Elementary Teens (13-15yr olds) Christmas Lesson Idea

I had a lot of fun with my elementary teens today, for our last lesson before the holidays and thought I would share the lesson idea here, for anyone else to use…

Materials:

  • Recording of “Merry Christmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon
  • Gapped listening text
  • Whiteboard, board pens
  • Christmas Spirit!

Plan:

  • Put the learners in small groups (3 ss per group). Ask them how THEY celebrate Christmas (activities, food etc) and get them to take turns to tell their group. However, the task is to draw up a list of similarities and differences in their Christmas celebrations. When they have finished, give each group a chance to report their similarities and differences to the whole class.
  • Ask them if they know how people celebrate Christmas in other countries in the world. Let them share any knowledge/ideas/opinions related to this.
  • Put the learners into two teams. Give each team ownership of one of the whiteboards (if you are lucky enough to have 2 whiteboards in the classroom, as I am in this particular classroom!) or split one board between the two groups. Divide the boards into pros and cons (of Christmas). (With + and – signs and happy and sad faces, to clarify!) Let the learners brainstorm in their groups and fill the board. (My learners had lots of ideas!) This should raise the point that Christmas is not rosy for everybody (e.g. poor people, lonely people, old and infirm lonely people etc.) Give learners the opportunity to look at and comment on the other group’s whiteboard/ideas. (I found it particularly amusing when they were discussing how the magic of Christmas is for when you are young, not for them – I guess that makes me a proper grandmother then! 😉 I was impressed by all the ideas that they came up with, especially for the negative column.)
  • Write the song title and John Lennon on the board. Ask the learners if they know this song. (Most of these learners had!) Tell learners they are going to listen to the song and write down any key words they hear/understand (NB: check they are clear that words like “and” “but” etc don’t count!) (My learners were able to note down quite a few key words, some more than others – depending on level within the level and familiarity with the song). Let learners compare and pool their key words in their teams.
  • Hand out the gapped listening text and get learners to tick the words on their list that they can see in the text. Ask learners to listen again and complete the gaps. Get them to compare in their groups after listening and then play the recording again for them to check the answers they have decided on through the discussion/comparison. Project the complete song lyrics for them to see/check their answers against. Get them to check their list of key words again. Work together as a class to identify what caused the misunderstanding of any words written down (in gaps or as key words) that are not in the song. (E.g. it sounded like a different word, they heard half of the word and interpreted it as a different word etc. Think of sound interference at word boundaries and problems that may arise from chunking the stream of sound incorrectly…)
  • Get the learners to use their completed texts to sing along to the recording. See if they will try and sing the song without the recording – mine did! They thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • Ask learners why John Lennon wrote this song. Elicit their ideas. (E.g. Protest against war/injustice/inequality etc. To bring people together. To get people to think about less fortunate people at Christmas…)  Ask them what kind of song it is. (A protest song). Ask them if they know any other protest songs. (Mine did! Came up with lots of good examples between them). Ask them if they know any protest songs in their language. (Again, mine did! Though they specified that they were more like solidarity songs) Ask them if they think these protest songs do any good. (My optimistic, positive crowd thought they did and had plenty of ideas why this was the case) 
  • Round off the lesson with some “Stop the Sleigh!” (which you may know under the more common name of Stop the Bus… 😉 )  This works very nicely with Elementary teens in teams of 3: especially as adjectives, nationalities and food have all been covered during the past term – it was a game but also a bit of review.

The lesson worked well, the teens were very keen to express themselves (!) and I was able to feed in a lot of language that they wanted there and then. The song gave them listening practice and acted as a stimulus for discussions about Christmas that enabled us to extend discussions of Christmas well beyond the initial, familiar Christmas food and activities talk that we started with. We also had a lot of fun! Win all round… 🙂

christmas_by_bioclay88-d5p4k6o

“Christmas” by bioclay88 – taken from google images search licensed for commercial use with modification.

Extensive Reading (part 2)

In this post, I wrote about my own experience of extensive reading and reflected on the idea of getting students a) reading extensively and b) benefitting as much they can from it. Following on from this, I have attempted to start the ball rolling and get the pages turning (at the hands of my learners, of course!).

page turning

Let the pages turn! (Taken from advanced google image search filtered for “labelled for commercial use with modification”)

My experimentation thus far is informed by:

  • what I have learnt about learner autonomy (as well as the role multimedia can play in facilitating this).
  • what I have learnt about motivation.
  • what I have learnt about the relationship between these.
  • what I have learnt about theories of learning (particularly drawing on social constructivist ideas).
  • my own experience of extensive reading (as language learner and teacher) as well as others’ (e.g. the experiences related during a talk at a MATSDA conference this year).
  • reflection on the relationship between the implications all of these and the learners in my classes.

My goal is:

To get my learners reading regularly, over a substantial period of time (not a one-week wonder) and reaping the benefits of this. However, it is important that it comes from them, that they are doing it of their own volition not because it’s forced on them, not because Lizzie said so. Ideally, it should also be something they can enjoy. Of course, pleasure is multi-faceted…

For example, this could be pleasure that results from:

  • relaxation.
  • discovery/satisfying curiosity.
  • achievement/success.
  • overcoming a tough challenge.
  • finding something really difficult but persevering nevertheless.
  • feeling a sense of progress – linearly through the book and/or in terms of language learnt from it.

And the type of pleasure experienced, if any at all, is likely to shift regularly.

Why is pleasure important? I think because it is then more likely to be something they do long term rather than just this semester. (I read in French for pleasure still. And it keeps my language ticking over.)

My classes:

For now, I am focussing on adult classes. (Perhaps when I have done my IH Young Learner training certificate, which I am starting soon, I will think about how to set about this project with my low-level teenaged learners…!) I teach a mixture of levels (currently pre-intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced) and I am using a similar approach with all of these levels. I’m keeping track of what I’m doing with the learners and how they are responding over time by recording anything of interest/relevance in a 50-cent notebook. (The same notebook that I’m using to keep track of my experimentation with various multimedia tools for developing learner autonomy, as I think extensive reading can be an important tool for autonomous learning and autonomy is important in extensive reading.)  It’s early days but it’s already really interesting! (I think so, anyway :-p)

My approach (the beginning):

I started the whole process by putting the learners in small groups for a brief discussion about extensive reading (scaffolded by some simple prompt questions).

This enabled me to gauge:

  • their attitude to reading
  • what they already know about the benefits of reading for language learning
  • what approaches they have used and how well (or not) these have worked for them.

At both lower and higher levels, the learners had experience and ideas to share. Unsurprisingly, a mixture of approaches were discussed. Of course, they then looked to me to tell them “the magic way” but that was not to be…

I responded that:

  • all the approaches they had discussed were equally valid
  • all the approaches had different benefits/drawbacks.
  • varying the approach used could be the best way to gain the most benefits in the long term.

I think this was important to discuss, because there is a danger that learners may think there is only one “right way” of doing things (“I must read x type of book in y time using z approach, if I don’t I won’t learn anything”), and if the perceived “right way” doesn’t work for them, they may give up altogether, feeling that their way is wrong and therefore not worth doing. Whereas, there are, of course, any number of ways to skin a cat/read a book/learn a language.

They also wanted me to tell them what to read, so we discussed the benefits/drawbacks of:

  • reading a book that you have already read in L1 vs. a book you’ve never read before.
  • graded readers vs. authentic texts.
  • books vs magazines/newspapers.

I then gave them the task of finding something they wanted to read in English. The only stipulation was it had to be something they could read over time. So, a book, a book of short stories, a newspaper/magazine that they would read regularly (as vs. a single article). I encouraged them to find something that they want to read.

This, of course, is very subjective:

  • Some learners welcome the challenge of an authentic text (like me and Harry Potter in Italian – it may seem a ridiculous prospect, an elementary learner trying to read Harry Potter written for Italians, but it’s working! And, as it happens, one of my level 3’s has picked Harry Potter in English – which he says is difficult but he is enjoying it and wants to persevere – so far! 🙂 )
  • Some prefer the security of a reader graded to their level and will benefit more from this.
  • In terms of subject matter, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

I think that whatever learners choose to read, if the desire is there, they can gain something from it. Why? Because it will add to the all-important motivation to persevere. And perseverance = exposure to language in use.

The learners themselves had ideas of where to get hold of English reading material:

  • local bookshops
  • the library
  • online sources, for those with kindles
  • I also posted a link to the Gutenberg project on Edmodo for added inspiration.

My approach (further information):

Compulsory?

I did not make this project compulsory, but explained that once a week we would use ten or so minutes of a lesson to discuss progress/difficulties/approaches used etc. As we had already discussed the benefits, they understood why I was introducing this into their course and were receptive to the idea. I’m not forcing this on them, I’m offering it to them as a potential learning tool and scaffolding their independence in using it. A couple of students in one of my classes don’t want to read. So they are going to listen extensively instead. They are going to watch series/films in English with English subtitles on (so, a bit of reading too!). That’s fine. We’ll see – perhaps as the course progresses and the other learners who are reading share their experience of it and how it’s helping them, these learners may be tempted to experiment outside of their comfort zone. Meanwhile, any exposure to English is better than none!

Level?

With the lower levels, this discussion came the lesson after we had done a lesson of which part had focused on learning new vocabulary and the kinds of things you need to know about a word in order to learn it. This tied in quite nicely: Their homework was to find three words/phrases that were new to them, find out the type of information that we had looked at in class (collocations, prepositions, examples of different meanings of a single word where relevant etc. etc.) and post this on Edmodo, to share with the other learners. I put a link for the Oxford Learners Dictionary onto Edmodo for them to help them with this.

With higher levels, I have some other tools up my sleeve to try out with them, but meanwhile the project levels itself by choice of reading matter.

Autonomy potential?

Subsequently, I have told learners that I won’t set this vocabulary work as homework anymore but it is still something they can continue to do. It can also count towards their 10hrs guided study (learners at IH Palermo need to complete 10hrs of independent learning – any time they use English outside of class of their own volition i.e. not homework). Soon, I want to introduce Quizlet as a way of reviewing the vocabulary they accumulate. Over time, I hope to help them build up a range of ways to use reading material and any vocabulary they choose to extract from it. (I’m not dictating when or how often they should look up words, but between them there is a range of approaches in use, which I am encouraging and will continue to encourage experimentation with.)

I have also asked two levels (so far) – pre-intermediate and advanced – to set themselves mini-goals for their reading over the next week. It was their choice what their goal was, the only stipulation was that it should be small enough to be a realistic aim for one week of reading. Next week’s ten-minute discussion will enable them to share what progress they have made with their goals and consider how realistic they were in light of this. Hopefully, success with the goals will be motivating, in terms of the reading, and if any learners don’t achieve their goals (there are bound to be some), collaboratively (and with my help if necessary) they can work out why and adjust their goal-setting for the next week to make their goals more achievable while still challenging. This will hopefully avoid demotivation by guiding learners towards a way of enjoying a series of meaningful mini-successes rather than becoming dispirited because the end goal (the usual, vague “improve my English for xyz reason”) doesn’t seem to be getting any nearer. I’m doing this because I think motivation management is important for the development of learner autonomy and perseverance.

Conclusion

So, it’s early days but I would say a positive start: the learners are on board. For me, the next step is to help them sustain this motivation rather than get bored/lose interest/give up. Additionally, of course, I want to help them become more autonomous learners. This extensive reading project is one strand of that. I have a handful of ideas up my sleeve (in relation to this project and the larger learner autonomy project) and time this weekend (a three-day weekend, hurrah!) to reflect and formulate the next phase of my plan of action.

What’s next?

Well, if you want to know the results of these experiments (what worked, what didn’t, evaluation at the end of these learners’ current course/level, what else I did to try and make these projects successful i.e. the afore-mentioned ideas lurking up my sleeves), I think you’ll have to wait till my British Council webinar on learner autonomy which will take place in February next year, as conveniently enough my current adult classes mostly finish towards the end of January next year (except for one that finishes in December) – just about in time to round up what I learn, and package it suitably for sharing with others… 😉

Your thoughts?

Meanwhile, as usual I would be very interested to hear from anybody with any thoughts on all this. As I mentioned in my previous post, I would love to hear anybody’s experiences of trying to get learners reading extensively and independently, as well as of being a language learner and using extensive reading as a learning tool.

“Itchy Feet!” (Some *more* new materials…)

Recently, Sandy Millin published a blogpost, in which she shared an audio recording, made on request shortly after arriving in Sevastopol, Ukraine, and described a lesson that another teacher (not the one who had made the original request) had made based on this recording after finding it on Twitter.

I listened to the recording and felt inspired to create some materials to go with it. You can find a link to these materials (a student handout and accompanying teachers’ notes, as well as a brief powerpoint quiz about Sevastopol, including introduction to Sandy, and a transcript of the recording) here. (Scroll down to number 3, “Itchy Feet” )

Conveniently enough, the topic links in with a reading text that my learners will shortly be looking at in New Headway Upper Intermediate. I plan to use these materials to spice up the lesson a bit. At higher levels, we have more time to work through the book content, so there is room to do this. Though it isn’t written into the materials, because it would be overly specific for materials to share, I also plan to have them compare Sandy’s experience, and the language she uses to talk about them, with the experiences written about in the reading text and the language used therein. The title of the materials was actually inspired by NHUI, as the phrase “itchy feet” features in a vocabulary activity within their reading and speaking sequence!

For homework, I’m planning to get my learners to pretend that our Edmodo group (http://www.edmodo.com) is a travel forum that they use, and through which they have got to know each other, and have them post from the exotic destination of their choice, to say they’ve moved there to work/study, describing how it’s going so far – positives and negatives. As well as language and content related to this lesson, this will also recycle the informal language usage that they looked at earlier in the unit, in the context of informal letters and emails between friends.

No doubt I will blog to share how it goes after I’ve used these materials. I’d be interested to hear how you get on with them too! 🙂

Extensive Reading (some reflection and a request for ideas!)

It is widely agreed that extensive reading helps language learning and we are always trying to encourage our learners to read, read, read…

reading_harry_potter__by_shadowhawk49-d5i09x0

It’s a good way to learn a language… (Taken from Google advanced search filtered by “free to use, share or modify, even commercially”)

I started reading in French when I was doing French A-level. I remember the first longer-than-course book-length text I read, which was a short story by Guy de Maupassant, set as summer holiday reading. I looked up many, many words and wrote the translations above/next to/below the words in the book. I remember the sense of achievement when I finally finished. Homework done, I moved onto Le Petit Prince, which was a lot less laborious and more enjoyable, with much less word translation. I was in France at the time, so I was reading only in French (had to be done!) I bought myself the audio disk of Le Petit Prince and listened to that repeatedly. (I just loved the story and hearing the words!) On a subsequent trip, I began my journey through what was then the whole series of Harry Potter – up to The Goblet of Fire. Later, I had to do a lot of reading for my university studies, but I still managed to fit in some pleasure reading when I was in France doing the compulsory couple of months there in the summer after the first year of studies – I worked my way through both enormous tomes of Les Miserables!

Old_book_-_Les_Miserables

Just a light read… (Taken from commons.wikimedia.org via Google advanced search filtered by “Free to use, share or modify even commercially”)

Looking back, the extensive reading worked well for me, but I think not as well/effectively as it is now that I’m doing the same thing here in Italy. I’m reading Harry Potter in Italian. I’m an elementary (if that) learner but I know the story and Italian has a lot in common with French, so it’s manageable. (I think with very different languages, it becomes a lot more difficult at elementary level – for example, I tried to read in Indonesian but found that very difficult, though at least it shared the same alphabet with English and had its share of imported vocabulary…) But unlike before, I’m not just reading: I’m reading to learn, I’m reading actively, I’m noticing everything I possibly can about how the language works. I’m comparing and contrasting how it works and the vocabulary with both French and English. I’m also using the English version to help me: I read some of the English version, then read it in Italian. I also do it the other way round, to have a go and then check my understanding.

It’s early days but within a relatively short period of time, my receptive vocabulary has soared and even my productive vocabulary is coming along. I also have a much clearer mental picture of the language. For me, the key to successful extensive reading has been in choice of text and approach.

Ideally the text needs to be enjoyable or motivating in some way:

I’m enjoying Harry Potter in Italian because it’s relaxing, being light-hearted, amusing and easy conceptually, and I’m free to focus on all the new (for me) language contained in it, a lot which, of course, is extensively recycled. I’m motivated by all the new language I’m discovering. Familiarity helps – you’d think it would be boring re-reading things but actually once you let go of reading to find out what happens next, it’s like spending time with an old friend i.e. comfortable and relaxing. I think that relaxation helps the brain be open to new linguistic discoveries. It also lowers as much as possible the cognitive demand of the content, freeing up my brain’s resources for linguistic matters.

In terms of approach:

 Shifting the focus away from “what happens next” to “how does this fit together?” is working well for me so far: noticing and then trying to understand, as well as experimenting with the new language. I find that the descriptive parts are useful for building up my vocabulary and seeing how things fit together, while the dialogue parts provide language to play with and attempt to produce. The experimentation won’t necessarily be at the same time as the reading – it often comes later when I’m walking to or from work, reflecting on what I’ve read most recently and playing with it in my mind. Sometimes that might just be mentally repeating a chunk, sometimes using a chunk as the basis for forming an original sentence of my own. I suppose it is inductive learning – rather than looking at a list of rules, I’m looking at language in action and inferring the way it works from that. I do also refer to my grammar book from time to time, though, to check my hypotheses. Contrary to how it might sound, it’s not a laborious process. And it gets quicker all the time, the more I learn. It’s also, I would say, a fairly autonomous learning process: I’ve chosen what to read, how to approach it (based on what I know should work), how much to read a day (limited by other commitments but little and often seems fine!) etc. I suppose it is also a heavily metacognitive process – I’m very aware of what processes I’m using to read and learn the language, and why I’m using these processes.

Why am I reading like this?

Because during my DELTA and M.A. in ELT, I learnt a lot about how languages are/can be learnt, which I’m now attempting to apply to my own language learning. Reflecting on this, I’m now wondering how I can use my own experience to help my learners a) do more extensive reading (because I really believe it helps) and b) become more autonomous and effective in their extensive reading. (I’m fairly sure that the way I’m doing it now is a lot more effective than the way it was when I first did it in French!) Of course, horses for courses. It won’t work for everyone – does anything? – but the trick is to help those learners find out what does work for them and to help those who it could work for but who haven’t tried it to discover it as an additional learning tool. I think this could be especially helpful for my learners here, who have 1hr20min lessons twice a week and little exposure to English otherwise. (This is why homework and guided study and PSP [Personalised Study Programme]/PSP Speaking  – which all encourage the use of English outside of class – are such an important feature of the courses at the IH here.)

I might start with a little questionnaire to find out what their extensive reading experiences have been up to this point, and take it from there. I’ve been experimenting with Edmodo and class blogs, which has been overwhelming positive (they are very willing!), so by and large they do seem to be the sort of learners who will give anything a go if they think it will benefit them. The motivation to learn is definitely there, it’s a case of harnessing it, or helping them to harness it.  I think helping them develop metacognitive awareness will also be key.

(Of course, extensive listening is another interesting avenue to explore but that for another time!)

Any ideas?

NB: we don’t have sets of graded readers and the school’s little library (a few shelves) is a rather eclectic mix of books! Time is also a factor – it’s racing by. One of my courses finishes in December, the majority  finish in January. My elementary teens and my 11/12 year old mid-level tweens, I have until the end of May (I believe) so a lot more time to play with there… (Though of course what may work for them will be different from what may work for adult learners.)

Please share your stories of trying to get learners to read extensively, both successful and otherwise: let me learn from your experience as well as my own! I’d also be interested to hear about how extensive reading has worked (or otherwise) for you as a language learner…

🙂

Some materials – at last! (Part 2)

I have just added another section of materials to my Materials page!

The materials are some of what I produced for the Materials Development module that I did as part of my M.A. in ELT at Leeds Met. The linked page contains further information and links to the materials themselves. I’d be interested to hear what you think (but understand that this may not be possible until I’ve uploaded the whole of the unit!) 🙂

I have now uploaded the second section of the unit – some reading and language focus – plus teachers’ notes. However, because I haven’t got copyright of the reading text – which is taken from Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man – I have blanked out the text. You could still use the sequence by sourcing the book and pulling out Chapter 14 pages 20-23 from “All right the bell has rung.” to “Just take the story and feel sorry for the kid and the mother with her countenance and, maybe, the dad, and not analyse it to  death.”  This follows on from the speaking section, which I uploaded previously.

Enjoy – and if you use them, please do let me know how it goes by commenting below or on the Materials page…

#ELTChat Summary for 18-09-2013: How can we help learners produce natural talk in everyday, casual conversation?

For anyone who is not yet aware of it: #Eltchat is a Twitter hashtag which offers Twitter-based discussions that take place every Wednesday at 12.00 and 21.00 BST/GMT (when the clocks change). The topics, all related to the ELT industry, are listed on the  #Eltchat website, together with some background reading, a few days in advance of the discussions. The tag #eltchat can also be seen throughout the week as an identifier of all things that might interest those who work in the EFL industry.

On 18.09.2013, the 21.00 BST discussion was on the topic “How can we help learners produce natural talk in everyday casual conversation”. (I was busy finishing my dissertation at the time, so couldn’t take part, but volunteered to do the summary when it was offered on the #ELTChat Facebook page!)

The suggestions were many and varied. (I’ve divided them into categories and expanded abbreviations to make it easier to process!):

Authenticity and Input

  • Authentic materials help a lot!  I use “Real Lives, Real Listening” series a lot. (North Star ELT -now Collins) (@elawassell)
  • I encourage watching soap operas – in English – lots of natural exposure, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea (@elawassell)
  • The thing that needs to be most authentic is the reason for their communication – it has to mean something to them. (@theteacherjames
  • By using listening that contains natural talk rather than ‘model dialogues’ (@Marisa_C)
  • Get involved in social media communication…find real friends to speak English with. (@HanaTicha)
  • Role of input via listening also quite important #eltchat and types of activities which focus on chunks of language (@Marisa_C)
  • Ask sts to repeat what you’ve just said now and then.  See if they’re noticing these natural language chunks. (@ljp2010)
  • Use typescripts etc for them to identify useful chunks. (@Shaunwilden)
  • Teach them discourse analysis i.e. do  conversational analysis – moves, politeness rules, coherence etc (@Marisa_C)
  • Record an authentic conversation on video and use @dotsub to transcribe and share with Ss. Using authentic models are helpful (@ESLhiphop)

Drama

  • Acting out whether playacting (rehearsing) or roleplaying (producing more freely) can help  (@Marisa_C)
  • We’ve been using scenarios for our students..Today is Thurs..your essay should be in by Fri..you are not ready..you have to chat with your tutor.. (@shaznosel)
  • One activity I have used with monolingual classes – act out scenario in L1 then listen in L2 and compare – language/attitudes, style.  Have them prep their improvisations in groups or pairs – act out THEN listen or watch video – it’s fascinating to watch. Often they don’t [end up with similar things] – which is interesting – the cultural element is interesting as this raises awareness of that. (@Marisa_C)  I do something similar by asking students to look at video with no sound and working out conversation from gestures (@Shaunwilden)
  • For freer activities I keep a set of situations which Ss improvise as a skit and class spots roles, setting, relationship etc (@Marisa_C)
  • Drama can include relaxation, trust building and fun, can lead to role-plays and that… with less anxiety (@Marisa_C)

Identity

  • I’ve seen the suggestion that the use of masks can help learners become more uninhibited – they adopt the character of the mask (@pjgallantary)
  • What about props? small things to lend credibility to the new identity?  (@Marisa_C)

Small Talk

  • I think small talk starts with the teacher. It can settle a class and it produces natural language (@SueAnnan)
  • It’s really important to engage students in normal conversations outside of class time, while waiting, break time etc. Helps them relax (@theteacherjames)
  • Finding out about students usually produces natural speech too (@SueAnnan)
  • @sandymillin shared her lesson on #smalltalk here:http://t.co/Yg205gQlGv my Ss found it useful (@Ela_Wassell)

Methodology, Approaches and Techniques 

  • Rehearse and then revisit, all too quickly teachers move on (@Shaunwilden)
  •  How about some good old-fashioned drilling then? (@ljp2010) yes why not? Not necessarily old fashioned but well conducted, snappy oral practice can help a LOT! (@Marisa_C)
  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. ALM is not “stylish” today, but it has its merits (@ESLhiphop)
  • Speaking’s like tennis practice: you need to intensively practice a single stroke, but you also learn by playing games. You need both. (@ESLhiphop)
  • As a variation sometimes you could ask Ss to define the topic and stage manage a CLL lesson where they learn and eventually record new chunks (@Marisa_C)
  • How about getting them to create their own personalised phrasebooks – with functional headings (@Marisa_C) Or a voice memo one should they wish to hear it instead? (ljp2010). Nice idea, phones help with that too as they can record the pronunciation (@Shaunwilden) or make their own recordings on something like Vocaroo and email it to themselves
  • Learning a language again: what sparks our classes are topics we care about, then we make effort even with minimum vocabulary (@annabooklover)

Some potential pitfalls were also identified:

  • When I lived in Brazil, everyone told me watching soap operas was a good way. I’d prefer not to learn the language!! (@theteacherjames)
  • If someone asked me to wear a mask I’d feel about 10x more self conscious! (@theteacherjames)
  • The problem students have with natural talk is ‘performance anxiety’ – in sports parlance, some sudents end up ‘choking’ (@pjgallantary)
  • I think it [new identity] can go too far, e.g. giving Chinese students Western names (@pjgallantary)

Meanwhile emerged some other questions that need to be pondered:

  • It does raise issue of what is ‘identity’ – many students feel like different person when speaking in English. (pjgallantary)
  • Personally I have observed that lack of fluency in any given area is often caused through the teacher’s reluctance to ask students to rehearse (@marisa_c)
  • Do you think teaching language chunks more could help? I think it’s important for fluency (@elawassell)
  • I’m not keen on the new identity, but being forced to temporarily be someone else can be useful (@theteacherjames)
  • But here’s a question: do you feel like a different version of ‘you’ when speaking in different languages? I do! (@pjgallantary)
  • The question is how to scaffold a speaking activity…  (@marisa_c)
  • Does improvisation work that well esp. at lower levels? (@Shaunwilden)
  • Control vs freedom always a worry but teachers need to intervene when needed – either facilitating or providing language needed (@Marisa_C)
  • How do you raise awareness of what is natural and what isn’t? (@Marisa_C)  Aye this is quite tricky, was thinking that listening to people in London today, nothing like we expose students to (@Shaunwilden)
  • Can drama activities help? (@Marisa_C)
  • What do confident,fluent, but not necessarily accurate speakers do that grammatically accurate but reticent speakers don’t? I suspect that confident,but inaccurate,speakers actually don’t give a stuff for the lang. ‘target’ and get lost in the performance (@pjgallantary)
  • How else can one practise a variety of language functions unless some kind or role activity – new ID or self in other contexts? (@Marisa_C)

So plenty of ideas and plenty of food for thought – what more could you ask from an #Eltchat?! 🙂