Page 1

The

TUNISIAN English Teaching Forum The

Magazine

For

And

By

EFL

Teachers

In

Tunisia

And

SKILLS FOR SUCCESSFUL TEACHING: Recipes For Success For Newly Recruited Teachers

WORKSHOPS:

Formative Evaluation Differentiating Instruction Integrating CALL with ELT

IMPROVING STUDENTS’ READING SKILLS:

Can’t Bloom’s Taxonomy Be One Of The Ways?

I s s u e 1

September 2009

Abroad


The

TUNISIAN English Teaching Forum

Editorial Review Board Mohammed Salah Abidi

Contributors:

Mohamed Salah Abidi Fathi Bouguerra Tarek Brahmi

Design and Layout: Tarek Brahmi

The Tunisian English Teaching Forum is a quarterly magazine issued and published by The CREFOC, Sid Bouzid. Any copyrighted articles appearing in The Tunisian English Teaching Forum are reprinted with permission of the copyright owners. To be considered for publication, manuscripts should be typed on a floppy disk or CD that has been virus-checked. Letters, floppy disks or CDs should be sent to : Mohammed Salah Abidi L’Inspecteur d’Anglais Lycée Tahar Haddad Regueb 9170 Sidi Bouzid Tunisie or e-mailed to: med.saha@gmail.com For guidelines for writing articles and the latest news and notifications, please visit our blog here: http://tunisian-etforum.blogspot.com

Issue 1 September 2009

Start the school year: Tips for the first contact Tips for the first session in the school year.

4

Mohamed Salah Abidi

Improving Students’ Reading Skills: Can’t Bloom’s Taxonomy be one of the ways? Scrutiny of some of the problems faced in the Tunisian secondary schools and suggestions for improving students’ reading skills.

6

Getting ready for the new school year The questions teachers need to answer before starting a new year.

13

CALL Lab: Old Wine, New Bottle Integrating CALL with EFL in the Tunisian context.

16

Mohamed Salah Abidi

Tarak Brahmi

Fathi Bouguerra

Skills for successful teaching Recipes for success for novice teachers. Mohamed Salah Abidi

Summer School 2009: Workshops and Events Online Resources for Teachers: Websites and tools for educators The Lighter Side Jokes and riddles

18 23 25 28


Editor’s note, Hooray!We’ve done it! A new space is created for the teachers of English and the educationists interested in teaching English. The Tunisian English Teaching Forum is born and waiting for your ink to feed on. We are so excited to publish the first issue of this e-magazine and would like to read your comments, feedback and essentially your articles. In this issue, we relied mainly on the editing team. Because this issue is published in September –the start of the school year– and teachers are getting ready for it, we focused on the event and Tarek Brahmi’s article deals with the questions that teachers need to answer before starting a new year. Me, too, I tried to give the teacher some tips how to manage the first contact with the students. In a second article, I highlighted the skills which I think novice teachers should develop for successful teaching, and the third article raises the issue of teaching reading skills in Tunisian secondary schools. It is an invitation to revisit our practice and to reinforce critical thinking through the teaching of critical reading. Fathi Bouguerra shed light on his last workshop about CALL lab. He also tried to alleviate the atmosphere and suggested some fun to make your reading of this first issue a pleasurable experience. Mohamed Salah ABIDI teacher trainer and

ELT inspector

in the area of

Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia.

Mohamed Salah Abidi


START THE SCHOOL YEAR:

Tips For The First Contact By Mohamed Salah Abidi, Inspector & Teacher Trainer

Novice teachers are not self – confident enough at the beginning of the school year and need someone who has developed some experience in how to conduct the first session in a way that makes their work easier and more enjoyable. The following are some tips that may help them and make them feel stronger on that day.

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The first session in the school year is vital for the success of the course and the relationships between the teacher and his/her students. For this, teachers are advised to make the best use of this first contact since it is decisive and shapes to a great deal the rest of the year. MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FIRST PERIOD 1-It is a getting acquainted and ice- breaking session. 2-It is the classroom code establishment session. 3-It is the course presentation session.

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1 3 HOW TO GET ACQUAINTED? Start with introducing yourself and be keen on what they just need to know about you. It depends on the area where you are working but keep it a general rule that your students are not your intimate friends.Yes, your role as a modern teacher is to create a friendly atmosphere in class but this role should not be misunderstood and remember that your students needn’t know it all about your private life. Have each student introduce his/her classmate and time the activity (1 – 3 mns.) If time allows, you can add some creativity– e.g. line up activity: ask them who’s birthday is it that day and they stand up to form a line of students according to their birthdays. Retain as many names as you can and tell them at the end of the activity to show them that you have already started getting acquainted to them, familiarise with them and build up a feeling of belonging to this group of students and their teacher. This is a suggestion for ice-breaking at the beginning of the school year.

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PRESENTING THE COURSE Give your students a brief survey of the contents of the course – e.g. the number of the modules and the topics in focus. Insist on the relevance of the contents to their life and the benefit they can take from it. Tell them about the way you have planned to implement in the classroom – presentation sequences, homework assignments, project work activities, and this is the proper time to inform them about the testing system and the rubrics in the tests. Tell them about the textbooks they need, the note book, and the importance of dictionaries… These are tips that can make it easy for the teacher at the start of the school year. By no means are they recommendations that every teacher should apply. Nevertheless, it is essential to show them that you are self –confident and you know what you are doing, that you like being with them and ready to help them. They should go out of the classroom convinced that you are the teacher whom they can learn from. Mohamed Salah ABIDI is a teacher trainer

ESTABLISHING THE CLASSROOM CODE One of the ways to agree on a code to respect when in the classroom is to ask them to write in note forms two rules they want everybody to respect in the classroom. Collect their suggestions and discuss with them their propositions and highlight the rules you agree on as essential for establishing your classroom code. This is not easy to conduct and as a teacher, you should be well-prepared for it.

and ELT inspector in the area of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. Qualified for a “Maitrise

des lettres and English language” from

the University of Tunisia in 1981, and

started as a teacher of English in Tunisian

Secondary Schools. Attended training summer courses at:

-Lancaster University, 1992: Teaching and

testing

classroom.

in

the

communicative

-NILE, East Anglia University 1997 and

1999: tailor- made courses for Tunisian inspectors of English.

-IPBA, University of Malaysia, MTCP 2005: Testing and Evaluation.

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IMPROVING STUDENTS’ READING SKILLS: Can’t Bloom’s Taxonomy Be One Of The Ways? By Mohamed Salah Abidi, Inspector & Teacher Trainer

In this article, I will shed light on the importance of reading in Tunisian culture and in Tunisian secondary schools. Then, I will focus on some aspects of Bloom’s Taxonomy that teachers of English as a foreign language may take into account so as to help their students to improve both their critical reading and thinking skills.

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The question Thomas Baker asked in his article Applying Reading Research to the Development of an Integrated Lesson Plan, “What can you do when your English language students are poor readers?” (c.f. English Teaching FORUM 2008 - Volume 46, Number 1) triggered some ideas that I’d like to share with those who are interested in the development of reading skills of secondary school learners of English as a foreign language. 1- READING IN THE TUNISIAN CULTURE The concept “Reading” (elqiraya in Tunisian Arabic) is highly-valued in the Tunisian culture and it has different meanings. The following five situations (Figure 1) illustrate some of them.

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Situation 1- Announcing the start and the end of the school year 2- Describing a student 3- Giving information about a student: What is he doing now? 4- Asking about school results 5- Describing someone who is intelligent or literate

Expression “Elqiraya (n)”/Reading has started/finished.

Meaning It is the beginning/the end of the school year

He is “qarray (adj)”/a good reader. He is “yaqra (vb)”/ reading at school.

He is a serious student/ doing well at school. He is a school boy.

How is he doing in “elqiraya”/reading? He is “qari(p.ple)”/he reads

How is he doing at school? He studied at school and he knows things/ he is literate/ he is intelligent.

Figure1: Situations to highlight the importance of reading In the eyes of Tunisians

From the above figure we can deduce that the concept –reading– is The concept “Reading” over generalised (elqiraya in Tunisian to indicate Arabic) is highly-valued in almost all types the Tunisian culture and of activities it has different meanings. relative to school life. Above all, it is synonymous to that of literacy and intelligence (situation 5 in the above figure.) It is also so important for the Tunisian society that Tunisians use it to indicate the different roles of school. (Situations

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3&4 in the above figure.) This fact leads to an ambiguity as far as the teaching of reading is concerned. 2- THE IMPORTANCE OF READING IN THE SYLLABUS With reference to the document “English Programmes for Secondary Education”, September 2008; we see that the focus in teaching and assessing reading (and listening) is on the following skills and strategies:

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Figure2: Reading / listening Skills and Strategies These so called skills and strategies are also called aims in page 10 of the same document. Hence, we notice an ambiguity that leads to confusing the teachers when they decide on the objectives The Official document is of the reading not clear on whether the sequences in components of the diagram their course. are are aims to achieve, They strategies to apply, or skills not clear on whether the to foster. components of the diagram are aims to achieve, strategies to apply, or skills to foster. Be it what it may be, one of the bubbles in the above figure shows that the teaching of

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reading / listening skills aims at developing and demonstrating critical thinking. But, I wonder if this strategy is duly considered in the classroom when teaching reading.

3- READING IN THE OFFICIAL TEXTBOOKS In Tunisia, four textbooks are used in the secondary school classroom. Each represents an interpretation of the official programme of the level in concern. The figure below illustrates the four different textbooks used in Tunisian secondary schools.

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Level 1st level 2nd level

3rd level

4th level

Textbook

Statements from the preface of the textbook Perform Through English “Is a first attempt at implementing the Tunisian Competency Based Instruction (C.B.I.) syllabus.” Perform to Learn “The book is organised in themes… [and]for a balanced learning, the four main skills are considered of equal importance.” Activate and Perform “It [the book] is divided into 9 modules…there’s a balance of skills…[and]the materials proposed integrate the four skill areas.” Skills for Life “The units are based on all four language skills which are developed in an integrated manner.” Figure3: Textbooks used in Tunisian secondary schools

A quick survey to identify the approaches and methods adopted in the design of the textbooks leads to a third ambiguity. This is due to the various background theories that guided the authors to select materials. While in book 1, the approach is clearly stated- C.B.I. - an approach that has never been applied in the secondary school and the attempt remained a still-born child. In book 2, the organisation of the contents is theme- based and the underlying theory is rather skill-based. Books 3 and 4 share the theory of skill-based contents with book 2, but they make an addition of a key concept in the teaching- learning processes: integration of skills. The organisation of book 3 is module – based while that of book 4 is unit – based. 4- MAIN PROBLEMATIC AREAS IN TEACHING READING IN TUNISIAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS

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a. Learners read for the words and not for the meaning: Our teaching of reading fails to lead the Our teaching of reading fails students to to lead the students to read read beyond beyond the word level . the word level and they don’t keep up with the facts and opinions expressed in the written material they are exposed to in class. b. Learners get easily discouraged by unknown lexis: Many of our students feel frustrated to the point of giving up reading because of the unknown word they counter in the first lines of the text. c. Learners do not make conscious use of their background knowledge and experience: Tunisian students start

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reading in English language after having developed certain skills and strategies through reading materials in Arabic and in French languages. As a matter of fact, they are expected to transfer these skills and strategies when they come up to the English language reading sessions. But this is not the case and their reading experience in other languages doesn’t help them to read the English material efficiently. 5- READING IN TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAMMES Has anything been done so far to promote the teaching of reading? The answer is YES. A lot of effort has been invested in national, inter-regional seminars and regional training sessions to raise the Tunisian teacher trainers and teachers’ awareness as far as the issue of reading skills is concerned. Because of this, a great deal of jargon relative to this issue is popular usual A lot of effort has been and invested in national, inter- language for regional seminars and regional the teacher. training sessions to raise the It is not a surprise Tunisian teacher trainers and to hear teachers’awreness as far as teachers the issue of reading skills is u s i n g concerned. concepts like: Topdown / Bottom-up processes; Reading the lines / between the lines / beyond the lines; Contextual approach to reading; reading for a purpose; Using the text as a vehicle for information (TAVI) /as a linguistic object (TALO) / as a springboard for production (TASP)…But it is not common to meet a teacher in Tunisian secondary schools who uses Bloom’s taxonomy as a guideline to teach reading.

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To cut it short, the fact is that in Tunisia, our secondary school students find it difficult to read and get the meaning out of the reading material. So many attempts have been made to remedy the situation but in vain. Can’t Bloom’s taxonomy be an effective way to improve matters? 6- WHAT IS BLOOM’S TAXONOMY AND HOW DOES IT RELATE TO CRITICAL READING? Bloom’s taxonomy was originally created by Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues in 1956 for categorizing and classifying levels of intellectual learning that commonly occur in the classroom setting. Six levels are identified in the cognitive domain and are categorised into Higher Order Thinking Skills and Lower Order Thinking Skills. The following figure illustrates the above mentioned six cognitive levels (c.f. Waxler Adam http://www.teaching-tipsmachine.com)

Lower Order Thinking Skills

Figure4: The six levels in Bloom’s taxonomy

With reference to an article in Queensland Journal of Educational Research (c.f. Surjosuseno, T. T. and Watts, V. (1999). Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to teach critical

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reading in English as a foreign language classes. Queensland Journal of Educational Research, 15(2), 227-244. http://education.curtin. edu.au/iier/qjer/qjer15/surjosuseno.html) , I will suggest some ways how to exploit the above mentioned levels of the cognitive domain in Bloom’s taxonomy to help students foster their critical reading.

Author Paul (1993)

Definition Reader interacts with the writer and considers the writer’s point of view by looking for key assumptions, major concepts, justifications, supporting examples, parallel experiences, implications and consequences, and means to interpret the text’s meaning and assess it accurately and fairly. Reader analyses, synthesises and evaluates ideas through cooperative problem solving. Reader knows, comprehends, thinks, applies, analyses, syntheses, evaluates, relates information in the text to personal past experiences, interprets figurative language, determines the authors’ purposes, evaluates the ideas presented, and applies the ideas presented to actual situations he has experienced.

Flynn (1989) Cheek et al. (1989)

Rubin (1982)

First, teachers should be aware of what is meant by critical reading. The figure below is inspired from the above mentioned article and shows how critical reading which is essential in the teaching of reading skills is closely related to the cognitive levels in Bloom’s taxonomy.

Reader collects, interprets, applies, analyses, and synthesises information, differentiates between fact and opinion. Figure5: Definitions of critical reading

6STRATEGIES TO ELABORATE APPROPRIATE INSTRUCTIONS TO DEVELOP CRITICAL READING SKILLS A verb chart is developed for Bloom’s taxonomy that can be used to ask questions/ design

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instructions for a reading sequence. Teachers should always remember that the application of Bloom’s taxonomy in the classroom in teaching reading is neither automatic nor linear. In fact, no question can be forced on

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a text and there is an overlap between the cognitive levels in Bloom’s taxonomy. They should select the levels to focus on and the types of questions/instructions according to the reading material they use in class.

Cognitive Level Knowledge Comprehension (Understanding the material) Application (Using the material) Analysis (Breaking material down to increase understanding) Synthesis (Reshaping material into a new form) Evaluation

The following figure comprises a number of verbs that the teacher can use for the questions/ instructions they ask to teach reading that is critical and fosters critical thinking.

Verbs recall, underline, list. name, record, label, cluster, match, memorize, define, arrange understand, show, summarize, explain, describe, demonstrate, review, cite, restate, locate apply, select, model, organize, illustrate, utilize, choose, imitate, demonstrate, use analyze, compare, contrast, classify, map, characterize, divide, break down, choose, examine construct, speculate, design, compose, create, develop, invent, blend, propose, formulate evaluate, convince, argue, judge, criticize, rate, measure, persuade, assess, recommend

Figure6: Bloom’s taxonomy verb chart 7- LIMITS OF BLOOM’S TAXONOMY Teachers can make the best use of Bloom’s taxonomy to improve their students’ learning skills if they are aware of its limits. First, the relation between the cognitive levels is not hierarchical and the overlap should be seen as natural. Second, the reading materials may not lend themselves to focus on certain cognitive levels in the taxonomy. Eventually, the focus on the cognitive levels in the reading session should not affect the key principles in lesson plan design: Variety and flexibility.

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CONCLUSION This article is just an attempt to raise the awareness of the teacher to adopt a reflective approach and try other ways and means to help the students to improve their critical reading and thinking skills. For this to have a positive impact on the effectiveness of the teaching – learning processes, workshops to train teachers on how to make use of Bloom’s taxonomy to ask reading comprehension questions and design activities and tasks should be held.

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GETTING READY FOR THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR

The questions teachers

need to answer before starting a new year

By Tarak Brahmi, Teacher of English

If we ask ourselves the right questions and if we think about a few things ahead of time, we can save ourselves a lot of time and headache. This article has a go at spotlighting and answering some of those seemingly simple but necessary questions.

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Before the onset of a new year and during the first week at school, it is important for teachers to think about a few things ahead of time and to get prepared as this will prove tremendously helpful in the long run and save them a lot of time, effort and avoidable headache. Some of the matters that are often taken lightly by teachers are the essential routines of: Talking to the administration about the classroom, the library, the equipment and resources made available or lacking in the school, Setting classroom routines that will serve as guidelines for students for the rest of the year, Setting up a list of tools and resources like visual aids, readers, computer programs, handouts, etc...

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EQUIPMENT AND RESOURCES: Let us start with some of the important questions you need the administration to help with answering:

1

If you plan using IT with your classes: Does the school have a computer lab? Is it accessible all the time? Can they schedule at least an hour a week for your class? Can you bring a PC to your classroom? Can you borrow one from the school?

2

If you plan having a classroom library: What means does the school already offer? Have a look at the school’s library: Are there any dictionaries, readers, magazines? You can suggest useful titles to the administration. (Remember: There are good online resources like online books, readers, etc..)

3

Check if the electric socket and lights are working: You will need the socket for your listening sessions. Otherwise, ask the administration to fix it or to change the room for you if possible.

4

Are there enough cassette / CD players in your school for you and other colleagues? Sometimes, you may need to consider buying one (There are some cheap labels). They might come handy and save you some unwanted surprises. FIRST WEEK WITH YOUR STUDENTS: “The number one problem in the classroom is not discipline; it is the lack of procedures and routines.” —Harry and Rosemary Wong We usually ignore or forget about this fact, but students trust and respond to teachers

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who are consistent. . They respond well to routines and schedules if you establish them from the beginning. Here are a few things you may think about: Talk about your expectations: How they are expected to enter the classroom. How they can ask for permission or talk. Talk about whether you allow students to go out during sessions (number, cases). Model these and make other students model them until them become routines. Students respond well to routines, and this helps to control order in your classroom. How late is acceptable, and how late is too late? Should they sit down immediately in their chairs, or do you want them to stand behind their seats and wait for you to seat them? Set daily routines and make them clear: What is the first thing to do: Will you write in your lesson plan book first? Will you leave this to the end of the session, i.e. when your students write what is on the board or do tasks? When you are doing oral tests, do you want your students to stand up or just sit down? Do you allow others to interfere or correct their classmates when they are having their oral test? If it is not made clear from the beginning, this can turn into a bad habit. Will your students have assigned seats? Make sure you have a seating chart from the beginning of the year.This is desirable as this will make things easier when you assign a task as a group work. You can avoid wasting time looking for who was sitting with whom later. Think about nameplates from the beginning of the year as this will help you

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learn the names faster. Think about where you want them to be. Think of dismissal procedures: Write the lesson. Collect your books. Return library books. Stack the chair. Collect garbage, etc.. If students are not paying attention, what technique are you going to use? Clapping hands, counting, turning the light off (avoid raising your voice, as this may be interpreted as you loosing temper and hence control). TOOLS AND RESOURCES: As teachers of English, we often need aids, whether in the form of pictures, videos, audio tapes, etc.. to help our students grasp some ideas, get some concepts, understand vocabulary items, and so on. If you leave this to the last minute, you may not always have the time for finding what you need. So, it pays off to look for these before the beginning of the year. Some of the great places to begin with are magazines and newspapers (old and new): cut pictures, articles, headlines, etc and store them for later use. The internet has a tremendous potential and it is full of resources: images, videos, songs, tests, texts, articles, lesson plans, free worksheets, etc.. to name but a few.

Here is a quick tip that might help when you “Google” search something; always remember the search options: After typing the word you are looking for, let us say “health problems”, choose the option for finding only images in “Images”. If you want to find related videos only, click on “Videos”, etc..

Tarak BRAHMI is a teacher of English who has been teaching since 1999. Experience schools:

in

using

teaching

electronic

interactive boards, etc...

in

IT-ready

classrooms,

Presented workshops for teachers in Bahrain about using interactive boards and Hot Potatoes.

Holder of an International Computer Driving License (2007)

These are only some of the things we need to think about. The more creative a teacher is, and the more questions he asks and tries to answer, the better equipped he would be for the rest of the year. References: Matthew Haldeman, M.Ed., The New Teacher’s Guide to Success, Shell Education

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CALL LAB

Old wine, New bottle By Fathi Bouguerra, Teacher Trainer

“Learning to teach is a life long process, and you can only do what you know how to do at that time” Diane Larsen- Freeman

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Years ago, the idea of English lab was linked to the teaching of pronunciation and improving fluency. With the new trends of teaching and the emerging of the idea of principled eclecticism no longer does the word CALL lab relate to phonetics, it goes beyond that to comprise all aspects of teaching English whether as EFL or as ESL. And because of urgent needs to catch up with the developing countries in terms of improving learners’ performances; the ministry of education has held many workshops throughout the country to discuss the idea of how to integrate ICT in EFL classes since all the schools will be equipped with labs. The CREFOC in Sidi Bouzid focused on the issue of using CALL labs and how to prepare teachers for this topic. Since I am one of the trainers in this region I attended the summer school which included six sessions. Part one was reserved for the preparatory school while the second part was devoted to the secondary school.

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At the beginning, I was really afraid since the topic was new and one couldn’t predict the reaction of teachers who were at the start of their holidays. But thanks God and as the proverb goes” appetite comes while eating”. From the first meeting, I saw teachers eager to know about the CALL lab; Besides some of them are computer literate which made our job easier. I would like to thank all the staff in the CREFOC for the constant help they provided us with any time we are in need of assistance especially in the technical part. I shall never forget Mr. Abdannabi Omri for his kindness, willingness and enthusiasm. He was with us during the six days of summer school and his presence added a spirit of humor which cooled the scorching heat of the summer and eased the atmosphere inside. For those who want to know more about the technical part of the workshop, I refer you to our blog which includes a document that demonstrates how teachers can use the CALL lab. And now we reach the crux of the matter as it is said. Once the lab is in our school how can teachers make use of it? I think, for the prep school the third hour is there to solve the problem. Teachers are required to The burden is on prepare enough material to teachers to work be used in the CALL lab. together, cooperate The burden is on us to work and cascade material. together, cooperate and cascade material. So let’s share what we know and ask questions about things that we don’t know because it is said that “he who asks questions is fool for 5 minutes and he who doesn’t ask questions is fool forever”. Whatever the circumstance is the teacher remains the pillar in any innovation and s/he meant to strive and update him/ her self in this era of technology. Needless to tell that we can’t motivate others if we aren’t motivated. I will try to wrap up this article with the following quote by Mark Warschauer vice-chairman of the

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department of education at the university of California: “I heard a very good expression the other day. It was something like “ A good toy is 90 percent child and 10 percent toy.” I think a good pedagogical device is 90 percent learner and 10 percent device. Often, we put too much emphasis on having the fanciest equipment and how much ROM and how much RAM when sometimes with just one simple computer we can do so much.” The message is the following; If a teacher can open up a knot with his fingers, why should he open it with his teeth?

Fathi BOUGUERRA is a teacher trainer. He has been training teachers since 1997. He is involved in the NENA ELT project (

A

series

of

teacher

training

workshops for teachers from Lebanon,

Morocco, Syria and Tunisia) sponsored by the Britsish Council (2005-2008).

He started his career as a teacher of English in 1992. Attended

seminars

and

workshops

for teacher trainers inside and outside Tunisia:

In July 2007, He attended a seminar organised by the Britrish Council in Ifrane, Morocco.

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SKILLS FOR SUCCESSFUL TE By Mohamed Salah Abidi, Inspector & Teacher Trainer

At the start of the academic year teachers – ma live under stress.They are not quite sure how to confidence. Indeed, they themselves are not se l the way it should be done.Assuming that the fir which the profile of the successful teacher is bu i following skills at the beginning of the academic 1-Communication skills 2-Motivational skills 3-Planning skills 4-Managerial skills 5-Assessment skills

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EACHING

ainly newly recruited teachers – o face their learners and win their lf-confident enough to do their job rst steps should be right steps upon uilt, teachers should bear in mind the c year:

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COMMUNICATION SKILLS Novice teacher should remember that communication is the key to success in the career. For this, they should be aware of what communication skills are at their disposal. Here is a list of the communication skills any teacher should develop in order to start the school year on safe grounds: a- Understanding the students’ worries b-The skill of interacting c-The skill of giving feedback

1a-Understanding Students’ worries

First of all the teacher has to identify their students ’worries before trying to understand them so as to handle them properly. The most important sources of a student’s worry are that a student is in a new class and has to get acquainted to new classmates, a student is affected to a new school – moved from primary school to a preparatory school or The teacher has to collect from a prep enough data to learn about to a secondary the the student’s readiness to school, student is profit from his/her course. being taught the subject by a new teacher different from the teacher of the previous year, or the student has already developed a negative attitude regarding the subject of study. The teacher has to collect enough data to learn about the student’s readiness to profit from his/her course. A getting acquainted class session may be of great help if well conducted: it is a common practice in Tunisian school that the teacher asks the students to fill in an information form in the first period. This form – usually a sheet of paper with the name, the previous school and class, the name of the teacher of the same subject the previous year...can be of better use for the teacher if they ask their students appropriate questions that help them to identify their real worries.

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1b-The Skill of Interacting

The teacher should prioritize interacting. No hope for success in the career for the teacher who does not develop interaction skills. These skills range from the skill of verbally expressing one’s own ideas for “students learn a lot of their language from what they hear their teacher say” (c.f. Jim Scrivener: Learning Teaching p14, in Heinemann The Teacher Development Series, Editor: Adrian Underhill) to non- verbal communication of one’s opinion using gestures and facial expressions “to save repeating the same instructions: an essential technique to maximize learner talking” (ibid.) It is evident that the teacher should be able to interpret non-verbal communication that may occur in the classroom. Acceptance and tolerance of different opinions is also a sign of good interaction skills. The successful teacher should facilitate understanding through clarifying and drawing it out from the students for they may know a lot more than the teacher may think and it is a way to start from the known and build on it so as to help the learner develop their learning.

1c- The Skill of Giving Feedback

Giving appropriate feedback to the learners has always been one of the corner stones of successful teaching and one of the most difficult challenges for the teacher. It has become more important with the rise of modern approaches to teaching and learning where the learner’s participation is given the biggest ratio in the classroom. Feedback is information about both successes and failure of the learner and is provided for informational and motivational purposes. Five characteristics should be observed to ensure effective feedback. They are: objectivity, acceptability, flexibility, constructiveness, and comprehensiveness. (c.f. www.howemilitary.com/JROTC Unit 3: Foundations for success, Chapter 5:Teaching skills, lesson 6: Using feedback in the classroom pp 147- 150)

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MOTIVATIONAL SKILLS It is undisputable that the teacher who succeeds in motivating the students is the one who warrants their success in learning from the course. The activities and materials should be relevant to the students.The personality features, the attitude, and the The personality features, the teaching styles of the attitude, and the teaching teacher can increase styles of the teacher can or diminish the increase or diminish the students’ motivation students’ motivation (c.f. Chitravelu; Sithamparam; and Choon in ELT Methodology Principles and Practice 2nd Edition 2005,p10.) A lot of effort has been invested to provide teachers with techniques how to motivate the demotivated learner. Among these techniques, I can suggest: 1-Learners should not feel strangers or their teachers’ guests in the classroom. It is more beneficial to develop in them the feeling that the classroom is theirs and they should make the best use of it. 2-The teacher is more at ease with his/her job when they identify the real needs of their students and design a course that responds to these needs. 3-The teacher who wins students’ interest is the teacher who cares for them and treats them as human being not just parts of the noisy crowd at school. 4-Learners like to be taught by someone who has a sense of humor: who alleviates the atmosphere of the classroom by telling jokes and tolerating their jokes at the right moment. 5-Learners enjoy the course when there is variety of activities and aids for presentation and practice. 6-It is far better to give students opportunities to test their hypotheses and refine their learning than to spoon feed them or test their knowledge of the contents of the course at the moment they come up to the classroom.

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The teacher should not neglect another category of learners – the megamotivated(c.f. Paul Bress; Managing the megamotivated in ETP Issue 26 Jan. 2003) and it goes without saying that those learners may become demotivated if neglected. Some possible ways to keep them motivated range from assigning more challenging activities, peer-tutoring in class.... to giving extratasks to these learners. PLANNING SKILLS Most of the work expected from the teacher is to make plans. They have to design lesson plans, schedules for the course to implement in class, and tests and test correction sessions. “[Planning] strongly suggests a level of professionalism...It allows teachers to think about where they’re going and gives them time to have ideas for tomorrow’s and next week’s lessons.... In the classroom, a plan helps to remind teachers what they intended to do”. (c.f. Jeremy Harmer; how to Teach English 2003 ch12 How to plan lessons, p121.) In fact the teacher should start the year with a clear idea about an annual breakdown of the course and it is important for them to have a clear format of lesson plans. It is of great help to ask a more experienced peer or a member of the pedagogical staff on the suitability of the first lesson plans you design. MANAGERIAL SKILLS Managerial or organizational skills are essential skills that every teacher should develop in order to help the students to take profit from his/her course. These skills imply the ability to plan, control and

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facilitate communication in the classroom. The teacher should develop the skills to manage: 1-the learning environment 2-interaction and modes of interaction 3-the contents , the activities, and time 4-the individuals and the groups: relationships and discipline 5-the different roles s/he has to play during teaching instances (c.f. British Council; Teaching Skills Classroom Management) ASSESSMENT SKILLS Assessment skills are as important as those of teaching for the teacher and they are one of the corner stones upon which successful teaching is based. For this, Assessment skills are one of teachers should clear the corner stones upon which develop ideas on where successful teaching is based. their learning are in the path of learning through assigning and administering diagnostic tests at the beginning of the course. They should also be skilled in “evaluating students in the process of “forming” their competencies and skills with the goals of helping them to continue that growth process”(c.f. H.D. Brown, Language Assessment Principles and Classroom Practices ch1,p6.) Added to the above Formative on-going assessment process, the teacher is responsible for measuring how much the student has learned at the end of the course- Summative assessment. Moreover, the teacher should know how relevant the material he is using for his/her course so as to make the best use of it. To cut it short, teachers should consider the following areas in their assessment to make it easier for them to implement in the classroom:

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1-Assessment of learners at the start, during and at the end of the course. 2-Evaluation of the contents and the activities in the textbook. 3-Evaluation of the learning environment and facilities available to design a course in concordance with them. CONCLUSION The above-mentioned skills are essential for the teacher to feel more comfortable at the beginning of their career and to start a new journey in search for success. Because they are skills, they can be sharpened along this journey and the novice teacher has no reason to worry if they start the academic year with some difficulties resulting from the lack of one of these skills.

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SUMMER SCHOOL 2009: Workshops And Events By Tarak Brahmi, Teacher of English

Summer is not only a time for relaxation for teachers and educators. It is also an opportunity to attend seminars, workshops,and meetings that aim at training and informing teachers about the latest methodologies and technologies adopted in the field of EFL teaching. The CREFOC, Sidi Bouzid, organised a number of workshops during the month of July, 2009 for the teachers of English. The following pages talk about these workshops and provide links to where they can be viewed in more detail online or downloaded for those who didn’t have the chance to attend them.

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FORMATIVE EVALUATION: A workshop by Inspector & Teacher Trainer Mr. Mohamed Salah Abidi (CREFOC,Sidi Bouzid. July 2009) Day 1 of the workshop began with the inspector initiating a brainstorming session that invited the participants to answer a few important questions (see slideshow). This session provided a clear framework for the workshop and led to the realization that it is important for teachers to start thinking about why formative assessment should be part and parcel of their teaching practices. Later on, the participants sat in groups and started discussing the differences both in terms of terminology and application of the notion of summative and formative assessment with reference to the first handout (downloadable from our blog).

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The discussion was rounded up by commenting on a quote by Robert Stake “When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative; when the guests taste the soup, that’s summative.” Then, the participants thought about the difference between assessment for learning and assessment of learning. After reading and thinking about some of the principles outlined by the Assessment Reform Group (see document 2 on our blog), the participants were also encouraged to analyze the process of formative assessment and to discuss the teachers’ intentions and the benefits for the learners by completing a chart.(See document 5 on our blog ). On day 2, the inspector and the participants took some time thinking about the benefits of formative assessment for teachers and learners. Teachers were invited to think about what tools are needed to effectively implement a formative evaluation. Some of the tools that were discussed included conducting surveys. The groups were asked to think about the practice of formative assessment in the Tunisian context. The participants discussed the various formative assessment activities present on the textbooks in use for secondary school students. By the end of the workshop, there was an overall agreement among teachers that formative assessment was not completely absent from their daily teaching practices but that it was rather done unconsciously and often in a unproductive way. They concluded that it has to be an indispensable component of their teaching. To view the PowerPoint presentation and other documents, follow this link : http://tunisian-etforum. blogspot.com/2009/07/formative-evaluation.html

WHY SHOULD WE RAISE THE ISSUE OF DIFFERENTIATING INSTRUCTION? A workshop by Inspector & Teacher Trainer Mr. Mohamed Salah Abidi (CREFOC,Sidi Bouzid. July 2009)

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“Differentiated

instruction (sometimes referred to as differentiated learning) is a way of thinking about teaching and learning. Differentiating instruction involves providing students with different avenues to acquiring content; to processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and to developing teaching products so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability.”

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From

The workshop focused on answering the following questions: Why should we raise the issue of D.I.? What are the desired outcomes of the workshop? Defining the concept of Differentiating Instruction Is Differentiating Instruction a new trend in Pedagogy? The rationale underlying this method Why differentiate? How different are students in a mixed ability class? What is ZPD? To view the PowerPoint presentation and other documents, follow this link :

http://tunisian-etforum.blogspot.com/2009/07/whyshould-we-raise-issue-of-di.html

CALL AND TEACHING EFL by Teacher Trainer Mr. Fathi Bouguerra and Lab Specialist Mr. Abdennabi Omri A workshop on how to integrate CALL with English Language Teaching by Teacher Trainer Mr. Fathi Bouguerra and Lab Specialist Mr. Abdennabi Omri was held at The CREFOC in Lessouda, Sidi Bouzid (8th, 9th, and 10th of July, 2009). The workshop shed light on how Multilab, a creative and innovative technology from EDU4, can be used to teach English in our schools. To read more, follow this link: http://tunisian-etforum.blogspot. com/2009/07/events-it-and-elt-workshop.html

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online resources By Tarak Brahmi, Teacher of English

The internet and high technology are steadily finding their way inside our classrooms.They are opening a new era for educators around the world because the possibilities they are making available are limitless. In fact, the limit is the teacher’s imagination. Here is a list of great web sites that may help teachers design outstanding lessons and create content that is both rich and motivating.

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1-GOOGLE ONLINE APPLICATIONS FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS: Google has recently made available a vast array of applications designed specifically to meet educators’ and schools’ needs. Gmail: with more than 7 GB storage, Gmail is perfect for both teachers and students. They can create e-mail accounts with Google in no time. Besides, Gmail is now offering voice and video chat, mobile access, spam and virus protection. Google Talk is ideal for instant messaging, free calling (VOIP)/ voicemail box, file transfer, and group chat. Teachers have also the ability to use Google’s document creation tools that offer real-time sharing and editing. Google Docs is a tool for sharing and editing Word documents, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, etc.. Creating a website for your school is child’s play and you don’t need to be a web design savvy to create one. Google’s Blogger is perfect for creating school websites, personal blogs, forums for students, teacher portfolios, etc.. With Google Video, you can securely share videos with your school - anyone can add comments, tags and ratings.

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2-FREE WEB CONFERENCING AND VIRTUAL MEETINGS TOOLS: Although there are some applications that offer many features as well, I have a slight preference for DimDim (http://www.dimdim. com) , which gives you the ability to deliver presentations, webinars and lessons to your students using your webcam. Besides, you can share slideshows and documents from your own desktop with your students or classes in distant countries. You can also schedule meetings and get your audience to register online through well-designed and user-friendly widgets. DimDim’s staff are very friendly and ready to support whenever needed. Other interesting applications are Vyew (http://vyew.com/site/index2) and WiZiQ (http://www.wiziq.com) 3-VIDEO AND AUDIO RESOURCES FOR USE IN THE CLASSROOM: Yappr (http://www.yappr.com) is a website that offers great videos ranging from interviews with celebrities, to documentaries, discussions of global issues, social problems and so on.. What is great about this website is that it offers transcripts with the videos. Bio at http://www.biography.com is another interesting website with a lot of videos, true stories, games and photo galleries.

For listening activities, you can visit ello: English Listening Lesson Library Online at http://www.elllo.org or Randall’s Cyber Listening Lab at http://www.esl-lab.com

4-REAL GOLD MINES FOR TEACHERS: Here are a few websites that are particularly interested in pointing teachers to the right direction when it comes to choosing the best tools for use in the classroom. Those who are responsible for these websites make a lot of effort and spend a lot of time to review, collect, talk about the most convenient tools for educators. One of these is our friend David Kapuler, Technology Integration Specialist from Greendale School District, U.S.A. He published a series of outstanding documents online which have an abundance of references to the best online sites for teachers. David calls these documents Blog Companion. Now, Blog Companion is at its fourth version. For more details check David’s blog here: http://cyber-kap.blogspot.com

Our dear friend Patricia Donaghy is doing an awesome job in her two websites that display a fantastic collection of free and open source tools for both teachers and students. Visiting her websites is a real pleasure and

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you will always find new compelling tools there. Here are the links to Patricia Donaghy’s websites: http://pdonaghy.edublogs.org http://pdonaghy.blogspot.com

Larry Ferlazzo’s website is another prominent place that teachers must visit for great links and references. Link to Larry’s website:

5-WEBSITES BY TUNISIAN TEACHERS: Here are some links to blogs by Tunisian teachers. If you have a blog or website, please send us a link and we will include it in the next issue of our magazine. http://teachingenglish-alexenoamen.blogspot.com http://gbcv-hassen-zriba.ahlamontada.com http://tarakbr.blogspot.com http://virtualstaffroom.blogspot.com

http://www.larryferlazzo.com

Our Magazine’s Blog

Blogs by Tunisian Teachers

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The Lighter side By Fathi Bouguerra, Teacher Trainer

“ What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity .They are trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.” Joseph Adison “ Every time a man smiles, and much more when he laughs, it adds to his fragment of life.” Laurence Steme “ He who smiles rather than rages is always the stronger.” Japanese proverb

Riddles A- What letter of the alphabet is an insect? B- What letter is a part of the head?

1-What do tigers have that no other animals have?

C-What letter is a drink?

2-What are two things people never eat before breakfast?

D-What letter is a body of water?

3-Why is the number six afraid?

E-What letter is a vegetable?

4- How many legs does an ant have?

We know the names of five people: Mr. Green, Mrs. White, Mrs. Brown, Mr. Black and Miss Grey. We know their ages: 20, 25, 30, 65 and 70, but we don’t know the age of each person .That is what we have to find out. We have these clues: - The youngest is a man. - Mr. Green is older than Mr. Black - The oldest of them is not a woman. - Mrs. White stopped work when she was sixty. - The youngest woman is not married. Find the solutions on page 29

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Jokes The policeman rang the doorbell, not knowing quite how to break the news. The door opened and a woman stood there gazing anxiously into the policeman’s eyes. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your husband’s new watch is broken.” “How did it happen?” The policeman replied, “a piano fell on him.”

A modern artist was showing off his work. He pointed to a blank canvas and said, “That is a cow grazing.” “Where is the grass? The visitor asked. “The cow has eaten it,” the artist said. “Well, then where is the cow?” The visitor asked. “You don’t suppose,” said the artist, “that she’d stay there after she’d eaten all the grass, do you?”

On a crowded bus, one man noticed that another man had his eyes closed. “What’s the matter? Are you sick?” “No, I’m okay. It’s just that I hate to see an old lady standing.” Principal: “I’ve had complaints about you, Johnny, from all of your teachers. What have you been doing?” Johnny: “Nothing, sir.” Principal: “Exactly!”

Riddles’ Answers

A- B. (bee) B- I. (eye) C- T. (tea) D- C. (sea) E- P. (pea)

1- Baby tigers. 2- Lunch and supper. 3- Because seven eight nine (seven ate nine)) 4- Two, the same as an uncle. (HINT: ant = aunt)

Mr. Black is 20. Miss Green is 25. Mrs. Brown is 30. Mrs. White is 65. Mr. Green is 70. For More Articles and Resources Visit :

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Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia Photo courtesy of Abdennabi Omri

The Tunisian ELT Forum issue 1  

A magazine for and by teachers of English in Tunisia and worldwide

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