Improv’ with today’s news

Task-based activity involving improvisation games and some of today’s news.

Students already have a basic understanding of improv’ and how it works. They have played and performed using each other’s creativity regarding the scenes’ settings (themes, topic, characters, relationships between character, locations, etc. )

Today, students will find inspiration in the news as reported by a random selection from North American print media (i.e. the front page) found on

I am hoping to receive students’ consent and (either voice- or video-) record the results. In this way, I could start assessing their comprehension, but also analyzing their understanding and interpretation of different cultural events.

More to come.




I graduated!

I graduated with a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics a couple of days ago. Here are the descriptions of all the course I took (and aced). 

FALL 2013

APLING_605: Theories and Principles of Language Teaching

This introductory course presents students with a theoretical background in the principles of language acquisition and teaching. It presents ideas and concepts from the fields of linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and education as they relate to language development and teaching theory. While briefly introducing students to theories of first language acquisition, the course focuses on second language development according to Behaviorists, Innatists, Cognitivists, and Social Interactionists. The course will conduct an historical survey of some of the major approaches to language teaching in order to understand the relationship between theory and practice. However, it is important to note that this is not a methods class. The semester is broken into three distinct but interrelated areas: systems internal, which deals with how the human brain processes linguistic information; the psychological and individual cognitive effects on learning, and systems external, which covers the sociocultural and institutional factors that affect language development among different groups of students. The course provides an introductory foundation in language acquisition theory that should apprentice students into the rest of the Applied Linguistics Masters Program. The course is a core requirement for the ESL concentration and can be used towards certification.

APLING_603: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

This course is designed to provide you with a background in cultural politics; especially in multicultural theory and practice. We will be looking at four approaches to understanding culture:

1). the traditional sociological/anthropological definition based on systems of beliefs, language, group ethos, routine practices, and material artifacts;

2). culture as it is affected by unequal power relations, institutions, policies antagonistic intergroup social relations, and resistance;

3). intragroup cultural differences;

4). culture as it is produced by media and perception (i.e., representational politics).

We will analyze the educational ramifications of discriminatory social practices and structures—that is, the conflicts over language, representation, race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, modes of production, religion, youth, national identity, etc. We are then better able through a critical pedagogy to examine cross-cultural communicative behaviors and the impact these behaviors may have on “success” in educational and other institutional contexts.

APLING_670: Testing in the Bilingual/ESL/ELL Classroom

Course Description: This course surveys assessment of non-English and limited English proficient students in the context of ESL/Bilingual classrooms. A major focus will be to examine new implications in accountability systems for language minority students due to the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The major units of the course include testing concepts and testing characteristics (validity, reliability, norm and criterion-referenced testing); language concepts (proficiency; dominance); social policy concerns of testing and assessment; portfolio assessment; and statewide curricular frameworks and assessment programs. Students will also have opportunities to both critically examine assessment tools used in current practice and to apply their knowledge by designing their own tools. Particular emphasis placed on familiarity with WIDA levels and the ACCESS tests.

Course Objectives: Students completing this course will be:

  1. Familiar with past and current issues and instruments in language proficiency testing;
  2. Familiar with the major theoretical approaches to language assessment;
  3. Familiar with basic testing and measurement concepts and different types of assessments;
  4. Able to discuss the implementation, instructional/curriculum issues, and problems of language proficiency assessment
  5. Aware of fair testing practices in education;
  6. Familiar with policies and practices for the inclusion of limited English proficient students in statewide assessment
  7. Familiar with formal and informal methods of assessing oral language proficiency; guidelines for selecting and
  8. Familiar with characteristics of various types of formal and informal reading assessments and their advantages and in school/educational settings; programs.


APLING_601: Linguistics

APLING 601 has two primary goals:

  1. to introduce you to the basic linguistic concepts necessary for understanding how sounds, words, sentences, and texts are structured in English;
  2. to help you use these concepts to contrast the structure of English with the structure of other languages.

This is a course in language theory, not language pedagogy. Consequently, while this course will indirectly help you teach ESL/EFL, bilingual education, or foreign languages, it will not focus on direct applications of linguistics in the language classroom.

APLING_612: Integrating culture into the Language Curriculum

The course is designed for in-service and pre-service language teachers in foreign language education ESL, and bilingual studies. It addresses the unique and specific concerns of linguistic and cultural pluralism in the teaching of foreign languages. The objectives of the course are the following:

  1. To explore various definitions of culture and models of intercultural development and their teaching implications
  2. To become aware of how culture has traditionally been taught in most language classrooms and addressed in most textbooks
  3. To familiarize oneself with the Foreign Language Standards and their       emphasis on culture
  4. To deepen our understanding of the target language (C2) culture(s) we plan to teach
  5. To become aware of our own cultural beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors and of how they can influence and shape our teaching
  6. To explore how cultural values and systems may be embodied in a variety of authentic documents
  7. To become aware of potential cultural conflicts between our own culture and the culture we teach or our students’ culture
  8. To develop instructional units and activities that adequately reflect and represent multicultural diversity and help our students discover and resolve cultural conflicts

APLING_678: Technology in the Language Classroom


This course will focus on the use of technology for the management of learning in a language classroom as well as the possibilities and challenges of technology integration in language education. The approach will be both theoretical and practical:

Theoretical readings will come from two course textbooks, articles accessed via the Healey Library electronic reserves, and from peer-reviewed online open access journals. In addition, students will explore wikis and other sites relevant to teaching language using technology, especially Web 2.0 tools. Students will apply this knowledge in a final essay that will synthesize course work.

Students will gain practical experience with the tools and pedagogy they are reading about by developing assignments and a final project related to their curriculum that they can implement in the coming academic year.


Students’ coursework will demonstrate:

 a critical evaluation of the use of technology in education, in particular in the language


 the ability to assess the usefulness of different technological tools according to current theories

of language acquisition and different contextual needs and goals.

 An increased personal computer literacy

Students will accomplish these objectives through individual and collaborative reading, writing, and discussing, as well as an individually chosen final project.

FALL 2014

APLING_611: Methods and Materials in Foreign Language Pedagogy

Course description and Objectives

This course provides students with an overview of approaches in foreign language instruction and of the theoretical notions underlying current trends in classroom practice. The main goal of the course is to make students aware of why they do what they do in a specific teaching context and lead them to make informed pedagogical choices. The courses objectives are:

Theoretical practical knowledge:

  • To understand both universal and individual factors and processes affecting language acquisition and to use the understanding in making teaching choices and decisions.
    • To become familiar with the main findings of Second Language Acquisition (SLA).
    • To relate methods and materials in FL education to current research and theory in SLA.

Practical knowledge:

  • To create new, specific course materials and develop techniques, strategies, and activities to enhance communication and students’ motivation based on one’s own teaching context.
  • To understand the National Foreign Language Standards and use them when designing instructional modules.

Reflective knowledge:

  • To become aware of one’s own routine decisions, attitudes, and assumptions about learning and teaching.
  • To question and reconsider previous assumptions in order to develop reflective postures aimed at re-inventing our own teaching practice.
  • To develop abilities to view FL practices, approaches, and methods in a critical way.

 APLING_623: Sociolinguistics


This course will focus on the study of language variation and its social, political and cultural significance. Students evaluate current sociolinguistic theory and research in sociolinguistics. Topics include language attitudes, language identity, societal and individual bilingualism, language policy, Black English Vernacular (BEV)/Ebonics, creoles/pidgins, and language variations by SES, ethnicity, and gender.


Course readings, assignments, class discussions, and research experiences are designed to assist you to:

  • Understand to role of language in society and how society also impacts language use.
  • Critically review and analyze sociolinguistic studies designed to illuminate the role of language in social stratification.
  • Be equipped with sociolinguistic knowledge and skills to discuss language variation along the lines of gender, ethnicity, culture, and class.
  • Develop critical skills in applying theoretical sociolinguistics principles to ESL/EFL and bilingual education theories.
  • Use the acquired sociolinguistic knowledge for development of more efficient language classrooms for culturally and linguistically diverse student populations.

APLING_637: Ethnography of Education


This course addresses the how and why of ethnographic inquiry. It introduces students to ethnographic approaches and methodologies, and, more importantly, to the kinds of questions ethnographers ask. A key emphasis is on demystifying the field of research and applying ethnographic methods and techniques suitable for the study of culture, language, and schooling. Students read and critically assess a variety of ethnographic research studies that address issues of class, ethnicity/race, culture, language, and learning. Students will also implement anthropological and sociological approaches and insights in planning for and conducting ethnographic observations and interviews. As a final assignment, students will be required to write a project proposal proposing to study an issue related to ethnicity/race, culture, language, and education.


Course readings, assignments, class discussions, and research experiences are designed to assist you to:

  1. Understand the theoretical orientations in anthropology and sociology that gave rise to ethnographic research.
  2. Understand the kinds of questions which have been and can be addressed fruitfully through ethnographic research.
  3. Understand the place of ethnography in educational, language, and literacy research.
  4. Learn about the data collection methods of ethnographic research.
  5. Learn about ways ethnographic data can be analyzed.
  6. Write a research proposal proposing to student an issue related language, culture,

and/or education.

  1. Practice the use of ethnographic techniques and the analysis of ethnographic data.
  2. Learn about ways ethnographic data can be written up and used.
  3. Identify possible instructional or policy implications of ethnographic research for

culturally and linguistically diverse student populations.


APLING_621: Psycholinguistics

Course Description:

This course introduces students to contemporary issues and theories of language development. Students will compare various perspectives on first and second language acquisition/learning. They will examine various types of analyses and research methods, and will consider possible applications of theory and research into teaching.

Course Goals:

  1. To become familiar with research findings on first language and second language acquisition (staged development; cross-linguistic influences, etc.)
  2. To examine various theories that have attempted to explain the complex processes involved in learning a first language and/or a second language;
  3. To explain the role each theory assigns to the following factors in the language acquisition process: input, learner, environment, cognitive development, teaching/learning, innate knowledge; interaction; cross-linguistic influences; consciousness, etc.
  4. To investigate some of the factors that explain differential success in second language acquisition.
  5. To frame new questions in light of current research

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. identify major issues in current SLA research and theory
  2. discuss problems and challenges in current research and theory
  3. describe how the field developed historically, including major trends in research/theories, major figures)
  4. summarize the important studies and basic ideas of research studies
  5. formulate questions about aspects of research articles and theories that they do not understand
  6. analyze second language learner data from several perspectives
  7. write coherent papers on the above topics using the conventions of the Applied Linguistics field

Lesson Plan: Shel Silverstein’s Poem “Where the Sidewalk Ends”

I. Preparation: Who is Shel Silverstein?

Each students receives cloze biography of Shel Silverstein (from

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 2.58.30 PM


Each student also receives one slip of paper with different information about Silverstein’s short biography. One slip = One sentence –> One student. Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.14.42 PM

Students take a couple of minutes to fill in the blank that corresponds to the information they received. Then, they walk around the classroom trying to fetch the information they are missing. This part of the activity can be concluded with a reading of the completed text, or a timeline drawing. This should give them an idea of who Shel Silverstein is. I also suggest showing a picture of him, and the Instagram handle @shelsilversteinpoems.

II. Reading “Where the sidewalk ends”

a. Vocabulary:

  • Start with asking students if they know what a sidewalk is, and make sure the explanation shared amongst the students is correct.
  • Give out this vocabulary sheet, and check comprehension. Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.27.10 PM

b. Illustrate: 

Students will work in pair in order to illustrate (draw) the specific piece of the poem they receive. (Teacher cuts the poem in piece before class)

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.31.26 PM

While the students are decoding and drawing their piece of the poem, the teacher makes room on the board for students to paste their art when they are done. The letters A | B | C | D | E | F are written on the board, and students go hang their respective illustration under the letter corresponding to the passage they were given.

c. Find the Order:

When all the drawing are on the board, students receive a copy of the poem (in the right sequence). From the class’ illustrations, they will have to put the drawings (by letters) in its correct sequence. In this case, E-A-D-B-C-F is the correct sequence.Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 9.44.16 AM

III. Understanding the Poem

  • What are the different feelings in this poem? To answer this question, students should work in pair or groups of three. They should come up with a list of feelings that directly comes from the imagery and language of the poem. Example (from students): “The grass grows soft and white.” –> Fresh, nature, young, freedom. 
  • Ask students what they imagine the sidewalk represents. First they can discuss in their group, and then share with the class. Write their suggestions on the board, and have them explain why they thought about the meaning. Remind them that they should refer to specific language and imagery from the poem.
  • Tell the students to reread the poem, and imagine that the sidewalk represents adult lifeWhat is Shel Silverstein telling adults?

I ended this sequence by showing them a reading of the poem.


I hope you liked this teaching sequence. It was definitely a success with my group of students (young adults). Feel free to share with me suggestions and feedback.


Teachers, These are the websites I have found useful

This is a list of websites that have helped me in my teaching language.

Study Guides and Strategies

Every time I find myself scrolling and surfing through this website I get ideas on how to teach students a valuable skill that they’ll be able to use in other classes. This website has a tons of information and pages, but they are clearly labelled and explained. It is not just for language learners, it’s for all students!

University of Texas, Austin–Foreign Language Teaching Methods

In this website, you’ll find a wide collection of lessons (podcasts) for teachers. They are intelligently categorized, that’s why I like it so much. The lessons are also very informative.

Sticky Ball

Yay, worksheets! I only use the adult section, because, well, I teach young adults. However, this website has plenty activities and worksheet for all ages, levels, and target skills. They’ll try to make you buy a book or another, but the free resources are great.

Super Teacher Tools

This website is!!! I was able to create my own Jeopardy game, and it was the way I quizzed and graded my students on a crappy Friday. They were able to collaborate, choose their questions, and have a good time. Meanwhile, I made sure the questions were relevant to the material that was covered in class. I can’t ever go back to not knowing about this website!

ESL Lounge

Randomly, I use this website mostly for the pop song selection. Students love listening to songs, and filling in the blanks. However, ESL Lounge has many more tools and ideas. I have gotten lost in this website.

Lesson plans, articles, forums, etc. This is a great tool all around. TEFLnet is crowdsourced by real teachers sharing their ideas. Definitely a keeper.

Bill of Rights Institute

I use this a good deal when teaching American history, and specifically the constitution. The Bill of Rights Institute offers lesson plans, ideas, and authentic material that can help build interesting sequences.


Amazing lesson plans and material for teacher. It’s alternative, geared toward student interest, and relevant. If you want to teach critical literacy, media and technology literacy, you should really check it out. The lesson format is consistent, so it’s hard to get confused.

Breaking News English

For language learners and about the world news, this website offers many many full lesson plans. The material and plans are categorised by level and theme. I strongly recommend you checking it out.

Teaching Ideas

I mostly use the literacy section of this website. You really have to check it out for yourself though. It has so many resources, it’d be rude of me to try and summarize in a couple sentence. It’s worth getting lost in. 🙂

Fiction Teachers

I teach a writing class, and one of my objectives is to get students to write fiction. This website has plenty exercises and ideas for teachers and students.

Dr. Young’s Reading Room

Scripts, scripts, and more scripts. This website is amazing and you should go to it right now!

Timeless Teacher Stuff

This guy has also compiled a series of helpful websites for teaching. It looks like the categories fit the public school curriculum. Great resource!


The series of worksheets is astounding. I have used them in my writing course on many occasions. The students always have a good time, and the exercises leave room for them to be creative.

ESL Drama

If you are curious to use theater in the language classroom, (which you should be!) this website is a good start. It links you to resources, material, and lesson plans. Highly recommended.

Games and Activities for the ESL classroom

The title says it all, no surprises here! This website is useful if you run out of ideas for games in the classroom. It won’t provide you with full lesson plans, but the small activities can be really fun to try out, and keep forever in your back pocket.

ESL Flow

Also worth getting lost in! The website design isn’t great, don’t get hung up on that. The lesson are really interesting and sometime critical in nature. I have successfully tried some of them out. I was never disappointed.

[No Title]

I create bingo games from this website. I am sure there is more to it. Check it out and let me know what you got from it. It’s by far the most random website, but has turned out to be useful for me. 🙂

Espresso English

I only access the free stuff. lol

Rong Rang Readings

These readings are so easy, I could very well write them myself. But when I don’t feel so inspired, I use Rong Rang. There’ll probably be a point in my career when I’ll stop using these small texts, but for now they do the trick. They are great for dictation and dictagloss.


This page thematically takes you to more pages. It’s magic.

English Grammar Online

This page provides you with grammar charts and tables. They’re a good start, and save you the time you put in making them yourself.

Many Things

This page is full of interactive games. They are hard to play in the classroom, put awesome to share with the students, so they can have fun with it on their own time.

 The NYT Learning Network

Amazing!! I have used in my reading course, it’s integrated and relevant. The lesson plans are really cool. You need to check it out!!

English Task–Descriptive Speech


This is a writing exercise about descriptive speech, for which I am asking you to create a fictional character. This description will go beyond physical characteristics: I really want you to create a character, a persona, and a story. You will also create a portait using one of these websites. It’s fun, and it will give you the chance to write more about their life and personality, instead of their physicality. I chose to create my fictional person. 

  • Create your person’s face. 
  • Name them. 
  • Write their story, experience, personality traits, background, objectives, etc. Write anything worth knowing about this person in 200-500 words. 
  • Email the picture and written description of your fictional character at, and I will post it as soon as possible. 

Good luck! 


Meet my fictional character, Ben LaVille. 


Ben was always the quietest person in the room, he didn’t like to receive too much attention. His voice was low, but his outfits were loud. Bizarrely, Ben would get attention because of the way he dressed. People would stare at him and whisper to one another, but he didn’t  mind that type of attention–the type that occurred far away from him. What Ben didn’t like was loud people who would try to interact with him, try to make him laugh, and force him to be nice. Ben’s mother was very much like that. She was always inquiring about him, and always trying to (very loudly) get his attention. He resented her for that. When Ben was 21 years old, he graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Computer Science and moved to Colombia to work for an American pharmaceutical company. He loved his life. He didn’t have many friends and was happy about that. After five years, he moved back to America for a job in Billings, Montana. He bought a house, a horse (named Joey), and a dog (Lucy). Ben met his soulmate on the Internet. François was a journalist, working for the Billings Gazette, and he thought Ben was the most interesting person on the planet. They gave each other the perfect amount of space, and eventually adopted a daughter, Flora-Lynn, who is now four years old. Ben donates money every month hoping to save the world and accumulate good karmic energy for him and his family. He has developed a passion and talent for gardening and cooking organic meals for François and Flora-Lynn.

Word count: 267

Italy for the Summer

It’s official, I am going to Italy this summer, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! 

I found a three-week gig for a English educator position at a children Summer camp in Tuscany. I am looking for job opportunities around the Florence area, but I am willing to move around in other regions. Although my field of work, passion, and interests are in language education, this is vacation time for me, so I am open to anything. If you know someone in Italy, that could: 

  • host me, 
  • temporarily employ me, 
  • connect me to people who could help me with the points above, 
  • or just be my friend, 

feel free to connect me with them! 

Grazie mille 😉