Monday, March 28, 2011

Paul Braddock - Barefoot Teaching

So I snagged Paul's presentation from his blog, (which also states) that he is has, "recently become interested in using digital technologies with young learners with as a way to enhance motivation"

So basically his presentation talked about how to keep students motivated by using technology. He mentioned using things like twitter and making sure that students are a bit more in chagre or their class. So they can choose from a selection of pre-approved topics and the teacher can change the activities based on the student's needs.


Before the lesson I printed out the bunny outlines: and dressed the bunnies in different occupations this worked well.

The Doctor outfit from
To start the lesson We started with the normal hello song and reviewed the emotions, days etc. Then I showed them a picture of my friend Larry who is a leprechaun. We describe Larry and guess his favorite color and job (many students guessed things like miner or show maker). I explain Larry´s job is to protect the gold, so if you find it he will give you a wish to get it back. Then I show a picture of a rabbit who found the gold.  

The story Once a rabbit found the Leprechauns gold. The leprechaun offered him anything he wanted. The rabbit said "I want a job" The Leprechaun said "1. 2 3 abracadabra and the rabbit turned into a _________" (the students guess the occupation based on the clothing, we then review the clothing). But the rabbit didn't´t want to be a _____, so the Leprechaun said "1, 2, 3 abracadabra" (repeat until all occupations are covered) Activity When the students are seated we look at the clothes for different occupations. Then we practice saying "I want to be a ______" and "I don´t want to be a _______" After the students, who were well behaved, can pick which coloring doll they want (but they have to ask in English). They ask lots of questions about which shorts to color etc so they also practice vocabulary. Not very complex, but good fun! For fast finishers they had to also color a leprechaun and paste the rabbit on the leprechaun page (make sure they draw a rainbow!) Clearly I meshed this with St. Patricks day but you could easily mesh it with an easter bunny who wants a new job or Cupid who lost his bow etc.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Elspeth Pollock

Elspeth Pollock noticed that having students take out their homework to correct as a class wasn´t actually getting her any results. So, she tries to make checking homework a bit more exciting with, "Correction Techniques: Keep your students awake."

In her own words (per the abstract) "In this workshop I’d like to show a variety of techniques for written and oral correction, using tools at our disposal from mini-whiteboards to technology (video, podcasts and IWB) to make correction both motivating and memorable."

Does she know what she´s talking about? Well, she, "has been teaching and training for 20 years and is Director of Studies at ELI, Seville. She has an MA in Linguistics (TESOL), the Cambridge DELTA and, most recently, the new ICT Trinity Certificate. She is currently interested in the integration of technology and teaching for all ages and levels of student."

Her main goal was to make the act of students giving answers more than just wondering around the class having students take turns. Some suggestions were:
  • Use a mini white board (laminate a green piece of paper)
  • Use little pieces of paper
  • Use Cuisinaire Rods (if its A hold up green, if B yellow if C orange etc)
  • Hide the answers under a chair and have students find it
  • Split up an answer sheet and give half to the first two students finished they can check the rest of the students (after they communicate with one another to figure out the complete answer set)
  • Make a wordle with all the correct answers and see if students can figure it out.
  • etc. etc.

Call me old fashioned but I always liked having students correct one another and then write their answers on the board, but it is always nice to have new experiences.

On the other hand if your classroom allows you to I don´t see why you couldn't just use something like surveymonkey and have students see the answers they all submitted anonymously of course, perhaps use it like a lifeline?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Nelson Arditto

Nelson Arditto made a presentation about helping students memorize English words.

A bit more about Nelson, he "has been working in EFL for over 10 years and has taught in the UK, Syria, the UAE, the Ukraine, Jordan, Hong Kong and Spain. He has run a number of INSETT sessions for EFL and mainstream school teachers and participated in conferences nationwide."

His sessions (per the abstract, "This session highlights the importance of learner training in the successful learning of vocabulary. By the end of the session, teachers will be familiar with the concept of elaboration as a unique memory tool, and the ways in which teachers can introduce learning strategies to their students to make them more autonomous learners"

Since the English language has more words than any other language students need help when it comes to learning words. Since "lexical chunks" are easier to remember than individual words (which is why I have so many phrases in Dutch but slow on words)

He makes an argument for recording strategies in a notebook:
For example when writing down words you always write down words with a context.

Even more so in a notebook instead of just writing down the word with a translation you could do a lot more! Let´s look at the word strong:

  • Write down the synonyms and antonyms (powerful, weak)
  • Write the words connotation (positive)
  • The part of speech (adjective)
  • Collocations (strong flavor, strong drinks, strong swimmer, strong language etc)
  • Use it in a sentence (The strong man lifts weights every day)
  • Draw a picture
  • etc.
By doing this students will be more likely to remember the individual word since they have made so many different paths to it.

There were some different ideas of how to arrange this (alphabetically or by topic) and that probably depends based on your class.

What else would you have your students add to their word journal?

Borja Uruñuela

"Borja Uruñuela is Head of Education at St. James in Seville, where he has developed a language and content programme. He is also the President and head of training for ACEIA, and has written CLIL and social awareness material for Kid’s Box levels 1 - 4 (Cambridge University Press). He is also an oral examiner for the YLs Cambridge exams."

He talked about, "Motivation Theories in Practice" which was described in the abstract as, "When I think of motivation I think of Marslow, Herzberg, Alderfer but… what can we actually do to motivate our students? How can we motivate other teachers? How can we motivate ourselves when we feel demotivated? We will not focus on the theories but on practical activities we can do in the classroom and in the teachers’ room to increase people’s motivation."

He started by reminding us that Performance = Ability x Motivation

Goal setting is VERY important to a student's motivation. If they know where they are going then we can help them get there but, "I want to speak English better" is not a tangible goal! "I want to master the past tense in time for the exam" is specific and thus tangible and a good point to lead motivation!

The best goals are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time based.

Goals have to be discussed, public, and desired!

As a teacher we have to do more than teach, we also have to supervise:

Help set goals
Help create models
Give praise
Give rewards
Help evaluate (self, peer and formal)
Practice (give feedback and practice)

*Students do a test
*Teacher marks the tests
*Teacher goes through answers
*Students give themselves a mark
*Teacher gives out the tests
*How can I improve? Where did I go right? Where did you go wrong?

Classes make rubrics

KWL are super important
Know/Want to know/Learned

Monday, March 14, 2011

Helpful Links from Nicky

During Nicky's presentation she linked us to a handout:

TESOL Spain ELT Convention

11 March 2011 - Plenary by Nicky Hockly

Teaching the Mobile Generation

Videos & interviews

Class of 8-year olds with iPods

Project Knect

Texts & Tweets: myths & reality (Interview with David Crystal)

Mobile learning with kids (Interview with Scott Newcomb)

Mobile learning in a US high school (Interview with Edward Spurke)

Apps for learning English

Graham Stanley on apps

Neil Ballantyne on apps

Top 50 iPhone apps for educators

British Council free apps


David Read on using mLearning in UK

Mobile learning blog

Nicky Hockly mLearning series 1-10

Tony Vincent´s blog Learning in Hand

Louise Duncan´s blog

Liz Kolb´s blog

mLearning is good

Lesson plans

Planet of the Apps (iT´s Magazine - A2)

Reading on mobile phones

Mobile phones: discussion of issues

mLearning Lesson Plans Repository

Penny Ur

English as an international language: What difference does it make?

This presentation is from Penny Ur. She is a pretty big name in the TEFL word, here's a pretty succint summary (again copied from the biodata): "Penny Ur has thirty years’ experience as an English teacher in primary and secondary schools in Israel. She teaches courses on aspects of foreign-language teaching methodology at Oranim Academic College of Education. She has published a number of articles on the subject of foreign-language teaching, and several books with Cambridge University Press, including A Course in Language Teaching (1996) and Grammar Practice Activities (2nd ed.)(2009)."

Per the abstract it was about: "English is today used predominantly as a tool of international communication between people who speak another language as their mother tongue, as distinct from its use as a mother tongue in the English-speaking countries. I will suggest in this talk that this development makes substantial differences to both principles and practice of our teaching."

Penny starts by discussing the prominence of English today (about 1/3 of people on earth speak English at a level where communication is possible). She mentioned kachru's three inner circles

English has such a large scope (academic, entertainment, political, tourism, etc.)

Competent speakers are no longer just "native" language speakers. Penny therefore posits that the circle be redefined: with the inner circle being named full competent, the next circle be named competent and the final circle being named limited competence

She talks about three different types of English we could teach. We talked about this a lot in my most recent Spanish course. What type of Spanish should be taught? There are so many lexical differences and even some verbs changes.

One of the native varieties
+Traditional and more conventional
+Has the reputation of prestigious
+Plenty of authentic material and coursebooks (which makes it easy)

-Not used by most competent speakers
-Difficulty deciding which one to teach (British/Australian/American)
-It is difficult for a non-native to reach a competence of native speakers

Diverse flexible models
+Ideologically acceptable (its very politically correct)
+Allows for local variation (since it is flexible the local model can always be included)

-No clear model
-Difficult to design syllabus and materials (and thus hard to teach and assess)

A standard variety
Derived from one of the main varieties/combination that eliminates local idioms, vocabulary, pronunciation spelling, grammar (omit fortnight, cheers: meaning thanks, etc) and adding more international words (like zee not zed)

+Range of acceptable forms
+Based on usages of fully competent speakers (which are not necessarily native!) Thus giving learners a realistic standard to reach
+Acceptable worldwide!

-Existence is questioned
-Not very P.C.

In the end Penny basically talks about how we can incorporate more of this into our classes.

My friends and I have talked about this quite a lot. Most of my collegues in Spain learned British English. I am American. I can navigate British, Australian, South African and most other Englishes without problem (although prepositions do sometimes mess me up). So what do I teach stduents? I try to teach the least offensive word. For example, I would not teach rubber for eraser since it means condom in America. I also prefer to teach trousers instead of pants since pants means underwear in British English.

An interesting reminder, though not very applicable to preschool at the moment :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Herbet Puchta

Herbert Puchta was very entertaining. He is clearly a talented speaker and one who is used to have an entertained audience. That being said, I am under the impression that most of what he said is already known by most people who have experience with teenagers. Nonetheless, here's the gist:

His presentation was, "Ideas that work: Teaching teens to speak" This is a lot of theory with not many activities, but I do think it had things I should keep in my head as I go back to teaching teenagers.

Per the abstract it was about: "Folk wisdom has it that language learners need to 'think in English' in order to be able to express themselves fluently. In this session we will look at how the brain processes language when we speak, and concentrate on what we can do to help our students overcome some of the most frequent problems we encounter in our daily work."

About him, copied from the biodata:
Dr Herbert Puchta is a prolific EFL author and teacher trainer. He has written numerous textbooks and resource books for the teaching of English as a foreign language to young learners and teenagers. Herbert is currently President of IATEFL International. His latest coursebooks are English in Mind 2nd Edition and More!, both published by Cambridge University Press.
First let's cover the basics. Communication required more than words. I can string together a whole bunch of words in Korean, but if there is no intention (no reason to communicate) I won't be saying anything. It requires that I know what words to say, and how to say them!

To do this we (English Language Teachers) should be able to have meaningful tasks with a purpose to practice speaking. Not just dialogues, role plays and Q+A activities which focus on accuracy rather than communication skills. We want activities that force students to communicate!

As with everything in life ATTITUDE IS ESSENTIAL! Make sure to have a classroom where your students have a joy of communicating in L2, that they are willing to take risks, they can accept errors, and they have a positive image of themselves now and in the future (communicating in the L2).

Some ideas:
  • Remember Kieran Egan and his thoughts on classroom culture. Students need to feel comfortable to gossip and want to be a part of the class.
  • The use of humour in the class and the activities is priceless.
  • Use relevant content in the classroom (stories that students can connect with).
  • Prediction games (give them an unknown text with gaps and see what they can fill in)
  • Give them a line "I am sorry but can you help my cat" and have them develop a reoleplay or story.

Well., Alan Paivio has the Dual Code Theory. Part of the theory suggests that we think in words (language) and picture (images). When thinking planned out thoughts (making plans, considering words) we think in words, but for faster interaction, we tend to just think in images. This goes against the concept that you have to learn to "think in English"

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is most known for his theories on flow. Have you ever had a class where you're pulling teeth the entire time? Compare this to a class where everything just goes perfectly! That's what we want in our classes! We want flow. He gives 7 main aspects of flow:
  1. You are completely involved in the activity.
  2. You have a sense of not actually being there (you "forget" you are in class).
  3. You have an inner clarity (you know what needs to be done and how to best do it).
  4. You know the activity is doable
  5. You have a sense of serenity. There are no issues with ego or concerns about getting something perfect.
  6. You don't track the time. Students are just focused on the present and the class time flies by!
  7. You aren't doing it for a sticker. Students involved in flow aren't doing it for the good grade or the sticker. They are doing it because they are motivated by the project!
Herbert Puchtea has some more activities to implement in classes with Here's another example from him on working with teenagers when they struggle with the third person s. You can keep listening to the rest of the videos for another idea from him!

Stephanie Williams

I think most people reading this know that I am also working on my Masters right now. It just so happens that my Didáctica para Heritage Learners class is doing a webquest on Tuesday so when I asked Stephanie what exactly the Internet-based projects were and she replied webquests I sat down to listen :)

So a bit more about her (per the biodata)

Stephanie Williams graduated in Modern Languages at Portsmouth University in the United Kingdom. She has over 15 years’ experience in English teaching, both in the UK and in Spain. She is also a teacher trainer and is currently working in the languages department of Vicens Vives.
The title of her presentation is "Language Learning with Internet-based Projects"

Which per the abstract should be about, "why and how to use Internet-based Projects in the language learning class. We will see how varied Internet resources on topics of interest to students can motivate them to carry through an assigned class project, and help improve their language skills and build their confidence, self-esteem and learner autonomy in the process."

First she went over the basics, what an internet based project is (and the different types, but since this was mainly webquests I'll skip that part), how to search the internet, why to include the internet, what you need to do it, examples, how to assess a webquest, and the benefits of a webquest.

To summarize her presentation:

  • A WEBQUEST is based online (aka uses stduents enthusiasm for the internet to complete a task)
  • It is student led (students follow teacher's written directions but it is still mainly led by students). Basically: learner autonomy!
  • They need to figure out what information is missing and how to find it and make it make sense. Students use critical thinking!
  • It encouraged cooperative learning.

You need a:
  • feasible topic
  • time limit (keep in mind pug ins and what not take longer to load)
  • appropriate resources (static pages that the student will always find)
  • clear objective (students need to know EXACTLY what they are doing)
Then we all did a Webquest about Webquests! (created by an Aztec btws!) We all went through and completed our own webquest (in a group) with the objective of choosing the "best" one.

Sounds great? But you have a problem? No internet in the classroom? That DOES sound like an issue! You can try WebWhacker 5.0 it essentially downloads the sites so you can browse offline! I haven't tried it but you may want to try it out.

This is older, but if you like her style and want to know a bit more about technology I found this old slideshare that seems to be by her.

Karen Einstein

Karen was one of my FAVORITE presenters! She presented on "Collaborative Writing Activities".

According to the abstract, "Participants will have the opportunity to experiment with a variety of collaborative writing activities (non-composition based) and to discuss briefly the aspects of writing practised. The objectives of the activities include such areas as considering the target reader, building complex sentences, discourse management, focus on grammar / lexis, peer teaching, peer correction, developing classroom rapport and considering culture."

A bit about her (per her biodata):
Karen Einstein has been working in TEFL for twenty years, the last seven of which she has been with the British Council in Barcelona. She’s taught on and designed various teacher training programmes over the years and has a special interest in encouraging learners (particularly teens) to experiment with different ways of expressing themselves through writing.

With Karen we first discussed why collaborative was useful (less stress on the student, the chance to communicate with someone else takes pressure off of you, peer correcting etc.)

One example is to give the students a picture. Karen used art (which I may do to try to bring culture in, but in this case I'll stick with one of mine).

Give the students time to write the following things.

1. Who is he?
2. Where is he? / What does he see?
3. What did he do before this?
4. How does he feel?
5. What is he doing?

Make sure they talk to each other first and just jot down words (not complete sentences). Monitor the class as they do this and give the questions out one by one to track time.

Now (again in pairs) have the students write a diary entry that the man will write about his day.

The students have already brainstormed their ideas and now just have to try to make things flow.

But are you getting a lot of sentences like: I was outside. I saw a goat. I looked at the goat.

No worries!

Karen gave a game to get students to make bigger sentences. On the board we right a simple (but slightly odd) clause

"I climbed the tree"

Have the students write it in the middle of a paper. Then give them a linker like although Use easier linker for lower lever students and higher linkers for higher students. Some A1 linkers: so/then. Some B1 linkers: however/despite. C1 linkers: furthermore/nevertheless.

In groups they need to change the sentence (their addition can go before or after)

Although I am afraid of heights, I climbed the tree.

I climbed the tree although it was very tall.

If your students are at a high enough level give them one more linker, let's say, because

I climbed the tree although it was very tall because I was being chased by donkeys

Easy, simple and effective

How often do students post pictures on facebook to go with a status? Give them two photos (aain Karen used art, I am going to find random pictures in my computer)

With a partner look over the pictures and choose one. Then decide how it makes you feel.

Now make a brief explanation (140 characters or less) that you would post with the picture to tell people where you are. So perhaps for the first one, "Eeks! A little too close for comfort! I am heading away from the lions now."

She had some more but overall it was a great way to grab some ideas on incorporating more collaborative writing into my classes!

Nicky Hockly

Nickly Hockly started the convention off by speaking about "Teaching the Mobile Generation."

This abstract says, "Learners are coming to class increasingly wired up: iPods, MP3 players, mobile phones, digital cameras... Many of our learners already use these mobile devices in their daily lives. Instead of banning them from the classroom, shouldn't we be taking advantage of devices that learners are already very proficient users of? This plenary considers how we can integrate this mobile (or handheld) technology into our teaching."

A bit about Nicky (per the biodata)
Nicky Hockly is the Director of Pedagogy of The Consultants-E (, and has been involved in EFL teaching and training since 1987. Co-author of How to Teach English with Technology ,Teaching English as a Foreign Language for Dummies, and Teaching Online, she specializes in online teaching and training via virtual learning environments such as Moodle, and is interested in the use of technology in the language classroom."

So all in all the presentation was pretty basic. Nicky gave a review of why students are drawn to technology (they already do it, it is more creative, allows them to express themselves etc.) and the different types of mobile technology there are (PSP, Notebook, Smart Phone, MP4 player etc.)

Personally I found her presentation a bit unnecessary, but perhaps this is because I am part of the generation who grew up with a computer in the other room. While technology has not always been a part of my life I have grown up to it evolving (I remember dial up AOL, I remember getting a scanner, etc.). It was a nice reminder however that technology is out there and that many of our students would like us to use it!

You can see her presentation (or something similar) on youtube (I left out part 1 as it is mainly intro but you can find it if you like)

If you are interested in hearing more from Nicky about the basics of incorporating technology into your classes you may want to search for her quickly on youtube to find even more videos!

TESOL Spain: 11!

There were quite a lot of choices but in the end you just can't see them all! I could have seen 12, but I figured 2011 would mean 11 :)

So, over this weekend, I got to see 11 different presentations. Some were very applicable to me where others not so much, but I took something away from each one!

I don't have a chance to jot things down now, but in short I managed to see:

Nicky Hockly speak about "Teaching the Mobile Generation"

Karen Einstein
do a FANTASTIC job with, "Collaborative Writing Activities."

Stephanie Williams give a nifty packet as she discussed webquests in "Language learning with Internet Based Projects."

Herbert Puchta talk about a bit about what teenagers want in "Ideas that work: Teaching Teens to Speak."

Penny Ur discuss the type of English we may like to teach, in "English as an International Language- What difference does it make?"

Borja Urunuela give some advise on keeping students interested with "Motivation: Theories in Practice."

Nelson Arditto remind us that English has more words than any other language and gave some "Vocabulary Learning Strategies" to teach to students.

Elspeth Pollock try to make checking homework a bit more exciting with, "Correction Technqiues: Keep your students awake."

Paul Braddock discuss his time spent without a textbook in, "Teaching Barefoot: Moving Away from the Coursebook."

If it is a quick read or a fast read? Do we say fast food or quick food? Jo Millar gives some hints and tricks for working with collocation in "Increasing Students Awareness of Collocation."


Bouncy Teresa Bestwick give some advice on making teenagers speak more in class with, "There are no wrong answers! Encouraging Communication in Teens"

As I get some free time (I have two papers to write by Thursday)I hope to give a brief glimpse of what I gained from each of these sessions.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I am at TESOL Spain's 34th convention. Thus far it has been pretty good and I have some pretty great ideas to implement next year.

More to come!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Authentic Material finder!!!

AMAZING site! Check it out :)

Basically you put in what you want to find articles about (Halloween)

And then the level (basic, intermediate, etc.)

When an article pops up you can select the analysis and get a rundown of the sentence structure of the text (for example: passive, and then all the passive sentences)

A Great way to discover authentic material, it is in BETA now but I recommend you check it out

(EDIT 2012 the site is out of BETA now and charging, btu I think you can still get a free month trial)
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