Insights Into TEFL

´╗┐Student book discussion group
By Ken Smith - Kaohsiung, TaiwanEvery Tuesday night ("Tuesday's with Mr.Smith"?) at the college I teach at in southern Taiwan a group of students called "Book Travelers" gets together for a group discussion about books. It is based on Mark Furr's work with Reading Circles, but I've also added elements from the Robin Williams film "Dead Poet's Society". Although we don't use graded readers with
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Getting students excited about books
By Warren Ediger - California, USA "One of my early mentors told me that leadership is "knowing what needs to be done, knowing why that is important, and knowing how to bring the appropriate resources to bear on the situation at hand."Helping my adult ESL students in the classroom and online tutoring students (mostly professionals) understand "why" has paid rich dividends.Trelease, Krashen, and
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Educational Disengagement: Undermining Academic Quality at a Chinese University
By Dick Tibbets - University of Macau, Macau, ChinaThis is a fascinating study and so much rings true that I go along with all that I've managed to read so far.On the Chinese side there is the view of education as the ingesting of information and lack of emphasis on the synthesis of information to create and advance. There is the xenophobia that assists the belief that one can teach a neutral
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The Common European Framework for testing and teaching
By Jennifer WallaceAnhui Gongye Daxue, Ma'anshan, ChinaLots of us are trying to develop tests appropriate for the situations we're teaching in. One document I'd recommend, because I've found it enormously helpful, is the Council of Europe Frameowrk, which is on the Internet, as a downloadable pdf file (for which you need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader on your machine). I like the document for
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On testing oral English
By GeorgeTo accurately test my students, I give them oral exams which are recorded on tape. These exams have two parts. The first part is Q&A covering things we have covered in class. They almost always have a memorized response for the basic questions. I tend to ignore these. I focus on their responses to the followup questions. For example, I've told them that we might discuss their
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A speaking test examiner teaches speaking
By Jennifer Wallace - Anhui Gongye Daxue, Ma?anshan City, Anhui Province, ChinaWhen I came to teach here, although I?d been a speaking test examiner for more than 10 years (for UCLES exams) I?d actually never had to set an oral English exam before. I?d taught always in situations where the students were either taking no exam or were working towards an external exam. So if I did have to set
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Extensive reading for students in intensive English programs
By Erlyn Baack - ITESM, Campus Queretaro, MexicoHere are two of my recommendations, both short essays, four pages and three pages.For many years, I've used TWO essays for every advanced composition class I've taught (first semester, university level). I cannot remember a time when I haven't used them, actually. My classes are for Mexican students who are supposed to have 550 although some have
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What can Scrabble teach?
By Dick Tibbetts - Macau University, Macau, ChinaIt might be worth consider- ing what Scrabble can teach and what Scrabblers can learn.Players can learn vocabulary from their peers and peers have to define words when challenged. I'd ban dictionaries for finding words and use something reputable like the advanced learners dic. as an authority for judging.Scrabble games with NS are used to aid
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Mao on teaching and students
"Examinations are approached as if the pupils were enemies who must be attacked by surprise. All this discourages young people from energetically taking charge of their own moral, intellectual and physical education". Mao was also greatly concerned by the health of school pupils. Immediately after the establishment of the People?s Republic of China, he wrote twice to the Minister of Education, Ma
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Teacher most likely to succeed
By Bob Gilmour - Programme Manager for In-Sessional English Language Programme, INTO Newcastle University, EnglandI read this, Teacher Most Likely To Succeed, with interest. Having not seen the New Yorker article before, it is interesting to see that they identified the same points as us.Two years ago I took over the In-sessional English support classes here at Newcastle University (roughly about
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Students should use dictionaries
By Karen Stanley - Central Piedmont Community College, North Carolina, USAkaren.stanley.people.cpcc.eduGuessing meaning from context is a valuable skill to develop, but so is how to use dictionaries properly. I feel there is a place for bilingual dictionaries, learners' monolingual dictionaries, and native speaker monolingual dictionaries. Of course, just as you may need to teach the skills for
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Getting students to use dictionaries
By Maria Spelleri - Manatee Community College, USAI want and encourage my students to use a dictionary. At the lower levels, I like them to use a bilingual dictionary, and at intermediate and above, I prefer them to use an Eng-Eng dictionary. I get annoyed when students are assigned to read something short for homework, and the next day I ask them "Who looked up what X means?" and not one
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Developing tests for academic listening & speaking
By Erlyn Baack - ITESM, Campus Queretaro, MexicoA teacher asked about "Listening/Speaking exams to assess low intermediate students if they are ready for high intermediate level and then high intermediate students if they are ready for advanced level of ESL. Putting an emphasis on better academic preparation, in Listening we stress listening to lectures and note-taking, and in Speaking, we stress
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Ideas for oral English practice
By Karen Stanley - Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA- provide a list of interview questions, and have students use them to interview each other; better still, have the class generate questions (with your guidance) on a particular topic, and have the students interview each other using them (one example theme: questions related to the person's carbon footprint).
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Learn vocabulary by using vocabulary
By Kenton Sutherland - Emeritus Professor, San Mateo (California) Community College District English Language Specialist, United States Department of StateA teacher in Beijing states that "in China, many English learners will learn words directly from a vocabulary book by remembering the form and one or two Chinese translations of that word" and then goes on to ask if there is a more effective
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Using rubrics to evaluate spoken English
By Maria Spelleri - Manatee Community College, Florida, USAOne way to get a sense of structure with the evaluation of student oral production is by using a rubric. Here's an example of a speaking rubric for an ESL program in a US elementary school system: RUBRIC and here's a site with programs to help you develop a rubric: DEVELOP RUBRIC To create a rubric for a speaking activity such as
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Focus on minor rules or meaning?
By Anthea Tillyer - City University of New York, USAI am a little surprised by how concerned some teachers are about "comma splices". It seems to me that this is a tiny, tiny (and very insignificant) problem that second language writers have in English. In fact, if my class of second language learners had this as their biggest problem when writing English, I would consider them (and me) a huge
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Movie "telling"
In Beijing, there's a man called "Dawei" who established a small-scale movie-theatre in his house and invited a group of special viewers, the sight-impaired, to "watch". The way he used was telling. Each time his small cinema put on a classic Chinese or foreign movie, heálet theáaudiences know about the movie by telling its scene. Heátells almost all the necessary details from an actor's gesture
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Problems with games and student motivation
By Dick Tibbetts - University of Macau, Macau, ChinaMake sure the learners know the language learning objective(s) of the game but there is a bigger problem here that may negate even this approach.The problem is that the institution does not really value spoken English and does not value the teacher of spoken English. Consequently, the learners don't either. You therefore need to use motivating
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Evaluating L2 socialization skills
By Nik Bramblett - UCF, Orlando FL, USASometimes we need to evaluate L2 socialization skills using an alternative assessment and not a paper test.Here's what I would do:(a) Work with students (using appropriate combination of whole group, breakout small-group, and/or individual/paired strategies) to develop a rubric for a role-playing activity. Discuss what "socialization skills" means and how
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Scenario-based assessment of socializing skills
By Noriko Ishihara - University of Minnesota, USA / Hosei University[An excellent way to test students language abilities is in a realistic setting. But how can that be done? Noriko Ishihara explains.]How to do a scenario-based assessment of socializing skills. In my view, it's very close to assessing sociolinguistic/pragmatic ability, which has usually been done with a situational approach.In
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Guy Brook-Hart world tour
Guy Brook-Hart, author of the Cambridge University Press Business English book, Business Benchmark, came to China and talked to teachers about how to teach listening. Dave Kees also interviewed him. To hear the interview and some excerpts from his talk as well as talks by Jack Richards and David Nunan, go to the Insights Into TEFL podcast site.
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Games to play with Scrabble letters
Here are some ideas for do-it-yourself games with Scrabble letters. You can find a set of Scrabble letters here.By "Peg" Margaret Orleans - JapanBoggle - Have students draw sixteen (or twenty-five) random letters and place them in a 4 x 4 (or 5 x 5) square. Give them a reasonable length of time to write down all the words of three or more letters they can find. All letters must be connected
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Games for learning
"Peg" Margaret Orleans - Japan[These are games you can buy or make.]1. Would You RatherDraw one of the 40 questions cards and read one of the five questions on it aloud. Choose how you would answer the question and secretly put the answer chip (1 or 2) in your fist. Each player guesses your answer, after which you reveal your answer by showing the chip. Each correct guesser gets one card. Discard
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Letting students read your mail?
By Dick Tibbetts - University of Macau, MacauI've just been reading Letters (Burbidge, Gray, Levy, Rinvolucri) in the resouce Books for Teachers series and it seems to have some rather good ideas. Written in 1996, it tells how mario collected his letters unopened for a few days, brought them into class and gave them to students. He explained that he'd been to busy to open his mail and asked them
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