One of the most common pieces of advice a teacher will give to a student wanting to improve their listening (and quite possibly their vocabulary) is to “watch films in English.” It seems like a sensible enough suggestion on the surface. After all, it couldn’t do any harm could it? But perhaps the question is: Does simply watching films in English translate into any real improvement in listening and vocabulary, or does it perhaps require a bit more effort than that?
My own experience of learning Spanish tells me that watching films or television is indeed extremely helpful, but I also remember that most of the time I spent in front of the TV in my first months in Spain was spent in the company of the family I lived with. I could easily ask them questions to check the meaning of words or concepts and instantly check their reactions to what was happening on the screen to see if I was following the thread. In short, I had something very similar to teachers on hand.
So, what tips can we give our students to get the most out of their viewing? How can they make time often spent alone in front of the TV less passive, and actively take control of their learning on their own? Here are a few tips:
There are many ingredients to good pronunciation in English. In my last post on the subject I focused on individual, discrete sounds and their importance for our learners, but the thing that strikes me most when I hear a non-native speaker of English with good pronunciation is the rhythm and overall delivery of the chunks of language they use, not individual words per se. As a native speaker, if I hear a familiar pattern my ear can naturally pick out information which is being packaged in a way that makes sense to me. If some of the individual sounds are difficult to discern this is unlikely to affect my understanding to any great degree.
The importance of stress-timing
And I’m being quite literal when I talk about packaging language into meaningful chunks. Let’s see why this is and why one of the most important things we can do to help our students with pronunciation is to draw their attention to the phenomenon of stress-timing. Here’s a nice activity someone showed me years ago to introduce this at the beginning of a course. I don’t remember who exactly (my apologies) but I’ve never forgotten it.
In a previous post, we pointed out 5 common errors Spanish speakers make in English. We also stated that errors could be ignored if they are not impeding communication. However, there are times when error correction exercises are needed for the students to make progress in the language. Here are five top tips for dealing with common errors that will help your students to 1) become aware of their own mistakes and 2) make them responsible for their own learning. Continue reading →
We all want our students to become more independent and responsible for their learning, but this won’t happen without the right support. Enter assessment for learning! As opposed to assessment of learning (think end of term exams, categorisation of students, awarding a number), assessment for learning sees learning as a journey: what does my student know, where are they going, what do they need to get there? Let’s look at three simple ways that good teachers employ assessment for learning.
‘Twas the class before Christmas and all through the school all the teachers were searching for something to do!
Sound like a familiar situation? Your students have their work completed and exams taken. Holidays are just around the corner and you need one more lesson to send them off on a positive note. Well look no further.
In the true spirit of giving and the holiday season the Pearson Teacher Training Team for Spain and Portugal have come up with a few ideas that will put a smile on your students’ faces and save you some time so you can maybe get in a just a little more holiday shopping to boot.
These varied and enjoyable Christmas activities designed for adult and teen learners of English are the focus of our Christmas Webinars (slides available here) which are taking place this week. They can be easily adapted for different levels or mixed, matched and changed to your liking or particular needs. So have a look at the menu below, click on each title, download what you like and go into class ready to get your students into the holiday spirit!
Ghosts, witches, black cats, haunted houses… Despite the creepy flavour of these terms, I’ve always liked Halloween: 31st of October, the spookiest day of the year, as it is said to be. As teachers, many of us celebrate this autumn festivity by decorating our classrooms with spider-webs, skeletons, bats, etc., and by asking our students to dress up as ghosts, witches or werewolves.
We have already talked about some Halloween activities that your primary students will love, but there is also a wealth of activities out there for teenagers. Just type “Halloween activities for teens” in your internet browser and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Is this just another blog post with a compilation of links? No, it isn’t. Here you will find practical teaching ideas, which require little preparation time. Continue reading →
Not only do word clouds look pretty, there are also a number of ways they can be used in the ELT classroom to help our students learn. In this post we’re going to be looking at how.
Now, there are lots of word cloud generators out there such as wordle and tagxedo. However, not all these tools were created equal: there are word clouds and then there are word clouds! One which really caught my eye recently is Wordsift, created by Kenji Hakuta of Stanford University.
What’s the basic premise of a word cloud? Well, it’s an image made up of the words used in a text with the size of each word indicating its frequency in the text it was drawn from. A quick glance at the word cloud on the right reveals that ‘freedom’ is the most common word in the text and you can probably guess which famous speech these words come from. Word clouds are quick to make: copy the text, paste it into the generator and let the program do the rest. Continue reading →
Are you teaching a B2 exam course? Find yourself falling into the same old exam practice routine?
Would you like to know how to make cooperative learning work in your Primary classroom?
Do you need fresh ideas on to use video in your English classes?
If your answer is yes, join us in October for two weeks of Professional Development webinars presented by our teacher trainers: Brian Engquist, Elena Merino and Michael Brand, who will share with you new ideas, activities, tips, tools and tasks to spice up your lessons! Continue reading →
It’s always a good time for your students to tell you about their summer holidays.
Many of us will probably be covering the Past Simple at some stage in the first term before Christmas, so why not combine this with something your students really want to talk about. You’ll always get a response from teenagers when they have the chance to express their own personal experiences and feelings and what better opportunity than to talk about their own holidays. Of course a discussion about one’s summer holiday can be over in a flash, so it is important to harness this personal experience and turn it into a learning opportunity by creating a product which can be shared with the rest of the class.
Here are 5 ways you can harness your students’ holiday experiences in class:Continue reading →