April 27, 2013
This Cambridge University Press VIDEO Moving beyond the plateau devotes 20+ minutes to giving an account of what ‘stuck’ Intermediate learners have to overcome in order to move up to a higher level of competence.
What prevents learners from leaving the ‘plateau’ ?
5 characteristics of the plateau:
- A widening gap between receptive and productive competence
- Fluency is overly dependent on basic grammar – learners sit in their comfort zone
- A limited personal vocabulary will prevent learners from (successfully) engaging in more complex interactions
- Unnatural-sounding English
- Fossilised errors
Watch the video for tips to help address these issues and also hear more about motivation, noticing, the Output Hypothesis, chunks and much more.
The stress-free interactive test lets you review your learning post-presentation.
April 16, 2013
It’s a simple enough game and lends itself to a huge variety of uses in the language classroom. Snakes and Ladders. Here is a picture of the game I quickly devised (about 10 mins) for a Cambridge PET preparation class. I included mainly sentence transformations and two vocabulary brainstorming tasks in this one, which is quite focussed, or you can add much more variety (see below).
First, students played the usual game in groups of four or five, allowing so many more of them to visit and revisit problem sentence transformation areas – present-past-future forms, passive, comparatives, prepositions, linking, contrast, opposites, etc – and some vocabulary brainstorming “Say 10 vocabulary items connected with food” for instance. I monitored closely but made it clear that other group members were the ‘judges’ and could only call on me if they were completely stuck. They were really engaged from the start!
Students create their own materials:
After playing this game, they had a model. So I gave each group a blank game board to go ahead and write a variety of their own sentences, with help from their school book or Pet practice book if necessary but I asked them to change names and places etc.
I also encouraged them to add a variety of tasks , for example: ‘speak for 30 seconds about (your town)’ or ’reading a book is better than watching a film – do you agree?’, ‘speak for 2 minutes about The Broken Window‘ or multiple choice items, etc. What kept them engaged was the communicative goal – writing difficult tasks to challenge the others
Next week they’ll regroup and play each other’s home-made games More fun revision! :D
February 12, 2013
Look at this Infomous Explorer Cloud of the news – snapshot of today:
although it would be inappropriate to hold a debate in a classroom about these two issues (written in larger pitch than the rest), Infomous provides great inspiration for what to get students debating about.
For the general structure of a debate, see BASIC DEBATING SKILLS. You would need to simplify them to fit ELT class time.
Start with several topics, generated from the Infomous image. A pyramid discussion could precede any debate planning – ie each person choose one topic, put people into pairs and each pair chooses one of the two topics. In fours, people choose one topic, and so on until everyone agrees (more or less) on the issue to debate. Any runner-up ideas can be kept for another debating time….