When I first began training teachers I read
Tessa Woodward's excellent book 'Models & Metaphors in
Language Teaching' (CUP). The book is about the process of
training teachers & one of the techniques discussed is
Loop input basically means carrying out an
activity in that manner. Imagine you are giving a seminar
to teachers on developing listening skills - with loop input
you would impart the information about the skill through a
listening activity using those same very same sub-skills on
the teachers. So not only do they learn about it but they
experience it at the same time.
Why not do the same in your language lessons?
Tape an interview with a student on her difficulties with
the listening skill & what strategies she adopts - choose
a student who is fairly aware of this. Then use the tape with
a group as a listening activity, introducing the strategies
that she talks about.
A stimulating technique that catches everyone's
If you are thinking of embarking on teacher
training then an essential read is 'Models & Metaphors
in Language Teaching'. It can be found on the
books page in the training section at the bottom.
to the contents
accurate, actual, authoritative,
bona fide, certain,
dependable, factual, faithful, genuine, legitimate,
original, pure, real, reliable, simon-pure (Rare), true,
true-to-life, trustworthy,valid, veritable
Antonyms - counterfeit,
fake, false, fictitious, fraudulent,hypothetical, imitation,
spurious, supposed, synthetic, unfaithful, unreal, untrue
Collins English Thesaurus
A lot has been written about 'authenticity'
in language teaching; directly & indirectly also in past
teaching tips. In his book 'Sound Foundations' Adrian Underhill
has this to say about the development of intonation:
' Authenticity in human relations could encourage more
authentic uses of intonation.'
Best sentence in an excellent book. But how does one go about
this aspect of authenticity - making human relations in the
classroom more authentic? Here are just a couple of things
to think about with your 'learner-based approach':
- treat the lesson as a meeting between all
the people involved - rather than another sixty minute lesson
to get through. How can you make it an enjoyable & useful
experience for all, including yourself?
- treat the group as a collection of individuals
rather than a group. Respond to the individual.
- personalise as much as possible: the presentations,
the practice, the skills work - think of how these stages
can be related to the student & their experiences.
- be flexible in you planning & go with
your students' pace & interests - give them & yourself
'space'. Make sure, depending on needs, that the following
things are covered - some skills work, some input, some output
& some feedback. Achieve you main aims & then diversify
- think about what YOU can learn from being
with these people for an hour & a half. Although the students
are there to learn English, treat the lesson as a learning
experience for you too.
I know it's easy to write about it but another thing to actually
do it. It's all to do with attitude. Some people are better
at this than others but everyone is capable of making the
lesson more authentic. Unfortunately other things can get
in the way - lack of experience, the need to get through the
programmed course in a limited time etc.
Oh, dear - reading through the above again,
we'd better get back to something more concrete next week!!
is a very good all round combined theoretical & practical
Back to the contents
or language practice activity?
Last week we looked at providing
challenge so this week it's the turn of the lighter activity
What do you say to your students when you
introduce a game-type activity? Do you call it a 'game'? Or
do you just treat it like another activity? It depends, you
say! Yes, if the group want games & react well to a change
in focus to a fun, less demanding task then the term 'game'
will produce smiles all round.
But have you been in the situation where
you mention that a 'game' is coming up & you find there
is no reaction? This might happen when your students are serious
about getting value for their money & see games as frivolous
activities. A game then becomes a turn off.
All is not lost. I would suggest that you
could use exactly the same activities but instead of calling
a lighter activity a game, call it a language practice activity
& point out the aim. The students will then see the value
& feel able to enjoy themselves.
Here's such an activity that I first came
across in 'Teaching & Learning Vocabulary' by Linda Taylor
(Prentice Hall). It a vocabulary dice game. You need two dice
& on the board you draw two circles with 1 - 6 around
the perimeter. Next to each number of each circle write a
different adjective, the group of words that you have recently
introduced. The idea is that, in small groups, a student throws
two dice - without letting the others see what has been thrown
by quickly putting a hand over them, looks at the two numbers
& decides on something that is described by the corresponding
adjectives. The student tells the others that thing, who have
to work out what the original adjectives were & when they
have it, the original student uncovers the dice to show the
throw. The it is the turn of another student.
Here are some adjectives:
For an elementary level:
1 - good
2 - big
3 - happy
4 - thin
5 - strong
6 - small
1 - ugly
2 - beautiful
3 - wide
4 - old
5 - expensive
6 - new
big + beautiful = Spain
strong + old = Tower Bridge
For more advanced levels - from the above
1 - revolting
2 - gorgeous
3 - hideous
4 - minute
5 - colossal
6 - ghastly
1 - priceless
2 - hilarious
3 - unique
4 - outrageous
5 - invaluable
6 - terrifying
minute + priceless = a diamond
hideous + outrageous = the Big Brother
A variation is to get the groups to throw
the two dice together six times, thinking of six things. Then
they tell the class the things who guess the original adjectives
Have fun with your language practice activities!
the Past Teaching Tips