Welcome to the April TESOL Update. The yearly industry cycle is on the upswing and ESL schools around the city are starting to gear up for the busy summer season. This month we have the insider scoop from China. Nick taught in Shanghai and loved the vibrancy and energy of a booming city and ESL industry. It’s always important to bring the real world into our classrooms as much as possible. One great way to do that is to use DVDs and other audio-visual material. The Teaching Tip for April is a communicative activity on using DVDs in the ESL classroom.
Me, Buddhist caves, 1993

We also have the usual information about professional development our Certificate graduates can receive and our standing invitation to observe ESL classes at Rennert so you can get a taste of what working in the industry is like. As always, please feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions or comments. I hope you enjoy this window to the world of TESOL.

James Stakenburg
Head of Teacher Training - Rennert
World Learning SIT TESOL Teacher Trainer
212 867 8700


Rennert offers a range of one-day teaching seminars that are open to all TESOL teachers in the New York area. Alumni of the WL-SIT-TESOL Certificate course and Rennert teachers get a discounted of rate of $60 (regular price $75) for all of these professional seminars. All one-day seminars are 6 hours plus a one-hour lunch break.

Schedule Summary 2009
25 Apr, 2009
Vocabulary & Speaking
30 May, 2009
Listening & Songs
20 Jun, 2009
Drama and AV
25 July, 2009
Grammar 1
22 Aug, 2009
Reading & Writing
19 Sep, 2009
24 Oct, 2009
Grammar 2
21 Nov, 2009
Vocabulary & Speaking

How to Teach Vocabulary &
Oral Production (Speaking) activities
25 Apr, 2009

"Without grammar, little can be conveyed.
Without vocabulary, nothing can be conveyed."

When to teach vocabulary
Different methods for teaching vocabulary inductively
Have you ever set a task and the students sit there in silence? In your head you’re screaming “SPEAK! PLEASE!!!”
Different activities for all levels to get students speaking


Each month SIT TESOL Alumni who did the course at Rennert receive a monthly newsletter. Along with details of upcoming professional development seminars and workshops and teaching tips, they receive information about jobs. We are also currently developing a comprehensive job referral site for our website that will be password accessed byTESOL Certificate alumni.

In this month’s Alumni Newsletter’s job section we go to CHINA – a vibrant country full of the energy of an expanding outlook and opportunities. This is a great place to find work right now.

The scoop (word-of-mouth advice from someone who’s been there):
Nick lived in Shanghai for a year.

“I lived in the middle of Shanghai. It was awesome – it’s a really exciting city. It has the feeling of opportunity; an enthusiasm; as if you’re a part of something they will write about in the future. It’s a lot of fun – there is a solid group of expats.

I found my job on I did lots of research – my tip would be “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. For example, if the salary offered is much higher than most jobs, then it’s probably not real. I sent my resume via email and had a phone interview. You need a four-year degree plus a certificate is preferred. Getting a visa wasn’t so hard. You need a letter of introduction, but the school provides that. I was a little nervous because I’d never done the whole process, but it was very easy. I was also nervous on the plane – you always wonder if you’ll arrive and there will actually be a job, but it was totally fine.

The conditions were great. They picked me up at the airport and had temporary housing for me. A representative from the school and a real estate agent went with me and helped me to find an apartment. I started working five days a week in the evenings from 6:00-9:00, then I changed to six days a week 1:00-4:00pm and 6:00-9:00pm. There were longer hours on the weekend (double shifts). The students were great. I taught adults – they were business-minded, money-focused. They were really nice, kind, ambitious, diligent…I wasn’t really able to save money. I made about $1100 a month for 18-21 hours a week. That was enough to live in China and I had a really nice apartment – about one-third of my salary went on my apartment, which was a lot for China.

I didn’t speak Chinese–it wasn’t necessary but was helpful. But I found a language school and I was able to learn the language and experience that. The Chinese people are very nice and welcoming – not immediately, but it didn’t take them too long.

My advice for teachers going to China would be to bring deodorant! And don’t expect to have too much personal space, as Chinese people have a different concept of personal space.

I know some other people who worked at schools that weren’t so good, but I had a nice life there, and made a lot of foreign friends."

Me, Great Wall of China, 1993

Schools in China that are known to employ American teachers:
This information is made available to graduates of the SIT course.

Please note: While every endeavor is made to ensure this information is accurate, Rennert is not responsible for incorrect information.


Using DVDs: 50/50 activity
A short, fun pronunciation exercise to practice/review vowel sounds.

Students love to have DVDs used in the classroom, because it’s a real-life application of English. However, simply sitting down and watching a DVD with your class isn’t teaching. Here’s a fun activity to use with lower level classes (up to high Intermediate) that involves lots of speaking. This lesson can easily take 90 minutes.

Choose a 5-10 segment of a DVD that has lots of visual action. Mr. Bean is perfect. The scene form nation lampoon’s Christmas vacation where they put the decorations on the roof is also perfect.

Activate schema around topic and pre-teach any vocabulary. This activity can be used for an extension of a topic or vocabulary that you’ve already done. For example, I use Mr. Bean restaurant scene for units on restaurants; Mr. Bean’s Department Store scene for when we’ve been studying shopping, etc.
Divide the class into pairs. One student from each pair goes outside (Bs) where they can’t see into the room. Often students will volunteer to do this so they can have a break. You can give them exercises to do, but I usually let them chat.
Students inside (A’s) watch the DVD without sound. They take notes on what happens. Tell them they will need to report what happens to their partner (B), so that they have the expectation of watching very actively.
B students come back inside. A’s explain the narrative to B’s, who are encouraged to ask questions to clarify. If pairs finish earlier than others. Get B’s to explain back to A’s the story.
B’s explain to teacher, randomly around the room, what happened. Teacher refers back to A’s to verify correctness.
Then all students watch the DVD with sound to compare.

Do you have a favorite teaching tip to share? Email us: