Sunday, June 8, 2014

Starting up again!

It has really been a while since I consistently posted, but I plan to have some more content up very soon! You know how teaching can be! :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Google Presentations in the Language Classroom

Last quarter, I taught a Pronunciation and Fluency course in a traditional classroom. It was fun. We played games, sang songs, and did a lot of your standard, traditional classroom activities. 

THIS quarter, I have the same class again, but with a twist. This quarter's class is in a Smart Lab (operating on the Sony Virtuoso Software) - which ends up being a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because the computer system is SO COOL. There are so many fun things to do, and so many great ways to use it for helping the students. The curse is that now that everyone is in front of a computer, none of my activities really seem to work the same way.

For this reason, I have been experimenting with ways to actually use the computers...and one of my first successes has been using the Google Presentation tool for a collaborative presentation. 

Here's what I did:

First, we had a lesson on voiced and voiceless consonants, practiced hearing the difference, and practiced saying them differently. As the expansion activity, I projected this slide on to the board:

Why Wal*Mart? Because they have everything!

I've used this activity before in a traditional setting, and the students made a list on paper together. This time, however, the students (randomly partnered up with the Virtuoso computer software, and communicating on their headphones and microphones), clicked a link and were transported to a new, open Google Presentation. They collaborated to find pictures on Google of the things that they wanted to bring, and put them on the slide for their group. The beauty of this was that each student could work on his or her own computer on the same slide at the same time. The collaboration aspect of the Google Office Suite tools is incredible. 

So, the groups worked together to get what they needed. At the end of the first 15 minutes, their slides looked something like this:

My favorite slide: They said they were bringing "Rambo" and "Terminator,"
and that they were going to put everything inside the tanks.
So, at this point I changed the background on all of the slides, and the students had to arrange their pictures by the voicing of the first sound (voiced on the left, voiceless on the right). Later, we changed it so that they arranged the pictures by the last sound. 

I thought that the horse was a clever solution to the "No Wheels" issue
(which most of the other groups ignored!)

At the end, I projected the slides on the screen, and the groups came up one at a time to describe who was holding what (since being able to carry it was a requirement), and they had to pronounce the word correctly (as far a voiced/voiceless initial and final consonants). 

The students had a blast, and it was really fun listening to them talk to each other while trying to pay attention to how they pronounce the consonant sounds.

Has anyone else found a fun way to use Google Presentations in the classroom? I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dear Readers

Hey Everyone! Thanks for hanging on so long without a post! Tim and I have been navigating an international move and trying to get adjusted in California again, and unfortunately, our posting frequency has suffered. We'll be back to posting again soon! 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Teaching Unplugged - Reflection

On Wednesday nights, I have a class with two students (around a CEF level B1, I would estimate). The course they are taking is designed to be communicative, but text/material driven, and at the end of the course, both students will be tested on vocabulary, grammar, and ideas directly from the text. Normally, I incorporate a lot of discussion and vocabulary building activities into the lessons, but last week, I tried to to be purposefully more “Unplugged.”

I walked into class, and like every week, asked the students how they were, etc. One student said that she went to the dentist last week and that her face was sore. Instead of saying, “Oh, I'm sorry to hear that,” though, this time, I tried to run with it. I had her tell me what happened (she had had her wisdom teeth removed). I asked the other student if she had had her wisdom teeth pulled also, and she had.

We ended up having a wonderful 20 minute conversation about wisdom teeth, dentists, oral surgery, and recovery, and we filled up the whole board with new vocabulary. Both students were able to tell their stories, compare experiences, and talk about funny situations related to dentists offices. They wrote down the 10-15 words (out of 50?) that were most relevant to them (for example, some teeth vocabulary and the difference between 'to miss' and 'to avoid').

This lesson, and the other lessons I've been trying to unplug lately, have made me wonder how many other situations students have brought to the classroom in the past that I haven't noticed or exploited, and it made me more aware of the teaching possibilities present in daily life.  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Teaching Unplugged Activity - “Textplosion”

My Monday morning course is a “technical” English course that is actually very free. As long as the students are happy and learning English, there is no text or material requirement and no test at the end of the course.

Usually, in the class, we read target-language articles about new technology in the students' field and then have a variety of activities for discussion. The problem with this set up is that we usually have to read two pages of text before we can get to the fun, communicative activities (instead of the summarizing and predicting). With this is mind, I have been looking for a way to make the process of going through the text more interesting and making the language more accessible.

I used an activity based on the “Textplosion” activity on page 66 of Teaching Unplugged, along with a modified dictation activity. I printed the first sentence of an article we were going to start on to individual word-cards, and then I mixed them all up. I gave them to the students and asked them to tell me, based on the words they saw, what the article would be about. One student pointed out that it was a little difficult because there were so many “small words,” and not so many “important” words. So, from there, I had them separate the word cards into “small words” (or “grammar words”) and “important words” (or “content words”). Once they had done that, I read the original sentence out loud and had them put the content words in order. After, I read it again, and they filled in the grammar words.

This activity worked really well on the day I tried it, because the two students who showed up were the least advanced, and usually, they have a little trouble keeping up. This activity made the text very accessible, and helped them feel successful about their language. Since it didn't require as much instant comprehension, and because we worked with the same text for the entire class period, they were able to process it and understand it by the time they left.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Teaching Unplugged Activity - “Predicting the original text”

One of the course books that I use for my conversation classes has really simple paragraphs and dialogs, and I think that it's a little boring to read them out loud in class. However, the information that they present is really helpful for solidifying the lexical terms in the chapter.

So, with this in mind, I decided to try an activity based on the “Predicting the Original Text” activity on page 58 of Teaching Unplugged. The text was a collection of three short monologues, where people were talking about their pay and benefits at work. I wrote the first sentence of each (something like, “Hi, my name is John Smith, and I work at a bank”), just to give students an idea of what type of person was there, and then I told them that the text was a short paragraph where the person talked about his or her pay and benefits. I also wrote some helpful vocabulary words on the side, and told them that these words were in the text somewhere. We quickly talked about the meaning of the words, and then they were off.

The activity went pretty well, and since the texts were so simple, the students were able to predict them fairly accurately. We took a minute at the end to look at the differences between the student guesses and the real text, and to see if the difference were “wrong” or just “different.” With a different text, the activity could have been more interesting, but all in all, this activity met the goal I had for it: to present a more interesting way to deal with the text containing the chapter vocabulary.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: Teaching Unplugged Activity - "Up and Down"

Every week, I have two conversation courses with different groups at the same company. The groups are about the same level and they use the same material, but due to a Holiday-Monday heavy month, the Thursday group is about 2 weeks ahead of the Monday group. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but there is a possibility that the courses will be combined because of attendance issues, so it's important to get them both on the same track.

For this reason, I've had a little leeway lately with the Thursday group, and I tried out an activity based on the “Up and Down” activity on page 40 of Teaching Unplugged. Basically, it's an activity where the students draw a chart depicting the high-points and low-point of their weeks. I did mine first on the board, in front of the class to model it. Then, the students generated their own, and one-by-one, came to the front of the class to plot their lines on the same chart as mine.

The activity went over way better than I thought it would. I encouraged the students to ask questions, but they really were interested in each other, and they asked more and more questions. They also started making jokes....about me. One of the low points of my week was that I burnt a pot of lentil beans on Tuesday. (I don't know if any of you have burnt lentils before, but burning lentils smell really really strongly of weed, and this is a smell that makes me start to dry heave). So, for the rest of Tuesday, my entire apartment smelled like marijuana. I shared this information with my students, and they made jokes about how the rest of my week went up from there, and was I sure that they were lentil beans? They also suggested to the other students that they should have burned lentil beans at the low points in their week.

Anyway. The activity also gave the students a chance to vent about some of the more difficult parts of their work (nothing is going right this week, too much overtime) and to share some outside information with us (for example, I learned that one of my students has a chicken farm, and that another one fishes and sells his catch to a local shop). I found it to be a very enlightening activity, and the students really enjoyed talking about themselves and sharing with the others.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: Teaching Unplugged by Meddings and Thornbury

I've been interested in the Teaching Unplugged “movement” for about 6 months, now. I first read about it on Martin Sketchley's ELT Experiences blog, when he talked about his Dissertation research on Dogme ELT. I read as much as I could find online about it, and I wrote a few reflections (Dogme ELT and Teaching Unplugged). Well, I FINALLY ordered the Teaching Unplugged book, and I've been reading it for the last two weeks, trying out some of the activities, and giving the practice of teaching unplugged as much of a chance in my own situation (material-driven). Here is my review.

Review of
Teaching Unplugged: Dogme in English Language Teaching
By Luke Meddings and Scott Thornbury
2009 Delta Publishing

Appearance, Layout, and Aesthetic
When I received this book in the mail, I was really quite shocked at how thin it was. Most books that I've read or referenced on teaching and language have been at least twice as thick, However, the information inside is probably comparable to the amount of information in a larger book. The text is on the small side, and fills up every page almost completely. Luckily, the layout and the organization of the book is clean, which made it fairly easy to read, despite the large amount of tiny text on the page!

Organization and Content
The book is organized into three parts. Part A is a brief history-philosophy with an explanation of the core values of Unplugged Teaching. I found this section to be interesting, but on the whole, very theoretical. It wasn't particularly founded in (or backed up with) any objective research showing how the different principles had been tested or what the actual effect of the teaching on the learners had been (besides that they were more satisfied, etc.). In that way, I was a little disappointed because this aspect has been missing from most of the reading I've done on Dogme ELT, and I was hoping the book would remedy that. While the theory of Teaching Unplugged that is presented is very inspiring and easy to read, it is basically a concise and detailed summary of what is available to read online.

Part B is the most substantial section in this book, and in my opinion, where the book shines. It's about 60 pages of Unplugged activities that can be done in the classroom, with instructions and suggestions that follow it. My husband and I have each used several of these activities in the last two weeks and have been pretty happy with the results. More on that in my next few posts. I don't want to go in to talking about the activities themselves, but I will say that even if you are not convinced about Teaching Unplugged, the ideas and activities in Part B make this book a valuable resource for freer in-class communicative activities.

The third section, Part C, is a short chapter that talks about the environments and situations where it may seem that Teaching Unplugged would be problematic. I'll admit that I didn't read the whole section because some of the subsections (including Unplugging a School, Teaching Exam Classes, and Teaching as a Non-Native Speaker) weren't immediately relevant to me. However, I read the sub-sections that were relevant to me, and I found them to be informative, especially the part about Teaching with a Coursebook.

Some people may disagree with me on this point, but the element that I felt was missing from this book was a detailed explanation of how to work with emergent language. True, the book had a large sub-section in Part A, as well as a page-spread in Part B, but at the end, I still felt that I didn't understand emergent language or how to take advantage of it with the Teaching Unplugged approach. Perhaps the authors felt that this book was not the place for such a discussion, but it seems to me that since it is such an important part of Teaching Unplugged, and since many teachers are trained in the traditional grammar instruction methods, it should have received more attention.

Overall, I think the book is a worthwhile read for any teacher, whether or not he or she is interested in (or convinced by) the Teaching Unplugged approach. As I said earlier, Tim and I have both used several of the activities, and we've been encouraged by the response from our students.


I'll be writing soon on some of the Unplugged activities I've done from the book, and how they turned out.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Short Post - A Teacher Dream...

I just woke up from an eerily detailed nap-dream where I was (successfully) teaching an elephant to paint its toenails... (I modeled the behavior with black nail polish, and the elephant painted 4 layers of neon colors by itself after I walked away). My first thought on waking up was that I needed to get a photo because it would make a great communicative activity. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Catching Up on Thoughts

Wow, it has been a busy few weeks for us over here in Southern Germany. Even with the ridiculous number of Bank Holidays between April and June (three 4-day weekends and one 3-day weekend), I haven't been able to find the time to write as much as I'd like to. I've got two articles on error correction waiting to be reviewed, as well as a brand new copy of “Teaching Unplugged,” waiting to be read...or waiting to be finished, that is. I've already started reading it.

In the meantime, I'd like to mention some thoughts I've had lately that I haven't had time to develop into complete blog posts.

Student Expectation:
I'm constantly surprised by mismatch of my students' expectations for the structure of our English course and the research regarding the most effective learning and teaching methodologies. I went in to a class today, prepared to offer them a more interactive setting for future meetings (more Teaching Unplugged, more conversation, more grammar, more vocabulary). Instead, they expressed that they wanted to continue as we've been - reading the articles I've been bringing (about their field) and discussing the implications for the world, their company, and their jobs. I was so sure that they'd be tired of that by now, but I guess not. Maybe I should take it as a compliment of my superior discussion class leading skills.

Notes in Class:
In another class, the students have all stopped taking notes during class. Now, one student will take a digital photo of the flip-chart at the end of class, and email it to everyone. They all print it out, and when they are referring back to the previous lessons, I see them looking through pages of my handwriting. I wonder if this is effective. It does free them from having to write during class, when the focus is communication and talking; however, I have always felt that I learn better when I do the writing myself. Perhaps since the notes on the board are student-directed (I just write and correct major grammar issues), they are still salient. Either way, in that class, I've made a conscious effort to keep my board-work (er....flip-chart work) very organized for them.

First Language Acquisition:
Tim just started a course on First Language Acquisition, and I'm sure he'll write about it soon. I'm trying to keep up on the reading with him, since I miss being in school so much. We've been talking about the topics and the ideas of first language acquisition, and I'm curious to find out which issues are the same for second language acquisition and how we can apply the findings to be better English Teachers.

That's about it for now. I'll be writing more in detail about my reading adventures soon!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Memory Strategies for Vocabulary – Practicing!

Based off the feedback from one of my recently-completed courses, I've decided to take a closer look at vocabulary instruction and practice methods in the classroom, starting with memory strategies and strategy training.


Until now, I've been discussing strategies for putting the words into the mind. Now, I'd like to look at some strategies for reviewing. Reviewing is time consuing, and often boring...which is why many language learners don't do it. Unfortunatly, the much more interesting “just skip it” approach isn't very effective, either.

Here are the some strategies for practicing vocabulary and making sure it sticks:

Structured reviewing:

Language learners need to be smart about their reviewing. Just learning the word once doesn't guarantee that they are permanently in the brain. On the other hand, constantly checking 5,000 flashcards is not a practical way to review, either. Vocabulary review should be structured. For teachers, this means going back over old vocabulary at regular intervals. For learners, this means adjusting the way you may have been using your flashcards. Everyday Language Learner has a good article about an effective way to use paper flashcards for structured reviewing.

Using physical response or sensation:

Movement can help the review process. For teachers, in-class games like Charades can help practice the new words (espeically verbs!), and for learners, practicing words with meaningful gestures can help cement them in the mind. I'm sure the extra oxygen going to the brain from all the movement doesn't hurt, either.

Play with words:

There are a lot of (free) games out there that can help with new vocabulary development. Word games, like Scrabble, Crossword Puzzles, Boggle, or Hangman are also good ideas. The more interactions you have with a word, the more likely you are to remember its meaning. Here are just a few word games and online practice sites I found with a quick Google search. I'm sure there are TONS more.

Any thoughts? Do you think these reviewing tips are helpful? Am I missing anything?
If you are a learner, what do you do to practice? If you are a teacher, how do you help your students practice??

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Memory Strategies for Vocabulary – Semantic Mapping

Based off the feedback from one of my recently-completed courses, I've decided to take a closer look at vocabulary instruction and practice methods in the classroom, starting with memory strategies and strategy training.

Semantic Mapping

“This strategy involves arranging concepts and relationships on paper to create...a digram in which the key concepts are highlighted and linked with related concepts via arrows or lines" (*1, p. 61). This is a good strategy to use with visual learners, because it illustrates connections between ideas and words. 

Often, I use a strategy like this in my teaching. At the beginning of class, I try to have a warm-up discussion about the topic at hand. During this time, I usually take notes on the white board or flip chart in a “brainstorm” model, where words related to a topic branch out and words related to the branches come of of those. This is also a subtle grouping method.

I don't normally use pictures in my semantic maps, but that is also a good option. The word-image association could strengthen the processing of the vocabulary.  Also, I've never asked the students to do the mapping themselves. Since I usually have fairly small classes (3-6 students), it would be relatively easy to give each student a marker, and to have them write the words on the map themselves, in the location that they feel is the most appropriate. This could also be a starting point for a good discussion and group work. 

A nice vocabulary website that shows this concept of semantic mapping is Visuwords. Every word is connected to its meaning, which in turn is connected to several other words. Again, it doesn't use pictures, but it does have the connections. 

How do you use semantic mapping for vocabulary instruction?

1. Rebecca Oxford, Language Learning Strategies, 1990. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Memory Strategies for Vocabulary - Associating/Elaborating

Based off the feedback from one of my recently-completed courses, I've decided to take a closer look at vocabulary instruction and practice methods in the classroom, starting with memory strategies and strategy training.


“This memory strategy involves associating new language information with familiar concepts already in memory” (*1, p. 60).  I've used tricks like this for myself for years, like the "I'm a genie” trick to remember how to spell imagine (im-a-gin-e) and corazón (Spanish for heart) is the core of a person. "The associations can be simple or complex, mundane or strange, but they must be meaningful to the learner" (*1, p. 41). 

My associations with the word "Fly"
Even though I use it for my own language learning, I don't know that I've ever used this strategy in my teaching. It seems like such an obvious strategy for learning words that I've just assumed that students would do it on their own. Now, after actually thinking about it, I'm not so sure they do.

With the large amount of vocabulary we cover in class, is it a good idea to spend time elaborating on words during our time together, or is it better to model the strategy and to leave the responsibility for using it with the students?

For in-class strategy use, I think a free association exercise might be helpful (there is a good explanation of an activity here). After listing associations, students have to explain the connection to the target term. For more advanced students, maybe a Semantic Feature Analysis activity would be helpful. A Semantic Feature Analysis chart “can examine related concepts but make distinctions between them according to particular criteria across which the concepts can be compared.” There is an example here with presidents and features of their candidacy and campaigns, but the same structure can be applied to words that are similar in meaning, or related in topic.

For out-of-class activities, the association/elaboration strategies could be a good homework assignment to populate a vocabulary list of the most difficult words to remember. Have the students choose one or two words each from the discussion and then create an association or elaboration device for it. Pull everyone's words together to make a list for everyone to study.

Do you know any other ways to incorporate association or elaboration strategies into vocabulary learning? What's worked for you?

1. Rebecca Oxford, Language Learning Strategies, 1990.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Error Correction in the Classroom

One thing my EFL students ask for again and again is error correction. I have been teaching English in the classroom for about a year now, and I have been trying to find a way to incorporate helpful error correction into each lesson. Recasting and explicit correction are pretty common ways to provide some level of feedback to the students, but I find that these methods aren’t always so helpful.

Recasting with emphasis on the corrected element.

Recasting has been my primary error correction technique, but I have come to realize its shortcomings, both through classroom experiences of my own while learning German and through the lack of apparent results with my EFL students. Recasts are often confused with confirmation of correct production, and if the corrected part of the recast isn’t made obvious (through intonation or a gesture), even after recasting a feature several times, the whole effort is lost.

Recasting does have its benefits in the classroom, though: it’s quick and doesn’t entirely interrupt the student’s production, and doesn’t seem discouraging. (Which may be due to the misinterpretation of the feedback, as stated above.)

Explicit correction is a step up from recasting and may be far more effective in clarifying a particular error, but it has some disadvantages. In contrast with recasting, explicit correction seems to disrupt the flow of conversation in the classroom, directing attention away from production.

Explicit correction in the classroom that occurs too frequently in one session or over a few sessions can be discouraging for students. It is especially tough when one student needs more correction than the other students and subsequently disengages from the lesson or even from later lessons. However, if the need for correction is widespread in the class, it is a good indicator that the teacher needs to reexamine the suitability of the material for the students at their particular level.

Another problem with explicit correction, and even recasting, is when the student misspeaks, making a simple error. It is hard to decide which errors, no matter how small, slip by. When students ask for intense feedback, which errors do you focus on and which do you let slide?

In my own practice, I tend to avoid correcting things that do not confuse the student’s message, such as minor pronunciation errors or adverb placement, to name a couple. Instead, I make sure students use the right verb conjugation with the proper person and an accurate verb tense. When it comes to errors with word selection, I like to first ask the class if they might have a more suitable word for the student and rely on my own vocabulary as a secondary measure.

There are different levels of error correction, I have only focused on two here. I want to talk about other methods after a bit more classroom use. Check out the interesting articles below for more information.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Memory Strategies for Vocabulary - Grouping

Based off the feedback from one of my recently-completed courses, I've decided to take a closer look at vocabulary instruction and practice methods in the classroom, starting with memory strategies and strategy training.


“Grouping involves classifying or reclassifying what is heard or read into meaningful groups” (*1, p. 58). Possible group categories include meaning, word gender, grammatical category, conceptual similarities, or whatever other type of separation becomes obvious. Oxford also mentions that the "power of this strategy may be enhanced by labeling the groups, [by] using acronyms to remember the groups, or [by] using different colors to represent different groups" (*1, p. 40). 

The idea behind grouping is that it creates a link from one idea to another, and in that way, a word becomes easier to remember than when it is decontextualized and alone.

Usually, in the material provided for my courses, there is a short section on topical vocabulary or on vocabulary related to a specific language function. It would be very easy for me to write down sub-categories for words in class while we are having a discussion to elicit and practice the vocabulary, but I wonder if the grouping is more salient when the students do it themselves. Is the deep processing of vocabulary activated more by personally choosing the different categories for the words?

My plan to incorporate this language learning strategy in my teaching:
  1. Co-create a vocabulary list from the discussion topic or the text, etc. (or, maybe, bring in a list collected from the last class session)
  2. Put students in groups and have them categorize the words in any way they would like
  3. Have the groups compare their categories, and list the words that belong to each group
  4. Have a discussion about other possible categories or about more words that could be added to the existing categories
Here is a document explaining another list-group-label activity, very similar to the idea I wrote about, above. In the explanation, the author suggests that the grouping emphasis should be on meaning: “It is cautioned that semantic, meaning-oriented groupings be emphasized rather than those that focus on surface commonalities of words chosen for a grouping.” However, this activity was created for reading strategies to help young learners (in, what I assume, is their native language), and I imagine that even if meaning-based groups are better, that groups based on the type of word (nouns, verbs, etc.) would still be very helpful for language learners. 

Have you heard of any other ideas for grouping? Do you know any activities or games that incorporate this memory strategy?

1. Rebecca Oxford, Language Learning Strategies, 1990

Monday, April 9, 2012

Teaching Vocabulary Through Memory Strategies

As I mentioned in my previous post, I often look back with dread to the days I spent memorizing thematic vocabulary lists when I was a beginning-level Spanish student. As a teacher and as a learner, I don't see this practice of receiving a printed list and repeating the words and definitions to be very helpful in the long-term retention of vocabulary (but, don't get me wrong, it can definitely be helpful for getting 100% on any vocabulary test that takes place in the following 15 minutes!).

Everyone knows that there are better ways to remember vocabulary than to just repeat the words to yourself. You make flashcards, you use the word in a sentence, you make a mnemonic device. These are some memory strategies.

If there are better ways to learn it, then there must be better ways to teach it, as well. And, I think, this is where memory strategies for language learning come into play. If they can help you learn vocabulary, they can help you teach vocabulary.
“At the early stages of language development, decontextualized vocabulary has been shown to be more effective in building a fundamental vocabulary than the contextualized reading [method]” (*1). 
(On a side note, a recent EAPchat focused on Academic Word Lists. Although this was specifically for an academic context, I think the arguments made regarding word lists extends further than just English for Academic Purposes. Additionally, this document discusses the myth (#2) that word lists are not useful.)

At the same time, deep processing of vocabulary (assigning meaning, making connections, thinking about word relationships) is also shown to have an impact on the ability to recall the words, as well: 
“In the short-term, information can be maintained at any level, but in the long-term information is most likely to be remembered if it is processed at the deep, meaningful way” (*2). 
This deep processing comes more naturally with contextualized vocabulary acquisition, but in the early stages, learners don't have the foundation they need to make the contextualized vocabulary salient. 
“Thus, deeper, richer semantic processing [of decontextualized vocabulary], such as memory strategies will be more likely to enhance learning than shallower processes such as rote repetition” (*3).
Peter at Creativity and Languages mentioned something similar to this in a recent post, where he discussed the importance of meaning to memory and learning: 
“Think about a telephone number but also a word in a language that is not related to other languages you know. In the first case the number is certainly meaningless, in the second case the word is meaningless for us because we lack the knowledge to make it meaningful. In both cases we can improve our ability to memorize the new data by imposing to them an arbitrarily meaning.”
And, to summarize this entire post, a quote from Rebecca Oxford's Language Learning Strategies
“Though some teachers think vocabulary learning is easy, language learners have a serious problem remembering the large amounts of vocabulary necessary to achieve fluency... Memory strategies help language learns to cope with this difficulty. They enable learners to store verbal material and then retrieve it when needed for communication” (*4).

  1. Nemati, Azadeh (2009). Memory vocabulary learning strategies and long-term retention (p. 14).
  2. Nemati, p. 21
  3. Nemati, p. 21
  4. Oxford, Rebecca. Language Learning Strategies, p. 39

Saturday, April 7, 2012

More Vocabulary!

March 1st was the end of my first “free” long-term (16-week) course. By “free,” I mean that it was my first course where I was given complete control of the content, materials, syllabus design, and activities. Basically, no material was provided, and the content was expected to be based on the needs of the students.

In the last session (after the goodbye-party murder mystery game, of course), I spent some time getting feedback from the students about what I should work to improve for the next group of students. What things did they like? What things did they think were boring? What did I not include enough of? What should I skip next time?

They were very friendly in their feedback and told me that I was their favorite teacher ever (which I appreciate, because I worked my booty off for that class). I was very surprised, however, at their unanimous criticism (but I was also very grateful for it, because it was something I would not have independently realized).

And the criticism was....(drum roll)....


It really surprised me. First of all, I remember drilling vocabulary as a Spanish student, and I also remember how much I hated it. Second, I'm currently at the stage in language learning (for German) where grammar seems like the most important thing. It seems that I've forgotten that in my years as an advanced Spanish learner, the grammar was all in my mind, and that it was the vocabulary that I needed the most. As such, I can see that I've neglected a lot of explicit vocabulary instruction in my teaching, in favor of communicative grammar instruction.

On a side note, as I was drafting this post, this quotation at the top of a post from Teaching Cloggy Style resonated with me: While without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed.”

So, in the next few posts, I will be exploring different ways to enhance vocabulary instruction and strategy training for my students (and for myself as a language learner). 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Should EFL teachers worry about accents?

I read this article (Perfect Accents Not Realistic for Older Language Learners, Linguists Say) today on the Education Week website about whether language teachers (and learners) should focus on pronunciation. The article has some interesting thoughts, but what caught my eye was the final question:
The piece [mentioned in the article] made me wonder how much older English-learners in public schools—especially those immigrant students who come to the U.S. in middle school and beyond—are focused on perfecting their pronunciations and trying to shed their accents. How much are their teachers focused on that part of learning the language, and what does that mean for how well these students learn to communicate effectively?  
I thought I would share my thoughts on the topic (basically, an expanded version of my comment at the bottom).

In my opinion, forcing native-speaker-like pronunciation on students is an exercise in discouragement. There are so many standard, acceptable variations on word pronunciations, even between people in the same region (route, creek, and caramel, for example) that I leave word-specific accent training out. I tell my students that everybody has an accent--even me (I do try to "sell" my generally neutral, Southern-California-Hollywood status accent as "cool" or "likable," though).

What I do teach is pronunciation of certain trouble sounds (and occasionally words, but only if they hinder comprehension). For Germans learning English, for example, this is the "th" sound (it is always /z/ or /s/). "Thought" becomes "Sought" and "Thinking" becomes "Sinking". For Chinese students learning English, one problem is often the /l/ and /r/ switcheroo. These sounds are so different to English speakers, that there is often confusion when they are switched (unlike the very similar /b/ and /v/ sounds for Spanish-speaking English learners).

It's definitely possible to train and develop an accent that is close (enough) to a standard one, even as an adult. In fact, with the right tools and the proper education in phonology, it isn't even really that hard to teach.

However, pronunciation shouldn't be the focus unless the student (AFTER understanding that his or her accent is not "bad" or "wrong") wants to work on it beyond comprehensibility issues. As an English speaker who learned Spanish, I found training the short vowel sounds (especially at the end of words) and the word-initial consonants to be the most helpful for getting rid of my "gringo" accent. Since I'm a total language nerd, this training was a very important part in my language goal achievement. However, non-language-nerds learning English (or other languages) for other, practical purposes, may not have the same goals.

The idea that no one will know you are a non-native speaker of a language because of your flawless pronunciation and impeccable grammar is a very lofty goal. Some students, however, are interested in developing a more natural sound. If they are willing to work, assistance should be provided to them.

So, that's my two cents. But since I'm in Germany, it's two euro cents, which is probably three American cents. What do you think?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reflection - Critical Learning: Critical Discourse Analysis in EFL Teaching (Martínez, 2012)

“All in all, the classroom presents tangible and attractive ways of interpreting contemporary culture; it is an excellent forum for teaching discourse analysis and for making students aware that there is a rich and complex world outside to be analyzed and criticalized” (p. 288).
Last post, I reviewed an article from the Journal of Language Teaching and Research called Critical Learning: Critical Discourse Analysis in EFL Teaching, by Dolores Fernández Martínez. This post is a reflection on that review.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the students in one of my conversation classes bring in the lyrics to a song in English. In groups, I had them look at the lyrics, find out what the meaning of the whole song was, and bring out any new or strange “song” phrases. The activity was really enjoyable, and while I was reading the article, I thought of this activity. At the time, my intention was for the students just to practice talking about the songs and to learn a few new words. However, looking at it after reading about using critical discourse analysis (CDA), I think I could have improved the salience of the activity somehow.

Most of the content for my current courses is based on heavily regulated materials. However, I think a good teacher should be able to include good teaching activities and content in almost any situation. I've been brainstorming how I can include a little bit of CDA into some of my classes. Here are two ideas:

Idea One
I have a technical English course where we have been looking at the company's mission statement. Whenever we talk about it, though, the students keep telling me about the company's advertising slogans. So why not look at them, also? I plan to bring in a list of famous advertising slogans to discuss, using a format like the one mentioned in the first activity in the article. Then, I would like to have the students re-write their company's strange English-language one (it doesn't make much sense at all). I found this website for finding a list of famous slogans. It's conveniently organized by category.

Idea Two
I also have a Business English conversation course that I would like to use this activity with. The next unit is called “Ways of Working,” and I would like to find some slogans or phrases that have the vocabulary words in them. To start, I found a campaign slogan from Florida Governor Rick Scott (“Let's Get to Work”) that I will use to talk about slogans and the purpose of slogans. Luckily, last week we just talked about the difference between “Get to work!” and “I get to work by car.” Additionally, Section B in the unit talks about adjectives used to describe jobs. The first category is good job descriptions (satisfying stimulating, fascinating, exciting). I found two separate lists of fake “work” slogans that would be used to convince people to work for a company.

  • Come for the job… stay for the challenge
  • People “just like you” work here
  • Build your dream job here
  • We make work an adventure
  • Even the rookies get to start on our team
  • Tired of working “inside the box”? Come join us

  • If you do a good job and work hard, you may get a job with a better company someday.
  • Never quit...until you have another job.
  • Hang in there: Retirement is only 30 years away!
  • Go the extra mile--It makes your boss look like a slacker.
  • Pride, commitment, teamwork--words we use to get you to work for free.
  • There are two kinds of people in life: people who like their jobs, and people who don't work here anymore.

After using the initial phrase (“Let's Get to Work”) as an example, I think I will have the students analyze a good phrase and a bad phrase in pairs. Then, we can talk about why the phrases are powerful, which company you would least want to work for, and which company you would most want to work for. These are the discussion questions that I would take from the article:
  • Can you observe any hint of control or inequality in the phrases?
  • How do these slogans make you feel? What is your reaction?
  • What is the goal of the slogan?
  • (Also, to populate the question list, I found this chart that would be really helpful)

After I try it out, I'll write a reflection post. Until then...

Any other ideas? Guidance? Have you tried an activity like this in your classroom before?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review - Critical Learning: Critical Discourse Analysis in EFL Teaching (Martínez, 2012)

YAY!!! The newest issue of the Journal of Language Teaching and Research is out!!

This is me, reading the Journal of
Language Teaching and Research...
except that I read it online. But this is
what I feel like when I read it. 
After browsing the titles, I choose to first read Critical Learning: Critical Discourse Analysis in EFL Teaching by Dolores Fernández Martínez, and I spent the morning reading and reflecting on the article. Here is my review.

The article begins with a brief introduction to discourse analysis (DA), then transfers into an introduction to critical discourse analysis (CDA)--the main difference being that CDA looks more specifically at power relations, control, and implicit strategy. A critical approach in the classroom, the author claims, benefits students in the rest of their lives, as well: “Students should learn language through exposure to different types of texts and be aware of the fact that the study of discourse can be applied to any text, problem, or situation” (p. 285). Fernández Martínez then presents a proposal for a CDA syllabus, of sorts, that includes a section on CDA Theory, a section on DA Tools, and a section on Texts (and using them in the classroom). She quickly discusses the first two sections, and then continues to describe six CDA activities featuring different authentic texts (because “authentic materials are more likely to connect with their interests and prompt their motivation and satisfaction.” 285), as well as questions to encourage critical discussion.

Very Critical Discourse Analysis. Notice, the critic glasses. 
Article Criticisms
My main criticism of this article is that the introduction and the explanation of the first two sections of the CDA syllabus were very brief and not very informative as to the exact intention or practices of the author. It would have been nice to have a stronger explanation of what exactly is meant by CDA and how is it is different than normal DA. Fernández Martínez mentioned in the beginning of the article that CDA was a method for social change, but I think a little more development in this section would be very helpful for the novice discourse analyst classroom teacher. I also really would have liked to see more explanation or example content of the “Theory” and “Tools” part, or at least an idea of the minimum requirements to be able to successfully teach this material....beyond telling students that the meaning of discourse is “contextually activated text” (p. 284).

My only other criticism is really petty. The political slogan she chose as the example for the first activity (“Yes, we can”) was attributed solely to Barak Obama, and while he DID use the slogan, I'm pretty sure that the president borrowed the phrase. I believe it was taken from the translation of the famous “Si, se puede” phrase coined by Hispanic rights activist and migrant farmer advocate Caesar Chavez, in the 1970s. Just sayin'.

If you overlook the criticisms about the first two sections of the paper, however, I think you will find a very interesting model for for creating interesting, authentic, student-centered language activities. What's more, they could easily be used in a Dogme ELT / Teaching Unplugged situation, where students bring the content, and together analyze the effect, the social relationships, and the purpose. I see many of these activities as being particularly useful in the second language context, where students are daily exposed to a large amount of target language material. However, I've also noticed from teaching English abroad, that in foreign countries, you see and hear a lot of English. In my experience, students don't always understand the meaning of what they are hearing and reading, even if they understand the words.

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with the final words of the article, which I feel are especially salient.
“All in all, the classroom presents tangible and attractive ways of interpreting contemporary culture; it is an excellent forum for teaching discourse analysis and for making students aware that there is a rich and complex world outside to be analyzed and criticalized” (288). 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Article Review: Ansary, H. & Babaii, E. (2009) - A cross-cultural analysis of English newspaper editorials

A Review of...

An Analysis and Evaluation of Ansary, H. & Babaii, E. (2009). A cross-cultural analysis of English newspaper editorials: A systemic-functional view of text for contrastive rhetoric research. RELC Journal, 40(2), 211 – 249.

Based on the assumption that different cultural backgrounds influence writing structure, Contrastive Rhetoric seeks to illuminate in which ways and to what extent these differences occur. Recently, however, the method also has been growing in popularity as a means to find the “universals” in language. Such is the case in the present study. Published in 2009 by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO) in their Regional Language Centre (RELC) journal, the article addresses macro-rhetorical structures from three different contexts by comparing 30 English newspaper editorials written by native speakers with 60 English editorials written by non-native speakers to analyze the rhetorical structure and to determine if there is a Generic Structure Potential (a.k.a. Rhetorical Formula) that transcends cultural boundaries.


The stated purpose of the study was to “characterize the global and/or macro-rhetorical structure of English newspaper editorials and formulate…‘the Generic Structure Potential’ (GSP) of a genre,” as well as to determine and to explore the differences in the rhetorical structure of an editorial between cultures (Ansary & Babaii, p. 212).

The data was collected using a corpus of editorial sections of English-language newspapers available online. The authors narrowed the scope of their data by applying B. B. Krachu’s 1985 “Circles Model” to the collection process, and from there, they further narrowed the data pool by choosing one newspaper from a country from each of the three circles. From each newspaper, 30 editorials from 2003 and 2004 were selected for the final data.

According to this conclusions, an English-language editorial (no matter what the native language of the author) “consists of four obligatory elements (Headline, Addressing an Issue, Argumentation, and Articulating a Position)” (p. 233). However, there were different GSPs (Generic Structure Potentials, a.k.a. Rhetorical Formulas) for each different native language of the author and the context of the editorial, which involved the optional elements and their possible arrangements. These findings suggest a universal rhetoric for editorials. The implication of this conclusion is that, since they do not inherently contain a new, unique, or separate rhetoric, newspaper editorials are an easy pedagogic tool for language education contexts.


This research had several strong points, one of which was the effort made to ensure content validity and reliability. The researchers were careful and self-critical, involving other scholars in the development of their coding system and thoroughly testing of the validity and reliability of their system. In order to make sure that the study was as reliable and construct-valid as possible, they had their analyses reviewed by an outside post-graduate researcher, who was able to critique the elements of the study and offer suggestions for revision. Inter-coder and intra-coder reliability coefficients were both in the .80 to .89 range, where degrees of agreement as low as .61 have been considered valid and dependable in the past. Another strength of this paper was the background information given to put the study in context. The study contained synopses of past research that applied to the current issue and applied what had already been learned to the problem at hand.

There were also, however, quite a few elements of the study that may have affected the outcome of the study. Ansary and Babaii note three of these in the paper, however, they failed to mention several other issues that presented themselves in this research:
  1. the relatedness of the Iranian and Pakistani languages (as both are members of the Indo-European language family) could skew the results of the study, not to mention the possibility that their geographical proximity has had an effect on the development of a similar rhetoric;
  2. the data selection did not contain a representative sample, as the editorials were chosen by what the researchers teemed a “purposeful sampling technique,” and as such, needs to be considered in light of this caveat;
  3. the size of the data set (90 total editorials) was relatively small in comparison to both the number of native speakers of English, Iranian speakers of English, and Pakistani speakers of English, as well as to the number of available editorials, and therefore is not sufficient to contain the entirety of 3 countries’ rhetorical norms;
  4. no information was given on the subject of the editorials, which could also have a significant impact on the structure/format chosen to present the editorial-writer’s opinion; and
  5. the study presented no background information on the editorial-writers, leaving open the possibility that even though the writer may reside in the United States, Pakistan, or Iran, he or she might have been born or raised in another cultural context, and thereby not be a true representation of that circle’s or county’s rhetoric.

Aside from the issues mentioned above, this study is well-done. The suggestion that there is a universal formula for newspaper editorials has implications for using the genre in foreign language (and culture) teaching, especially as it relates to the affective issues of feeling successful in language learning. The study has some flaws that make the conclusions less reliable, but overall, the idea and applications seem to be unique and interesting.

While the study might not be the model for research in this methodology, it certainly is a model that can help to inform further similar studies. It provides an example for background information and insight into processes that are not available from a simple methodology description, and even the weaknesses present an “anti-model” from which students of research can learn.

  • Ansary, H. & Babaii, E. (2009). A cross-cultural analysis of English newspaper editorials: A systemic-functional view of text for contrastive rhetoric research. RELC Journal, 40(2), 211 – 249.
  • McKay, S. L. (2006). Researching second language classrooms. New York: Routledge.
  • Weng, C. Y. (Ed.) (2010). RELC Journal: A journal of teaching and research. Retrieved from

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Anglish as a bridge language?

My wife is a savvy blog reader and she is always sending me links to great articles. So when I read this article, I got a little inspiration to write a blog entry. The article presents an argument that textbooks for learners of Germanic languages should not be written in English, but rather a modified form of English known as Anglish and suggests that if we can utilize a form of English that more closely resembles its fellow Germanic languages, we could more readily comprehend said languages.

So what is Anglish? If you clicked on the previous link, you may now know that Anglish is basically English without influences from other languages. Consider what English would sound like today without the Latin (and Greek) word-stock inherited through the introduction of Christianity and all that time spent with the Normans after the Norman Invasion in 1066. Now you have an idea of what Anglish is all about.

The blog author writes that textbooks with Anglish as the facilitation text (that is, the language of instruction and translation) would be better, because the large share of Germanic vocabulary would give English speakers a learning advantage, an advantage the author claims English speaking learners once had. The learner would be introduced to Anglish and then be introduced to the target Germanic language through Anglish explanations.

I went through a few stages of reaction considering that proposal. At first, I thought, “Gee, you want to learn a language like German, but now you have to learn this other type of English first? What’s the point of that? Wouldn't that be overwhelming for the average language learner?” In my teaching experience, I think it is best to avoid translation, at least for intermediate and advanced students. So why build a learning foundation almost entirely on a system of translation? However, after rereading the article and getting past my initial reaction I thought, “Well, I really like historical linguistics, I can see Anglish as a great way to study language history and possibly facilitate learning a second language.”

After a day of thinking about Anglish and doing some research, I am not convinced that it is an entirely useful strategy in bridging the gap for English speakers learning Germanic languages. I do think, however, that it could be a fun unit or lesson that demonstrates the relationship of the languages and could also inspire students to learn more about historical linguistics and how languages change over time.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Free Continuing Education: How to Use Google Reader

Continuing Education is one of those things that sounds like mandatory staff training. However, a wise man once said, “Find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life.” (Harvey MacKay? Confucius? I don't think they talked about “jobs” back in Confucius' time, but the internet mostly gives him the credit). Well, there is a way to love continuing education and to make it not seem like work.

Every morning when I wake up (and make coffee, of course), I start my computer and open Google Reader to begin my daily continuing education.... 

...and it is fabulous. I actually go to sleep looking forward to waking up and reading. What's the secret? My self-created course is a collection of my favorite blogs on language education, language technology, and linguistics. Yours could be different.

If you're interested, here is how you can get started.

  1. If you don't already have a Google account, you need to make one. I'm pretty sure you can use a non-Gmail email address for it, though.
  2. Once you are signed in to, go to Google Reader. This is your Google Reader home page. You can also find it in the top black bar of the Google page (once you are signed in), under “More.”
  3. Once you are in Google Reader, you need to add subscriptions. You have three choices:
  • Search with Google Reader
    • On the left-hand side of the reader, you can see the “All Items” heading. Once that section is expanded, you will see “Browse for Items.” When you click it, it will open a page that helps you find relevant feeds. 
    • You can browse pre-packaged “bundles” (groups of blogs), search for topics, people, or blogs, or look at recommendations based on the blogs you already subscribe to. If you find ones that you like, click the “Subscribe” button (with the blue +).

  • Subscribe through Google Reader
    • On the left-hand side of the reader, you can also see a nice, big, red button that says “Subscribe.” 

    • Click the button, and a query window will come down. In the field, either type the name of a specific blog, a topic, or any key word that you are looking for. The search term will bring up a page of results, and if you find ones that you like, you can click the “Subscribe” button (with the blue +).
  • Internet search
    • If you aren't getting the results you want through the search options inside Google Reader, it is also possible to go to any search engine and type in a query like “Blogs about ….” You can peruse the results, and if you find ones you like, you can return to Google Reader and use option 1 or 2 to add the blog. Also, many blogs have a “Feed Subscription” button (orange with curvy lines), and you can click that in order to start the adding process.

Now that you're all set up, you can click on “All Items” to start reading the blog posts in the order they were published OR you can click on the name of the blog in the side column (under subscriptions heading) to read them blog-by-blog.

  • Don't subscribe to too many blog feeds. It gets overwhelming to have 1,000 unread items in your feed every morning, and chances are, you will miss the good blog posts because they are burried under the not-so-important ones.
  • If you ever see the orange RSS feed icon on a blog you really like, you can also click it, and sign up that way. Also, many browsers have an RSS add-on that puts an icon to subscribe (that you can click) in the address bar.
  • Make your homepage. It makes it easier to get in the habit of reading the feeds when it is the first thing you see whe you start the internet browser.
  • Organize your subscriptions. That way, if you don't have time to read everything, you can focus on one topic. For example, I have mine organized into “Favorites,” “Linguistics,” “Language Learning,” and “Language Teaching.”

Anyway, I hope this is helpful for those of you not already using a reader. If you have any questions, I'm more than happy to try to help!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

From Unplugged to Unchained: On to a Balanced Approach

This post is a collection of thoughts about Dogme ELT (and the need for a balanced approach) from around the blog-o-sphere, beginning with a little of my own commentary, of course.

A balanced approach to language teaching is like a complete protein. 

picture from
When I took Nutrition 101 during my undergrad years, we learned about proteins. There are four different kinds of vegetable protein sources, but they are “missing” something. For example, proteins from the “bean” group are missing something that is found in the proteins from the “corn” group, and proteins from the “rice” group are missing something from the “nuts” group. You need to get proteins from multiple different vegetable sources in order to be sure that you have a complete protein. Teaching approaches are like vegetable proteins – they need to be supplemented with other approaches. Dogme ELT offers an incomplete protein...and that's not a bad thing--you can still use it to make a complete "teaching" protein in a balanced approach. Here are some quotations that support the need for a balanced approach to language teaching.

An obsessive focus on doing one style of teaching and of being a particular type of teacher is, I personally feel, a quick way to narrow the number of options available to you. (Richard Whiteside, I'd Like To Think That I Help People To Learn English)
Teaching isn’t a science. It simply isn’t. It’s not mechanical. It’s not like some intricate computation that is going to give you the same answer every time you enter it. It’s an art. It is constantly changing and shaping and being shaped by the students that you are working with. I won’t carry out the metaphor (we language teachers tend to over do it with similes and metaphors, I’ve noticed), but I will ask you to consider the truth of the statement... So . . . all of that to say. I’ve been examining methods recently. I’ve gotten a lot of good ideas, and I’m excited to mess them all up by mixing and matching and creating my own concoction. (K. Liz Barker, Just a Word
The Scandivanian [Dogme] filmmakers kept their vows for, oh, well about two or three films. And then they suddenly realised (duh) that music, lighting, tricksy editing, precisely all the artifice of film-making REALLY WORKS....So what do I believe in? I believe in the richness of techniques, approaches, materials and artefacts available to the modern teacher. I believe that an over-reliance on any of these to the exclusion of others is unattractive and unlikely to be in the best interests of all. I believe that everything – in a classroom – has to be grounded in the expertise of a teacher being able to find the best way of doing things for the benefit of (and with the help and guidance of) the greatest number of students. And often that may be unplugged, but there is no guarantee (or moral reason) why it should be. And sometimes that might be coursebook-mediated but there is no guarantee (or moral reason) why it should be. (Jeremy Harmer, Jeremy Harmer's Blog)
As Dogme ELT employs various EFL methods, approaches and techniques, teachers who might be unaware of teaching unplugged are, as confirmed by primary research, unknowingly incorporate aspects of Dogme ELT. Nevertheless, teacher participants suggested a balance be-tween Dogme ELT (also a form of Eclectic Teaching) with more traditional, yet structured, forms of teaching...A Balanced Approach to teaching would offer EFL teachers the best of both worlds: the prospect of struc-tured lessons or the opportunity to incorporate more explora-tory or experimental teaching techniques, dependent uponclassroom expectations. For example, some students andt eachers that participated in the survey indicated mixed opinions: that they preferred structured lessons or less structured lessons (Martin Sketchley, ELT Experiences) 
One of the benefits of coursebooks is that they give students something to hold on to. Their linear structure might be flawed and will often obstruct meaningful conversation, but at least they give some sort of structure. And don’t be mistaken, students WANT structure, they NEED structure. As much as intelligent scaffolding is useful for language instruction, it is central to many other aspects of your teaching and your students’ learning. By renouncing coursebooks the Dogme approach also gives up on their greatest strengths: visible and comprehensible – if sometimes illusionary – structure. (Christian Schenk, Mr. Schenk
I see the work we did on establishing lexical notebooks as important in the Unplugged framework. The retrospective discipline and meta-cognitive skills needed to keep such a notebook seems to make up for the ‘structure-on-a-plate’ that my course lacked by not working out of a coursebook. (Oli Beddall, An Experiment with Dogme)
Let’s continue to train our teachers and encourage our colleagues to be eclectic, to teach the context, to use a course book selectively if they and their students / institute want to, to encourage students to negotitate the syllabus and select texts, to structure classes with logical stages that achieve aims and to leave that structure when the context suggests it, to balance the focus on skills and language, to develop critical thinking skills, to encourage learner autonomy, etc. (Neil McMahon, A Muse Amuses
Any thoughts?