IATEFL 2015: Pre-conference Event Day – MaW SIG – Part 3

Duly refreshed, it’s time for the afternoon sessions…

How to write ELT activities for authentic film and video – Kieran and Anna

Kieran and Anna also produced: “How to write film and video activities” – from the Teacher2writer training modules. (Yep, another module! Seems to be a trend today, for presenters to plug their Teacher2Writer module! 😀 )

 In today’s talk, they intend to consider:

  1. Role of video and film (more and more important)
  2. Sourcing video and film
  3. Exploiting video and film

Changing from video as an add-on (think glorified listening activities) to something more integral. Capturing and editing moving images has become much more accessible. This can be exploited in language learning. Kieran thinks there will be an increasing demands for writers of this type of activity.

 You need to think about:

  • Syllabus fit – a strict publisher’s brief fit or just integrating it into what you are teaching?
  • Music/soundtrack needs not to be overwhelming, so that voices can be heard. Language level is affected by this and other things such as accents, number of speakers etc. Keep a checklist of these handy.
  • Length – 2-5minute clips are optimal for attention/engagement. The shorter the clip, the more repeat viewings you can have, with different activities. This helps with comprehension too.
  • Relevance – of topic and content vs students’ context, background etc.
  • Task potential – visual is important. Less effective if activities are relying too heavily on the non-visual i.e. the audio.

 Established approach to writing for video

  • Pre-viewing tasks
  • While-viewing tasks
  • Post-viewing tasks

Publishers will break it down like this and include things like vocabulary lists for you to use too.

 Pre-viewing activities:

For language-based goals – matching, summary completion (pre-teaching vocabulary), stills from the video and a summary (for more challenging material)

For communicative goals – prediction, discussion. Take a still from the film or video, accompany it with some questions. Connecting this task with the viewing is of course to check their predictions.

 While viewing activities:

  •  Don’t overload: Activities and instructions should be concise.
  • We can use reading/listening type questions but shouldn’t rely too heavily on these.
  • Need to be activities that don’t demand too much attention so that ss can still focus on the film.

For more information: www.visualmanifesto.com

 My thoughts: 

Maybe lunch affected my brain adversely – clearly my notes from this talk don’t do it justice! The presenters ran out of time for getting beyond ‘While viewing’ but the slides are going to be available later, so keep an eye on MaW SIG channels for further information on this!

Does a corpus have the answer? Corpus tools for ELT writers by Julie Moore

I was looking forward to this talk! I really enjoyed Julie’s talk at last year’s IATEFL and I love corpora! 

 Focus:

  • What is a corpus, what are corpus tools?
  • How to use them to help you write materials – with examples
  • What a corpus isn-t very good for
  • Ways of accessing corpora
  • A few other nifty vocab tools

Corpus, corpora – a collection of texts, used to investigate language and how it works. We use corpus tools do this, software which allows this investigation.

When you look at a corpus, you get something called a concordance. That is, examples of language taken from the stored texts, with the searched word appearing down the middle, aka a key word in context (KWIC) search. You can then click on a sentence to get a little more context.

We can ask a corpus many things…

Questions!

Questions!

With a corpus we can:

  • search for authentic examples.

This can lead you to identify a nice context for a given language point. E.g. a film competition guideline set for “must”.

It is quite rare to find something ready for use straight away: you are more likely to adapt and abridge entries so that all language is level-appropriate.

You can also use it as a template to create your own example. It helps you to create something more natural-sounding.

  • do collocation searches

E.g. keep your temper, do frequency searches. Look at the example lines. Then you see it does exist but not on it’s own but rather for e.g. keep your temper under control/in check etc.

  • search for phrases and chunks

Sketch Engine: search “bush” to find more possibilities than “beat around the bush” So start with a wide search. Then search for the frequency of the collocate e.g. around/about. Then you can search for English type. Smaller difference between around and about for British English.

 What isn’t a corpus good at?

Corpus are good at vocabulary –oriented queries. If you don’t have a specific lexical item to search for, it is more difficult and requires a lot more time. E.g. present continuous for future plans. Even if you come up with a search of present continuous examples, you would have to manually identify the future plans ones.

They are also not so good for longer examples or complete texts: this is because of copyright and permissions rules. You can’t borrow enough sentences to illustrate ‘on the other hand’ for example.

 Important points to consider:

  • spoken vs written
  • genre mix
  • AmE vs BrE
  • Expert vs student

Otherwise put, it is important to know your corpus and what it contains.

For example, the British Academic Written Corpus (student writing, native and non native) so you aren’t going to search it to find out about general spoken English…

Don’t follow blindly:

You need to question the results if they are surprising e.g. with keep and temper.

You only get what you search for. Just because you find something doesn-t mean you have answered your question. Sometimes answers aren-t clear cut. Remember your audience and aims.

 How to access a corpus

  • Major publishers have their own corpus. E.g. Oxford. Ask if you can use it.
  • Free corpora: COCA SkELL (great data, limited search tools), BAWE/BASE
  • Subscription corpora: Sketch Engine, Collins Corpus (coming soon…)

A few other nifty tools      

  •  Textcheckers – input a text and compare it to a particular wordlist e.g. AWL, English Vocab Profile, Oxford 3000

E.g. VocabKitchen

Depends how good you think the lists are as to how much you rely on the tool.

  •  Usage trends

E.g. Cobuild online, Ngram – show a line graph of usage trends.

  •  Dictionaries

 Thesaurus facility, advanced searches – Macmillan Online is good for this.

More useful stuff!

More useful stuff!

Don’t worry – Julie is planning to write a blog post explaining a bit about these tools and what they do. Watch out for it on her blog.

My thoughts:

Another great session with lots to take away! And my note-taking brain appears to have woken up again too… 🙂 Corpora are great, as long as you are using them for what they are great at and not falling into the traps highlighted by Julie. 

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3 thoughts on “IATEFL 2015: Pre-conference Event Day – MaW SIG – Part 3

  1. Pingback: IATEFL/MaWSIG15: How to write ELT activities fo...

  2. Pingback: IATEFL 2015: All my posts indexed! | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  3. Pingback: IATEFL Manchester 2015 MaWSIG Pre-Conference Event | Sandy Millin

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