|By lasanta.com.ec via Flickr|
[CC BY 2.0]
Dec 31, 2013
Traditional quiz for your first lesson in 2014
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
Dec 20, 2013
In response to the blog tag challenge
By Masachi Mochida via Flickr[CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Dec 7, 2013
Warning: some scenes are suitable for adults only
Dec 1, 2013
A summary of the TESOL France’s 32nd annual colloquium which took place in Paris between 22 and 24 November 2013.
ELT conferences often have a title or theme with various presentations loosely related to it. TESOL France’s annual colloquium held in Paris in November isn’t one of them. However, this year’s colloquium, my third, had an underlying theme for me – experimental practice. Here are highlights of some of the sessions I went to.
Oct 26, 2013
Oct 9, 2013
|By jjpacres via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]|
1. At what level of proficiency are learners more likely to make collocational errors?
2. To what extent are learner’s errors caused by negative transfer (aka interference) from L1?
Sep 14, 2013
|Photo by @GoldsteinBen via eltpics on Flickr|
A second lesson with two new pre-intermediate (A2) students (I usually put my private students in pairs). In the first lesson we read three stories about immigrants (from Innovations Pre-Intermediate) and underlined useful bits of language (I hadn't introduced the word "chunk" yet). For our second lesson they were asked to prepare a short talk about their lives using as much "useful language" as they could – no writing! They did a pretty good job and successfully integrated some chunks into their stories:
When I came over here…
I didn't have enough money
To support my family
Aug 18, 2013
By @eannegrenoble | eltpics on Flickr
In the middle of the market where I go for my weekly vegetable shopping there is a stall where I buy olives. The owners of the stall are a husband and wife team who know I am an English teacher. The other day the wife – let's call her Lily – pointed at lettuce and asked me:
"What do you call it in English?" (the exchange took place in Hebrew)
"Lettuce," I replied.
"Letters?" asked Lily.
We then worked on the pronunciation a little until she got it right. I thought it was time to move on to new items. I pointed at olives.
Aug 17, 2013
One of the pleasures of teaching lexically is when you see your students starting to incorporate into their speech and writing lexical chunks studied in class - albeit not always appropriately. Here is a thank you letter I recently received from my students at the end of a course.
Jul 13, 2013
Penny Ur was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the
British Empire) for
services to English Language Teaching earlier this year and as my last gig for the British Council I organised an event in her honour at the annual summer ETAI conference in Jerusalem. Knowing that events of
this kind can easily slide into a sentimental outpouring of endless congratulations
and knowing that Penny is not the kind of person who would like that, we were
keen to keep it professional, elegant and not too gooey (Amanda Caplan,
personal communication, 22 March 2013).
Jul 1, 2013
|Photo by Victoria Boobyer |
This exercise, inspired by Dave Willis, draws students' attention to common expressions with: it _____s and it doesn't ______. Suitable for Pre-intermediate students and up. Correct answers on the second page.
Jun 23, 2013
Having recently returned from another summer school in Baku, Azerbaijan I reproduce here an article originally written for the British Council blog last year.
After travelling to
Georgia and Armenia on short-term teacher training missions
last year I was looking forward to my visit to the third country of the Caucasian
I’d heard that Azerbaijan Baku, the capital of the fast
growing country rich in oil and other natural resources, was a notch above the
capitals of its Caucasian neighbours: Tbilisi
Even so, I was in for a pleasant surprise – or rather blown away – when I
arrived in Yerevan . Baku
Jun 1, 2013
Second Language Acquisition (
SLA) research also needs a lexical revolution to free
itself from the shackles of grammar tyranny. Rant alert!
|Photo by richardoyork on Flickr|
[CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
May 5, 2013
|Photo by @Mr_Schenk via eltpics|
About a month ago I took part in a debate entitled Teaching Vocabulary: in or out of context where I was on the team defending teaching vocabulary in context. I hereby confess that on occasions I had to resort to unfair tactics to win the debate. While making the case for teaching vocabulary in context, I argued, for example, that the word goal should be taught together with either:
Apr 24, 2013
Yesterday I completed the online feedback questionnaire for the IATEFL 2013 conference, which took place earlier this month in
and, inevitably, started thinking back to the conference. It was the fourth
IATEFL conference I've attended - superbly organised as ever - and probably the most intense one. Whether
it was the fact that my hotel was not so close to the venue or the number of
sessions on offer every day or the number of sessions I wanted to go to every
day – but at the end of the week I was absolutely exhausted.
Mar 31, 2013
This year sees the 20th anniversary of the publication of Michael Lewis's "The Lexical Approach", the book that has changed the way many – but unfortunately not enough - teachers teach and see language. I just wanted to share with you my plans for this anniversary year.
Mar 25, 2013
|Sinclair's seminal work - |
the bible of corpus linguistics
Years ago before I became familiar with corpus tools (corpus as in linguistic corpus = "collection of samples of real-world texts stored on computer"; plural = corpora) we had a fierce debate with my colleagues whether to use the preposition to or for after the noun hint. We wanted to produce posters for English learning centres we had set up for a number of high schools and each poster was meant to provide "Hints for/to speaking / listening etc".
Mar 9, 2013
|Photo by @aclil2climb via eltpics|
In this activity inspired by a short film activity on FilmEnglish, students become more aware of binomial pairs in English.
Feb 20, 2013
This is a somewhat belated reaction to Catherine Walter's article which appeared in the Learning English section of Guardian last autumn. Click here to read it.
Dr Catherine Walter’s article Time to
stop avoiding grammar rules defends explicit
grammar teaching in EFL. Proudly subtitled The evidence is now in: the
explicit teaching of grammar rules leads to better learning, the article
makes numerous references to a "wide range of studies" that have
shown evidence of effectiveness of explicit grammar teaching.
|Language or maths?|
Spaarnestad Photo via Nationaal Archief
Jan 26, 2013
Many readers of this blog have read my rants about badly designed coursebook or digital activities and heard me moan about preoccupation with single words in ELT. This has probably left you wondering what kind of approach to teaching I actually believe in. This post describes the main principles of lexical teaching.
Jan 5, 2013
By Alexandre Inagaki via Flickr
[CC BY 2.0]
Activities below are aimed at reviewing the language from the quiz. Scroll down to view handouts for students (2 levels) and teachers notes with answers.
Part A reviews verb + noun collocations (e.g. make history)