November 2012

TESL Ontario 2012 – Speaking Made Simple – Scaffolding for Teachers

TESL Ontario 2012 – Speaking Made Simple – Scaffolding for Teachers

• I got new ideas and am enthusiastic about implementing them in my class. TESL 2011 Judy Podium

Interesting and engaging

I could use the methods in my class

• It was good to see how the system could be incorporated into lesson plans and how to make those plans from scratch.

• She delivers a very usable message and great ideas to use in the classroom

• Spelling/pronunciation in English is very confusing for students – this can help them deal with some of these confusing problems

• Because speaking is the core proficiency skill, sharing ideas about how to teach it with others will never stop being relevant.

• Excellent! Great presentation. Practical and entertaining!

• A good analysis of pronunciation – the presentation was a little shorter than anticipated, but good, nevertheless.

• Good presentation. Some new ideas to introduce and others that are very relevant.

• I like Judy.

• I love Judy’s ideas, tips and presentation style. I always learn things that I can apply in class immediately.

• I thought she was fantastic!

• Lots of ideas on how to engage students. I particularly liked her advice to divide the board in half and show writing and speaking as separate items.

• She was very knowledgeable about her topic and very entertaining, but she went far too quickly!!!!!

• She is very dynamic – a delightful presentation!

• The presentation was very good with very valuable information. The presenter knew her material very well. Very passionate about her work.

• What an amazing teacher, speaker. Learned a lot, bought the books and am using them right now.

Excellent session. Funny and knowledgeable.

• The presenter was a wellspring of valuable information concerning teaching pronunciation.


TESL Ontario 2012 – Grass is Black Sound Dictionary

TESL Ontario 2012 – Grass is Black Sound Dictionary

Ontario ESL Teachers working on Grass is Black together

Ontario ESL Teachers working on Grass is Black together

  • Excellent visuals, great energy and enthusiasm. A true Canadian genius to share with the world.
  • This was very relevant as I have already introduced the “English Is Stupid” program to my students. I was interested in the development of the dictionary. I could have listened for another hour, though. Too short.
  • Great work!
  • I have used some of the methods from this resource before and they have worked in the classroom.
  • I learned valuable information and ideas from this workshop. It takes time for students to switch from their traditional way of learning words in an alphabetical order to this new method.
  • I teach pronunciation so it was very relevant to me.
  • Interesting session. Good info for students.
  • Very insightful and engaging
  • This was a very interesting and practical workshop on how to teach spelling through pronunciation color codes. Learners whose weaknesses are in speaking and pronunciation would benefit from this workshop. Teachers who implement pronunciation components into their ESL lesson plans would also find this workshop useful and practical.
  • Very well presented. Practical and innovative.

    Morgan at the TESL 2012 booth with Grass is Black six months later

    Morgan at the TESL 2012 booth with Grass is Black six months later

  • The “Grass is Black” workshop stands out the most in my mind, since Judy Thompson, the presenter, provided very concrete teaching scenarios with practical examples that can be applied in pronunciation lessons. Her enthusiasm was a great motivator for teachers who can in turn, motivate their students.
  • The presenter knows the topic well and made it interesting
  • Longer would have been even better!!!
  • Judy is excellent and inspiring!
  • Judy is engaging and entertaining. She is an excellent speaker and one can tell she’s a great teacher.
  • Judy is a high-energy presenter
  • Great concept!


She made it to the next round…

…and someone gave her a copy of the words.

English has many words

…that mean more than one thing. It can be a problem.

Three Things You Need To Know About Spoken English

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, Judy Thompson got her 15.03 minutes to change the world on TEDxOakville with Three Things You Need To Know About Spoken English

Thompson Language Center @ Language & Cultural Festival 2010

A 4-mins interview of Judy Thompson at the Language and Cultural Expo in Toronto.

Making History

November 7, 2012

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

English is Stupid was a big hit and it was followed in 2011 by an exercise book for the English Phonetic Alphabet. I had a lot of help with the Workbook. A college intern created the templates, I added the content, volunteer ESL teachers edited the exercises and Noreen Brigden worked so hard with me on the format, we put both our names on the cover. Voila. English is Stupid took eight years to create and the English Phonetic Alphabet Workbook took one.

Like an idiot, at the TESL Conference Workbook launch I publicly promised the sound dictionary would be available at the next year’s conference. Luckily I had learned a valuable lesson. Ask for help. I offered to waive the $500 tuition for our Teacher Training Weekend in exchange for 20 hours of volunteer work on the dictionary. Fifteen teachers accepted and each received a word list from one of the color chapters. Their task was to provide definitions as one would explain words to a six-year old child. There is nothing I hate worse than having to also look up the description words in a definition! The first-draft team submitted a wide range of styles, language levels and formats, but we three-hole-punched the pages and put them in a binder. The sound dictionary was starting to look like a book.

On July 28, 2012 a new fifteen-member team of volunteers registered at Benmiller Inn  Their job was to standardize the look of each chapter and to add expressions.Students know that ‘red’ is the color of blood and that ‘eye’ is what they look out of to see, but they don’t know that ‘red eye’ is an overnight flight and they can’t guess. Our dictionary was not only going to help students spell, pronounce and understand words they encounter in real life – they were also going to be able to see how each word is used in expressions.

Before Grass is Black, dictionaries were not resources that students could actually use. We were making history and ‘pretty’ excited about it. (Old dictionaries tell students ‘pretty’ means beautiful, but our dictionary tells them it often means 70%).

It took much longer than a weekend but we finished the second draft, editing, entering the edits, reediting, formatting and printing. The first edition of the Grass is Black Sound Dictionary was delivered on November 7, 2012 in time for the TESL Conference – the next day. Phew.

What color is phew?

It’s Blue:)

Until next time,

Teacher Judy