Compelling Conversations logo

Compelling Conversations for English Teachers, Tutors, and Advanced English Language Learners

  1. Teaching Themes Emerge at CATESOL: Use Technology To Meet Student Needs

    April 19, 2009 by Chimayo Press
    Chimayo Press

    Do ESL teachers want a more democratic classroom? Perhaps the workshop description discouraged English teachers, the title seemed too bold, or the other two dozen workshops held at the same time appeared more practical.

    Techniques and Methods for a More Democratic Classroom
    A more democratic classroom encourages student speech, features student created content, allows student choice of assignments, reflects student interests, and includes peer evaluations. Democratic classrooms create autotelic students where we learn by making good mistakes. Handouts.

    For whatever reason, my CATESOL workshop on “Classroom Techniques and Practices for a More Democratic Classroom” only attracted around 20 ESL teachers – and a few left early after taking the 12-page handout of reproducible lessons. Yet the ESL teachers who stayed asked good questions, shared examples to support my thesis, and several expressed gratitude. Consider me basically satisfied.

    Several other CATESOL presenters also lead workshops and shared materials and techniques to incorporate the internet, radio, and other authentic materials into ESL classrooms. While few other presenters used the word “democratic”, many other ESL professionals noted the need to be “student-centered” and include “critical thinking.” More and more English teachers, even the pseudo-Luddites, have become aware of teaching potential of 21st century technologies – and the ability to tailor instruction to individual student needs.

    I still wonder, however, why the idea of a more democratic classroom where students hunt and gather their own source materials to develop their language skills seems strange to so many English teachers. To me, it seems absolutely natural to guide students toward becoming self-directed, or autotelic, learners. Here are three handouts that I shared at my CATESOL workshop on Friday toward that goal. Use or lose. You choose.

    Ask more. Know more. Share more.
    Create Compelling Conversations.

    This I Believe Homework Worksheet

    Links: This I Believe

    Please select one radio segment, based on a personal essay, and read by writers. Find a story that resonates with you. Listen carefully. Take notes. Fill out the worksheet below. You will be asked to share your selection with classmates in both a small group and the entire class.

    This I Believe Title:

    Who is the author?

    What’s the main idea?

    Why did you choose this podcast?

    Did you hear any new words or phrases?

    Who do you imagine is the audience for this podcast? Why?

    What is your reaction? Why?









    Please circle the appropriate overall rating 1-10 (10=BEST)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

    Getting Job Interview Advice from YouTube!

    Student Name:

    Please find an YouTube videoclip that helps people successfully interview for jobs – in English – that you would like to share with your classmates. Watch the video, take notes, and review it for your classmates.

    Video title:
    Web address:

    Please describe the video.

    What interview tips did the video provide?

    Where do you think the video was produced? Why?

    How practical did you find the advice? Why?

    What was the strongest part? Why?

    What was the weakest part? Why?

    Who do think is the target audience for this video?

    Why did you choose this video?

    How would you rate this video 1-5 stars? Why?


    Comments (5)

  2. CATESOL Accepts My Presentation on Practices for a More Democratic ESL Classroom!

    February 27, 2009 by User ImageChimayo Press
    Chimayo Press

    Do you want to create a more student-centered, democratic ESL classroom? How do you tailor assignments to individual students? What websites and resources do you incorporate in your classes to help students improve their speaking and listening skills? Finally, are you an English teacher working in California interested in these topics?

    If so, my CATESOL workshop titled “Techniques and Practices for a More Democratic ESL Classroom” should appeal to you. The 50-minute presentation/workshop will include a dozen flexible, reproducible worksheets to create more student-centered lessons. I will emphasize a few familiar themes, including the need to create classroom rituals that allow students to share their interests and experiences. From my perspective, a democratic classroom is one where everyone feels comfortable speaking and listening – and has the power to choose their assignments and content. Let’s help our students become autotelic (self-directed) learners!

    Model lessons will include using YouTube to teach stress patterns and job interview skills, choosing radio segments for listening comprehension, and teaching students to become “reporters” on their personal interests. The hands-on teacher’s workshop will also allow participants to exchange their most successful, student-centered lessons. I will also include feedback on how student reactions from my university students and EFL students in Vietnam using Compelling Conversations. (Asia Pacific University of Vietnam has adopted Compelling Conversations as a core textbook for their new Practical and Academic English Language program for university and graduate students needing more English.)

    Naturally, I’m quite psyched since this will be my first state CATESOL presentation. The 2009 CATESOL conference will be in the Pasadena Convention Center, April 16-19 with the theme “Whole Learner, Whole Teacher.” Visit for more information. My section, #15686, is on Friday, 11:00-11:45 A.M. in Rm. 207 of the Pasadena Convention Center. If you are attending, please consider dropping by. It will be worth your time!

    Ask more. Know more. Share more.
    Create Compelling Conversations.
    Visit !

    Rate this:

    Comments (0)