Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Working with triads

This week, great Alistair gives us a very productive idea on how we can work with triads (as an alternative to pairwork). From roleplays and discussions on grammar, he goes on to rewiew a proposal Nolasco and Arthur present in their book Conversation. Basically, it goes like this: 2 students have a conversation on any topic, in which B has been told to use a certain "sub-skill" (e.g. interrupting, negotiating meaning, holding the floor, etc.) as many times as possible (mind you, A must not be aware of this). The third student must simply observe them and take down instances of the sub-skill being used (something neither A or B know, BTW).

To read it in detail, go here.

I believe this is quite a replicable technique that might be used as a time-filler or to develop specific sub-skills with many different age groups and levels. Besides, I appreciate the fact it allows shy students to shine by playing part C!

Let us know if you've tried it!


PS: remember you can subscribe to Developing Teachers newsletters for free. Just click here.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Some "different" dictionaries

As we turn into the discussion of how to help our students acquire lexis, today I'd like to invite you to look into three online (free) dictionaries which I believe are rather different from what you might be familiar with:
ozdic.com - Collocations for "task"
Do you know of other online dictionaries you'd like to recommend? How do you think these resources might be integrated into the EFL lesson? Share your ideas by posting a comment to this entry!
See you around!
NOTE: Originally published on 19th June, 2009. Last updated on 7 September, 2012.

Friday, 4 June 2010

The World Cup is here!

Many of us will now have to face the challenge of keeping our students learning English... while their minds are on the Football World Cup!

Longman Pearson is offering us all some great resources to help us succeed at this. Check them out!

(just click on the image above to get access to several handouts)

There are ideas for different levels. I'm positive teens and adults in Argentina would enjoy them!

If you try any of these with your classes, just let us know!


Friday, 7 May 2010

The communicative classroom

Most present-day practitioners would probably like to think that their classes are "communicative" in the widest sense of the word. Their lessons probably contain activities where learners communicate and where tasks are completed by means of interaction with other learners. To this end... [more]

Rings a bell, doesn't it? Right now, when we happen to be discussing the challenges of communicative language teaching at college, Tim Bowen (via Macmillan) shares a most interesting article on the issue. Definitely an opportunity not to be missed!

I invite you to enjoy Bowen's article (just follow the link!) and come back here to share your reactions:
1. What idea has caught your attention the most?
2. What relationships can you establish between Bowen's ideas and the ones discussed so far either in class or by the authors you've been reading?
3. Would you describe your own teaching as communicative? Why (not)?

That's all for today...
Have a nice weekend!


Monday, 26 April 2010

You plan what you are

Great teacher Alistair writes:

When we plan our courses, the syllabuses we draw up reflect the ideas we have about teaching. If we think that grammar is one of the most useful tools, then there will be lots of grammar in the plan. If we think that functional work is the way to go then this will dominate. Likewise with skills, if we feel that the development of language skills rather than language is the road to success, we might take a more task-based approach…

(you can read more about this, and even subscribe to his free newsletter here)

As we are right in the middle of our discussion on lesson planning, I couldn't help but think this idea perfectly applied to the aims you set for your lesson plans... Do you agree? And how much do you like the image of yourself your lesson aims show?

See you next Fri!

Monday, 22 March 2010

How do teens perceive their academic self?

We read in Mid-March '10 Edition of Dr Kathie Nunley's Educator's Newsletter:

High School students' academic self-concept is influenced not only by the achievement levels of other students in their class (so called, "frame of reference" effect) but also by the prestige or standings of the school they attend (so called,"reflected glory" effect). In a large study, researchers found that among equally achieving students, those placed in high-achieving learning groups had lower academic self-concepts than their peers. But, the negative effects of being placed in high-achieving learning groups were weaker for high-achieving students. For both groups, academic self-concept was positively influenced by their perceived school standings in the community. Trautwein, U., et al. (2009). Within-school social comparison: How students perceive the standing of their class predicts academic self-concept.

Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(4), 853-866.

Interesting, don't you think?


NOTE: You can subscribe to this newsletter at: http://help4teachers.com/newsletter.htm

Monday, 15 March 2010

A CLIL lesson plan

Just before classes at TTC start once again, why not have a look at...

... Carol Read's Amazing world of animals?

In this six-lesson CLIL project children build up their language skills and learn about different aspects of animal life in order to create a magazine/e-zine.

Have you ever implemented any CLIL lessons yourself? Would you try something similar with teen learners or adults? Or do you think such an approach would only work with young learners?


Monday, 22 February 2010

Managing behaviour

As we get ready to go back to school, doing our best to teach "Positive discipline" becomes a hot issue to most of us, teachers in service. Why not devote 15 minutes to enjoy John Bayley observing a series of lessons and demonstrating how top teachers produce results? There are four different videos available, so choose the one you find most appealing from the title, and follow the link!

Do you have any tips on behaviour management to share? Or any questions you'd like to ask? Post a comment!


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Using our mother tongue in class

On 15th Feb 2010, David Alistair posted the following tip (#150) at DevelopingTeachers.com:

"If you are teaching monolingual groups it is clearly very useful to know the mother tongue of your students as you can pre-empt some problems they might have. But actually using the mother tongue as a teaching tool has been a different story as teacher training courses used to banish it to ELT oblivion & we used to ignore the poor student who was desperate to translate,
encouraging them to 'think' in English. Nowadays it is recognised as a useful & natural tool in the process of language learning.

"There is still a case for not using it on the initial training course as some teaching skills might not be developed if translation were relied on. Here are a few translation activities:

"1. Same day articles - for news stories that have international appeal, get hold of copies of the English story & the students' language story - newspapers, internet, radio. - predict the
content of the story.
- read the English version & picking up on any useful language.
- students translate the story.
- they then compare their versions with the mother tongue version.
- they could also then compare the mother tongue version & the English versions, looking at style & content.
The shorter the article the better!

"2. False friends - picking up on them as they crop up or in warmers/coolers. (Spanish/English false friends here)

"3. New language consolidation - after the presentation & before the practice, elicit & have a quick comparison with the mother tongue version of the target language to highlight the similarities or differences. This can be a very comforting stage for the students.

"4. To provide variety to your array of techniques, use the Community Language Learning (CLL) procedure now & then. Very basically, this involves seating the students in a circle with a tape recorder in the middle. They have a conversation, preferably about a subject of their choice but you could lead into it from the current theme, & all of their contributions are taped. When they have a problem, they call on you & you whisper to the student the English version of what they want to say. They then say this in the conversation. This technique can be used at all
levels, & is especially useful at very low levels. Before the next lesson, transcribe interesting parts of their conversation & use it for analysis & consolidation.

"5. Word-for-word versions - good for the translation obsessed student. Give out a literal translation of a short article or conversation & the students translate it into their language &
discuss how it could be more naturally expressed in English.

"The important thing about using translation in class is that it is used in a principled way - you know why you are using it, the students know, there are times when it is OK & when it is not. The alternative is a lazy use of translation where both the students & the teacher become reliant on it."

How do YOU feel about using students' mother tongue in class? Do you regularly try any of the activities suggested in this tip?
Post a comment and learns who shares your feelings!


Thursday, 4 February 2010

CBL: learning language through content learning

Now you've read about CLIL (see our entries on CLIL here and here if you've missed them), you must be willing to look into a similar approach to the teaching of languages: content-based learning (CBL).

Here's an excellent starting point: a summary by one of our workshop participants during 2009.

Content Based Learning (CBL)

Thanks, Alejandra, for having shared this! (please leave comments at her Scribd if you can!)


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Teaching pronunciation

A short post today, just to share a game available online for students to practise word stress (notice it's designed to be based on the vocabulary presented in each unit of their textbook):

Incredible English (OUP): Stress monster!

And here's another game, aimed at practising homonyms (two words are homonyms if they are pronounced or spelled the same way but have different meanings ): Word Frog>Homonyms

Try them and have fun (be brave and choose the highest levels of difficulty!!!) !

Do you think activities like these ones can actually contribute to our students' learning the pronunciation of English? Share your beliefs by posting a comment!


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Managing your class

Class discipline is probably a concern to most teachers (either novice or experienced) more often than any movie might suggest... In this enlightening article, Marti Schwartz shares his tips to succeed at managing our classes:

(click on the link below the image to be re-directed to the full article)


What IS assessment?

Many people assume that assessment is simply another word for testing but in this article Adrian Tennant outlines its role as an important aspect of teaching and learning (click on the image below or on either of the links in it to be directed to the article itself) :

Another great resource from the kind guys at Macmillan's Onestopenglish!


Monday, 11 January 2010

More on CLIL

Keith is a well-known expert on CLIL and the teaching of content through the medium of foreign languages, and this webinar looks at ways of teaching language within specific subjects such as science and geography.

For more resources on CLIL teaching, visit Onestopclil - Macmillan's comprehensive resource bank for CLIL teachers. You can start by getting familiar with what CLIL is>, and learning about its methodology and activities through the CLIL Teacher Magazine>. The CLIL Young Learners section> has plenty of engaging, flexible resources for children and teenagers, and the Image Gallery> and Animations> sections are rich with fantastic ways to make vocabulary and grammar learning more fun. CLIL extra> will help you navigate through all these new features.