Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TESOL Teaching Tip #44 - Do You Call it a Basket, a Buggy, a Cart or a Trolley?

As a teacher at an International School, many of my students are English Language Learners. Even my native English speakers are living in a non-English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here is this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:

TESOL Teaching Tip #44 - Teach dialectical words to esl and ell students. The way we speak turns into the way our students speak, but the way we speak may not be the way everybody speaks. Taking time to teach our students about different dialects of English can help make them stronger students. Find more specific information on my blog - Raki's Rad Resources.

ELL Teaching Tip #44: Teach Dialectal Words

On the playground today, one of my students was pushing the plastic shopping cart around telling the other students to “Move, move, the trolley’s coming through!” Another student, who is just learning English, quickly responded with “It’s not a trolley, it’s a cart!”  This quickly proceeded into an argument which I got to break up.  It was a great teaching moment though, as we got to discuss how different regions had different words for the same item.  This got me thinking about how we teach homonyms regularly, but rarely talk about how regional dialects can also affect language.  So my ELL Tip for this week is to help your students explore dialectal differences in language.
My hypothesis is that the main reason most teachers don’t teach dialectal differences is that many of us, as adults, are not aware of the differences unless they have lived in or been exposed to different dialects of English.  So, here are some websites to help you familiarize yourself with some dialects of English:
British English vs. American English
Australian English vs. American English
South African English Regionalism
Regionalism in American English
Choose a few key regional vocabulary differences and talk about these differences with your students.  If you start by introducing your students to just a few differences, it will open their mind to the idea of one item having many words to describe it.  Then, as words come up in books or movies, you can come back to this point regularly.  It also helps to read books with your class where regional dialects come up.  (This is a great time to talk about author’s voice too.)
I personally speak with a Northern US regional dialect, what dialect of English do you speak with?

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Find more TESOL Teaching Tips here, and come back every Tuesday for a new tip!