EFL Experiment 1: Help me!

This is the first in what I hope to be a series of EFL experiments where I try to bring great EFL minds together to show what can be accomplished by informal teamwork in the EFL world. And I’m not talking about famous lecturers but YOU the bloggers who are pushing EFL in new directions and developing the industry far quicker than books can keep up with.

So, experiment 1 follows on from what Anthony Gaughan seems to be doing with his Unplugged CELTA course and is directly related to Luke Meddings last talk at iTDI. Both of these EFL thinkers are pointing to the value of peer discussion in TD and reflection which is what Dale Coulter also supports. The idea seems to be that from talking to peers about our lesson(s) courses and being open and sharing ideas as well as reflecting we can develop probably more than via an old fashioned observation and FB. This has long been the backbone of TD in many schools and just tests 1 lesson and doesn’t always help future development. In essence, this is a Friday afternoon in the staffroom discussion amongst friends/colleagues.I hope you join in.

How’s it work?

Procedure

1)I’ll describe how I feel about my new classes and what I think works/doesn’t or just how I feel

2)Please give me your comments/FB/ideas and build on and discuss those of other people

3)At the end (say 1 week)I’ll summarise what I think was really helpful and why

4)An expert(s) will comment (hopefully) on what they think of this approach in comparison to the traditional one.

Let’s begin

My classes

I have 1 private in-company student who I’ve been teaching for a few months and is now about intermediate. I’ve been using Dogme style teaching ie letting conversation evolve into themes and working on grammar via emergent language. I’m happy with it and so is the student but now she wants listenings, role-plays and some readings. So far I have occasionally brought in materials but it hasn’t worked as it disjoints the lesson’s theme/flow. I’m not quite sure how to maintain a student focus and use these outside elements without it turning into an input/material heavy session. As we have 2 hour sessions my student gets pretty tired after doing reading/written/listening work so she’s been happy to do more speaking.

Comments?

43 thoughts on “EFL Experiment 1: Help me!

  1. Hi Phil,
    This is one of those things which I think could be difficult in a Dogme based classroom. How about downloading youtube clips based on topics you’ve talked about in the class? That way you have the listening side of it and you’re using authentic English. For the role plays, you could adopt the roles of people in the videos or spectators to the scene and reenact their reactions/the continuation of the scene.
    Looking forward to seeing what others think.
    Sandy

    • Hi Sandy,

      Videos? I thought of that but my phone is a bit slow so I thought I’d try MP3’s if that goes well then I’ll move onto videos.

      I like the role play ideas and I guess if it’s something very similar to her job (managing a travel company/agency) then even better.

      Cheers

      Pil

  2. Hi Phil
    Two hours seems like a long time for a one-to-one lesson to me – 90 minutes is usually my (and my students’!) max. You don’t really say why she wants reading etc, but I’d guess it’s because she feels she needs more vocabulary input. If so, maybe you could shorten the sessions and give her reading texts to do outside the classroom. That way she could do the heavy lifting in her own time, and the following lesson you could spend time discussing the texts, going into interesting aspects of the vocabulary etc. You could probably do something similar with listening materials – a “first listen” outside lesson time, then, with the ground prepared, a springboard into the fun stuff.
    A bit off-point, but I also find that recording 1-1 students (I use my ipad for this) is really helpful as it means you can playback/correct later, without feeling you have to break up their flow by constant interruptions.
    Great initiative, this, by the way!

    • Hi TimJulian,

      Our standard is 2 hours but add on starting late, break, going over not done homework then it adds up.

      I’m not sure why she wants reading. I think she is gaining in confidence and likes being able to understand things but also probably because she is used to reading as learning.

      Yes, I like the ‘input outside’ but she NEVER does homework as she works a lot and has a family. Same for all my 121’s.

      Recording? I tried it and she just sat there mumbling. How could I get over this stage fright do you think and what specifically would you focus on in FB?

      Cheers.

      Phil

      • Hi Phil
        On overcoming stage fright, not really an issue for me, but this is what I do. I might ask a student to read a text, then rather than “do the comprehension questions” ask her to summarise the main points, make a brief comment etc. I record this, then we play it back. Sometimes I ask the student to pause when he/she spots a mistake, (useful for discovering what they really don’t know) or I may do the pausing myself, trying to comment also on good things, not just mistakes. I’ve noticed, for example, that the notorious “third person s” is often omitted, not because students don’t know the rule, but because they genuinely don’t hear it, or hear its absence, or think they are saying it when they aren’t. (I teach Italians). Same with plural s. Letting them listen to themselves has proved far more effective in helping students in this area than my constant nagging!
        Best
        Tim

        • Hi Tim,

          I like them pausing it and commenting on good examples.

          This could lead to lots of noticing, my student doesn’t know she is adding ‘s’ to everything. I tell her and drill/elicit the correct version but then she reverts back. When I ask her she says “no, I didn’t”. This will definitely help. Very m-learning!

          I’ve had stage fright in classes before. Once about 15 students just sat in front of voicethread and wouldn’t speak. Others started being silly but then really got into it and were VERY happy to listen to themselves and others. Perhaps doing these things in a lab is a bit artificial, at home may be better but most don’t normally do it. I’ll try it after the hols.

          Cheers.

          Phil

  3. Hi Phil. Sounds like a great idea and I’m 100% in!

    I’ve had the same sort of issue to confront lately and I have to say it’s not easy. Firstly I think this has to do with your aims for the classroom. You might want your student to speak and focus on conversation, in which case the both of you are happy, and this creates an energy in the classroom that seems to be killed by the introduction of a text or listening materials. The fact is that sometimes cogs are turning in minds but we’re not speaking… although that’s not to say that neither of you wants to focus on these things, just that the class is more enjoyable for both when you do.Does it disjoint your flow or does it disjoint your student’s?

    My idea: keep texts short and keep them at the start of the class, that way it utilises the energy your student comes in with. The topic can then be used to stimulate lots of great disucssion and conversation, taking the lesson in another direction if necessary.

    Texts don’t have to be long. They can be one paragraph or a couple of minutes of listening. A short text doesn’t mean there’s not a focus involved or the class isn’t productive… although I guess by saying this I’m pretty much preaching to the choir.

    Hope this might have been helpful.

    Dale

    • Cheers Dale

      So far, when I’ve pulled out an activity it’s just the examples are abstract so after a hour discussion/debate/language focus etc on staff retention 10 sentences about random things don’t fit and you’re just doing the grammar for the sake of it. I prefer (many of us do) having REAL conversations about important issues and helping students speak/express themselves better to reach this aim. Grammar is the bridge but not the objective so to speak.

      Short texts, I like it. At the beginning. Would they work in the middle too or at the end like in TBL with the ‘sample task’?

      Hmmmm.There’s also the matter of getting low level REAL tasks and not just TEFL made but that’s a tricky one. Any tips?

  4. I’d go for doing heavier reading/writing tasks at the beginning of sessions, keeping these and any listenings fairly short, bite-size chunks. How about for listening the student listens to an extract from a BBC news podcast and then tells you what she understood of it, followed up by summary or report writing?

    • Hi Mike,

      An ESOL perspective and you seem to agree with Dale.Interesting.

      1 problem. I’m not sure if the BBC listenings are easy enough but would you suggest simplified gist tasks leading to discussion or do you think it’s worth doing detailed/language listening tasks. I don’t want to demotivate her at int level. Any tips for good websites?

      I think (I may be wrong) that you probably teach skills for life, do you think some cultural topics/insights would go down well?

      Cheers mate.

      Phil

      • Hi again Phil,

        Check out elllo.org – an online bank of graded listening resources – you can download as mp3s, they have detail questions and transcripts, some are monologues, but there’s also a number of dialogue or group discussions. (I think you’re right, that detail/language tasks are necessary to unlock the meaning of the words). This might be good for the level. RE Beeb listening resources – perhaps check out the world service podcasts – there are a number specifically aimed at ELLs like 6 Min English http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/6min. This might be more appropriate to set as listening outside class as prep as others have suggested. Does she have an mp3 player? Or iTunes on a computer?

        I’d say cultural stuff would be great, anything that touches on something we can all identify with is always good – food, clothes, special occasions, all good classroom material for discussion or looking at through texts or listenings.

        • Ey up Mike,

          Nice to ave thee back.

          Aha. Yes,I know it. How do you feel about graded/EFL produced listenings though?This is a tough one, I’m trying a VOA one tomorrow which my other student will listen to B4 class and as the lesson is on the phone we’ll discuss it. Some of these sound a bit cheesey though but is that better than a more authentic one students won’t understand?

          I have a mobile so I should be able to download onto that rather than struggle with her old computer.

          Cultural stuff sounds good.

          Cheers

          Phil

  5. Great initiative, Phil. I’d be interested to hear the observers’ conclusions!

    Well, I think sometimes students (and even teachers!) feel a bit guilty having a purely conversation lesson because they just worry that they are not suffering enough…particularly if they come from an academic or Asian background (like myself). Perhaps she wants some readings/listening to convince herself that she’s learning all that she can?
    I think there are some wonderful ideas in the previous 4 comments. Authentic reading texts as homework or listening texts can really spark discussions, as Dale said. Sorry for the shameless plug, but the procedure I describe here is something I use not just with the BBC News Headlines, but also with all kinds of short videos. Depending on the need of your learner, here http://chiasuanchong.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/how-i-use-the-bbc-news-headlines-to-enhance-listening/
    are some examples for authentic listening texts. I like them because they are short enough to be used in a one-to-one classroom…
    1. Dragon’s Den
    2. Business Nightmares
    3. Derren Brown’s Trick of the Mind and Inside Your Mind
    4. Watchdog
    5. Songs and Music Videos (Lady Gaga’s Telephone really got my student and I discussing the use of art direction in the style of Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings and the point that was being made about product placement and consumerism; American Pie got us discussing the history of rock music in America…you get the idea)

    As for writing and reading, how about doing it as homework as Tim suggested? Then reviewing what was done in class?
    BTW, Tim, my one-to-ones are usually 3 hours long…but I’ve once had a 6-hour one-to-one before! ; )

  6. Oh god! The DA is here. Please take it easy on me!!

    Great links but would they be suitable for a 121 in-house business student I wonder.

    Yes, I think you are right that she is happy to see that she can read and now can access this new world of info but also of levelled material that I can introduce. She is amazed everytime I have showed her something in English.

    As I said in one comment, sadly, she never does homework so input has to be in class but I also have to review/revise/consolidate as she doesn’t do it so Dale’s/Mike’s short texts/listenings will work I think.

    I will propose/discuss a list of work/general listenings just to see if she bites. I often have this in that my boss says “do intensive high level business…” but then the student wants to chat about Benny Hill so what do you do? Please the student or the boss?

    6 hours? I used to have 2/3 hour classes in Chinese 121.Brilliant. I took some vocab I was learning and my teacher talked and asked and questions and wrote down new stuff.Fantastic.

  7. It’s completely off on a different topic, but one of my colleagues did desuggestopedia for his experimental practice and we were discussing it in our staffroom the other day (by the way, love my new staff room, it’s a great place for the flow of ideas). The idea of taking on and really acting a different personality in a roleplay, the inclusion of drama in effect, gives it a ‘real’ sort of feeling and makes it less contrived (opportunities for real language to emerge etc). Might try it in the new year…

    Again on the texts idea, I agree with Chia as well using the news. If it’s possible to get any snippets of news then it’s great for class. Two/three minutes, there’s so much information packed in there and there are SO many activities you can do with it, a whole course could be structured on it!

    Another thing I’ve tried lately is taking in L1 newspapers and getting students to read the texts, choose one and tell their partner about it in L2. You could even use just the headlines and ask them to talk about them in English. I guess in this way it’s not a reading activity but provides some base for speaking.

    It’s a shame BBC Iplayer doesn’t work outside of Britain!

    • Nice one Dale.I’ve always liked Drama.

      Snippets.That sounds good, short but sweet to produce maximum effect and just enough that my student will understand.

      Not sure about L1 papers though.I am the only contact and source of English my student has, apart from the odd email or industry notice. She LOVES reading English things when I take them in. We spent 30 minutes once just reading, filling in and discussing a subscription form for ETp as it covered numbers, prices etc. What is the value of using the L1 do you think? Also, the local news isn’t to brilliant and I couldn’t translate it so it may fall flat. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. How about a local news in English text? My friend makes some but they are probably levelled down.

      Logistically, do you think just replaying it on my mobile would work? MP3 would be best as the WIFI may not work/be slow. My student has a computer but it may take ages to log on, find the link etc. Any tips for cutting down on all these problems?

      BBC iplayer? Some sites have BBC content but Youtube seems to be the main place for BBC stuff.

      Both you and Chia support using the BBC, do you think it’s very representative of REAL Britain or a bit ‘stuffy’?

      Many thanks.

      • RE the link issue – you could use something like bitly.com to make short links – if you sign up you can customise the short URL so it could be something like

        bit.ly/philsamazinglisteningtask1 (or something shorter)

        That way it’d be easy to write down/remember the links so you don’t need to faff when using your student’s computer. Da DAAAHH!!

        • Short links.Nice. I tried doing a google doc/folder to save all out ‘lesson summaries’ and a blog but my student can’t get to grips with them. Actually, she prints out everything.Very non-techie but I can sort of understand as my students spend all day on computers.

          Like the link name. I will try it.

          I’m thinking of doing a Posterous page for another student so he/I can post stuff easily. It seems to be quite idiot proof or am I wrong?

          Cheers.

          Phil

          • I never understood why people recommend Posterous for beginners. I wouldn’t. People may slag me off, but I actually find blogger the most user-friendly among those I’ve tried, although I’m not sure of the new changes; like most changes, they may not be for the better…

            • Yes, Blogger is great and V simple. WordPress has too many things.I tried Wibbly and that seems simple too. The changes confused me for a bit too.

              I just thought the email feature might be helpful, especially as it would mean my students could add links VERY easily. Me too. I’ll have a think about it. For my CEO student he’s sending me PPTs and choosing online listenings so having a blog with them on should be easy for both of us and then I could add my FB after the link.

              • In spite of having two WordPress blogs, I actually don’t like it much. I hate the fact that it frowns on iframes, and being a stickler in spacing formats, I hate having to spend too much time on getting it to display space lines the way I want it to. And each time changes are made, it goes havoc again!

                • I agree. I have a couple but still can’t change font size. The first time I saw it I thought NO chance.I thought I’d give this a try but everyone else seems to have cool themes.I spent ages looking at them but can’t seem to find one right.Blogger is far easier.I like Tumblr too as it is click, write, post.Simple but just for posting. Here’s my latest post:

                  http://alternativeefltasks.tumblr.com/

                  A model ‘student notebook/learning journal’ blog:

                  http://learnerblog.tumblr.com/

                  • Yes, I’ve seen your tumblers. Tumblr may be a bit too basic for me perhaps. The ideal may be a cross between Blogger & WordPress 😉
                    As regards font and the rest, a bit more knowledge of html helps. If you don’t know much html, you can always do a post in Blogger, & copy the html to WordPress, and voila!

                    • Aha.But it would just be so much easier to have a font size option, wouldn’t it?They seem to sell different font options here.Sneaky.Nothing is ever free.Either they hook you with something then start charging and you have to map for all the extras.

                    • Of course, we all know that, don’t we? Just as we know that surely it shouldn’t be difficult to put a space line where you want it.
                      Also, in any case, though I’ve never looked into it, WordPress can import from a Word Document . did you know that? Perhaps it may suit you to write it in doc and paste it in WordPress and see what you get?
                      Now, why is it that I always look at WordPress as the ‘Apple’ of blogging platforms?

                    • Yep.A pain.I have issues with blogger and line breaks and differences between the preview and the real post.

                      Yes, WordPress is the Edublogger’s Apple.It’s not ‘idiot proof’ enough for me.

  8. My advice would be to think about what she’s going to be listening to during her work day and construct activities around that.

    If she’s going to attend meetings, a lot of what she’ll be doing will be asking questions, so focusing on question forms that will elicit the information she is seeking.

    She will probably need to ask questions for clarification: ‘Could you repeat that?’, ‘When do you think that will happen?’, etc.

    The same goes for presentations: in most cases she will need to ask questions to clarify content. Given that it is quite rude to interrupt someone during a presentation, you could get her to work on noting down questions that she can then ask at the end: ‘You mentioned ‘point X’ earlier. Could you clarify that?’, etc.

    There are meeting scenarios on YouTube that you could utilise, such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29BZ3RDsKgo&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS4KmZaIEE0&feature=related

    • Hi Adam,

      I like it.I’ve started spying and enquiring about daily/week routines so I have a pretty good idea of what she does.

      Learning everything in English will be good and she has asked for roleplays so maybe watching/recording one in the L1 and then recreating in English will be good. The cultural differences will be fascinating. I’d like to show/test her too so I may send my parents in who only speak English and ask them to make enquiries about holidays. This should be good practice and show her what she has learned.

      Cheers for the link.I’ll take a look now.

      Do you have a link for good functional language? Conversation gambits is probably still useful.

      Cheers.

      Phil

  9. Stuffy? The BBC? Never!! No seriously though, I use the news (thanks to Chia) and I’ve never found it stuffy… in fact it provides a good basis for discussion, especially on the differences of what’s in the news in different countries.

    As for L1 newspapers. The headline creates a link between the student the topic and activates a lot of pre-existing knowledge. While it’s not a reading activity, it can be used as a basis for discucssion in L2 like ‘make a summary of what’s in the news in your country for a foreign person’ or to practise using turn-taking devices to enter the conversation or topic-shift. If your students need to translate in their jobs it also can work well for translation, which is something I’ve also worked on. Or, simply, you can ask your student to select three headlines of interest and tell you about them in English – very accessible for lower levels as.

    As far as L1 goes, I have no complex about using it as a constructive resource in class. If it’s purpose is to generate ideas then it’s fine, if it’s to practise a skill, I’m not sure how it would work with L1 newspapers. On top of that there’s a whole world of contrastive analysis and features of texts that could raise awareness of sentence structure and use of lexis, modification of nouns… depends on the level. I ask one of my private students to find a text in Italian and summarise it in English, picking out the key points and then looking at the differences in text structure and journalistic style in English and Italian (the guy is an aspiring journalist).

    Any device you can use to take media into the classroom, there’s a whole world of things you can use: working on listening micro-skills like segmentation or working on summarising opinions. With the right amount of support it can work at any level.

    • OK. I’ll try the BBC first. Would you advise using another source with a different political stance or even a tabloid?

      Like the headlines idea but I think if I ask her to write/speak about her area it will end up as “what is…in English?” and I like to avoid that as I want her to think English.

      We tried a translate retranslate activity in my last job and it didn’t work as nobody could see the point but I think it was because we teacher couldn’t exploit the differences enough. I definitely think looking at different present/past tenses is worth it though as they aren’t the same in French.

      I like the micro skills idea.Start from the basics and build up.

      Nice one Dale Senior teacher.

  10. I’d ask her to bring in ideas for her own listening and reading contexts – What type of situations she needs to use listening skills for and what types of readings she would often do in her business. That keeps the student-focus, even if you then are inspired by what she says and find materials to use – Let’s face it, students aren’t trained to find quality materials for themselves. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t have jobs.

    I’d start with either a reading or listening early on. Then develop that into a speaking situation to end with.

    • As I said to David, the only things she is exposed to in English are strange online notices about fares and reimbursements. I think there is a book of them somewhere but nobody really (they won’t admit it) has a clue what they mean.

      So, you think I should use this at the start and dissect/mine/analyse it? I like that but I often get stuck when/if it’s complicated like last week ‘inbound departure vs outbound departure’. Do you think it’s too demanding to ask for these far ahead of the classes? Another student sends me very confidential PPTs which I really shouldn’t have but he wants to talk about them.

      Cheers Tyson.

      Phil

        • Yes, I hope.Another student sent me a text with a link which seems very cool.

          I’m more than acquainted with “oh, please explain all this…” but what can you do? Or when you’ve given HW and you turn up but NOBODY did/read it.

          121 inhouse is very different as I seem to be more an employee and have to follow the line so if the student is late or has to stop or finish early then so be it. I also can’t make demands about HW/Out-of-class study and also if the class is too tough they could even drop out.Very fine line between challenging and tough. It’s all business business..

          Any tips?

          Cheers Tyson.

  11. What if you had your student give you a reading selection of her choice in advance of your lesson. Then you can “disect” it, build some vocabulary activities around it, comprehension questions, simplify, etc. At least it follows the student’s interests. Or give her a few readings from which to choose. This reading would then dictate the next theme/flow. This gives you some time to supplement an authentic text with the scaffolding an intermediate learner requires

    While you are preparing the text, ask your student to highlight grammatical structures that you have introduced in the text. Review reading strategies and strive toward a written or oral summary of the text (or paraphrasing) — or outlining/note-taking.

    I don’t think it is necessary that all your lessons relate seamlessly. For example, spend one hour on your regular lessons and then shift to the reading in the second hour. This might prevent burnout.

    Also, if the two-hour classes are becoming a challenge, bring a friend to the class and have a conversation hour. You could prepare the native speaker with a list of questions/topics that your student would be able to discuss. Additionally, you could have the visitor read the same text selected above and your student and friend could discuss the reading. You would facilitate the discussion. I think is important that your student have the opportunity to negotiate meaning with someone beside you!

    • I like that and it just so happens….she said she’d like help understanding these ‘online notices’ about fares and penalties so doing one each lesson might be interesting and v helpful.Great idea!

      Yes, shifting.That will keep things fresh. I like having segments or mini-lessons rather than a full 2 hour one.

      A friend? I am one of only about 3/4 English natives here so it may be tricky but I found an English corner I advised all my students go to. Do you think it’s a good idea? Being in the ‘private language game’ there’s always that worry of losing clients.

      How about phone calls? I could get her to call English speaking places like other airline companies and ask for info etc??

      Cheers David

      Phil

  12. Hi Phil,

    I’d go along with Tyson’s suggestion and encourage the student to find her own texts and/or listening snippets (although obviously her intermediate level might make this difficult at first). With 1-2-1 students I’ve had in the past, I’ve asked them to find news stories either by browsing websites or trying to find an English version of a something in the news that got their interest. On ocassions when the students has had trouble finding suitable stuff, I have emailed articles, youtbe clips and other links to them between lessons and asked them to read or view it before the next meeting.

    I have also recently started a 1-2-1 class for the first time in a while and it has been mainly conversation-based so far. I record notes as we talk and give lesson summaries to the student each week (and I will now pinch Tim Julian’s idea of recording and playing back parts of the lesson ;)). I generally have my laptop to hand during our sessions and we sometimes search for suitable articles or video clips as and when we get into the conversation. I find this is also good training for getting the student to select his/her own materials later on.

    Dave

    • Hi Dave,

      Yes, he has a good point. I just did a phone lesson based on a listening my student chose and it worked very well, lots to talk about and argue over.

      Ah, so maybe having a blog/page with English sources could work. I tried http://www.newsvine.com/ last year but students didn’t keep up with it. In a dream class Twitter and PaperLi should work for students pooling stories but I haven’t met one of those classes.Ever!

      So you use your laptop in the 121? Aha. I do the same in group classes but am scared of spending too much time hiding behind it. It is fantastic to project pictures/images though that come up, far better than describing them. Is your laptop big enough or do you use a projector? Do you send links of what you have used/shown?

      Cheers.

      Phil

  13. Gee, it took me 4 days to get here and I see 30 comments! Me ol’ bones can’t keep up.
    I have a 1-2-1 class as you’ve probably realised from The Dogme Diaries, so, let me think…

    Have you seen my Useful Resources page? There are some links to listening sources.

    I use the BBC, too and the days of “stuffiness” is long gone, Phil. BBC is trendy! 😉
    You know, if you can find the same story from different sources, it makes for interesting comparison, e.g. how tabloids use more phrasal verbs and idioms than “serious” sources, i.e. formal vs informal language.

    But, let’s go back to your initial questions. Listening? What does she need? What’s her area of business? Like others before have said, I tend to do this at the start, and use it as a springboard for conversation, etc. Not dogme? Who says so? Who cares? In any case, I’m not one for labels, I use the holistic approach…oops…that’s a label?

    It doesn’t necessarily have to do with business either; it could do with a previous lesson/conversation… I’ve used videos of wind turbines, extreme marathon runners, and nasty mothers-in-law. All connected, right? 😉

    Connection? I have no connection in-house (well, there is, but I have no access – no need for me to get into that here). I download it. If you can’t or don’t want to or won’t, just record the audio – you can use Audacity.

    Readings? Much the same, I’d say, although I don’t do much of this, nor do I do much of listening, to be honest! If anything is too long, extract the parts you like, or do it in chunks.

    Have I contributed?

    Wifey’s gonna start screaming soon, housework, cooking (incidentally, I have a fry-up post in the pipeline, I think…) and whatnot… 3/4 native speakers I see you mentioned…you think someone will employ me in La Reunión?

    • Yes, I’ve been inspired by much of your work.As many have.

      OK. The BBC is cool but I recall doing tours in their press offices and it was quite clear what side of the political fence they were on and how many stories they disregard on this basis. So, I like your idea of contrastive news, for language and cultural learning.

      Well, she only really needs to understand the odd industry notice about fare rules so I think she’s interested in listening so she can do more roleplay style activities and to listen to different people besides me. To be honest, she doesn’t really need/want an English class but someone upstairs bought her one, 70 hours in total.Oh, she manages a tourist group travel agency.

      Listening at the start. Seems quite traditional but doing it later on may risk not fitting in.Hmmm

      Non-business listening.Actually, I think she’d love that but whether my boss and her boss would approve is another matter. We talked about her wedding once for ages and she loved it. OK. I’ll download MP3 I think.

      Yes, I think people are in agreement about short readings so maybe tourist brochures, news about travel industry, customer care etc. I also like not just doing texts but email extracts, presentation clips, customer feedback comments and basically anything which is a common written form for reading. I mean, how many people sit and read FULL articles?

      Wife? Oh yes, she’s calling me to the table.Employ here? Well, when I get enough work to answer that question you’ll be the first to know. I think it would be a definite shock to most people as there are many places that are pretty undeveloped due to the heavy African immigrants and also rural traditional Creole life. All an adventure.

  14. Pingback: EFL Experiments 1: Help me! | EFL thoughts and reflections | Motivation through project-based learning | Scoop.it

  15. Hi Phil, as promised, a few thoughts on how to work on listening in a meaning full way with also focusing on language. Here is what I wrote in one of my papers for my MA:

    In a ‘regular’ task progression, students first communicate in pairs or in small groups and then share those same ideas with the rest of the class during the task phase. In one-to-one, because the teacher is the only other possible interlocutor this model must be adapted to ensure focus on meaning in both the discussion step and the report step. One way to do this is to exchange meanings and opinions during the first part of the task phase. Then, either at home, or during a short 5-to-10-minute planning stage, have the student read or listen to an additional text on the same topic. The introduction of the text renews the ‘gap’ within the T-S pair because the teacher does not know how the student will incorporate the ideas from the text into his/her original message.

    I’ll send you an example of what I mean by email and then post it on my blog a littel later.

    • Awww. You say the nicest things. How much do I owe you? A virtual drink maybe?

      I like the ‘listen at home’ bit and then working on meanings before and also having and additional text/listening.

      So far one of my phone students has been very happy to choose an MP3 and listen to at home. In fact, I can tell he’s listened quite a lot, taken meaning, language and developed ideas. This is far more than doing gist/detailed tasks in class would create. Better than that though he enjoys listening to something he chooses and drives/flies to meetings with the MP3’s.

      I would like to follow our discussions with another listening but we don’t have the time. I think it would be good to have a combination of reading/listening.

      Cheers and I, like many people, look forward to more great posts in 2012.

      Phil

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