Dec 19, 2014

Closely connected


Photo by Sudhamshu Hebbar on Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
An article written by the British linguist Vyvyan Evans entitled “Language Instinct is a Myth” which I shared on Twitter the other day triggered a lively discussion with my colleagues. One of the questions raised on Twitter was how come the idea that we are born with a built-in language capacity (aka the innateness hypothesis) has prevailed for so long and Chomsky, its main promoter, is part of all Master's in TESOL programmes if the theory has largely been discredited (Scott Thornbury asks the same question on his in X is for X-bar Theory).

Nov 29, 2014

Learners' use of collocations: insights from the research 2


"Perform surgery" or "carry out surgery"?
Photo by Austin Samaritans via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.O]
What kind of collocations are most mistake-prone:
strong (e.g. honk the horn, shrug shoulders), medium-strong (e.g. wage a war, fail a test), medium-weak (e.g. perform an experiment, reach a compromise) or weak (e.g. see a film, read the newspaper)?



Oct 31, 2014

On (and off) the wall vocabulary activities

I often make students (and teachers I work with) get out of their seats. I think movement in the classroom is important whether you believe in the now hotly debated concept of learning styles or because cognition is embodied. Apart from onion ring debates and mingling activities, there are many movement activities you can do using classroom walls.

Oct 5, 2014

Not a word was spoken (but many were learned)

Video is often used in the EFL classroom for listening comprehension activities, facilitating discussions and, of course, language work. But how can you exploit silent films without any language in them? Since developing learners' linguistic resources should be our primary goal (well, at least the blogger behind the blog thinks so), here are four suggestions on how language (grammar and vocabulary) can be generated from silent clips.

Aug 19, 2014

Lexical Approach: a definitive reference list

Not a proper blog post this time but just a list of references and useful links I have compiled for a series of workshops I have been giving this summer. Ninety minutes is not enough for even an Introduction to... kind of workshop so I thought I'd put together a list for the participants to continue exploring the Lexical approach on their own. The workshops were commissioned by the British Council, hence a slight slant towards the British Council - BBC Teaching English website.

May 31, 2014

Experimental vocabulary practice

Image by Peter Megyeri
on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
My interest in experimental practice was piqued at the TESOL France’s last annual colloquium where I attended interesting sessions on the topic by Mike Harrison, and Christina Rebuffet-Broadus and Jennie Wright (see my conference report HERE)

For those who have done the DELTA, experimental practice may be associated with trying out different, non-mainstream teaching methods or approaches, such as TPR or the Silent Way. But, as Christina Rebuffet-Broadus, co-author of Experimental Practice in ELT: Walk on the Wild Side which recently came out on the Round, assured me during a brief chat we had after her workshop at TESOL France, experimental practice can also be conducted on a micro-level.

Apr 13, 2014

To confer or to concur?

Image by @sandymillin
via eltpics on Flickr
For the first time since it was last held in Harrogate (2010), I didn’t go to the annual IATEFL conference this year and - like thousands of other English teachers who couldn’t afford to go to the largest EFL conference in the world - settled in comfortably in front of my computer to watch it online. All plenary talks and selected presentations are streamed live on the IATEFL online website thanks to the partnership between IATEFL and the British Council. I was particularly looking forward to the talks by Prof Michael Hoey on 4 April ("Old approaches, new perspectives" - click HERE to watch the recording) and Prof Sugata Mitra on 5 April ("The future of learning"- click HERE for the recording) and highly recommended them to all my students (teacher candidates).

Mar 1, 2014

Horizontal alternatives to vertical lists

Photo by Tzvi Meller
As much as it seems counter-intuitive, teaching new vocabulary in semantic sets (e.g. jobs: doctor, teacher, lawyer etc. or colours: red, blue, yellow etc.) does not facilitate learning. As far back as in the 1990s, research showed that teaching semantically related items is counter-productive. Have these findings been taken on board? Of course not! New vocabulary in elementary level coursebooks is routinely presented in lists of semantically related items.

Jan 5, 2014

News Quiz 2013 - Vocabulary

Images by Tim Evanson,  Gene Hunt
Alex Alishevskikh via Flickr
As usual, as a follow up to the traditional end-of-year news quiz, here are language-focused activities aimed at reviewing and consolidating lexis from quiz. If you haven't seen the news quiz 2013, click HERE

This is how I usually use the quiz with my students.

Please note the quiz and the activities below come in two levels.

Dec 31, 2013

End-of-year news quiz 2013

Traditional quiz for your first lesson in 2014

By lasanta.com.ec via Flickr
[CC BY 2.0]
For some reason I had a hard time coming up with news items for this year's quiz. Not that the year was uneventful but somehow there were no sex scandals, jumps from space or viral videos which usually make good questions for the quiz. There were lots of deaths though, which is reflected in the questions, and while we're on the topic I'd like to mention that our field has also lost three notable figures in 2013: Leo Van Lier, Earl Stevick and Dave Willis (see my tribute HERE)

Dec 29, 2013

Top 3 web tools of 2013

As the year draws to a close it’s time for various top 10, 20 etc lists. I am going to limit myself to 3 and share the web tools that have undoubtedly been my favourite this year. Three different tools - three different uses.


Dec 20, 2013

The blogger behind this blog

In response to the blog tag challenge

By Masachi Mochida via Flickr
[CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
I’ve been tagged. Twice. In a blog challenge the idea of which is to post 11 random facts about oneself, answer 11 questions posted by the blogger who tagged you and then pass the baton by posting 11 questions and tagging 11 other bloggers. Why 11 - I have no idea. If it had been up to me I’d have gone for 13 (since it’s 2013) like last year’s Adam Simpson’s 12 of 2012 blog challenge (see HERE).