Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sweet Little Bunny With a Fly Upon Its Nose

When I was in the Netherlands I picked up a few Dutch kids songs. One was the lief klein konijntje: Children would use hand motions (wohoo TPR) and have a lot of fun (plus it is one of the songs I still remember!)

When I was thrown into a preschool class with no chance to prep I very quickly and super roughly translated this song into English and sang it for the students.

Sweet little bunny with a fly upon its nose
Sweet little bunny with a fly upon its nose
Sweet little bunny with a fly upon its nose
And it flew from here to there

OOOOOH sweet little bunny
OOOOOOOOH sweet little bunny
OOOOOOOOOOH sweet little bunny with a fly upon its nose

That was fun, but it didn't last very long. So on a whim I had the students change the words in a mad libs like activity. So the students changed the animals, body part and adjectives.

For example: 
Happy, tall giraffe with an elephant on its elbow
Happy, tall giraffe with an elephant on its elbow
Happy, tall giraffe with an elephant on its elbow
And it flew from here to there

OOOOOH happy tall giraffe
OOOOOOOOH happy tall giraffe
OOOOOOOOOOH happy tall giraffe with an elephant on its elbow

It is perfectly OK if the song doesn't make any sense. The important part is that each word has a matching hand motions and the students have fun! You can make it more practical and change the verb (and it swam from here to there, and it walked from here to there, and it went from here to there) but I think part of the fun is students picture ridiculous animals flying. If you like at the end you can end with the students drawing a picture of their favorite combination.

I have used this is Spanish as well (Cornejito cariñoso con una mosca en la nariz...) when practicing body parts with little ones in the States.

For those of you who love the Dutch version so much you want it on your IPOD to treasure forever and ever I have found a few copies. You can pick from the one on your left or your right.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

You lived in Korea, so you speak Korean? How much of a language do you need to know to teach English to the learners?

As a traveller I do think it shows a great amount of disrespect not to learn at least some of the language when you go to a different area. Even if I was spending less than a week in a country, I would always learn: please thank you, where is the, and no. I found it earned me some respect and overall it is just the polite thing to do.

So yes, I picked up some Korean (now I remember very little) and when I lived in the Netherlands I learned some Dutch.

As a teacher however I do not feel you need to know a learner's language in order to teach them. I do think you need to understand their language linguistically to anticipate problems. For example, I did a poetry unit in Korea. I did not know that Korean's do not rhyme. The best translation of the word rhyme is poem, but they aren't familiar with the concept in their L1. If I had known that I would have planned more time on the actual skill of rhyming (which I ended up doing anyways)

When I took my CELTA  we had a copy of Swan's Learner English that I found invaluable for understanding why a student may struggle with a lesson.

I do agree with others who have said that it is very helpful to teachers if they have learned a second or third language as a student. This gives you tons of skills that later help you as a teacher (and you may be able to snag some activities and games!)

So basically no I don't think that English teachers need to be multi-lingual. I do think it helps, but I think most people would benefit from being multi-lingual, not just teachers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

5 easy ways to teach with Movies

 okokOne of my favorite final assignments is to have students make pcik a topic from the semester and teach it to the class. After the TOEFL I also like to have students watch a movie (as a: "wohoo we finished the TOEFL!"). So in an effort to combine the two my students are making teaching part of the class USING a movie that we watched in class.

This time I changed it up so they have to teach something from the class  USING a movie that we watched. So to do this I wanted to give them some examples of how to use movies in class:

1. Use the soundtracks! See my other blog on how to use songs in class. Bands often make music videos that are related to the movie for example with Cruel Intentions (which is probably not appropriate for your class unless you teach college students)

2. Use the characters. Take any reading that you already have and change the names. For example if you were going to do a Dear Abby type activity still do it but make the letter from one of the characters. If you are doing a drill to review a grammar point use the characters. It is more interesting to find the run on if the sentence is something like: Elizabeth Swan is in love with two pirates. She really loves Will Turner, she loves Jack Sparrow too!

3. Use scenes. Take one scene from the movie and use it for students to break down a grammar point. Have them use every adjective they can to describe what is happening. Pick out things happening to objects and write them in the active voice, then have the students switch it to passive. etc.

4. Summarize/Paraphrase Have students make a trailer for the movie (or a short version of the movie) This tests their summarizing skills.

5. Idioms! Either directly find idioms in the movies (they are always there!) or find situations where idioms could apply. Make a gap fill with situation/dialogue or show a scene and have students try to guess.

There are so many more there may be another post coming up. How do you use movies?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A rhyming word game

A co-worker and I were discussing how our students get stuck on paraphrasing sometimes because they can''t think of other ways to say words. So they just move words around but can't put them in their own words. One of my solutions is a game I play with students called Inky Pink. It goes like this:

What's Inky Pinky for a silly rabbit? A funny bunny?

What's Inkity Pinkity for a scary flash of light in a storm? Frightening Lightening

What's Ink Pink for an entertaining religious woman? A fun nun

Can you figure out how to play the game?

Often I don't tell my students the rules I just start giving them clues and seeing if we can come up with answers. Eventually they get the hang of it and then I ask the ones that do to explain it to the class. 

If you haven't guessed yet these are the rules: You describe something (using synonyms or descriptions) that can be answered in two words normally with matching syllables. To tell how many syllables it is you use Ink Pink (one syllable-one syllable: fun nun), Inky Pinky (two syllables-two syllables: funny-bunny), Inkity Pinkity(three syllables-three syllables: frightening lightening).

Traditionally the syllables need to match, but I tend to make it more diverse by allowing each word to have different syllables.
What's Inky Pink for a solitary duplicate (two syllables-one syllable) alone-clone.

You can also do it with pictures:
 What's Ink Pink for: a fat cat

Once students get the hang of it there are tons of applications. Off the top of my head I have used it to fill up some extra time, to practice paraphrasing or to review vocab.

For example these are some vocabulary words I use from Ray Bradbury's All Summer in a Day: Pleading, Tidal, Slacken., Avalanche, Savor, Suspend, Frail, Cluster, Peer, Glance, Whisper, Seize, Stake, Bore, Seek

What's ink pink for a brief look that happened by luck: A Chance Glance
What's ink pink for a weird look: a Queer Peer
What's inky-pinky for asking for something a lot and is losing a lot of blood: a Bleeding Pleading

Students can come up with their own and try to guess other student's ink-pinks.

I have a packet for All Summer in a Day at Teachers Pay Teachers that includes some ink pink worksheets. It is only $1.50! If you aren't a member of TPT yet you can sign up for free here

I learned that these were ink-pinks, but others have called them hink-pinks or hinky-pinkys If you are slow to make your own there are some books and games to help you out:

Do you remember playing this game when you were younger? What's your favorite ink-pink? How would you use this in the classroom? Or why not?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My favorite websites as a teacher

A lot of these sites are awesome for any teacher, some are better for EFL (ESL, EFL, ELT, Language Arts, English etc), but most are great sites for any teacher to rock in their classes.
Tools for teachers/students to use for presentations:
 Sites for teachers to plan lessons/track grades:
Sites to get a class to work together:  

A site to do things with sentence structure/words:
  • A fun website to randomly generate sentences per the sentence structure you select
  • This is a site which spots new words in the English dictionary and keeps you updated.
  • A quick way to make a vocab quiz
  • You can make free word puzzles here
  • Define multiple words at one time here
  • Pick out vocab words from a text
  • Bad examples. Find real examples of grammar gone bad and have students fix it.
  • There are TONS of word of the day sites, but this is one of my favorites
  • More accurate than googletranslate for words or word chunks. The forum discussions are especially useful.
  • I use a lot of songs and clips in my classes so this is good for students who ask me things like, "Teacher, what does it mean to do something like a Boss?"
(Youtube video not necessarily appropriate for work, just keep in mind it is what your students are probably watching in their spare time and what they will be asking you questions about)

But HOW do you teach abroad?

The famous fortress of my first city I lived in teaching abroad, Suwon-si Korea.
The second most commonly asked question I get is, "But Carissa, HOW do you teach all these places?"

There are TONS of programs out there you just need to use common sense when you are looking at them and find the best one for you. I have different standards when I look for jobs now, but now I have years of different levels of experience, certificates, and a Masters. When I was just starting off I would look at jobs and think:

1. Is it legal? I always avoided anything that appears to be under the table. First, because I hate breaking the law (yes yes I am a goodie goodie) and second because I planned on spending most of my life living abroad; the last thing I needed was to be blacklisted from visiting some country because of visa violations. It is also safer if you have a legal job with a legal visa.

2. Is it verifiable? Google those people! Use your blind date stalking skills for good. Google e-mail addresses, names, the company, etc.. Check out their LinkedIn profiles. Check blogs for past employees. Ask to speak to past/current employees.

3. Is it survivable? A lot of the programs I am going to mention don't pay tons of money, but they do give you enough based on what you are doing. If you are working 80 hours a week with a homestay and may still struggle to make ends meet, I wouldn't recommend it.

So, what kind of programs are out there and appropriate for someone without a lot of experience?

Some of my best times in Korea were spent in the rural Korea.
TALK is a program that I never did, but I want to mention it because it does not require a Bachelors degree. You have to be a "native English speaker" meaning that you are a citizen of : Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK or USA. You also need to have an associates degree OR be enrolled in your Bachelors with 2 years of schooling completed.  You teach for 15 hours a week (normally in rural areas of Korea) Monday through Friday. Perks? Free outings, your accommodation is provided (either an apartment or a homestay) and you earn about 1.5million won a month (this is about $1,500 US but it depends on the exchange rate). This program is encouraged for those 35 and under (though they accept people up to 55).

Suwon, where I taught, is the capital of Gyeonggi-Do
If you are looking into Korea and you have more experience and want more money. Check out EPIK(rural Korea and Seoul) or GEPIK (involving the doughnut shaped province that surrounds Seoul). Again you must be a "native English Speaker." Salary varies from 2 million won to 2.5 million won depending on your experience and qualifications (2,000-2,500 USD roughly) plus a one time settling fee (to buy pots, pans, etc). If you finish your contract you get a months salary as a bonus. You are given an apartment (which is paid for by the school) and there are often workshops. You work 8 hours a day 5 days a week, but you should only teach 22 hours a week.
EDITED TO ADD As of March 2012 a 100 hour TOEFL course was a new basic requirement.

You can also work at hagwons (private academies) but since these are not government backed jobs you REALLY need to do your research.

A bunch of fellow English teachers at the El Escorial
What if you have no desire to go to Korea? OK. What about Europe?

BEDA is a program for the Catholic schools in Madrid. It does NOT require a Bachelors (but you need to be in at least you second year of college). Technically you are not a teacher (you are an assistant). You work 16-24 hours a week and your pay varies based on the hours you work. You must be a native English speaker, older than 20 and competent in Spanish. You can read more here

Catholicism isn't your thing? OK, then just work for the government. People from the United States or Canada can apply to become an Auxiliare de conversación. You could end up teaching anywhere in Spain in schools ranging from Kindergarten through 12th grade. You get at least 700 Euros a month (depending on the hours this could increase) and you pay nothing to apply. It is designed for Junior and Senior College students (so no Bachelors needed) or recent graduates.

Crazy wild Carnivalle party in Dunkirk France!
You have no desire to be in Spain. France rocks a similar program. You need to be a United States citizen (or have a greencard) . You must be between 20 and 30 with at least 2 years of college experience, and you must be proficient in French. You make about 780 Euros a month. There is a small fee to apply. You can read more here.

These are all programs that help new teachers get the experience they need to decide if teaching is really what they want, or to become desirable to hire.

Am I missing any? What programs do you find great for budding EFL teachers who want to get their feet wet?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bad case of alphabet soup? TEFL / TESOL / TOEFL

I quite often get asked by a lot of people, "What certificate do I need to teach in Mexico" (or any other country I have been).

Before I say anything else I want to make it clear that my advice is usually on how to get legal jobs (it's safer!)and that's what I recommend. However this does not consist of legal advice. ALWAYS check with a country's rules before going.

Quite often you don't NEED any certificate. If you are a native speaker with a college degree this will already get you several job opportunities.

Alright, to start if you aren't a "native" speaker(From England, South Africa, The United States of America, New Zealand, Australia etc), you will want to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TOEFL IBT (Internet Based Test) is the most known now as it includes speaking and writing, though the Paper Based Test is still accepted in some places. Be sure to check before you take the test to know what scores you need and what test is preferred. This is to prove your English level to your school. While it doesn't always substitute for being a native speaker (especially if it is a visa requirement), sometimes it does.

So that's the TOEFL (different than a TEFL)

Sometimes schools want more than just a native speaker; they want someone who has shown some commitment to teaching and has a certificate. That's when you'll see them ask for a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Two of the more well known (and thus more valued) are the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) and the Trinity College London Certificate in TESOL (Trinity). There are a lot of different courses out there, but the CELTA and Trinity are by far the two best known; that doesn't necessarily mean they are the best but they are reputable. They have hours of in class teaching and hands on time with the moderators. While the CELTA is technically focused on adults, I rarely see problems with this if you apply for younger learner jobs.

I think it is easiest to think of the whole thing and compare it to shoes.

The TEFL and TESOL certificates are shoes, and you need a pair to get where you are going. The CELTA and the Trinity are like Nike and Adidas; if you tell people you have them, they know you have "good" shoes.

Now there are a lot of online certificates; I wouldn't encourage these as many schools won't take them, BUT if you already have a job and you'll get a pay raise or you are just looking at jobs that take online ones then this is great.

CELTA has started to offer an online version, but it still requires you to to some in person time as well.

My advice: Look for a school you would want to work at that is hiring right now. It is too early to actually look for a job for you, but you can see what requirements they want. These are the requirements you should shoot to have. If they say, "minimum 100 hour certificate" then that is what you want. "No online certificates" then you need to do one in person. "TEFL with classroom observation" means that most online certificates are out. "CELTA or equivalent" tends to mean Trinity or CELTA.

I recently came accross a free basic TEFL course here: I wouldn't suggest it as the ONLY course you take, but it does seem like it has a nice background. If you don't have time to do anything else, or you really have no money (and can't get a scholarship) please at least check out the course at Udemy or CCPED Something is better than nothing after all!

Thoughts? What certificate do you have? Is it enough? Do you wish you had a different certificate?
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