jueves, 2 de diciembre de 2010

Speak Up

Hello Everyone!
On this entry I´ll analyze a video on techniques to teach speaking. I’m pretty aware that we all have chosen this tool to work on Speaking, but I believe there is a reason for this: what can be better to explore the teaching of speaking than watching students speak and teachers guide them? Although the lesson sometimes deals with primary school children, the techniques used can be transferred to a class for adolescents and adults.
John Kay claims that one of the most important things to get sts talking is to generate a friendly atmosphere, which will allow sts to feel relaxed and therefore, be willing to participate actively in the speaking tasks. To this end, he proposed is a warmer, for example, he gives an example of a grouping technique with different animals for each child, which they had to keep secret. Not surprisingly, they immediately start asking which animal they got (in English) so the English atmosphere is created before the actual activity starts. This activity can be used with adolescents as well for instance by giving them pictures of different pop stars, actors, or models. Another advantage the speaker points out is that the teacher can manipulate the grouping arrangements in a clever way for example by pairing a shy student with a more extroverted one so that they can help each other.
As regards instruction-giving, John Kay highlights the importance of getting sts to know when the instruction is given and to make sure they are all paying attention. The teacher in the video says that after giving the instructions she asks the sts to repeat what she has already said. This is her technique to check understanding. In addition, a way of avoiding the use of the sts’ mother tongue when giving instructions may be trying to simplify them as much as possible and planning them beforehand. Moreover, John says it is necessary to give one instruction at a time so as not to complicate the understanding of the activity.
When it comes to practicing some particular structures or lexical items, it is sometimes necessary to do some controlled oral practice of the target language with the class as a whole before plunging into the pair or group work. To begin with, the teacher provides a model (in the video the teacher gives examples that the sts could perceive as real) and then, he encourages them to repeat it. After that, the teacher can provide a prompt so as to make it a bit more creative for the sts. This is important because he is preparing them to perform the activity successfully by providing the language they are going to need during the task. For example in the video, the teacher shows the sts a variety of ways to express agreement or disagreement for them to use in the following activity.
To conclude, I really liked this video because it complemented the reading we had done on Speaking from Tricia Hedge, especially the part of giving-instructions, which is not only useful for the speaking tasks though.

Hope you like it too!

miércoles, 1 de diciembre de 2010

Drop Me a Line

Based on the information taken from chapter nine from Hedge and the aspects of writing discussed in class, I prepared an infographic.

Reading Fest

This picture is more and more difficult to find these days. With the advent of the communication technologies, the way of reading has changed, especially for teenagers. Text messages, messenger conversations, emails, and so forth have replaced the appeal that books have had centuries ago when they were first produced.

In this entry, I will analyse the teaching of reading by using concepts taken from the chapter 6 from Hedge and the article on reading comprehension skills in English at schools published by the GCBA.

Writing Presentation

jueves, 30 de septiembre de 2010

"Grandmother, what big ears you have!" "All the better to hear with, my child."

Find an example of listening activity in a textbook. Evaluate these criteria:

1) The extent to which learners are given a reason to listen.

Students will be given a good reason to read the text provided that the teacher is able to build up an adequate amount of intrigue as regards their guessing on the lifestyle the protagonist is leading, the reasons why she is abroad and the difficulties she is facing (among others)

2) Whether appropriate contextual information is required.

I believe appropriate contextual information is given. General ideas about the protagonists and their situation is clearly presented and discussed prior to the listening activity.

3) In what ways pre-listening stage prepares students for the language of the text.

Firstly, students are asked to relate the topic to their own reality by asking them to work on some questions connected to their preferences. This might bring up some doubts as regard vocabulary related, for example, to possible difficulties when living in a foreign country, which is one of the topics dealt in the listening.

Secondly, some general context is discussed so as to frame the issues dealt in the listening such as the interviewee’s profession and her decision to move abroad for a year. The questions also provide some guidelines to the listener with regard to the ideas that will appear in the text. In addition, discussion on the pictures gives some place for the students to brainstorm possible topics. For instance, in the pictures we can see a woman painting so students may infer that the teacher decided either to teach art or to learn art. They can also think of the differences in the cultural backgrounds and customs.

4) In what ways pre-listening stage activates prior knowledge

In the very first activity, learners are asked to discuss with a classmate some questions connected to the topic and their own opinions on it. By doing so, the students start making connection of ideas, grammatical structures, lexical items, contexts, etc. Additionally, as I mentioned above, describing the pictures will help visual students activate other brain areas apart from those related directly with language.

5) The usefulness of any while-listening work

Usually, while-listening activities are useful to check student’s predictions, and to try to verify that they understood the general ideas developed in the text. On a more detailed work, while-listening activities can be used to work on new vocabulary or grammatical structures.

6) The relevance and range of any post-listening work

The main aim of a post-listening activity is to relate the listening to the student’s own world so as to make it relevant to them, and therefore, memorable. In this case, the learners are asked to discuss the answers with a classmate. In this way, they talk about the possible answers. Therefore, I would include some questions related to their own opinions as a way of integrating the text contents with their own personal views.

lunes, 12 de julio de 2010

To Bear in Mind

Hi! For this entry I decided to create a mindmap using our beloved friend, the MindMeister. In this diagram I worked on those processes involved in the acqusition of a language.

viernes, 9 de julio de 2010

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall...

Hello! In this post I will like to explore some of the many techniques for teaching the meaning of words. As our friend Tricia said, although our main role may be help students become autonomous learners, they will sometimes need us to explain new words to them. To this end, it is important for teachers to have a good viariety of techiniques at our disposal such as: Miming, gestures, examples, contexts, synonyms, antonyms, visual aids, auditory aids and of course, dictionaries.
Here I prepared a Glogster with different examples of techniques and aspects of the vocabulary items to take into account when teaching. Hope u like it.
Find the secret word in the text ;)
It's nice playing with words!

miércoles, 16 de junio de 2010

A Joint Effort

I was looking for information on The Net related to learner’s autonomy and learner training and I came across a webpage which dealt with these issues, it was addressed to parents, though. It gives them tips to help their teens grow more independent individuals. I found this page particularly interesting because I discovered many points connected to what we read about learner autonomy in Hedge, so I thought: After all, teachers and parents ultimately want the same thing: for children to become successful adults. In my mindmap below, I will present the 10 tips given to parents and I will develop a bit more those tips which can be applied to help teens develop their learning autonomy. Hope you like it! :)

Source: http://www.collegeboard.com/parents/apply/sending-kids-college/50006.html

jueves, 3 de junio de 2010

The More the Merrier

The following reasons are often given for using pairwork and groupwork in the communicative classroom:
  1. It increases opportunities for practising the language: I think that when sts are asked to work in pairs or in groups more true-to-life situations are presented so more skills are required to carry them out. Students need to develop different competences such as discourse competence (cope with authentic texts, use cohesive devices) strategic competence(turn taking) fluency (to deal with information gap), etc. These strategies would note be seen as a necessity from the sts´point of view were them to be working alone. The main point here, is that as we are teaching a language, and a language is meant to be used for communication mainly, we should practise it through interacting with others.
  2. It enables students to take risks with the language and to see if they can negotiate meaning: Of course, it does! Working with their pairs usually gives students more confidence as they are not the centre of attention to the teacher. They feel more free and relaxed.Thus, they are more concerned with getting their message across through negotiation of meaning than with them making mistakes.
Some of the disadvantages to this approach could be that students are prone to divert their attention from the main aim of the exercise and in turn this is a more time-consuming task. Another disadvantage may be that monitoring individual performance becomes more difficult with a large number of students.

jueves, 6 de mayo de 2010

A Happy Place

This drawing (tries to) represent an adolescent’s motivation to learn English outside the classroom. I imagined the teacher had helped him see how useful and fun learning can be; and that making it so only depends on himself not on somebody else. What does depend on the teacher is the teaching environment inside the school. I thought of a perfect atmosphere that welcomes each student to the classroom and makes them feel proud of their own production for instance by exposing their own work on the walls. The perfect place could be represented in a thousand different ways because we all have different learning styles, ways of processing the intake, learning strategies, etc. But the important thing is for a teacher to acknowledge these differences and try to use them as tools to plan their lessons, for example asking sts to practise different skills and appeal to a variety of intelligences.

I believe that motivation and a welcoming environment are two key elements to encourage students to learn a foreign language. We teachers are in charge of guiding them on how to get enthusiastic about English and of creating a nice atmosphere for them to learn.

jueves, 15 de abril de 2010


Well, here we are again sharing a new year, new mates and a new blog! And together with all these new things I began this year with new expectations for our Methods course.
First of all, I will like to say that I´ve never worked with teens before so all I have are vague ideas and prejudices about what it is like dealing with them. But little by little I think ideas will become clearer and prejudices will be dispelled.
As regards adults, I feel better about teaching them because they seem to be more responsible and interested in learning than adolescents, but as everything in life, there are always bad and goods sides to all things, all we need to do is to find the best way to take advantage from the good points and not get crazy about the bad ones.
All in all, I would like to learn different strategies to deal with both adults and teens , and to make to most to make them feel comfortable and happy about learning English.