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Teaching Tips 16

Campaign for real reading
Some friend!
Get it taped!

Campaign for real reading
Reading is an essential skill if your students are to make real progress. This is especially the case if the students are studying in their home country. Here are a couple of ideas to help your students become more effective readers, the first three campaigning for real reading!

1. Try as much as possible to match text & sub-skills. Think of the sub-skills that a native speaker would use to read that particular text & then reflect that in the classroom by asking your students to do the same thing. The students will know the most efficient way to tackle a text when presented with the same type next time or outside the classroom.

2. Explain these sub-skills to the students. Use the terms skim, scan, gist & intensive reading.

3. After you have incorporated the above you can then present the students with a text & ask them how they will go about reading it.

4. Speed their reading up with strict time limits & competitions - at the same time as explaining the sub-skill they are to carry out. This will get them away from reading every word.

5. Choose interesting & relevant texts! Obvious really but
sometimes overlooked in our race through the coursebook. Ask the students for a 'response' to the text - e.g. what did they think? - personalise it.

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Some friend!
alse friends are words that look the same but have different meanings in different languages. The classic example in Spanish is with the word 'constipated'. Pablo says: 'I'm very constipated today'. If you didn't really know Spanish you would be pretty speechless, thinking he was being particularly frank with you on the state of his bowels! The fact that he would be sniffing & coughing & looking under the weather might be a clue to the real meaning of 'constipado'. In Spanish he would say 'Estoy muy constipado' meaning 'I've got a bad cold'!

So false friends can interfere with communication & need a certain amount of attention. They don't need much time so we usually deal with them as they crop up & in warmers & coolers. Here's a warmer type activity for the Spanish student:

False friends
Below are some sentences with mistakes in them. Identify the problem & correct it.

1. He's always spitting - he doesn't have a good education.
2.They buy all their books from the library on the High Street.
3.He was feeling very insane so he joined a gym.
4. English is an easy idiom to learn.
5. She doesn't go to a language school as she has a particular class.
6. She's embarrassed & the doctor says she's going to have twins.

This kind of error analysis activity guides students & asks them to identify & work out the problem themselves. Ask them if it sounds right - help them develop their intuitive ability.

There is a list of English/Spanish false friends, along with more sentences like this, on the site

If you have a list of false friends for other languages please send it to me & I'll put it up on the site for all to refer to. Thanks.

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Get it taped!
We are always looking for ways to cater to our students needs & then to show the students that we are actually catering for them. That they know why they are doing what we ask them to do is a positive thing. The alternative is to follow along without an awareness of the process.

Have you tried taping your students in a freer speaking activity?
The data that you collect can be very useful. You probably take lots of notes as they speak & give feedback on good & not so good things they said. Along the way you miss a lot. The tape catches most of it. At first the students will be self-conscious about being taped but the more you do it the less they will notice.

The tape can be used to show a before & after progress record e.g. this is you at the beginning of the course & this is you now - assuming that there is actually a discernible difference!

In the shorter term, you can use a section of the tapescript to work on in class. You are showing the students what they said&asking them to analyse it &, if they can, improve on it. Your job is to show them that they are capable of making it better or, if this is difficult, teaching them the bits that they need. You might want to look at specific language or concentrate on strategies for developing the sub-skills of speaking & listening.

The tapescript of them speaking is evidence for the students in front of them & your reaction to their needs is plain for all to see. Everybody wins.

The tapes are obviously useful to provide a record for you to
refer to. You might well be surprised at what you discover. Take notes from the tapes you collect on a group & feed your observations on their needs back into the lessons.

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