research

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).

(more…)

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
(more…)

Review: The Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners

This review of The Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners by S Garton & F Copland (Eds) first appeared in IATEFL Voices Issue 276.

This handbook provides an overview of teaching English to young learners across a wide variety of international contexts. The editors state that this 540-page volume outlines the key issues in young learner teaching and offers a ‘plausible research agenda moving forward’. It achieves this for the most part, although there will inevitably be gaps given the scope of the book. (more…)

Review: Teacher Tapp

Teacher Tapp (TT) is a survey app for teachers. Every day at 3.30pm (UK time) teachers are asked three multiple-choice questions related to their professional life, practice, wellbeing, etc. Once answered, users can then see the results from the previous day’s questions. Users are also given a link to a useful site/blog for CPD. Occasionally the app also provides links to edu-related special offers as a reward for answering questions.

App users are usually educators, and TT questions are often commissioned by businesses, organizations, researchers, etc, in order to gain insights from those at the chalkface. The TT site says…

‘Whether you’re a business seeking insight into the products and services that teachers want and need, a researcher looking to recruit teachers or a policy specialist who needs to boost your advocacy position with teacher opinions, the Teacher Tapp app is for you.’

(more…)

Useful links: Project-based learning

I’ve been reading a bit about project-based learning (PjBL) recently. I had to write a critique of an approach used in my context as part of the PGCEi. Our Secondary course now follows a PjBL approach*, so I thought it was worth trying to understand the approach in more detail and evaluating whether it’s effective. Here’s some useful reading on PjBL in general.

Larmer et al (2015) seems to be a go-to resource for PjBL, and set out some clear design principles for the approach:

Check out their ‘Gold-standard PBL’ white paper for an overview.

Thomas (2000), shares a great overview on the difference between ‘doing a project’ and ‘project-based learning’. They stress that in PjBL…

  • projects are central to the curriculum rather than peripheral
  • driving questions or problems guide the learning
  • projects are student-driven and realistic (authentic)
  • projects involved constructive, sustained investigation

(more…)

The benefits of using an ELT coursebook

Late last year I read the Jordan and Gray/Hughes exchange on ELT coursebooks, which appeared in ELT Journal. It’s an interesting discussion if you haven’t read it yet. I generally agreed more with Hughes, but that’s to be expected; I write coursebook materials for publishers, I use coursebooks and generally value them as a classroom resource. I also tend to find more radical stances against coursebooks polarising and distant from classroom practice. A bit repetitive too. I’d like to see more research into learner perceptions of coursebooks, and direct engagement with publishers to explore the theoretical and pedagogical underpinning of these resources in more detail.

Anyhow, the exchange prompted me to consider my views on the use of coursebooks, I’m keen to write a few of these down so I can see how they evolve over time. There have been a few posts I’ve revisited on this blog that I felt were a good snapshot of my thinking at one moment in my career – thoughts that have since changed, developed, etc. There is only one post I’ve come to completely refute over time, my views on multiple intelligences. So much so that I deleted it! Nooooo! Never do that, it misses the point of a learning journey!

So, some of my current (10/01/2020) views on coursebooks. (more…)

Research in brief: reading disruption of a textbook

The research

Winter, C. (2018). Disrupting colonial discourses in the geography curriculum during the introduction of British Values policy in schools. Journal of Curriculum Studies50(4), 456-475.

Open access, click here.

Summary

The aim of the study was ‘to expose and disrupt discourses dominating global development in an English school geography textbook chapter.’ (2018:456)

Winter analyzed one chapter of an English Curriculum Geography textbook using a disruptive approach, a technique proposed by Jacques Derrida.   (more…)

Pronunciation articles for DipTESOL students

I’m trying to persuade our DipTESOL students to engage with some pronunciation-related research. I’ve hand-picked these five articles for their relevance to our context (well, the last one is more general), and I’ll be sharing them with our candidates this week. Thought I’d chuck them on the blog as well, as others might be interested in them. I’ve left in the reasons why I’ve chosen them for the candidates here – you might find they connect similarly to your own context. (more…)