Welcome to the Aug-Sept TESOL Update. The usual busy summer season and at Rennert we are scrambling to find rooms and teachers for all the students we have. It’s a great time of year to be an ESL teacher in New York. We now have a Facebook® account. You can keep track of current events, see photos from previous courses, enter or keep track of discussion forums and more. Follow the link listed below to check it out.

For those interested in living and teaching abroad in the future, we have the insider scoop on a country many of you mayn’t have thought about – but that is a very different cultural experience – Syria. The Teaching Tip to file away for your future career is a great energizer, way to introduce a short passage and a fun way to help develop pronunciation and listening skills. 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 small glimpse of a future career.

Me, Algeria, 1991

The teaching tip is another personal favorite of mine – a running dictation. It’s a fun way to focus on pronunciation, listening, spelling and to introduce a paragraph in a communicative way. It’s also a good energizer that gets the blood pumping.

Enjoy the newsletter, and as always, please email me at with updates on your life, job offers you know of, teaching tips you have, or just to say hi.

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 ESOL 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.
9:30am – 4:30pm

To book, email me at, or call (212) 867 8700.
Schedule Summary 2009
22 Aug, 2009
Reading & Writing
19 Sep, 2009
24 Oct, 2009
Grammar 2
21 Nov, 2009
Vocabulary & Speaking


How to Teach Reading & Writing
22 August, 2009
Do your students find Writing boring? Reading a chore?
Steps for teaching & Lesson Plans
Do your Reading and Writing classes fill the room with silence?
Discover and experience a variety of different activities you can use in your
General English classes

Grammar for ESL Teachers 1
19 September, 2009
Pronunciation isn’t just sounds. What are the other aspects involved?
All aspects of pronunciation comprehensively covered
What’s the /aI pi: eI/?

Review the International Phonemic Alphabet
Do you wear you best vest or stop at the right light?
Practice with Minimal pairs
Do you wonder how to put this all together and teach pronunciation to your students?
Learn how to teach pronunciation


Each month WL-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 by TESOL Certificate alumni.

This issue we head to the Middle East – a place many don’t think of working and living, but an interesting place with a very different culture.

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

"Despite common misconception, Syria is actually not a Muslim country but 30% Christian with a secular government. The President practices a very liberal denomination of Islam. The people are very friendly. There are several reputable schools in Damascus. The British Council recruits both locally and globally. Teachers need CELTA or TESOL plus 2 years experience. American Language Centre is more flexible and recruits locally. Many schools will help arrange a visa for you.

I worked a 26-hour contract with split shifts. The timetable got very split during Ramadan. The British Council offered 35 days leave in addition to national holidays. Medical cover, relocation allowance and accommodation were also included.

There was a wide range of learners. I taught all ages, but there were more adult learners than young learners. There was also a compete range of levels – A0 (some pre Roman alphabet) to C1. There were also a range of needs – General English, some professional and IELTS preparation. I worked for the British Council. The pay depended where you were on their scales. The hourly rate was around 800 SP (around 9 euro) but it is a cheap country.

English is spoken in some bars, cafes, hotels/hostels but little elsewhere. My apartment was arranged through BC with an agent. Finding a small apartment for a single person is challenging. Rents are getting higher as well. In terms of culture, women should dress slightly modestly but there’s no need to cover up or wear a headscarf, though they should expect some unwanted attention. Most social life is family oriented."

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

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

Camel Train, the Middle East, 1991


If you have any great ideas/activities etc. that you would like to share, please email me:

This is a great way to enliven a tired class.

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.

Use a short text. This can be either a short text from the course book, a text to activate schema, an introductory text for a longer reading or a text used to present a grammar point.
Cut the text into sentences and place them around the room.
Split the class into groups or pairs. Each group must have one runner and a designated writer. Variation: Cut the text into half and use pairs.
The runners have to go around the room and read the sentences – committing them to memory – they are not allowed to touch the paper, take the paper back to the group or shout the sentence across the room. Once they think they can remember the sentence they return to the group and repeat to them what it said.
The writer of the group writes down the sentence as it is dictated. If the runner forgets part of the sentence they are allowed to go back to the paper and re-read it (same rules apply).
The group can then elect another runner and a writer and they have to find another sentence. The group then has to put the sentences in the correct order.
If you have used the variation, change the writer/reader roles after the first half.
Putting the sentences in order obviously doesn’t happen in this variation.
Then give the correct text to the pair/ group for them to check for accuracy.

HINT: To encourage running rather than strolling, introduce an element of competition so there is a ‘prize’ for the pair or group who finish first.


What is the World Learning SIT Graduate Institute?

The World Learning SIT Graduate Institute (formerly the School for International Training), located in Brattleboro, Vermont, is a fully accredited university offering master degree programs in language teacher education and intercultural management as well as more than fifty undergraduate study abroad programs. The mission of the school is to enable participants to develop the skills, knowledge, attitudes and awareness needed to contribute effectively to global understanding.

SIT is well-known nationally and internationally for its work in language teacher education and has been training learner-oriented, culturally sensitive and humanistic language teachers in their Master of Arts in TESOL course for over thirty years. It has prepared over 2000 active professionals who are working in the field today making significant contributions as classroom teachers, administrators or consultants throughout the US and in over 70 countries around the world.

Among the earliest proponents of experiential education, SIT’s program provides teachers with the knowledge to achieve excellence in their classroom practice and to be advocates for intercultural understanding. These same elements provide the basis for the design of the four-week certificate program.