The expert talking
A very nice on-going project for the more
advanced group of learners is the mini-talk. This is getting
each student to decide on an area of expertise that they
could talk about for ten to fifteen minutes to the others
in the group. They would in effect be teaching the others
about their particular area.
The area could be anything
from how a car engine works to a computer programme to a
series of recipes to their favourite author to something
connected to their work/family.......literally any area
they feel comfortable with. At first they may say they don't
know anything about an area but you will have to help them
find out what they can talk about.
Time in class can be given
over for the preparation for the talk, as well as homework.
The students will be working on their own researching &
getting it together in English. Try & provide relevant
materials & references in English -the internet is the
obvious place for this.
Be very supportive while they
are preparing & actually giving their talks. You might
want to give out a general task sheet for the group to use
while they listen, possibly prepared in conjunction with
the student giving the talk. Take notes during or tape each
talk so that you can give a personalised feedback sheet
to the speaker afterwards.
It would be a good idea if
you got the ball rolling by giving your own mini-talk. Maybe
it could be about the town/county/state you originally come
from, if different from the students.
Spread the talks out over
the course & give plenty of time over for the preparation.
This is a nice way of promoting learner autonomy & independence
as it is at the more advanced levels that they have the
tools to be able to do this & here they will be involved
in an area that they are interested in.
to the contents
Staying in control
When visitors to the developingteachers.com
site search the site by filling in the search box, we get
to see each week which topics they have chosen to look for.
Two areas come up again & again - children or younger
learners & discipline. So this Weekly Tip is going to
start the occasional younger learner idea & guess what
we're going to begin with?
Keeping control in the younger
learner class is not always easy & is a skill that one
has to develop. Clearly the first thing to do is to show
who's in charge & be stricter than need be & gradually
ease off. Begin each lesson with a calm activity & provide
a balance of - work v fun v relax - through the lesson.
However, when a learner has
been consistently disruptive there is no alternative but
to provide a penalty of some kind.
Here are a few ideas for dealing
with this situation:
- leave the student out of
fun activities & let him/her get on with an exercise
of some kind.
- for each misdemeanour, write
up a digit of the student's telephone number & when
it is complete you ring the parents. And make sure you do
- the Hand - put an outline
of a hand on the wall & get the offender to stand at
the wall with his/her hand on the hand on the wall for five
minutes while the class get on with the lesson.
- similar to above but instead
of a hand the student puts a football between the wall &
his/her head & has to keep it like that for the duration
of the penalty time. Hopefully you'll only need the one
football, not twenty!
- send the student out of
the class with some work & they can come back when it
The last three are getting
serious. There is obviously much more to this than just
giving out penalties but these are strategies to have up
your sleeve rather than being left with a feeling of helplessness!
Do you have any ideas you
use with the disruptive younger learner? If so, do send
them in & I'll add them to the above & give you
Extra ideas sent
in by subscribers to the Weekly Tip
hi... I teach special ed in Calif. I find that if
I put the kids names on the board ... and when they
"blow it" I just walk over and erase one
letter of their name ... when the name is gone they
lose snack time (which I have for 10 min ... as a
social skills element ... they get an empty plate
..and get to watch the others eat) Plus they hate
having their name not be correct ...of course I give
them a chance to earn a letter back. But just the
act of walking over and erasing one letter off their
name really gets their attention.
Nancy Maynard, Hacienda Heights Unified
in California, USA
to the contents
I'm sure you've found yourself asking the
students to read a text quickly to answer the task with
the result that the students take an age & end up reading
Transferring native language
reading skills to their English language learning is difficult
& they need help with it. So getting students to read
quicker helps them speed up & not read every word. But
to do this is easier said than done. A simple 'trick' is
to give time limits with the tasks - 'answer the task -
you've only got two minutes'.
But how long should you give
them? Enough time for them to complete the task. All of
the students or most of them? This is a tricky one, as you'll
have different abilities in the same group so aim for the
middle range & have an extra task for the early finishers.
And the actual time? I've
heard it said that a good rule of thumb is to time yourself
doing the same task & then double it for students. Maybe.
The more you time them the easier it gets to predict how
long they should take. And be strict with the time as there's
no point giving a time limit & then giving longer. It'll
mean nothing next time you give a time limit.
And don't forget to tell your
students why you are giving time limits!
This was mentioned briefly
as part of a previous Teaching Tip 'Campaign
for Real Reading'.
the Past Teaching Tips