ESL

Lesson idea: Apollo 11

I wrote this lesson last year for the anniversary of the first moon landing. Decided to post it now for a few reasons:

  • It might still be useful to someone.
  • It’s an interesting topic.
  • I found it quite a useful diagnostic – which students could work well on these independent tasks, who was able to use what they’d explored as supporting evidence for the task… That type of stuff.
  • I thought about this lesson recently. It was a pretty good example of my preferred teaching approach. How would I sum that up? I don’t know, although I can confidently say it’s not very CELTA.

Procedure

Cut up each task and stick them around the room. If you can’t be bothered and you have more tech available, have it as a doc to work through on Google Classroom (at links instead of QRs maybe).

Students work through the activities (devices needed), taking notes where relevant, building to the final task. It’s best to do the activities in order.

The final task involves writing a speech. You could change this – I only used that as it connected with some ‘YL Speaking Challenge’ at my school.

Here’s the doc. Fully editable – check for spelling mistakes:

Cheers, feedback welcome as always.

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay 

Research in brief: Critique of BICS and CALP

BICS and CALP in a nutshell

BICS and CALP was an idea first proposed by Prof Jim Cummins in the early 1980s. BICS stands for Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills, and CALP is Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency. Here’s what they are:

‘BICS refers to conversational fluency in a language while CALP refers to students’ ability to understand and express, in both oral and written modes, concepts and ideas that are relevant to success in school’ (Cummins 2008: 108).

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Review: Work It Out with Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verb resource books you’ve used… GO!

Okay, so there was a good one on the bookshelf at LTC called ‘Illustrated Phrasal Verbs’. Me and Sketch used it so often that the student’s book fell apart (only one copy – a conference freebie), then we had to photocopy pages from the teacher’s book and tipex out the answers to make gap-fills. When I think back, the illustrations were sometimes ambiguous, and we were all too often test-teach-testing it. Not always the most effective.

Apart from that, well… There was ‘Test Your Phrasal Verbs’ (so so) and Phrasal Verbs in Use. Although more of a self-study resource, its concise explanations were great for teachers too. All controlled practice though, not a classroom resource really. Well, sparingly.

Here’s a welcome addition to my (admittedly limited) phrasal verb teaching toolkit – Work It Out with Phrasal Verbs, from Prosperity Education. It’s a neat teaching resource (aimed at B2-C1 level students) written by Billie Jago and Monica Ruda-Peachey.

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Materials Writing news and views, October 2020

Just a few things this time. I’m out the loop at the moment, enjoying my teaching too much!

Facebook groups for writers

There are a lot of Facebook groups for ELT writers these days. If you would like to share a link to your group then please let me know (or do so yourself in the comments). I don’t know which groups are open to new members/restricted/etc.

ELTon results

Congrats to all ELTons winners, which you can find here.

ELT Footprint – probably the most odds-on victory since the awards started I’d imagine.

Taking nothing away from winners past/present with this comment: I think there are aspects of the ELTons nomination process that could be tightened – BC please get in touch if you’d like to hear my suggestions 🙂

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All reviews from ELT Planning

Russ Mayne suggested I should have a post or page listing all my reviews. So, here it is.

It turns out there are quite a few. As always, all views are my own and these reviews are highly subjective!

Before the list, some highlights…

  • According to my ratings, the best training courses I’ve taken have been Spoken Grammar by Ken Paterson (Udemy) and Evaluating Digital Materials by Pete Sharma (Itdi.pro). The PGCEi modules come in next.
  • There are a lot of resource sites ranked 4.5/5. In a battle of the video-based lesson platforms, Fluentize triumphs over Ready to Run.
  • My highest-rated book is Silly Shakespeare for Students from Alphabet Publishing. Second place was Great Writing, which was great to teach from.
  • These don’t include resources I’ve reviewed in a roundabout way. For example, my posts on PronPack are kinda like a review really, same with the Phonology for Listening and some other posts.
  • Bear in mind the review date. Sites might change, books might have a second edition, I might understand more about a topic now, etc.
  • A special mention for Eli Publishing, Alphabet Publishing and Marek at TEFL Equity Advocates, who went out of their way to send physical copies of their books to Thailand for review.

Note: the * shows that at the time I didn’t give the resource a 5-star rating, so I’ve added it now.

Apps

2020 Teacher Tapp (Rating 3.8/5)

2020 Studycat (3.5/5)

2020 Learn Thai Duolingo-style (*4/5)

2017 ELSA Speak Pronunciation App (*4/5)

2017 British Council Apps (*Rating probs averages out at 4/5 but this one is a bit vague)

Online resource sites

2020 Read to Run (*Rating 3.5/5)

2020 EAL Hub (2/5)

2020 NILE Membership (*4.5/5)

2019 Wordwall for vocabulary games (*4.5/5)

2018 Fluentize video lessons (4.5/5)

2015 Newsmart (4.5/5) RIP ☹

Training courses/modules/providers

2020 PGCEi Module 2 (*4.5/5)

2020 PGCEi Module 1 (*4.7/5)

2019 Spoken Grammar (5/5)

2019 Evaluating Digital Materials (5/5)

2019 NILE Tech-assisted Language Learning (4/5)

2019 NILE Materials Development (4.5/5)

2018 ELT Training Library from Language Fuel (4/5)

2015 How to Teach IELTS (*4.5/5)

2016 Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching (4.5/5)

Books

2020 Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners (*4/5)

2020 Rosenshine’s Principles in Action (3.9/5)

2020 How Global Capital is Remaking International Education (3.5/5)

2020 Barry Reinvents Himself (4.325/5)

2020 Silly Shakespeare for Students (4.9/5)

2020 The Learning Power Approach (4/5)

2019 Play for the Planet (4/5)

2019 A-Z of ESOL (*4.2/5)

2019 Teaching English as a Lingua Franca (4.5/5)

2019 Egghead (3.5/5)

2019 Loving London (4.5/5)

2019 Vocabulary in Pictures (*4.2/5)

2018 Stories Without End (*4.5/5)

2018 ELT Lesson Observation and Feedback Handbook (4.5/5)

2018 Great Writing (4.6/5)

2018 Her Own Worst Enemy (4.5/5)

2017 Successful Group Work (*4/5)

2017 Community Classroom Builders (*4/5)

2016 Incredible English (*4.3/5)

2015 Punctuation..? (*3/5)

Other

ELT Publishing Professionals (*4.5/5)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Research in brief: Alderfer ESL Program Assessment Tool

What might be optimal ESL provision in international schools?

Alderfer and Alderfer (2011) state that there is no unifying set of criteria to assess ESL programs in international school contexts. Their research sets out to provide one.

The authors outline four categories through which ESL programs can be assessed:

  • Program conditions
  • Student learning conditions
  • Teaching conditions
  • Home culture conditions
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Free access to Twinkl

Just a quick one! Twinkl ESL are currently offering free access to users in South America in response to school closures. Miranda’s doing a great job at Twinkl and offering loads of awesome resources, many of which can be adapted for (or are even best suited to) online learning.

I found Twinkl really useful during online learning. I made various guided reading sequences on Seesaw using their resources and my learners responded well to these. I’ve since found other Twinkl resources useful for EAL classes with my Year 4 students (fronted adverbials for the win!).

Here are the access codes:

Colombia: educarjuntosCO

Mexico: educarjuntosMX

Peru: educarjuntosPE

Brazil: educarjuntosBR

Argentina: educarjuntosAR

For other locations just get in touch with Miranda via the Facebook group or via Twitter @Mirandacrowhur1

Hope you find it useful!

Here’s a recent post from Miranda at Twinkl on ELT Planning.

23 Ways to Use a Text in Your ESL Classes

Reading. One of the big four, along with elephants, lions and rhinos. Or is it listening, speaking and writing? Who knows. Either way, my question for you is: when was the last time your students were actively learning a new skill through reading, instead of just answering comprehension questions? There is so much that English language students can learn through a text, and we have a whole bag of ideas for you to use in your next class. Through these methods, you’ll learn how to squeeze a text for all its worth. As you’ll see, these tips don’t just help students become better readers. They’ll also help students develop better critical thinking skills, better vocabulary skills and better writing skills.

1. Make a prediction. This is a great skill for learners to use. Super simple – give students the title of a text and see if they can make some guesses about what the text will be about. You can also develop this as you go along. If you’re reading a story, make more predictions after reading each paragraph or chapter. How do they think the story will end? Students will learn how to pre-empt information and adjust their predictions as they go along.

2. Recognise text type or genre. One thing I like to do before a reading exercise is ask students what kind of text we seem to be looking at, and what kind of information therefore might be included. For example, they might identify that we’re going to read a personal email, and therefore it might include information about what this person and their family have been doing recently, some questions and maybe an invitation. This process enables students to improve their speed reading and prediction skills. What was that about speed reading?

3. Speed read. Adult students will often feel like they have to understand Every. Single. Word. In. The. Text. before they can breathe out. Speed reading can help students get to grips with a text in a matter of seconds. This works particularly well with essays and news articles. Ask students to read only the first and last sentence of each paragraph. They’ll see that the first sentence of a paragraph is often the ‘topic sentence’, which summaries the main point of the paragraph. Not only does this help them prepare for exam situations where they have to understand the outline of a text fast, it also helps them learn how to structure their own writing. (more…)

MA, PGCEi or Diploma?

Question from a reader:

I’m after some advice. I can’t decide which professional development course to do. I have a CELTA plus five years’ teaching experience and I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a DELTA or Dip. Then again, I’ve heard that for university jobs like teaching pre-sessional courses it’s good to have an MA. But recently I’ve heard people mention the PGCEi as a future-proofing qualification and I’m like… aargh! Which course should I do?

My comments:

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