2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 39,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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A war of words – poetry and propaganda in World War I

As we prepare to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, I thought I would revive this post which has ideas for lessons based around the poetry which grew from the horrors of war.

David's ESOL Blog

Poppy Field Poppy Field (Photo credit: Neilhooting)

95 years ago, the guns fell silent across the Western Front, as the Armistice took effect, leaving behind four years of destruction on a previously unimaginable scale. This conflict marked the lives of a generation of poets, who are studied in English literature classes in the United Kingdom. Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday, and in honour of this day, here is a lesson plan designed around one of my favourite poems from the First World War, ‘Dulce et decorum est’ by Wilfred Owen.

This lesson plan is designed to last for three two- hour sessions, and is suitable for advanced students, from B2+ to C2.

Session 1 – Who’s for the game?

This session focuses on the early propaganda aimed at convincing the young men of Britain to join up to fight for their country as the war began.  The poem we will examine is ‘

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What can you do with an iPad in the classroom?

Learning and Innovation

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It’s a tool, it’s a tool, it’s a tool.

The iPad is not going to replace teachers or ‘fix’ education. There is a cost implication that must be taken into account and only an educator will know if it is right for their students. Indeed the cost-benefit analysis for an establishment must take into account a host of factors when considering iPad use in the classroom. However, if there are iPads in the classroom, there are a number of applications that can enhance learning and assist the educator in developing student skills. In fact, the iPad allows educators to build on existing styles and increase flexibility in their classroom whilst personalising learning.

Assessment for Learning

The most valuable weapon in an educators arsenal is feedback. The principles of assessment against a backdrop of grading have been discussed at length for many, many years. Regardless of the conclusion you come to, the…

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Rethinking the visual: first lesson

I’d like to share here Sandy Millin’s thought-provoking post on teaching a blind student.

Sandy Millin

On Thursday I had my first lesson with M, a very enthusiastic ten-year-old girl. She was a pleasure to speak to, and knows a lot of English. She’s also completely blind.

I’d met M a couple of days previously when she came to the school for a placement test. I knew she was coming, but wasn’t really sure how to test her, since she couldn’t do our traditional written placement test or access any of the visuals that most young learner testing relies on. I opted for asking her various questions to try and gauge her level, and concluded that she was high elementary, possibly pre-int. She spoke quite fluently and was very excited about using her English.

Before our first lesson, she and her mum took me to their house. During the five-minute walk I realised that I’d misjudged her level, and she was actually much better: quite a confident pre-intermediate…

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Dear Student, You’re going to fail.

How many times have you had a student who insisted on taking an exam for which they were not fully prepared? Here’s an open leter from TEFLGEEK which addresses the impending failure of one such student, and suggests some of the things which could lead to this situation.

teflgeek

Dear Student,

You probably know why I’m writing this letter.  You probably know, deep down, what I’m about to tell you.  But I’m going to tell you anyway and that’s why I’m writing.

You are going to fail your exam.  Sorry.

I mean I hope I’m wrong.  I hope that on the day, the gods of language learning smile upon you and every word you need arrives at the front of your brain with the minimum of effort.  Or that the invigilator accidentally gives you a PET paper instead of and FCE paper and nobody notices.  Or that you have a great day and all that preparation and training pays off.  Or that a falling star dips past your window the night before the exam and that you make the right wish.

But in all honesty?  I can’t see any other way that you are going to pass.

And this…

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Cambridge Advanced writing – learning to answer the question

One of major problems that our students have when they write for a high stakes exam is keeping their answer relevant, sticking to the question. In this post from David Petrie we find some ideas on how to help our students to keep to the question.

teflgeek

Keeping writing relevant to the question is something that learners often have difficulty with.  Sometimes this is because they mis-identify the key content points, sometimes it’s because they write their answer for the wrong purpose.

This is the outline of a lesson I did with my CAE class the other day – I used tasks from the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English 1 practice test book – but this would be adaptable to other levels and your own materials.

The aims are:

  • to familiarize learners with the language and style of exam writing questions
  • to provide learners with a strategy to access key question content

Lead in:

A quick discussion among the learners – which writing tasks they like, which ones they don’t and why.

Presentation:

Give the learners a sample Writing Part 2 question (either question 2, 3 or 4) and ask them to work in pairs to identify…

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VOSCREEN: a fun tool to learn&practice languages

This sounds like an interesting tool to help learners.

teachingwithedtech

I knew about this tool long before when it was in the project stage – which I thought was a brilliant idea. In a nutshell, you watch a really short extract from visual media (film, series, ads, etc.) and choose from two options the correct transcription. When you google “voscreen”, here is what you’ll see:

001When you click on the link, it asks you to choose your mother tongue:

002You can then sign up if you want or just to see how it feels, you can play as a guest. If you sign up, you will be able to monitor your progress and your scores, etc. You can also edit your profile and upload a photo.

004 I should work on my score 🙂

How it works

When you start using this tool, you’ll see that the video is covering most of the screen. After you press the play button, you…

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