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Teaching Tips 178

squeezed middle
Hear it, say it
Recycling

vocab cloud - squeezed middle squeezed middle

I came across an article in the Independent.co.uk the other day about the Oxford English Dictionary award for Word of the Year, which this year is 'squeezed middle'. Have a read of the article:

The word of the year? 'Squeezed middle'
says Oxford Dictionary

Compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary have declared 2011's Word of the Year to be "squeezed middle".

Dismissing for a moment the troubling fact that lexicographers have chosen a phrase rather than a single word for this year's winner, it is surprising that "squeezed middle" was deemed more appropriate than "Arab Spring".

The term was originally coined by Ed Miliband when speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today Programme presenter John Humphrys.

The full OED definition reads: "Squeezed Middle: the section of society regarded as particularly affected by inflation, wage freezes and cuts in public spending during a time of economic difficulty, consisting principally of those on low or middle incomes".

Last year another pairing of words, "big society", triumphed over contenders such as "vuvuzela" and "double dip".

Speaking about Miliband's term for those seen as bearing the brunt of government tax burdens while having the least with which to relieve it, Susie Dent, spokesperson for Oxford Dictionaries and language expert on Channel 4's Countdown, said: "The speed with which squeezed middle has taken root, and the likelihood of its endurance while anxieties deepen, made it a good candidate for Word of the Year."

Runners up for this year's title included:

Arab Spring: a series of anti-government uprisings in various countries in North Africa and the Middle East, beginning in Tunisia in December 2010. [After Prague Spring, denoting the 1968 reform movement in Czechoslovakia.]

Hacktivism: the action or practice of gaining unauthorized access to computer files or networks in order to further social or political ends. [A blend of hack and activism]

Occupy: the name given to an international movement protesting against perceived economic injustice by occupying buildings or public places and staying there for an extended period of time.[From the imperative form of the verb occupy, as in the phrase Occupy Wall Street.]

Phone hacking: the action or practice of gaining unauthorized access to data stored in another person's phone, especially in order to access their voicemail.

Sodcasting: (informal) the practice of playing music through the loudspeaker of a mobile phone while in a public place. [After podcasting]

Other words on the longlist included "bungabunga", as used in the context of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's infamous parties; "crowdfunding", defined as the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet; "facepalm" (a gesture in which the palm of one's hand is brought to one's face as an expression of dismay, exasperation, embarrassment, etc.); and "fracking" (the forcing open of fissures in subterranean rocks by introducing liquid at high pressure, especially to extract oil or gas).

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/the-word-of-the-
year-squeezed-middle-says-oxford-dictionary-6266506.html

**************

Interesting selection of words, some culturally specific to the UK, & I'm not really sure of the criteria for choice apart from 'likelihood of ..endurance'. With higher levels, a discussion about each of the nominated words & their meanings & seeing if the words have a translation in the students' own languages would be interesting for all

Our learners grapple with lots of vocabulary every lesson &, hopefully, outside in their reading, & one way to provide depth to their learning is to encourage them to 'evaluate' vocabulary, to develop a curiosity towards the vocabulary they come across. Taking the idea from the article:

- Favourite word of the lesson - at the end of each lesson elicit the students' favourites & vote for a winning word. The criteria could be anything; how the word sounds, looks, usefulness personal
relevance etc..

- Favourite word of the week - collating the words of the lessons & voting on one for the week.

- Favourite word of the month - collating the words of the weeks & voting on one for the month.

When voting the students could try to persuade each other on their choices. And then get them to keep a special section for these words in their notebooks.

Keep a record of all the winners for use later on in review tasks e.g. conversations where they get a point for each they use, mime words to each other, guessing games etc...
The winning words could be added to a chart on the wall for easy reference.

For trying to keep track of all the vocab that crops up in a lesson,
see the past Tip 'Vocabulary Cards':
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips6.htm

Check out the articles on vocabulary on the site:
http://www.developingteachers.com/cgi-
bin/search/search.pl?Match=0&Terms=vocabulary

Also it's well worth checking out the Oxford English Dictionaries site - lots of interesting reading:
http://www.oed.com/
http://oxforddictionaries.com/
The What's New page:
http://www.oed.com/public/whatsnew/whats-new
And Aspects of English section:
http://www.oed.com/public/aspects/aspects-of-english/

For past Tips on dictionary training:
Looking it up - part 1
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips40.htm
Looking it up - part 2
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips41.htm

For a solid learner dictionary:
Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/019431510X/developingteache
Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/019431510X/developingteac0b

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SCOTLAND
It's St Andrew's Day, the patron saint of Scotland on the 30th
November. Scotland, the culture, geography & history, makes for a great
theme for a lesson or two. Check out the past Tip 'Scotland the Brave':
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips120.htm

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Hear it, say it

It's Buy Nothing Day again on Friday 25th in the US & Saturday 26th internationally. So for lots of classroom material, follow this search link on the site:
http://www.developingteachers.com/cgi-
bin/search/search.pl?Match=1&Terms=buy+nothing+day

There are lesson plans, activities & links to follow up.

There was also an interview in the Independent.co.uk recently:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/buy-nothing-day-
adbusters-role-in-the-global-occupy-movement-6263205.html

Kalle Lasn, the founder of Buy Nothing Day, & Adbusters.org, also started up the recent Occupy demonstrations with the Occupy Wall Street demos. There's also an older interview with him on YouTube at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPQY_Cb4IlI&

A couple of other links:
Buy Nothing Day site:
http://www.buynothingday.org
Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buy_Nothing_Day
UK Buy Nothing Day
http://www.buynothingday.co.uk/

------------------------

There are a few pages in the phonology section of the site, ideas taken from past Tips & newsletters brought together.

Within this there are a couple of pages of activities for practising sounds. Here's one of them:

'You hear >>You say' Activity
An activity to practise minimal pair reception & production, students say words & another has to respond by saying a different word as instructed by their cards.
Give out a card below to each student. The student who has 'START' says the corresponding word (i.e. below 'paper') & the student who has that word in the 'hear' column then says the corresponding 'say' word (i.e. 'look') & so on until they get out of the maze & reach 'FINISH'! You have to be careful with the instructions & give an example or two to get started.
The cards are really easy to design, clearly choose the minimal pairs that are problematic for the nationalities you are teaching.

you hear
>>
you say
START
lot
bird
bad
seat
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
paper
ship
door
cheap
egg

you hear
>>
you say
paper
sit
wood
cheap
sip
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
look
lot
bird
good
beef

you hear
>>
you say
look
feet
pool
good
beef
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
bat
wood
bad
sad
seat

you hear
>>
you say
bat
ship
door
sad
egg
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
sit
feet
pool
sip
FINISH

A lot of fun & good practice.

Here are some of the phonology links on the site:
http://www.developingteachers.com/phonology/phonology.htm
The phonemic chart:
http://www.developingteachers.com/phonology/sounds.htm
An introduction to sounds:
http://www.developingteachers.com/phonology/sounds_intro.htm
Sound activities:
http://www.developingteachers.com/phonology/sound_activities1.htm
http://www.developingteachers.com/phonology/sound_activities2.htm
Sounds in combination:
http://www.developingteachers.com/phonology/sounds_in_
combination.htm

For instant phonemic script, get along to Phonetizer -
http://www.phonetizer.com/ . All you do is paste in your text, click & you get the text in phonemics. Good for the list of vocab as a handout, a short text used to practise certain sounds etc..

I heard about the website Phonetizer -- at
http://www.scoop.it/t/tools-for-learners - 'a collection of web based tools to help learners exploit the web' curated by Nik Peachey. More about Nik at: http://quickshout.blogspot.com/ Lots of great tech stuff for teachers.

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recycling

Recycling

As we progress though our courses we tend to cross off the language areas & sub-skills that we have covered. Clearly if we are teaching short intensive courses we have no alternative to this but if we are teaching longer courses then we need to consider not only what we have covered but also how we can recycle. Language & skills need constant recycling to aid assimilation, retention & development. If we do not recycle then a lot is simply forgotten & time wasted.

Some coursebooks do recycle language but this means having to slavishly follow the book. We need to control the course & the syllabus, not the coursebook. So this is where timetabling comes in. Have a look at the past Tip, 'Timetabling':
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips2.htm

And then there is the content of the lessons & how we can bring in previous language to the topic & new language. Reading & listening texts are the obvious place to look first. Look through the texts to see if anything comes up & then do a noticing task & further practice of the area, swinging out of the topic to come back to it later.

Use brainstorming frequently to bring back vocabulary. At the beginning of a theme get the students to storm all the vocab they know, just throwing it out, or putting it onto a mind map on the board or in their notebooks.

For another vocabulary idea see the past Tip 'Vocabulary Cards':
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips6.htm

Think of the functions you are teaching & try to bring in others to complement. For example, you are looking at the language of blaming, accepting blame & rejecting blame, so add in the area of apologizing that fits with these functional areas, an area you might have covered with other different functions in the past.

Sensible sequencing in our timetabling helps as we build language up, taking a building block approach. For example, when aiming to look at reported speech, we lay the ground with states of ignorance ('I've got no idea what it's called) & embedded questions (Can you tell me what it is?) before going onto reported speech.

And then there are warmers & coolers where we can recycle language, tasks linked, or not, into the topic of the lesson. For a list of warmers, fillers & coolers see:
http://www.developingteachers.com/newsletterplans/
News_warmers_nov1999.htm

From the past Tip 'Use The Language' - here are a couple of ideas for reintroducing language into freer speaking activities.

1. Before any speaking task, put up some stems on the board for the students to use. For example, a roleplay where the students need to give advice, you put up some exponents of the function on the board for them to refer to. And tell them to use them, be direct about it. The activity becomes less free but the classroom is for rehearsal after all.
This could be language that they know but wouldn't naturally come out with. Or you could simply introduce a variation of language they know eg. 'Another way of saying 'You should..' is 'You ought to...' & after a quick drill leave it on the board. Careful not to expect too much of the students, make it language that is similar in form, here it is '+ infinitive without 'to'' for both structures.

2. A variation of the above is to set out the task they will be doing & let the students think of the language they will be using, with you going round helping out & guiding them towards the language you want them to practise. This planning time will prepare them for the speaking task.

3. This is the 'Train compartment' activity: Get the students to imagine they are strangers in a train compartment - get them sitting opposite each other in groups of four. Elicit what people usually talk about on the train - the weather, where they are going/coming from etc. Tell them you are going to give them a line to memorise & that it's secret - give them out, students memorise & you take them back in.

Then explain what they have to do - to say their lines as naturally as they can in the conversation without the others guessing it is their line. So they have to direct the conversation so that they can say their line naturally, without the others noticing. They must have one conversation & not split into two as the others will miss their lines when they come to say them.

The lines you give them could contain a language item that you have recently been looking at or off-the-wall sentences (eg. My girlfriend sleeps in the garden). I had to do this in a Spanish lesson when I first started learning the language & my line was 'Yo tampoco' - 'Me neither' - so I had to wait for a negative to say my line.

At the end the students then tell each other what they thought were each others' lines. It's an activity that you can use again & again & it's lots of fun!

4. The above idea can be used in the general day-to-day running of the classes. Give out lines to each student & they have to say them during the course of the lesson, as naturally as possible. At the end of the lesson elicit if the sentences/words have been said & ask the others what they think they are. This makes for a fun element through the lesson & is especially useful for expanding classroom language.

Recycling is an important consideration that is not always taken as seriously as it should. We have a lot to get through in our courses, we are pressed for time by the need to keep the school & the students happy by getting through the book, but maybe we should try to cover less more comprehensively rather than rush ahead. Explain to the students your approach, giving progress tests along the way, & provide more depth with the language you are trying to develop.

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