Welcome to the June-July TESOL Update. Summer is finally here, and with it comes the busy ESL season, with student numbers swelling as students come to study English on their summer breaks. Lots of people I know have headed overseas for teaching gigs in Latin America and Europe. I’m a little jealous, but I have to say I am enjoying the warm weather here and all that summer in New York has to offer. If you have thought about getting a TESOL Certificate to head overseas, an interesting country to work in is Russia – our featured country this month. We have the insider scoop from Liz, who taught there for a year. The Teaching Tip is on using Role Plays – we all use them in communicative classrooms, but they can be tricky. Other useful things teachers can do with their class are to use drama and audio-visual materials.

Me, Moscow Station,
Trans-Siberian Railway, 1993

We have professional development for our Certificate graduates on these topics, along with other free in-house professional development workshops. There is also a standing invitation for you to observe ESL classes at Rennert so you can get a taste of what working in the industry is like.

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
20 June, 2009
Using Drama and Audio-visuals
25 July, 2009
Grammar 1
22 Aug, 2009
Reading & Writing
19 Sep, 2009
24 Oct, 2009
Grammar 2
21 Nov, 2009
Vocabulary & Speaking


Using Drama/Theater & Audio-Visuals in the Classroom
20 June, 2009
To use drama or not to use drama in your ESL class? That is the question.
Why it’s important
Lots of activities you can use
We’re surrounded by media. So let’s bring the "real world" into our classroom.
Learn how to use different AV materials, e.g. documentaries, movies, commercials

Grammar for ESL Teachers 1
25 July, 2009
How often have you felt anxious about teaching grammar?
Review Adverbs of Frequency
Lots of activities you can use
Is your present perfect? Do you wonder about your past, present and future?
A comprehensive overview of the verb tense system
“Good teachers don’t teach. Good teachers organize learning.”
Discover how to teach grammar inductively
Want to bet you know your grammar?
Grammar Auction


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. All alumni also receive access to a comprehensive database of ESL schools in the New York City area.

We head to RUSSIA this issue. Moscow is an exciting city and the country is still in a very interesting transition period. It’s a wonderful opportunity to live somewhere completely different and truly immerse yourself in a new culture.

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

"Moscow is a lively city with excellent night life and is culturally active. The local people may appear hostile and unfriendly at first, but after a while they are friendly and helpful. There are a few Soviet hangovers with customer services. It is better to find work before you go. Language Link and BKC recruit remotely with a ‘package’ – apartment, visa and travel. It is possible to find work on arrival, but the teacher needs to have good Russian and contacts along with experience. If you are recruited by LL or BKC they will arrange the visa beforehand. It’s difficult to arrange a visa independently for legal work. You usually have a 30-hour contract. You get national holidays and some paid leave (but not much). Usually your salary includes some medical insurance and apartment. Language schools start at 07:30 and finish at 21:30, so split shifts are inevitable.

"You don’t need to speak Russian in the classroom, but it is useful outside work. There is some English in some bars, some cafes, hotels/hostels but little elsewhere. There is a great website that I recommend looking at.

"Teachers are paid the local salary. Teachers often complained it was on the low side but this could be supplemented with private work. Moscow’s not as expensive as people from the outside think. The survey which claims that Moscow is the most expensive city in the world was based on the costs for a business person, not a Russian. The best way at first of getting an apartment if part of a salary package - this is common. They are usually of a reasonable standard as well. Getting an apartment independently is possible but the tenant has to pay a large deposit. Most expats go to for apartment shares.

"The students vary greatly – you will likely teach all ages (Young Learners to adult) and all levels (A0 to C2), as well as a wide range of needs – general, professional, ESP, EAP, exams (Cambridge ESOL and IELTS). Many learners are quite demanding and can figure out whether a teacher has prepared or not very quickly. For that reason, it was a great place for that reason to begin a teaching career."

Happy to be in Moscow

Schools in RUSSIA that are known to employ American teachers:
This information is made available to graduates of the WL-SIT TESOL Certificate course.

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


Unlike skits, role plays shouldn't be scripted out in detail; instead you should give the student a general scenario with different elements and suggested ideas for complications to occur. Role play cards can be a very useful tool here. For example:

Student A
You are booking into a hotel.

Book in to the hotel - you have a reservation.

You are on your own. You want a shower.
You want breakfast in the morning.
You have an early meeting and must not be late.

Student B
You are a hotel receptionist.


Welcome the guest. Find them a room.

You can't find their reservation.
You only have a double room with bath available.

Before asking students to perform a role play you should prepare them by asking questions. The questions should incorporate the major parts of the role play and the vocabulary/idioms involved. After the question answer session the students should be comfortable with what they need to do.

Allow them a few minutes to study the role cards and work out some key sentences.
Give help where needed.

Each role play should be performed at least twice with the students changing roles.
In group situations have the stronger students act out the role play to the whole class.

You as the teacher can take one of the roles if you need to.

Avoid making corrections until the role play is finished.

Recording or videoing role plays can be a very useful tool for giving feedback,
but only if the students are comfortable with this.
Red Square