Teaching Tips 132
Beam me up!
the turn of the overhead projector this week, a very useful
but underused piece of classroom hardware, that, although
expensive, can last a lifetime. A few advantages include a
professional approach in your classes, their usefulness in
providing a focus for the large class, the drastic cutting
down of photocopies, transparencies can be pre-prepared to
save class time & they can be built upon, overlaid, to
highlight different aspects. Here are a few ideas:
overlaying - different scenarios can be built up with
new information being provided with each new overlay being
added. The desert island scenario is good for this - the students
have to work out how to get across or escape from the island.
You begin with the island & a couple of basic features
& then add another transparency on top with more features.
As the discussion takes place you could add another transparency
on top that brings to light more information they need to
account for in their discussion.
if you are good at drawing, simple narratives can be built
up over the one scene, with different characters & objects
entering. Great for the younger learners.
also for the younger learner, with monsters or robots, give
each child a central rectangle - the torso - on a transparency,
& ask them to draw on a different part - the head, a right
leg, the left arm..- overlay the results & mix & match
until they are happy with their monster!
language analysis overlays make for a very clear visual highlighting.
Cohesion is an area that is usually used for this. The first
transparency is the text & then in the feedback, after
the students have been asked to find specific features in
the discourse, the first overlay shows examples of ellipsis,
the next examples of anaphoric reference & so on - highlighted
in different colours with boxes & arrows.
if projecting on to a whiteboard, other information can easily
be added, via the whiteboard, without writing on the transparency
or overlaying, hence saving preparation time.
very useful for the 'board stage' of the lesson. Either have
the form, examples, meaning & phonology all marked or
elicit it from the group & write on the transparency before
they copy down into their notebooks.
text highlighting - leave gaps between lines for comments,
parts of speech or translations to be added.
can be involved, much the same as the whiteboard. As the group
are getting on with a task in pairs, have two students do
theirs on the OHP transparency so there is a model for all
to compare with in the feedback stage.
students can prepare their presentations with a transparency
you're lucky to have access to an OHP, then there's always
a use for it in each lesson.
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It's International Literacy Day on 8th September & clearly very
much related to our jobs. Here's the Wikipedia definition of
'The traditional definition of literacy is considered to be the
ability to read and write, or the ability to use language to
read, write, listen, and speak. In modern contexts, the word
refers to reading and writing at a level adequate for
communication, or at a level that lets one understand and
communicate ideas in a literate society, so as to take part in
that society. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has drafted the following
definition: "'Literacy' is the ability to identify, understand,
interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and
written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy
involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to
achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and
potential, and to participate fully in the wider society." In
modern times, illiteracy is seen as a social problem to be solved
Our learners have a variety of different needs that depend on
their future target situations & preferred learning aims. For
learners living in English-speaking countries the needs tend to
be very clear & for those wishing to live or visit one of these
countries in the future, much the same needs apply. And then a lot
of other learners would like this more functional approach taken
with their learning as a matter of course. However there are
those who do not see themselves interacting with native speakers
as much as the non-native speaker in a business setting.
In the wider context, the UN has this to say about literacy:
'Literacy is a cause for celebration since there are now close to
four billion literate people in the world. However, literacy for
all – children, youth and adults - is still an unaccomplished
goal and an ever moving target. A combination of ambitious goals,
insufficient and parallel efforts, inadequate resources and
strategies, and continued underestimation of the magnitude and
complexity of the task accounts for this unmet goal. Lessons
learnt over recent decades show that meeting the goal of
universal literacy calls not only for more effective efforts but
also for renewed political will and for doing things differently
at all levels - locally, nationally and internationally.'
'On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the
international community of the status of literacy and adult
learning globally. Despite many and varied efforts, literacy
remains an elusive target: some 774 million adults lack minimum
literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and
two-thirds of them are women; 75 million children are
out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.'
"Literacy is the best remedy"
'International Literacy Day (ILD) 2008 is placing a special focus
on the important relationship between literacy and health. This
is the theme for the 2007-2008 biennium of the United Nations
UNESCO and its partners are underlining the significance of
literacy for healthy societies, with a strong emphasis on
epidemics and communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and
malaria. These are some of the world’s most important public
health concerns. This year’s slogan is “Literacy is the best
Wikipedia's page on the Day:
Simplified spelling lesson from Ed Rondthaler, age 102, former
president of the American Literacy Council - QuickTime video
Here are a few links to interesting & useful material:
The really useful guide to words & numbers.
Write On - an interactive web site to help you improve your reading,
writing and numbers skills.
Literacy Resources for Learners of English as a Second Language
National Institute for Literacy archived content
Picture Stories for Adult ESL Health Literacy
The aim of these ESOL citizenship materials is to help the ESOL
teacher develop the learners' knowledge of life in the UK, help
them become more active citizens and to support applications for
citizenship and settlement. If you are an ESOL teacher working
with learners at Entry 1, Entry 2 or Entry 3, we hope you will
find them useful anyway. But if you are teaching ESOL
citizenship, they are essential. Use of Citizenship Materials for
ESOL Learners in an ESOL citizenship and settlement course is now
a Home Office requirement, if the learners wish to apply for UK
citizenship and settlement.
Sample British-ness tests.
US Civics and Citizenship Study Materials
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It was BlogDay on 31st August - better late than never. Here's
what they say about it:
'BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one
day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other
countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will
recommend other blogs to their blog visitors. With the goal in
mind, on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5
new blogs. This way, all blog readers will find themselves
leaping around and discovering new, previously unknown blogs.
What will happen on BlogDay? - One long moment on August 31st,
bloggers from all over the world will post recommendations of 5
new Blogs, preferably Blogs that are different from their own
culture, point of view and attitude. On this day, blog readers
will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, unknown
Blogs, celebrating the discovery of new people and new bloggers.'
There's no doubting that blogs have been one of the major social
outcomes of the internet explosion, & one that quite a few
teachers are exploiting with their students. Clearly setting up a
blog project with your students is fairly straightfoward on the
technological front with the abundance of free & easy blogs that
you can set up - there are some links to some of these below. The problem with blogs is getting your students to actually keep
one. Public writing doesn't appeal to everyone, especially in
another language so no matter what you do, some are not going to
take to it. But for those that find it interesting & see the
usefulness, blogs can be a very rewarding way to develop
One the keys to making it successful is to keep it all
low-key, relaxed & short, & one way to do this is to focus on what they
come across on in their travels on the internet. The students
write about interesting sites & current affairs stories they have
viewed. Visitors to their blogs can then follow up the links &
possibly comment in the original blog or in their own blog. You
need to join in, at least initially, until they get going.
So get along to one of the following & set up a blog for each
student, or give them the link for them to set up their own.
A few well known free blogs, amongst hundreds out there:
http://edublogs.org/ - Blogging for teachers and students, made easy
Then set the task for all to cite three interesting websites they have
visited recently. All visit each others' blog, posting comments on the
sites & discussing the sites in class, deciding on the most interesting
It's free, fun & a natural way to practise & develop language. Try it
out & see if it works.
Some more links:
'ESL / EFL Teacher Blogs - A collection of the best ESL teacher
blogs on the Internet. These sites provide insightful
information, lesson plans, local cultural information on the
countries they teach in, as well as reflections on teaching
English as a second or foreign language.'
Getting away from teaching, here are some most popular list of
blogs for you to check out:
'Blog of the Day Awards offers the best selection of weblogs and
famous blogs on a variety of topics.'
There are also the blogs in Moodle that can be used by all. For
more about Moodle & our hosting solution:
If your students haven't already had enough & would like to look
back on the Olympics, here are some photos to provide stimulation
for a discussion:
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