ELT thoughts, news and updates

Here we've got ideas, observations on ELT, including Mark's Pronunciation Blog and loads of conference and speaker reports...

BRAZ-TESOL: a listening skills workshop

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“Enhancing students’ listening skills with authentic materials: going beyond gap-filling” (Bruna Caltabiano)Bruna began this workshop with a brainstorm session of why humans (and other animals!) listen. She led the discussion to this very human motivation, as expressed by Wilson: “We learn to listen and we listen to learn”.  

BRAZ-TESOL: a pron/listening talk

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“English is a rhythmical language” (Susan Harris de Melo) The main thrust of Susan’s talk was that there is a great insight that teachers in Brazil are tending to overlook: that English is stress-timed and Brazilian Portuguese is syllable-timed. A consequence of this difference is that for a Brazilian, listening to English is very difficult because the grammar words tend to be swallowed.

BRAZ-TESOL: A grammar teaching workshop

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“Creating effective learning opportunities”
(Anamaria Campanha and Sirley Trinidade Vilela Lewis)
Anamaria and Sirley are teachers at a Cultura Inglesa in Minas Gerais. Their talk represents the conclusions of a project they conducted at their school to find the most successful grammar input activities. Here are the five elements that they found to be essential:

BRAZ-TESOL Opening Plenary Tuesday 17th

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Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

Christine Coombe gave the opening the plenary on Tuesday morning: her topic – 10 Characteristics of Highly Effective EF/SL Teachers; her purpose – to get us reflecting on our own criteria for effectiveness and to self-evaluate accordingly; her idea – that we might identify areas of our teaching that we might want to work on.

Braz-tesol Diary

Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

We're leaving for the Braz-Tesol conference today. The conference timetable is still not published, so we don't yet have any idea what to expect. What we do know is that there are 4 plenaries per day making a total of 12, which must be a record!

Dangerous Dictation n.2

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Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog
Dangerous Dictations are puzzles which depend on word-boundary confusions. For example, 'Bow Tie' sounds exactly like 'Boat Eye', because you can't be sure whether the /t/ sound is the end of 'Boat' or the start of 'Tie'. This could lead to dictation errors. The puzzle for your students is to identify and explain the error.

Dangerous Dictation n.1

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Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog
Dangerous Dictations are puzzles which depend on word-boundary confusions. For example, 'The Great Ape' sounds exactly like 'The Grey Tape', because you can't be sure whether the /t/ sound is the end of 'Great' or the start of 'Tape'. This could lead to dictation errors. The puzzle for your students is to identify and explain the error.

More on authentic listening

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Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

In the current issue of Modern English Teacher, http.//www.onlinemet.com, there's a very informative, useful and convincing article by Sheila Thorn on 'Debunking Authentic Listening (MET Vol 21, No 2, pgs 65-69) in which she puts the case for using authentic listenings in the classroom.

Mark Hancock in Badajoz, May 4th

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Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

I talked about "Motivation: the inside story" in Badajoz on May 4th.  Here are materials from the talk, just click on the links and while you're here, take a look around and leave some feedback! And see the PDF downloads below for the handout.

Interview on Radio Exterior

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Friday, March 23, 2012 - 16:45
Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

On March 23rd, 2012 we were interviewed by Frank Smith and Alison Hughes at Radio Exterior for Face to Face about Creative ways to teach English.

Classroom Codeswitching

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Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

In this short video, Mark explains the reason for code-switching between Polish and English in an information gap activity. For more on this topic, see the article "Behind Classroom Code Switching: Layering and Language Choice in L2 Learner Interaction".

English Pronunciation in Use - New edition!

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Event date: 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 09:00
Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

New Edition of English Pronunciation in Use, out just last week! There's plenty that's new here, including a much clarified approach to tonic stress placement, and a section focusing on receptive pronunciation (ie, pronunciation for listening), including variation and accents.

An undesirable effect of testing?

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Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

Just found the poem below by Brian Patten, one of the Liverpudlian Beat poets from the 1960s, on the IATEFL TEA in Istanbul blog.

Why do you think the 'I' of the poem constantly failed exams? And, what can we test writers learn from this poor person's experience?

 

Test writing and CEFR levels

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Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

I’ve just got back to work after attending the extremely successful 35th TESOL-Spain National Convention in Bilbao. From the various talks I went to, I gathered that some teachers and test writers are using coursebook materials to help them devise tests and examinations which are pegged to CEFR levels.

Just what IS a 'framework-friendly' course?

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Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

Nowadays, many courses claim (either directly or indirectly) to be compatible with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). I'd always thought that there must be more to this than simply using the CEFR levels to situate a course.

When the tail wags the dog

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Sometimes, you plan your lesson backwards. You find something you really want to use in class and so you plan your lesson around it, even though it doesn't really fit in with where you're up to on the curriculum. Maybe it's a song. Maybe it's a great text. Maybe a video clip off the internet, or some new technological innovation.

Pay attention - this is in the exam!

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This is a short story which illustrates how too much extrinsic motivation can kill off intrinsic motivation. Bear this in mind when you try to get your students' attention with lines like, "Pay attention - this is in the exam!". If you do this, you may be killing off any intrinsic interest they might have had for the stuff you are asking them to pay attention to.

FAQs (not)

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Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog

Ten questions you're never likely to hear in the language classroom…

Tips for conference presenting

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It's always interestingj to share ideas about how to approach presenting at conferences. I was thinking about the way I approach them myself, often unconsciously, and here are a list of DOs and DON'Ts which I came up with.

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