eal

ELT Twitter chats

I did a digital reset of my Twitter account recently. I now see a much wider range of content than before, and have found loads of awesome EAL/ELL/ESL teachers to follow.

One really useful thing about the reset is that I now see loads more tweets from organised ELT chats. The only chat I used to get involved in was #ELTchat. I say involved… I’d normally dip into the 24-hour slowburn. I probably joined the actual hour-long chat no more than five times, as it was always after midnight here in Thailand. Also, I found it a bit difficult to get involved in sometimes – they’d discussed so much stuff already that I wasn’t really sure what to add without going over old ground.

#ELTchat may be on hiatus at present, but there seem to be loads more organized chats around for EL teachers. Here are some of those I’ve come across since the new year… (more…)

Lesson idea: Viral videos

This was a context builder for a sequence of lessons on viral videos, viral ad campaigns, viral marketing, etc. It’s similar to the idea I shared for introducing recipes. Anyway, used this with B1+ teens, worked well.

Task 1

Find loads of links to (good) viral videos. Our focus was on viral marketing, so I chose lots of ads. Create a QR code for each vid and add these onto a handout in a table like this one:

I gave students this instruction: (more…)

Materials writing news and views, February 2020

I’ll hopefully keep this update going this year. Bit busy at the moment so here are a few very quick updates and some useful links.

New releases

Express Publishing are promoting a new book English for 21st Century Skills (Mavridi and Xerri), which comes out Spring 2020. Lots of different contributors, looks good. No link on site yet.

All levels of Language Hub (Macmillan) are out and promo in full swing by the look of things on social media.

Shout out to Jen Dobson, who has written the course ‘Getting Started with Early Childhood English Teaching’ on Language Fuel.

The new global product for teens from the British Council, Secondary Plus, will be rolled out here in Thailand in May. Project-based approach, academic/exam skills add-ons. Looks pretty polished for a first version. It’s already being used in Europe. I’ve had a sneaky peak. Thumbs up. Info here. Disclaimer – had a bit part to play in these, that’s it. (more…)

Book review: The Learning Power Approach

The Learning Power Approach (LPA) proposes that teachers encourage learners to cultivate an array of traits which are seen as beneficial for lifelong learning. These traits, or learning dispositions, include various cognitive, metacognitive and behavioural strategies/processes/habits  – summarised on the first page of the book:

Claxton concedes that cultivating these dispositions may be nothing new and may just be considered good practice by some teachers. (Note, Claxton is clearly not referring to us EFL teachers! Or am I speaking for myself? Probably…). However, the fundamental difference between the LPA as opposed to other approaches, when it comes to developing these dispositions, is purpose. Referring to the work of John Hattie, Dylan Wiliam and others, Claxton stresses that the reason teachers encourage the development of learning dispositions is often because they facilitate academic achievement. He explains that… (more…)

Wordwall with young learners

I wrote an overview of Wordwall last year. Here’s a more practical example of how I actually use Wordwall, rather than just as a load of games… Well, still as a load of games actually, just in a more purposeful way!

I’m teaching a PP1 class at the moment (aged 6/7). This week we were reviewing/learning vocabulary for fruit as the task was creating your own fruit juice (bit random…). So, I started planning by making a Find the Match… (more…)

Review: Ready to Run

This review was first published in the Winter 2019 edition of the ETAS Journal. Many thanks to ETAS for allowing the review to appear on this blog.

Ready to Run, from Digital Learning Associates (DLA), is a platform providing video-based lesson resources for ELT classrooms. Its resources are marketed as ‘engaging and authentic video experiences’ which cover a range of real-world topics. Ready to Run is a subscription-based service – each video lesson includes printable materials for students, teacher notes and video transcripts. The platform recently won a British Council ELTon for Innovation in Learner Resources.

The resource catalogue for Ready to Run is generally easy to navigate, although better tagging might make searching for relevant resources more efficient. There are currently about 10 videos available at each CEFR-aligned level (A1-B2). The digital content itself is certainly varied, and likely to be engaging for a wide range of learners. Videos are high quality, a suitable length (most around three minutes) and have been well-edited. The videos are initially sourced from vlogs, TV programmes, and other authentic broadcasts, and then are adapted for classroom use. The selection of topics is inclusive and relevant – it is good to see that the platform offers resources that address issues such as immigration, refugee crises, climate change, and minority groups. Topics are dealt with sensitively, and follow-up project-based tasks on the video content encourage learners to explore these topics in greater detail. The willingness of Ready to Run to deal with some topics that tend to be avoided in global coursebooks is certainly a strength. (more…)

Assessment Capable Learners in the primary classroom

In this guest post Kirsten Anne shares some great advice on encouraging self-assessment in the primary classroom. 

I am a primary school teacher and currently work in a year 3 classroom.  My students are between 7 and 8 years of age and attend an international school in Bangkok, Thailand.

I’ve been hearing the term ‘assessment capable learners’ used more and more frequently over recent years.  As teachers, we strive for ways in which we can assist students to have a sense of where they are now and where they are going.  Giving students the empowerment to do this and self-assess is an extremely effective teaching tool.  In our recent conversations between parents, teacher and learner, we asked students the question “why do you like reflecting on your learning?”  Unprompted, and about 85% of the time came the reply “because then I know what my next step is and how I can get better.”  Powerful stuff!

So, how do you go about helping your learners become assessment capable?

Primarily, they need to know what you are looking for in order for them to be successful.  There should be no second-guessing about this – learners need to know WHAT they are aiming to achieve, and HOW to achieve it. This takes on different forms depending on the subject. However, I’ll focus on Literacy here.

The ingredients learners need to include in their writing in order to be successful (the WHAT) depends on the writing focus, and will be defined by the teacher. Guiding the learners to include these ingredients – helping them realise how they can meet our ‘success criteria’, is something we’ve been working on at our school.

Marking codes

Colleagues of mine have discussed moving away from lengthy comments in books.  Who is it for?  Does it really have an impact on improving the learning experience for the student?  Not if the learner can’t read the comment—obviously not good for young learners or learners with only a basic command of English.  It’s also no use if the learner doesn’t bother to read the comments because they’ve switched off by the second line of the teacher’s feedback. (more…)