Teaching Tips 113
Here's some very nice speaking & language practice material i came across recently on the Forbes.com site. The article is about present problems & inventions to solve the problems, together with a 10 year prognostic for the suggested inventions. Have a look at the following material:
Fifteen Things We Wish Someone Would Invent
||Chat about the following pictures & think about which invention they are referring to.
||Now match a description below to one of the pictures above.
||Perfect Vision Correction
The problem: As your eyes get old, they play tricks on you, and trifocals are no fun.
The solution: A corrective procedure that restores your eyes to 20-20 vision.
Ten-year odds: Middling. LASIK surgery can already correct basic near- and far-sightedness, but surgeons can't yet solve all problems related to aging eyes.
The problem: The noise, dirt and hassle of daily life.
The solution: Travel in a protective bubble.
Ten-year odds: Low. Try combining a Segway, a rain poncho and a set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones instead.
||Advanced Autopilot For Cars
The problem: Paying attention to the road can be so dull and time-consuming.
The solution: Sophisticated autopilot. Tell the car your destination and it handles the rest--while you nap, read or answer e-mails.
Ten-year odds: Depends on what you mean. Cars are getting more automated, spurred in part by competitions like the DARPA Urban Challenge, which is drawing university robotics teams. For ordinary consumers, door-to-door driverless service is a distant dream, but we may soon have cars that can communicate with other vehicles or pilot themselves along stretches of sensor-equipped "smart highways."
||Automatic Weight-Loss Belt
The problem: Losing weight takes so much dieting and exercise.
The solution: Jiggle it off while you watch television or work.
Ten-year odds: Poor. The closest thing we have to "automatic" is plastic surgery.
||A Go-Anywhere Phone
The problem: Dropped calls. Lack of network coverage. Incompatible systems from country to country.
The solution: A phone that works everywhere.
Ten-year odds: Very high. If you have the bucks, you can already use satellite phones pretty much anywhere you can see the sky--but good luck in the London tube or downtown Manhattan. The closest thing currently in existence is probably Thuraya's combination satellite/GMS mobile phone, which rolls over from one system to the other depending on your location. But so far, its service doesn't extend to the Americas, East Asia or Australia.
||A Universal Language Translator
The problem: You're in Beijing this week and Berlin the next--and you just haven't had time to master both Mandarin and German.
The solution: A simultaneous, all-language text and sound translator.
Ten-year odds: Middling. Translation programs exist, and they are getting better, but we are still a very long way from an electronic version of the Babel Fish, the critter from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that sits in your ear and makes foreign words instantly understandable.
The problem: Your youth and beauty are fading fast.
The solution: Take a pill and stay young forever.
Ten-year odds: Vanishingly small. There are plenty of ways to fake it cosmetically, but that's not really the same thing. Look on the bright side: Life expectancy is getting longer.
||A Convenient And Inexpensive Water Desalinator
The problem: One in five humans has no access to safe drinking water.
The solution: Turn the oceans into clean drinking water using desalination techniques. Desalination exists, but it is expensive and energy-intensive. A cheaper method could hydrate vastly more people and crops.
Ten-year odds: Middling. The science is advancing year by year.
The problem: Paper, paper, everywhere--but you can't download the news (or search the Web) on it.
The solution: Electronic paper as light, readable and flexible as regular paper, but with the capabilities of a computer.
Ten-year odds: Fair. Companies including Xerox, E-Ink, Philips, and Apple are rumored to be working on it. Then again, companies have supposedly been "working on it" for more than decade now.
||Smart Head Implants
The problem: Our brains may be creative, but they lack the power and speed of computers.
The solution: Implant chips in your brain.
Ten-year odds: Very low. Scientists have implanted chips in rat brains, but we are very far from "jacking into the net" like the cyber-punks of science fiction.
||A Time Machine
The problem: You made an egregious mistake yesterday.
The solution: Go back in time and redo the day without the blooper.
Ten-year odds: Zero. Backward time-travel is impossible according to our current understanding of physics.
The problem: Everyone wants to get where they're going, faster, with less time in airplanes and security lines.
The solution: Make like Spock and beam yourself there.
Ten-year odds: Vanishingly small. Yes, scientists have managed to teleport information using the principles of quantum physics. These techniques could one day transform communications, but they won't transport a human.
||The Universal Gadget
The problem: Too many gadgets to juggle.
The solution: One that does it all.
Ten-year odds: Very high. Apple's new iPhone, for one, promises to roll a music and video player, e-mailer, telephone, Web browser and camera into one.
||A Physical Search Engine
The problem: You lose stuff.
The solution: A "physical" search engine.
Ten-year odds: Low. It could work if everything you owned had a chip installed (perhaps RFID). But the technical hurdles are huge. Plus, how much would you really pay to be reminded that your car keys are under the sofa cushions--again?
||A Household Chores Robot
The problem: No one wants to clean house.
The solution: Robots.
Ten-year odds: High. There's already the Roomba, iRobot's automatic vacuum cleaner. So how hard can it be to invent one that also makes the bed, does the dishes and scrubs the toilet?
The material has been edited.
A few ideas on using this material - before each task, draw their attention to the suggested language to maximise the activity, & don't forget some feedback after each task on their performance, both +/-:
1. Begin with the students brainstorming what life will be like in 10 years' time.
Language: Future simple, continuous & perfect - 'We will be using our phones as computers...'
2. Then move on to problems they encounter in everyday life - give an example eg. the traffic problem making it difficult to get around.
Language: 'The thing that I find difficult/gets me down is...I wish I could/didn't have to ....etc...'
3. Then for every problem they come up with, ask them to brainstorm 'inventions' by way of solving the problem. Tell them to be as imaginative as possible. You could ask the students to pass their problems to another pair/small group to come up with the inventions.
Language: ' A good invention for this would be...', 'We could invent...'
4.. Then hand out the pictures & the students discuss the invention & why it might have been invented, the problem.
Language: Present deduction - 'It could/may/might/must/can't be for...'
5. Reading - the students now match the pictures with the corresponding text. Tell them not to worry about the difficult vocab - just do the matching. Answers below. You could make the reading more complex by asking the students to match not only the pictures & text, but you could also divide the text up so that they match picture, name of invention, problem, solution, & 10 year prognostic. This would clearly take much longer & you may feel might not really be valid.
6. Students discuss how close they were in their ideas.
7. Focus on vocabulary - a meaning from context task - identify which section the word can be found it to make it a quicker, more manageable task. Design to suit. (You could change some of the vocab in the sections beforehand to suit the level)
8. Discuss what the article says on the probability of these things happening in 10 years, in their lifetime?... As a class or in groups? And which of the inventions would have the most effect on the world at large.
9. Follow up:
Writing integration - this material lends itself to using the problem-solution discourse structure: Intro >> state the problem >> state the solution >> conclusion.
More speaking: returning to the students original brainstorm of problems & solutions, they could now use the ones that are not mentioned in the article & draw a picture & write a short article for one or two of them. Put up on the walls for all to read & vote on the most relevant, interesting, best presented etc..
|Answers to the reading matching:
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English language teaching, & teaching in general, is a difficult profession to continue developing year after year. We try to develop informally possibly through one of the following:
- teaching & thinking about what we're doing.
- being observed by colleagues & receiving feedback.
- trying out new approaches.
- doing some action research - mini research projects in the classroom.
- discussing lessons with colleagues.
- watching colleagues & giving them feedback.
- watching videos of lessons.
- keeping a teaching diary.
- reading about teaching.
- subscribing to newsletters such as this one.
And then more formally we might join TESOL & IATEFL, attend seminars, join a teacher development group & look around for development courses. Some might go along the MA route, while others go for the Cambridge ESOL Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults - the DELTA course.
Next Wednesday is one of the two days in the year (the first Wednesday in June & December) when the written exam falls for the DELTA so I thought it appropriate to devote a few lines to it. The DELTA really is an excellent qualification & one that every teacher who is considering making a profession out English language teaching should consider. Here's a brief summary:
- courses are usually either 2 months intensive or 6-9 months part-time.
- it is designed for the experienced teacher.
- the course consists of seminars, teaching practice & the written work.
- there are six syllabus areas:
* Understanding, knowledge and awareness of language
* The background to teaching and learning English at adult level
* Resources and materials
* Working in the classroom
* Evaluation, monitoring and assessment
* Professional development
- there are three areas to the assessment: the coursework, the case study & the written exam.
- the coursework consists of six 2500 assignments & five formal observed lessons - one of these is externally assessed.
- the case study is a 4500 assignment about one language learner.
- the written exam is a three & a half hour paper, with three questions, each question having three tasks. A very practical exam where you are presented with material - student writing, authentic material & some coursebook material - & you have to respond to the questions.
It's an incredibly busy two months, & slightly more leisurely six months. Whatever the time frame, it is sure to be a very interesting time for your teaching.
For more detail at the Cambridge ESOL site:
So why's it so good? Well, it's classroom based, very practical, & provides teachers with the confidence to teach with much more awareness. There is a strong theoretical background which really focuses teachers on why they are doing what they are doing in class.
With this awareness comes the confidence to deal with other teachers in roles such as director of studies or teacher trainers.
It's essential that we keep developing in different ways as it is all too easy to become stale. You might also develop your teaching by exploring different fields entirely. A course on web design, cookery, motor repairs etc.. can all feed back directly or indirectly back into our classrooms. The important thing is to keep developing in some way or another.
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A Fatal Cough
Have you heard the story about Napoleon& the massacre of the unfortunate Turkish prisoners? Here it is:
Twelve hundred Turkish prisoners were mistakenly killed in 1799 by Napoleon after he ordered them set free. He complained about a coughing fit he was having, but his words, "Ma sacrée toux," (my confounded cough) were misunderstood. Instead his men thought he uttered "Massacrez tous" (kill them all), so they opened fire, killing every prisoner.
As his generals were used to his barbarism they automatically carried out the order, but maybe they should have asked for repetition & clarification for an utterance with such huge consequences.
If you go along to http://www.snopes.com/language/misxlate/toux.htm , you'll see that it is rubbish, but a good story to highlight the need for active listening & the need to teach our students strategies & language to check information & ask for clarification. This is language like; 'I didn't quite catch that', 'Could you repeat that again?', 'So what you're saying is...' etc...
So how do we teach them this? Some might say our students are capable of transferring their strategies & language from their mother tongue. Maybe, but they might not be effective communicators/listeners in their own language, & the conventions & language in their mother tongue might well be different in English.
Listening is clearly the way to go, with examples of these in texts we play from them on tapes, cds, mp3s & videos. Ask your students to 'notice' the ways that checking & clarification are happening - get them to say 'stop' or knock on their desk when they hear one of the exponents.
Then lift them off the tape, highlight the meaning, & form when appropriate, & drill them for pronunciation practice.
You are probably the major model that the students have so introduce them when you talk to the students. If you do this consistently, you'll soon see them taking some of them on board.
Then you need some practice activities. You could have specific activities to practise this language, & you could integrate it with speaking tasks as they crop up. Just before the task, elicit some of the exponents & tell them to incorporate them into their conversations. And in the feedback on the language afterwards, pick up on the use of these exponents to reinforce good use & to correct if needed.
One of the problems with listening in class is that there is sometimes no real need for the students to listen to each other, or, to put it another way, they are not interested in what others say to them. This has to do with what you ask your students to talk about. If they are talking about their daily routine in the morning or describing their bedrooms then the interest value is very low. But if they talk about their opinions on current affairs & interesting things that have happened to them or to others, then there is more possibility that they are actually going to be interested in each other. We all have a lot to learn from everybody & the classroom, if directed well, is an ideal place for this to take place. It has been said that:
'Listening means an awareness, an openness to learning something new about another person. Interrupting, even for clarification, can seem to be rude, but listening with the intent to learn is an approach to a different type of conversation.'
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