When teaching vocabulary it's sometimes
very difficult to get the
exact meaning across to the students. This is especially so
more advanced the learners are as the language becomes more
diverse & subtle. One way of looking at meaning is called
'Componential Analysis'. This aims to sort out the subtle
differences between similar words. It is basically a chart
that has the words that
you're focusing on on one axis & on the other the different
collocates or components that go to make up the meanings.
Check out the page
on the site for examples of collocation charts.
They are easy to design but do need a bit
of thought. Give out the chart & ask your students to
fill it in - tell them to use their intuition - does it sound
right to them? Then they can compare with your version & discuss possibilities. You do need to be very clear about
the possibilities before giving them to your students.
I first came across this in a book called
'The Words You Need' &
'More Words You Need' by Rudzka et al (Longman). At Amazon.uk
they are out of stock & at Keltic they are out of print.
to the contents
Do you know the book 'Dramatic Monologues' by Colin Mortimer
(CUP)? A great little book with 24 monologues & accompanying
questions &, of course, the tape. The back cover says
that 'the monologues are designed to increase students' responsiveness
to implicatory language by helping them to listen intelligently
& interpret what they hear.'
Each monologue is centred around a situation
- e.g. a bank manager talking to a client whose newly wed
young wife is spending all of his money, a couple stuck in
a lift, someone in authority sacking an employee, a convict
asking to stay in prison over the Xmas holidays rather than
being released the day before Xmas (my favourite) etc....
There are some homemade examples
on the site.
The way I usually deal with a monologue like
this is to play a little bit of the monologue (the first sentence
or first few words) & then ask the students in pairs to
discuss what they think is happening, then another bit, then
more discussion & so on until they work it out or we reach
the end of the text. If they still have problems, I then give
out the text & they listen to the whole text & read
at the same time. Then on to the questions, which they answer
in pairs & finally we look at some interesting aspect
of the speaking skill or language in the monologue.
The students are not only using their inference
skills to work out the situation but there are very rich conversations
taking place when they compare ideas. Listen to the kind of
things they are saying & feed in more options for them. A follow up task could be to write
the silent person's responses.
The book's monologues provide challenging
listening but they can be re-recorded to make them easier & you can easily write your own if you want a monologue
on a specific topic to fit into your scheme of work.
to the contents
Dictate the information
Do you spend your time making copies
for your students & writing on the board? To save time
& paper try incorporating dictation as a tool in your
classroom management. Here are some examples when it can be
a useful timesaver:
- dictate comprehension questions for a reading or listening
text & then get a stronger student to read them back for
all to check they have them right.
- for prediction activities - just dictate
the vocabulary that you want the students to use in their
- dictation is good for unjumbling tasks
- e.g. you are going to review the lexical set of buying a
house so dictate the vocab, mixed up & then they unjumble
them together into a reasonable chronological order -'pack
your things ready for the move, sign the contract, get a surveyor
to look at the house, talk to the bank about a mortgage, look
at the house, visit the estate agent, etc...'
- dictate discussion points.
- if necessary, dictate instructions to a
It's not being lazy but a way of being more
efficient in the classroom - you've got enough to think about & do. Use dictation to save you time & the more you
use it the more uses you'll find for it.
the Past Teaching Tips