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Summaries Shaun Wilden, Sandy Millin

Creative Commons - BY -- 2012

Table of Contents January 2011

1 Principles when preparing your own teaching materials - 06.01.2011 1 Convincing colleagues that online professional development (PD) is as effective as face-to-face - 06.01.2011 2 “Can translation (and translation tools) facilitate language learning and how can it be used to best effect” – 12.01.2011 3 Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom - 12.01.2011 7 To Test or not to Test? And if we don’t what then? - 19.01.2011 15 Motivating Teens to Use English (and not L1) in Class -19.01.2011 19 Ways to develop learner autonomy – tips for learning outside class time - 26.01.2011 24

January 2011 Principles when preparing your own teaching materials - 06.01.2011

January 2011 Principles when preparing your own teaching materials - 06.01.2011 For today’s chats, we were fortunate to have had one of our fellow #ELTchatters offer to write a summary of the main points from the transcripts. I suggested this as there were quite a few new followers who mentioned that it is sometimes difficult to follow the transcript – there are so many retweets, it’s true! Principles when preparing your own teaching materials – Summary The learner should be central. Materials should be professionally presented. Play with layouts, fonts, etc. Materials don’t have to mean paper worksheets: they could also be online, videos, presentations, art, mindmaps, realia… Materials can and should generate activities. Never do something yourself when your SS can do it for / with you. They should be fun, meaningful, practical and motivate SS. Try to include visuals, rather than just words. They should suit the skill / language point of the lesson, rather than just looking interesting to the teacher. They should empower SS to use the language and make connections. Materials should be sensitive to the nationalities / cultures you teach. Materials should be as relevant to the SS as possible. You can ask SS which topics motivate them. Space should be available for learners to take notes, perhaps with the back of the sheet completely blank. Avoid the temptation to do all thinking on paper. Open-ended materials can fuel whole lessons. Materials should be applicable to a real-life context. Inspiration can come from anywhere. They should be flexible. You can use your own materials to escape the confines of a coursebook, while still covering the syllabus. Or approach it differently, maybe by teaching a unit backwards. Use your materials to remind SS that they don’t have to be doing the same thing at the same time. Don’t forget about interaction! Design materials which make SS think, not just repeat. Think about trying the same materials out with different students. How much time do you spend planning v. using materials? Keep your materials: organise them on your computer, blog them, share them with your students / colleagues… Remember the level of your students: important for the tasks and the instructions. Trigger laughter and / or curiosity whenever possible. Consider SS who may have difficulty with your materials e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia. For example, use coloured paper for those with reading difficulties. When using authentic materials, fit the task to the students, rather than worrying too much about fitting the text to them.


January 2011 Principles when preparing your own teaching materials - 06.01.2011

Reflect, edit, adapt, recycle – don’t give up! Play! Take a risk! Disclaimer I would like to reiterate that this is my summary of the discussions which took place today. I have used the words of some of the participants directly, but in no way claim them as my own – I wanted to make it a little simpler to find out what was going on, so have avoided crediting everyone. To find out exactly who said what, and to experience the full joy of an #eltchat, read the transcripts here. Sandy Millin

Convincing colleagues that online professional development (PD) is as effective as face-to-face - 06.01.2011 Chat summary contributed by Sandy Millin Tell them about all the amazing people you meet / blogs you read / ideas you get / fun you have. Highlight how much you can learn in how little time. A big problem is where to start: blogs may be less overwhelming than Twitter. Show them a sample of online PD, so they can see what is going on. Time is a major issue: many teachers feel PD should take place during work hours, and find it hard to see the reasons for continuing it outside. This is also often connected to the fact that online PD is unpaid. Be a stuck record: your colleagues may join in to shut you up! People struggle with information overload: we need to find ways to deal with this. You could deal with links by favouriting, bookmarking and coming back to them at a later date. Not joining in with online PD could mean you don’t really enjoy teaching / joining in with online PD could reinvigorate your teaching when you feel close to burnout. It empowers you. You are participating and engaging with ELT. Lead by doing: show your colleagues how much your online PD has helped you. Share with your colleagues. Send them links that they might find useful. Start a wiki. Use google bookmarks. Post to an Edmodo group. Demonstrate, demonstrate, demonstrate! Perception: Twitter is not just for geeks / socialising; You can control your own PD (when, where, how…) It changes your practice and your expectations as a teacher. Mentor: show someone round and help them take their first steps in Twitter / the blogosphere. Help them move from being digital visitors to digital residents. Introduce online PD gradually to give others time to adjust. Almost everyone ‘lurks’ for a while before they dive in to contributing on Twitter. This is a good time for adjustment, but many of us commented that people often give up before taking the plunge.


January 2011 Convincing colleagues that online professional development (PD) is as effective as face-to-face 06.01.2011

Recommend people / blogs for newbies to follow. The school’s webmaster may block sites, making it harder to join in. Access can also be an issue in terms of the availability of PCs, internet etc. You end up doing things you never would have imagined doing before [like summarizing a discussion involving people from all over the world] Technology v. pedagogy: emphasise the latter if people are reluctant. Don’t forget that technology is difficult for many people. Feel the fear and do it anyway! If you keep talking, someone will start listening. Disclaimer I would like to reiterate that this is my summary of the discussions which took place today. I have used the words of some of the participants directly, but in no way claim them as my own – I wanted to make it a little simpler to find out what was going on, so have avoided crediting everyone. To find out exactly who said what, and to experience the full joy of an #eltc

“Can translation (and translation tools) facilitate language learning and how can it be used to best effect” – 12.01.2011 This summary has been copied from Shaun Wilden’s blog with his permission

Wednesday afternoon’s #eltchat was on the use of translation. Over my teaching career this has been a topic that has often come up in development session. As a teacher as I have got more experienced I think I have gone from the draconian ‘no use of l1’ to a more tolerant approach but nevertheless I was blown away by Guy Cook’s revelation (in a talk I saw at the weekend) that there is no research to support the ‘banning’ of translation. I tend to agree with the point made that translation is a skill (the fifth skill as it was referred to yesterday) but we need to be careful and ensure we draw a line between L1 use in the classroom and the use of translation. As a language learner I have always needed translation as a crutch and as one tweet said: “Show me a beginner learner who is NOT trying to translate at some stage” And our learning experiences seem (for the most part) to hold this view:


January 2011 “Can translation (and translation tools) facilitate language learning and how can it be used to best effect” – 12.01.2011

Teachers reflecting on their learning and translation: Comparing structures is often quite useful – what crosses over between L1 and L2 and what doesn’t I learnt through translation as well but must say it was when I ABANDONED translating that my acquisition took off -

I need translation skills all the time (live with an Italian)

Translation is what helped me realise how uniquely different the two systems are, on multiple levels. -

As a learner, I noticed a sequence (in myself) of translating from words to chunks…

In the summary of below I have tried to categorize the main points of chat, the topic headings are my own, I hope they reflect the chat as a whole. Why is translation ignored? -

There is no research to suggest translation is a bad thing yet it is generally ignored


It’s the effects of the Direct Method still gripping all other later approaches IMOHO


I think it’s a general feeling that translation is ‘old-fashioned’ but it’s not

What I remember most about my CertTESOL course is the icy stare I got from lecturers when I told them I actually enjoy translation Perhaps the problem is that many still look at translation from a grammar translation point of view, which takes us back to those boring lessons. -

Some schools actively ban L1 completely

Plus points of translation: front!

It can be great at empowering learners when they’re feeling overwhelmed by English speaker at

Translation can be useful for highlighting specific differences between L1 and L2, but should we be using it for other things too -

Translation can be a great tool for students to grasp real meaning of what they’re saying

Students also seem to feel secure with some translation of vocabulary items. Maybe as you know a language more you need it less.


January 2011 “Can translation (and translation tools) facilitate language learning and how can it be used to best effect” – 12.01.2011

Just yesterday a student of mine said he felt much more comfortable doing his homework and using an online translator -

Students find it very difficult to understand come concepts without translation


Just as some students are visual learners, etc, some will benefit more than others from translating


It can help convey a cultural concept from one language which does not transfer to the other

Translation is handy with monolingual groups when we can’t get meaning of a lexical item across after attempts: translate! Quick & effective Some issues: -

It’s a tricky thing for a teacher to manage or use in a multilingual class.

As any other tool in the language classroom, translation has to be used carefully, but it may be useful if used properly Translation perpetuates the myth that the native English teacher is always best or the NEST perpetuating myth It is widely used in mainly state education systems and often in “boring” grammar-translation” lessons. Is there a danger of students becoming dependent on translation, if allowed more freely? The problem of overreliance. It’s important that we are encouraging students to speak English rather than banning them from using their L1 -

how does L1 culture affect attitude to using translation? Issues of identity, politics all play a part.

Allowing students to use L1 will prevent them from acquiring important features of pronunciation, for instance Some way to use translation: -

Translation can be used in multilingual classes as personalised exercise


The lexical approach is a big advocate of translation


Mixing translation with pronunciation. Sentences written in phonemic script


Translation and contrastive analysis are important teaching tools


January 2011 “Can translation (and translation tools) facilitate language learning and how can it be used to best effect” – 12.01.2011


Does the teacher need to be in control or is it a way of handing over learning to the students?


Have multilingual classes translate poems etc into their own language


It can be extremely useful especially in ESP courses.

Get multilingual classes to translate into their L1s, then give ‘literal’ translations back into English -

Fixing a bad translation into English is a great activity

Learners’ conversation are much more natural if they think about what they would say in L1 in the context before thinking about L2 -

Translating songs


Writing subtitles in L1 for a TV clip

Scraps of paper: L1 one side, L2 the other. Put in circle. Roll dice, say translation (works for very clear direct equivalents) Getting students to translate L1 newspaper stories into L2 in summary and then present – works in reverse too L1 can also be used for input or conversation trigger. For instance, a newspaper article in L1, but discussion in L2. Drama activity: Students act out scene in L1 then watch it in L2 – great for cultural and paralinguistic features For business lessons replicating real situations useful, e.g., getting students to explain menu, news headlines, signs, etc. -

Translation great for practising reported speech as it should be practiced


Students can build list of troublesome false cognates


Find a badly translated menu and get students to improve it – mostly food vocabulary but a real

Links The full transcript An Interview with Guy Cook


January 2011 “Can translation (and translation tools) facilitate language learning and how can it be used to best effect” – 12.01.2011

Guy Cook’s recent talk on translation Links for Translators and Translator trainees

Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom - 12.01.2011 Here is an additional summary for the songs topic contributed by @fionamau – you may enjoy reading this one as she has included the IDs of those who suggested ideas or commented, so this one is a much more personal account! Many thanks for this!

Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom, or Rockband as a Foreign Language (subtitle courtesy of @harrisonmike) Songs have long been favourites in the English classroom, whether as a valid teaching complement to ‘serious teaching’ or, typically, as the ‘keep-em-happy’ Friday activity, but when songs were proposed as the topic for debate on #eltchat on a chilly Wednesday GMT evening in early January 2011, it prompted the weaving of a long, multicoloured, snaking scarf of a conversation which was much enjoyed by all those knitting it and will probably outlast most other Christmas presents in its usefulness. For the sake of ease, rather than summarise the chat in chronological order, I am taking the questions asked by various participants then other comments (threads and activities) that were then discussed as the basis for this summary. As others have drawn up complete lists of the links to songs etc proposed, they will be added at the end, by way of a ps. Part One: The questions There were in fact only twelve questions asked, but six of them drew a significant number of responses. Here are those six with the ensuing discussions, in chronological order. 1 @TyKendall asked: Can i ask why teachers like or dislike using songs in the classroom? Answers were as follows: @sandymillin said she liked songs because they’re a connection to real English, though some of her students don’t like singing…something @hoprea echoed and a whole conversation thread on singing ran through the hour and is summarised below. @Marisa_C said she uses songs because she loves them, and her students do too. Others agreed @cioccas said that some Students can hear their pronunciation problems disappear while singing, so it gives them hope they’ll get there in the end @JoeMcVeigh said that songs and music get students’ attention. They stop and listen and focus better with the music added to the words. Others agreed.


January 2011 Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom - 12.01.2011

@Marisa_C suggested that songs enable bottom-up/top-down processing simultaneously..that’s got be something! And many agreed with her. @hoprea said that songs are useful for working on suprasegmental aspects of language and @harrisonmike added that songs (and poems) a great way to look at words that share the same sounds, giving Shakira’s Fool as one good example. @steve_kirk added to this aspect by saying that songs provide multiple routes to language retention: rhythm, melody, metre. It all helps SS hang onto the lang. Several people agreed. On the other hand @billpelowe said he’d found that Japanese students really don’t get the idea of rhyme in songs unless it is explicitly taught to them. @TyKendall gave his personal answer saying that he has found that songs are a great way to access slang and to move beyond the sometimes colourless textbook language. The whole area of slang was later discussed entensively. @EleniPat moved away from language reasons, and towards ‘soft skills’ related ones, saying she likes working on songs because her students feel relaxed and participate more @smaragdav also cited ‘human’ reasons, saying songs help boost students with learning difficulties’ self confidence because you don’t need to spell or read once you learn the song @janetbianchini mentioned singing, saying students love singing songs, plus as an activity singing provides great pronunciation practice (echoing opinions above), vocab extension, vocab themes and it’s great fun! Marisa added that songs are great for pronunciation practice, especially sound linking and reduction. @steve_kirk and vickysaumell mentioned poetry. Steve said that he liked looking at songs as poetry: Form, metaphor, emotion. He added that working extensively with lyrics post-listening can be very powerful. Vicky said that, whenever teaching teens poetry, she starts with a song to make it more accessible. Finally, @TEFL said that at his/her kids’ school, music is used for exercise. D.P.A. Daily Physical Activity. Kids and teachers dance to hip hop every day – which sounds a lot of fun! BUT not all the answers to Ty’s initial question were keen ‘yeah, songs are brill’ answers. Some words of caution were also offered: @derekspalla pointed out that one challenge is finding or creating songs…the process is time consuming for both @cioccas agreed that the choice of song can sometimes be very difficult, especially in classes with ages 18-80 and from 15-20 different cultural backgrounds and @Marisa_C added that often the teacher’s taste is very different because of the generation gap with some students. She said that she’d spotted glazed eyes at eg Beatles songs in classes. In response to this, @gret said that he/she loves using songs to encourage discussions in literature classes, eg when discussing Animal Farm, Revolution by The Beatles is good. In response to Marisa, @TyKendall pointed out that we can still get learners to generate language even if they don’t like the song; they can talk about their dislikes and @marekandrews agreed, saying that it’s good to milk a song for all the cultural connections, and you can take it to unusual places. @billpelowe suggested just discussing a song in general, ‘natural’ terms eg if they’ve heard it before, do they like it etc, @SueannaN said that the value of songs really depends on what you do with them in the classroom. Just because it’s music doesn’t mean it’ll suit everyone, and this is particularly true with teens. Others agreed


January 2011 Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom - 12.01.2011

with her. @BethCagnol said that teens do find some songs boring unless they’re tied to their favourite shows (e.g. theme from How I Met Your Mother) @monicamalpas77 mentioned that sometimes it’s hard to choose a popular song because students like different kinds of music and the lyrics might have taboo words @Shaunwilden asked if that meant teachers should alter the lyrics or censor songs? This thread was also discussed in some depth and is summarised below. @Chaoukiboss said that it doesn’t matter whether Ts like songs or not. Songs can achieve the goals only when learners like them, and others agreed. @monicamalpas77 said she reduced the chances of choosing a duff song by asking for suggestions for bands, singers,etc before choosing the song and @iVenus echoed this by suggesting getting students to help choose songs by giving five suggestions and asking them to vote for the top 3. @BethCagnol told everyone that she had actually had a student who was music-phobic and hated it! This had really made classes…interesting 2 @sandymillin Do you use songs with videos or just audio? Answers were as follows: @iVenus thought that the fact that we can watch videos as well as listen to songs really enhances student experience, an opinion echoed by @cioccas @hoprea was more cautious, saying that he finds that even though it makes songs more interesting, video can also be very distracting. @JoeMcVeigh agreeds but @esolcourses, while agreeing video can be distracting, said that sometimes you can utilise the visuals to teach a language point. @Shaunwilden was the first to mention using youtube, and @iVenus mentioned the karaoke versions of songs on YouTube. He/She has an occasional sing off w/ students! Karaoke was one of the buzzwords of the chat and was cited as a very popular activity especially for class bonding and end of term. @harrisonmike mentioned that videos are great for mixing up the words and visuals of a song and gave us a link to an activity @sandymillin warned of the dangers of not preparing your video class beforehand, mentioning a teacher who had prepared activities for Lady Gaga’s Telephone, then watched video last minute and found it wasn’t suitable @monicamalpas77 agreed that it’s really important to watch the videos before playing them but said you can just use other pictures instead while listening. @JoeMcVeigh Videos as writing prompts. Students watch, then retell or answer questions. e.g. Michael Bublé video Just haven’t met you yet 3 link slang and taboo words to here @hoprea What about songs with taboo or swear words? Would you use them in class? For instance, teens asking for hit songs with such words. The answers were: @cioccas suggested using to teach those words and discuss why they are taboo, an idea that seemed to appeal to @hoprea. @cioccas then pointed out that students need to be aware of these words when they live in English-speaking countries and hear swearing around them. @marekandrews agreed with this take, saying that appropriate groups discussing “inappropriate” lyrics might be very productive. On the other hand, @harrisonmike finds that, even though he teaches adults, he wouldn’t use a song with loads of swearwords because some of his learners aren’t particularly mature.


January 2011 Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom - 12.01.2011

@JenniWellsted suggested finding the radio edit ie the one with the beeped words or modified lyrics (eg “Forget” you by Cee-Lo) @derekspalla echoed this, saying you can usually find “clean” versions of student songs that have offensive lyrics or themes. However, @hoprea pointed out that students are likely to already know the song and will tend to sing it using the dirty words. “Not after they learn the “new” version you teach them,” said @derekspalla. “It will get stuck in their head I promise “ @TyKendall suggested that appropriacy is always an issue when dealing with authentic material, songs are no different, and teachers should use their judgement. @esolcourses added to this pointing out that the context you are teaching in, the age group, and whether lyrics may cause offence to some students are all relevant considerations. As @marekandrews said, it always comes down to the sensitivity of the teacher. 4 @nickkiley: Anyone ever encountered strong student resistence to songs in class? Answers here fell under two headings: songs and singing Songs @Shaunwilden and @cioccas had experienced reluctance from students regarding using songs. In Shaun’s case, the choice of song was the problem, “When trying to be trendy with teens. A few years ago, I had a class of mainly teen boys, they listened to rap etc so thought it would be a good idea”. They didn’t buy it. And the topic of rap was cause for some discussion. @TyKendall said he thinks teen pop culture is so hard to keep up with but he usually avoids rap simply because of the speed. @cioccas said she had used some Australian hip hop, to encourage writing about ‘issues’, but that the listening is sometimes very difficult! @esolcourses felt that rap is really only for higher levels. However, said @cioccas, younger refugees from Africa also like hip hop. @billpelowe mentioned that one of his students’ graduation thesis is on rap (rhyme & content analysis, etc). He uses to understand lyrics. @TyKendall pointed out that rap can often be misogynistic and homophobic, so the teacher needs to choose carefully, although it is a good way of bringing those topics into the classroom. @cioccas had had negative reactions from some more serious students who don’t think it’s real learning. @nickkiley asked if she dropped the songs in this case. @cioccas answered “No, I show them how singing leads to learning – how we use it for grammar, etc. It’s very hard with lower levels of course!” @marekandrews suggested that it’s good to get students to decide on a song together and work with it, then discuss how useful it was for whatever. Singing linking singing in 1 to here @smaragdav has encountered reluctance from shy students, as they are worried about singing. @nickkiley asked if there were any strategies to deal with this reaction. @sandymillin suggested getting the students to choose the song and @smaragdav answered that she tries to encourage the shy ones by smiling to them while she’s singing, but never pressures them. @monicamalpas77 said that when students don’t want to sing, she replays the beginning of the song as many times as necessary til she sees ‘everyone’ singing – it doesn’t take long for them all to join in. They start laughing but then start singing. @nickkiley and @cioccas pointed out that some people really just hate singing, including teachers, and @grahamstanley agreed, saying you have to check that your students are ok with singing. Someone pointed out that singing alone is embarrassing but that singing in a group come overcome that, to which @Marisa_C added that singing together is, in fact, great for group bonding; “like at a football match” said @nickkiley. A discussion on the merits of being a good or bad singer was then sparked off, the general consensus being it’s probably better not to be too great a singer yourself, as ‘good’ singing from the teacher can be off-putting for students! @monicamalpas77 said that students always find it funny when she sings with them, “I sing badly!” she said “but as I don’t get embarrassed, they follow me”. @grahamstanley also claimed to a less than tuneful singer and mentioned that his singing can end in a potentially bemusing or


January 2011 Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom - 12.01.2011

amusing Name that tune game as students try to work out what he’s singing. @TyKendall also confessed to being unable to carry a tune, but this is no impediment to our diehards On a slightly different note, if you’ll pardon the pun, @vickysaumell said that she uses Black Eyes Peas´Where is the Love and she challenges her classes to sing it through from beginning to end for a good “grade”. Slightly more sombrely, @Marisa_C said she had had no resistance but sometimes felt reluctant to make a class of impoverished refugees start singing…….. 5 @JoeMcVeigh What do you think are the QUALITIES of a good song to use in the classroom? What do you consider when choosing songs?

Answers were as follows: @harrisonmike – speed, and age suitability (eg 1 2 3 4 5 once I caught a fish alive is no good for 10yr-olds) Others agreed with this last point, particularly in the case of teenagers. @sueleather – it should be a song students like @smaragdav – students’ age, taste in music and teaching purpose @grahamstanley and many others let students choose a lot of the time, to which @marek added that it is good to then get them to do presentations and projects on the bands they chose. @vickysaumell asks students to choose a song about a global issue, they then sing along, and discuss the issue. She said that students feel empowered when they choose the song.. they can even gap the songs themselves. 6 @grahamstanley Does anyone have any ‘story songs’ to suggest (i.e. songs with stories in them)? – they are usually great to use in class The answers were as follows: @sandymillin Spanish Train or Patricia the Stripper (Chris de Burgh) might be good. @Marisa_C She’s leaving home Beatles @SueannaN the album ‘The Boy Bands Have Won’ has some great story songs. Also Folk songs @cioccas Paul Kelly may be good, may be too Australian @fionamau Young Hearts Run Free Candi Staton or Kim Mazelle (give students some of the lyrics, ask them to devise video clip THEN play the song; the music is in stark contrast to the words). Also Delilah – Tom Jones. @harrisonmike Stereophonics I stopped to fill my car up @JoeMcVeigh Peter Paul & Mary ‘The Cruel War’ ’Spanish is the loving tongue’ Michael Martin Murphey @nickkiley always thought there might be a (long) lesson in Dylan’s Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts @marekandrews once taught Girlfriend in a coma (The Smiths) to teach “I could have” pronunciation, and a girl started crying because her best friend had been in coma and died….. So the moral is choose your story with care! The other questions were (feel free to answer them in the comments section): 7 @billpelowe We believe that slow songs can help students learn intonation, elision etc., but does it


January 2011 Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom - 12.01.2011

really? @BethCagnol thought that slower songs can confuse students due to their elongated vowels. 8 @hoprea I guess the very first thing is defining why you’re playing a song in class. Is it just for fun or is there a clear learning goal? @derekspalla said teachers should always have a clear learning goal, especially with older students, and @hoprea pointed out that sometimes fun and relaxation can be the goal. @monicamalpas77 answered that she uses songs with teenagers to motivate them too. They know there’ll be a song and just can’t wait, but it also depends on your students. 9 @BethCagnol Any of your students think they are “bad” in English because they don’t understand the lyrics of songs in English? @Shaunwilden – and many others – struggles to understand some songs in English, let alone students. @BethCagnol said that the French seem to use this as a benchmark to their level of English. 10 @JoeMcVeigh Any success with songs from musicals? @cioccas said that she knew a teacher who has done the whole of ‘Sound of Music’ and ‘Mary Poppins’ over a semester! 11 @steve_kirk Instrumental music can be a gr8 way to frame a guided visualisation. How else do you use music without words? @Marisa_C said that Suggestopedia type or adaptations thereof necessitate soft background music (at 60 megacycles @sandymillin and @derekspalla ask students to draw while listening then compare pictures. @fionamau Elicit a class story from a song or piece of music (eg Duo de las flores by Delibes), by stopping and asking questions (where? Who? What are they doing?) to build story. Sts then write it, adding own details. 12 @nickkiley Anyone done any football songs in class? @Marisa_C hasn’t, but she’s done the pub song Show me the way to go home Someone else mentioned a friend who has made a whole short course on football for one of the WCs, inc terrace chants. Part Two: Other threads 13 @derekspalla said he personally tries to “sing” all of the songs himself…my students get a kick out of it even when I do it badly (see singing above) @gret also does that a lot too. His/Her students used to sing in front of the class last year too. Some even wrote their own songs @derekspalla said that having students write a song is a great idea too and he will be trying that, especially with his older ones @gret said that some students shared the songs on their blogs! Others shared the videos on the blogs and then sang in class. They even had a Skype call with @flourishingkids‘ class in California. “We sang for them and they sang for us! It was amazing” 14 @sandymillin often has background music to put students at ease when doing song tasks. And if she sings along (which she does) they laugh and relax @Shaunwilden used to use background music, but his students preferred not to have it. @harrisonmike agreed that background music isn’t for everyone,


January 2011 Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom - 12.01.2011

and quoted @Harmerj as having told him he’d seen a teacher turn on background music for a speaking activity without asking students, which wasn’t good. @sandymillin said it depends on if the class is quiet. She sometimes turns it off once they start speaking, but sometimes finds that background silence stops them talking. However, she also said that if @Harmerj says she shouldn’t, then she had better ask more. Some students had given her feedback that they like background music because it’s more relaxed. 15 @grahamstanley said that using an IWB means that he can also now prepare a song in 5 minutes to use with his young learners. @harrisonmike then pointed out that this is true if the internet connection and network are all good, with a wink and a smile. Others agreed with this. @grahamstanley also takes Play Station and plays karaoke using Singstar. Many others do this too, and it is generally a popular and successful activity. @grahamstanley then recommended using youtube and spotify for the music, and then copying and pasting the lyrics on the IWB. He said “It’s great to be able to use a song that my YLs are into that day, rather than wait until next class”. Spotify is also great for displaying songlists based on music genre or even the year a student was born (predict the songs) Part Three: Other Comments and Activities (in brief) @SueannaN Chants are good for pronunciation exercises @shaznosel sorry to say but teenagers find chants boring..too much like poetry..songs are for the teens. @marekandrews good with new group to get ss to write down songs they like and for you as teacher to make sure everyone’s song is dealt with in some way @Marisa_C asks sts to write additional verses @hoprea Play song once, ask students to write down as many words as they can, pair them up, and ask them to create a new song w/ the words (sort of dictogloss). @Shaunwilden An Idea I got from @cheimi10 was 2 use screen capture 2 take pics from a song video, they can then be used 4 ordering/ prediction @iVenus The usual pre- ; while- and post- listening/viewing phases are something I use often. Covers mood, vocabulary and application @harrisonmike If there are different visuals to a music video, or advert using a song, it can be interesting to consider the differences. @harrisonmike Can be interesting to think about using and comparing cover versions w/originals (or same song in different languages) eg Halleluyah (L Cohen, R Wainwright, X Factor person…) @janetbianchini get students to write words for the music. @grahamstanley Another idea with music videos is for them to play the song and ask them to design a concept for the video or design own video clip. @SueannaN I use mix of music from the countries of my students. They have 2 explain similarities &


January 2011 Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom - 12.01.2011

differences in the sentiments of the songs @marekandrews national anthems good for this @smaragdav Get YL to mime song , teens to act out a scene of what they think happened. Improvising this is fun @marekandrews playing a song when sts are coming into class but not doing any activities w it can help create pos mood for class @BethCagnol It’s also fun to show students websites that list “misheard” lyrics by native speakers. Funny stuff! @SueannaN Do a kind of Jukebox Jury with a handful of songs. Students have to vote for their favourite. Good TBL task @janetbianchini Write key words on bits of coloured paper – hand out to ss – they have to stand up when they hear their word – usually great fun! @sandymillin Inspired by @lclandfield – use – Ask SS to subtitle song. Then compare each other’s versions @vickysaumell Lyrics training great for autonomous work on the songs they like @hooperchris issues Getting s to consider songs + singers re equal & diversity very good 4 + citizenship [&] positive role models @SueannaN Give students half the rhyme and get them to make up the other half- Can be hilarious (careful with teens) @JoeMcVeigh Scrambled lyrics: give students lyrics but put lines out of order. Students reorder, then listen @sandymillin Get SS to make a playlist at then ask them to walk around class & find out who else’s they would listen 2 @harrisonmike I got CAE students to punctuate In The Ghetto and Bang Bang My Baby Shot Me Down - didn’t tell them they were songs at first. @hoprea Play bits of songs / soundtracks and ask students to write adjectives they think of on the board – no repetition allowed. @sandymillin Play a soundtrack and ask SS to guess the kind of film – good for slightly out-of-date so not too easy @vickysaumell Grammar revision through song titles @janetbianchini Do a wordle to predict the song theme- ss make up their own song based on wordle then compare with real song to see who is accurate. Also @grahamstanley A great warmer for a song is to stick the lyrics in Wordle or and ask learners to guess song from word cloud


January 2011 Using songs in the EFL/ESL classroom - 12.01.2011

PS The Recommendations @harrisonmike Love the juxtaposition of music and words in @Harmerj and Steve Bingham’s @BethCagnol One of my FAVE songs to use is “Anything you can do I can do better” for the comparative @TyKendall i like how Mark Andrews used Katy Perry’s firework to tackle a taboo subject (RT + harrisonmike That was cool!) @grahamstanley My favourite modals (for prediction) song is ‘The ballad of Billy Jo’ – there’s a version by Sinead O’Connor @janetbianchini Love doing Eternal Flame by the Bangles with Elems -great pres cont + miming actions +body vocab practice @marekandrews comparing two versions of Candle in the Wind @Marisa_C beginners (and teacher trainees) Don’t know much about… get them to write new verse @gret Hello, Goodbye Beatles, extra verse Take that / Robbie Williams @JoeMcVeigh Useful teacher resource book: Music and Song by Tim Murphey. (OUP) or (Amazon-US) @Shaunwilden Remembered I had a blog post on using pencil full of lead (the vid is superb for an EFL class) @hoprea I really like using songs to work on pronunciation. Activities as this one: @smaragdav YL making video clip of Singing in the rain A nice suggestion is getting Weird Al’s versions and comparing with originals. The videos are also a good idea @janetbianchini To practise a grmmar point eg present perf cont this song by Foreigner is great Do A/B close gap activity @SueannaN Musical lessons prepared for the English teacher @esolcourses Some online song quizzes on my website, (Gap fills, multiple choice,etc) sorted by level: @europeaantje Misheard lyrics @smaragdav is a great site. Make a quiz on lyrics. Ss answer as they watch the video clip @janetbianchini Tune into is a fab free resource to use with ss!! @fionamau In the ghetto 2 demo importance of working on yr pronunciation @SueannaN Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan for ‘issues’. ALSO Beatles for Taxman (ESHalvorsen – BE sts, comparative and gripes!) Chumbawumba’s Add re internet safety And an all-star cast including: Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Barenaked ladies, Glee, Dido, Alannis Morissette, Beatles (Hello, goodbye for extra verse, Taxman for comparative, Penny Lane for articles, She’s leaving home, Lucy in the sky for prepositions, Jealous Guy (OK, it’s J Lennon, not Beatles) for past cont and relationsips) ………….. @fionamau for, January 2011


January 2011 To Test or not to Test? And if we don’t what then? - 19.01.2011

To Test or not to Test? And if we don’t what then? - 19.01.2011

This summary was kindly contributed by one of our #ELTchat followers, @SueAnnan

Many thanks for organising all the ideas so neatly, Sue!

To Test or not to Test? And if we don’t what then?

This was the subject of the 12GMT #ELTchat of 19th January 2011. 60 educators from around the world took part in the discussion and many others followed the chat.

One key issue was to differentiate between Assessment, Evaluation and Testing.

Assessment was seen as the more positive application in a classroom. It was noted that genuine assessment comes with real world application of the learned skill. Developing self-assessment was promoted as an important learner tool for students, although the point was made that not all sts see the benefits, and may feel that it is the job of the teacher to make assessments.

Some participants were supporters of such things as:

Informal weekly reviews to focus on points to develop

Themed tasks to encourage production rather than rules

Students setting own goals (based on negotiated criteria)

• Using portfolios, particularly with Young Learners, as their parents would also have access to them. However it was pointed out that these needed to be maintained throughout the course and not allowed to lapse.

End of term presentations


January 2011 To Test or not to Test? And if we don’t what then? - 19.01.2011

The attention turned to tests and we considered different types of test and their purposes:


Placement Which class is right for this student?


Diagnosis What are the needs of the student?


Grading How does this student measure against the others?


Evaluation How good is the student’s language?


Prognosis What does the student now need to study?



Many felt that placement tests were limited in their efficacy by not including any testing of the productive skills of Speaking and Writing, although some teachers do adapt them to suit.

Other tests were judged, by some, to assess a very narrow range of outcomes.

Some teachers write their own tests which could benefit their students, if they are well-written, which is not a skill given to everyone. It was noted that tests produced by the professionals are seen as reliable and practicable, but must be used appropriately.

Another point raised was the reason for the test. Was it an expectation on the part of the student, parents, school administration, workplace or even the government? Part of the challenge faced by teachers is to increase awareness that tests are not the only means of evaluating performance and subject development.

Although many adult students can appreciate the benefit, the necessity to test should depend on the individual needs. It was felt that tests were often demotivational and could induce feelings of fear, stress and inadequacy in some students. It was questioned whether culture, learning background, study skill ability or family attitude could affect the outcome.

We all agreed that students enjoy seeing their own progress, but the question was:


January 2011 To Test or not to Test? And if we don’t what then? - 19.01.2011

How do we make tests stress-free?

• An interesting idea is to allow students to make the tests in groups. This could provide a learning opportunity at the same time and peer correction is good.

It is also important to test what we teach.

Is it important to give grades? No grades can change the dynamics

Do lots of preparation

Base tests on student errors to help them improve

Show sts the advantages; stretching, remembering, guessing

Give plenty of feedback

Remember to test communication skills

Test to show accomplishments too

Tell sts that test is to evaluate the skill of the teacher

• The video-game-like approach, where students are tested to progress to the next level could provide motivation to do well

Online tests could be done at home

Desuggestopedic relaxation exercises might work for suggestible students

Create psychological tests as activity


January 2011 To Test or not to Test? And if we don’t what then? - 19.01.2011

Brain research suggests that testing helps retention and acquisition of information

It is important to remember that testing, however well done, constitutes only a small part of the total course.

Some links offered are:


A Practical Guide to Assessing ELLs by Coombe, Folse, Hubley

The Study Skills Handbook (Palgrave Study Skills) Dr Stella Cotterill

Blog posts

Barefoot Teaching Journal – Testing Times

By @SueAnnan

Motivating Teens to Use English (and not L1) in Class -19.01.2011 Last night’s #ELTchat was lively and full of ideas as usual, but, unfortunately, we have no transcript to show for it as the site we use, What the Hashtag seems to have been experiencing difficulties and most of the tweets were missing. If any of you of another similar website which collects hashtagged tweets for you, please let us know in a comment below.


January 2011 Motivating Teens to Use English (and not L1) in Class -19.01.2011

Many thanks to Sandy Millin, @sandymillin on Twitter, who took the time to summary from the Twitter timeline and here is her summary for all those who missed the chat itself.

Encouraging English in teen classrooms by Sandy Millin Picture the situation. A hard-working English teacher walks into a teen classroom. They are confronted by 15 (or more, or less!) faces with whom they will spend the next ninety minutes. Ninety minutes later they have heard ten sentences in English, along with torrents of L1, despite spending the whole class trying to encourage their learners to use as much English as possible. What to do? Have no fear, #eltchat have the answers! This is a summary of the 9p.m. GMT discussion which took place on Wednesday 19th January, 2011. The discussion followed various strands which I have tried to group loosely together. There are lots of ideas for you to try, but don’t forget that some might have negative effects on certain learners (this was a point raised a few times). Feel free to add further suggestions in the comments. Throughout the year Spend time to give them tools for communicating in English. Teach set phrases “How do you spell…?” Also, ways to interrupt, appropriate ways to answer yes / no questions… Have an English-only policy (there was some debate as to whether this is necessary / desirable / possible to maintain) Treat them like adults. Make them aware of why they are learning a language. Create an atmosphere where students are happy to talk together and listen to each other. Teenagers have strong views and ideas. Meet them on an equal footing and they will respond. Listen to what they have to say. Maintain eye contact and encourage them to speak. At the beginning of the year set up a contract / list of rules generated by the students, including about L1 / L2 usage. Make sure you stick to it! It gives the students ownership and a sense of responsibility. Negotiate the balance of L1 / L2, rather than dictating it. At the beginning of term, hand out ten L1 vouchers with their names on them to each student. Every time they speak L1 to the teacher, they hand over a voucher. When they’ve used all of their vouchers, no more L1! At the beginning of the year, do a survey of your students to find out why they’re there, what their hobbies and interests are… Create ‘England / the USA / Scotland / Australia…’ in your classroom. Tell your students that when they walk through the door, they’re in Country X, so they have to speak the language! (Inspired by a teacher who ‘created’ Italy in her classroom – music, objects, etc) Discuss why it’s a good idea to speak English in class.


January 2011 Motivating Teens to Use English (and not L1) in Class -19.01.2011

Work hard at building a relationship with the class – this will make a big difference. Encourage them to support each other, as well as seeking support from the teacher. Throughout the class Use a timer such as or the one included in the downloadable Triptico suite ( Set the timer for 5 minutes. For every 5 minutes students speak only English they can leave class 30 seconds earlier. Every time they speak L1, the timer is reset. You can choose a different reward if this wouldn’t work at your school. Alternatively, 5 minutes in English, 5 minutes in any language – they use English when they don’t have to. Alternatively (part 2!), for every 5 minutes in English they get 19 minute in L1. Divide the class into two groups. Half can only use L1, half can only use L2. Then swap. Each student pretends they are a different nationality and they each have their own interpreter. Set students up in “triads” – 1 spokesperson, the other 2 SS just help them out. Designate certain activities “English-only”, giving them time to prepare beforehand and reflection time afterwards. Have a stuffed toy which is passed around the class as L1 is spoken. The person who has it at the end of class has to help tidy up. Tape an adult class using English only (if you have one!) and play it in the teen class as a discussion starter. Have a basket of sweets. Every time L1 is spoken take away a sweet. At the end of the class there are less sweets for everyone. ‘Fine’ the students when they use L1 (there was a debate about whether this might have a negative effect). Threaten to put teens in with adults if they speak L1! Ask your students to stand up for a minute. Try introducing an element of competition, for example a football-style league table. Give them the option to take on a different identity. Or ask them to choose roles in a speaking task and take part with the appropriate stance / voice etc. See who can go the longest without using L1 or who can have the longest turn in English – like holding your breath for the longest. Joke with them: “If you can’t say it in English, don’t say it at all!” At the end of the class ask them to guess what percentage of the lessons was L1 / L2 – remind them of the figures the following week and see if they can increase L2. You could also get them to think about what each language was used for. For older teens: Give each student 10 beans. Teachers and other students can take away beans when they hear L1. The person with the most beans at the end of class can go home slightly early (1-2 minutes). All SS with fewer beans have to do one ‘forfeit’ for each missing bean – I normally get them to define one word from our vocabulary box for each bean. Ask lower level students to imagine they are explaining things to a younger brother / sister – it gives a purpose for the simpler style of their language. For individual tasks Give sufficient preparation time, model the task, do a “test run”, then repeat the same topic a


January 2011 Motivating Teens to Use English (and not L1) in Class -19.01.2011

second time. ‘Thinking time’ is very important. You could give them 5 minutes to come up with ideas and ask for any words they need. Set up tasks very clearly, ensuring you provide all of the language they will need. Before a discussion get them to list the kinds of words they think will be useful. Make the students use specific vocab in their discussion. Other SS should guess which words they were. Play bingo. Each student chooses 5 words. They should cross them off when they hear / use them during the class / during a specific task. Walk around during pair / groupwork – although there’s an art to not stopping discussion completely. Wait to correct until after the speaking has finished – allow it to be open discussion time. Discussion topics that have worked (a.k.a. Make them forget they’re speaking English!) Ask the students! The topics they are interested in tend to work best. ”It is only when you use language to say things which are true about you do you start to ‘own’ the new language” J. Harmer. Allow spontaneous discussion to happen. What methods of cheating do you use? When? Why? Which ‘group’ do you belong to? Or do you? e.g. chavs, emos, goths Wedding planning (with an all-girls’ group!) Travel: plan a trip, ‘meet’ people… Read reviews of books / films /music etc and discuss whether they agree with them or not (especially with 14+) Gossip. SS chat to each other, then switch partners to pass the gossip on. Tech tools (Anything where they create content) – SS can discuss which of two things would win, then put them into the program to find out who was ‘right’! Songsmith: – they sing and the computer adds the backing music. They can also play with different arrangements. English Attack: – students use English through games, film clips etc. Digital Play: – ideas for using English in a fun way YouTube Dictation: – a lesson plan Ideas for specific activities Get students involved in global collaboration projects which give them a reason to speak English (if you need help with this the best person to ask seems to be @shellterrell! Use project tasks to make them feel involved. Blog. Gives them a real-world purpose. They love doing multimedia projects in English, such as making a film /advertisement in English.


January 2011 Motivating Teens to Use English (and not L1) in Class -19.01.2011

Teach them how to do ‘cool’ things through English, such as making mashups. Get the students to record themselves doing a task on their phones. Then they make a transcript and look at where they could have used more English. Don’t stop them from gossiping, as long as it’s in English. They love exploring English music and the cultures behind it, e.g. hip-hop, rap… Ask SS to write their own songs. Do karaoke with them. Ask the SS to think of ideas – their solutions will quite likely be more imaginative than ours! Bring ‘real’ English into class – travel brochures, job ads, lyrics, magazines – and try to convince them that they WANT to speak English! Record the SS doing tasks (with their agreement) and watch it with them – they’ll (hopefully!) be surprised at how much English they can use. Play word definition and miming games, then encourage students to use them for peer teaching. Live listening. Retell the story with pictures. Listen again. Retell again. Works very well as lots of exposure to L2. Start with a picture and elicit what they can see / who the people are etc. Then tell them that is the middle of the story. Half of the group will come up with the beginning, half will come up with the end (in secret). Then they have to work together to make one coherent story without really changing the parts that they came up with. If possible, take them on field trips. Get them moving – physical activities help them forget the pressure of speaking English. Play games in class – they love their PS3?s and wii’s! But board / card games work just as well. Timed conversations – give them a place to start and a place to finish and 2 minutes to get from A to B. After 2 minutes, change the people. Play ‘Just a Minute’ – give them a topic to speak for a minute about. It’s based on a British radio show. Wikipedia:; an example by Paul Merton: Break down a PC into pieces – SS want more information about hardware names etc. Negotiate things in English that they wouldn’t normally do in L1 e.g. sell greeting cards by phone (in a language lab), enquire about an English course, take part in an interview for a flatmate. Any kind of “How to…” – download films, use online games… Have a teacher’s press conference. They interview you, then use the same questions in pairwork. Have a speed-dating session! ‘Onion ring’: students stand face-to-face in two concentric circles and get opinions on something.Clap your hands; the outer circle students move two steps right two change partners. The teacher can take part too. Use of L1 Not always a problem, providing clear boundaries are set. Research suggests that discussing writing in L1 first can lead to better results. Write some classroom phrases on the board in L1. Ask them to translate. (e.g. “How do you spell…?” “What do have for…?” SS discuss something they are very interested in in L1, then other SS summarise it in English. Let students chat in L1 at the beginning of class. Then ask them to summarise it in English. Help the students to express what they said in L1 in English.


January 2011 Motivating Teens to Use English (and not L1) in Class -19.01.2011

When you hear things in L1, ask them “How do you say…in English?” Decide what percentage of L1 is acceptable for each level – more for lower levels? Possible contributing factors to overuse of L1 Too much emphasis on using English might put students off – they are under too much pressure. Some issues What should do with lower-level classes? Is it possible to ‘discuss’ things with them in the same way as you would with higher levels. Also, many lower-level students are concerned about sounding childlike due to non-complex grammar / vocabulary. What should you do when you want students to use specific vocabulary? What do you do if students were forced to enrol by their parents and they don’t really care? Further reading Classroom Dynamics, Jill Hadfield (especially for start-of-year activities) Cultivating multilingual environments

Ways to develop learner autonomy – tips for learning outside class time - 26.01.2011 Summary for this chat contributed by Vladimira Michalkova and first posted on her blog, Vladimira’s Blog. Vladimira is @vladkaslniecko on Twitter! Many thanks!!!! 26/01/2011 – Another great #ELTchat – Ways to develop learner autonomy – tips for learning outside class time.


January 2011 Ways to develop learner autonomy – tips for learning outside class time - 26.01.2011

“I never teach my students. I simply provide the situations in which they can learn.” Einstein Main goals: • Make your students independent of the teacher • Help the learner to become independent and become his/her own mentor • provide students with the tools to be able to learn on their own • make your students part of the decision making about classroom activities The role of teacher in developing learner autonomy: • model role • moderator • facilitator How autonomy starts in classroom: • Give them choice • Show them ways of learning • Use the learners’ interest • Talk about it in classroom Here are the tips: • show them how to learn (teach them also study skills), what suits them most and how to get most out of it • Show learners ideas from your own learning (writing coloured words on papers, putting them on the walls). You can be a good role model for your students. • suggest websites, radio stations anything that could be interesting and can motivate them to use these things outside classroom • Films – discuss the films in classroom, watch film with/without subtitles, watch film in L1 and then in L2. • Give them mLearning tech and tools • Show them how to do things on the blog which they do at home (toondoo, embedding youtube, • etc. ), create class blogs, yahoogroups • Have your students set the objectives and then have them evaluate their progress • Give them tools like spidergrams, guessing from context, train dictionary use • Use student-generated content, peer pressure/role modeling • Use self-access box in your classroom • Do not let your course book limit you in developing learner autonomy – enrich, adapt, enliven it • Tell your students about multitasking – learn while doing something else • Show them the ways they can use course book at home (transcripts, grammar pages…) • never do anything that you can get students to do • Make your students think about why you do some activities in classroom, help them to become aware of the purpose • Show them how they can use target language outside the classroom (where they can find it) • Students’ diaries/journals/audio diaries • Give them feedback (more than correction) • Be careful with homework – think how to present it (rather search/project/task like than exercise or a worksheet to fill in)


January 2011 Ways to develop learner autonomy – tips for learning outside class time - 26.01.2011

• Use readers, classroom library • Encourage your students to make friends with other people using English for communication • Record your students…and their progress • Encourage students to use Google Docs as their online vocabulary notebooks • Ask them to teach (what they have learned) someone else, family members, friends… • Persuade your students to use their mobiles in English for a week or so… (switch to English where you can) Useful web applications: • Voicethread • Vocaroo • wikis • Tutorials (, • Moodle • Audio boo Further reading/activities developing on Learners’ Autonomy: lecture by Leni Dam on learner autonomy – 40 odd websites to learn outside the classroom – A lesson by @sabridv where students take over the teaching for a day – f I have also blogged about the stuff related to learners’ autonomy so if you are interested you can find it here: m/ Learner Autonomy – a guide to developing learner responsibility (Agota Scharle and Anita Szabo), Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers Holec, one of the main sources of inspiration for LA some free books with audio recordings on

Thanks for great, inspiring and motivational #ELTchat. You can join the chat on Twitter every Wednesday! by Vladimira Michalkova

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