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Posts tagged ‘Harrogate 2014’

Arabic students and spelling (IATEFL Harrogate 2014)

At IATEFL Harrogate I watched a presentation which went a long way towards answering a question I posed on this blog a while back: How can we help Arabic learners with their huge problems with spelling in English? It was given by Emina Tuzovic, and she kindly agreed to write a guest post sharing her tips for my blog. What with one thing and another, it’s been a while in coming (she finished it for me 6 months ago!) but I hope it was worth the wait!

Emina

Emina

A couple of tips on how to improve spelling in Arabic learners

Any TEFL teacher who has experience teaching Arabic learners is acquainted with the difficulties they face when it comes to spelling. I would like to share some spelling tips which helped my Arabic students improve this skill.

First of all, I would pre-teach what vowels, consonants and syllables are as well as highlight the difference between sounds and letters. This is important for Arabic learners as when they learn English, they need to deal with the following:

  • a new script;
  • numerous spelling patterns;
  • a complex and very often unpredictable system of mapping sounds onto letters (Arabic has a regular 1-1 sound-letter conversion);
  • a different reading direction (Arabic is written from right to left).

Therefore using the appropriate ‘labels’ will make your explanations much clearer. Also don’t forget that a phonemic chart looks like another script for this group of learners. Therefore I tend to avoid it if I can, especially transcriptions of whole words. Instead of writing a phonemic on the board, I prefer writing another, high-frequency word with the same pronunciation of a sound in question, e.g. moon; rude (/u:/).

Vowels

As you have probably noticed it is the spelling of vowels that creates most difficulties for Arabic students. One of the most effective tasks for this group is simply gapping the vowels:   e.g. _xc_pt (except)   vs   _cc_pt (accept).

‘Problematic vowels’ are down to L1 interference. Firstly, in Arabic short vowels are in most cases not written down but only indicated by diacritics. For that reason, they are frequently glossed over by the students when they read in English (which consequently results in the poor spelling of vowels). Secondly, Arabic only has three long and three short vowels in comparison to English (5 vowel letters and 20 sounds!).

Therefore when I board new vocabulary (especially multi-syllable words), I mark vowels with a colour pen and break the words down into syllables which I subsequently drill in isolation. This is very important as many Arabic students will otherwise either guess the vowel or simply omit it when trying to read a new word.

Vowels

Breaking down words into CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) patterns is also important as it helps students visually memorise lexical items. I try to encourage my students to practise words by writing them down, not typing them up on the computer. This will help them consolidate the visual form of the words which is absolutely vital if you want to be a good speller! (e.g. they need to see how differently words such as play and blue look like). I also try to get the students not to only copy the word but use the Look, remember, cover, write, check method. I get them to look at a word for about 20 seconds and try to memorise it before covering and then trying to recall it. In this way you know the students have used their processing skills to retain the item instead of just copying it.

Noticing patterns

As teachers, when we teach spelling, we tend to focus too much on spelling and pronunciation irregularities (e.g. plough, cough, etc.) rather than teaching spelling patterns. If you need to check these and the rules associated with them, I suggest using the guide on the Oxford Dictionaries website. In relation to this, I try to get my students to notice the most common letter strings (e.g. sh, ch, spr, ure, etc.) and encourage ‘active reading’ where they look for letter strings and spelling patterns. When they record vocabulary, encourage the use of spelling logs as a separate section of students’ vocabulary books (based on a spelling pattern, e.g. ie vs ei, rather than just randomly recorded vocabulary).

When revising new lexis, I sometimes use magnetic letter strings (rather than only letters) which I simply ordered off Amazon! Here is the link if you’d like to buy your own magnetic letters [affiliate link, so Sandy gets a few pennies if you order here!]

Magnetic letter strings

To get a closer insight into spelling games based on spelling patters, I would recommend Shemesh & Waller’s Teaching English Spelling [affiliate link].

[Note from Sandy: another good spelling book is Teaching Spelling to English Language Learners by Johanna Stirling]

Building up confidence

I have noticed that my Arabic learners are well aware of their poor spelling. In order to build up their confidence, they need to be shown that they have made progress.

I usually set up a routine: for the first or last 5 minutes of the class we revise vocabulary from the previous day (e.g. spelling bee) or I might give them a spelling test either every day or every other day. In this way they will soon get the sense of achievement.

I also try to praise my students for using a correct pattern (e.g. *reech, *shef, etc.) even though the word might not be spelled correctly.

Morphology

When it comes to spelling, morphology plays a very important role, too. Highlight the root, suffixes and prefixes of a word and encourage students to create word families. Based on their L1, Arabic learners will be familiar/will be able to relate to this concept/aspect of learning the new vocabulary.

Morphology

Avoid the following…

One of the common spelling activities you find in various coursebook is unjumbling letters (e.g. *fnsniuoco-confusion). However I would not advise these exercises for Arabic learners. Individual letters shuffled around might only confuse them as these exercises do not contribute to consolidating the visual form of a word.

Another exercise which particularly lower-level Arabic learners might not find useful is crosswords for the same reason as listed above (words are often presented vertically and in divided block form).

Spelling games on the computer

Students can check the following useful websites if they want to practise spelling in their own time:

This task is particularly of interest for Arabic learners as there are a lot of vowel changes between the three verb forms (e.g. drink-drank-drunk).

The first two tasks in the next group are very useful for consolidating the visual form of the word:

If students enjoy playing spelling bees, spellbee.org is an option. However, you need to register.

In terms of spelling software (which has to be downloaded on your computer), there is a lot to choose from. However, the vast majority is designed for native English speaking children and is therefore not the best tool for ESL learners. After having done some research into those, I’d recommend ‘Speak n Spell’. Although there are some issues with the audio, it’s still worth having a look.

Other useful websites

This is an excellent website by Johanna Stirling which gives tips on how to improve spelling in Arabic as well as Chinese speakers.

THRASS chart (phonics chart): Although this chart is not free (from £2), it’s a very useful tool to memorise phonics and consequently spelling patterns.

Thrass chart

To my knowledge not much has been published to solely cater to Arabic learners’ difficulties in spelling. In the classroom I frequently use Harrison, R. (1990; 1992) Keep Writing 1 and Keep Writing 2, published by Longman [affiliate links]. These books are specifically aimed at helping Arabic learners with their writing. At the end of each chapter you can find spelling exercises.

By incorporating the things mentioned above in my lessons, my Arabic students managed to considerably improve their spelling in a fairly short period of time. I hope you find these tips useful too! You can write to me on emina.tuzovic@londonschool.com.

References

About Emina

I’m currently teaching at the London School of English

I’m Delta-trained and doing my PhD in visual word recognition and recall in Arabic ESL learners at Birkbeck College, University of London.

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How does the Silent Way work in the classroom? – Roslyn Young (IATEFL Harrogate 2014)

Despite having read a bit about it for Delta, I never really got how The Silent Way worked. Roslyn Young’s IATEFL Harrogate 2014 session changed all that, and while I don’t believe it will change my teaching completely, it’s something I’d be interested in trying out with lower-level groups, particularly if I ever get to teach beginners again.

[Note: this post was written during Roslyn’s session, hence the narrative style.]

Roslyn has been using The Silent Way since 1971, so has many years of experience.

She introduces us to how Cuisenaire rods are used in The Silent Way.
She shows us a rectangle chart and teaches us some Japanese, by giving us a single sound and pointing to the rods on the image and getting us to repeat the sounds. She mouths sounds, pointing to more rectangles. By pointing rapidly, we make words. She uses a lot of gestures and mime, but no sound. There’s a lot of laughter in the room. By pointing at rods at the bottom and top of the chart, she shows us pitchs.

Roslyn teaching us Japanese using a Cuisenaire chart

Roslyn teaching us Japanese using a Cuisenaire chart

After about two minutes, we already know that Japanese has a pitch system. The rectangle also shows us the five vowels of the system.

Her job as a language teacher is to make us aware of all the problems we might have to deal with as learners of Japanese.

The chart also shows us the consonants. It’s a map of the whole sound system of Japanese.

She teaches all ages using this method.

She also has a rectangle chart for the sounds of English, including stress and reduction. The colours go from language to language, so the same sound is connected to the same colours in different languages.

The learning process according to Gattegno

There are many theories about how we learn. This is how Caleb Gattegno, creator of The Silent Way, sees it.

  1. There is something to learn. (e.g. in the Japanese chart there are two lots of vowels marked, so the learner sees there’s something to learn)
  2. We learn through awarenesses/movements of the mind. They might be things that you notice visually, audibly. They can be internal or external awarenesses. You have to be ‘present’ to what you’re doing to learn. It’s the stage of ‘exploration’.
  3. This is where things become automatic. At the start of this stage, they’re not automatic, but at the end they are.
  4. Transfer. Anything I’ve learnt in my life is available at any time that I want to use it.

Saying more

There are charts for beginners using the same colours as the rods. You can point to different words to build up sentences.

Roslyn using the word chart

Roslyn using the word chart

What should we be teaching?

Beginners’ books normally start with the same structures: Hello. I come from…, adding vocabulary…

The Silent Way is completely different. It asks what you can give the learners in the time you have them. It requires you to give them everything they might have trouble learning without you, like pronunciation and structures.

What Roslyn wants them to learn is the mindset of how to relate to people in the English language. You can do this by placing yourself in time and space. They can learn vocabulary without her. She wants to give them those things that they won’t get outside her lessons, focussing principally on pronunciation to start with. This will give them a grounding for self-study later.

The next step

She pulls out a couple of students, and they follow instructions, using the language in a ‘real’ context. This is after about five hours of language.
e.g. Take a rod. Give it to him.

A student might suggest ‘Take two rods and give it to her.’ At this point, Roslyn will hold up her hands and point out ‘Take two rods and give them to her’ on the chart. This helps students to learn the meaning of ‘it’ and ‘them’. This is how the Silent Way advances, by students taking leaps and the teacher helping them. Every time, communication has already taken place, and the Silent Way shows them how to express it correctly. The students are talking to each other the whole time. The only time Roslyn speaks is for classroom management. Silent Way is about expression.

“The person I talk to most is myself.” Language is about understanding my world in terms of what I think, what I say – you say things in different ways in your head until you work out what you want to say.

Connected speech

The chart shows different pronunciations of the same spellings, like ‘there’ and ‘there’, showing the different functions. The chart also has dots showing words which might have different pronunciations, like weak and strong ‘a’. Students learn this from the very beginning.

The initial English rectangle chart includes schwa, schwii (short /i/, like at the end of ‘happy’), and schwu (short /u/, like at the end of ‘shadow‘).

Spelling

There is a similar chart to the rectangle chart, showing all of the spellings for each sound. Those written in a smaller font appear less often, and students notice this and realise they don’t have to focus on those sound patterns as much.

Silent way spellings chart

Silent Way spellings chart

The colour-coding mean that there is an immediate way into reading off new words that students have never seen before.

This still works for colour-blind students, as people work via the geography of the chart as well as the colours.

Why use The Silent Way?

You subordinate your teaching to the student’s learning. It helps the students undertake their learning in a very orderly way.

By repeatedly doing something you create experience, like an apprentice learns from a master craftsman. You then order that experience to create knowledge, like a craftsman writing a book. Somebody picks up that book, but that doesn’t give them the knowledge. They still have to build up the experiences. You can’t transmit knowledge, but you can give students experience. Silent Way gives them that experience by getting students to speak as much as possible, with the teacher acting purely as a facilitator.

If you’d like to see more examples of the Silent Way charts, try Donald Cherry’s website.

IATEFL Harrogate 2014 – a summary

[I wrote the first half of this post back in May last year, and now that it’s February 2015, I thought it was probably time to finish it! The first sentence is still true though, so I won’t change it] 🙂

IATEFL Harrogate was over a month ago now, and I’m still digesting what I learnt there. In this post I’ll attempt to summarise my conference experience and the talks I attended based on tweets and blogposts from the week.

Wednesday 2nd April

English and economic development – David Graddol’s plenary

David gave a lot of evidence about the relationship between English learning and economic development. The quotes above were the most interesting, because it questions the standards we set for school leavers, and the reasons why we require potential employees to be able to speak English. What is the point of training learners to a standard that isn’t good enough to get them a job? And/or what is the point of forcing students to learn more of the language than they’ll ever need to be employed? And is English just another piece of paper to show you’re qualified, or is it actually a necessary skill? You can watch a recording of the plenary.

Due to the dodgy wifi, I blogged the rest of the talks I went to on Wednesday:

I also liked these tweets from Hugh Dellar, because the first one summarises how I felt there too. I don’t drink though, so I’ve only experienced the second one via other people’s delicate heads! 😉

 Thursday 3rd April

It was my birthday so I decided to have a slow start! 🙂 Ela Wassell started my day off beautifully with a card which she’d got signed by lots of people there. Thanks Ela! My IATEFL 2014 birthday card I Speak Meme – Nina Jerončič How to use memes in the classroom, in the talk with the best title of the conference. She might be writing a guest post for me summarising the talk, although since I asked her a long time ago and forgot to remind her, I’m hoping that she’s still willing to do it!

How does the silent way work in the classroom – Roslyn Young ‘The Silent Way’ explained in such a way that I finally understood it!

Adam Simpson and I were interviewed by Ann Foreman and Paul Braddock from British Council Teaching English. We spoke about blogging and offered advice to those of you who(‘d like to) blog.

Mark Hancock’s talk ‘Pronouncing meaning – rhythm and stress games was full by the time I arrived, but he’s shared the materials on his site.

Practical pronunciation ideas for teaching in an ELF context – Laura Patsko and Katy Simpson Lots of things you can do to help your students deal with English as a Lingua Franca, in both multilingual and monolingual classrooms.

While I’m on pronunciation, Richard Cauldwell’s name was mentioned a few times during the day, and his book ‘Phonology for Listening‘ [affiliate link] was one of my birthday presents (thanks again Ela!). When I’ve read it, I’ll share my impressions, but until then, here’s what Hugh Dellar has to say:

Mike McCarthy ‘Collocation and the learner: wading into the depths’ was on at the same time as Laura and Katy. Luckily, Cambridge ELT were tweeting some of the highlights:

I found it particularly interesting that these mistakes could be divided by level:

I finished the day with Lizzie Pinard’s talk ‘Bridging the gap between materials and the English-speaking environment in which she described the process of putting together materials to help students take advantage of studying in an English-speaking environment. She later won a well-deserved ELTon for the same materials.

Other tweets which caught my eye on Thursday:

Friday 4th April

I had another slow start on Friday and missed a lot of sessions. The first one I went to was Emina Tuzovic’s ‘Spilling or Spelling? Why do Arabic EFL learners stand out?‘ Emina shared some very practical tips and activities for helping Arabic learners with their spelling, which was something I’d been looking for since I realised they had a particular problem not shared by any other L1 background. Emina was kind enough to write a guest post on my blog sharing ideas from her talk.

I took a break to prepare for my presentation. It’s available as a recording on my blog: ‘Stepping into the real world: transitioning listening‘. I was happy to see so many people there:

Lots of wonderful people at my IATEFL 2014 conference presentation

Lots of wonderful people at my IATEFL 2014 conference presentation

Cecilia Lemos taught us about ‘Making lesson observation a teacher’s best friend, not the enemy’, with a very interesting idea about a menu of observation tasks, which I’m looking forward to reading more about when she finds time to put it on her blog 🙂 In the meantime, you can read Lizzie Pinard’s summary of the session.

I used to work with Amy Brown at IH Newcastle, so it was a no-brainer that I would attend her talk ‘Reading for pleasure: a path to learner autonomy?’, especially because it is about extending the Personal Study Programme into a new area – PSP was my IATEFL topic in 2013. Amy discussed a project she implemented in partnership with The Reader Organisation, where trained readers came to the school to run guided reading groups. Again, Lizzie blogged about Amy’s talk.

My last ‘proper’ talk of the day was Pete Sharma introducing the Vocabulary Organizer: a new way to organize lexis’ [affiliate link to Amazon – I’ll make a few pennies if you buy via this link]. This was my only publisher talk of the conference, and I got a free copy of the organizer. 🙂 I really like the fact that there are two separate sections in it for ‘vocabulary to recognise’ and ‘vocabulary to use’. It’s specifically designed for EAP (English for Academic Purposes) students, but I think it might be useful for other students too. You can see Pete’s slides on slideshare.

That night, I was lucky enough to be one of the speakers for the Pecha Kucha evening, which was a fabulous experience. You can find out what Pecha Kucha is and watch the recording here – it’s a very entertaining hour, even if I do say so myself 🙂

Saturday 5th April

Sugata Mitra’s plenary generated a huge amount of debate, which I’m not going to get into here (as I haven’t got round to reading a lot of it yet!) Instead, I’ll give you a link to said plenary, and let you Google ‘Sugata Mitra IATEFL 2014‘ to find out what happened next…

The next talk was a reunion of sorts, since it was given by Teti Dragas, one of my CELTA tutors, who I hadn’t seen since I asked for advice a few weeks after the course finished. Her talk ‘Exploring culture in teacher education: reflections on a corpus-based study’ was based on a module done the MA TESOL at Durham University. In it, she compared Chinese attitudes to teaching and training to those in the UK, and the implications of this on the MA TESOL programme. She recommended moving away from assessed teaching practice towards a more general culture of reflective practice.

My final talk of the conference was another reunion, this time with Alex Cann, who did his Delta at IH Newcastle while I was teaching there. He was presenting on a similar topic to me, ‘Helping high-level learners understand native speaker conversations’. He shared some interesting activities to help students deal with pronunciation issues and activate their knowledge before starting to listen. He also shared my favourite video of the conference, demonstrating the importance of pronunciation and listening:

I wish I’d been able to go to this talk too:

You can see the full text of Anthony’s talk ‘The place is here and the time is now’ on his blog.

Jackie Kay, a poet, finished off the conference with a lovely selection of readings from her work and stories from her life. It was livestreamed but not recorded. Here’s an example of her reading Old Tongue, about losing her accent, so you can hear her lovely accent 🙂

Other people’s blogging

IATEFL runs a scheme where anyone can register as a blogger, regardless of whether they are at the conference or not. This creates a great picture of the conference as a whole, and promotes a lot of discussion. Here is the full list of Harrogate Online registered bloggers. It’s definitely worth taking a look – there are a lot of posts about the conference, and it’s a good place to start looking for other blogs you might want to read in general.

TeachingEnglish highlighted Lizzie Pinard’s coverage of the conference as being particularly good, and I’d second that! You might also enjoy Nicola Prentis talking about a glut of ELT celebrity encounters.

Not done yet…

As I write this [back in May!] I’m over a month behind on blog reading, and still have at least three talks I missed during the conference which I’d like to watch the videos of, with more probably being added to this list as I catch up with my reading. I still have one or two posts in my drafts which I’ll add to this summary as I publish them. I’ve also asked a few speakers to write guest posts based on their talks, which I’ll add too, so there’ll definitely be more to come from this year’s conference. Watch this space!

[February 2015 update: I think I’ve shared all of the planned posts, and I’ve caught up on my blog reading, but I still haven’t managed to watch the videos I want to, starting with Russ Mayne’s ‘Guide to pseudo-science in English language teaching‘ which I’m still hearing about regularly despite it being nearly a year since the conference. Russ, the buzz hasn’t died down at all!]

19 things I’ve learnt as an EFL teacher

On Friday 4th April, I did my first ever Pecha Kucha (and no, I don’t know how to pronounce it either – PK!). If you’ve never heard of a PK, it’s 20 slides, each on screen for 20 seconds, giving a total of six minutes and forty seconds. The speaker has no control over the slides, and just has to keep up!

There were eight presenters, all of whom were very entertaining:

  • Valeria Benevolo Franca (the host): Keep Calm and Pecha Kucha
  • James Taylor: Just say yes!
  • Bita Rezaei: A manifesto for teachers
  • Damian Williams: Linguistic Landscapes
  • me
  • Thom Jones:
  • Cecilia Lemos: The Ten Commandments of ELT
  • Lindsay Clandfield: memes

The whole event was recorded, and you can watch it below. I’d highly recommend watching the whole thing (it’s an hour), but if you just want to see mine, it starts at 33:15.

Harrogate International Centre auditorium (photo by James Taylor)

As well as being my first PK, it was my first presentation on a stage, or with a microphone.  It was a great experience, and something I hope I can do again in the future!

Other perspectives

Elena Matveeva chose some of my 19 things and expanded on them, as well as highlighting points from some of the other PKs.

Lizzie Pinard blogged throughout the PK evening – I have no idea how she kept up!

Stepping into the real world: transitioning listening

This is the recorded version of a presentation which originally took place on Friday 4th April 2014 at IATEFL Harrogate 2014.

The abstract

“I’ve studied English for years, but I can’t understand anyone!” This was a common complaint from my students on arrival in the UK. This workshop aims to introduce you to practical activities and materials you can use to help students transition from understanding scripted listening materials to feeling comfortable with real-world English.

The summary

Listening is the skill we use most in a second language. We have to understand speakers in many different contexts, of different ages, genders, levels of education, and with a range of accents, both native and non-native. However, this is rarely reflected in the classroom, where listening tends to be focussed on other students in class or on scripted coursebook recordings in ‘standard’ forms of English, mostly spoken by young to middle-aged adults (or overly excited children in the case of young learner materials!). Teachers also tend to focus on testing comprehension, rather than on teaching better listening skills. This results in students lacking confidence in their listening abilities and/or lacking knowledge of how to approach listening in the real world.

The aim of this workshop is to introduce and try out a range of activities and materials which you can use in your classroom to teach listening, rather than testing it. Some of the principles discussed will be based on John Field’s Listening in the Language Classroom (Cambridge 2008), as well as my own experience in the classroom and as a second language learner. The workshop will also look at how you can make the listening you use in the classroom reflect the real world as much as possible. Finally, participants will be given the chance to share activities and materials which have worked for them, as well as discussing how to apply the activities from the workshop to their own contexts.

The presentation

You can watch the full presentation in this video:

The books I recommended are:

(These are affiliate links, so if you buy them or anything else after clicking on these links I will get a little money. Thank you!)

I also recommend showing your students how to make the most of podcasts. I wrote a post on my Independent English blog which you can use as an introduction or to find links to some podcasts I recommend.

I’ve previously shared resources related to weak forms, including more word clouds like the one in the presentation.

The audio tracks are not included in the presentation, so I’ve uploaded them to audioboo so you can listen to them and/or use them in class. No copyright infringement is intended.

Slide 6, audio 1

Slide 6, audio 2

Slide 12

Slide 13, audio 1

Slide 13, audio 2

Slide 16

From another perspective

Lizzie Pinard wrote a summary of my talk as it was happening

Andrea at Anglolang including a summary of my talk in her review of IATEFL 2014

Laura Patsko and Katy Simpson look at the talk from the perspective of English as a Lingua Franca

James Taylor wrote a one-sentence summary which made me laugh 🙂

What makes a successful blog?

Adam Simpson and I were interviewed by Paul Braddock and Ann Foreman from the British Council, as part of the IATEFL Harrogate online coverage. It was a great privilege to be asked to do this.

We were asked about what makes a successful blog and how we go about blogging. The interview is just under 8 minutes, and I hope there are some useful tips in there.

Adam’s blog is www.teachthemenglish.com, and if you’re not already following it, you should be.

Shortly afterwards James Taylor, Katherine Bilsborough and Willy Cardoso were asked about ‘the benefits of blogging, growing the confidence to blog, and how it enables a different level of communication with peers around the world.’

Paul and Ann run the highly successful TeachingEnglish facebook page, which is a treasure trove of resources. All five of us have benefitted from it, and it’s great to be able to give something back.

IATEFL Harrogate 2014 banner

Follow the conference and watch recordings of sessions and interviews by clicking the image!

Be the DoS you want to be – Josh Round (IATEFL Harrogate 2014)

Josh’s session was part of the Leadership and Management Special Interest Group day.

He has a blog: www.bethedos.wordpress.com.

Josh became a DoS because the previous one left, and that DoS was his only reference point. He started by copying that style, and it took him a few years to develop his own style.

Josh is the chair of LonDoSA, the London DoS association, and that’s also part of what has helped him to develop as a DoS. Part of the session is about meeting other DoSes too, because that can be difficult to do.

Josh Round presenting at IATEFL Harrogate 2014

Manage Yourself

He starts by asking:

  1. What kind of manager are you?
  2. What kind of manager do you aspire to be?
  3. What prevents you?
  4. What gets in the way?

Time management

Time management is all about conscious control of our time. Having an awareness of what we’re doing, when, and how effectively.

Prioritisation is key. You need to decide what is urgent/not urgent and what is important/not important. You can make a quadrant:

Quadrant of urgent/non-urgent etc

We want to be in ‘The Zone’, and according to Stephen Covey, the best-performing managers operate mostly in this place, but it can be very difficult to do that. Tips on how to be in ‘The Zone’:

  • Don’t open your emails until at least 10a.m. You often do your best work first thing in the day.
  • Block off times when you’re available. Everybody needs to know this for it to work.
  • Divide up to do lists. Laura Patsko suggested dividing it by length of task: 15 minutes, 60 minutes, 2 hours plus.
  • Work in different places: go to a different room if there’s too much noise.
  • Give yourself motivational rewards. We all get some form of satisfaction from crossing things off lists.

Delegation

What stops us from delegating?

  • I can do it better. Maybe we’re control freaks!
  • I can do it faster. Training will take too long. But maybe this will be a long-term investment.
  • I like doing it. I’ll keep it.
  • What if they do it better?

Why delegate?

  • To build expertise in your team.
  • It gives you time.

How to delegate

  • Look actively for tasks you can hand over.
  • Identify the right person.
  • Define the task clearly.
  • Monitor but get out of the way.
  • Let them do it their way. Your way might not be the only way.
  • Encourage and give praise.
  • Don’t just delegate tasks you don’t like doing.

Managing your team

Josh shows us a video called ‘Harry and Paul’ about football management. Brilliant video 🙂 Football managers are not always friends with everyone in their team.

Managing teachers

Best practice points

  • Treat everyone as I wish to be treated.
  • Be consistent.
  • Set compelling goals and objectives. Provide challenges.
  • Keep your promises.
  • Be visible and approachable. MBWA: Manage By Walking About.
  • Choose to communicate.
  • Hold regular one-to-ones with staff.
  • Be self aware: know what’s expected of you, and remember what you expected of your DoS when you were a teacher.
  • Inject fun. Being enthuasiastic and positive are contagious.
  • Be a role model. Make your goals transparent.

Really like this suggestion from Kevin Spiteri at their school in Malta: a ‘good news corner’ where everything positive goes: positive feedback, babies born, birthdays, great things that are happening at the school.

That’s the ideal, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. People are messy: they respond in different ways. It helps if you have a clear idea of your aims as a manager.

Grow a positive school culture

Josh refers us to Hertzberg: hygiene factors (things which demotivate) and motivators.
Hygiene factors include pay, lack of team morale, admin, work conditions, job security and lack of autonomy.
Motivators include job variety, team morale, freedom to be creative, recognition, challenge and opportunities for growth.
As a DoS, we can help with these factors. For example, change the classes they teach to give them variety.

Be a Developing DoS

What development opportunities exist for ELT managers? You can look for local associations like LonDoSA, or the LAMSIG through IATEFL. These allow us to connect with other DoSes and share best practice.

Leaping before you look – Danny Norrington-Davies (IATEFL Harrogate 2014)

Danny was a tutor on my Distance Delta course, and his presentation at IATEFL Glasgow was one of the most useful I went to all week. I’m hoping to be trained as a CELTA tutor in the near future, so this was an ideal talk to go to.

There are three main strands to Danny’s talk:

  1. Encouraging trainees on pre-service courses to work with emerging language during observed lessons.
  2. Exploring how trainees feel before going into a lesson like this…
  3. …and after (both after the lesson, and after the course).

Some issues (from trainees)

  • They don’t believe they can do it.
  • They worry about being put on the spot.
  • They worry about losing control.
  • They like the security of pre-planned input (however much they might moan about planning!)
  • They don’t notice emerging language or “can’t hear it”.
  • They can’t decide what’s important.
  • They worry about putting students on the spot.

Danny believes from this that trainees think emerging language means ‘error’. He says that it’s also about questions students might have, like “What’s the word for ____?”

How do we encourage trainees to work with emerging language

On day 2 of Danny’s courses, they look at the meaning of language from a text he uses. They look at the questions students have in relation to that text. It helps the trainees to notice that they know more than the people they’re teaching – it’s not just about meta-language,

On day 4, they explore the kind of questions learners might have when setting up activities and giving feedback.

On day 6, they look at a coursebook double-page and how five different teachers interpret them. One of those interpretations is task-based learning, another is using emergent language,

On day 9, they have a session on TBL and working with emerging language. They think about what is likely to emerge from the interaction.

Day 9 then has the correction and reformulation slot, after emerging language has been dealt with.

Other parts of course design include:

  • observation tasks which include a focus on emerging language. It’s better as an observation task than as input.
  • no language analysis form in the lesson plan.
  • retrospective language analysis forms, after the lesson.

The data is mostly drawn from students who have done this once from eight teaching practice sessions.

Danny also doesn’t mind if trainees ask for help during their teaching practice, if they get stuck.

Lesson planning

When trainees come to him with these questions:

  • When should I deal with language?
  • What language should I focus on?
  • What problems will the students have?

… he used to help a lot with this, but now he asks ‘Why don’t you see what happens?’

This helps to build up the trainees’ confidence with dealing with language.

Feelings beforehand

“I felt quite nervous about it, not having specifically practised how to do it.” (Elizabeth)
“I’m not sure I’ve planned enough.” (Stefano)
“I was worried about only going into the lesson with a piece of an A4 and an anecdote and every other lesson took a lot longer to prepare, so I was more nervous.” (Neil)

Praise what your trainees are putting in front of you.

How did new language emerge?

From six or seven candidates’ lessons, they came up in questions about texts, Q&As…

How was the experience different?

  • It felt like it went better than when I planned it.
  • I felt like I was really present in the lesson.
  • I felt like I was teaching the students, not the plan.
  • I didn’t concentrate on one particular point, so I felt less constricted.
  • I felt for the first time like I’d actually been teaching, rather than presenting. [this can often be a problem on Celta courses]
  • I felt like a real teacher. (she felt like stuff would happen in the class – students would ask questions, she would answer them)

New techniques and skills

  • “I learnt to listen and help them say what they want to say, rather than make them use a grammar point.” (Ros)
  • “I realised I could take my time, which allowed me to use some techniques I’d learnt on the course.” (Joanna)
  • “I realised I can answer questions about meaning if I know what they want.” (anon)
  • “I realised it was just like monitoring, but to everyone.” (anon)

Planning for future lessons

  • “It was nice not to have to guess what all the problems were going to be.” (Ros)
  • I didn’t have to plan for 24 hours.
  • I don’t need to overplan – if I leave spaces, things will emerge.

Some significant impacts

  • It didn’t really impact the course, but now I do it all the time. (Elizabeth)
  • It gave me more confidence in addressing students and braking down barriers. (Neil)
  • It taight me I quite enjoyed teaching, which came as quite a shock. (Neil)

Suggestions

  • You have to encourage trainees. They don’t trust themselves.
  • They need to be reminded that they do have time.
  • They will notice what emerges if they have to. They won’t if they’re teaching their plan.
  • Feed it in early, demystify it.
  • Make sure they know it’s not all about errors and jargon.
  • Encourage them to look at teachers working with emerging language in observations.

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Don’t believe in fairy tales: critical thinking in teacher development – Damian Williams (IATEFL Harrogate 2014)

Damian Williams was a tutor on the Distance Delta while I was doing it, and he has also recently published a book called How To Pass Delta on The Round, in which he mentioned my Delta Quizlet sets. Going to his talk was my first chance to meet him, so I definitely couldn’t miss it!

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Damian was given a very useful piece of advice by Howard Smith. We think we’re aware of the world around us, but it’s quite easy to miss things. The advice is ‘Be aware’: of different methodologies, of the language, of your students, of other teachers… As teachers there are a lot of things that we take for granted, or take as a given, like the fish who don’t notice the water around them. There are also a lot of things we do in ELT which are not based on evidence or fact. ‘The plural of anecdote is not data.’

Here are some ELT mantras Damian has used, which he’s going to look at in this talk:

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ICQs and CCQs

If you feel like they’re patronising, it’s probably not the best way to do it. Damian is on a one-man mission to get rid of the term ICQ [good man!] – he says it’s better to do it another way, like working through the example, demonstrating or just checking they’re doing it. There are lots of ways to check: get examples, get opposites, rank things, use translation, show you how to do it (like tiptoe), draw timelines.

Visual learners/auditory learners

There are lots of different definitions of learning styles, but there’s no real evidence for the theory that people learn better by doing things in certain ways.

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Damian recommends looking at Daniel Willingham’s website, where there is a lot of information debunking the idea of learning styles.

Tenses

There are only two! Tenses are about distance (time, reality, register) not time. They can be ‘close’ or ‘remote’. There are no exceptions to this, and Damian presents it to his students from intermediate level.

Grade the task, not the text

Authentic texts are what learners will come across in real life, but they can create anxiety for teachers and learners. There are problems with inauthentic texts though. Here are some examples from a Japanese book:

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Damian recommends www.elt-resourceful.com by Rachael Roberts. She bases things on authentic materials, but uses places like http://www.readability-score.com to work out what might be more difficult.

Don’t correct everything

Damian has never heard students complain about being corrected too much, but they have complained about not being corrected enough.

There’s an idea that with fluency we don’t want to interrupt, but we can intervene by waiting until they’ve finished and then correcting them. This can really help with fossilized errors.

Using lots of quotes in my writing makes it sound more convincing

This is something Damian comes across a lot when he’s marking Delta assignments. You need to back up what you’re quoting to show that you’ve processed the quote and understood it, for example by paraphrasing and adding your own experience. This is an element of critical thinking: you have to process it and pull things together, and see things with your own eyes.

Conclusion

Even if you’re not a very experienced teacher, you can still reflect and apply critical thinking.

Damian talks about ‘The Humans’ by Matt Hait, which sounds like an intriguing book. At the end of the book there are 87 pieces of advice for humans. Damian picked out three which reflected his talk nicely, one of which was ‘Question everything’, but I wasn’t quick enough to share the others. You’ll have to ask him what they were!

For a bit more…

Damian writes at www.tmenglish.org and is on Twitter: @DRichW.

He has been looking at the mantras in a bit more depth over at the Richmond Share blog.

Revisiting ELT Mantras #1: Using CCQs and ICQs
Revisiting ELT Mantras #2: Don’t give, elicit.
Revisiting ELT Mantras #3: Visual learners need to see things, kinaesthetic learners need to do things.
Revisiting ELT Mantras #4: Exceptions to the rule

Developing ‘Teaching English’ – Ann Foreman and Paul Braddock (IATEFL Harrogate 2014)

I love the TeachingEnglish facebook page because it has helped my blog a lot, so I really wanted to see Ann and Paul talk about how they do it. I’m also a TeachingEnglish associate blogger for the website, which is a great opportunity.

Paul and Ann are talking about how they are hoping to reshape the TeachingEnglish website to offer better resources for CPD.

Paul starts by sharing the CPD framework the British Council developed. On the site at the moment, you can click on your level of development and that will give resources specific to your stage in your career. They suggest what skills you should have at that level and give you ideas on how to develop them. For example, starter teachers have resources on pairwork or developing rapport, whereas higher-level teachers have resources on things like materials development.

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Ann talks about their huge success on facebook. They have over 2.2million likes and a 1.5million weekly reach [which is phenomenal!] They started it with the idea that it is not just to promote British Council materials, but a place for people to see what is available in the teaching world in general. The facebook page has it’s biggest audience in India, then Egypt. A lot of people follow it from South-East Asia and Latin America. The people who share resources tend to be European-based, but the discussions are international.

They tried to learn from what is successful in CPD today. Here’s what they focussed on:

  • social media and blogs: it’s crowdsourced, and the validity is from how useful ideas are and how much they’re shared.
  • action research groups: people often go to a workshop given by an expert, but this is only effective up to a point. Paul’s teaching centre set up action research groups where teachers worked with others who were interested in the same areas. They found it was far more motivating for the teachers.
  • free and paid-for online training opportunities: for example MOOCs.
  • government-/institute-funded projects: for example in Malaysia, where there are teacher-led projects.

They compared this with what was offered on the TeachingEnglish website, and found it quite different.

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The words in the image above show what people are looking for.
The notion of ‘experts’ is changing, and now there are many of them, in the form of bloggers sharing their experience in class, for example.
Voluntary participation allows teachers to decide to what extent they want to be involved, how much work they want to do, etc.

They decided that organising things into career paths might be a more useful way of organising the information. For example, you want to develop your ability to teach teenagers or to write materials. You use the site as a scaffold to work towards your goal, through a series of challenges and goals and expertise to get you there. There may also be an element of gamification to help make it more interesting.

They have come up with a system of four different rooms, with a series of challenges. Here’s a slightly blurry example of the ‘research’ room:

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You start off with the ‘research’ room to develop your goals, followed by the ‘classroom’ room where you try them out. The ‘classroom’ is not just for teachers: for example, if you’re a manager it might be about how you observe lessons and experiment with this. As you complete the challenges, you collect badges which show how much you’ve done. Then you have the ‘training’ room and the ‘research’ room, which collates all the resources you might need for that topic, since it can be a bit difficult to find what you need on the TeachingEnglish website at the moment. You’re encouraged to reflect on and share what you’re doing.

The idea is that it will work like a good staffroom, but in a virtual context. It’s trying to make the best of what comes from social media, but draw it together in a way that social media might not do. It’s big challenge, but it’s worth us trying to do it as Ann and Paul said.

It’s not up yet, but will be started small and developed over time. They would like feedback on the idea so feel free to contact them.

I think this looks like a fascinating initiative, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Update: here’s an excellent illustrated post about an interview Ann and Paul did during the conference where they also talk about their ideas.

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