Archive for May 2015

Tips for the English as a Second Language Student – Part 1

May 28, 2015

It has been my pleasure through the years to teach International Students. I am not speaking of teaching ESL but of teaching writing to International students whose first language is not English. These students are special to me for several reasons. First of all, they must pass Standardized ~English tests to be accepted into Colleges and Universities. The grammar and punctuation required is quite difficult. Also, they pay about three times the tuition of a native Canadian. They must save and spend much money to come to study here. Sometimes, they have no family or friends until they begin making them once they get here. They are choosing to immerse themselves in English so they can excel and achieve success in their careers.

Any teacher who has had these types of students notices them because they are always trying to improve. If they have made an error, they want to know how to correct it. They usually ask for resources or tips. It is for these types of students this blog is written for.

How to Improve in your English Immersion Experience

1. Keep an ongoing journal – write down any new words that you hear throughout the day. Try to copy the exact phrase – not just the word. If possible ask for clarification of the meaning. If it is not appropriate, later ask a friend or colleague for a definition. Use your dictionary to get a clear meaning.Try to learn at least 1 new word each day.

2. Keep a pronunciation journal – If possible get a voice recorder and tape yourself speaking certain words that you want to add to your vocabulary. You can always google a pronunciation dictionary for correct annunciation but you yourself should also practice the words until you can pronounce them with ease.

3. Watch/ Listen to the news in your region. Usually national news such as CBC or CNN or BBC World News are excellent in their pronunciation and grammar. This is excellent practice for speaking proper English.

4. Try to make a Canadian friend in your class. It can be as simple as asking to borrow a note. Try to improve your vocabulary by speaking to students whose first language is English. You will find most people to be friendly and willing to communicate. It is through oral communication you can best learn and use your English skills. You may make a friend that is more than an acquantance this way and not only improve your conversational English but also enrich your life experience.

5. Explore your city. Shop, go to the movies, attend interesting events to you. The key is try to do it without someone who speaks your native language fluently. The alternative, is you may go with an ESL friend but both promise to speak only English during your day. By participating in the events interesting to you and literally surrounding yourself by English speakers, you will pick up much information not possible in school alone. Example, phrases appropriate for sporting events or musuems or concerts.

Enjoy your Canadian experience!

Spring/Summer Semester Student Tips

May 21, 2015

It is May – most students work during the summer to save money for tuition and books, but there are others – the fast trackers. They are students who go to school year round. Some take full course loads and complete their degrees quicker than those who only go Fall Winter. Some schools have continuous enrollemt that allows students to enter programs each semester.

Some of my students are up grading – taking courses to boost their average.

Note taking

It is important to keep serious about your studies even hough it is spring/summer. Class attendance is manditory because 15 week long semesters are condensed into 12. It is important to take notes and get class handouts. Taking good notes always you to study easily.

Good notes should consist of Headings, subheadings and examples or specifics from the lecture or the chapter of the textbook. Where possible, record page numbers from your text to give you the references necessary for more information.

Some students find their lap tops are the best way to take notes. Others write them. In most of my classes, I give the notes to the students but ask them to highlight parts that are important

Write in point form but get the full thought. Good teaching lessons and your textbook is divided into Main headings, subheadings and examples or specifics

You should space the information on the page so ease of review is accomplished.

Example from the Cornell Note Taking Method

Writing (MAIN HEADING – Flush left with the margin)


Prewriting – point form notes ( EXAMPLES OR SPECIFICS INDENTED 2 TAB SPACES)

brainstorming of ideas



This approach will make your notetaking easy. Also – along the right side of the page about 1/3 of the page, draw a line from the top to the bottom of the page. Later after class, review your notes and put key terms that summarize what is left on the page. Those key words would allow you to study at a glance. See example Below.

Chem 709


Numerical Properties of Atoms

I Prop. related to Temperature & Heat

A. Melting Point

– when particles in a solid move fast enough to overcome forces holding them together – temp at which this happens = melting point.

– Freezing Pt. – temp. at which forces attracting particles to one another hold particles together.

– Heat of fusion – amt. Of heat req’d to melt one gram of any substance at its melting pt.

B. Boiling Pt

– Pt. At which molecules of a liquid begin to escape as gas

– Heat of vaporization – amt. Of heat req’d to change one gram of liquid to a gas at its boiling pt.

– Condensation Pt. – pt. at which gas, cooling, changes back to liquid.

C. Specific Heat

ex. beach – sand hot, water cold -why?

Sand & H2O have diff. spec. heat

Def’n. – amt. Of heat needed to raise temp. of a spec. mass of substance by a certain amt.

melting point

freezing point

heat of fusion

boiling point

heat of vap

condensation pt

specific heat

This type of notetaking is only one of several. But I highly recommend it as a way to not only get the information on the page but as a review and study technique to ensure success.