Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Rachael Roberts’ talk, taken from my tweets.

Coursebooks and emergent language don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Learning is located in the interactivity between teachers and learners, and between learners themselves. (Teaching Unplugged). To counter Dogme, @jimscriv say it is fairly drastic to dump materials and syllabus and wander naked through the Dogme forest. But Rachael also says you don’t need to go in like a tank either, with so many materials you don’t connect with students. Materials should not be the tail that wags the dog says @thornburyscott, but doesn’t mean you can’t use them. Structure can be very helpful though – we like to have an idea of a series of steps. We might have a vision of a series of steps leading upwards, but students may not feel this. Might wander off/tunnel vision

Emergent language is the idea that a system can emerge from a lot of smaller interactions, like flocks of birds or snowflakes. Sorry…that was emergence, not emergent language! #iatefl @teflerinha says it’s about having a framework, with interaction between CB/EL. These are key ingredients, which could come from people in the room or materials.


‘Freeing the classroom from third party imported materials empowers both teachers and learners.’ is a quote from Teaching Unplugged. @teflerinha disagrees with the slavery language here.

The first key is in engaging the learners. What is between the learners and the materials? What is in that gap? .@teflerinha showing us an excellent video from her blog from StoryCorps with an interview between a child with Asperger’s and his mum. She says the video is an example of something that isn’t just going to turn up in the classroom, but students can still relate to it. Materials can help students grow and see new things in a different way, in a way that materials-free perhaps can’t. Teachers should mediate the materials, not be mediated by them. We need to make the materials relevant to the students. For example, when monolingual groups are reading about different cultures, they get something they might not with materials-free.
Get students to write letters to themselves in the future using – it will be emailed to them.

The second point is noticing and restructuring. Coursebooks often have lots of them, but you can do more with them. For example, you can turn a coursebook text into a dictogloss/translation. They can see the gap between what they produced/Eng. After listening, students can be asked to notice language which has been used by looking at the transcript. Students could also try some self-recording and transcription tasks. Helps them notice. T can reformulate.

The third point is repeating and recycling. People often complain that coursebooks don’t do enough of this, but impossible to do. To recycle activities, repeat them in different ways, with a different audience/purpose. Listening to a model after doing a task for example. There’s a site called Textivate, which allows you to break up a text. Great for repetition, though not perfect. You can return to the same text later, and do something different with it.

Coursebooks are like recipe books – some people follow them, and some people learn from them and run with it. Rachael Roberts/teflerinha’s website is if you want to see some of her resources.

.@chiasuan now clarifying that she respects coursebook writers and that she learnt a lot from them as a newly-qualified teacher. There are extremes of people who don’t understand how coursebooks/dogme actually work. @irishmikeh says that’s not how writers write: Coursebooks are a tool not a result – that’s not how writers write. As @irishmikeh and @MarjorieRosenbe clarify that. .@hughdellar emphasising recipe idea, that it’s difficult to get to the stage of being a good cook without having internalised recipes. .@elawassell @hughdellar said this means we need to be training people to use materials on their initial courses, not reinvent the wheel

Mark Hancock on the same presentation

Comments on: "Of course! Using the coursebook AND engaging with emergent language – Rachael Roberts (IATEFL 2013)" (1)

  1. Thanks very much for the summary, Sandy, and for coming to the session. For anyone interested, there is now a brainshark of the whole presentation on my site


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