Image courtesy of Phil Roeder
This is the final instalment of my first #444ELT project. To find out more about the project and to read the other three posts, here they are:
In this final week, I explored the concept of extensive reading. I have used extensive reading in my classes in the past, so I wanted to find out what the research says on the topic. Here is what I found. Continue reading Reading
Image courtesy of Premshree Pillai
I really enjoy being a language teacher, but I make a terrible language learner. When I was younger, I barely scraped by in my French lessons, but when we moved to another province in Canada when I was in grade nine, I found out how far behind I was in regards to the other students. One of the biggest things I noticed was how small my personal lexicon was compared to my classmates. Sure my grammar was bad, but since I didn’t have the words to put together meaningful sentences, no one really noticed.
Fast forward a number of years to when I had moved to Lithuania and was taking Lithuanian language lessons while working as an English language instructor. There was this initial rush of learning as my vocabulary grew while taking lessons and living my day-to-day life shopping, working, and socializing with others. My confidence grew as did my vocabulary, but it was somewhere around the six month mark that I started to notice a levelling off in my lexical growth. I decided I needed to take action, so I bought myself a set of CDs that promised to help me learn a pile of new words. I transferred the audio files to my iPod and listened intently as I walked to and from work each day. It was at that time that something hit me. The words I had learned in my first six months were sticking in my brain much better than the ones I learned while walking. At first I thought it was the fact I wasn’t seeing the words, so I wrote them out to look at as I walked. That didn’t really help. “Okay,” I thought, “what else could it be?” Then it hit me — context. That is what I was missing. Continue reading Acquiring
Image courtesy of florian b.
I’ve waited a while before writing this post in order to protect the person who I am writing about. I don’t want anyone trying to guess who it was who did this. The point of this post is to make all of us think about what we do when we choose reading or listening material for our students.
One day, when I was having lunch, a fellow teacher was showing me a text that she planned on using with her class that afternoon. As I looked at the text, I wondered about the difficulty level and asked her if the students were going to be able to handle it. She exclaimed, “I know it is too difficult for them, but the students have been mentioning that the texts I have been giving them were too easy and they were finishing too quickly. I am doing this to put them in their place.” Continue reading Punishing
Image courtesy of Marcin Wichary
Yesterday, I was reading over a discussion happening on the #AusELT Facebook page about students’ perception regarding games / activities in the language classroom. I don’t think I am alone when I say that I have had similar discussions with students about teaching methodology in my classroom. I haven’t had it happen in a while, but that doesn’t mean that students haven’t been thinking it. I would agree with some others here in saying that I probably don’t do that many activities or games in my class anymore, but my approach to teaching is still quite different from what many of my students are accustomed to.
Language teaching is one of those things that most people have an opinion on how it should be done. Even those who have never stepped into a language classroom already have a mental picture, rightly or wrongly, about what that looks like. There is no way that we can please all of the students all of the time. Someone in the classroom is going to think that things should be more serious or fun or something in between.
Upon further reflections regarding this discussion on Facebook, my mind started to wander in a somewhat different direction (anyone who knows me understands that this is completely normal). One of the comments from Mike Smith was in regards to how to best use the time you have with the students in the classroom. He suggested that there is work that is best done by the student on their own leaving more time in the classroom for more interactive practice. I think Mike is onto something here. To flesh out his point a bit more, I decided to break down the various components of language learning into two camps: teacher guided or led and individual work. There really is two parts to the teacher guided or led, that is one-to-one tutoring and group or classwork, but for the sake of this post, I will clump them together into one inseparable group. Continue reading Guiding
Image courtesy of Dr. Marcus Gossler
Yesterday, I missed another valuable #EAPChat on Twitter due to my mixed-up schedule at the moment. I really feel I missed out on the discussion, but, thanks to the work of Tyson Seburn, I can always catch up with the summaries. The discussion was instigated by three questions:
- Should EAP practitioners also be researchers?
- How much does research play into your practice?
- What are your favourite sources for research reading?
It wasn’t that long ago that I found myself on the outside of that conversation thinking, “That’s for academics. I’ll leave the research to those who are smarter and more experienced than I am.” Sadly, that is the case for many people. Journal articles are often stuffed full of research data, supporting evidence, and are written in a very academic (sometimes even a bit pretentious) manner. Is that bad? Sometimes. I think that there are certain authors who try really hard to make themselves sound intelligent which often alienates those who need to read the article. Most of the time, the information that is presented is there to show that things have been thought through in a manner that filters out the poor suppositions and misinterpreted data. Leaving all of the raw data in the article gives readers the chance to critically analyze the information for themselves.
This is all great and wonderful, but who has time to read all of these articles and where do you find them? Continue reading Inquiring
Photo courtesy of kristja
In her article What research on second language writing tells us and what it doesn’t, Eli Hinkel (2011) synthesizes the current research on L1 versus L2 writing differences and discusses the next step for research in this area. Teaching writing to students from various backgrounds and cultures can be a difficult task for English language teachers. As an English for Academic Purposes(EAP) instructor, this challenge is heightened by pressure to get students prepared for the different education streams they are pursuing.
While the list from Hinkel isn’t that long, a total of 22 items, I have decided to focus on 5 major areas that most of those points would fall into: audience factors; text organization; language usage; text components; and content.