further muddle the message sent in a song called “Settle Down” that is, at least on the surface, seeming to glorify a young woman’s desire to settle down with the man she adores.

Screen capture from “Settle Down” by Kimbra (source, accessed 10/02/2013)

The visuals include very young women, (children, actually) who express the desire to settle down with their mannequin “man.”The use of pre-pubescent girls and shocking images of burning porcelain dolls send a very clear message that defies many of the students’ original interpretation about the meaning of the work. By this point, my students have demonstrated an ability to not only determine the author’s purpose and intended effect on the audience, but they can point out how the author creates subtle irony through careful decisions in dress and how a well-timed close-up shot can change the perception of that intended effect. Using the Five Key Questions and Concepts from the Center for Media Literacy  help us get to the heart of the media message in a systematic way.

(source:, accessed 10/03/2013)

The revisions of their original statements are astounding as each student begins to realize they ways in which the visual work to contrast and juxtapose the lyrics instead of support them, which is the paradigm for music videos that most students bring into the classroom.

The final step in analyzing this text added richness and depth as we watched the visual alone without the sound. The details in her eye rolls and dance moves take on new meaning for my students and our discussion of how a simple tool, like an eye roll, creates meaning inspired many students to turn a response paragraph into a full essay. They found more in the text than I thought they would. In fact, the content in Kimbra’s music video provided one of the richest texts I’ve ever brought to the classroom.

Here’s an analysis of the few of the details from the video by a student in my 10th grade class this year. She elegantly wove together a “reading” of the media message using the juxtaposition of visual images,  music, lyrics and traditional narrative tools like character and setting to demonstrate a rich understanding of the video’s message:

Adding to Kimbra’s disapproval is the theme of loss of innocence, and the girls trying to grow up too fast. Juxtaposing the young girls with very adult dress and domestic settings, shows their childhoods being lost as they are consumed with these adult ideas. Girls are already worrying about getting married, finding a man, competing with other women, even in their youth. The man is a mannequin in this case, an object, a prize. He is never described, with no personality or character because it does not matter; it is already the girl’s dream to marry the perfect man, and she imagines him, but does not even know him. Wishing on a star is a very naive thing, childlike. By adding, “Star so light and star so bright, first star I see tonight,” (line 26-27) and a sweeter, less dissonant section, within a passionate song talking about adult desperation to settle down, there is a clear aspect of cynicism. Within the lyric itself, in lines 28 and 29, it changes from a child’s rhyme into a desperate wish to, “Keep him by side!” Finally, after going back and forth between childish whims and adult wants, the end sequence where the dolls, a powerful symbol of childhood, appear burning behind the innocently dressed girls presents a contrast. The symbols of childhood are burning, which screams loss of innocence, but the girls have suddenly escaped adult life in favor of white frocks- which presents them as little girls again. As they appear in this youthful dress, next to Kimbra we realize that they are very young, presented as naive rather than grown up. The contrasts between the young girls and the mature setting, the stiff mannequin and the passionate lyrics, and the childlike rhyme and adult messages highlights the pressure of finding, and keeping a man, even on young girls.

Using media texts in the classroom may be unconventional but the media text provides students the many of the same opportunities to develop traditional literacy skills as a traditional written text; the difference is that more students are engaged as they get a chance to respond thoughtfully and academically to a text that resembles the ones they encounter every day.

Click through for the lesson handouts on Google Docs.

Welcome Jennifer Goen, new contributor to adaptivelearnin.  Jennifer graduated from the University of Florida with an English degree and a Masters in Education and now teaches high school English in Northern Virginia. When she’s not chasing her two toddlers or grading stacks of A.P. English Language and Composition essays, she is curating her tumblr at or planning her next English elective to offer to her students at the alternative school where she teaches. In the last few years she’s taught courses on Media Studies, Women in the Media, Western Films,  and the-very- popular-with-students Research, Reading and Writing about Whatever you Want, a problem-based learning class that gets students thinking, blogging, reading and creating about whatever they choose.For more about Jennifer, see . Jennifer has recently co-authored an e-book on Media Literacy with colleagues in her school district. Find it here.


Writing Archives – adaptivelearnin

Students respond to meaningful texts. I have found this to be true with traditional texts, with poetry and prose and […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

Today Glogster EDU published a post I wrote called, Anxiety-Free Writing: Five Minute Friday and Glogging.  I share ideas on how […]

So, here’s the cool new thing that I’m starting which will be happening on adaptivelearnin every Friday, Five Minute Friday.  What […]

Dear Students: Spell check is notorious for being viewed as dumbing down your spelling abilities.  Throughout my years in the […]


Technology and Education 101

Technology has undoubtedly reshaped the norms of education. It has made learning an easier endeavor for all. Now, no matter whether you want to learn a particular subject or you want to earn a degree, with the help of technology, it is no more a matter of concern. Just switch on your laptop or iPad and carry on with your desired subjects at your own comfort. So, how do you think technology has actually aided the education sector in becoming a globalised concept?

When we were young, we seldom could think about studying without visiting schools and colleges. For us, missing a lecture would mean a lot of copying from our friends’ notebooks. We would often skip chapters and in examinations, we would get marks for what we could actually learn. But now, things have changed quite a lot.

Last week, one of my little cousin sister’s visited me. We were meeting after quite a long time and as always, we started chattering and giggling. In the mean time, I got to know that she had recently applied for an online degree course in one of the renowned universities in UK and she seemed to be pretty interested with the whole thing. As I am an Educationist, she wanted to know my views regarding her decision.

Our conversation went something like this:

Cristina: Do you think I have made a right decision by enrolling to an online MBA course?

Me: Absolutely Cris! And I am really happy that you at least have got to see the benefits of online education. I keep on telling my students that online education is the most viable option to carry forward studying and working at the same time.

Cristina: As you know Emily, I have also started working from a tender age due to some financial constraints at home, but I could never thought to spend my life without a higher education degree.

Me: You did just the right thing. And I am sure that you will be more than happy to carry forward your studies along with your work.

When I see people enrolling themselves in online courses and going through the same absolute seamlessly, I only feel that how technology has actually helped all of us in certain ways. Education is probably the most important endeavours for all of us. And when technology has actually helped to break the constraints in getting a higher degree for many, we can do nothing but thank it for its help!

Not only the young learners but technology has helped the elders getting a degree at their old age as well. Learning has no age bar and technology has proved it by providing the same through various e-devices. Now, no matter where we are, what we are doing, to learn a thing, we can just switch on our phones or iPads.

A few years back, those who would take up a distance course would get neglected by their peers. People believed that a distance learner is a weak candidate who cannot cope up with regular studies. But now, things have changed. Taking up an online course along with work is a sign of letting everyone know that how good the candidate is in time management.

My sister Cristina is doing great with her work and study and I know a lot of others who came out of such situations with flying colors. Also, not only they got promoted in their workplaces, they have also incurred a lot of skills from their online study materials, which are updated with facts and figures.

The role of technology in promoting education is unparalleled. In this 21st Century, when we have every single thing within our reach, why not education as well? Why not make people educated by providing them the resources at their own comfort? These queries were indeed taken seriously by technology and it gave the solutions within a few years itself!

Please welcome our new guest contributor, Emily Parker.  Emily is an Educationist by profession based in London, UK. She is also a freelance Blogger and Writer on the web. She puts her own views on the global education sector in her write-ups and aims at making her readers aware of the changes going on in the same. She is also an E-learning enthusiast and she thrives hard to break the myths regarding online learning, thereby propagating its usefulness for the learners around the world.  To get in touch with her follow here on Twitter @EmilyParkerUK, or add her as a friend on Facebook or Google +.


TESOL 2013 Presentation- ESL Instruction: Developing Your Skills as a Master Conductor

March 21, 2013 I presented “ESL Instruction: Developing Your Skills to Become a Master Conductor” at the TESOL 2013 International Convention and English Language Expo.  I had a blast!  Below I am sharing the PowerPoint and handouts from my presentation.  I’m also including a checklist that I did not include in my presentation.  It’s an extra add-on.  In the next weeks I will be uploading more accompanying materials to further help you incorporate music conducting and basic music notation strategies in your classrooms to facilitate the speaking and pronunciation growth of your students.  The future materials I share will be additional materials that I did not include in my presentation.  You will want to come back and check out the materials here, as I will be uploading useful worksheets and YouTube video tutorials that you can use in the classroom or assign for homework.

These strategies are different and are not your typical ways of teaching pronunciation, but are very effective.  They are based off of the blending of music conducting, vocal, and instrumental techniques.  Through daily and weekly reinforcement you will see progress in your students’ speaking.

(Note:  I’ve had many of you ask if these ideas and materials are available as a complete curriculum set.  As of right now they are not; however,  I plan on writing curriculum and making it available for you.  Until the curriculum is completed, I will be sharing additional materials and videos here on adaptivelearnin.   If you have any suggestions or ideas that you would like to see in the curriculum set, please contact me and let me know.  I want to add ideas and materials that are most useful for you.)

Contact me with questions, stories, insights, and etc. at  I’d love to hear from you.  I’m hear to support you and to help you implement these techniques.  Thank you for connecting and collaborating!  Bravo to for your dedication and passion for teaching your students!  – Beth

Here is my PowerPoint presentation available as a PDF for download and use:Here are my handouts available for download and use:


Education Archives – adaptivelearnin

Students respond to meaningful texts. I have found this to be true with traditional texts, with poetry and prose and […]

This article was originally published by MultiBriefs. Written by Beth Crumpler ESL instructors can use photo-editing apps for unconventional purposes, […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

Africa might not have been the first continent to come to mind when mapping out your study abroad destination, but […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

ABC’s and essays. Teaching mixed level TEFL classes! Classes with mixed level students are something that every TEFL teacher will […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]

Many adults point to college as one of the most exciting and memorable times of their lives. That can saddle […]

(This post was written by Lindsey Harper Mac.  Please welcome her as a new contributor to adaptivelearnin.  You will see […]

It’s Five Minute Friday time!  Remember you too can join in this “writing flash mob” and/or do it with your […]


Working memory in English language development

This article was originally published by MultiBriefs for TESOL International Association’s English Language Bulletin.     

Working memory is crucial to learning.  It is the human mind’s processing of information to complete tasks.  Working memory plays into deciding which information to remember and which information is not important.

When people have problems with their working memory, they struggle with retaining information in the short term that is vital to learning in the long term.  Working memory is extremely active in the learning functionality of students.   If a student struggles with learning, his or her working memory may have issues computing the information it receives.

Working memory has two components: verbal working memory and visual-spatial working memory.  Verbal working memory is using phonological and auditory systems to silently recall information while a person does an action.  Visual-spatial working memory is using the mind to mentally picture something to remember as a person completes a task.

Since working memory utilizes verbal, auditory and visual-spatial brain processing, it is an essential function of second language acquisition.  Working memory consists of the necessary mind processing skills that students need to use for learning English.  English language teachers tap into the working memory of students for instructional and learning tasks in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and grammar.  But, if students have mental processing difficiencies with their working memory, they will struggle with learning English.  ELLs (English language learners) are extremely susceptible to deficiencies with working memory functionalities due to the anxiety, fear, and stressors learning a second language cause.  Teachers of ELLs must keep vigilant watch for the signs of working memory struggles in students.

Signs of Working Memory Processing Struggles

If a student does the following he/she may have problems with working memory.

  1. The student does not finish assignments or tasks.
  2. The students can’t follow verbal instructions, especially lengthy instructions.
  3. The student seems disengaged.  He or she looks around the classroom and doesn’t appear to be paying attention.  Or, the student does not speak in class and appears extremely shy.
  4. The student can’t produce verbal responses or answer questions.  The student has basically gone mind blank.  He or she may say, “Umm” while piecing together the information to respond, but is unable to.  Even with extra response time given, the student is unable to give any type of verbal response.
  5. The student gets confused easily and mixes up information.  The student just seems to forget a lot.  He or she may try to start all over again because his or her working memory has gone blank.
  6. The student struggles with learning progress, especially in content area subjects that require significant auditory processing and a deep focus on content area vocabulary.
  7. The student has trouble processing various linguistic structures of English.  He/she may struggle with reading words, parts of words, and words in combination.  The student may skip letters, parts of words, or groups of words when reading.  He/she may struggle with decoding words in sentences, and may have extreme difficulties with reading comprehension.   The student may struggle with grammar forms; how to place word orders together.   He/she may struggle with acquisition of English vocabulary, spellings, and usages in sentence forms.
  8. If a student continuously shows little to no progress in English development, he/she probably has problems with working memory.  This can be evident over time as the student does not improve in his/her linguistic fluency.

Circumstances Affecting Working Memory- Impacts on Lesson Design

When English language teachers design lessons, they need to review the circumstances correlated with working memory functionalities of students.  Lesson design should incorporate instruction, activities, discussions, group work, homework, and review methods that intervene in these circumstances to promote good working memory functions.  This is vital for learning English fluently.

While lesson planning, teachers should consider these things that affect the working memory of ELLs. 

  • Young children don’t have a good working memory.  Older children and adults have a better working memory.
  • Every student has a different working memory level and function.  Some students will be better with it than others.
  • Students who struggle with working memory in their L1 (native language), will struggle even more with their working memory while learning an L2 (second language) compared to their peers.
  • Learning a second language taxes working memory and all ELLs will struggle with it in one way or another.  Some more than others.
  • Environmental factors and stresses affect working memory.  Classroom factors and home factors can stress a student with working memory problems.
  • Culture shock of being in a new country and environment can cause anxiety and fear.  Anxiety and fear can also impact working memory processing.
  • Limited to no literacy or academic abilities in the L1 (native language) will affect student confidence.  This can also cause anxiety, stress and fear which impact the functioning of working memory.
  • Working memory will affect performance on assessments: English language proficiency assessments, standardized assessments (WIDA, Common Core, state SOL assessments for AYP, ACT, SAT, GRE, etc.), Midterms, exams, quizzes, and etc.

Instruction and Learning for Better Working Memory

When ELLs struggle with working memory during instruction and learning, teachers should consider and apply the following to promote working memory functionalities.

  1. Teacher talk-time should be minimized to help the verbal and auditory working memory of students.  The more a teacher talks, the more students can struggle with understanding because the excessive teacher talk-time can tax working memory.
  2. Wait time should be given to students so that they can think and process information.  ELLs have more mental demands placed on them as they are trying to learn English, so they need more wait time to process answers to questions or give responses.
  3. Auditory processing in working memory is a huge struggle with ELLs.  They may struggle with following auditory instructions, sentence dictations, auditory assessments, verbal responses, written responses to verbal questions, note taking in lectures and more.   Instructional focus should be placed on developing student auditory comprehension.  Give students more wait time when possible to respond to verbal questions and assessments.  Break up questions into segments.  Repeat content several times for students to hear and process it clearly.  Do auditory work each day so students can improve their working memory skills for mastering English fluency.
  4. If a student has to focus on English word recognition and can’t read words by sight, then he/she will have trouble with reading comprehension.   This is a struggle for many English language learners.  Instruction should focus on two components: the development of English phonetics for word recognition and strategies for reading comprehension.   Instructional focus should be placed on decoding words using comprehensible contexts.  Decoding and retelling reading information is crucial to both of these.
  5. Slowly increase exposure in lessons, activities, classroom interactions, and homework interactions.  Exposures can be: environmental, cultural, literacy, linguistic (vocabulary, grammar, semantics, phonetics, etc.), academic contents, and relational.
  6. Build cultural competence.  Incorporate cultural education, comparisons, and literacy in lessons, activities, and discussions.
  7. Equip confidence in students.  Confidence comes with building #5 and #6 above.  Also, build relationships of encouragement and trust.  In classroom activities create interactions that give students comfort to open up, but that also instills challenge to give their insight and opinions.
  8. Build upon student knowledge of literacy and academic abilities in the L1 (first language).  If students have little or no literacy or academic ability in the first language, then incorporate remedial activities, assignments, and studies that help them develop literacy and academic knowledge.
  9. Teaching testing strategies to students.  Teach them learn how to decode instructions, how to answer questions effectively, how to respond to reading comprehension tasks, how to handle auditory tasks, how to pace themselves, how to look for keywords, how to skim properly, and so on.

Learning a second language is mentally exhausting for students.  English language instructors must focus on minimizing the student anxiety and fear that significantly impacts student working memory for English language acquisition.  In order to lower the effective filter of students to encourage efficient working memory functioning, teachers must strategically design instruction, learning tasks, classroom interactions, and homework assignments that ultilizes methods for minimizing the anxiety and fear that is ever present.  This is essential for the learning of ELLs so that they can move towards fluency- proficient speakers, readers, and writers of the English language.

Beth Crumpler is an ESL freelance curriculum writer, e-learning content developer and instructor.  She has developed and written content for well-known companies/institutions in the education sector.  She is the founder of the website and blog, which both present ideas for using adaptive concepts in learning.  She is a certified teacher of ESL and music. Beth enjoys studying technology for teaching ESL and in her spare time studies Spanish.


Apps for English language learning: Intro to photo editors

This article was originally published by MultiBriefs.

Written by Beth Crumpler

ESL instructors can use photo-editing apps for unconventional purposes, such as for instructional support, for learning outcomes or to bridge the gap between the classroom and home studies. Photo-editing apps can tremendously change how students see information and how they study.

Photo-Editing App Basic Features

    1. Adding text, speech bubbles and images: With these features — sometimes referred as “stickers” — you can add text or cartoon images to any picture. For text and speech bubbles, you usually choose the text size, color and font style. For all text and image features, you can drag and drop them wherever you want to place them on the photo.
    1. Image filters: Image filters will make your photos digitally look better on a course management system (CMS). Improve contrast, brightness, clarity, saturation and much more. Scroll through the options and edit the photo to your liking. Use quick edit features when you don’t have much time to work on photo-editing details. Quick edits include changing resolution, colors and more.
    1. Making collages: Only a few photo-editing apps let you make collages. The app will give you the option of which collage layouts you want to use and the ability to select the specific images to use in each image box.
  1. Zooming and cropping: Zooming allows you to zoom in on specific objects or to zoom out to see the full photo. Cropping lets you cut out the background and parts of the photo you don’t want to keep, and lets you keep that parts you want.

Ways to Use Photo-Editing App Features for ELLs

Snap a picture of class notes. Make sure your picture is clear so you can see your notes and the individual letters of the notes clearly. After class you will use a photo-editing app to change the image. You can add text to images for various learning supports. Or snap a picture of specific objects, and add text with a photo-editing app.

Images can be labeled, categorized and uploaded to any CMS whether using one provided through your employment or using a free one available on the Web. Make sure you create an easy file-system name to keep track of your labeled pictures. For example, it’s helpful to use the class name, time of class, etc.

You can add subject labels to class notes to help students reference the images for studying. Even if you have an interactive whiteboard, this concept can be used with classroom objects, posters and other items to upload to your CMS for students.

Photo-editing apps can be used by students for assignments too. Assign them an English learning project that allows them to snap pictures and add text. Have them create comic strip photos with live people or with drawn stick figures.

The student uploads the images to a photo-editing app. They then add filters, stickers, text and speech bubbles to create their comic strips. Students either take photos of live people or of hand-drawn stick figures. Hand-drawn images can be done by paper or with a drawing app. If using a drawing app, the images should be saved as a PNG. This concept can be assigned to students to create cartoon booklets slowly throughout a lesson series using a different English object on each page. Final projects can be uploaded to the class CMS.

Presented below are some basic examples of photo-editing apps used for facilitating English language learning. Examples presented are for inside and outside the classroom. You will see photos of before and after to see the changes the apps made.

Photo-editing apps can do much more than is presented here, but those features take more time to use. Due to the time limits most instructors have, only basic examples which only take a few minutes are presented.

The above image of class notes was edited using the PicsArt app. Basic text labels were added to facilitate student referencing and studies. The image was changed using a few app filters. The text label was added, and the drawing tool was used to add handwritten text.

The above image of homework reminders was edited two different ways using the PE-Fotolr app. Basic text labels were added to facilitate student referencing and studies. For both images, the picture was changed using a quick filter. The text label was added, and the drawing tool was used to circle the quiz reminder.

The above image of class notes was edited for student studies using the Cymera app. The picture was changed using a quick filter. The arrow was added using a sticker feature, and the drawing tool was used to write the word “count.”

The above image of class notes was edited for student studies using the PicsSay app. The picture was changed using a quick filter. Then the highlighting, text and speech bubble was added. This was used for a homework assignment uploaded to a CMS.

The above image was drawn with the Draw! app. The same idea can be done by drawing stick figures on a piece of paper and taking a picture of the drawing.

This image is a basic example of how students can create a cartoon with a photo-editing app using pictures of stick figures or live people. The sticker icons and speech bubbles were added using the PicsSay app. Or students can take the same images and create a continuous cartoon conversation such as in the basic example below.

Separate cartoon images were created using the PicSay app. Then, the images were uploaded to the PhotoGrid app to turn into a collage.

The PhotoGrid app can also be used to add backgrounds to individual images. The collage feature can also used to make a widescreen image spread of anything — class notes, objects, assignments, etc.

This is a quick introduction to basic photo-editing app features and how those features can be used by ESL instructors. You may think of other ideas that are not addressed here. Download a few apps and play with the features. Brainstorm creative ways that you might be able to try the features. Keep the apps that are good, and delete the ones that are bad. Once you begin testing the apps, you will find that they can enhance your instructional toolkit in ways you probably never thought of.


10 Techniques: Teaching Language as a Classically Trained Musician

I admit that my language teaching methods are sometimes unique, quite amusing to others and different. My methods make sense to me. When other teachers see me teach, I often am asked where I have learned certain instructional techniques. My answer to this question is easy, I did not really learn the technique from any one source, and to be honest, I kind of make up some techniques. My techniques may be out of the ordinary sometimes to the everyday langauge teacher, but they are extremely effective in producing results with students. Many of my techniques are a combination of my formal training, experience, and using keen observations. Through applying these three components together, I apply needs analysis to figure out what my students instructional needs are and then I use the three components listed to decide an appropriate instructional method to effectively teach.

My techniques are dynamic and full of energy.  I am a master of multitasking.  I have eyes on the back of my head and on the sides of my ears.  My ears shoot across the classroom.  My arms and hands are often flying in all directions almost as if I am an octopus swimming around my classroom.  My mouth quite regularly makes odd movements and shapes which are amusing to my audience.  Although amusing, my audience also partakes in this oddity.  My audience often busts out vocalizing funny sounds with smiles of entertainment on their faces; This is after following my cue to produce these sounds.  The clattering, repetition and irregularity of noise patterns often echos throughout my classroom, like a car engine trying to start.  My audience follows my directions expanding and deflating the stomach as if meditating.  Can you picture this?  (chuckles, laughter, comedy)

Yes, I am quite funny in my methods.  Yes, I am quite amusing to watch.  Yes, my students  have fun learning.  I sometimes laugh at myself.  My students often laugh too.  Their laughter is not a disrespectful laughter, but laughter of respect and entertainment.  We have fun!  So, you may be thinking what the heck do I do?

The answer is contextualizing my training as a classical musician, band director, teacher, and instructor of language.  For the past 23 years I have been a flautist.  I have spent years studying and performing music.  I have a bachelor’s degree in music education.  For some years I was a band director.  I have also performed in bands, orchestras, small ensembles, etc.  I have done it for so long, music training is second nature to me.  I think like a musician.  I act like a musician.  I am a musician!

I now also am a teacher of English to speakers of other languages.  I fell in love with the field several years ago when I taught band to ELL‘s (English Language Learners) in California.  While I worked in California teaching band to ELL’s, not only was I supposed to teach music to my students, but was also supposed to teach English as a second language to them.  Upon doing this, I realized that there was much in common between music and language learning.  This birthed my interest in the interrelation between the two fields. I love to read articles, analyze, study, and apply my knowledge.

I have a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and am a certified teacher in two states, so I have formal ESL instructional training too.   I bring to the ESL field something unique…I am a classically trained. Since music is second nature to me, I have been trained for many years to: think as a musician and conductor, watch as a musician and conductor, listen as a musician and conductor, produce actions to get responses as a conductor, and be a master of multitasking.  I have been trained for 23 years now with using my eyes and ears to analyze sound and mouth formation. I have been trained to pay close attention to details and slight variations in rhythm, tone, embouchure, vocalization, pitch, breathing, enunciation, articulation, support, phrasing, clarity, communication and interpretation. These are huge aspects of my music training that I apply towards teaching the English language.  I teach language like a music teacher or conductor teaches music.  This is where most of my methods and techniques originate.  It is such second nature to me that I don’t really think much about what I do, I just do!  I am extremely effective in my methods as an English language teacher because I use music instructional techniques.  I watch, listen, and interact with my ELL’s as if they are a class of band students.  Their mouths and vocal chords are their instruments producing sounds that communicate a message and are interpreted by the audience.  Using their instruments and bodies correctly in sound production is critical to clarity of the communication.  The audience can and will interpret the message incorrectly if the sound that is produced is not executed with precision.

Although I use many music instructional techniques, I also use my music training to come up with my own ideas on how to effectively and precisely correct errors in the language production of my students.  Essentially, I use my classical music training to create instructional methods for teaching English as a Second language.  How do I do this?  What do I do?  These are the questions I get asked by other teachers.

Regardless of content area, effective instructional facilitation must join the use of needs analysis by the educator to produce accurate results by the audience.

Here is a quick sketch I did to illustrate what I do (the sketch is amusing):

Next I apply needs analysis with aspects of music training and instruction to find proper measures to help my students.

Here are areas of my music training that interrelate with teaching language which I use to produce precision and accuracy of sound response by my students.  When focus of a practice exercise is on a specific technique to correct a specific error, it is important to pay less attention to the other areas of error.  For example, if students are practicing phrasing in their speaking, they should pay less attention to tone and pitch.  By doing this, it allows students to focus on one technique at a time which helps them master the technique with speed and precision resulting in faster error correction making them less likely to make the error in the future…and with consistent practice eventually eliminating the error all together.  When practicing these techniques it is also critical to model the technique first for students incorrectly, so that they can hear and see what the incorrect execution is.  Next, it is critical to have students practice the technique incorrectly with you at least one time, so that they can feel what incorrect execution of the technique is.  Next model the technique correctly and have students practice the technique correctly with you.  By modeling the correct and incorrect execution of the technique, and by having students practice the correct and incorrect execution of the technique, it helps students develop an internal awareness of the error and teaches them how to correct the error.

(Warning:  These picture are amusing!)


Like playing an instrument or singing, using the diaphragm to support sound production is critical by a language learner.  Not using efficient and proper support with the diaphragm can impede communication resulting in the listeners inability to interpret the message.   Improper use of the diaphragm results in sound production errors: breathy tone, faint sound production that is difficult to hear, incorrect pitch, and difficulties with appropriately phrasing.  These issues can be resolved by instructing students with diaphragm exercises and activities.

Exercises and Activities (It is essential to model these to students before having students do them):

  • Practice breathing in and out slowly.  Breath in for 10 seconds while pushing out (pushing away from yourself) the diaphragm muscles.  Breath out for 10 seconds while pushing out (pushing away from yourself) the diaphragm muscles.  The diaphragm muscles are called “support”.  This exercise will help teach “support” of sound to students which will help resolve errors in sound production listed in the paragraph above.
  • Find a sentence or short paragraph you would like students to practice speaking.  Model the sentence or short paragraph to students without using diaphragms muscles (relaxing diaphragm muscles or pushing them in toward yourself), so they can see and hear what saying the passage without proper “support” will sound like.  (This will amuse them because it does sound funny)  If you would like students to feel what not using the diaphragm muscles correctly feels like, have them practice this.  Next, show speaking the sentence or short paragraph while using proper phrasing with breathing and while pushing the diaphragm muscles out (pushing away from yourself).  Have students practice listening to themselves and each other with saying the sentence and passage in this way.  I often have students do chants and echoes in groups and/or responses of a conversation so that they can practice speaking correctly and practice listening to each other.  By doing this they are able to listen to and help each other.


Breathing and phrasing are important to proper communication of the message.  Each language has its own unique phrasing.  English phrasing is performed through question and answers, through punctuation, through conversation, etc.  Wherever breaths are taken between words, it is phrasing.  If breaths are taken at incorrect spaces, communication is impeded and sometimes hindered.  Breathing and phrasing is most critical when reading or making a speech.  In English, if breaths are not taken at appropriate phrasing marks, then interpretation of the message by the audience can be different from intent of the speaker.  A speaker can be interpreted as boring, lazy, uninterested, mad, etc. all through improper phrasing.  These issues can be resolved by instructing students with breathing and phrasing exercises and activities.

Exercises and Activities (It is essential to model these to students before having students do them):

  • Do the exercise listed above under “Support”- Practice breathing in and out slowly.  Breath in for 10 seconds while pushing out (pushing away from yourself) the diaphragm muscles.  Breath out for 10 seconds while pushing out (pushing away from yourself) the diaphragm muscles.  The diaphragm muscles are called “support”.  This exercise will help teach “support” of sound to students which will help resolve errors in sound production listed in the paragraph above.
  • Do almost the same exercise right above, but find a passage of text you would like students to practice speaking and breathing in and out may be for a shorter period.  As students breathe out, have students speak the passage of text, taking breaths again where it is appropriate in the punctuation and breaks.  Have students practice taking quick breaths while still pushing the diaphragm muscles away from themselves as they take the breath.
  • Take a passage of text that you are interested in having students learn to speak.  Make sure the passage has varied punctuation and breaks so that there are enough points of phrasing that students can practice.  Next model incorrect phrasing by reading through the passage without following the punctuation and breaks.  Then have students read with you through the passage in this incorrect way so that they can feel what it is like to breath incorrectly.  After this, model to students how to effectively take breaths while speaking the passage.  Next, have students practice speaking the passage in small groups, as an echo, question and response, etc. with focus on breathing.
  • Find a fun song that you would like students to practice speaking and singing.  Have students sing the song or portions of the song with you, in small groups, with a partner, etc. As they sing, have them focus on taking  breaths at the breaks in the music.  This will help them practice and learn correct phrasing.


Correct vocalization and enunciation is essential by the communicator to correctly and accurately communicate a message to an audience.  Vocalization is using a combination of the vocal chords, lungs and diaphragm, and mouth in production of sound.  Sounds should be vocalized and enunciated clearly to the listener in order for the listener to interpret a message correctly.  In the English language some sounds are produced with the vocal chords and some are produced only with movement of the mouth.  Sounds that are produced only with the mouth need to be produced with proper mouth formation.  Sounds that are produced with the vocal chords need to produced with a combination of the vocal chords, tongue, and mouth. Proper breathing and support also effect production of correct vocalization and enunciation.  It is critical to practice breathing and support exercises before practicing vocalization and enunciation techniques.    (Speech teachers also use vocalization and enunciation exercises.)

Exercises and Activities (It is essential to model these to students before having students do them):

  • Find a tongue twister that has sounds that are both produced with focus on vocalization and enunciating.  Have students practice the tongue twister with a partners, as a group, as a chant, as a question and response, etc.  Students should focus on production of the sounds with their lips, tongue and vocal chords.
  • Have student practice producing the sounds of letters of the alphabet or blends with a partner.  Sounds should be separated into two activities: production of sounds that are only formed with the mouth, or production of sounds that are formed with the tongue and vocal chords.  Focus on placement of the tongue in the mouth is critical.  Focus on support from the diaphragm in the production of the sounds with the vocal chords on certain sounds is also critical.  This helps teach clarity in sound production.


Articulation is how short or long the sounds are and whether they are accented or not.  Languages have different components of articulation.  English articulation is critical in production of every word that is produced to effectively communicate with others.  Likewise, incorrect articulation of English much hinders communication of a message to the listener and can often completely impede the listener from understanding the message.  Articulation of words is probably the most critical aspect of sound production in English.  I practice articulation exercises most often with my students.  Every language has its own articulation patterns: points of accenting and points of using short and long sounds.  Often learners of English as a second language, will use articulation of their native language when attempting to speak and produce English.  Sometimes the audience can understand the message, but most often understanding of the message by the listener is difficult or impossible.  Teaching English articulation patterns to ELL’s is critical to their English language proficiency and execution.  Is the accent supposed to be produced on the first syllable, middle syllables, or last syllable of a word?  Are the sounds that are produced in a word supposed to be long or short?  These are questions that must be answered and taught to language learners.  Practicing exercises in articulation will help students effectively learn how to correct errors in articulation when they produce them.

When teaching any articulation exercise, I always do several things that are important to demonstrating and teaching students where articulation marks are, especially accenting of sounds in words.

Exercises and Activities (It is essential to model these to students before having students do them):

  • Say a word with two or more syllables slowly for a student and strongly accent (much stronger than normal and with the diaphragm muscles pushing out) the sound in the word that needs to be accented.  Say the part of the word that does not need to be accented much softer and with less emphasis than normal.  This will teach students to listen to and feel for the accent.  Find a series of words that you would like students to practice as an exercise.  Series of words can have a specific agenda.  For example, two-syllable words with stress on the second syllable, three syllable words with stress on the first syllable, etc.
  • The above exercise can be practiced in almost the same way, but with focus on legato (long) sounds, or staccato (short) sounds.
  • Write the word on the board.  After you write it, draw an accent mark (>) above the part of the word that is supposed to be accented so that students can visually see where the accent is supposed to be.  Teach students what the accent mark means.
  • The above exercise can be practiced in almost the same way, but with focus on legato (long) sounds, or staccato (short) sounds.  Write the legato (-) mark or staccato (.) mark above the part of the word that is the focus, instead of writing an accent mark.
  • When speaking the part of a word that is accented, clap your hands where the accent is.  Next have students say the word and clap their hands where the accent is supposed to be.  This will teach them to get a feel for where the accent should be.
  • Practice vocalizing legato or staccato sounds using the sounds of letters of the alphabet in repetition.  For example: l, l, l, l, l, l, or k, k, k, k, k.  Etc.
  • Find a song that you would like students to practice singing or speaking.  Teach students how to say a short passage in the song correctly with correct execution of legato, staccato, and accents in the words.
  • The exercise above can also be performed with reading passages, chants, tongue twisters, etc.
  • Practice saying words that are extremely legato very slowly and with repetition with focus in tongue production of the legato sound.  For example:  the, the, the, the, or will, will, will. Etc.
  • Practice saying words that are extremely staccato very fast and with repetition with focus in tongue/ mouth production of the staccato sound.  For example:  it, it, it, it, or if, if, if, if. Etc.


Rhythm of words and phrases needs to be executed clearly and accurately.  Incorrect execution of rhythm can make the understanding of the message difficult.  Spoken languages have their own unique rhythms.  English has its own rhythm.  Often learners of English as a second language will naturally use the rhythm of their native languages when speaking English.  Sometimes the listener can still understand the message, but oftentimes the listeners cannot or has difficulty with interpretation.  Teaching correct rhythm of the English language is essential for teaching ELL’s how to speak the language fluently and accurately.  And, by teaching correct rhythm or words and phrases, ELL’s will be able to effectively communicate with their audience.

Exercises and Activities (It is essential to model these to students before having students do them):

  • Find a tongue twister, song, speaking passage etc. that you would like students to practice.  Teach them through modeling appropriate spoken rhythm of the words.  Don’t teach the entire passage all at once.  Break the passage down into sections of a few words, or a sentence at a time.  Teach the rhythm and have students repeat speaking the rhythm.  If you hear errors in rhythms that are produced by students, model the  incorrect error they produced so that they can hear and see the error executed.  Next, model the correct rhythm, correcting the error.  Finally, have students say the passage with you again focusing on correcting the error that they made.
  • Do question and answer exercises with students.  Have half the class ask a question and half the class produce the answer.  Or, have partners practice questions and answers together.  Have students focus on producing correct rhythm of the passage they are speaking.  If you hear any errors, teach error correction in the same way as described in the exercise just above.  Have groups take turns switching saying the questions and answers.
  • If you know how to write music notation and match the notation with words, then this is a great exercise to do.  If you don’t know music notation then learning basic music notation actually could be beneficial to you as a language teacher.  Once you do learn music notation you can practice this exercise with students.  Determine a passage you would like students to learn.  The passage can be a short song, chant, rhyme, tongue twister, or reading passage.  The passage should be short so that focus can be on placing music notation on the board above the words.  Write the words on the board.  Next have students clap out the rhythms of the words with you while saying the words.  Repeat this several times.  Next write the music notation for those words on the board.  Next, have the students say the words as you are pointing to the notation on the board.  Do this several times.  Don’t yet write the words on the board.  Focus should not be on reading the words, but should be on producing the rhythms with the mouth.  After this, then have students with a partner practice looking at the rhythm on the board and speaking the rhythm of the words with the words from memory.  Next, write the words on the board under the music notation.  Have students practice  saying the passage again focusing on reading the the words and producing the correct rhythm while reading.  Finally, erase the music notation while leaving the words on the board.  Have students read the words and focus on speaking precise rhythms.
  • Listen to a song and have students read the words and clap out the rhythms with you.  Next, have them clap the rhythms only.  After this, have them clap and speak the rhythms again.  Finally, have them only speak the rhythms.


Embouchure is how the mouth is shaped to produce sounds.  Embouchure activities can be practiced with vocalization activities.  They are interrelated.  There are some questions that need to be asked and then technique practice should focus on these questions.  Which sounds of the alphabet are only produced with the lips and mouth, and not with the tongue or vocal chords?  How is the mouth supposed to be shaped in the production of various sounds?  Is the mouth supposed to be spread out or not?  Is the mouth supposed to be opened wide or not?  How are the lips supposed to be shaped?  Are the lips supposed to be wide, thin, or more open or more closed?  Are the lips supposed to be in the shape as if sucking on a straw?  Efficient practice of techniques teaches differentiation of embouchure of English sounds and also helps the non-native English speaker learn to produce sounds that are closer to that of a native English speaker.

Exercises and Activities (It is essential to model these to students before having students do them):

  • Practice vocalizing sounds of the English alphabet slowly and with repetition.  First focus on the execution of the vowel sounds: both long and short vowel sounds.  Next, practice vocalizing and repeating the other sounds of the letters of the English alphabet.  This can be practiced as a class whole, in groups or with partners.  When vocalizing, focus should be on formation of the lips and mouth.  Model appropriate mouth and lip formation of the sounds first for students.  Have them repeat.  If you hear them make errors, show the error for them so that they can see and hear the mistake.  Next show the correct sound formation for them.  Lastly, have them produce the mouth and lip formation with you in execution of the sound.
  • This above exercise can be practiced in the same way but with individual words.  Or, they can be practiced related rhyming words with focus in production of the correct formation of the sound that rhymes.  Lastly, focus on the production and differentiation of the mouth and lips with the sounds that do not rhyme.
  • Practice vocalization of sounds or words in echo or patterns in groups.  Write the words, or patterns on the board.  Next, have students echo or speak the pattern and focus on mouth formation.  For example, divide the class into four groups.  Write the short vowel sounds of a, e, i, o and u on the board.  Next, have the first group say the “a” sound.  Next, have the second group echo the “a” sound.  Then, have the third and fourth group echo right after each other the sound.  Next, have the first group say the “e”sound.  Have the other groups repeat in the same way before described.
  • When teaching any of the above exercises for embouchure it is an excellent idea to have groups in the classroom face each other, so that they can watch each other’s mouths produce the English sounds.  This way they can see proper mouth and lip formation.  If they are producing errors, by seeing other students’ lips, they will often see and become immediately aware of the error, and quickly fixing the error.
  • When teaching and modeling correct English embouchure of sounds to students, tell the students to watch your mouth.  Don’t start modeling the correct embouchure until you see all eyes on your mouth.  Students need to see your mouth formation to mimic with a response.
  • Using a mirror or having several mirrors to pass around the class is also a great idea.  After modeling embouchure formation of a sound to students.  Have them practice various sounds in the mirror.  This exercise can also be done with articulation practice.


Tones and pitches of languages are often very different.  Some languages such as Chinese, are actually tonal languages.  Tone is critical to communicating a message correctly.  English is not a tonal language; however, it does have some words that have the same spelling but are pronounced differently.  There are words that are spelled differently but have the same pronunciation.  A message is communicated differently depending on the focus of the pitch or tone of a question or answer, or lack thereof.  Questions in English are supposed to have the raising of the voice, pitch.  Answers to questions in English are more monotone compared to questions.  This is just one example of the different in communicating with tone and pitch.  Emotion is also communicated with tone and pitch in English.  Speaking monotone can communicate: boredom, tiredness, frustration, annoyance, uninterested, anger and many more negative emotions.  Speaking with high pitches can communicate: excitement, happiness, and even fear.  Production of words with high tones in English can communicate positive and negative feelings depending on how the tones are produced and where they are produced.  Speaking with low pitches can communicate: anger, frustration, and almost always a negative emotion.  Practice of sound production of the English language is critical for proper communication and execution of a message to a listener.  Oftentimes native speakers of other languages will use the tones and pitches of their native languages while attempting to speak English.  Sometimes the listener understands, but oftentimes communication is hindered and difficult.  Practice of tone and pitch exercises is critical in developing an ELL’s understanding of English tones and when under what circumstances such tones should be produced.

Exercises and Activities (It is essential to model these to students before having students do them):

  • Model correct tones for students in the various exercises for tone and pitch development below.  Use your hands in an upward motion to show when the pitch is supposed to be high.  Move the hand in a downward motion when the pitch is supposed to be low.  Move the hand in a sustained middle pattern, when the pitch is supposed to be monotone.  Have students moves their hands in the various directions with you while practicing these exercises.  This help them see, hear and feel the variation in pitch.
  • Model for students what the mouth and lips look like when producing high, low and sustained pitches in English.  Make sure they are looking directly at your mouth.  Next, have them practice mouth formation of the tones and pitches with you, or in small groups.
  • Write a passage on the board that you would like students to learn.  Draw arrows in an upward direction above syllables or words where the voice tone is supposed to be raised and draw arrows pointing down above syllables or words where the voice is supposed to be lowered.  Draw an error pointing toward the right when the tone is supposed to be monotone.  Draw high arrow pointing toward the right when the high tone is supposed to be sustained.  Draw a low arrow pointing to the right when the low tone is supposed to be sustained.  Next, model the passage for the students while pointing to the arrows above the words while you read the words and adjust your voice tone accordingly.  After this, have students practice saying the words with you while you are pointing to the arrows.  Have students move their hands in high, low or sustained motions with their hands as they speak.  Next, erase the words and have students say the words from memory while you point to the arrows on the board and students are moving their hands in direction to the pitch they are speaking.  Finally, write the words back on the board but this time erase the arrows.  Have students practice saying the passage by reading the words and focusing on trying to naturally raise, lower and sustain tone when necessary.
  • Practice chanting or singing songs that have varied pitches.  Have students listen to the song or chant and then try to decide which way the vocal pitch goes: high, low, or sustained.  While the student determines pitch, have them move their hands in the direction they think they are hearing.  Next, have them practice saying the passage with a partner while moving their hands in the proper direction of pitch. Finally, practice the speaking the passage together as a class whole first with using the hand movements and then without them.


Clarity in communication is essential to understanding a message.  The communicator may be trying to communicate one thing, but because the communication is not executed accurately and with clarity, the listener perceives the message a different way.  This can cause confusion and frustration with both the communicator and the listener.  Clarity is a mix of all the above techniques and skills.  Previously above I have mentioned to have students focus on one skill at a time while practicing a specific technique, instead of worrying about all the skills.  When teaching clarity of language, this time focus of execution of the language should be on all the skills above at the same time, instead of on one specific skill.  Practicing and teaching clarity of communication should be done after the above skills are taught and effectively produced by the student.  Teaching clarity is essentially practicing all the other skills learned, and trying to perfect these skills, resulting in producing language which is closer to the production of a native speaker.  Focus and practice of clarity helps a learner of English as a second language become more fluent and proficient.

Exercises and Activities (It is essential to model these to students before having students do them):

  • Practice any of the above exercises along but with focus on all the above skills.  Or, combine any of the above exercises with focus on all the above skills.
  • Have students write small speeches in English.  Have them practice saying their speech to a partner or in a group, focusing on producing all the above skills.  Have the partner or group audience help listen for mistakes in error of the speaker and help peer correct the speaker.  Once, students have practiced their speech with a partner or a small group and seem confident with the execution of their speech, have them present their speech to the class while focusing on all the above skills.
  • Have students write interview questions and practice speaking the interview questions with focus on production of all the skills above.  Next, have students actually interview other classmates or people outside the classroom so that they can practice their speaking skills and clarity of communication.  Lastly, have students report the answers to the interview back to the class while still trying to focus attention to clarity in communication.  If students interview a classmate, have the classmate also practice answering with clarity.


Correct interpretation of a listener is critical.  However, a listener cannot correctly interpret a message if the message is not communicated accurately.  Production of language and focus on interpretation should include all the skills above.  While focusing on interpretation, the speaker should think to themselves and ask the questions, “Is what I am saying being communicating correctly to the listener?  And, is does what I am saying seem to be interpreted correctly by the listener?”  Awareness of body cues, facial expressions, the verbal response of the listener, etc. can all communicate to the speaker whether the message is being interpreted correctly or now.

Exercises and Activities (It is essential to model these to students before having students do them):

  • Teach students common facial expressions, body cues, verbal responses, etc. to students in various conversational instances so that students can learn how to interpret if what they are communicating is being understood correctly or not.  Have students practice conversation, or questions and answers with partners practicing facial expressions, body cues and verbal responses.  Next have them practice this while focusing on the execution of all the techniques listed above.
  • Have students write a survey or questionnaire.  Have them ask the questions or survey other students or people outside the classroom.  They should practice interpreting facial expressions, body cues, and verbal responses while doing the exercise.  They should also try to focus on the execution of the skills above to incorporate proper communication of the language.


Communication and clarity are interrelated.  Communication of language effects how the listener interprets.  Communication practice should focus on all the above skills while focusing on facial expressions, body cues, and verbal responses.  By practicing these techniques together, students will acquire more native-like English language communication abilities.

Exercises and Activities (It is essential to model these to students before having students do them):

  • Use any of the same exercises listed under “interpretation” but instead focus should be on communicating accurately.  While practicing communication all the above skills should be attempted.
  • Practice any of the above activities listed under any of the above techniques, but with focus placed on communication of language.
  • Have students answer a survey with questions about the above skills to see how they rate themselves on the above skills.  This will tell you as the teacher, if they perceive themselves as communicating effectively.  If you see a differentiation in their communication versus how they answer their survey questions, clarify the skill to show the student that they have not yet mastered the skill and then reteach the skill to them, so they can correctly learn its execution.

Implementation and practice of all these music techniques will help a second language learner develop cohesion, accuracy and clarity in communication of the English language, resulting in precision and execution that is more akin to what a native speaker produces.