ACEnglishteacher

All things EFL… A collection of practical ideas, resources for the classroom and thoughts on EFL today

Flip writing


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Flip writing in the EFL classroom

For too many years I’ve been complaining about the standard of my students’ writing, the lack of effort they put into it (some don’t even bother to do it such is their lack of effort!) and the disregard for the personalised comments I painstakingly write on each and every writing task (I teach 12-16 year olds by the way.) I have been known to make clear my resulting feelings of frustration and disappointment quite vociferously, none of which makes for a positive classroom atmosphere…

Enough was enough!   After speaking to my students I came to the conclusion that a lot of them don’t write well in English because:

  • They find it difficult
  • They find some of the topics uninspiring
  • They take shortcuts and don’t follow my “steps to success”
  • They don’t reflect on the writing process
  • They are only interested in knowing their mark

So, how to ensure they find it less difficult, more engaging, follow the
necessary steps, reflect on the task and my comments to get better at writing?  How to set them up for success?

Flip it!

Anyone who read my recent blog post Why flipped learning as got me excited will know that I am as much a newbie to flipped learning as I am an enthusiast.  Since participating in the EVO sessions back in February, I have been trying to incorporate (little by little) flipped learning into my teaching practice and the “writing dilemma” seemed to be a perfect opportunity to try out some flipping… Continue reading

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Creating dialogues using a cooperative learning strategy

Although dialogues in textbooks often include lots of good functional language to practise, the way to practise it can be uninspiring and predictable. cooperative learning strategyUsually students listen to a model dialogue (maybe after completing the gaps with target vocabulary), practise it and then create their own using prompts provided in the text book.

Although my students often found these activities quite dull,  I wanted them to learn the useful functional language, so I started to look for ways to make practising dialogues a bit more meaningful and engaging.  Round about the same time I got seduced by cooperative learning… Continue reading

Google search tipc


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Google like a pro: 12 top tips

Although my digital natives are a dab hand at whatsapping, instagramming, snapchatting… (not facebooking however, that’s just for oldies like me apparently!) some of their other digital skills are pretty basic.

In my blog post Developing digital competence , I looked at The European Framework for digital competence which identifies 5 key areas considered necessary to be a successful digital citizen.  The first one is informationIdentify, locate, retrieve, store and analyse digital information, judging its relevance and purpose.  This is definitely one skill area that my students need to improve in. 

Whilst they are able to eventually locate the information they are looking for, they are not efficient “searchers” and often end up wading through tonnes of irrelevant information and taking far too long. This can be frustrating enough in your own language, but identifying and locating information in a language which isn’t your mother tongue, can be even more so (especially if you have a low level of proficiency.)

Tweaking search terms however, can narrow down the search; saving time and making the task that little bit easier. Introduce students to these simple tweaks to encourage them to become more efficient “searchers” and more competent digital citizens.

Google like a pro (PDF)

 

Calendar


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Using celebrations to engage students

Add dates of “International days” to your calendar and set a notification for a week before.

Using official celebrations are a great way to engage students and discuss topics which might not be covered in your textbook/curriculum. There are plenty of them, from serious topics and recognised International Days to semi serious and downright bizarre worldwide events, festivals and celebrations …

The problem I had, was finding out about them (usually on the day), leaving no time to prepare something for class.  Then, I had the bright idea of adding them as new events to my google calendar and setting a repeat notification for every year one week before the event.  Now I never miss Grammar Day (!?), No selfies Day or Cheese Doodle Day (today!)

For officially recognised International Days check out the United nations International Days page and if you fancy something a bit more light-hearted go to www.daysoftheyear.com (serious stuff too)

Thanks to the notification I received this week (thanks google calendar), I’ll be celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th of March with my students.  

I’ve created a Padlet wall (a great easy to use tool for giving students a voice, see my blog post for more ideas how to use Padlet) for students to post a description of the achievements of a woman they would like to celebrate… (see below)

Looking forward to Chocolate Mousse Day, World Wish Day and No Housework Day next month…;-)

Made with Padlet


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Why flipped learning has got me excited

I’ve been pretty busy lately working on projects and doing courses.   Sometimes (especially when I arrive home from a hard day at school, exhausted and still have 25 essays to correct…) I wonder why I do this to myself, but then I do a course like EVO flipped learning 2017 and remember why.  Somehow, despite the extra hours and lack of sleep, I feel rejuvenated!flipped learning

Every year, there’s always something which interests me in the EVO sessions and it’s often hard to choose.  The flipped learning sessions have caught my eye before but it wasn’t until this year I opted for them.  

Even though, due to other commitments which arose during the course, I couldn’t participate as fully as I would have liked, this course has been a complete game-changer for me.

The terms “flipped classroom” and “flipped learning” have been on my radar for a while now and I’ve always thought it sounded an interesting concept. However, I haven’t known quite enough about it to consider implementing it in class and when I started the course, I soon realised that what I thought I knew wasn’t the whole truth…   

What I thought I knew…

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Tools to engage students and teachers

I’m finally back after an extended Christmas break. I would feel guilty about being neglectful (especially after all my good intentions) if I didn’t have a really good reason for my absence over the past few weeks…bett2017

I’ve been working on an exciting new project to help develop and accelerate learners’ speech and language skills in L2 with @hellochatta and was lucky enough to get invited to #Bett2017 to present it.  

Apart from meeting lots of amazing people involved in education and bumping into a few old faces (very small world,) I picked up some interesting ideas and learnt about some great tools to engage and inspire my students.  

There was so much going on, it was impossible to see everything, however these are some of the things that caught my eye over the four days: Continue reading


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Christmas…time for a song!

merry-christmas-isolatedThe classic, “Do they know it’s Christmas?” provides lots of opportunities for language work,  investigation and discussion.  I have used this song with different levels for different learning outcomes.  This particular lesson is aimed at upper elementary/intermediate teens to:

  • revise/extend christmas vocabulary
  • identify and practise previously taught diphthongs (although they could be introduced at this stage too)
  • research information
  • discuss the message of the song
  • consider some wider global issues

How many sessions you dedicate to this will depend on where students do their research (in class or at home), how you organise the discussion stage (whole class, pairs, groups…) and how much time you want to spend on it, if any.  Depending on your students you may want to make it a bit more light-hearted and not delve into the wider global issues too much.

I tried to make make it more relevant to my students (teens) by incorporating the 30th anniversary version, sung by more recent artists.  However, they did enjoy the original version,  laughing at the fashion and hairstyles and trying to guess the year…

Click on the link below to get the PowerPoint (lesson plan)

Do-they-know-its-christmas

Merry Christmas!