Twitter is a microblogging tool that has recently been made most famous by the American President Donald Trump. Ok, it was popular before he started running for office, but my point is that everyone is familiar with Twitter. It has approximately one hundred million active users daily. A twitter chat is simply a collection of users that contribute to an online conversation using a common hashtag (#). Twitter chats sometimes feature a guest that allows a community access to his/her expertise.
“You have to get your SBA’s, SUA’s, T’s and A’s in order to have an organized portfolio, Sridatt,” said the Lead Instructor of Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) implementation. “You also have to get,” continued the official, “peer evaluations [PE’s], learner reflections [LR’s], and inventory checklists [IC’s], all in order to have a good, organised portfolio.” The order and presentation of the portfolio, not the teaching of the language itself, seems paramount. I welcome myself to the new world of English as a second language teaching, even though my new teaching practices are not aligned with my educational philosophy.
By the time the individual was finished, I was beginning to see a sort of preoccupation over skill building activities (SBA’s), skill using activities (SUA’s) tasks (T’s) and assessments (A’s). When the individual was gone, it didn’t take much reflection to conclude that Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) seems to be a faulty assembly line approach to education. Continue reading →
An interest in languages, combined with a few stints living and working overseas, has meant that I have played the role of language learner more than once. These experiences have greatly informed my practice as a language teacher. Famously, this is called the ‘apprenticeship of observation’. Teaching is a unique profession in this sense; teachers have their own experiences as students watching their own teachers teach, which influences them when they become teachers. Here are a few of the things I have felt and thought as a learner that have influenced my teaching…
One of my courses specifies that students create a presentation on an educational resource and present it to their peers. The following is a model I’d like to share with you as a potential means of using a common theme with a final presentation as a way of promoting inquiry, research, collaboration, communication, planning, and writing within one term of instruction. The project comprises eight separate activities. Each activity involves the students practicing language and social skills in a variety of ways. These steps are detailed below in the section, Project Process.Continue reading →
I was talking with a colleague, Lisa, during lunch break the other day. At our school, the students have a 1-hour class with a pronunciation instructor once per week. Lisa was suggesting the merits of having a similar intensive lesson every week on reading. After our discussion, I began to consider the importance of reading versus the other skills. I am beginning to wonder if reading is the key skill to developing English proficiency.
Don’t get me wrong – Teaching pronunciation is one of my favourite classes to teach. I guess I like the focus of language use and playing with the sounds, the stress, intonation and inflection. Many students have expressed that it is important for them, as well.
One of the best things teachers can do for their students is to help them learn to help themselves. To promote learner autonomy, we need to build students’ self-confidence and give them strategies for teaching themselves. Some of the ways we can do this include the following. Continue reading →
Recently, I tried a campus familiarization activity with my students. In the past terms, students sat at their desks and looked at a map to identify services and their associated locations on a worksheet. Throughout the term students asked me, or each other, where different campus resources were located. It was obvious that they did not take in the campus resources information.
My challenge was to improve this learning activity. Reaching into my technology bag of tricks, I was looking for a technology that would improve this learning task. Continue reading →
Teaching verbs can be accomplished through a combination of miming, games, worksheets, video clips, discussion, lecture, translation, and perhaps a host of other strategies. Reinforcing the meaning of many verbs by providing a video clip can help with retention. Flashcards can also assist with vocabulary acquisition. Quizlet’s flashcards deliver still images or animated clips online. Animated clips can accelerate acquisition through motion in context. Quizlet’s ability to include animated GIFs makes it a useful tool for language students learning base verbs.
Do you have some go-to activities that you use for multiple teaching points? I have a few. I think it’s reassuring for students to see activities they recognize. They feel confident when they know what to do, and they can focus on the point being taught instead of learning the rules of a new game (ahem, I mean “learning activity”). It also doesn’t hurt that reusing ideas and materials reduces teacher prep time. For these reasons, here are three of my favourite flexible activities.Continue reading →
As language teachers, many of us agree that technology is useful for assisting our instruction. Videos, animations, virtual tours, audio clips, interactive games, self-correcting quizzes and digital online resources are some of the possibilities offered through technology. Until recently, technology based learning events have been delivered on institutional workstations, laptops or tablets. The personal device revolution is migrating learning events/objects to mobile device applications or apps.
For security reasons, institutions have been organized to control digital resources. This includes networks, hardware, software, online subscriptions and website access. The advent of Bring Your Own Technology or B.Y.O.T. tests this control. Continue reading →