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The Teach-Off – Student Questionnaire Findings

A Teach-Off-less classroom
Photo by Shelly Terrell

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The Teach-Off feels like something that happened a decade ago.

As intense as it was when it was taking place, the end of it has suddenly left a gap in my life.

But yet, it has far from ended. For now, the fun begins…

It has taken some time for me to compile these results (thank you for your patience) and in the spirit of full disclosure, here are the answers to the questionnaires that we carried out.

I have left out the description and the rationale behind the research methodology (which will be published in an article elsewhere), but suffice to say that this piece of research is purely qualitative and seeks to obtain as full a description of experiences and perceptions of their Dogme and coursebook-based lessons as possible.

I have also avoided drawing any conclusions as yet because I was hoping that you the reader might formulate your own conclusions as you read this. If so, please do contribute in the comments section.


The following student questionnaire was given out to students twice. Once at the end of 2 weeks of Dogme lessons, and again at the end of two weeks of the Coursebook-based lessons.

…………………………………………………………………..Yes                                       No

1

2

3

4

5

1. The course was well-organised.
2. The teacher was well-prepared.
3. The topics were interesting.
4. The language covered was useful and easy to    understand.
5. I felt motivated to learn and to speak English.
6. I learned a lot of new things on this course.
7. I am happy with the progress I made in this course.

There were 9 respondents to the 2 weeks of Dogme lessons, and 10 respondents to the 2 weeks of coursebook lessons. 2 out of the 10 were new students that were not present during the Dogme phase.

Although these numbers are not enough for the qualitative data to be in any way statistically reliable, here are the answers to the above questionnaire.

Remembering that (1) is the extreme end of ‘yes’ and (5) the extreme end of ‘no’:

Questions

Dogme

Coursebook

1. The course was well-organised. 6/9  answered (1)

3/9 answered (2)

4/10 answered (1)

5/10 answered (2)

1/10 answered (3)

2. The teacher was well-prepared. 9/9 answered (1) 8/10 answered (1)

2/10 answered (2)

3. The topics were interesting. 7/9 answered (1)

1/9 answered (2)

1/9 answered (3)

5/10 answered (1)

2/10 answered (2)

3/10 answered (3)

4. The language covered was useful and easy to understand. 7/9 answered (1)

2/9 answered (2)

3/10 answered (1)

5/10 answered (2)

1/10 answered (3)

1/10 left it blank

5. I felt motivated to learn and to speak English. 6/9 answered (1)

3/9 answered (2)

6/10 answered (1)

2/10 answered (2)

2/10 answered (3)

6. I learned a lot of new things on this course. 7/9 answered (1)

2/9 answered (2)

7/10 answered (1)

3/10 answered (2)

7. I am happy with the progress I made in this course. 7/9 answered (1)

2/9 answered (2)

6/10 answered (1)

3/10 answered (2)

1/10 answered (3)

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More importantly, the qualitative data from the comments that students wrote to the questions provided a more in depth description of how they perceived their experience with both Dogme and the coursebook.

What did you like best about this course?  

Dogme

Coursebook

‘I like discussions with my partner. I don’t like to speak English. But I had a good opportunity to speak and explain something.’

‘Probably I’m increased vocab and speaking, and all English skill.’

‘I always study like a game, specially vocabulary. It’s really interesting and makes me fun.’

‘I learned a useful words and grammars.’

‘I liked the dynamic of the course, the activities that were applicated in practice.’

‘The way to improve my listening the conten and vocabulary revise with white boards.’

‘My teacher teach us like a game. Teachs me many vocabulary that I need in out real life. My teacher give me confidence to speak English.’

‘To listen about Tesco many times (until we all understood).’

‘I learned a lot of many useful vocabularies.’

‘I could get various experiences. Speaking skill is increased.’

‘The kind of teach, the patience and security to teach from the teachers’

‘The book has good topics and difficult things.’

‘To learn things that I can use in my professional life, expressions, etc.’

‘I’ve learned that I don’t have interest things. For example: political things, etc…’

‘Ms Varinder is so nice. Speaking clearly, beautifully. And I met many friends from different countries, that was very good experience for me.’‘To use coursebook is more organised than not to use it. I can review using the course book.’

‘It teaches us more grammar.’

‘The teacher’s teaching style is really engaging for the whole group of people, it leads students to interact with each other and with the teacher herself.’

‘Varinder teach me what a fun, what a happy read a book in this class. It’s my best happy things.’

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How was it different from your previous learning experience?  

Dogme

Coursebook

‘In Japan, we had never speaked in English. I don’t know the reason. At first, I was surprised. I didn’t know what happened every lessons. But it’s very good.’

‘Previous class was not interesting. Chia’s teaching is participate in class.’

‘When use the textbook, I take a time to solve the question. But you don’t use it, so always thinking about something in English.’

‘Previous course was strict. Only books.’‘A course without a script motivated me to study at home and learn more out of the school ambiance.’‘It’s more dynamic and our lesson make me more interested.’

‘In my previous learning experiences, I learnt something but I forgot them very soon.’

‘In Japan, never speak each other. Never make sentence. Never listen. Never had a teacher as friendly as you. Never as beautiful as you.’

‘The teaching was different, more bored. This was more fun and interactive.’

‘We’ve had two teachers. First I confused to learn to two ones. But they have a different talent. I’ve got a pleasing result.’

‘The school have a professional staff and this is enough for all the students improve the language. For me, the time spended here was perfect because, generally, I’ve spend just 3 hours/week in English classes in my country.’

‘Not so different, we have a book and we follow that.’

‘We followed a script on the book, but make different activities during the course.’

‘Everything! I usually study English with text book and remember vocabulary and do exam many times. I think it’s just for the score of exam.’

‘In my previous, in Japan, most important thing was grammar, but I thought hearing is the best way to learn English.’

‘To use course book is difficult for me. Many topics doesn’t familiar with me.’

‘It is better than my previous learning.’

‘Even though the class teamwork is extremely interactive, it is not competitive at all. Instead, it gives you the opportunity to get to know other nationalities people which have got lots of different accents.’

‘In Japan, there was not speaking, hearing, game… It’s a pain.’

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The following question might have not been understood by some of the students and judging by some of their answers, some might have interpreted the question to mean, ‘What did your teacher do to help you learn more?’

What do you think the teacher could do differently to help you learn more?  

Dogme

Coursebook

‘I think your teaching style is very nice. I had to speak somebody and listen to your speaking. I learned lots of things from you.’

‘Limited time. I learned a lot of vocabulary.’‘I think teacher was ready to answer any questions that I asked to her. So, she looked happy every day!’

‘More listening!’

‘I have no idea.’‘She teach how study more things.’

‘Maybe show more video for listening.’

‘I think, it’s good way. I can feel that they try to teach.’

‘In this case…nothing…she works very well.’

‘More dynamic. Maybe the book limit me to learn many thing and the class can’t be more dynamic.’

‘Use different resources, like video, audio, motivate us to watch/listen TV and radio programmes, etc.’

‘I think we can know more. If you use ‘for example’ when explain some vocabulary or sentence. It’s my opinion.’

‘I can’t understand this question, I’m sorry. How do I say that? Anyway, I’m satisfied with this class and my teacher.’

‘I think it was interesting. But it confused me.’

‘She is very good teacher. Very kind.’

‘She should check the homework.’

‘It is necessary to change teachers and method if we have to maintain the standard of teaching. I want to study more grammar.’

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It seems as if many of the response to the following question after the ‘coursebook phase’ of the course were directed either at both teachers, or focused on the communicative element of the teaching methodology, rather than the ‘coursebook’ element of the course.

Please write a few comments on how you feel about this style of lesson.

Dogme

Coursebook

‘I appreciate for your lesson. I understood how to learn Engish. I  must study to watch dramas, and speak more in English. Thanks very much. I’m looking forward to see you next week.’

‘I really like her teaching style, really!’‘Nothing special.’

‘The topic every day changed. Course was flexible. But sometimes I can’t learned deeply.’

‘Nowadays, I think that some methods of learn can be revised. This is the only way to make the students of the ‘new generation’ feel motivated to learn and study English at the class or at home.’

‘I think this is a good way to learn but when you are not in the same level as your colleagues, you learn the same things you’ve have been learned.’

‘I am very happy in this style.’

‘It’s interesting. It motivates me a lot. You are the first person that taught me how to study. The lesson about Tesco was interesting for me.’

‘I think is very interesting and not bored. More interactive with the student.’

‘I’m really lucky. I used to change teacher, when I thought that he wasn’t helpful. But two teachers very satisfied. Thank you.’

‘I really happy with I’ve found here. My expectative was less than the things I got. I believe that I’ll be back. Congratulations!!’

‘This style has been teaching for a long time and of course that is work. But nowadays we live in a very different world, maybe try a new style is good and we need to use the technology as an advantage. Many teachers don’t use the interactive board.’

‘I think that this style of lesson is interesting when is combinated with another kind of teaching, with interactive activities, speaking and writing activities in group or individual, etc.’

‘In IH, teachers teach me the way of English to use in our life. More comfortable and also for business. In my country, they teached me how to get a score in exam, it’s terrible. I impressed by you.’

‘I feel this style is exciting. If I tried other styled, I always thought with my mother tongue, but here I couldn’t. It’s the best way to understand English.’

‘Teaching style changed every 2 weeks. It confused me. But I think I could have a good opportunity to study English.’

‘It’s good style but the book can be more interesting with more interesting topic and subject.’

‘Although occasionally, it is difficult to follow what is happening in the lesson, it is without any doubts really engaging and put students in a comfortable atmosphere as soon as the start of the course. She encourages students to ‘dive in’ without being worried or afraid of making mistakes.’

‘With book. I love. For me it’s…easy study English if there is book. If there is book, one can maintain a continuation of teaching. One can maintain the quality and the standards. On the whole, I like the book, but I like the improvised class too. It’s very fun. I want to be give more handouts about grammar. Vocabulary I can study in Japan. I love it!’

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From the answers to those questions, it seems that although it is easy to compare the maverick Dogme lesson to the learners’ previous learning experiences and for them to comment on this methodology and style of learning, the same questions asked regarding a coursebook lesson might get less-focused answers since the use of course books might not necessarily be anything new for the students. Thus, many answers tended to be about the teaching style and the communicative approach to teaching.

In order to get students comparing the two methods in a more focused way, we gave out another questionnaire, encouraging a comparative analysis.

There were 7 respondents, all of whom were present for both the Dogme and the coursebook phases. If you find that the total for any of the questions do not add up to 7, it is due to some questions not being answered.

Here are the results.

.1. I was more motivated to learn in the lessons…
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(a) Using the coursebook  1/7

‘Because I think Dogme method make me more confidence that I can speak English good.’

(I suspect this student misunderstood the question)

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(b) Without the coursebook  3/7

‘Because the teacher could feel what was more important in that moment.’

‘For Japanese, we learn many grammar and writing. I think without the coursebook has a lot of chance to speak.’

‘I am more motivated without the book. Because teacher give interesting things.’

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(c) It depends 3/7

‘It depends of the theme that we talked about in the class: If I’m interested, I think it doesn’t matter.’

‘I think that people who want to go to university or work in the English speaking countries, they need to study English using coursebook and the grammar associated with each of the topics. I thought Dogme style teaching is good because it is more fluid and closes the gap.’

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.2. I had more chances to speak and practise my English…

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(a) using the coursebook 0/7

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(b) without the coursebook 6/7

‘Because in Dogme method, I should push myself to speak in English so I try to use everything that I learned before.’

‘Because I could talk about things that I find more interesting.’

‘Using the coursebook is focused on grammar and writing.’

‘Until now, all the time I have been bound to the coursebook when I studied, so I’m interested in not using one.’

‘Because I could ask when I want. I could speak when I want.’

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(c) It depends 1/7

‘It also depends of sometimes one method can instigate you more than the other.’

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.3. I listen to the other students in the class more when…

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(a) using the coursebook 0/7

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(b) without the coursebook  4/7‘Because in Dogme, there is a challenge so all student try to speak.’

‘The teacher gave more opportunity because she didn’t have script.’

‘I think that course book makes the conversation difficult, because to follow a script.’

‘Because I could ask when I want. I could speak when I want.’

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(c) It depends 2/7‘For Japanese, Dogme is the best way to study English. But people who come from other country, they want to learn another things’ (respondent is Japanese)

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.4. I was more interested in the topics when…

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(a) using the coursebook 1/7

I think that there are topics that I don’t want to learn but I need to learn them, so I should be forced to do it.’

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(b) without the coursebook 4/7

‘Because I think the topics in Dogme method are more real. So I can use them in my life.’

‘Dogme use daily conversation.’

‘Chia could give us things that was interesting for us.’

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(c) It depends  2/7

‘Sometimes in Dogme, we learn just things that we are interestd and with course book we must learn things that sometimes are boring but it is necessary like in real life we must learn thing that we don’t want.’

‘It depends on the theme.’

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5. Conversations were more like real life conversations when…

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(a) using the coursebook 1/7

‘A lot of chance to speak English.’

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(b) without the coursebook 6/7

‘The book has things like ??? that we don’t talk about every day.’

‘Using the course book you are not instigated to learn how to speak in real life, expressions, etc.’

‘The teacher is always thinking of the students. Once we have a course book, there is too much time to think alone.’

‘Everyone speaks about real things.’

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(c) It depends 0/7

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6. The lexis/vocabulary I learnt was more useful for me when…

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(a) using the coursebook 0/7

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(b) without the coursebook 4/7

‘Because the vocabulary is used with our daily life but the vocabulary on course it’s necessary as well.’

‘Using the coursebook isn’t familiar with me.’

‘When not using the coursebook, we study more vocabulary.’

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(c) It depends 3/7

‘Both methods helped me when it was necessary.’

‘For technical words, the coursebook is useful. For daily conversations and general vocabulary and phrases, Dogme is better.’

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7. The grammar I learnt was more useful for me when…

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(a) using the coursebook 3/7

‘Within grammar, especially the tenses are easier to study when using course book.’‘I don’t know why.’

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(b) without the coursebook 0/7.
(c) It depends 4/7

‘In using the coursebook I learn more grammar. But dogme method can help me to use the grammar in my speaking.’

‘Both but without book is more natural.’

‘It depends of the theme of the day.’

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8. Understanding the lexis and grammar was easier when…

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(a) using the coursebook 2/7

‘The text book explains grammars.’

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(b) without the coursebook 2/7

‘Without the coursebook, the teacher is not bound or restricted, so there is more time explanation I felt we were able to really explore the language more deeply.’

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(c) It depends 3/7

The theme and the role of the class can make this easier or not.’

‘Grammar – with book. Vocabulary – without book. There is a risk that when not using the book, the class will study only vocabulary. Therefore, be careful.’

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9. I remember the lexis and grammar more when…

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(a) using the coursebook 1/7

‘The coursebook is organised to teach grammar.’

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(b) without the coursebook 1/7

‘In this case, remember the expressions was easier without the book.’

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(c) It depends 4/7

‘Both’

‘I believe it depends on my own effort.’

‘Grammar more – book; Lexis more – without book.’

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10. I had more chances to practise the lexis and grammar I learnt when…

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(a) using the coursebook 0/7

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(b) without the couresbook 4/7

‘We could speak more.’

‘I want to learn how to speak English.’

‘It was simply more enjoyable and I could really enjoy the lesson.’

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(c) It depends 2/7

‘The two methods have qualities.’

‘Grammar more – book; Lexis more – without book.’

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11. I preferred the structure of the lesson when…

(a) using the coursebook 1/7

‘If Chia is teaching without the book, it’s good. Although she is young, she is talented and she is a genius. But normally, all the teachers teach with books, we can learn more things. For me, only Chia is able to teach without a book and not lose quality and standards of teaching. I don’t want other teachers and all the teachers to do it. They will lose direction easily.’

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(b) without the coursebook 4/7

‘It depends on students. I want to know speaking and lots of words from daily conversations.’

‘The coursebook makes difficult when the theme is not interesting.’

‘More natural and dynamic.’

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(c) It depends 1/7

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12. I felt the teacher focused more on me and the students when…

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(a) using the coursebook 1/7

‘Normally yes – using the coursebook. But Chia never gives us stress.’

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(b) without the coursebook 3/7

The teacher don’t need to follow script.’

‘Because of the use of a script, only.’

‘Because it was a lesson focused on conversation, there was more time for real communication.’

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(c) It depends 2/7

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13. Are some coursebooks better for you than others?

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(a) Yes 5/7

Because some coursebook use factual language, better construction, etc.’

‘People has a lot of reasons. If someone want to study grammar or writing, using coursebook is the best.’

‘I can understand some better than others in my life.’

(b) No 1/7

‘I don’t know  other coursebooks.’

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14. Would you prefer a course that...

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(a) uses the coursebook 0/7

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(b) doesn’t use the couresbook 2/7

‘I think Dogme is better to study speaking.’

‘I think the fact that I could study by having conversations with people and through getting to know each other is a wonderful thing.’

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(c) does both 4/7

‘Both completes our knowledge.’

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One student answered this question with :

‘I love use the coursebook with other teacher, doesn’t use the coursebook with Chia.’

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So, what do you make of these findings?

The Teach-Off – Related Posts

Posted on

Thank you everyone for following the Teach-Off so closely in the last month.

It has been a truly intense experience for me, and I’m sure for Varinder too.

‘Sorry guys, I’ve got to use the book today…’

‘God knows why Chia is apologising! It’s a great book – this Global Intermediate!’

While the results are still being compiled, here are some of the blogposts that have emerged as a result of, are connected to, or simply mentions the Teach-Off.

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The first to appear was Naomi Epstein’s blogpost  ‘Pondering the Dogme Teach-Off’.

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Following that, Shelly Terrell observed my Dogme Day 2 lesson where I spent some time getting to know the students and getting them acquainted with each other, and videoed a section of the lesson and posted it as part of her 30 Goals – Share an Activity.

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Phil Wade then posted this post ‘Perfect Students?’, when the coursebook part of the Teach-Off started.

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Shortly after, Phil posted ‘My last response to Dogme criticism‘.

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Phil Wade also created a whole series of conversations parodying the Dogme class that had me rolling on the floor laughing out loud.

Here are some that paralleled the day-to-day proceedings of the Teach-Off.

On The Teach-Off – The Twist Part 1 where I go in with a coursebook:  Materials Addiction

On The Teach-Off – The Twist Part 2 where Varinder goes in doing Dogme:  Going Dogme

On the overall Teach-Off :

The Terminator (apparently, that’s me…not a good look…)

Dogme Jedi

More on the overall Teach-Off (This is one of my personal favourites!):  The morning after the night before

and then The Dogme Avengers (who sound suspiciously like they are in IH London)

Oh and not to forget this classic about the Coursebooks Anonymous.

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Another post the Teach-Off inspired was David Warr’s Dogme and Game Theory

And from the other camp (there’s always one, eh?), there was Hugh Dellar who posted ‘Dissing Dogme‘.

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If there are any more that you know of or have written that I have missed here, please let me know. I’d be happy to include it!

The Teach-Off – The Observer’s POV Part 2

Posted on

During this entire Teach-Off, we’ve decided to implement a open-door policy in which any teacher who wanted to watch the class could walk in at any time. As a result, we’ve had Shelly Terrell, Adam Beale, Emi Slater, several of colleagues at IH, and my DOS, Varinder, who will be teaching the coursebook lessons in the second half of this teach-off, come watch the class unfold.

Emi Slater sat in with me for the whole three hours, from 9am to 12noon, when I did one of my Dogme lesson and kindly wrote a guest post on what she saw.

Last week, on the day I taught my coursebook lesson, the day Varinder taught her Dogme lesson, and Varinder’s Coursebook Day 7, Emi came to watch us on all three days in the spirit of fairness.
This is Emi Slater’s account of what she saw last week.
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Observation of Chia and Varinder’s Teach Off. May 1st, 2nd and 3rd 2012.

Well I’ve had a fascinating week. As I’ve already said, this kind of teaching “experiment” should surely be undertaken more often if we are ever going to develop more quality teaching and adapt to the ever-changing needs of our students. The language that was English is not the same as it was when the first course book was written or the first CELTA was taught – our teaching methods must surely reflect that.

It is testament to Chia and Varinder’s determination and enthusiasm (no, they don’t pay me to say these things) that they have undertaken this project off their own back and it is exciting that it has been able to take place at International House. It reflects very well on IH – making them seem at the cutting edge of teaching research. And I am so jealous of their wheeley chairs!

I should remind everyone at this juncture that I am, you might have guessed, totally biased. I make no apologies for this and I cannot attempt to be very objective when I just have a feeling about Dogme that is instinctive. It is difficult to intellectually justify anything about teaching methodology when there is always someone who will come back and say “no, but I must disagree, if you look at the research here … “ Of course if can be said that there hasn’t been enough research done on Dogme yet to justify teaching in this way. Perhaps not, but there certainly has been plenty of research done on SLA, and so much of it leads towards Dogme. All I can say is it feels right to me, and as I have said before, if it feels right, do it!

So with this in mind I will attempt to summarize what I saw this week and last. I watched four lessons – one of which I have already described on this blog. This week I saw one with Chia teaching with the course book, one with Varinder teaching without the course book and one with Varinder teaching with the course book. So including last week’s lessons, I have watched both teachers teaching 2 lessons each (one with and one without the course book) – does that make sense?

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Learner Autonomy

The students involved in this project have been, from what I have observed, incredibly motivated and involved in it. Many managers and DOSes’ are afraid that if students are paying (yes we know, loads of money) then it is almost “dangerous” to expect them to take part in what amounts to an experiment. In this case, the students seem to really enjoy being part of it, making jokes about course books and no course books, etc and rising to the challenge incredibly well. They are, by agreeing to this, taking more control over their own learning. It is their response at the end after all which will tell us all how effective the project has been. I think it is patronizing to assume that students can’t be involved in decisions made about how they are taught and it is fantastic how involved they are in this. It is further developing learner autonomy and is indeed Jim Scrivener’s High Demand ELT, is it not?

So here goes.

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Conversation is an art form

It is impossible to avoid the fact that teaching is such a personal thing. Teaching is a group of people in a room with one person facilitating the actions of the rest. In whatever way the learning that takes place depends on the students. The environment created to facilitate that learning depends on the teacher. Either way, it is personal – very. So it is very hard to separate “techniques” and “styles” of teaching, and even methodology, when at the end of the day, for me, it all depends if the students are inspired or not. Some would say motivated but I would say the really good learning takes place when the students are inspired, and inspiration usually involves imagination.

Anyone who saw Nick Bilborough talk at the Cambridge University Press Day in London last Saturday will agree that it is very hard not to link memory (or language retention) with imagination. Neurobiologists are researching this as I write. So there we have it, perhaps you can’t remember anything without using your imagination. Indeed it is very hard not to link creativity with learning overall (Chaz Pugliese). So the point is creativity must be a large part of good teaching also.

Conversation is an art form, so much so that we teach our students speaking skills in order for them to get better at it. But do we teach our teachers conversation skills? Surely with or without a course book, conversation will always take up a large part of any language class, by definition. Our teachers therefore should be highly skilled at keeping a conversation going, asking follow up questions, back channelling, showing interest, turn-taking, fillers and so on. Any teacher needs to be highly skilled at the art of conversation.

In a Dogme class this comes across even more because there is nothing – no book, or list of speaking questions in the book, to fall back on. Without these skills, a Dogme class will not work. During my observations this week, the teacher who asked “Why?”, leading open questions, pushed the students to justify their answers, showed interest in the students’ answers when they did speak, and generally appeared curious to know how the students felt about things was the more successful Dogme teacher.

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Being present in the classroom

Exploiting opportunities for conversation is key to a good Dogme class and when Chia was teaching with the course book, she did this noticeably less than in the “no course book” lesson.

In the “book” lesson, she quite often missed opportunities to reformulate student’s language, missing giving them opportunities to practise the target language. I think this was because she was too busy checking that the student’s were on task doing “book” activities. It felt as if she was distracted by the book.

In the “non book” lesson she seemed to be paying much more close attention to students and seemed more able to really listen and scaffold and reformulate their language. She didn’t feel as present generally in the “book” class and did noticeably less monitoring.

Like I said it’s a personal thing, and Chia is clearly a Dogmetician at heart, not that we didn’t already know this, but it was very interesting watching her trying to teach with a book. (How many times will I say “book” in this blog post?)

There were a number of moments in her class when she had to resist exploiting potential Dogme moments by bringing us back to the book. For example, there was a great moment when the students (in relation to the topic in the book about doctoring and manipulating photographs) started talking about Tom Cruise, Princess Diana, Hitler and a famous old model in Brazil who have all been photoshopped for different reasons. They were using examples relevant to them but Chia had to bring the conversation back to Abraham Lincoln because the reading and the following grammar exercises in the book were related to him and Stalin. None of them particularly related to Lincoln but talk about Lincoln we must – it’s in the book!

It must be said that the first of Chia’s “non book” classes that I watched was a much smaller class. Perhaps for this reason and no other, she was able to monitor more closely and perhaps for this reason and no other, it felt like the conversation flowed so much more easily than in her “book” class. Perhaps it was nothing to do with book or non-book.

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Contexts

In Chia’s “book” class a lot of time was spent by Chia trying to create contexts for the lexis that was in the book. With Dogme, this context would have already been created and therefore the teacher can focus on reformulating or supporting the students in other ways. In Varinder’s “non- book” class, there was a lot of time spent on creating contexts for phrases connected to bad driving leading to some lexis about White Van drivers in London.

With Dogme, the contexts have been created by the students so there is less danger that they will not relate to them. Of course, it is always the case that what is relevant for one student will not be relevant to another in the same way that what is relevant for the teacher may not always be relevant to the students. Likewise, what is relevant in the book to some may not be relevant to others. In a conversation driven lesson, the teacher can use the art of conversation to swiftly move away from a topic that is not interesting or relevant to all the students.

This is easier in a Dogme lesson than in a course book lesson because in course books, the topics last for a whole unit and are often (not always) interlinked with the grammar focus and so on. If you are a student and you are not interested in the topic then too bad. In both Varinder and Chia’s “non-book” lessons, the range of topics, and therefore lexis discussed, was much wider than in both their “book” lessons, creating a much bigger chance of engaging a larger selection of students. I think both lessons covered at least four different topics – is this by definition not more useful for the students?

Tasks and Truth

Chia has already commented that students who are used to learning with books and in a very linear way are more likely to say “I’m finished” when they get to the end of a task and not push themselves to speak further. Without a book, this problem is taken away. Chia told me in the break of her “book” class that she stopped the students talking a few times because they were “going off task” and talking about something else. Varinder also in her “book” class told the students to stop talking because they had “started talking about something else”. Take the book away and you don’t have that problem!

I could almost see the students grappling with “tasks” rather than the actual language during both “book” lessons. Does this mean that very cognitively engaging tasks are not always the best way to acquire language? With a book the teacher spends a lot of time up in the teachers room working out themselves how to do tasks in coursebooks. They then need to make sure the students know how to do the task. This is all very time consuming and is not about the target language but how to do tasks. Take the book away, and you can focus on the language itself or do tasks that lead naturally on and so have a context for the students.

It is also interesting to note that the sentences that the students wrote in the “book” classes were often not true. Is this because learners really don’t like sharing true things about themselves or is it because in a typical “make a sentence” exercise (Check out Paul Seeligson on this). it does not occur to students that if they write a sentence which is true, they may be more likely to remember it?

Nick Bilborough would say that actually the more unrealistic and crazy the sentence is the more memorable it will be. Either way, I would venture that in a Dogme class, you are more likely to get memorable language and contexts from students and very often they are very happy to share things about themselves when they are having what amounts to a natural conversation.

Best moments

For me, the best moment of Varinder’s classes was when she demonstrated “gossiping”. She acted it out and the students completely understood her context and laughed a lot and it generated more speaking and they wrote it all down in their books. This was a spontaneous and improvised moment. Creativity and imagination at work.

I had a little chat with one of the students in the break when Chia and Varinder were not in the room and I asked her if she was enjoying this ‘experiment”. She emphatically said yes, and said how interesting it was. She said she generally preferred not using the book because she speaks more without the book, and she said most importantly for her, she learns more vocabulary without the book but she said it was “necessary” and “good” to have the book for the grammar. She said she wasn’t sure why, but would think about it. For me, this was one of the best moments, hearing a student very engaged with working out for herself the best way for her to learn.

Perhaps Learner Autonomy is likely to be more prevalent in a Dogme classroom because the students do not have the book to rely on – they have to work it out for themselves.

The same goes for the teacher.

The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 8

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This is Varinder Unlu’s account of her 6th Day using the coursebook.

Click here if you need a refresher on what’s happened till now.

Meanwhile, let me hand you over to Varinder

Varinder using Global for the last time…

4th May 2012

Today’s class was to continue with yesterday’s lesson:  reported speech.  We had only got to the Reading task on page 70 in Global Intermediate because the students wanted to discuss the Sherlock Holmes book they had read.

Lesson objectives:

To teach/revise reported statements and questions

To conduct feedback on the teach-off.

 

I started the lesson by explaining to the students what we would be doing today.  I wanted them to understand why the final hour of the lesson was going to be focussing on feedback.

  1.  I asked the students to open their books and look at page 70.  They had to read the “Extend your vocabulary” information about hear and listen.  Students read the first part and we went through the differences.  I clarified and answered some of their questions.  Students then completed the 5 sentences and checked their answers in pairs.  I monitored and helped.
  2. Next I asked the students if they remembered yesterday’s reading task, which they all did. We had a brief recap of the stories before I asked the class to look at the Grammar exercise on page 71.  Students referred back to the reading text and changed the sentences to direct speech – we did the first one together so that they knew what they had to do.
  3. Students worked in pairs and discussed their answers with each other.    I conducted feedback and here we spent a lot of time going through the language.  The class seemed very interested and asked a lot of questions about the rules of reported speech.   There were numerous occasions during this activity when we side-tracked away from it.  One such example of this was when we looked at the sentence with cheese in it.  One student asked me was this the same as cheesy (something we had come across in yesterday’s lesson).  I asked the class if anyone knew the difference and explained that one was a noun and the other an adjective.  Students then asked for more examples of cheesy.  The conversation went from the ending of the film Titanic (which I thought was cheesy!!) to cheesy chat-up lines.  Students wanted examples of cheesy chat-up lines and I was able to bring these up in the IWB (which was finally working).  They really enjoyed reading them and we discussed if they had this sort of thing in their languages.
  4. We moved on to the listening activity on page 71.  Students had to listen to six people speaking and make notes.  They then worked with their partner to report what they had heard.  After they had done this, I asked them to look at page 155 of the book where the audio scripts are for the listening.  Students looked at what was actually said and compared their notes.  I asked them to amend their reported sentences now that they had seen exactly what had been said.  In one of the listenings the speaker says  “I fell over and broke my stupid anklewhich most of the class heard as stupid uncle.  They found this hilarious and a lot of laughter generated from this mistake. We did quick class feedback.
  5. After the break Chia and I conducted feedback from the students about the past four weeks.  We also got to show the what has been happening over the past month on Chia’s blog and I think they were pretty impressed and a little surprised that this had all been going on behind the scenes.  The results?  You will all have to wait for those in another post…..

 

I have really enjoyed the past month and the especially the past two weeks when I have had the opportunity to get back into the classroom.  The learners were really wonderful and responded well to what we were doing.  They were also very good about having observers in their classes on a daily basis and did not allow this to affect their behaviour. 

Apart from the last hour of this lesson, the rest of the lesson was a little more similar to how I would normally do things – ie follow the students’ lead and not stick rigidly to the course book.  It makes for a much more student centred learning environment.

After finally revealing to the students what we were up to, and showing them this blog, we are finally given consent to use their pictures!

 

The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 7

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Today, Varinder Unlu goes back to using the coursebook after trying Dogme out for a day.

This is Varinder’s account of her 7th Day using the coursebook.

Click here if you need a refresher on what’s happened till now.

Meanwhile, let me hand you over to Varinder

3rd May 2012

For those of you who have been following this teach-off from the beginning, you may remember that when I started two weeks ago I asked the class to pick a book to read and they choose Sherlock Holmes – short stories.  We talked about the first story in one of the lessons last week and yesterday the students asked me when we would be talking about the rest of the book, so I in keeping with what the learners want – I did that today for the first part of the lesson.

Objectives for today’s lesson:

To discuss Sherlock Holmes stories

To introduce/revise reported speech – questions and statements

To improve student speaking

To improve student listening

The class started almost on time – I was a few minutes late.  When I got to the classroom there were seven students already there.  I didn’t want to start the first activity until more of the learners were there so we played “back to the board”.

By about 9.15 most of the students had arrived.  I divided the class into two groups and put the discussion questions (see below)up on the IWB.  I went through the questions with them to make sure that they knew what was being asked of them.

  • Did you feel that the book met your expectations? Were you disappointed?
  • Did you enjoy the book and stories? Why? Why not?
  • How did the book compare to other books by the author (or other books in the same genre)?
  • What about the plot of the different stories? Did it pull you in; or did you feel you had to force yourself to read the book?
  • How realistic was the characterization? Would you want to meet any of the characters? Did you like them? Hate them?
  • Did the actions of the characters seem plausible? Why? Why not?
  • How does the setting figure into the stories? Is the setting a character? Does it come to life? Did you feel you were experiencing the time and place in which the stories was set?
  • How would the stories have been different if it had taken place in a different time or place?
  • Did the stories end the way you expected?
  • Would you recommend this book to other readers? To your close friend? Why/why not?

The groups started their discussions and I monitored and occasionally asked questions to help things along.    There some great answers to the questions.  Once the students had finished their discussion we did a class feedback of their answers.  At the end of this we talked again about the importance of reading especially as some of the students were saying that they had learned a lot from the book and it had helped them to see words in context.  I explained that they should go to the school library and borrow more books to read and continue reading in English for pleasure.

Varinder’s board work with mind map

 

  1. To lead into the first activity in the book (page 70) I wrote the word “speak” on the board and asked the students to discuss in pairs the different ways of speaking.  During feedback we got a lot of lovely language from the learners:  slowly, quickly, loudly, quietly etc (see pic of whiteboard for rest).  I then added some of the ones they had not got:  whisper, sigh, mumble, groan.  I drilled the language as the words were put up on the board by asking students how the word was pronounced and the picking the best pronunciation to model for the rest of the class.  I prefer to drill in this way as it takes the focus away from me and there is always one student in the class who can be used to model it.
  2. I then asked the group to look at page 70 and the read the instructions for the first activity.  I usually allow students to read the instructions for themselves as it is an invaluable skill for them to have to be able to read instructions and follow them – particularly important when they’re taking exams but also in their day to day life.  I checked that they had understood the instructions by asking: How many people are you going to listen to? How many phrases are there? What do you have to do with the people and the phrases?
  3. I played the listening and students listened and matched up.  I allowed students to check their answers in pairs and played the listening one more time for consolidation and then conducted quick class feedback.
  4. Next I asked the student to look at the words in the grey box in exercise 2 and went through the pronunciation.  I then asked the students to work with their partner to explain any words they knew the meaning of and their partner did not.  The students then did the activity which was to match the words up to the sentences which had their definitions in them.
  5. During feedback there were a few questions, especially as the form of the word sometimes had to change if students were to say the sentence with the word from the grey box.  One was likes to chat/chatting.  Students wanted to know if this could be used in both ways ie like + to + infinitive or like + verb ing. As they seemed keen know this I thought that after the break we would go through the sentences again.
  6. After the break focused the students’ attention back on the sentences and asked them to re-write them using the correct form of the word.  We went through them and students were asking questions about why like and love can be followed by the infinitive with to and the verb + ing.  So I gave the students the grammar exercise at the back of the book on page 148 for homework.  It  gives a brief explanation of verbs followed by –ing and infinitive with to.  I will ask them in tomorrow’s lesson if they have an questions and will clarify if there is still confusion.
  7. We moved onto the lead in for the Reading activity.  I asked the students to look at the two questions and discuss with their partner.  We went through their answers briefly.  Here there was confusion over overheard and eavesdrop, which we went through and also the word gossip. 
  8. I then asked the students to read the conversations on page 71 and decide which one they thought was the funniest.  Students discussed their answers with their partners.  I conducted class feedback and went thought any problems with lexis – squirrel, pay check, salary, wages.  One of the Brazilian students said that in Brazil they refer to payslip as the onion because every time you open it makes you cry!! (I thought this was really funny and so did class).  Students enjoyed this activity and there was a lot of talking and asking of questions.

I think because the class now know each other well and I know their different characters and a quite a lot about their personal interests, we could joke about things and everyone knew what was being talked about.

  1. Finally I went through some of the pronunciation of words and some meanings that were up in my vocab column on the whiteboard.

As is often the case in real life teaching (as opposed to CELTA or DELTA observation lesson), we didn’t get to the reported speech part of this lesson.  Something we will continue with tomorrow.

Varinder enjoying the lesson

I have been thinking about this lesson a lot, especially when students brought up the questions about like and love.  Of course because the lesson focus was reported speech I didn’t want to spend too much time on this but wanted to help as well.  That’s why I thought it better to give them something to do by themselves and then see if they have any questions rather than start focusing on that.  I think my teaching in ESOL taught me to keep things simple and manageable so rather than overloading the learners with various things in one lesson, I feel it’s better to focus on one thing.  This has worked for me and my learners in the past and I have achieved a great level of success with students by giving them manageable chunks of language to focus on.

This is a lovely lesson in the Global and there’s a lot that comes out of it for the learners.

The Teach-Off – The Twist Part 2

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Yesterday, I had to teach with the coursebook.

Today, Varinder Unlu’s had to teach with pure Dogme.

This is her account of the events.

Click here if you need a refresher on what’s happened till now.

Meanwhile, let me hand you over to Varinder

 

2nd May 2012

Sticking the original rules set out by both Chia and myself, today I had to teach a Dogme lesson.  The day started with me feeling quite exhausted as I had done CELTA input on Tuesday evening and didn’t finish work until 21.30 and had spent the day dealing with day to day running of the General English department.  But I was not going to let tiredness stop me from fulfilling my duties.

The lesson – as much as I can recall:

I started by collecting some dictionaries and a set of mini white boards for a vocabulary revision activity I was thinking about doing with the class in the 45 minutes of the lesson.

As I entered the room, four students were already there.  We greeted each other and then one of the students approached me with his CV and explained that he had been invited to an interview for a job and they wanted him to send them his CV in English.  He asked if I could have a look at it and see if was ok.  As I was going through his CV , other students started arriving and one of the Japanese students asked me what was happening.  I explained that I was checking a CV at which he became very excited and asked me if I could do the same for him.  I told him to bring it in tomorrow and we would look at it tomorrow.  This all happened before 9 o’clock.

I started the class by asking students what they did yesterday after the lesson.  One student said he had gone to Harrods.  The conversation about Harrods became about how expensive it is and one student said that he thought people had to pay £5 to use the toilets there.  I could not tell the student if this was true or false as I have never been to Harrods!! The other students were also not sure if this was true or not.  We moved on to what the student bought from there and he said he had bought a handbag for his mother.  We talked about different departments in the store and then one student mentioned the shrine in memory of Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed which is in one part of Harrods.  She said it was kitsch and the other students wanted to know what this meant.  I asked her to explain and she tried by saying “it’s the opposite of elegant”.  We tried to explain with some examples and I said “cheesy”.  This is a difficult word to explain unless there are some visuals and I would normally bring up a picture on the IWB to show meaning but the IWB hasn’t been working all week.  I don’t think I did a very good job of explaining.

 

Then the conversation changed as one student started talking about another big shop on Carnaby Street, near Oxford Street.  I actually didn’t know what he was talking about and it took quite a while before someone said “Liberty’s”.  I’ve heard of the store but have never been there either and did not actually know where it is. (I’m not a fan of big shops and department stores and generally keep away from them).  The students obviously know where these shops are as they are not only students but are also tourists.  The student said he likes the fabric at Liberty’s and I asked the class if they knew what “fabric” is and one student said “a place for producing things”  – he was obviously thinking about “factory”. I clarified that fabric here did not mean factory and other members of the class told him what it was by pointing to their clothes and saying clothes.  This moved us onto what else fabric can be used for and language emerging: sheets, pillowcase, duvet cover, blackout blinds, curtains, sponge, feathers, cotton, lie-in, get up.  From a description of duvet the conversation went onto one student talking about how he likes to get up late on a Sunday morning , have a large breakfast, read a newspaper.  We spoke briefly about lie-in and how many people liked to do this on a Sunday morning.  I said that I don’t like to lie-in on a Sunday and get up at 6 and one student said that’s when he’s usually coming back from a party or nightclub.

Here I thought the conversation was starting to (panic on my behalf?) so I started talking about someone I’d seen on the train this morning who was being selfish.  I said rude people were a pet hate of mine and tried to get students to talk about pet hates which did not happen.  The conversation somehow ended up being about driving and different kinds of drivers, passing tests and getting points on licences.  We discussed that in the students’ countries people have to re-take their tests after a year or five years.  I eventually put the students into pairs and asked them to tell each what happens when they take a driving test.  I then changed the pairings and asked the students to explain what they had learned from their previous partner. There are two students who do not drive and one of them was clearly bored with the subject and did not really want to talk about driving and anything related to it.

As students were working in pairs I monitored and helped when they needed me with language or clarification and I also noted down errors and new lexis.  After the pair work I tried to move onto the error correction slot but ended up explaining cut off in great detail to students because they asked different questions about its uses.

After the break I put the class into two groups and each group had to choose 10 words from the last week.  Each student had two words each and they had to write three definitions with only one being the correct definition and the other two being false.  The students worked in their groups to choose their words and then divided them up. I monitored and helped.  When they had finished writing their definitions, I gave the students a mini whiteboard each and explained that each person from the teams will read their word and the three definitions and the opposing team had to write down A, B or C depending on which definition they thought was correct.  We played this game until the end of the lesson.

Varinder doing an Alan Sugar as she explains, ‘You’re Fired!’

 

In my own opinion this lesson, apart from the final activity was not a good lesson.  The board was covered in loads of lexis, similar to what I’ve seen in Dogme lessons (not only Chia’s, I might add) and it left me thinking about how much the learners would retain from this lesson.  Of course if I was to continue teaching in this way I would revisit the language in the next lesson to consolidate but in my feeling is that it was far too much.  I’m also not a fan of going into grammar terminology with students and like to keep things simple.

I also felt bad about the students who had no interest in driving and didn’t really want to talk about this topic.

I don’t think my learners went away with much knowledge of anything new and it left me feeling rather depressed.  I hate it when I know that my lesson has been pants and not much learning was taking place.  We went from one topic to another and covered about six in total because that’s where the students were taking them, I had follow.  I couldn’t actually remember much of the lesson afterwards and had to really think about what happened.  The above account is not entirely accurate as I still can’t remember some of the stages.  This could be down to number of factors – general tiredness on my part or just too many things happening in the classroom.  I think I’m my own biggest critic and am honest enough to know when lesson was not as good as I would like it to be.

Overall opinion: not a successful lesson which left me feeling disappointed with the learning outcomes and very thirsty (TTT very high).  Teacher-led, teacher focused, not catering to everyone’s learning styles and needs.

The Teach-Off – The Twist Part 1

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As some of you might know, I used to work at Callan School of English following the Callan Method strictly, which involved reading a script from the Callan books 8 hours a day.

Now, I’m in no way dissing Callan or any behaviourist methodologies, because I learnt a lot from them. If you don’t believe me, read this.

I then went on to work for a school that basically gave me free rein to do anything I wanted with the students as long as I did the Callan 25% of the time.

I spent 75% of the time exploring coursebooks the school had and trying them out, sometimes just doing exercise after exercise, page after page, without fully understanding what I was meant to be doing.

By the time I did my CELTA at International House London, I had already been teaching for 2 years.

The CELTA completely changed my life.

It opened my eyes to the communicative approach of teaching and really helped me to make sense of my own language learning experiences with Japanese and Spanish, and showed me how to better help my students to learn English.

The CELTA also showed me the range of materials that were out there.

I was thrilled to find books like English Phrasal Verbs in Use, English Idioms in Use, The Anti-Grammar Book, Recipes for Tired Teachers, Mark Fletcher’s Visual Grammar, Ron Martinez’s Conversation Lessons, Mark Hancock’s Pronunciation Games, Jill Hadfield’s Communication Games, Vocabulary Games and Grammar Games, etc., on top of the wonderful coursebooks like Cutting Edge and Inside Out that I was introduced to.

I was in ELT materials heaven.

Back then, when IH London was in Piccadilly, we had a bookshop in the school, and on the last day of my CELTA, I went to the bookshop and bought a whole stack of books (and a set of cuisennaire rods) as I kicked off my reinvigorated teaching career.

For more than a year after the CELTA, I was the materials girl.

Colleagues in the staffroom would tease me about constantly cutting bits of photocopied cards and pictures every single morning before lessons began.

Some colleagues even started to use me as a reference and would ask me questions such as ‘Look at this photocopy? Which book does it come from?’, to which I would immediately reply, ‘That’s from Ron Martinez’s Conversation Lessons Chapter 2’.

And I was proud of it. Why should I not be?

The experts wrote the books, and I knew them all.

We would be given, say 9 units of a coursebook to play with in a month-long course, and one day, a student said to me on the last day of his course, ‘You are the first teacher at IH that actually did every single exercise and every single page of the 9 units, and finished the coursebook! I have never finished a coursebook before!’

And he meant it as a compliment.

Since my DELTA, I have not used a coursebook.

I sometimes start to try and use one but never get past the lead-in.

It’s been 5 years since I have used a coursebook.

Today, I feel like I have come full circle.

Today, I did Varinder’s class. With a coursebook.

Below is my account of it.

Boardwork 1

Lesson aims:

  • To give students opportunities to practise reading for detailed understanding in the context of famous doctored photographs.
  • To enable students to better understand four pieces of lexis used in the reading text after processing the text for meaning.
  • To raise students’ awareness of object nouns that collocate with the verb ‘take’ and to offer controlled practice of these collocations by using sentences beginning with ‘The last exam I took…’, ‘The last train I took…’, ‘The last time I took a long walk…’, etc.
  • To enable students to notice the meaning and form of the passive voice used in the reading text about doctored photographs, and practising the use of the passive in a controlled practice about another doctored photograph, and another in the context of the writing of a formal letter.
  • To offer students opportunities for speaking practice in the context of cameras, photographs and the doctoring of photos.

Materials: Global Intermediate Pg 66 & 67.

The lesson started with me walking into the classroom and greeting the students, asking them if they knew I was taking the class today. Those that had been in my 2 weeks of Dogme classes already knew of the experiment and said that they had been informed that I was teaching today. The new students, however, didn’t quite understand who I was and why I was there, and so, I briefly explained to them the nature of the experiment and who I was.

I then revealed that I was going to be using the coursebook today.

Lead-in

(Stage aim: To contextualize the lesson, generate interest, engage the students and activate schemata)

As a lead-in to the lesson, I asked the students if they all had a mobile phone and asked what they normally did with the phone, aside from making calls.

Students were put in pairs as they discussed their favourite apps and games, and language like ‘to do list’, ‘address book’, ‘navigation’ and ‘online banking’ naturally emerged. I couldn’t resist and the language was begging to be fed in, and then clarified. I then elicited that one could also take photos on their mobile phones and asked if they owned a separate digital camera or if they used their mobiles for that purpose.

Using the lead-in questions in the book, I then asked, ‘Do you remember your first camera? What was it like?’

I described my first camera and told students that it was a disposable one, but I noticed that my example was not quite enough to prompt them to say more. Some said they couldn’t remember, while others didn’t think their first camera was that significant and couldn’t be bothered to describe it.

So, instinctively, I got them to close their eyes and do a visualization exercise.

Using questions and prompts, I asked, ‘What did it look like? What colour was it? Who gave it to you? What photographs did you take with it?’.

When they opened their eyes, they were put in groups to share what they had visualized.

One or two of the students of my generation had stories to tell of the days when cameras that had separate disposable flash cubes that had to be purchased, but most of the younger students didn’t seem to have many remarkable tales to relate, and so I moved on to the next question in the book – ‘Have you ever manipulated a photo? Why?’ while clarifying the question with an example.

This question definitely needed more prompting because most of the students’ first reactions were either ‘No’ or ‘Yes, just to change the colour or for red eye reduction’. It wasn’t a topic they seemed to have much to say about. One of the students asked what kind of changes we were talking about.

Pre-Reading Prediction Task

(Stage Aim: To activate schemata and generate interest in the text)

This, I thought was a nice segue into the prediction task of the reading text, so I asked students to look at the two pictures given (one of a doctored Abraham Lincoln photo and one of a doctored Stalin photo) and asked the following questions.

‘What do you notice about them? What has happened?’

Quick pairwork showed that the only things that could be said as answers to those questions were, ‘They are different’, ‘This guy’s head was changed to Abraham Lincoln’s’ and ‘They deleted these people from Stalin’s photo’.

Some students, while doing the task, instinctively tried to read the text to find the answers, and my classroom management skills took over as I said, ‘Wait, don’t read the text yet. Just look at the photo.’

I suddenly felt kind of silly doing that. Students were appropriately motivated to read the text to find out more…and here was I telling them to wait till the next stage…was I frustrating them?

So, I prompted further, ‘Do you know of any other pictures that have been doctored?

As students spoke in pairs, one talked about a very old Brazilian celebrity who had her legs photoshopped so severely that it looked ridiculously smooth. Another spoke of Belusconi and how he always has his photos touched up. She added that he liked to be positioned in such a way where he looked taller, and I jokingly mentioned Tom Cruise. The class laughed and there seemed to be more to be said about the topic. But I could see Varinder from the corner looking at me with the ‘80% coursebook!’ eyes and thought I shouldn’t let my Dogmetician side take over…

I then asked students why they think the pictures in the coursebook were doctored and they suggested that in the first picture, they might have wanted Abraham Lincoln to look taller or have a better body for propaganda purposes, while in the second picture, they have removed the people around Stalin perhaps because they don’t want to be seen with him.

Reading for Detailed Understanding

(Stage aim: To offer practice of reading for detailed understanding)

At this point, I asked students to read the text to check their predictions, and to do the reading for detailed understanding task: ‘How and why was each photo changed?’

This was a rather odd question to be asking them, to be honest, because the paragraph on the doctored photo of Abraham Lincoln simply did not state the reason for doctoring the photo, and after realizing this, students could only guess that their prediction that it might be due to propaganda might have been true.

Post-Reading Lexis

(Stage aim: To exploit the text by pulling out and clarifying some useful lexis for both receptive and productive use)

Some paircheck and feedback later, we moved swiftly on to the 4 pieces of lexis that were pulled out from the text: ‘sophisticated’, ‘fallen out with’, ‘regarded’ and exaggerated’.

The page of the coursebook provides a multiple choice exercise where students have to deduce the meaning of the lexis by looking at the co-text.

After a paircheck stage, in the open class stage, I started to further supplement the clarification of meaning with additional CCQs, highlighted the form and drew attention to certain pronunciation features and drilled the words or phrases.

At certain points, I felt that I had to supplement a lot more so as to fully exploit the four pieces of lexis and enable students to better understand their use. Here are two examples.

1. ‘We regarded that afterwards as a mistake’

Nobody in class go this one right. Many thought regarded meant ‘apologised’ (one of the multiple choice options) perhaps due to the co-text.

So, I wrote on the above sentence on the board, and then added,

‘Please regard my house as your own house’

‘You can regard me as your friend’

I then had the students in pairs discuss what they now thought ‘regard’ meant.

They all agreed it meant ‘to see things a certain way’ (one of the multiple choice options).

When we were happy with the meaning, I elicited that ‘regard’  (in this meaning) is usually followed by an object and then the preposition ‘as’ and another object.

i.e. ‘to regard somebody/something as somebody/something’

2. People who the Soviet leader Stalin had fallen out with or no longer trusted were often eliminated from pictures.

After establishing that the multiple choice answer had a disagreement with’ was the correct answer, a student then asked, ‘Can I say “I had fallen out with the newspaper or the concept or opinion?if I disagree with it?

What a brilliant question! Further concept checking was clearly needed.

So I went on to clarify that the phrasal verb could only be used when you fall out with somebody e.g. a friend, a partner, a family member, and this happens when you have a argument with them and stop talking to them.

I elicited (then fed in) that after you fall out with someone, you then say sorry and you ‘make up with someone’.

Once meaning was clarified, I wrote on the board, ‘I fell out with my friend’ and then elicited that it was a transitive phrasal verb that took the object ‘my friend’.

(Most of the students were from my 2-week Dogme class where we had previously dealt with transitive and intransitive verbs, and this was a good chance to revise this with them. The 2 new students spoke Portuguese and Italian and seemed familiar with the concept of transitivity from study of their own L1s)

I did the same for ‘make up with my friend’ before asking them how I could make this intransitive.

I started the sentence with ‘My friend and I…’ and elicited ‘fell out’ and the fact that we drop ‘with’ and the object when making this phrasal verb intransitive.

I then elicited the same for ‘make up’.

It was now time to move on to the vocabulary section.

Vocabulary and Collocations

(Stage aim: To raise awareness of collocations with ‘take’ and to provide controlled practice of given collocations)

‘Chesting’ the book, I showed students the table on the page that showed 5 categories of collocations with the verb ‘take’.

Transport                   take a taxi…

Food or medicine        take sugar…

Activities                     take a shower…

Exams                         take an exam…

Control                        take control…

Images                        take a photo…

Students now had to put the following nouns into the categories above to make collocations with ‘take’:

the bus,      drugs,       the metro,      milk,      nap,      a picture,      a pill,      power,         responsibility,      a test,       a train,      a walk.

To be honest, I found this activity quite frustrating as the collocations were out of context and the only thing they had in common was the word ‘take’… but hey, I was using the coursebook, and I was going to put my heart and soul into it.

After open class feedback, and clarifying the difference the use of ‘to walk’ and ‘to take a walk’ (where I also asked learners if they were two different words in their L1s), we moved on to the controlled practice exercise.

Learners had to complete the following sentences:

The last exam I took…

The last train I took…

The last photo I took…

The last time I took a long walk…

The last time I took responsibility for something…

 

This example sentence was given in the coursebook:

The last photo I took was when I went to Egypt. The temples were incredible.

 

This was a complex structure, especially for the large number of Far East Asian students in the class, and so I felt the need to scaffold the practice for them.

I wrote,

‘The last exam I took was very difficult’

and asked students what the subject of the sentence was.

Some said ‘exam’ and others said ‘I’ and they clearly had difficulty with this (and considering that all the phrases given to the learners to complete were noun phrases that were acting as subjects, I thought it important to guide them through this).

I elicited that the main verb was ‘was’ and then guided them towards realizing that the subject was ‘the last exam I took’.

The last exam I took

was

very difficult.

Subject

Verb

Adjective

Some students then cleverly asked if we could replace the adjective slot with adverbials like ‘last week’ or ‘with my friend’ or ‘at school’, and I sent them off in pairs to complete the exercise.

However, if you look at the example sentence given (The last photo I took was when I went to Egypt.), you would notice that the scaffolding was still in progress at this point.

After completing the sentences with adjectives and adverbials, checking with their partners and sharing with the class, I then pushed them to see that

‘The last exam I took was when I first came to London’ was also possible, with ‘when I first came to London’ acting as the object.

This time, students made sentences with ‘when’ phrases as the object.

But the most amusing thing was when I tried to expand on the sentences students made in open class feedback.

One student said, ‘The last exam I took was last month’.

I asked, ‘Oh? Which exam was that?

He replied, ‘Oh, it’s not true. I was only doing the exercise.’

 

As I went round the class, I realized that more than half the class did the same. None of them were able to tell me more about their ‘experience’ because those sentences were simply not true.

It was a practice exercise, and that’s how they saw it.

Watching them in paircheck and open class feedback stages, it was also obvious that they did not see those stages as speaking practice or chances for interaction in English.

The goal for them was the practice exercise and trying to get the answers for it.

And they certainly didn’t see the point in expanding much on their answers.

If I had told them to complete the sentences with ‘real’ answers from their lives, would it have made a difference?

Or are the sentences so random and devoid of context that it wouldn’t have mattered anyway?

Does it matter that they weren’t giving real answers and were just drilling the use of ‘the last time I…was…when I …’ and collocations with ‘take’?

We took a break at this point and I promised to look at the passive voice when we came back.

Boardwork 2

Grammar: The passive (Present stage)

(Stage aim: To help students better understand the use of the passive, the reasons for its use, and the different tenses the passive can take)

The top of the grammar section had three sentences from the previous reading text featuring verbs in the passive voice.

This photo was taken in 1862.

Parts of the photo have been changed.

Photos are being manipulated more than ever now.

This was followed by the following rules

  • We form the passive with ‘be’ and a past participle.
  • We use the passive when we don’t know who did the action, the action isn’t important or the action is more important than the person or thing who did it (the agent).

 

I had students look at the example sentences and read the grammar rules.

It was a moment that I must admit I felt rather uncomfortable with.

I would have much preferred to give them as chance to notice the structure themselves, and to read the text and speculate reasons why they think the author has chosen to use the passive instead of the active voice in each case that the passive was used.

Of course, some might argue that giving students the ‘rules’ would save time and can be just as efficient.

Anyway, after eliciting that the tense changes in the passive happens on the verb ‘to be’ and not the past participle, I then proceeded to ask students to find 7 examples of the passive voice from the reading text.

I then expanded on the task on my own by asking students to change those passive sentences to active ones.

Students ended up with sentences like :

‘Somebody put Lincoln’s head onto the body of Southern politician’

‘Somebody eliminated the people from pictures.’

‘Somebody squeezed together the Pyramids of Giza’, etc.

Students started to say, ‘Sounds strange. They all start with “somebody”

Bingo!

So I asked them what was wrong with that, and together we agreed that it was boring, and not deserving of subject position because it was the theme of the sentence and because we didn’t know who that somebody was.

This time round, I felt as if they understood the reasons for the passive much better.

Controlled Practice 1 (Practice Stage)

(Stage aim: To provide controlled practice of the use of the passive by allowing students to choose between the active and the passive in the context of a text about another doctored picture)

As controlled practice to the passive voice, students then had to fill in the gaps of a text with the correct form of the verbs in the brackets, putting them in the active or passive voice.

The text was about a Chinese photographer Liu Weiqiang, who had doctored a photo with a high-speed train and a herd of antelopes and was given an award.
The photo was not on the page, and so while students were completing the gap-fill, I took the initiative of looking for the photo in question on the internet and on my iPad.

After students finished checking their answers with their partners, I asked, ‘Would you like to see that photo?

To my surprise, the answer from most of the students was, ‘Which photo?’

I said, ‘The one in the text you have just read!

The students said, ‘It was about a photo? We were not reading it! We were only doing the grammar exercise!

Is it my fault for not doing a gist reading task before the gap-fill?

Even if I did, would the students be so focused on the grammar task that they wouldn’t really care about the text?

Does it matter that they didn’t read the content of the text?

If not, then why have the text? What would then be the difference between that and having random practice sentences a la Murphy?

Controlled Practice 2 (Practice Stage)

(Stage aim: To provide controlled practice of the passive by having students convert sentences in the active to the passive while using different tenses in the context of a letter)

Deviating from the context of doctored photos (but still having some connection to photos in there), the text given to students to convert was as follows:

We’re sorry, we have lost your photographs. We usually keep them in a box on the table. The other day somebody was cleaning the shop. They moved the box. I’m afraid we can’t find the photos now. We will send you a new set of photographs to your home address.

After a paircheck and open class feedback stage, I asked students whether they felt that the original text or the one with the passive sentences were more formal.

Looking at the content of the text,  and with some eliciting and prompting, we then established that the passive voice made the writer seem more distant, less personal and therefore allowed the writer to take less responsibility for the loss of the photos.

The activities of this unit then ends at this point, and I had students look at all the emergent words on the board and do a quick recall with their partners as to what they meant. Thanks, Varinder, for this! It worked really well!

There was one thing, however, that I didn’t quite expect to feel, but consistently did throughout the coursebook lesson I taught today.

I felt distinctly more authoritative, more in control, and more of a teacher.

I felt in charge with the coursebook.

And the way I acted started to tend towards those roles too as the lesson progressed.

I felt my rapport-building jokes and conversations not as genuine and certainly not able to run its course.

I felt like I wasn’t really listening to all the students had to say, and not asking the natural questions that led on from their utterances.

I felt teacher-centred.

I felt like a performer. A performer with a script.

I felt like I’ve come full circle.

Teacher-Centred?

The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 6

This is Varinder Unlu’s account of her 6th Day using the coursebook.

Click here if you need a refresher on what’s happened till now.

Meanwhile, let me hand you over to Varinder

Varinder's boardwork for today

30th April 2012

 

Today’s lesson objectives:

To recap use of “wish”

To differentiate between formal and informal language

Making formal phone calls

To improve listening and pronunciation

Pages 86 and 87 from Global Intermediate

We spent about the first ten minutes of the lesson talking about what the students had done over the weekend. The following language emerged: festival, farewell party, other than, raining cats and dogs, postcards.

I then went through what we were going to be doing in today’s lesson.

  1.     I gave students an activity taken from resource sections at the back of  English File Intermediate on wishes.  There are a 12 sentences with the same number of blank circles below them.  Students (A and B) have to choose 7 of the sentences they want to talk about and write something in the correlating circle below.  All sentences are about wishes.  I gave students five minutes to write down their answers before working with a partner to ask them about what and why they have answered the way they did.
  2.    Once students had completed their circles I matched up student A and B together (they had different sentences) and students asked their partner about their answers.  This activity seemed to go down very well with the learners and they asked for clarification on language as I went round and monitored.  I allowed the activity go on as the students were clearly enjoying what they were doing and using a lot of excellent language to speak to each other about their wishes. 
  3.     I conducted some feedback after the activity not by going through each wish of each student but asking students to tell me one interesting wish they had found out about their partner. Language emerging from this activity: on/to the moon, patience, mint, earth and of course the target structure with wish: I wish I didn’t have to swim, I wish I could go swimming, I wish I had more patience are just a few examples of the kind of things the learners were expressing.  I corrected where necessary.
  4.      We then moved onto the first activity in the book on page 86.  There are two pictures: on of a call centre and another in a doctor’s surgery.  Students worked in pairs to discuss where they would like to work if they had a choice.  Most of the class preferred picture B (Doctor’s surgery).  One pair of students said neither because both looked boring.
  5.      We then move onto exercise 2 and again students worked in pairs to discuss the questions about mobile phones.  The conversation centred round mobile phones and how much we use them.  Two of the students work for mobile phone providers in Brazil and so had quite a lot to say about this.  We talked a little about what it life was like before mobile phones and that many people in the class probably didn’t know a life without them. Language emerging from this: stock exchange, competitors, behind the scenes, backstage, landline, handsets, emergencies, in the past.
  6.      I now asked the students to look at the sentences in the Listening activity and gave them some time to have a look at them.  I then explained that they would be listening to three conversations and one of them doesn’t match the pictures at the top of the page.  I played the listening and students checked their answers in pairs before I asked for class feedback.  They got the right answer but there were a few comments about the listening and that they couldn’t hear some of the things that were being said.  The students found the third listening funny as they had all been in that situation and we discussed how they felt about this kind of phone call.  Language emerging from this part: automated response
  7.      Next the students had to say whether the sentences were true or false.  I played the listening again and students checked in pairs before class feedback.
  8.      The final activity before the break was the Language focus activity where students had to say if the sentence was said by the caller or the person who answered the call.  They did this in pairs before we had feedback for the answers.
  9.      After the break we focused back on the sentences in the Language focus activity and looked at stress and intonation in the sentence.  I played the listening again and students had to decide which one sounded the most polite and which the most formal. 
  10.     I then gave students a hand out with formal – informal language for making phone calls (idea taken from our Executive centre’s handbook).  It also had the NATO phonetic alphabet (ie a for alpha, b for bravo etc).  I thought the students might find this useful especially if they ever had to spell things out over the telephone – I know I always have to spell my name to people when speaking on the phone because it’s not Susan!!
  11.    The students were then put in pairs and I gave them their role-paly instructions on pieces of card (taken from page 86 of Global).  I asked the students to work together with one person playing the receptionist and the other the patient.  I did the dental surgery role play only because I thought it would have been too much for the students to do both suggested of in the book.  I may come back to the second one later in the week to reconsolidate the language of phone calls.  I monitored and helped during this stage.
  12.    During the feedback stage students listened to each pair and commented on how polite and formal they sounded.  We also focused on some error correction during this part.
  13.    We then looked at formal and informal language in social English and what is acceptable or not when meeting and speaking to someone they have met for the first time.  Language emerging from this stage:  small talk, text speak, how do you do, can I introduce you to…/I’d like you to meet.., pleased to meet you.
  14.    Students were interested in small talk and I explained what this was and the difference between text speak and small talk.  We went through a few examples of text speak: c u l8tr, btw, omg, lol etc which amused them.
  15.    I gave the students the reading on page 87 for homework.

 

An interesting lesson which can be adapted and extended.

 

It’s an Anniversary!

Some of you might be wondering why I have suddenly changed the layout of my blog.

Well, it’s been a year.

Courtesy of #ELTpics. Photo by @mkofab

April 30th 2011.

The day I started blogging. The day I started this blog.

I started this blog because I love writing.

Through writing, I am able to organise my thoughts because I am given the opportunity to articulate them.

Through the banter you provide me with, I am able to decide on what I believe in because I am allowed the chance to challenge the attitudes and views that I encounter.

Through the support of my PLN (Personal Learning Network), I am able to find the courage to say the things that are not necessarily popular or cool, to write about issues I really care about, and to express a part of me.

I would like to thank all the people who have viewed these pages and watched the videos, the people who have read, commented and like the posts, the people who have tweeted, shared, and used the ideas and articles here.

Thank you all for your support.

Courtesy of #ELTpics

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To celebrate, here are some facts and figures to help recap the year:

Total hits: 62,950

Views on Busiest Day: 976 (25th April, 2012)

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The Top 5 Most Commented on Posts are:

1.    The Teach-Off – My reaction to coursebooks and Uncount nouns  (51)

2.   Why are Business English Teachers paid so badly?  (50)

3.   10 Things Teachers Should Never Forget  (48)

4.   Devil’s Advocate versus Vicki Hollett on ELF  (42)

5.   The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 1  (36)

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Aside from myself, the Top 5 Commenters (and their respective twitter handles) are:

1. Phil Wade @phil3wade                 (53)

2. Chiew Pang @acliltoclimb                      (27)

3. Varinder Unlu @varinderunlu             (26)

4. Dale Coulter @dalecoulter             (23)

5. Mike Hogan @irishmikeh                (20)

Thank you so much for taking time to comment. You have contributed more than you can ever imagine!

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Excluding the Home Page, The Top 10 Posts (according to hits) are:

1.   Intercultural Dining Etiquette and Table Manners

2.   Devil’s Advocate versus Phil Wade on Exams and Testing

3.   Why I brought back the foreign language lesson to the CELTA

4.   Learning English Through a TV Series

5.   Dogme in Exam Preparation Classes

6.   What is Systemic Functional Grammar (Part 1)

7.   What is Systemic Functional Grammar (Part 3 – The Experiential Metafunction)

8.   10 Things I do with my mini-whiteboards

9.   What is Systemic Functional Grammar (Part 2 – The Interpersonal Metafunction)

10.   What is Systemic Functional Grammar (Part 4 – The Textual Metafunction & Conclusion)

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The Most Watched Videos (according to hits) are:

1.   IATEFL 2010 Presentation on Dogme

2.   BESIG 2010 Interview on SFG

3.   BESIG 2012 Interview on Politeness and Pragmatics

4.   Chiew’s 2011 interview with me on IaskU

5.   IH DOS Conference 2012 Presentation on ELF

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My top 5 personal favourites are:

1.   In defence of Callan (and other behaviourist methodologies)

2.   Making student-centred Dogme student-friendly

3.   11 things I learnt in London – a pseudo-ethnographic exploration of British vs Singaporean culture

4.   Gaellic – To save or not to save?

5.   Cringing at Cheese this Christmas?

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There has been 4 series on this blog thus far.

The first was a series inspired by a conversation with Mike Hogan, and still continues till today.

Devil’s Advocate is now at its 6th instalment and they are:

1.   Devil’s Advocate versus Mike Hogan on Business English Teaching and Training

2.   Devil’s Advocate versus Dale Coulter on Dogme for Newly Qualified Teachers

3.   Devil’s Advocate versus Phil Wade on Exams and Testing

4.   Devil’s Advocate versus Anthony Gaughan on Lesson Aims & Plans in Teacher Training

5.   Devil’s Advocate versus Vicki Hollett on ELF

6.   Devil’s Advocate versus Rakesh Bhanot on Non-Native Speaker Teachers of English

There will be more Devil’s Advocate instalments to come right after the Teach-Off is over!

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The second was a series of posts about my Pre-Advanced Dogme classes:

1.   MLearning, Mini-Whiteboards, and Emergent Stuff

2.   Only in a Dogme Class

3.   All Because I Hoped I Didn’t Fall in Love with You

4.   I left my head and heart on the dance floor

5.   Wham! Vroom! And things that jet setters do…

6.   And then my students said…

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The third was a series of posts about the IATEFL Glasgow conference 2012:

1.   My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 1

2.   My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 2 – PCEs

3.   My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 3 – Adrian Underhill’s Plenary

4.   My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 4 – Dave Willis on Grammar

5.   My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 5 – Anthony Gaughan on the Se7en Deadly Sins of ELT

6.   My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 6 – Jacket Potatoes, MLearning, ELearning & Skype

7.   My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 7 – 52 Subversive Activities & lots of parties

8.   My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 8 – Diana Laurillard’s Plenary

9.   My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 9 – A Smorgasbord of Prezi, Metaphors, Drama and the Passive Voice

10.  My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 10 – Willy Cardoso on Sociocultural Perspectives to Teacher Training

11.  My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 11 – Steven Thorne’s Plenary  THE ONE THAT GOT ME MY BRITISH COUNCIL AWARD!

12.  My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 12 – Digital Devices, Digital Storytelling, and the NNS Teacher

13.  My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 13 – Pecha Kucha Evening

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And the fourth, as many of you might know, is the Teach-Off that is taking place as we speak:

1.   The Teach-Off – The Premise

2.   The Teach-Off – Dogme Day 1

2.   The Teach-Off – Dogme Day 2

3.   The Teach-Off – Dogme Day 3

4.   The Teach-Off – Dogme Day 4 

5.   The Teach-Off – Dogme Day 5

6.   The Teach-Off – Dogme Day 6

7.   The Teach-Off – Dogme Day 7

8.   The Teach-Off – Dogme Day 8

9.   The Teach-Off – The Dogme Observer’s POV

10. The Teach-Off – Introducing the Coursebook Round

11.  The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 1

12.  The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 2

13.  The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 3

14.  The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 4

15.  The Teach-Off – My reaction to coursebks and Uncount Nouns

15.  The Teach-Off – Coursebook Day 5

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Thank you so much for reading and for being a part of this blog…even during times when I was unable to blog regularly.

Thank you for an amazing year.

And here’s to the next!

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Now, pardon me while I go off and sing Happy Birthday to myself…

The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 5

This is Varinder Unlu’s account of her 5th Day using the coursebook.

Click here if you need a refresher on what’s happened till now.

Meanwhile, let me hand you over to Varinder

It’s Friday – can’t believe how quickly this week has gone.

Today’s lesson objectives were as follows:

To learn/revise structures with wish                   

To understand different types of humour and practise telling jokes

To practise speaking

To revise defining and non-defining relative clauses

To conduct tutorials with students

Global pages 84 and 85

 

At IH London students change classes every four weeks and this happens on the recommendation of the teacher after a tutorial with individual learners in week three.  Today during the final hour of the lesson I set the students a revision activity – relative clauses and conducted their tutorials in which we discussed if they will be moving up to the next level or staying in the same level.  I also discussed their progress with them and asked them what progress they thought they had made over the past three weeks.

The lesson started fairly slowly and I had three students absent today.

We very briefly discussed how the students were feeling and what plans they had for the weekend. Next I did what I always do at the start of every class and put the lesson objectives up on the board and put up a vocabulary column.

  1. I asked students to turn to page 84 of Global and told them to look at the pictures which tell a joke.  Students worked in pairs to put the pictures in order and figure out what the joke was.  One of the Brazilian students got the joke after re-arranging the pictures and started laughing.  The Asian students were a little perplexed at his reactions and couldn’t understand why he was laughing so much – more on this at the end of this post. I then told them that there was one extra picture and asked them which one they thought it was.
  2. I then played the joke so that the students could listen and check if they were right or wrong.  They had managed to get the pictures in order.  The Brazilian and Italian students said that they had something similar in their languages and were familiar with this.  The Asian students had not come across anything like this joke before.  We discussed the fact that humour is usually very specific to different cultures and that what one person finds funny may not be something that they may find funny.
  3. Next I focused the learners attention on the “extend your vocabulary box” – and asked them to read the other ways of saying funny. We clarified any issues with the language – students asked if they could use witty for things and when to use humorous.   From this we looked at the expression: sense of humour, clown, clowning around.  I asked the students to work in small groups and think of the following: a witty person they know, a hilarious actor or actress, a humorous story about something they said or did when they were a child, an amusing advertisement on television.  (This is from the book).
  4. During feedback we only talked about the first one and students were keen to talk about someone they knew who was funny/witty.  (I didn’t want to rush them onto the next one as they had quite a lot to say about this one thing and from monitoring during their group work I had heard them talking about the other things anyway).
  5. We then looked at the sentences from the first activity – the joke.  I elicited and boarded the sentences and asked the students to look at the grammar explanation on the use of wish. 
  6. The next activity in the book asks the students to look at the pictures at the bottom of the page and write two captions for each one using I wish + a caption from the box.   In between the pictures and the caption box there is exercise 3 which asks the students to complete the poem using the beginnings of the sentences.  The ordering of these activities is really confusing for the learners and I think that perhaps the pictures should be straight after the caption box.   I noticed as I was monitoring that each student had started to complete the poem trying to use the captions and the pictures.  I had to stop them and ask them not to complete the poem.
  7. Once students had completed the sentences, we wrote a few of them on the board and I went through any questions they still had about the uses of wish.
  8. Now we looked at the exercise 3 and I asked the class to complete the sentences for themselves – I didn’t ask them to do it as a poem as I thought it seemed a little random to start writing a poem at this stage.  Normally I would lead into a poem exercise with more preparation so that students have a model to work from but here it felt out of place and asking students to just complete the sentences was a better idea.
  9. We had a lot of laughter during the feedback after this activity – students had written some funny sentences about themselves and one of the Brazilian students said that he wished he hadn’t got married and started on the subject of how difficult it is to live with women and then went on to tell the class why and this lead to the female students “fighting back” saying how difficult it is to live with men.  I let this happen as they were clearly enjoying the banter and there was quite a bit of language emerging.
  10. I left the pronunciation activity out and went onto the matching up of the jokes in the speaking activity.  We checked the answers and then I asked students (for homework) to think about a joke from their country and write it down.
  11. After the break I set the class the exercise on relative clauses and while they were completing this, I conducted their tutorials.

This was an interesting lesson because although it worked and the class were clearly engaged and enjoying it, I would do it very differently next time.  I would lead into it with something else and then look at the pictures – there seems to be something missing at the beginning.  I would also change the ordering of the Grammar activities on page 85 because of all the confusion about which activity students were meant to be doing – the pictures should come straight after the phrases in the box.  When I ask students to work on a poem (and poetry is something I’m a big fan of in class), I usually build up to it differently – with some kind of example and work on a real poem.  Here what would have fitted in really well is something like this:

Wishes

by Rose Fyleman

I wish I liked rice pudding,
I wish I were a twin,
I wish some day a real live fairy
Would just come walking in.

I wish when I’m at table
My feet would touch the floor,
I wish our pipes would burst next winter,
Just like they did next door.

I wish that I could whistle
Real proper grown-up tunes
I wish they’d let me sweep the chimneys
On rainy afternoons.

I’ve got such heaps of wishes,
I’ve only said a few;
I wish that I could wake some morning
And find they’d all come true!

Students can see what they being asked to do and it gives them the confidence to be more creative.

We also talked about “I wish I were” and “I wish I was” – something which I think is important to highlight to student is that they will hear both forms being used and that “I wish I was” is becoming more and more  common.

This was a lesson that I wish I had prepared better as I think there’s a lot more that could have been done with the subject.  However I’ve been teaching, blogging and fulfilling my DOS duties throughout the week and by this morning I was feeling quite tired and my energy levels were low. (Don’t want to sound as if I’m trying to make excuses for not preparing properly!!). I didn’t project my tiredness on to my students though and I had one observer say how lovely the class and the students were.  This was a nice Friday lesson.

My first week of teaching from Global has been a positive one, especially because I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to top Chia’s lessons.  I have created a great rapport with my learners, I know them as individuals and see what they like and don’t like.  I can tap into that information throughout the lessons and use it to help them individually.  We have had some great laughs in lessons and we’ve also learned lot (including me!!).  I have tried to integrate learner training in as naturally as possible by giving students tips about how to become better readers, what to do to improve their listening skills, what exams expect of them etc.

Something that Chia said after her observation of me was that I have a great rapport with my class and I’m enthusiastic about teaching – this is true because I love teaching but I believe that this is not enough.  Of course, as we all know it is conducive to the learning in class if there is a relaxed, friendly atmosphere created.  Getting to know your learners as individuals is more important and making them feel that they can be free to make mistakes and experiment with the language is important.  Gaining their trust in you as a teacher is vital whether you’re teaching a Dogme class or from a course book.

Am I preaching now?  Typical teacher!

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