Lessons Learned, Lessons Taught Part 2

Guest author: Mark Garton

And so eventually I grew up and got a job. And then, well, another one. The point is, I’ve been teaching ESL ever since, and I’ve come to a few conclusions that I’d like to share with you now:

Through all my experience and studies, I’ve found that there are about three basic ideas to keep in mind when you’re either practicing a language yourself or teaching it to others:

  1. Conversation is good.
  2. Reading is good.
  3. Motivation helps too.

Those aren’t too hard to remember. So now my question is: How can I help my students in these three areas?

Continue reading “Lessons Learned, Lessons Taught Part 2”

Lessons Learned, Lessons Taught Part 1

Good news! I finally will no longer sound schizophrenic by calling myself “we.” Starting today there will be a real live other person involved – at least temporarily. My good friend Mark has kindly offered to write a guest post. Besides generally being a good guy, he has taught ESL for many years, was the director the Intensive English Language Institute at Divine Word College, and for you erudite academics out there, holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics.

Soon I will get back to making the singular role of blogging sound like a 24-hour party by calling myself “we” again. In the meantime, enjoy his take on language learning part 1 of 2.


 Lessons Learned, Lessons Taught

by Mark Garton

So why do I teach the way I do? It’s going to take some time to explain.

First a little background: My adventures in language learning and, eventually, teaching, all started for me when I was in third grade at West Elementary in Knoxville, Iowa. My teacher had just married a Mexican, and she came in one day with little Berlitz phrasebooks for her students. We learned a few numbers and other simple words, and I remember taking the book home, riding my bike up a hill overlooking the highway, sitting under a tree and reading it.


I must have been a bit of an unusual child. My teacher’s husband came to school one day, and we got to practice what we’d learned. I suppose this was my first exposure to language learning. If you’re from rural Iowa, you don’t get much of that.

Continue reading “Lessons Learned, Lessons Taught Part 1”