English Teaching Professional
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Issue 83 November
fresh ideas & innovations
tips & techniques
competitions & reviews
The Leading Practical Magazine For English Language Teachers Worldwide
Teacher development onlineNik Peachey
One is a lovely numberEmily Edwards
Less is moreRobert Buckmaster
Challenging our own authorityCory McMillen and Kara Boyer
w w w . e t p r o f e s s i o n a l . c o m
BUSINESS ENGLISH PROFESSIONAL
IF YOU DONT KNOW ME BY NOW ... 34Phil Wade knows that the more you know, the better
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS? 36Louis Rogers sees how blended learning affects the business sphere
WHAT DOES A CELTA TUTOR DO? 52Chia Suan Chong sheds light on those who teach the teachers
GET APPY 56Francesca McClure Smith delights in downloads
FIVE THINGS YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO 57KNOW ABOUT: TAGGINGNicky Hockly looks at labelling
WEBWATCHER 59Russell Stannard extols Edmodo
IT WORKS IN PRACTICE 32
LANGUAGE LOG 39John Potts
COMPETITIONS 40, 60
INTERNATIONAL SUBSCRIPTION FORM 30
TEACHER DEVELOPMENT ONLINE 4Nik Peachey is convinced that technology is the way forward
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT 8Leo Boylan celebrates the joy of journals
ONE IS A LOVELY NUMBER 12Emily Edwards looks forward to her one-to-one classes
HEAVEN DOES NOT TALK 16Phillip Brown promotes the personality of the teacher
LESS IS MORE 19Robert Buckmaster believes in brevity
OVER THE WALL 25Alan Maley acknowledges accounts of teachingexperiences
OUTCOMES-BASED LANGUAGE EDUCATION 27Peter Zoeftig reflects on language coaching
CHALLENGING OUR OWN AUTHORITY 43Cory McMillen and Kara Boyer hand over someresponsibilities to their students
RAIDING THE STATIONERY CUPBOARD 46Amy Lightfoot finds inspiration amongst the paper clips
FEEDBACK AND CORRECTION 49Elspeth Pollock varies her techniques to keep her students involved
CHAT SHOW GAME SHOW 51Richard Hillman proposes a winning activity
TEACHING YOUNG LEARNERS
READING NIGHT 22Constanze Schklziger describes a school initiative
www.etprofessional.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 83 November 2012 1
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2 Issue 83 November 2012 ENGLISH TEACHING professional www.etprofessional.com
In this issue, Alan Maley recommends some
inspirational books in which teachers recount their
experiences, often of educational contexts which
might seem overwhelmingly adverse but where they
managed to overcome the difficulties and make a real
difference to the lives and achievements of their students,
often by sheer force of personality.
And it is the personality of the teacher that occupies
Phillip Brown. He argues that personality is the key to
classroom success and that the teachers ability to talk to
the students, get things across and inspire them is far
more important than the formal requirements and
expectations laid down by teaching authorities.
At a purely linguistic level, John Potts asserts that the
teachers own idiolects, the language choices they make
which mark them out as individuals, plays an important part
in the development of their students language ability. He
makes a conscious effort to vary his own idiolect to give his
students exposure to as large a language bath as possible,
and notices which of his favourite expressions his
students adopt and start to use themselves.
Whilst one of the successful head teachers described
by Phillip Brown had little time for qualifications and
references of any kind, most of us would agree that some
form of training is a good idea before teachers are set
loose in the classroom. Nowadays, teacher training and
professional development take many forms. In our main
feature, Nik Peachey describes some of the options
already available for online teacher development and,
continuing our series on what people actually do on a
daily basis in some of the jobs in our profession, Chia
Suan Chong outlines the life of a CELTA tutor. I am
grateful to Phil Wade for suggesting that we continue this
series after the first article by Sasha Wajnryb on the life of
the DOS in Issue 80 and for assembling some volunteer
contributors. Phils own article in this issue is on the
importance of getting to know the students and finding
out what they really want and need from their lessons.
Email: [email protected] You will receive a letter of pre-registration and grant application advice the same day
International Projects Centre, 7 Colleton Crescent, Exeter EX2 4DG Tel/Fax: 00 44 1392 660067 www.ipcexeter.co.uk
Developing Oral Fluency in the English Language Classroom (Primary/Secondary) Comenius Database Code: UK-2013-1662-021/UK-2013-1655-021
Developing Oral Fluency for Teachers of Adult Learners Comenius Database Code: UK-2013-1679-014
Drama Techniques for the English Language Classroom Comenius Database Code: UK-2013-1653-007
Practical Ideas for the Teaching of Literature in the Classroom Comenius Database Code: UK-2013-1657-013
British Institutions, Language and Culture Comenius Database Code: UK-2013-1660-005
Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) UK-2011-1217-003 / UK-2013-1661-016 / UK-2013-1659-016
First Certicate for Teachers of Business English UK-2013-1656-005
Enrol now for an EU-funded teacher development course with International
Projects Centre in sunny Exeter!
All courses listed in Comenius/Grundtvig
catalogue. Next deadline for Comenius/Grundtvig funding applications -
January 16th 2013 - for courses taking place
between May andAugust 2013.
Teacher Training Exeter
M A I N F E A T U R E
4 Issue 83 November 2012 ENGLISH TEACHING professional www.etprofessional.com
Nik Peachey sees the future for teacher training.
Ihave been involved in teachertraining for almost 15 years now,and those 15 years have seen anenormous shift in our profession,
as in most others. The catalyst for thisshift has, of course, been digitaltechnology and more specifically, thecommunication possibilities offered bythe internet. At its best, the applicationof new technologies has enabled teachersfrom around the globe to connect,communicate and exchange ideas andmaterials at a rate that has never beenpossible before and, in my role as ateacher trainer and course developer, Iam becoming increasingly convincedthat not only has the consideredapplication of new technologies madethe delivery of online training coursescheaper and more accessible for teachers,but I genuinely believe we have nowreached a point where online teacherdevelopment has become a moreeffective means of developing teachersthan face-to-face training.
Overcoming isolationIn our traditional context as teachers,we lead a very isolated existence, despitethe fact that we spend most of ourworking lives surrounded by students.Many teachers are rarely, if ever,observed, and the purpose of this
observation is most often qualitycontrol rather than development. Manyteachers work in staffrooms where thereis little support or exchange of ideasand where colleagues either teach othersubjects or prefer to spend as little timeas possible actually in the building. Fornew or aspiring teachers, this malaisecan soon become infectious, withteachers choosing to take the easyground and repeat the same tried andtested lessons over again.
The arrival of the internet andespecially Web 2.0-type applications whichsupport user-created content and socialnetworking has enabled enthusiasticteachers to bridge that isolation and reachout to a myriad of individuals with diverseexperiences and opinions, drawing on thecreativity and generosity of their peers to
nourish their teaching experience. Manyteachers have been encouraged to growin ways that would just not have beenpossible ten, or even five, years ago.
ConferencesFor decades now, the prime andpreferred method of professionaldevelopment has been the conference.For many teachers, this is a chance toregenerate, renew old acquaintances andmake new friends. The continuinggrowth and popularity of conferenceslike IATEFL and TESOL can bearwitness to this. As part of the team thatworks on delivering the IATEFL onlineexperience, I know that there were someinitial misgivings that the online offercould potentially undermine the physicalevent. However, on the contrary, it seemsto have had the opposite effect: makingso much of the conference availableonline has only fuelled teachers desireto attend the event in person. Recentresearch I carried out into the preferredmethods of professional development ofover 125 teachers supported thisassumption, with conferences stillcoming out at the top of the list. Notsurprisingly, though, the next threeplaces were all taken by web-supportedmethods of development, these beingwebinars, Twitter and online courses.
We have now reached a point where onlineteacher development has become a moreeffective means of
developing teachers thanface-to-face training
www.etprofessional.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 83 November 2012 5
WebinarsWeb-based seminars, or webinars asthey are known, have becomeincreasingly popular over the last fewyears. Improvements in connectionspeeds, coupled with better PC soundquality and the availability of a numberof free or low-cost platforms, havemade these a genuinely viablealternative to attending a face-to-faceconference. In fact, some cash-strappedteachers associations have organisedcomplete two- and three-day eventsusing virtual platforms rather thangoing to the huge expense of hiring aphysical venue, arranging hotels andflying in speakers.
Among the advantages of webinars,cited by the subjects of my research, isthe convenience. You can attend awebinar without even leaving home, letalone having to pay the cost of travel andhotels. As most webinar presentationsare recorded and archived, you can evenwatch them when you want to and withwhom you want to. Many teachersarrange to meet and watch webinarrecordings together so that they candiscuss them afterwards.
TwitterTwitter, the online micro-bloggingplatform that has taken the world bystorm, is now almost as ubiquitous inour lives as the omnipresent Facebook.However, can you really learn anythingabout teaching from a message of only140 characters (the maximum permittedin a tweet)? Well, it seems that manyteachers believe that you can and theydo. Twitter can, however, do much morethan allow teachers to share experiencesin short messages. It also enables them toexchange links to online materials suchas blog articles, journals, videos andteaching materials from all around the
If you want to try to present yourown webinar, try one of these free orlow-cost platforms:
You can also find a collection ofrecorded webinars atwww.cambridgeenglishteacher.org/webinar-resources.
Some of the people you might like tostart by following are:
Twitter. I dont want to hear whatsomeone had for lunch or which airportthey are in people who share this kindof information rarely use hashtags what I look for are the links to blogs,new online teaching tools, interestingvideos, video tutorials or journal articles.This is where the real development is,and where I learn the most.
Following the right people can alsohelp. When you follow someone, youreceive into your Twitter page all theinformation they share. If you follow alot of people, this could mean aconstant flow of information. Myadvice is not to try to read everything:just take a little time out of each day tobrowse the information stream whichTwitter provides and find a couple ofinteresting things to read.
Online coursesAccording to my research, online coursesseem to be becoming increasinglypopular and, as I said at the beginningof this article, I believe that these cannow not only be much cheaper, but alsobe more effective, than their face-to-faceclassroom equivalents, especially for in-service and continuing development.
Unlike most of the face-to-facecourses I have worked on (which mostoften had, by necessity, to be deliveredout of context and intensively), onlinecourses can be delivered over a longerperiod of time, and teachers can study alittle each week and try out the ideasthey are learning in their own classroomcontext with their own students.
Real change and development in theway we teach takes time and needs to bea continuous process. Short bursts ofintensive learning usually have bigshort-term effects, but those effects tendto be more superficial and, away fromthe rarified and supportive air of theintensive classroom, many goodintentions become lost; momentum forchange can soon wind down. Well-designed online courses can helpteachers to build on and develop theirmotivation, and can support them whilethey explore new ideas within the realcontext in which they work.
Of course, many online teacherdevelopment courses are not welldesigned. In the past, exaggeratedclaims and undeserved hype have led toa lot of disillusionment over onlinelearning, and drop-out rates on onlinecourses have been notoriously high.
world. At its worst, though, Twitter islike millions of people standing in a hugeroom all shouting at once! The secret ofgetting the best from it is knowing howto listen and who to listen to.
The best way to listen or to finduseful information is to search Twitterusing hashtags. A hashtag is a short keyword or acronym preceded by a hashsymbol: #. A number of these arecommonly used by English languageteachers, for example #elt, #esl, #efl or for those interested in educationaltechnology #edtech. A search using#edchat or #eltchat will locateinformation being shared during someof the many synchronous live weeklydiscussions organised by ad-hoc groupsof teachers from around the world. Youdont have to follow anyone to searchTwitter using hashtags, but doing thiswill probably help you to locate theuseful people to follow.
Actually reading a tweet, once youfind one, can be a little confusing forthe uninitiated. Tweets often look alittle like sms text messages, with lots ofabbreviations and strange symbols like @followed by a name, which usually refersto the person who is the source of theinformation. The best thing to look for inthese tweets is a link. Links in Twitter areoften shortened (to save on those valuable140 characters) and start with bit.ly orvsb.li instead of the usual http. Theselinks are where the real information lies,and it is this exchange of informationthat I have found most valuable in
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Nik Peachey is afreelance consultant,trainer, writer, conferencespeaker and coursedesigner, specialising ineducational technologyand ELT. He has beeninvolved in ELT since1992 and has worked allover the world as ateacher and ICTspecialist.
When developing the Bell BlendedLearning in ELT course, I carried outdetailed research into almost 800teachers experiences of online learning.What emerged from that research wasthat teachers were looking for a numberof things. Primary among these was thedesire to learn in an online environmentthat was geared towards socialisationand sharing.
Teachers want to interact with eachother, not with a computer. Thelearning environment should exist tosupport communication between theteachers, and the materials and tasksthat courses are based around need tobe practical and applicable to theirteaching context.
Teachers dont want to be assessed,evaluated and tested by a computer; theywant to be able to make mistakes, shareideas and experiment, with the supportof a real person who understands thatthe learning process is about more thanjust having the correct answers.
Rather than working throughmaterials in isolation, they want to be
able to exchange ideas within groupsand build lasting contacts and networksamong the people they study with.
Time spent online needs to belimited, so learning needs to be conciseand bite-sized so that the participantscan fit short bursts of study into thebusy regular schedule of their lives.
I believe that, increasingly, coursedevelopers are waking up to these needsand many providers such as TheConsultants-E, Bell and InternationalHouse, as well as publishers andassessment bodies like CUP andCambridge ESOL, are starting toprovide good-quality courses atreasonable prices. There is clearly agrowing and wider acceptance amongteachers that online courses offer aviable, good-quality and good-valuealternative to face-to-face courses. Infact, the newly-launched CambridgeEnglish Teacher online courses hadattracted more than 12,000 guest usersby July 2012, after starting with onlyjust over 2,000 back in March.
Content curationAny article dealing with online teacherdevelopment would, I believe, beincomplete without mention of a newand growing internet trend amongteachers: content curation. In 2009,Michael Wesch stated that, each second,
2,000 gigabytes of new information wasbeing created. This staggering figurehas, Im sure, grown since then, and itleaves us with a problem: how withinthat vast quantity of information beinggenerated do we locate, digest andassimilate that minuscule portion whichis relevant to us?
Twitter goes some way towardsanswering that question, because it putsus in touch with people who can help usto mediate the torrent of information,filter out some of the vast irrelevanciesand reduce it to something that we canattempt to consume. This still leaves uswith the question of how we make senseof the still quite considerable andvaluable amount of information that isbeing generated about our profession.Content curation, in the form of anumber of web-based tools, can helpwith this problem and assist us in theprocess of making sense of thatinformation and converting it intoknowledge.
I believe the process of organising andarranging web content and developingthrough online resources can help us towork more effectively, learn moreefficiently and, perhaps moreimportantly, take us a little closer to thekinds of practices needed by the digitalgeneration that we teach. I recentlyfound a wonderful video clip athttp://youtube/XwM4ieFOotA (its nowsaved in my Pinterest account). This clipdescribes the digitally networkedstudent just the kind of student weteach and the kind of teacher we needto aspire to be in order to do credit tothe students we teach. If you have amoment, watch it and think about howyou can be more like this.
Wesch, M Knowledgable to knowledge-able: learning in new mediaenvironments Academic Commons 2009
These are some of the most useful freecontent curation tools around at present:
These tools can help us save, organise,use and eventually share the usefulresources we find online, and thisprocess is what curation is all about. It is a process of understanding andorganising web-based content to makeit useable.
My own approach to using theseservices works like this:
Scoop.it has a very reader-friendlymagazine-like format and, like Twitter,you can also follow other users to findout what they are reading. I use it tosave and share interesting articlesfrom around the web. You can see mycollection at www.scoop.it/t/learning-technology.
I use Pinterest to capture usefulvideos and images from around theweb that I can then use in classroomand online materials development.Pinterest was designed for sharingweb-based images (without violatingcopyright) and has a simple-to-useinterface that works well to make theimages easy to locate. You can seemy video collection athttp://pinterest.com/nikpeachey/video/.
I use Meaki to collect and organiseweb-based learning tools. Meaki is avisual bookmarking tool, a bit likefavourites on your web browser,except that the links are storedonline. You browse them by lookingthrough images of the website withshort summaries rather than just atitle. You can see my collection ofvideo-related tools athttp://tinyurl.com/d6t4c27.
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W R I T I N G
PracticemakesperfectLeo Boylan uses
student journals to promote
good writing habits. That old joke still rings true formany pursuits, but none somuch as writing. The actualprocess of gathering ones
thoughts and getting them down onpaper is by far the best method toimprove writing skills at any level ofeducation.
It is particularly challenging to teachcourses such as Basic Writing, CriticalWriting and Composition and Literatureto new students who enter college withvaried abilities. I believe the best way toimprove their writing from the very firstday of class, and throughout thesemester, is to use journals. Writing dailyentries in a journal offers the studentsthe opportunity to get the practice theyneed in order to develop critical thinkingskills which will lead to self-discovery,improved communication skills, learningand creativity. Journals can also providethe foundation for class discussions,written responses to literature andmaterial for formal essays. They may beshared with partners, groups or thewhole class. They offer students thechance to write for themselves, as wellas for an audience, in a supportive, non-judgemental environment.
readings. By listening to entries readaloud by classmates, they hear how otherwriters use description, examples andcomparisons. Teachers may also decide tomodel aspects of writing by using theirown journal entries as examples. As theteacher explains how to develop an essay,with an introduction, a body and aconclusion, the students experience theprocess in their journals. It is my hopethat my students will enjoy theopportunity for self-expression andcommunication as it becomes integratedinto their daily activities, and will itinspire them to become reflective, critical
I became a journal writer myselfwhen I was a junior in high school, andI have continued the practice on and offfor the last 40 years. When I beganteaching, I decided to experiment withjournal use in my writing classes and,based on my students enthusiasm forjournal writing and their success inimproving their writing skills, I expandedthe use of journals into all my courses.Achieving goals through journalsdepends on numerous factors, but Ibelieve we can start with a basic humanpremise: people want to gain a betterunderstanding of themselves, theirexperiences and the world around them.Their curiosity leads them to seekknowledge and, by recording dailyoccurrences in a journal, they reflect ontheir world and communicate theirthoughts and ideas in a safe environment.
A good habitStudents on remedial writing coursescan improve their organisation anddevelopment strategies naturally throughanecdotes and storytelling and byresponding to literature and teacherprompts. Journal entries lead to a betterunderstanding of paragraph and essaydevelopment as students explain incidentsin chronological order or summarise
They offer students the chance to write for
themselves, as well as for an audience,
in a supportive, non-judgemental
Excuse me, sir, but how do I get toCarnegie Hall? Practise.
www.etprofessional.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 83 November 2012 9
thinkers who are open to new ideas.Keeping a journal makes writing a wayof life, along with speaking, listening,reading, and thinking it may even leadto a life-long habit of creative writing.
Other benefits of journal writinginclude improved reading comprehensionand expansion of vocabulary. I usejournals regularly in literature classes,and when the students have to answerquestions about assigned readings in theirjournals, they are forced to read moreclosely for meaning. In-class journalreading increases their self-confidence andlistening skills. As students read theirjournal entries aloud, the others hear themexpressing their ideas, communicatingtheir thoughts, arguing their principles andexpressing their opinions. They are alsoexposed to new words and terminology.As in formal essay writing, I encouragedictionary and thesaurus use for buildingvocabulary and style.
Getting into the habitI introduce the concept of journals at thevery beginning of the semester because itis important that everyone gets into thehabit of composing on a daily basis. Isuggest that my students buy a spiralnotebook for the sole purpose of journalwriting. I find that it is important toarticulate specific expectations forexample, I stipulate a certain size for theirnotebooks and suggest that all entriesshould be at least one page in length.
Often students are unsure of what isexpected and the task may be unfamiliaror uncomfortable, so I try to offer as manyspecific instructions as possible to alleviatetheir fears. First, I explain that thepurpose is to improve their overall writingskills. I tell them that writing journalentries and sharing them with the classwill provide material for class discussionsand ideas for formal essays and research
assignments. I also point out that theirjournals will be an outlet for self-discoveryand creativity, and that when they areasked to write about an assigned readingtext, the task and prompts will help themfocus on the meaning of the literature. (Imake sure that the assigned prompts forwriting tasks based on literature alwayspromote thought, require critical thinking perhaps through identification withcharacters or situations and dontallow the students merely to summarisethe plot.) Lastly, I tell them that theirjournals should be written in their ownvoice, with an audience of fellowstudents and the teacher in mind.
After answering my studentsquestions during this introductoryperiod, I ask them to write a practiceentry in class. I use a short poem or essayfor this purpose. For example, I hand outcopies of the poem Stopping by Woodson a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost,together with worksheets with promptsfor responding to the poem. First, I readit aloud and then ask the students toread it. Then I ask them to respond toat least one of the following prompts:
What are the implications of the poem?
What would the narrator do if he didnot keep his promises?
What do you believe is happening inthe poem?
Discuss Frosts use of imagery.
I then ask that every student write anentry in response to the poem.
The students share their responses inpairs first; this allows them to practisereading their work and to becomeacquainted with another person in theclass. Then they are asked individuallyto stand at the lectern at the front of theclassroom to read their entries. Thepublic reading stage emphasises theimportance of their ideas and their roleas part of a community of writers. Itdemonstrates the value of an audienceand also serves as an icebreaker in a
class where the students may not knoweach other. A class discussion of thepoem follows, and the students see howtheir writing is integrated into the classand how it is used as a tool for theirunderstanding of literature.
Sharing the journalsSharing journal entries in class is aneffective catalyst for class discussion, asthe students agree or disagree with theopinions of their peers, and it helps themto focus on literature and meaning. Somestudents look forward to reading theirstories and essays aloud. Others dread it.To alleviate this dilemma, I usually puttheir names in a hat and pick the daysreaders by lottery. I believe that it isimportant that every student shouldhave the opportunity to share theirwork, not just those who volunteer. Byusing the lottery system, I ensure thatevery student has the chance to havetheir work critiqued by me and theclass. It is imperative that constructivecriticism is a class effort, not just thedomain of the teacher. This will, ineffect, promote full class participationand enhance critical thinking.
I schedule journal presentation atregular intervals and encourage thestudents to share their best work duringthese readings. The class soon becomesengaged with the readers as they sharetheir deepest secrets, hopes, dreams andrealities. It is helpful to make this afestive time for the class. Each student isencouraged to stand behind the lecternand read in a clear, distinct voice, usingappropriate inflections. This builds self-confidence and fosters composure.Those in the audience are encouraged togive their undivided attention and toshow respect for the individual who isreading I make sure that any criticismis constructive. Applause is welcomed atthe end of each reading: a testimony tothe students emerging voices andgrowth as writers.
TopicsTopics for journal entries may beassigned or the students may be given afree choice. Freedom of expression canbe encouraged by stressing that no topicis off-limits and that privacy will berespected when the students deem theirentries to be too personal to share withthe class. In this case, writers may fold,tape or staple the pages before thejournals are collected.
As students read their journals aloud,
the others hear them communicatingtheir ideas, arguing their principles and
expressing their opinions
I believe that it isimportant that every
student should have theopportunity to share their work, not just
those who volunteer
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Leo Boylan is anAdjunct AssociateProfessor of Englishat Pace University,Pleasantville, NY, USA,and an AdjunctInstructor of Englishat WestchesterCommunity College,Valhalla, NY. He isfaculty advisor for thePace Drama Alliance.
Journal entries may range fromdescriptive paragraphs about people andplaces to subjects of a very personalnature. Some students use their journalsas confessionals or places for healing.One student of mine wrote about histwelve-year-old sister, his angel, whohad died of a blood disease. Anotherdescribed the experience of being rapedas a girl by one of her relatives, and therage she still feels. One young womanwrote about her numerous suicideattempts. One young man discussed hisfathers incarceration for murder and hisown resolve to become a police officer.
So expect to read about familyconflicts, relationships, friendships andsexual encounters as well as personaltragedies, including different kinds ofabuse, illness and death. On the otherhand, some students will write aboutsituations with friends and families thatmake the whole class laugh out loud.
It is important to encourage thestudents to use detail, description,imagery and other tools as they developtheir topics. Although I dontrecommend grading journals forpunctuation and usage, I do ask that thestudents try to use correct grammar.
AssessmentThe question of assessment will arise,and I believe that grading on a holisticbasis is crucial. I explain that journalgrades depend on the quality ofthoughts, ideas and writing, as well asdevelopment, creativity and willingnessto share. I stress that everyone whoworks at their journal will succeed. Ioffer my students the option of usingtheir journals to write short stories,poetry, plays or essays. The importantthing is that they are writing. I tell themthat the journals will account for 10 to20 percent of a semester grade. Thestudents need to understand that theirjournals will be read and assessed, sotheir writing should be meaningful.
work is appreciated. They also exhibitmore confidence in their writing andpresentation skills through regular in-class reading of their journal entries.
Journals cannot replace formalessays, which require more thought,planning and organisation, and greateraccuracy with punctuation andgrammar. However, they can support theprocess of learning the art of essaywriting. Students often find it difficultto decide what to write about in formalessays, and journal entries andsubsequent class discussion may act asspringboards for topics. Teachers shouldencourage their students to develop theirown topics, based on their personalpreferences and interests. Many topicsdevelop from literature read in class. Forinstance, the Greek tragedy Antigone bySophocles, offers a variety of subjects to
Reading their journals at prearrangedintervals allows me to monitor theirprogress and identify any students whoare having difficulty with their writing,as well as those who have problems withreading comprehension. It is importantto praise those who are doing well andto encourage and guide those who arehaving difficulties. Sometimes it isnecessary to meet with studentsindividually to explain what is lackingand help them to overcome the problem.
Progress anddevelopmentAs my students become accustomed towriting on a daily basis, I witnessindividual progress in critical thinking,organisation, paragraph developmentand vocabulary. As they wrestle withproblems and face conflicts, describe thejoys and tribulations of daily life andreflect on what they are reading, manybegin to develop creative abilities aspoets, playwrights, fiction writers andessayists, especially when they feel their
write about, including womens roles insociety, civil disobedience and the powerof the individual to change societythrough action.
When we read Martin Luther KingsI Have a Dream speech for aComposition and Literature class, thestudents were asked to consider whetheror not Kings dream had come true.While many felt that it had beenrealised, one student strongly disagreed,and his response became the basis for aresearch paper in which he argued thatthe dream had not come to fruition formany people in both urban and ruralareas of the United States.
Journals may be tailored to allEnglish courses, as well as to classes inmost other disciplines because theyserve as a place to respond to ideas,readings and discussions.
Journals are as individual as our thumbprints. They provide a window into ourthoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions, ata particular time and place in our lives.They are our own history. I encouragemy students to continue writing in theirjournals after the semester is over. Someday, when they look back at their entries,they may recall special moments. Theymay see how much they have changedand grown. When I look at a photographfrom 20 years ago and see myself, asmiling husband and father with my wifeand two young daughters, I see how myfamily appeared all those years ago. ThenI can pick up a journal from the sametime period, open to a certain date andread about what we did as a family thatday, what was important at that timeand what observations I made in thatmoment. I experience again what I wasfeeling at that time and in that place.Memories of hopes and dreams longforgotten come to life again. It is a gift torelive these memories in such vivid detail,and it is a gift you can give to yourstudents and to all young writers.
Journals provide a window into ourthoughts, ideas,
feelings and emotions, at a particular time
and place in our lives
12 Issue 83 November 2012 ENGLISH TEACHING professional www.etprofessional.com
I N T H E C L A S S R O O M
One is a lovely number
One is a lovely numberEmily Edwards
begins a three-part series
on one-to-one teaching
with a look at planning.
One-to-one lessons are apopular option for manystudents of English aroundthe world today. Such lessons
have a range of focuses, such as generalEnglish, business, IELTS exams, EAP(English for Academic Purposes) or ESP(English for Specific Purposes). Teachersmay be working in a company that offersone-to-one classes, or students mayapproach a teacher for private lessons,especially in preparation for IELTS orfurther study. The benefits of this kindof learning situation can be:
The students are often highlymotivated and working towards a goal.
The teacher can focus entirely on onestudents needs.
The syllabus can often be tailored tofit these needs.
However, despite being aware of theseadvantages, I have often found it reallydifficult to design a well-structured andactually useful syllabus for the one-to-one students I have taught. This is whatled me to choose one-to-one teaching asthe specialism for my DELTA extendedassignment, which involved planning acourse for an upper-intermediate ESPstudent in preparation for a vocationalcollege course. I will expand on myfindings in this article, and explain howthis approach can be useful for any typeof one-to-one course.
Syllabus planSome teachers may argue that a syllabusis not required the student and teachercan negotiate the content of the nextlesson briefly at the end of each class,and this can sometimes work well,especially when the course of lessons isquite short. However, I feel that aflexible syllabus plan can support theteacher (assisting with preparation) andthe learner (it gives them a visible recordof progress and also shows them whatthey have paid for!). This is especiallytrue when a coursebook is not beingused. It is, of course, possible (andadvisable) to continually re-negotiatethe plan according to the studentsdeveloping needs, but having an outlineto start with can be extremely helpful.
Needs analysisSo the next question is: how does theteacher find out what the student needsin order to make a syllabus plan? Atlanguage schools, students are normallytested when they start a course in orderto determine their correct level this isknown as a diagnostic test and mayinclude an assessment of grammar,vocabulary, reading, writing, listeningand speaking. It is possible to test aone-to-one student in the same way, butIve found that the best method issimply to concentrate on determiningthe learners strengths and weaknesses and what they want or need to focus onin the short term. This can involve oneor more of the following methods:
A brief interview or questionnaireabout the students learningbackground and why they want totake one-to-one English lessons.
Discussion of the importance ofdifferent skills and topic areas usingcards (for example, using the blocksof Kathleen Graves syllabus grid see page 13): the student can putthese in order of difficulty, ease ordesire to learn more about.
Negotiation of a list of key objectives(see page 13 for an example).
The student can prepare (beforehand)and give a short presentation in thefirst lesson about themselves and theirgoals particularly useful for businessor EAP students who would also needfeedback anyway on how to give goodpresentations.
www.etprofessional.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 83 November 2012 13
The teacher can also collect brochures,prospectuses or general informationabout the students company orplanned university course or exam(such as IELTS), in order to helpprepare the syllabus plan.
A general frameworkOne of the most important steps in needsanalysis, and which is of most help indesigning the syllabus, is drafting a listof key objectives. With these to hand, asyllabus can then be sketched out whichis based on these goals. In designing thecourse for my DELTA project, I usedKathleen Graves suggestion of the keysyllabus components, or syllabus grid, tohelp me know what should be included:
The elements contained in the gridabove show what can be included in anall-encompassing course, and the variouscomponents can be selected according tothe needs of the learner.
The easiest way I have found to plana one-to-one course is by using a matrix,with a box for each lesson, for whichspecific options can then be chosen. Thefollowing plan shows one week of acourse, where the student wants twohours of tuition per day, so the letters Ato F each represent one hour:
A detailed planThe following plan shows one of theweeks of an eight-week course. Thestudent wanted to prepare for starting aDiploma in Aromatherapy, so shewanted a course which developed thisspecific vocabulary, as well as preparingher for life at a vocational college inAustralia. Her objectives, which wedrafted together, were as follows:
I will develop my range of specificvocabulary related to the study ofaromatherapy.
I will improve my reading skills,especially reading long articles onthe topic of aromatherapy.
I will build on my academic writingskills so that I can write assignmentsand reports.
I will develop my ability to listen to4
Depending on the type of course,student and/or context, either a detailedor a simpler plan of what A to Factually involve would work well, and Iwill now give an example of each.
lectures and presentations, takenotes and answer comprehensionquestions based on the listening.
I will continuously practise andimprove my speaking skills andfluency, especially when participatingin discussions about aromatherapy.
I will build on my ability to usegrammar accurately when speakingand writing.
I will develop study habits that willhelp me to continue the learningprocess in the future.
All of these objectives could be slightlyadapted to make them relevant to anyother learner and their needs.
I then used the specific objectivesabove to design a detailed weekly plan,ensuring that most of the studentsobjectives were at least partially coveredeach week:
Participatory Learning Contentprocesses strategies
Culture Tasks and Competenciesactivities
Listening Speaking Reading Writingskills skills skills skills
Functions Notions and Communicativetopics situations
Grammar Pronunciation Vocabulary
Use learnersmaterial to generatediscussion.
Option(s) chosenfrom matrix: eg A and C. **
Homework Make vocabularycards (after option C).
Option(s) chosenfrom matrix: eg B and F.
HomeworkWrite shortresponses to a set of questions(after option F).
Option(s) chosenfrom matrix: eg D and E.
Remedial work andformative test/quizwith feedback.
HomeworkCase studies to readand analyse.
AInput: Reading Reading anaromatherapy text todevelop skimming andscanning skills, using a time limit to improvespeed.Identifying vocabularyin context: phrases,chunks andcollocations.
CLearning Strategies:Dictionaries andVocabularyDiscussing use ofdictionary and ways ofrecording vocabularyto match learning style.Record and recyclevocabulary learnt sofar.
EFocus on VocabularyHigh-meaning contentwords.Related to this weekstopic, especiallyanatomy, and/or theinput used in options A and B.
BInput: Listening Listening to a lectureabout health issues(YouTube video) toimprove listening forgist and detail, and todevelop note-takingstrategies.
DOutput: Speaking Discussing a variety of topics (linked tomaterial used inoptions A and B, ormaterial brought in by learner).Feedback on linguisticmistakes (errorcorrection) andpronunciation.
FOutput: WritingIdentifying the keywords and task set intypical academicwriting questions inorder to provide a fullanswer.
** Suggestions of which options to choose are provided here, but selection would depend on boththe learner and the context.
Lesson outline Matrix: divided into six optionsDay
Monday10 am12 pm
Wednesday10 am12 pm
Friday10 am12 pm
Matrix option(s) to be chosen daily
14 Issue 83 November 2012 ENGLISH TEACHING professional www.etprofessional.com
Emily Edwards works asa senior teacher atEnglish LanguageCompany, a languageschool in Australia. Shehas recently completedthe Cambridge Delta aswell as an MA in AppliedLinguistics, and herparticular interests aresyllabus design,motivation, EAP andteacher training.
A simpler planIn many cases, it may not be appropriateor practical to make a plan as detailedas the one shown above; a simpler oneis quick to write and easy to use. Thefollowing grid of six squares could beused for a six-week or six block course,in which each block represents one hour.In lessons, the student can negotiate withthe teacher which block to focus on forthe following class.
Balance input (reading and listening)with output (speaking and writing).
Focus on developing vocabulary, aswell as reviewing and recycling newwords in subsequent lessons.
Give specialised feedback and errorcorrection (on pronunciation,vocabulary or grammar) each lesson.This should be relatively easy becauseof the focus on just one student, andthis will be really useful to them.
Keep the syllabus varied to challengeand motivate the student.
Use a variety of assessment tasks (egvocabulary tests, roleplays, recordingand grading a presentation), whichcan be very informal, to give thestudent a sense of progress.
Include space in the syllabus for thestudent to bring in their own materialto work on (eg an assignment theyhave to complete, an email they needto write).
Continuous negotiationwith the learnerA key feature of one-to-one programmesis that, according to Priscilla Osborne,they cannot be fixed in stone becausewhat happens in each lesson willdetermine what happens next, and Ithink this is certainly one of the benefitsof this type of teaching. So, as bothOsborne and Peter Wilberg note, it isimportant to keep in mind that one-to-one courses demand continuous re-evaluation to ensure that the coursecontent continues to meet with what thestudent actually wants and needs. Justask your student at the end of each setof lessons (eg every five or ten hours)how they are finding the course, andwhat they might want to change.Another option is to conduct a newneeds analysis every so often, using oneof the methods suggested in the needsanalysis section above.
Key things to includeIn designing any syllabus for one-to-onelearners, it is important to keep thefollowing points in mind:
Include a range of skills (reading,listening, writing, speaking), variedaccording to the students strengthsand weaknesses.
Five steps to planning aone-to-one courseIn conclusion, these five steps can befollowed to plan, design and implementa specialised one-to-one syllabus for anyEnglish language learner:
Start with a needs analysis (eitherpre-course or during the first lesson).
Draft a syllabus plan and check itwith your student.
Each lesson, choose a topic or blockfor the next lesson (so you knowwhat to plan for).
Plan carefully for each lesson, butalso be prepared to adapt to whatthe student has brought along thatday in terms of materials or ideas.
Continuously re-negotiate with thestudent as their needs (and priorities)change.
Graves, K A framework of coursedevelopment processes In Hall, D R andHewings, A (Eds) Innovation in EnglishLanguage Teaching Routledge 2001
Osborne, P Teaching English One-to-oneModern English Publishing 2005
Wilberg, P One to One: A TeachersHandbook Language TeachingPublications 1987
One is a lovely number
One is a lovely number
DFocus onspeaking(about healthissues) andpronunciation
BFocus onlistening(lecture abouthealth)
FFocus onwriting(addressingthe task)
Plan Week 2
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Fax: +44 (0)1273 227308
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IT WORKS IN PRACTICE
16 Issue 83 November 2012 ENGLISH TEACHING professional www.etprofessional.com
I N T H E C L A S S R O O M
Heaven does not talk
Heaven does not talk
Phillip Brown has some
about teachers and silence.S
ome very valid observations aremade about Student TalkingTime (STT) in MarianneRaynauds article in Issue 75 of
ETp. Strategies should be adopted andopportunities should be created to givemaximum scope for STT in thelanguage classroom, based on a properappreciation of the fact that studentsneed to know how to take advantage ofsuch strategies and opportunities in L2.Unless the difficulties facing thestudents themselves are properlyunderstood, it is easy to understandhow teachers, themselves faced with asea of silence, can be afflicted with thedisease to please and still make no realprogress towards the goal of gettingtheir students to speak.
However, in the effort, quite rightand proper, to give maximum scope tothe students, teachers may findthemselves troubled by an alternativedisease, namely a phobia about talkingtoo much. It looks as though some kindof balance should be struck betweenSTT and TTT (Teacher Talking Time),one which gives sufficient opportunityfor the students to do what they shouldbe doing and at the same time allowsteachers to teach, and to teach in such away that they dont end up sacrificingtheir personalities to the extent thatthey become no more than facilitatingautomata. Facilitating automata may bethe stuff of the future, when humanbeings are totally replaced by machinesand holograms, but it is not a future Iwould ever want to be part of. It isteachers as people that would, in such afuture, be eliminated. And it is thisquestion of personality that I would liketo pursue in this article.
SilenceThere are many anecdotes about theChinese philosopher Confucius, andone concerning his pedagogical methodsis worth considering here. It is based onwhat he considered to be an essentialprerequisite of teaching, namely thesilent, pervasive personality and characterof the teacher. On one occasion he issupposed to have said I would muchrather not have to talk, to which hisdisciple Tzu-kung responded, If ourmaster did not talk, what should wedisciples have to pass on? Confucius thenreplied, Heaven does not speak; yet thefour seasons run their course thereby.Heaven does not talk. (Perhaps it was oneof the great mans bad days; he hadprobably exhausted himself and, findinghimself in front of a sea of bewilderment,wondered whether he was really in theright job. Does that sound familiar?)
www.etprofessional.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 83 November 2012 17
It might appear that what worriedConfucius should worry us also, andthat he would be quick to advocatewhat has been called the Silent Way.One way of pruning TTT is to cut itright back to the roots and dispensewith it altogether. This might seemabsurd, yet it is astonishing to whatabsurdities we may sometimes bereduced. But the so-called Silent Waycannot be what Confucius would haveendorsed, since central to his idea ofwhat teaching is, or should be, is thepower and educating influence of thepersonality and character of the teacher and it is hard to see how primacycould be given to this by shuttingteachers up altogether. Tzu-kung wasright to protest that what is unexpressedcannot be passed on! And, surely,teaching is all about passing things on.
As a crucial means of verbalcommunication, a language must beexpressible; its rules must be explicableand explicated, both by example and byanalysis; and explication and analysiscannot be rendered by an appeal toHeaven. That a language teachershould talk is, therefore, a platitude soobvious that calling it a platitude isitself platitudinous.
PersonalityThere can be little doubt that Confuciusspupils loved to hear him speak. He wasa model of wisdom and, no doubt, hislanguage was a model of how it should bespoken. They must have learnt a lot fromthat. What, of course, enthralled themwas the personality of their teacher, and itwas certainly not the personality of theteacher that was central to the philosophyof the Silent Way. Why dont we speakof having the right personality to be ateacher? Isnt this the most importantrequirement of all? Of course, personalityis a complex concept, a kind of catch-all,and we may disagree over this or that
element or over questions of degree, butpatience, at least a smattering of humour,consideration and respect for others, andcommitment to the task of teaching, allthese would no doubt be accepted bythe majority of us as fundamentalrequirements of good teaching. Youmight find personality which isuninspiring, but you cant have inspirationwithout personality. Perhaps Confuciuswas right to give personality primacy.
ExcellenceSo, how should we rate silence? I shouldlike to say that silence is thin. Think,for example, of fashion models on thecatwalk. They are dangerously andlamentably thin, and would not, I think,have suited Confucius, Yet they arerevered as models of excellence. Oh dear!We really must take care, lest what isdangerous and lamentable should becomea model of excellence in the teaching ofEnglish, or for that matter of anylanguage or indeed of anything at all.
I remember a model of excellence. Shewas a teacher of Italian. If, during oneof her lessons, you asked her a questionwhich even remotely impinged uponItalian politics, culture or history, shewould fly off on a tangent and talk andtalk and talk. No matter, we loved to hearher speak. It was an exercise in listeningcomprehension, without the necessity ofbeing tested and graded and stressedout. In any case, it was a different kindof listening comprehension: we werelistening to how Italian should be spoken,to how the natives do it when they do itwell. We werent slow to comment or askquestions. We were content with any kindof response, simple or complex, becausethe subject was difficult and we felt thatwe, too, were making a contribution toa serious matter. Without having plannedit, without having engineered it, she gother students engaged and all at theirown pace and competence. We all feltprivileged to hear someone speaking inthe language we were learning. She gaveus a model of excellence that was due to
her inspirational personality, and it wasbecause of this, not despite it, that herstudents learnt Italian. She was aninspiration: no doubt because she wasinspired herself!
Good teachingWhat may be listed as the requirementsof good teaching are there to guide andto help, not to hinder; they should,indeed, be abstractions from what isalready done, rather as the rules ofgrammar are abstractions from languagein use. But they must not be allowed toget in the way of good teaching.
The idea that TTT imposeslimitations is now almost canonical, andthose mindful of the requirements ofgood teaching laid down by such augustbodies as the British Council Inspectoratemay be fearful of opening their mouthslest they trespass on hallowed ground. Ofcourse, it will not do to argue, in defenceof this notion, that Confucius himselfwould have endorsed it. On the contrary,the anecdote must be taken together withthe reply of his disciple: that unless theteacher speaks, nothing will be said at all!Confucius may appeal to Heaven, but welook to Heaven in vain for an analysis ofverb tenses and the intricacies of lexis,for the explication of pronunciationrules and discourse markers.
Licence should be tempered by therequirements of good teaching to avoidchaos and confusion; likewise, therequirements of good teaching shouldbe tempered by wisdom to avoidmisunderstandings about what goodteaching is. For it is fallacy to supposethat strict adherence to a set ofdepersonalised criteria can constitutegood teaching. Good teaching will payattention to such criteria, but only ifand when such criteria can be temperedby the personality of both the teacherand of the class. Granted the need forrequirements, teaching can be
Central to Confuciuss idea of
what teaching should be, is the power and
educating influence of the personality and
character of the teacher
The requirements of good teaching
should be tempered by wisdom to avoidmisunderstandings about what good
What may be listed as the requirements of good teaching arethere to guide and to
help, not to hinder
18 Issue 83 November 2012 ENGLISH TEACHING professional www.etprofessional.com
Dr Phillip Brown teachesEnglish at StudioSchool, Cambridge, UK.He has a PhD inPhilosophy from StJohns College,Cambridge, and has acontinuing interest in hisarea of specialisation.He plays classical guitaras a hobby.
mechanical, lifeless and forgettable, andsuch epithets remind me of the kind oflesson plans that win applause frommany of those who seriously believe thatthey can teach teachers a thing or two!Goodness knows how the progressiveeducationalist A S Neill would havecoped with that no doubt hopelessly.
CriteriaI recall an elderly woman whoestablished her own school, whichspecialised in mathematics. She wouldemploy people to teach with her. Whatabout trained teachers and teachertraining? Teacher training? she wouldexclaim. Well, first I see whether aperson can teach! If I see that they canteach, then and only then do I start tothink about training them. And moreoften than not, it isnt necessary, and itmight even get in the way. She wasunimpressed with dossiers, referencesand qualifications or any kind ofinstitutionalised gimmickry. She wouldsee for herself, and what she looked forwas personality and with it the ability toinspire, to get things across, to pass stuffon. And if that meant on occasiontalking their heads off, well so be it. Didher teachers really succeed in teachingthe subject, though? Of course they did.
life, in much the same way as the rules ofgrammar may wrongly be divorced fromthat which gives birth to them. Modelsof teaching should never be permittedto underestimate, let alone ignore, thepersonality of the teacher nor yet thepersonality of the class. To bend thewords of St Augustine, one might betempted to say Love teaching and dowhat you will: a dictum that contains itsown corrective to the chaos of wildlicence. If it is, indeed, teaching youlove, you will be mindful of such thingsas TTT; you will be mindful of therequirements of good teaching, as amatter of course. Quite simply, love ofteaching imposes its own requirements.
And she considered them superior totraditionally trained teachers. Youwouldnt dare talk to her about thelimitations imposed by TTT!
Are we wrong to talk about therequirements of good teaching, then?Not at all. But the danger is that suchrequirements may be seen as a totalabstraction from that which gives them
It is not that the requirements will beimposed upon you from outside, for thatmakes it sound as though there is nomore to teaching than following therequirements. It is like saying that all youneed to be a good actor is to learn yourlines. In fact, some of the best lines arenever learnt at all. In real life, the abilityto ad-lib, to make it up as you go along,seems indispensable and quite the norm.
EssentialsTemper requirement with wisdom.Mencius tells us that Confuciusabstained from extremes. To go too faris as bad as not going far enough. Allthe so-called requirements of goodteaching should be approached with agenerous degree of circumspection, forwhen they are strict and strictly applied,they are dangerous, and when they arenot dangerous, they are ludicrous. Whatcan be said about TTT can also beapplied to, for example, the pace of alesson. Just how long should the variousstages of a lesson be? Well, how long isa piece of string? How long do you wantit to be? And can you really say inadvance how long it ought to be. Whatright do you have to introduce oughtinto the discussion at all? And this withno consideration of personality, asthough we are applying a rule quitemechanically, like an actor saying the
James, W Talks to Teachers HarvardUniversity Press 1984
Smith, D H Confucius Paladin 1974
Waley, A The Analects of ConfuciusVintage 1989
Models of teaching should never
be permitted tounderestimate, let aloneignore, the personality
of the teacher nor yet the personality
of the class
In real life, the ability to ad-lib, to make it up as you go along, seems
indispensable and quite the norm
Heaven does not talk
Heaven does not talk
lines of a play without appropriatefeeling reciting Shakespeare like arailway timetable!
William James, the nineteenth-century American psychologist, advisedteachers to prepare their lessonsmeticulously and then to dump alltheir notes into the trash-can on theway to the classroom. Heaven forbid!But then, Heaven is not charged withthe task of teaching and really hasnothing to say on the matter.
James recognised the importance oflesson preparation, lesson planning,timing, pace, TTT and all the rest. Buthe also saw that all this was uselessunless teachers feel comfortable withthemselves; and they cant feelcomfortable with themselves unless theyare themselves; just as actors feelcomfortable with the parts they play.(The actor Thora Hird said that for her,this depended on her shoes: she had tohave the right shoes, and then everythingelse fell into place. She worried aboutthe lines after that, not before.)
James knew what a mess we make ofthings. Even when we attempt to bringorder out of chaos, we deviserequirements, or essentials and criteria,which we then seek to impose with aniron fist, forgetting that hands of ironare not the hands we need whenhandling fine porcelain.
I hear a protest from those who believethey can teach teachers a thing or two:Oh, but we dont seek to imposeanything with a fist of iron. Well,perhaps not, but they should take carethat they are not perceived to be doingso, lest they spoil many a good teacherand many a good lesson. ETp
www.etprofessional.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 83 November 2012 19
I N T H E C L A S S R O O M
Less is moreLess is moreRobert Buckmaster
exploits minimal texts for
any writers, includingScott Thornbury, MartinParrott and Alan Maley,have argued for the use of
short texts in language teaching. Thisarticle shows a way of exploiting such atext in a lesson.
But first, why should texts be short? They should be short so learners
dont get bored with them. They should be short so that the
whole text and all its parts can bedealt with completely.
They should be short so that not a lotof time is spent on reading, but a lotof time is spent on learning.
Texts should be many and various, ofdifferent genres, woven in connectedstrands throughout the course and ofintrinsic interest to learners. Theyshould be dealt with intensively so thatat the end of the lesson, as ScottThornbury has suggested, the learnersare in a state of grace vis vis the text:that is, they understand it completely all the grammar, all the lexis and all thecollocations and colligations.
PURPoseful textsNot all texts need to be dealt with in thesame way, with the same sequence ofactivities: different texts will lendthemselves to different types ofactivities. The key is to deal with all thesalient aspects of a particular text in thebest and most appropriate way.
There is, however, a basic four-stageprocess that can be used with all them:PURP.
Prepare for the text. Understand the text. Respond to the text. Process the text.
A text with a PURPoseWhat follows is an example of a shorttext lesson with a commentary. Notethat the text is a specially writtenversion of a news item about an armedrobber who made his getaway byfloating downriver on an inner tube.The information was drawn fromseveral sources on the internet and waswritten to challenge students ofintermediate level and above. The text isin the box below.
Analysing the textIt is good to know your text intimatelybefore you use it. The vocabularyprofiler at The Compleat Lexical Tutor(www.lextutor.ca/vp/eng) can help youanalyse your chosen text. You paste thetext into the profiler and submit it. Itcompares the words in the text with listsof the most common words of English(11,000; 1,0012,000) and anAcademic Word List (AWL). You canthen see the text with the words colour-coded according to the list they occur
Escape by tubeSeattle police are looking for anarmed bank robber who used an innertube to get away from the scene ofthe crime.
The man stole a money bag from asecurity guard outside a bank andthen raced across the car park to anearby creek and floated away on theinner tube.
The robbery happened near abranch of the Bank of America on USRoute 2 in Monroe, Seattle.
According to police spokeswomanDebbie Willis, the robber, wearing asurgical mask, walked up to theguard, who was carrying two canvasmoney bags, at about 11 am onTuesday as he walked from the bankto an armoured car parked outside.
He sprayed the guard with pepperspray then grabbed a bag of themoney and ran to the creek. Somewitnesses say that he got into aninner tube or an inflatable boat andfloated downstream towards theSkykomish River.
Investigators have no leads so far,but believe that accomplices couldhave been waiting for him near theriver. An inner tube was later found200 yards downstream of the carpark.
20 Issue 83 November 2012 ENGLISH TEACHING professional www.etprofessional.com
in. This gives you a really good visualidea of which words are in which listand their distribution in the text. Youcan then judge the level of difficulty ofthe text and decide which words, if any,you will need to pre-teach, and alsowhich words you might sensibly ask thelearners to guess from the context.When I entered my text, I found thatalmost 73% of the words occur in thelist of the most common 1,000 words,about 13% of the words are in thesecond most common list (1,0012,000)and under 2% are in the AWL. Thisleaves just under 13% which do notappear in any of these lists.
Exploiting the textTask 1: PredictionWrite the text title (Escape by tube) onthe board and ask the learners whatthey think the text will be about. Elicitideas from the learners and write themon the board.
CommentaryThis task prepares the learners for theirfirst encounter with the text. By makingpredictions, their schemata are activatedand they have an investment in readingthe text to find out if their predictionswere correct. They have taken the firststep towards bridging the informationgap which exists between their currentstate of knowledge prior to reading thetext and their knowledge after reading it.
You might want to pre-teach somevocabulary at this stage, though pre-teaching vocabulary is an implicitadmission that your learners dont haveenough vocabulary for the text.Alternatively, you might want toactivate the learners schemata further
grammar and vocabulary, the structureof the text, the choices the writer made,the subjects of the sentences, etc indetail. You will have to be completelyfamiliar with the text itself and knowwhat you want to focus on in this stage.
CommentaryThis task focuses on the structure andthe language of the text. During thechecking of the task, problems withgrammar and vocabulary can be clearedup. Grammatical choices are analysed,eg Why is the used here? Vocabularymeaning and collocation and colligationare focused on. The learners will noticepoints of the language with which theyare already familiar, and may beexposed to structures they are notfamiliar with.
Task 5: Reconstruction 2Collect the slips of paper with the cut-uptext so that the learners no longer havea record of it. Then give them a copy ofthe text with gaps (see below) and askthem to complete it. This gap-fillfocuses on single items, eg verb forms orprepositions, etc. Monitor and help thelearners to complete the task. Checkanswers with the class.
Escape by tubeSeattle police are looking for an (1) ____________ bank robber who usedan inner tube to (2) ____________ fromthe scene of the crime.
The man stole a (3) ____________ bagfrom a security guard outside a bank and then raced across the car (4) ____________ to a nearby creek and (5) ____________ away on the inner tube.
The robbery (6) ____________ near a (7) ____________ of the Bank of Americaon US Route 2 in Monroe, Seattle.
According to police spokeswomanDebbie Willis, the robber, (8) ___________a surgical mask, walked up to the guard,who was (9) ____________ two canvas
through some text vocabulary. One wayto do this is to use a word cloud. Aboveis a word cloud for this text (created atwww.wordle.net).
This word cloud could also be usedin a later lesson as a prompt for a textreconstruction task: give the learners thecloud and ask them to rewrite the text.
Task 2: ListeningRead the text aloud to the class (this isanalogous to someone reading aninteresting newspaper article aloud to afriend). The learners listen to see if theirpredictions were correct and to answerthe questions which a newspaper articleshould answer: who, what, where, when,why and how.
Check whose predictions wereclosest and the answers to the what,why, etc questions.
CommentaryThis first encounter with the text isbased on meaning. The learners usetheir current knowledge of English tocomplete the task as best they can,guided by their predictions and thetasks of seeing if their predictions werecorrect and answering questions.
Task 3: ReactionAsk the learners for their reaction to thetext: Was it interesting? Were yousurprised? What do you think about thethief and his plan? Do you think he willbe caught?
CommentaryThese questions allow the learners torespond to the text and express theirfeelings and ideas about it.
Task 4: Reconstruction 1Give pairs or small groups of learners thetext cut up into sentences or paragraphsand ask them to reconstruct it.
Monitor, prompt as necessary andcheck as a class. Ask the learners tojustify their choices, and check
Less is moreLess is more
Robert Buckmaster isthe Director of Studiesat International House,Riga, Latvia. He hasbeen teaching andtraining in easternEurope and centralAsia for over 20 yearsand is working on anew pedagogicalgrammar of English.
www.etprofessional.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 83 November 2012 21
money bags, at about 11 am on Tuesdayas he walked from the bank to an (10) ____________ car parked outside.
He (11) ____________ the guard withpepper spray then grabbed a bag of themoney and ran to the creek. Some (12) ____________ say that he got (13) ____________ an inner tube or aninflatable boat and (14) ____________downstream towards the SkykomishRiver.
Investigators have no (15) ____________ so far but believe that (16) ____________ could have beenwaiting for him near the river. An innertube was later found 200 yards (17) ____________ of the car park.
CommentaryThis task focuses on the language of thetext while giving most of it as support.The learners have to complete the textusing their knowledge of English, whatthey noticed in the previous textreconstruction task, any notes theymade and their memory. (If yourlearners are anything like my teenagelearners, then they will not want tomake notes, but if you do this tasksequence several times, they will comeround to the idea and realise thatreading and understanding are notenough for learning: they have toprocess the text.)
Task 6: Reconstruction 3Collect the completed gapped text andgive the learners another version of itwhich has some phrases highlighted inbold, but with the words in thosephrases mixed up (see below). Tell themto reorder the words so that they makesense in the sentences and that thesereconstituted sentences make sense inthe wider text.
Escape by tubeSeattle police are looking for an armedbank robber who used an inner tube sceneget away from to the crime of the.
The man bag a bank stole guard a asecurity money from outside and thenraced across the car park to a nearbycreek and floated away on the inner tube.
The robbery happened a of MonroeAmerica near the Bank in of on USRoute 2, Seattle branch.
According to police spokeswomanDebbie Willis, the robber, wearing asurgical mask, who up to the, wascarrying Tuesday walked about two
bank bags, at walked money 11 am onguard as he from canvas the to anarmoured car parked outside.
He sprayed spray money with bagthe then grabbed guard a pepper ofthe and ran to the creek. Somewitnesses say that he got into an innertube or towards River floated and boatdownstream the an Skykomishinflatable.
Investigators have no leads so far butbelieve that waiting near could for riverhim been the have accomplices. Aninner tube was later found 200 yardsdownstream of the car park.
CommentaryThis task focuses on longer stretches oflanguage than are normal. This meansthat word order, collocation, nounmodification and colligation can all bedealt with. Such exercises have anextremely valuable part to play inlanguage learning. Learners again haveto activate their knowledge of thelanguage and their memory of the textto complete the task. This is in-depthprocessing of the language in the text.
Task 7: SummaryAsk the learners to summarise the keyinformation in the text in one sentence.For example:
A man robbed a bank guard in a carpark in Monroe and escaped by floatingdown a creek in an inner tube.
CommentaryThis task focuses the learners attentionon the essential information of the textand how this is presented. They have todeal with the text on a word-by-wordbasis and make decisions on what toinclude in their summary and howpresent this in coherent English. This isa very powerful exercise.
Task 8: SpeakingAsk the learners to discuss some of thequestions and do some of the activitiesdescribed below.
Is this a serious crime? Why? Why not?
Why do criminals commit crimes?
Was it a good plan? Why? Whatwere the risks?
What do you think the guard felt ashe was approached by a man in thecar park?
Do you think the police will catchthe thief ?
What punishment should the thiefget if he is caught and convicted?Why?
Do you know any similar crimestories? Tell the class.
Imagine you are the thief tellyour friend how you committed therobbery. Include as many details asyou can: How did you prepare?What exactly did you do? How didyou feel?
What do you think the guard saidto the police? Roleplay theconversation.
Imagine you are a police investigator:write a report about the robbery.
Prepare a Wanted poster.
Search the internet for moreinformation about this crime andreport to the class on your findings.
CommentaryThese activities extend beyond the textinto speaking activities. The text is nowbeing used as a springboard for otherlanguage work.
This very intensive way of dealing witha short text focuses the learnersattention on all aspects of the text itsmeaning and grammar and vocabulary.The learners have to use their memoriesand focus on connected text to completethe tasks. All classroom texts should bedealt with in a similar way: if you readtexts in a superficial manner with yourstudents, then they are missing out on agreat deal of language learning andpractice. It is not enough just to asksome comprehension questions andfocus on a language point or two. Toomuch reading in class is undertaken witha minimal-success approach. We need acomplete text approach to languagelearning, and the PURP sequence andthe kind of activities outlined here areone way of providing it.
22 Issue 83 November 2012 ENGLISH TEACHING professional www.etprofessional.com
TEACHING YOUNG LEARNERS
Reading nightReading nightConstanze Schklziger
tells of exciting times after
hours.Reading is a key skill for primaryschool pupils, so it makes senseto look for ways of making it awonderful, relaxing and evenexciting part of their school lives.
The Kant Primary School in Berlindoes this by putting on special eventscalled Reading nights. In the past,individual class teachers have organisedthese events by themselves for theirown classes, but our Reading night inMay this year was a huge event, duringwhich all 358 of our students wereread to by the entire teaching staff, withthe help of guest readers: schoolalumni, pupils parents and grandparents and even actors and film producers.Everyone was involved from theheadmaster to the caretaker and eventhe kitchen ladies. For one day and onenight, the school turned into a big
reading circus. Even the youngestchildren (in year one) had a lot of funreading and listening to stories.
Planning the eventBefore this big event, we madepreparations to cater for all the differentlevels of reading and all the differentinterest groups in order to make it anunforgettable festival of reading.
Although much of the reading wasgoing to be done in German the firstlanguage of the vast majority of our pupils as an English teacher, I thought it wouldbe a great idea to include the readingof English literature as well, giving theolder students with some English abilityand those native speakers of Englishwho attend the school the opportunityto listen to books read in English. This
www.etprofessional.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 83 November 2012 23
TEACHING YOUNG LEARNERS
was the first time that we had includedan English reading element in the event.
Choosing booksFirst of all, we conducted a survey in allour classes to find out what sort ofbooks the children like to read, and wethen took the results back to teacherplanning groups and looked forappropriate books. We researcheddifferent types of literature in order toidentify a range of books which thechildren would find enjoyable. We alsolined up a number of guest readers andsome of them made their ownsuggestions for books.
Just the thought of conducting part ofthe event in English got me excited, and Isoon had many ideas for possible booksto be read. As the main English teacher inthe school, I made the final choice of thebook which was to be read in English. Idecided on a crime thriller as thechildren like to read exciting literature.
Finding readersThe guest readers were found by askingevery pupils family several months inadvance whether any of them wouldlike to come and read. They were alsoasked if they knew anyone else outsidethe family who would be interested intaking part as a guest reader.
We were amazed by how manypeople were happy to read for thechildren in our school, and by asking forreaders from outside we got manyinteresting people from different partsof society to participate in our event.These included several well-knownactors, film producers and evenpoliticians who were former studentsor friends of the school. The Englishbook was read by a native speaker. Allthe guest readers were each given asmall present at the end, sponsored bythe Kant Primary Support Association.
We were delighted with theoverwhelming response to our call for
readers and, in the end, we had tomake a shortlist because there weremore people available to read than wecould take. However, we promised anyrejected readers that they would beincluded in the team the next timeround.
24 Issue 83 November 2012 ENGLISH TEACHING professional www.etprofessional.com
TEACHING YOUNG LEARNERS
Constanze Schklzigerhas worked as a primaryschool teacher inGermany for 25 years.She specialises inGerman, maths, PE andEnglish. As an Englishteacher, she won aforeign languagecompetition in SaxonyAnhalt in 2006 for herwork with children whopresented a play calledThe Three Little Pigs.
Running the eventThe reading festival started at twooclock on the first day and went onuntil eleven the following morning. Itwas organised in a rotation system.Groups of between five and ten pupilswere read to for around 40 to 45minutes and, at the end of this period,they could move to another group andlisten to a different book.
It was important to find out inadvance how many children would bein each group, so the pupils had to signup to lists. By doing this, we could seehow many were expected in eachgroup and each pupil had their ownschedule to follow. Between thereadings, there was always a ten-minutebreak to give everyone the chance tochange groups in time for the nextreading session.
Several pupils chose to attend theEnglish reading. We didnt do any pre-teaching of vocabulary, but the childrenwere given the title of the book inadvance and had the opportunity to askquestions. The reader was careful tomake sure that the children were allfollowing the story during the reading.
Between six and eight in theevening we all had dinner in the diningroom, where our caretaker and thekitchen ladies had prepared a barbecue.Later in the evening, a special guestread to the older children in theassembly room.
Reading at nightFrom nine to eleven, the children couldfinally read by themselves with booksthey had brought from home or thoseprovided by us from our reading circles.Some of the pupils chose to readEnglish magazines and short stories inEnglish, which were provided by theschool. All the children had their ownlittle nest, equipped with a mattressand a sleeping bag where they couldread. They could bring small lamps oreven torches. They were surprisinglycalm and focused. We teachers stayedwith the children from our classes andalso read books by ourselves.
The morning after the night beforeIt had been a long night! The morningstarted with a good breakfast in thedining room and then we started totalk in our classes about ourexperiences of the Reading night. The pupils went home tired but happy at
11 am. Everyone thought it was a greatsuccess and it gave us the inspiration tohold more similar events. The wholeethos of reading got a boost evenwith the parents; it is particularlyimportant to get them on board asthey have such a strong influence ontheir children. Most importantly, thechildren loved it so much, that we havenow decided to make it a fixed date inour yearly school calendar.
Reading nightReading night TipsHere are some tips in case you would like to hold a
Reading night in your school:
Make sure you have permissionto stay overnight in the schoolwith the children (you will needthe agreement of the parents andthe school authority).
Check out the rules andregulations that govern stayingovernight with children in aschool.
Get as many people involved aspossible (neighbours, formerpupils, parents, grandparents, etc).
Build a team of teachers who willtake responsibility for organisingdifferent areas of the event issuing invitations to differentpeople, organising the catering,searching for books, etc.
Plan your event several monthsin advance.
Make sure you have thenecessary finances to run theevent.
www.etprofessional.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 83 November 2012 25
Over the wall ...Alan Maley
ponders what it means
to be a teacher.
In this article I shall be looking at somebooks which attempt to convey theessence of what it is to be a teacher.Not a language teacher, but a teacher
focused on the bond between teacher andtaught that magical relationship that thebest teachers manage somehow, in theface of every kind of obstacle, to create.These are all highly personal accounts ofhow an individual found a key to openingup his or her learners. I will not be dealingwith the highly influential contributions ofpeople like Maria Montessori, RudolfSteiner, John Dewey, etc. What I want tofocus on is not educational theory with abig T. Rather, I wish to revisit accounts oflived experience in sometimes difficultcircumstances.
exuberance of the kids and the passionof the teacher who took the trouble to letthem learn. Part 1, Creative Teaching,recounts how she discovered what shecalls organic learning starting from whatis real and important to the child. thesefirst books ... must be made out of thestuff of the child itself. I reach a hand intothe mind of the child, bring out a handfulof the stuff I find there, and use that asour first working material. Whether itsgood or bad stuff, violent or placid stuff,coloured or dun within the security ofit, the Maori finds that words have intensemeaning for him, from which cannot helpbut arise a love of reading. The keyvocabulary she works with comes fromthe words the children find significant:cried, hit, fight, kiss, ghost and the like.The readers they use are a far cry fromthe anodyne offerings in the Janet andJohn series with which many UK readersof a certain age will be familiar. Sheengages the children in writing, stories,movement (dance and sport), naturewalks and art. It looks chaotic but, as shesays: I like unpredictability and I likegaiety; I like peace in the world and I likeinteresting people, and all this means thatI like life in its organic shape, and thatsjust what you get in an infant room wherethe creative vent widens. In Part 2, Life
TeacherOne of the best examples is Sylvia Ashton-Warners Teacher. This book documentsthe authors experiences working withunderprivileged, mainly Maori, children in asmall primary school in rural New Zealandin the 1950s. It is an unruly, l