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Interview with an ESL Teacher


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“Excited to Learn English” by Luke Mackin is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


“Teachers are so overwhelmed, they see an ELL kid as one more thing, rather than as someone who has something really powerful to contribute to the class.”

Listen now or read the transcript:


In Episode 1 of the Cult of Pedagogy Podcast, we meet Kim, a middle school ESL teacher. She talks about the complexities of teaching English-language learners, like the power imbalance that arises when the kids speak English but the parents don’t, why ELL students won’t look their teachers in the eye, and the well-intended mistake so many content area teachers make when working with a diverse population. She describes technology tools that improve language learning, instructional strategies that make a huge difference, and what she would do if she could design standardized testing for ELL students.

Language teachers, policymakers and anyone who serves an ELL population will learn a lot from this one. ♦


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  1. If only our state legislators could understand the issues we as educators face when ELL’s enter our classrooms, state assessments hinder the creative teaching style of the teacher and the learning by the student. Great podcast!!

  2. Barb says:

    This is an incredible interview. Thank you to Kim for sharing so much information in such an easitly digestable way! I’m inspired by your clarity of expression in an area where I too, am so passionate. I’m a classroom teacher in Canada. I saw you Jennifer at a Peel District School board Tech conference last August. Your presentation was amazing and I’m so glad I follow you on twitter and facebook! I’m going to share this with colleagues for sure!

  3. Andrew says:

    Hi, is there any way to download your podcasts? Thanks! Your site is an incredible resource. It’s rare to find a teaching website with practical ideas. Usually, it’s all “theory.”

  4. Lisa says:

    Thank you for addressing many topics that I identify with. Does Kim have any other practical resources for ESL teachers?

  5. Janice says:

    So much of this was condescending to the classroom teacher. She talks about all regular classroom teachers as if they are inept and the ELL teachers are there to save the day. It would have been nice to hear some real solutions for use in the regular classroom, instead of a barrage of insults for people managing a room of 30 students. So tired of hearing how every problem is the fault of the classroom teacher.

    • Eric says:

      Have to agree about the condescension. I’m glad she is so passionate and pushing for ELL students, but a lot of her solutions are condescending and unrealistic. Expecting a teacher that is already dealing with an overfilled classroom to put in all that extra effort sounds great on paper, but isn’t healthy for the teacher–it’s going to end up being a lot of extracurricular effort. Additionally, any in-class extra effort you are spending on ELL students is time taken away from progressing the other students further. That’s supposed to be the whole point/benefit of ELL teachers. So no, I don’t think “holding teachers accountable” and just throwing more on their already full plates are serious solutions. A lot of this sounds like out of touch admin-speak.

    • Amberlynn says:

      I absolutely disagree with your underdeveloped negative opinion Janice. Kim is a brilliant educator and gave wonderful real life educational solutions to changing classrooms and schools for the benefit of the students. ELL teachers have much more of a challenge with multi-level learning and skills, content and classroom management. Conventional/conservative/perennial teachers absolutely need to re-assess how they teach and set up their classroom environments and it is up to them to adapt and progress from archaic traditional institutional settings that are not benefitting the current educational needs of the students, diversity or equity. You can learn a lot from your students if you understand their needs and what progressive education stands for.

  6. mohammed says:

    Hi, is there any way to download your podcasts?
    I am an Arabic teacher living in Qatar, poor in English, I will make your great site my private English language school.

    • Andrea Castellano says:

      Hello Mohammed! Yes, you will be able to download the podcasts. Here is a link to the Cult of Pedagogy Podcast page. There, you’ll find a list of where you can listen to the podcasts. The download process depends on which platform you choose, but yes, they are downloadable. Hope you find this helpful!

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