First bleg

I have a personal update coming soon, but this post is mostly a request. The short version of what’s new is that I’m now teaching an almost full schedule. Beginning next week I should have 20 to 25 hours of class a week. And with travel time around the city that’ll take up 40 or 50 hours.

I’m loving it. Teaching is great fun, and teaching language is especially exciting for me. But I’m not that good a teacher.

I’ve got some qualities that help me, and the (little) experience I have has gone a long way. As I realized several months ago they would be, my experiences as an editor and freshman counselor have been invaluable practice for dealing with and helping students. And my knowledge of English—thanks to years of being a decent student; an active reader, writer, and speaker; and lots of editing, especially through my college years—is really coming in handy now

But I’ve never taught grammar. And I haven’t even learned any grammar in the last five years. So I have a lot more I need to learn and relearn before I’ll believe I’m worth the money my students are paying (or the higher rates I hope to be able to charge soon). And I need to just develop my teaching repertory. Which is where you come in.

I’ve realized that there are lots of publicly available resources that I can and should be using in classes, or as assigned practice for my students. If they need or want to work on reading, I can assign or go over any written piece that captures their attention. If they want to practice their listening skills (beyond by talking to me), I can provide them with film and audio clips. I know of a bunch of these things, but there are obviously many, many resources I don’t know of.

So here’s my bleg: If you know of any video, audio clip, or written piece—or, better yet, any source for good such materials—that may be interesting and useful in an English class, would you send it my way? Here are some resources I’ve thought of:

  • YouTube videos
  • TED talks
  • Radio reports (like from NPR)
  • Newspaper articles/columns/editorials
  • Magazine articles
  • Short stories
  • Personal essays
  • Well written blogs

As you can see, this is a diverse and very broad list that’s not yet helpful. Here are the most awesome ways you can help me fill it out:

  • Suggest specific videos, articles, stories, posts, etc.
  • Point me to resources such as sites, publications, blogs, etc.

Basically the only criteria that I’m looking for are things that are interesting and utilize good, thoughtful, but not overly technical or subject-specific language.

I realize this is a super broad request, and I’m definitely not asking anyone to send a comprehensive list of everything written in English that has ever interested them. But if you have in mind or come across something thought-provoking, of general interest, and well written (or well shot, well recorded, etc.) that you think would serve as an interesting and helpful English resource, please send it my way.


2 thoughts on “First bleg

  1. Hi Pete! Got your email I’m going to respond soon I promise.

    I think you should youtube some old school “School House Rock” videos – sometimes seeing illustrations however cheesy of grammar concepts helps (I still remember conjunction junction with the trains) plus songs are always a helpful tool.

    For students higher up nothing is better than Phantom Tollbooth for looking at weird English turns of phrase and multiple meanings. (Plus it’s just awesome).

    Hope you’re having fun!


  2. Hey, Pete! I’m diggin the website.

    If vocabulary presents itself as a challenge, I remember starting to pick up words much more quickly than I had before when my middle school English teacher made us draw pictures relating to the new words. She hung up the pictures around the classroom and within days we had learned them.

    Also, I’m not sure if this is a viable option, but watching (recorded?) sporting events with English commentary may help. It’ll definitely keep your students engaged, and who knows, it may be effective.

    Best of luck with the teaching!


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