15 Mar

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How to Improve ESL Students' Reading Skills

Are you looking for a new way to develop your students’ reading abilities in English?

One effective strategy to improve ESL students’ reading skills is to use authentic news articles in class.

By using this method, you can teach them new vocabulary, how to skim for general ideas, how to scan for specific details, and combine multiple reading tasks with active discussion. Moreover, integrating language skills in thiHos manner will help consolidate language learning and acquisition.

The first step is to find a news article that your students will be interested in. It should also match their level of proficiency in English. If the lexis is too challenging, then you may want to edit the article somewhat and replace complex vocabulary with easier words. However, modifications are not always necessary if you are teaching intermediate or advanced classes.

Next, after finding the article online that you want to use, print out copies for the class. Of course, if you have made any edits to the original article, then make sure to use the modified version.


Stage 1: Lesson introduction

At the start of the lesson, it helps to activate the students’ background knowledge about the article topic. You can introduce the subject and have them discuss it in groups or pairs for a few minutes. Try to encourage discussion as much as possible. For instance, get students to voice their personal opinions about the topic.

After leading feedback from the discussions, pre-teach any difficult vocabulary that exists in the article. You could write the words on the board and/or give the students a vocabulary list. Elicit and explain the meanings with examples.

Then, hand out the article for them to preview.

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Stage 2: Model the reading task

Before the students read anything, explain to them that they will be reading the article in short sequences. Clarify that they will read one or two paragraphs silently to themselves, then attempt to recall what they read in a brief discussion with a partner.

To begin, model the task by reading the first paragraph silently. It should only take 30 seconds or so.

After reading, cover the article up so everyone sees that you aren’t looking at it.

Then, briefly summarize what you just read (in your own words) for the class. Highlight any key points or factual information that you can remember. By observing you do this, students will have a clearer idea of what they should do with their partner once it is their turn.

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Stage 3: Students complete the reading task

For the next stage, tell the students to read the next paragraph (or several paragraphs) silently to themselves. Set a specific time limit ranging from one to two minutes depending on their ability.

After the time is up, have the class cover the article or turn it over so they cannot see the text. Then, they can try to summarize what they just read with their partner. Encourage them to recall a few specific details or interesting things that they read in the paragraph.

After their discussion, ask a few students to explain what the section was about for the entire class to hear. You can ask a few other people about key details that they can remember.

Continue the sequence of reading, discussion, and feedback until the entire article has been completed.

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Stage 4: Review and conclude the lesson

To conclude the lesson, you can spend the remainder of the class reviewing difficulties from the news article. Summarize main ideas and have the students engage in critical discussion about the article topic. Encourage the students to use new vocabulary that they learned in the article in their conversations.

There are other post-reading exercises that you could do as well, such as asking them questions to find specific information in the article. This will help them practice scanning skills. Making a game of it and rewarding points for correct answers can increase engagement too.

Alternatively, you could integrate writing skills by having them write a short paragraph expressing their opinion about the topic. If time is limited, the writing task could be done for homework or during the next class.


More ideas about how to improve ESL students’ reading skills

To find more information and additional tips for teaching reading, check out the ESL reading activites on ESLexpat.com.

The site also features a collection of other ESL activities and games that you can try in class to help develop your students’ language skills.

15 Mar

Michel 1

Why do you travel?

“Almost a quarter of the teachers who have qualified since 2011 have already left the profession.” The Guardian 

There is no doubt that teaching is one of the most stressful professions.

Although teachers get a great deal of holidays, these are desperately needed for rejuvenation. Days before a break, it is not uncommon to see educators holding on to ‘the end of the rope’. The coming time off is usually slated for catching one’s breath through some form of rest and relaxation, and sadly at times, to get one’s marking completed!

Many educators take advantage of school breaks to travel. This is particularly so for educators working internationally.

Although there is practically an infinite number of ways to plan a trip, many teachers opt for the default kind of ‘crashing somewhere on a beach to recover’. Understandably so! This routine travel planning often has at its root the desire to disconnect in hopes of recovering from the demands of work. 

There are other ways to regain vigor and freshness during breaks.

Although scary at times, the unknown can sometime stimulate parts of our being that are waiting for the right moment to take center stage.

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“Without new experiences something inside us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert

Experiences that touch us deeply have the power to reshape our lives, to ‘awaken’ aspects of ourselves yet unknown. Routine holiday planning is a sure way to minimize this potential. On the other hand, transformational travel opens up a world of possibilities for having powerful experiences that can change the way we perceive ourselves and the place we occupy in the world.

Transformational travel is the type that challenges us in different ways.  It’s the kind of adventure that takes us out of our comfort zone.  By breaking away from the known, we become more alive, we learn more and we dance more with life’s unexpected little surprises.

The following transformational travel examples may inspire you to ‘travel outside the box’ and bring about transformational experiences that will serve to accentuate your already rich life! Have you experienced any of these yet?

Book a trip to a random place you’ve never been to: Christina Noble had a dream that saw her going to Vietnam. Other than the media coverage of the war, she knew nothing of Vietnam. Without knowing why, she booked a trip from her native Ireland. At the end of her two-week trip, a single experience changed her life: she saw two very young girls eating ants off the sidewalk to feed themselves. Her book and film “Mama Tina” go into details explaining why witnessing this had such a transformative effect on her life. This trip was the catalyst to completely change Noble’s life who then went on to create the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation.

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Take a remote area trip: British photographer Jimmy Nelson is a prime example of this type of travel. He is the man behind ‘Before They Pass Away’, a project that aims to photograph dozens of tribes around the world, tribes that have managed to survive outside of the modern world. His photographs are simply surreal.  In a Ted Talk, he recounts some of his experiences living with the various tribes. Very few get to experience this kind of travel. It changed him profoundly.

“Traveling allows you to become so many different versions of yourself.” – Unknown

Travel solo: A famous example of this type of travel that many can relate to is reflected in the book and movie ‘Eat Pray Love’. The main character leaves her conflicted life behind to travel the world solo. The film offers a very powerful example of transformation. In many ways, the film is a feast of transformation. The thing about Eat Pray Love is that it offers an enticing road map to dive into solo travel. Just like the real-life main character (Elizabeth Gilbert), one’s personal solo itinerary has the potential to deliver a great deal of transformational opportunities. Your own story might be Cook Dance Volunteer!

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Take a gap year and travel the world: The rat race has many convinced that taking a year off is not a possibility. It is simply a choice. You may have to give up some things but what can be gained may be more than you could ever imagine. That is what my wife Christine and I did a few years ago. We placed a map of the world on the table and identified all the locations we wanted to visit, many of which were ancient sites such as the Giza plateau, Machu Picchu and Easter Island.  Armed with a one-year round-the-world ticket that covered six continents, we discovered the world in ways that had a transformative impact on our lives.

Traveling can have a profound influence and be life changing by broadening our perspectives. There is no better way to challenge many of our assumptions about people and the world than to travel and see for ourselves that, unlike what we see being reported daily in the media, the planet and its people are actually pretty awesome. There is a great deal more goodness and beauty than ever gets reported. In the end, it really is all about becoming a better person, creating a better world and honoring life. The world is waiting for you – what are you waiting for?

21 Life Changing Travel Experiences’ is a FREE 50-page eBook that you can download from here.

Michel Leroux is a teacher who spent more than two decades teaching mathematics in eleven different countries. He is a co-founder of Educators Home Share (www.educatorshomeshare.com). He is currently redirecting his career into entrepreneurship, public speaking, and now sees himself as a change facilitator. He and his wife Christine are both travel addicts! They currently reside in Indonesia with their three cats.

13 Dec

Before moving to China, everyone and their mother warned me about how terrible the air pollution was. Half of these people had never even been to China but it’s no secret that China’s air pollution is not the best environment for those who are more sensitive. You can, however, use these next tips to combat the air pollution. Keep in mind that different cities have varying daily AQI levels. If you’re in a city with more factories or closer to the north, you’re more likely to have smog in the winter months. Before you freak out and buy an inhaler, do a little research on your city and keep up with your area’s AQI readings each day. China has been curtailing operations at large factories to help reach their goal AQI levels. Until then, try out these next five steps to protect your lungs.

  1. Quit Smoking

This may sound like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how many people in China smoke despite the air quality. If you’re someone who has been smoking for a while, consider this one of the reasons to quit. Air pollution and smoking have very similar effects on the lungs so if you’re smoking and living in a heavily polluted city, the damage to your lungs is doubled.

  1. Work Out Inside

If you’re a runner and you like watching the trees as you run down the lane, you may want to invest in a gym membership. When you’re running outside, you’re breathing more of the polluted air as you gasp for each breath during the run and recovery. Though running on a treadmill isn’t as fun as running outside, you’ll be doing your lungs a huge favor.

  1. Invest in an Air Purifier

Investing in an air purifier improves the air quality in your home by filtering out pollutants like dust, smoke, and pollen. If you have allergies, then airborne particles aggravate your allergies and make them worse. If you’re sneezing and wheezing, you may be allergic to the airborne particles that you can’t see or track.

  1. Wear a Face Mask

Come winter, you’ll see plenty of people walking around with a face mask on. The face mask is a wonderful fashion accessory that can complement your outfit. Other than aesthetics, face masks have other applications as well. It protects you from PM 2.5 particles. PM 2.5 is the standard particle size that lurk in the air and can hurt your lungs. You can find them in stores and online with cute prints and cartoons printed on them.

  1. Chinese Remedies

The last recommendation is more of an unusual one. Chinese people have long used their diet to combat disease and sickness. Guess with one of the largest populations in the world, something is working, eh? Eating foods like garlic, wood ear fungus (木耳), radish, and winter melon helps to clean out the lungs.

If you’re worried about the greenhouse gasses in the air, there’s no need to fret. China’s government has been stricter on industrial factories and has made significant strides in reducing pollution. China is actually outpacing the United States in reducing greenhouse gasses and lowering emissions as of May 2017. Personally as someone who has lived in China for some time, it has progressively gotten better and we just keep seeing more and more improvement.


06 Dec

Traveling and living abroad can mean different things to all of us. Here’s what living in Shanghai means to me!


  1. It’s different to anywhere I’ve been before and each day I am still astounded by the scenery and its beauty!
  2. I am living a life that is culturally different. It can be easy in times of difficulty to resort to habits I may have had when back home, so I make a conscious effort to embrace the culture here.
  3. I am able to travel pretty much anywhere!! Transport is easy and cheap to use, so exploring is a must.
  4. I appreciate the little things that I never noticed back home, but equally I value the new things here that I actually prefer.
  5. I am challenging myself each day. Whether it be trying to use some Chinese phrases I’ve learnt, or finding which exit of the metro I need.
  6. Everyone is/was in the same position as you are. I am never afraid of things I don’t know now because everyone has been there and people are always happy to help.
  7. I am always learning and growing. For me, being in a different environment every day opens up my knowledge and understanding of life in general which is really nice.
  8. I value family and relationships more than ever.
  9. I get to meet new people who have come from all different walks of life, and on the odd occasion meet some who may have been just a town away when I lived back home.
  10. Finally, traveling is memories made that I will treasure for the rest of my life.




                                                                                                                                            By Jayne

Associate Placement Consultant at Teaching Nomad

About our company: Teaching Nomad is an American owned and operated education recruitment company based in Shanghai, China. Our goal and purpose is to help great teachers find great teaching jobs. Year round, we have hundreds of teaching job vacancies. Whether your goal is to be an ESL teacher or teach in an international school, we have a teaching job for you. You can browse jobs online at www.teachingnomad.com/job-search for the latest job openings. Teaching Nomad is here to make teaching in China easier, so please feel free to reach out and contact us with any questions or inquiries!

05 Dec

Adjusting to a new environment takes some time for your body to adapt to. With your focus on adapting to your new life, you may have neglected your health as well. Keep in mind these tips to prevent catching something during flu season!



  1. Kid Germs

It's no secret that when you're working with kids, you're more prone to catching a bug. We all remember our younger selves and the questionable and sticky things we got on our hands and shirts. Keep in mind that this can easily be transferred to you. When you're teaching kids in a confined classroom, there’s no escape from 'Kid Germs'. Try your best to limit direct contact with your students and promote healthy hygiene. You'll be doing yourself a favor and have an additional topic to fill your lesson plan!

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  1. Hand Sanitizer/Wet Wipes

With any sudden stop on the metro or bus, your hand automatically shoots up to steady yourself. More often than not you will have grabbed onto one of the many poles on the metro car. With more hands touching these poles than the door knob of the busiest bathroom in your office building, you will have been transferred many people’s hand germs. Hand sanitizers and wet wipes fit right into your pocket or bag and get those pesky germs off your hands. These can be a life saver if you commute to work during the week.

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  1. Stay Clean at Home

Every working adult has their lazy days. Laundry begins to pile up and dishes in the sink are neglected. The longer you haven't touched your vacuum or washing machine, the more time germs have to build up. Regularly clean your space no matter how tired you are. Walking into a clean space and being able to kick your shoes off is more rewarding than walking into a cockroach infested home (not that we believe you have a cockroach infested home but you get the picture).

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  1. Healthy Diet

As good as it feels to eat some nachos and wash it down with a beer, there are few benefits to eating junk food. Fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats have vitamins and antioxidants that help your body attack some of those viruses. Something as simple as a squeeze of lemon in your tea can do wonders.

Lastly, you must be pro-active to prevent getting sick. Don't wait until you can't even have a full conversation without coughing every thirty seconds to do something about it. In the long run, it saves time and you'll feel your best all year round!

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                                                                                                                                            By June A

Associate Placement Consultant at Teaching Nomad


About our company: Teaching Nomad is an American owned and operated education recruitment company based in Shanghai, China. Our goal and purpose is to help great teachers find great teaching jobs. Year round, we have hundreds of teaching job vacancies. Whether your goal is to be an ESL teacher or teach in an international school, we have a teaching job for you. You can browse jobs online at www.teachingnomad.com/job-search for the latest job openings. Teaching Nomad is here to make teaching in China easier, so please feel free to reach out and contact us with any questions or inquiries!

Teaching Nomad is your connection to teaching in Asia & The Middle East! We are a western owned and operated teacher placement agency with offices in Denver & Shanghai. We take a lot of pride in connecting teachers with great teaching opportunities.


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