Archive for the ‘Tips for Teachers’ Category
Today’s post if by Vicky Loras, co-founder of The Loras English Network. Thank you, Vicky!
Playing with Long Words
I teach all ages and very often we have ten minutes to spare at the end of class, or we just need a change of pace, or just something to liven up the class! I love playing with vocabulary – no matter what age group or level I am teaching.
Here is my favourite:
The Long Word: this game was one of my favourites when I was a little girl. I was taught this game by my cousin’s wife, who worked for the Board of Education in Canada.
The idea is this: you choose a big word and the students create new words using the letters from that specific one. Some words you can use are encyclopedia, establishment, metamorphosis…anything with a lot of letters in it!
It is great when the students are the ones choosing the words. They come up with the greatest ideas! The teacher then gives them three minutes to find as many words as possible – the winner is the person with the most words – however, they have to be words that really exist!
The winner then reads the words s/he has found and everyone looks at their own, crossing out the ones they have too. If they have different ones that have not been mentioned, they read them out too.
This activity helps them:
• Learn new items of vocabulary, as the initial long word is very often a word they have never encountered before.
• Practise their spelling, as the new words they create need to be correct in their spelling – so even if they make mistakes, they then remember them for another time.
• Teach each other vocabulary, as they read out their own words.
• Use some of the new words to write a story.
They love this activity, young or older students – and they can learn a great deal from it! I hope your students enjoy it as well.
Procedure: Write a single simple verb in the centre of the board. Invite students to add one, two or three words to it. For example, if the word was ‘go’, they might suggest ‘I go’, of ‘Go to bed’! They go on suggesting additions of a maximum of three consecutive words each time, making a longer and longer text, until you, or they, have had enough.
The rule is that they can only add at the beginning or end of what is already written – otherwise you will end up with a rather untidy (and hard to read) series of additions. Add or change punctuation each time as appropriate. For example:
Go to bed!
“Go to bed” said my mother.
“Go to bed” said my mother angrily.
“You must go to bed!” said my mother angrily.
“No!” I answered.
Variation: Students can erase the additions in reverse order, starting with the last addition and ending with the original word in the centre of the board.
Acknowldegement: Based on an idea in Dictation: New methods, new possibilities by Paul Davis and Mario Rinvolucri (Cambrige University Press, 1998).
Teacher: working knowledge of students’ MT
Level: lower intermediate to advanced
Purpose: to help students distinguish between two often-confused English grammar structures by translating them into MT
Materials: sheets of paper
Write four pairs of sentences or phrases in English which contain contrasting structures. See below for some examples. Write each pair of sentences on a separate sheet of paper.
I’ve been living here all my life.
I lived there for ten years.
I haven’t been going out much lately.
I went out every Friday night last month.
We’ve been seeing too much of those two.
We saw them coming up the hill.
Have you been waiting long?
Did you wait until the end?
Hasn’t she been skating yet?
Did she go skating with you?
He’s been talking about his bad luck again.
He talked to them about photography.
We’ve gone there three times so far.
We went there after work.
She’s started learning English five times.
She started her course last month.
You’ve wanted one of these for ages.
You wanted a big red red one.
Haven’t you called her?
Didn’t you call her?
Hasn’t he told you the news?
Didn’t he tell you the news?
1. Put the students into groups of four and give each member one sheet with one of the pairs of sentences at the top.
2. Ask the students to read their sentences and check that they understand them.
3. Students translate their two sentences from English into MT, leaving a generous space between the original and the translated versions.
4. When the students have finished translating, ask them to fold their sheet over so that only the translation is visible and pass it to another member of their group.
5. Ask this student then to translate the sentences back from MT into English.
6. Get the students to compare the translations and discuss the problems they have in distinguishing between the pairs.
Note: Students can write their own sets of pairs in class or as homework. Check for accuracy and also make sure that the pairs are constrasting the structures you are working on, before continuing with the activity.
Acknowledgment: We learnt this activity from Tim Hahn.
From: Using the mother tongue – Making the most of the learner’s language- Sheelagh Deller and Mario Rinvolucri. SBS Publishing.
Pronunciation work has traditionally taken a secondary role in language teaching to work on grammar and more recently lexis. In my work as a teacher trainer I have been surprised at how often experienced teachers are reluctant to tackle pronunciation issues in class. I can think of at least two reasons why pronunciation tends to be neglected: firstly, the lack of clear guidelines and rules available in course books, and secondly the fact that isolated exercises once a month do not seem to have much of an effect. This is not surprising, however; like all other areas of language teaching, pronunciation needs constant attention for it to have a lasting effect on students, which means integrating it into daily classroom procedures. I find that addressing issues regularly during the language feedback or group correction stage of a lesson helps to focus learners’ attention on its importance and leads to more positive experiences.
- Using student talk to teach pronunciation
- Word stress
- Vowel sounds
- Weak forms
- Sentence stress
Using student talk to teach pronunciation
Pronunciation work can be kept simple and employ exercises which are both accessible and enjoyable for students, whatever their level. Whenever students do a freer speaking activity, the main aim is usually for them to develop their spoken fluency in the language. However, the activity also serves to work on students’ accuracy through the feedback we give them on their use of language.
When my students do such a group or pair work activity at any level I listen in and take notes which are divided into three areas of language: pronunciation, grammar and lexis. Within the latter, as well as unknown lexis I will also include areas such as register, function, set phrases…and within the former I will include notes on any area of pronunciation that leads to miscommunication. This includes diphthongs, vowel sounds (including weak forms), consonant sounds, word stress and sentence stress. All of these areas can be dealt with quickly and efficiently by having some simple exercises ready which require nothing more than the board and a basic knowledge of the phonemic chart.
If learners are introduced to the phonemic chart one phoneme at a time, it can be introduced from beginner level and students are quick to appreciate its value. A rule for when ‘ea’ is pronounced /e/ (head) and when it is pronounced /i:/ (bead) will not necessarily aid production, whereas the activities I propose here will. Once your students get used to the exercises, pronunciation work becomes even more efficient and, dare I say it, effective.
Here is a simple exercise I repeat regularly for work on word stress and individual sounds.
- I hear a pre-intermediate learner say: ‘I suppose (pronounced with stress on first syllable) I will see her tonight’. The listener doesn’t understand because of the mispronunciation and asks the other student to repeat until finally they write it down and we see what the word was.
- After the activity, on the board I put a column with two bubbles to represent word stress, the first small, the second much larger. I write ‘suppose’ under the bubbles and drill it before asking students to think of other two-syllable words with second-syllable stress.
- I get ‘outside’, ‘today’, ‘below’ and ‘behind’, which I accept as correct before asking for verbs only. I then get ‘accept’, ‘believe’, ‘forget’….and these go in the same column.
- If a student asks for rules during this exercise, in this case ‘Do all 2-syllable verbs have this stress pattern?’, for example, I either ask them to think of examples that contradict their rule to give myself time to consider it or I tell them we will look at rules for this the following lesson. As a general rule I find that this procedure encourages learner autonomy by having learners form their own hypotheses which are then confirmed or disproved by the teacher in the following lesson.
I hear a pre-intermediate learner say: ‘Not now because he is did (dead)’.
- After the activity, on the board I draw a column with the heading /e/. In this column I write the word ‘dead’ and have students repeat it. I then ask for examples of words which rhyme with this, which students find easy (‘red’, ‘bed’, etc.).
- I do not write these, however. I then ask for words which rhyme and have the same vowel spelling, i.e. ‘ea’. I put students in pairs or groups to think of words, giving myself some thinking time, too. In this case, depending on the level I will get ‘head’, ‘bread’, ‘read’, ‘lead’,… and we end up with an extendable list of words with the same spelling and sound.
- It is the cognitive work of trying to think of similar words, writing them down and their organisation into columns that helps learners retain sounds and spellings, rather than their simply revising the lists. This is why all students should be encouraged to copy the list into their notebooks.
- If the classroom allows it, it’s also a great idea to have students pin posters with sound columns up on the wall and add to them whenever a new item comes up for that sound, particularly if it is a strange or different spelling.
- The idea is to get a basic poster with a phoneme at the top and various columns with different spellings.
‘e’ = bed, pen
‘ea’ = dead, head
‘ai’ = said
I hear an intermediate learner say: ‘I didn’t find (pronounced / f i: n d /) it anywhere’.
- I make a column with /ai/, drill ‘find’ and my students give me ‘fight’, ‘bike’, ‘buy’, ‘eye’,'my’, etc. for the sound.
- I accept these without writing them and then encourage students to think of other words spelt like ‘find’. I get ‘mind’ and ‘kind’.
- There may be only one or two for any given pattern. If I have thought of any other words myself I add them to the column, ensuring that they are not obscure words or too high for this particular level (in this case I might choose to introduce ‘bind’ and ‘grind’, but probably not ‘rind’ or ‘hind’).
I hear an elementary learner say: ‘I will buy vegetables (pronouncing ‘table’ at the end)’. I note that this is also an opportunity to work on word stress.
- I make a column with a schwa, and drill ‘vegetable’, marking the word stress.
- With an elementary class there is a case for simply teaching this point rather than eliciting known words, so I point out the number of syllables and the stress on the beginning of the word, explaining that this makes the final syllable weak and not pronounced as the word ‘table’.
- I add to the list ‘comfortable’ and ‘presentable’ as further examples, but avoid adding more so as not to overwhelm students at this level.
- For the second example I point out that the stress is on the second syllable. I can think of objections teachers have made to my suggesting this, such as students’ confusion at the lack of a steadfast rule or the non-uniformity of the examples, for example, but to cater to this merely serves to reinforce students’ belief that a language always obeys a strict set of rules. In my experience this approach is not a useful one. The only way to learn these fundamental pronunciation points is to notice them, note them down and practise them regularly.
I use fluency drills to work on sentence stress. I hear an intermediate learner say: ‘He told me I couldn’t have a holiday‘ (bold words are stressed). This causes confusion due to the stress being placed on the wrong words in the sentence, i.e. the pronouns, or grammar words, as opposed to the content words.
- The activity is simply a choral drill, but of the whole sentence and maintaining an English rhythm. ‘He told me I couldn’t have a holiday‘.
- The trick here is not to over-exaggerate on the stressed words, but keep the stress and rhythm natural. Think in terms of modelling a rhythm, rather than a stress pattern. Using gesture like the conductor of an orchestra or tapping on the board to show the rhythm is especially helpful for students who cannot hear it easily.
Admittedly, this latter exercise on sentence stress does seem to take longer to have an effect, but if highlighted early on and practised relatively often, students do seem to internalise how English stress differs from their own language and helps overcome what in later stages of learning becomes a fossilised way of speaking. Sentence stress causes more communication problems for a fluent speaker than any number of grammatical errors.
One of the beauties of using student speech for pronunciation work is that it directly addresses students’ problems. I have attempted to provide a couple of very simple exercises here to help teachers integrate pronunciation into their classes on a regular basis. Regular work in this area helps learners to develop their own hypotheses and gut-feeling for English pronunciation, something experts and researchers have long emphasised as an essential skill of a good language learner.
Barney Griffiths, Teacher trainer, Teacher, Materials writer, Spain
This article was first published in 2004 and it is reproduced here with permission from the British Council.
Link to the original article ==> http://ow.ly/jBNgB
Speaking and listening.
Procedure: Near the beginning of term, tell the students that you want each of them to be ready to talk for exactly four minutes on a subject they care about.
Each week select a name randomly (perhaps from names in a hat). That student must prepare his or her talk for the following week. At the end of the talk the other students can ask questions and express how they feel about the ideas expressed.
Guidance to the student:
1. The talk should take into account the short time available, who the other students are and the circumstances of the room in which the talk is to be given.
It is a good idea for the student to try out the talk beforehand and make sure it does not exceed four minutes. This leaves ones minute for one or two other students to respond.
2. Pictures and objects can be used to support the talk but not to substitute it.
3. Examples of topics:
- a description of an interesting experience
- a description of a hobby
- an explanation of a technique for doing something
- an expression of pleasure in an experience
- an expression of belief
- an argument for change
- the presentation of a dilemma
- persuasion for the other students to take a particular course of action
- any topic which the student feels confident about and which can be presented in a very short time
Teacher – working knowledge of students’ MT
Class – monolingual
Level – elementary to advanced
Purpose – to make students quickly aware of contrastive grammar
1. Tell the students to stand in a circle. If you have a large class, have two or three circles.
2. Tell them that they will be ‘handling’ words and phrases round the circle. They pretend the word or phrase they ‘pass’ to the next person is an object (giving a sense of its weight and temperature, for example). They also say the word loudly and clearly.
If the class MT is French, this is the way the activity might go:
- Student A hands and says a word of their choice to student B: lapin
- Student B receives the word and then hands it to student C, translating it: rabbit
- Student C receives the word and adds another word: grey rabbit
- Student D translates the phrase into MT: lapin gris
- Student E adds a word: viens, lapin gris
- Student F translates the phrase into English: come, grey rabbit
- Student G adds a word: come here, grey rabbit
- Student H translates the phrase into French: viens ici, lapin gris
3. Get the words and phrases flowing bilingually round the circles. Stop the students before the sentences get too unwieldy, around then to twelve words long.
4. Put the students into pairs and ask them to reconstruct the bilingual sequence in their notebooks.
NOTE: This is a linguistic spontaneity activity, so you can’t pre-plan the sequences.
From: Using the mother tongue – Making the most of the learner’s language - Sheelagh Deller and Mario Rinvolucri. SBS Publishing.
I am proud to start a series for English teachers here in my blog. Throughout these years I have met several great teachers both online and in person and now it’s time to share some great stuff with all of you.
Today’s activity is aimed at raising awareness of how much the English language is present in our everyday lives. The activity works nicely with high schoolers and adults.
1. You can do this activity with one student, pairs or small groups.
2. Ask them to list all the words in English they can think of, such as “pen drive”, “play”, “stop”, “check-in”, “plug”, “cooler”, etc. Help as needed.
3. Tell them to write a short text or paragraph with these words in Portuguese.
4. After that, tell them to rewrite the paragraphs by translating/adapting all the words in English they came up with.
This activity can be done at the beginning of the school year, before introducing reading strategies (skimming, scanning, etc.). Make sure to highlight cognates (and also false cognates) whenever they come up in a text.
Do you have any more ideas on how to use cognates to help your students improve their English? Leave a comment!
See you next time!
Aqui está o link para o ppt do worksho You will survive – tips on working with songs.
This is a repost of Cecilia’s blog post.
For the last – well, almost two years now, since September 15, 2010, #ELTchat has kept us on our toes and forged hundreds of professional and personal relationships amongst its followers who turn up on Twitter every Wednesday to talk about topics they have suggested and voted on – a community of peers which was created by a small group of colleagues – which grew and grew some more and became something that counts as an important part of our continuous professional development.
Like many great ideas, it didn’t hit just one person but several. And that is how #ELTchat was created.
The website to keep up the communication of its members, a base and repository of our ideas was one of the first things we all thought of creating – the wiki came later.
Andy Chaplin was keen to join the moderation team and help with podcasts and technical stuff; he was quick to buy eltchat.com and announced the good news to us after the fact. A few months later, right after TESOL France 2011, he suddenly disappeared – some say for reasons of health. We never found out for sure. We never received a single word of response to our emails. eltchat.com was and still is registered in his name.
And yesterday we lost it
On August 8 the domain expired and we have no way of taking over unless it goes up for sale again; it was very sad that Andy Chaplin did not find it appropriate to renew.
The news is really upsetting.
The work we have put in on this website cannot be told in a few simple words – but it has been a labour of love and we have got so much out of it that we have never regretted one single moment
We are pretty upset at the behaviour of this individual – disappointment is one big understatement.
But we trust that our community of #ELTchatters, our PLN for short, will again gather round the new domain which we have purchased – eltchat.org
It will take us a few days to put the website back on its feet
And all will be as it was before – all the posts in place all your thoughts and comments, all the polls and great summaries which got us on the shortlist of the ELTon Awards nominations
We will be back with a vengeance
We are not just a website – we did not get on the ELTon awards shortlist as just another website!!!
We are a great community of teachers and we have a Plan B!
See you all in September!!!
Marisa Constantinides – Shaun Wilden
P.S. We would greatly appreciate it if any of you belonging to this great community of teachers, teacher educators, bloggers, #ELTchat followers, reposted this on your blog
If you decide to do this, please add your name to the post under ours.
Marisa Constantinides – Shaun Wilden
If you decide to do this, please add your name to the post under ours.
Drilling is a technique that has been used in foreign language classrooms for many years. It was a key feature of audio lingual approaches to language teaching which placed emphasis on repeating structural patterns through oral practice.
Based on the Behaviourist view that learning to speak a foreign language – like other skills – was simply a question of correct habit formation, it was thought that repeating phrases correctly lots of times would lead to mastery of the language.
Nowadays we know that language learning is not like this – it is a far more complex and creative process – and language is a lot more than just a list of structures to be memorised.
An approach based mainly or only on language drills is unlikely to find many adherents today. However, drilling remains a useful technique in the classroom if it is used appropriately.
What drilling is
What drills can be useful for
What we should drill
When we should drill
What drilling is
At its simplest, drilling means listening to a model, provided by the teacher, or a tape or another student, and repeating what is heard. This is a repetition drill, a technique that is still used by many teachers when introducing new language items to their students. The teacher says (models) the word or phrase and the students repeat it.
Other types of drill include substitution drills, or question and answer drills. Substitution drills can be used to practise different structures or vocabulary items (i.e. one or more words change during the drill).
Prompt: ‘I go to work. He?’~
Response: ‘He goes to work.’
In question and answer drills the prompt is a question and the response the answer. This is used for practising common adjacency pairs such as ‘What’s the matter?’, ‘I’ve got a (headache’) or ‘Can I have a (pen) please?’, ‘Yes here you are.’ The words in brackets here can be substituted during the drill.
In all drills learners have no or very little choice over what is said so drills are a form of very controlled practice. There is one correct answer and the main focus is on ‘getting it right’ i.e. on accuracy. Drills are usually conducted chorally (i.e. the whole class repeats) then individually. There is also the possibility of groups or pairs of students doing language drills together.
What drills can be useful for
For the learners, drills can:
Provide for a focus on accuracy. Increased accuracy (along with increased fluency and complexity) is one of the ways in which a learner’s language improves so there is a need to focus on accuracy at certain stages of the lesson or during certain task types.
Provide learners with intensive practice in hearing and saying particular words or phrases. They can help learners get their tongues around difficult sounds or help them imitate intonation that may be rather different from that of their first language.
Provide a safe environment for learners to experiment with producing the language. This may help build confidence particularly among learners who are not risk-takers.
Help students notice the correct form or pronunciation of a word or phrase. Noticing or consciousness raising of language is an important stage in developing language competence.
Provide an opportunity for learners to get immediate feedback on their accuracy in terms of teacher or peer correction. Many learners want to be corrected.
Help memorisation and automisation of common language patterns and language chunks. This may be particularly true for aural learners.
Meet student expectations i.e. They may think drilling is an essential feature of language classrooms.
For the teacher, drills can:
Help in terms of classroom management, enabling us to vary the pace of the lesson or to get all learners involved.
Help us recognise if new language is causing problems in terms of form or pronunciation.
What we should drill
At all levels we should drill vocabulary or chunks of language that cause pronunciation problems.
At low levels students are still getting used to the sounds of English and need plenty of opportunity to get their tongues around them so it is likely that drilling will be used more.
- Sounds that either do not exist in their L1 or occur differently.
Consonant clusters and weak forms may also cause difficulty – for example in words like vegetable, comfortable.
At the phrase level intonation, stress, and weak forms often cause learner difficulties and at higher levels there may still be problems with these aspects of pronunciation. Phrases such as, ‘If I’d known you were coming I’d have stayed at home’ are difficult to say.
Intonation patterns that are crucial to meaning may also be usefully practised through drilling, for example tag questions (which ask for confirmation or which are genuine questions) or expressions like You could have told me it was his birthday! (as a rebuke)
If we believe that drilling helps our learners memorise language, we should also drill useful and common language chunks to help them internalise them. This would include many common phrases such as,
‘Hello, how are you?
‘Can I have a ..?’
‘Have you got a …’
‘ If I were you I’d.. ‘
Drilling of structures per se seems much less likely to be useful because of the mental processing that is required to apply grammar rules accurately, particularly if it is a new piece of language for the learners.
When we should drill
For drills to be meaningful, learners need to understand what they are being asked to say. Monotonous chanting of decontextualised language is not useful to anyone.
This means that work on the meaning of the language must come before drilling.
Drilling can be comfortably and effectively incorporated into many types of lessons – whether you use a PPP model or a task-based approach, for example.
Drilling may follow a language focus stage particularly if you are dealing with spoken language. It may be too much, however, to expect learners to get it right immediately so you may want to introduce drilling later for remedial purposes. Or you may do it after a fluency task as a correction strategy.
It shouldn’t be used too much however; if boredom sets in it is unlikely to be useful at all.
Author: Julie Tice, Teacher, Trainer, Writer, British Council Lisbon
This article was originally posted on the Teaching English (British Council) website and it is used here with permission.
Hey, what’s up?
Hoje é quinta-feira e trago um texto bem bonitinho que você, teacher, pode usar com seus alunos (reported speech, question words, want + ind. object + infinitive, etc).
The child comes home from his first day at school.
His mother asks, “Well, what did you learn today?”
the kid replies, “Not enough. They want me to come back tomorrow.”
Referência: “Read in English – Uma Maneira Divertida de Aprender Inglês”, de Rubens Queiroz de Almeida. Novatec, 2002.
Meu querido leitor!
Hoje vi um anúncio no Youtube de um curso online que literalmente destroi nós, brasileiros, professores de língua inglesa. Na verdade o anúncio destroi cursos em escolas no geral, de extremo mau gosto.
Veja o comercial:
Como brasileiro, professor de inglês e espanhol há 20 anos, fiquei indignado com tal descaso e vou compartilhar o texto do amigo Vinicius Nobre, presidente da Braz-Tesol, organização que tem o intuito de promover o ensino de língua inglesa no Brasil.
Certamente você, meu querido leitor, teve e tem um ótimo professor de inglês, independente de onde ele vem. Se for esse o caso, todos os brasileiros estariam capacitados para ensinar português.
Vinicius Nobre diz:
Como presidente da maior Associação de professores de inglês do Brasil, eu sinto a incontrolável necessidade de me posicionar e expressar meu desapontamento e choque em relação ao comercial que está sendo veiculado em rede nacional promovendo um curso de inglês online.
Eu NÃO sou um falante nativo da língua inglesa, eu não tenho longos cabelos loiros, não moro na California e não visto uma camiseta justa para ensinar meus alunos. Na verdade, eu NUNCA tive um professor de inglês “nativo”. Eu nunca sequer morei em um país falante da língua inglesa.
Eu simplesmente estudei inglês no meu país em desenvolvimento e depois cursei quatro anos de linguística, literatura, aquisição de idiomas estrangeiros, morfologia, pronúncia, sintaxe, educação, pedagogia, métodos e abordagens. Eu simplesmente dediquei 16 anos da minha vida ao desenvolvimento pessoal e profissional dos meus milhares de alunos. Nunca exibi meu passaporte ou minha cidade-natal, porque eu estava ocupado demais me preocupando com as necessidades comunicativa e afetivas dos meus alunos. Eu NÃO sou um falante nativo de inglês; portanto – de acordo com esse comercial – não me qualifico para ensinar. Provavelmente me qualifico apenas para ser uma imitação grotesca e irresponsável de um professor.
Assim como eu, milhares de educadores esforçados, talentosos, comprometidos, apaixonados e desvalorizados (do Brasil ou de qualquer outro país não falante de inglês) são definidos em 30 segundos de uma desesperada e inaceitável tentativa de seduzir alunos. Eu conheci professores fantásticos, independente de suas nacionalidades e muitos que inclusive eram “falantes nativos de inglês”. Os melhores educadores, no entanto, sempre tiveram a dignidade de reconhecer e respeitar as qualidades de um colega “não-nativo”.
O ensino de línguas estrangeiras desenvolveu-se tremendamente para garantir a justiça e o respeito que todos os profissionais sérios da área merecem (nativos ou não). Pelo menos entre nós mesmos. Se alunos ainda insistem em dizer que um professor “nativo” é melhor, pelo menos temos o conforto de saber que dentro da nossa profissão encontramos o reconhecimento que profissionais comprometidos e qualificados precisam ter. É triste, no entanto, ser ridicularizado por um centro (que alega ser) de ensino.
Como presidente do BRAZ-TESOL, como um falante “não-nativo” do inglês, como um admirador de profissionais do ensino, independente da sua nacionalidade, eu me ressinto por ser transformado em um piada tão irresponsável. Mas quem sou eu para ousar falar qualquer coisa sobre o ensino de inglês. Não sou a Jenny da California – o maior exemplo de educadora de inglês como língua estrangeira.