Saturday, 28 May 2011

Oxford Teacher's Day for Language Schools - Technology Session

Digital Solutions

Exploring digital options for teaching from Oxford

Technology in the Classroom
Classroom Presentations and Lesson Activities
ITools / iPack / Website
iTools and iPack are materials designed for use on the interactive whiteboard, the data projector or a computer screen. It used material from the book  so you can display the pictures from the book, display grammar presentations, go through exercises or use the tapescripts plus much more.  It saves planning time for the teacher as it is ready made material and saves classroom time too.
The Oxford University Press Websites has lots of interactive activities and games, these could be used in the classroom with small groups around a computer or be set as homework or suggested as self-study.
Homework and Self Study tools.
Online Skills Practice – this is extra skills practice for students to do at home. They receive a code oin the books (New English File, some Exams titles) and can either work through the tasks on their own or give the code to the teacher who will assign work as homework through the free Oxford Learner Management System.. Easy to use, instant voice recorder for speaking practice plus much more.
A digital component of the course book, iTutor has digitalised content from the course book plus new interactive activities and grammar presentations. Ideal for blended learning solutions or to allow students to  work at their own pace to revie and review what has happened in class.
More information available soon. 
A digitial writing aid that comes with the OALD multi-rom. iWriter allows students to explore sample texts and then helps to guide students through a writing assignment, giving hints on planning, structure and editing.

Remember you can say in contact with OUP in a number of ways.
twitter: @OUPOELTGlobal 

Oxford Teacher's Day for Language Schools - Business Session

Business is Booming
  • practical activities for the  business English classroom and beyond.

Word of the Day
Aim: to review vocabulary from  previous lessons
  • Teacher gives each student a word at the beginning of the lesson.
  • Students don’t show each other the word.
  • Give students time to look up word.
  • Student has to try to use the word as many times in the lesson.
Extension – Students try to guess each other’s words.
Video Commentary
Aim: to practice giving presentations.
  • Brainstorm information about  the subject of the video.
  • Watch the video – sound down, make notes of what you can see.
  • Work in pairs, write a commentary.
  •  Perform the presentation over the top of the video.
Alternative – if you have a large class get each  pair to write a different minutes worth of commentary.
Video Bingo
Aim: to review vocabulary, to listen for specific words.
  • Put words from script on the board.
  • Ask students to draw grid and put in words
  • Play video, students cross off words when they hear them.
For one – one – give students words from script in jumbled order,  get student to number the words in the order they hear them.
Functions Mill Dril
Aim; to drill phrases – pronunciation practice.
  • Give out the sentences on a slip of paper.
  • Students stand up and move around. They say their sentence, then swap paper and move on.
  • Repeat activity this time students need to respond to the phrase their partner says.
For one-one – take it in turns to read the sentences from a pile of paper.
Alternative – have questions and replies and the students find their partner.
Party Quirks
Aim: to add fun to a role play.
  • Set up a role play , assign students roles
  • Give students a ‘hidden quirk’.
  • Ask them to do the role play but try to act it with the hidden quirk. Their partner has to guess the quirk.
Aim: to add fun to a gap fill, to get students to read through words when doing a gap fill, to get students to think about how knowing the part of speech can help with them do a gap fill
  • Choose a suitable text - either make gaps or use the existing gaps
  • Read out the parts of speech that are missing and ask students to write down their own words.
  • Show student the text and ask them to put the words in the text and read it.
  • The do the gap fill as you normally would.
Aim: to get some feedback on your teaching in an informal way to help you plan lessons that suit your students.
·         Ask the students to review what has been done in the last few lessons.
·         Ask them to rate what they found useful, not very useful, what they liked, what they didn’t like.
·         Get feedback. 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Motivating difficult teenage learners - The Handout

Motivating difficult teenage learners.
When I started writing this session I was aware that teenagers learning English in secondary or vocational schools might be a bit difficult to motivate but I don’t think I was ready for quite the amount of problems that you teachers face. Some of the words you used to describe your learners included: lazy, irresponsible, talkative, bored, satisfied with themselves, easily annoyed (touchy, absent minded, seemingly uninterested in anything, the list went on and on and 90 percent of the words were negative.
So the big question is how to motivated students that are physically present but mentally absent.
Maybe to answer that we need to consider why the students are not motivated in the first place.
Again your responses were interesting. This to me was quite sad, a lot of you said that the students came from ZS with a lack of knowledge and with a lack of belief that they can learn. They have been branded a failure and so they live up to their label. They feel they ‘have to’ learn English but they don’t know how to and can’t see the point. Another interesting point that came up is that they are not suited to the classroom. They are more practical than academic yet we confine them to desks and rows and books and pens, things they are not comfortable with. They are doers not thinkers maybe our lessons should reflect this.
So how can we motivate? Well for me I think taking interest in them as humans is the most important. Trying to organise the room to look like the workplace or to suit their learning style. Make learning fun with achievable tasks, so the students can see that they are learning. I think variety is also important; games, songs, computers, practical activities all help to motivate. Showing that English is relevant in their lives, either by turning activities into work related activities or getting them to use English (bringing other non-native speakers of English into the classroom either digitally or physically might help.)
One teacher in Teplice said that we can use ourselves to motivate the students; our enthusiasm for English, our love of it can motivate the students, our lesson plans can also motivate, the praise and encouragement give the students is essential, okay they might not be perfect but if they do things and make an effort then we should praise them. Our expectations of them should be on two levels; we should encourage them to do well and not write them off as failures but then we should be realistic internally and not expect too much of them.
To finish off here are the points I ended the session with.
Fluency vs accuracy
The eternal debate – but important here, correcting too much can demotivate but lack of correction can reinforce the feeling  of lack of learning.  On the other hand language does not have to be perfect to achieve the aims, I think students of this type should be encouraged to use English as much as they can, without fear of mistakes.
Easy or Difficult
Sometimes it is good to make things a little easy for the students to they feel they can do things and it builds confidence. However if things are too easy they will get demotivated. Also never tell them it is easy, because if they can’t do it then it makes them feel stupid.
Comfort Zone or challenge.
With young learners teachers talk about routine so students know what is coming and that is good for adults too. But if things are too familiar and too comfortable maybe students will become complacent. So taking students out of their comfort zone now and again will help students to develop their learning experience.
Language or Skills
As we have said the students will be covering language that they have covered before, so focussing on skills will help them apply their knowledge and also assimilate other language that they are exposed to. It is more real world use of language too. In real world we don’t conjugate verbs we use the language to read or listen or write etc. Having said this students often think learning English is learning new grammar points so it is motivating to do it.

Beyond the Classroom - Breaking down the four walls

Beyond the Classroom - Breaking down the four walls
Homework! Groan work! Put it down and moan work!
(Homework, Oxford Resource Books for Teachers. Lindsay Painter)

Why do we set homework?

Of course a simple answer to this is ‘because we have to’ but actually homework is really important for both us and our students.

We have to remind students that they can’t just be taught English they have to learn it. And they can’t do that just in 90 minutes 2 times a week.  Homework is about using the language and learning the language outside the classroom.  It is not an assessment it is something that helps students get exposure to English. 

Homework can help us as teachers to diagnose the students need and also prioritise classroom time; setting the students things to do that they don’t need support on.

But we need to be careful when we set homework, we need to make sure we are consistent.

These are the golden rules of homework that people suggested as I went around Poland.

1.Students should see the usefulness of homework.
2.Tasks should be relevant, interesting and varied.
3.Different tasks may be assigned to different ability/learning style groups.
4.Homework should be manageable in terms of time
5.Homework doesn’t need to focus on a written product.
6.Increase learner involvement and motivation by encouraging students to contribute ideas and design their own tasks
8.Tasks should be challenging but achievable.
9.Find out how much time, what facilities they have, and what their preferences are.
10.Homework should consolidate classwork, it should not replicate it.
11.Home is the outside world and tasks which are nearer to real life use of language are appropriate.
12.If homework is set, it must be recognised, and feedback given.
13.Motivating students to do homework is an ongoing process
14. Don’t lose the homework
15. Reward students who do their homework so it is clear that homework should be done.
16. Homework can look forward  to the next lesson as well as looking back.

The Homework Book by Lesley Painter, referred to earlier, has some nice questionnaires about homework that you can ask your students to do as homework to find out about them.  

We have plenty of resources for homework, the student’s book, the work book, the website,  the weblinks  etc. Lindsey Painter’s book I mentioned earlier has a rich seam of ideas for homework, such as the photographing English idea or the Dog Ate it idea.

There is also the New English File Online Skills Practice which you can find more information about here.

So remember…
·         Homework is a chance to practice English outside the classroom
·         Homework shouldn’t be assessment
·         It should be a chance to consolidate what’s been done in class
·         It can be chance to look ahead and prepare for future lessons
·         We hope that it isn’t something copied from a classmate  3 minutes before the start of class.
·         We hope the students think it isn’t pointless
·         It is a chance to diagnose the needs of students
·         Sadly it is something that is done on the tram on the way to school but we’d like it not to be.