Dec 28, 2014

News quiz 2014

Traditional lexically-enriched end-of-year news quiz for the first lesson of the new year
By Anthony Quintano via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

In keeping with the tradition started when this blog was born (4 years ago today), here is my end-of-year news quiz.  As usual, it's available in two levels (advanced and intermediate) and comes complete with a 9-page teachers guide with ideas on how the quiz can be used in class. A word of reminder: the quiz is not meant to test your students' general knowledge but to expand their vocabulary.

Over the years I've begun to feel that every year my quiz contains the same language such as cause controversy, got into hot water, battle with drug addiction, came to an abrupt end to describe politicians' faux pas and celebrity deaths that occur with unwavering regularity every year. So this year, a slew of new lexical chunks make their debut in the quiz: quirky sense of humour, eligible bachelor and ruffle feathers to name but a fewSee for yourself.

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.