Interviewed by Teachers’ Coffee

Teachers’ Coffee is an podcast created by Express Publishing

Following the publication of a book on 2st Century Skills for teachers, in which Marisa Constantinides contributed the chapter on Digital Curation, Natassa Manitsa and George Kokolas interviewed her about her work and the specific topic.

 

Massive Vocabulary Acquisition

Introduction by Marisa Constantinides

This piece is an essay by one of my early Delta candidate which I have been planning to post on this blog for years. The reason is my fascination with the notion of massive vocabulary acquisition as reported in a paper by Paul Meara – lost to me and to  him as well!!! – in which the claim is that at the peak of  a good language learner’s best performance (young adulthood) they can acquire up to 60 words a DAY!  Paul Meara himself could not recall the specific article but was very generous in sharing his site, Logognostics, where he collects all research related to vocabulary acquisition. 

Dora Koutoukis, my Delta trainee at the time, was inspired by the idea of using adaptations of suggestopaedic techniques to attempt this goal and she wrote this essay, the accompanying lesson (which I observed and which succeeded in its objectives) for an earlier version of the Cambridge Delta Diploma. For this reason, it is not being posted as a sample or model essay. In many ways, it would have best served as an Experimental Practice assignment (a comment made to her at the time) 

As a centre we subsequently designed our own lessons for various courses – business English, EAP and more, with great success. Perhaps some people might want to try out the idea with their own adaptations. 

Massive Vocabulary Acquisition – an Essay and a Lesson 

 

Written by Dora Koutoukis in 2008 and reposted here with her permission

  1. INTRODUCTION

Vocabulary acquisition is an area many applied linguists have been interested in over the years. Findings in this field have created controversy but at the same time, provided us with new insights.

Having this in mind, I was driven to research ways in which learners acquire vocabulary massively and store it in their long term memory for immediate or future use, either as recognition or production.

In this assignment, therefore, I will look at ways in which learners of English acquire vocabulary in greater amounts than is expected in a contemporary language classroom, I will discuss issues raised about vocabulary teaching in the literature and then I will look at problems learners face and possible ways of overcoming them.

  1. ACQUIRING VOCABULARY IN L2

There is a   great amount written on vocabulary acquisition in L2 but not as much on the quantity of vocabulary L2 learners can acquire. According to the Lexical approach (M.Lewis, 1983), vocabulary acquisition is not a random task; educators are to incorporate it wisely into their syllabuses and lessons in order for learners to become linguistically proficient. The materials we use in the language classroom should involve vocabulary which can be immediately useful and reflects real life needs, starting from beginner-level courses.

Lewis (1983) measures the importance of words on “spectra”. There is the “Spectrum of Generative Power”, which defines words that range from semantically strong, to words with low signification, like demonstratives and prepositions. The “Spectrum of Generalisability” defines how easy it is to generalise patterns of words and how some other groups of words are completely ungeneralisable. The “Spectrum of Communicative Power” defines how useful words are in conveying meaning. For example, there are words that are of high frequency and cover a wider range of meanings, and words that are less frequent or small in range and sometimes even obsolete.

Vocabulary teaching so far, has been strictly graded by both teachers and syllabus designers, i.e., there is specific vocabulary for beginners, elementary, intermediate and advanced learners. This restricts the beginner adult student to infantile vocabulary and the advanced learner to obscure language. The Lexical Approach suggests that we can improve competence and communicative power by “extending the students” repertoire of lexical phrases, collocational power, and increasing mastery of the most basic words and structure of the language.

Krashen (1989), on the other hand, argues that vocabulary is acquired by extensive reading of material that students find interest in and large quantities of light, low-risk material that learners are not tested on. His Input Hypothesis postulates that in order to have successful language learning you need to expose your students to comprehensible input. (cited in J.Coady 1997)

In addition there is substantial evidence that extensive reading and “Free Voluntary Reading” improve vocabulary acquisition, spelling, grammar and the learners’ ability to acquire words with more than one meaning. (S.Krashen, 2004)

Gairns and Redman (1986) empasise the importance of classroom activities which can accompany a given text or materials used. The methodology behind these activities is basically to practise, recycle, revisit and semantically group vocabulary, so literally it can be applied in most-if not all- lessons. They also suggest that for a sixty-minute lesson, the number of vocabulary items to be covered is between eight and twelve, eight for an elementary student and twelve for an advanced learner; this is the suggested amount which students can acquire and use productively.

The above argument clashes with “the key-word method”, (Ellis 1995).  This method suggests that “it is possible for adults to learn very large numbers of words in a relatively short space of time- fifty words in an hour is not uncommon.” (cited in P.Meara , 1995)

So far, experts in the field of L2 acquisition advocate that vocabulary should be acquired through context, which personally I am in favour of, and not by memorising long lists of decontextualized words, a practice of the past. Rich contexts can enable learners to acquire new words through guess work, inferring meaning and other pedagogical activities.

However, P. Meara (1995) suggests that learning vocabulary from lists is not such a bad thing. He believes that word lists play an important role in L2 acquisition and especially at the beginning stages. He supports his view by arguing that if we teach learners great amounts of vocabulary from the beginning, they will be linguistically competent enough to understand 80% of what they read or hear in English. The amount of words P. Meara is referring to is 2000 as opposed to 500 which is acquired in a beginner’s course.

 In addition, he mentions the psychological reason of his theory, which is taking advantage of the learners’ expectations to have to learn new vocabulary, as it is a language course they are embarking on, and most learners will automatically assume that “learning lots of new words” is the norm.

Meara (ibid) argues that most methodologies do not really focus on the amount of words learners acquire and tend to set very low targets for vocabulary acquisition. This, he believes, is both linguistically and psychologically unsound. He therefore suggests, focusing on vocabulary acquisition from the very early stages and deliberately teaching all basic vocabulary fairly quickly. One of the reasons in support of his view is that acquisition of L2 is said to resemble that of L1. Thus, P. Meara argues that a single word stage is important for L2 learners even if the syntax of these words is not accurate, because eventually L2 learners will put these words into phrases and sentences at some point. Another reason is that large vocabularies enable you to communicate in various, unpredictable situations producing imperfect sentences most times, but the outcome is that language learners are using L2 to communicate, and through this communication L2 speakers learn how to use words properly, through the feedback they are instantly given from their co-communicator.

 

  1. PROBLEMS IN VOCABULARY ACQUISITION

Vocabulary is an area most learners and especially adults feel intimidated by.  Knowing a word means one knows what we call its componential analysis as follows:

  • The denotation of a word. By denotation, we mean how a word relates to phenomena in the real world or fictional or possible world.
  • The connotation of a word which involves the additional meanings it has beyond its central meaning (denotation). These meanings show people’s emotions and attitudes towards what the word refers to.
  • The pronunciation of a word, usually an issue due to the fact that English is a phonemic language, so pronunciation of individual words depends very much on the phonetic symbols.
  • The spelling of a word which in most cases differs from the way the word is generally pronounced.
  • The tenor or social appropriacy, central in the learning of vocabulary. Knowing the formality or informality of a word is an aspect learners should be aware of in order to communicate effectively in both predictable and unpredictable situations. Paul Meara (date unknown) mentions in his article “A learner’s nightmare”, that English speakers are very sensitive to “mixed messages” and that “it is very easy to give the wrong impression by using a word in an inappropriate context.” (www.pearsonlongman.com/dictionaries/teachers/articles)
  • The morphology of a word. By morphology, we mean the different forms a word can have by adding an affix and changing it according to the rules of grammar (inflection), or by adding other morphemes to create new words (word formation).
  • The word field / semantic field a word belongs to, i.e. the organization of related lexical items that cover an area of meaning.

Adult learners tend to prefer word to word translation and recording words in isolation, which results in having difficulty retaining vocabulary and destroying any possibility of understanding new vocabulary through context. This isolation of words also creates problems with choosing the right form of a word. 

Memory failure is a major problem students face. Retrieving and recalling words from memory is not a clear cut situation. Information needs to be activated regularly in order to be able to retrieve it otherwise it gradually fades away and eventually disappears. According to R. Gairns and S. Redman (1986) this is called the decay theory. Accessing words when needed for free production is a difficulty most learners experience. This could be the result of the way vocabulary was recorded, which is either alphabetically or in random order as they arise in each lesson. Therefore, sense relations of words or semantic fields (lexical sets), are essential when grouping vocabulary as there is “evidence that semantically related items are stored together.” (Gairns & Redman, 1986). Also, the number of encounters with new vocabulary is fundamental, because the more one sees it and uses it, the easier the transition from short-term memory to long-term memory. The Lexical Approach suggests 5-6 encounters before new items are stored into long-term memory. (M. Lewis 1983)

  1. HELPING LEARNERS OVERCOME PROBLEMS.

The strategies I will discuss are ways of helping my learners acquire vocabulary in greater numbers than traditionally accepted, minimizing as much as possible the above problems and training learners to be autonomous.

Massive vocabulary acquisition, which is what I am attempting to explore in this assignment, requires the adoption of a complex of methods and approaches. The strategies that we are now going to look at are ways I believe will help my students acquire a large number of vocabulary (30 words per lesson), sustain it and develop it through their course of study.

  1. Suggestopedia (by G. Lozanov-cited in D.Larsen-Freeman 1986) is an approach that advocates massive vocabulary acquisition by using long texts as the linguistic input in which vocabulary is the main focus and grammar is minimal. There are certain principles in Suggestopedia that are essential for the method to be effective. An attractive classroom setting, soft music playing and in general a state that “desuggests” any inhibitions or limitations learners may bring to the language classroom. The teacher plays an important role as she is the one who increases students’ confidence and gains their trust.

The pedagogical implications of Suggestopedia in my lesson will involve most of the principles mentioned above, but slightly modified to suit the classroom restrictions. The chairs will be arranged in a horseshoe shape, soft music will be played to lower anxiety and the input (text) will be comprehensible, i.e. a familiar situation. New vocabulary will be annotated to enhance understanding. Phase one (receptive stage) will be reading the text to the learners by matching my voice to the music. In phase two the learners will put the text aside, close their eyes and visualize the new material while they are being read to. Then, in groups the learners will read the text in a particular manner to familiarize themselves with the new material.

  1. “Peripheral learning” is a way to assist acquisition without formally directing attention to specific language. In Suggestopedia it is believed that students can learn from what is present in the environment. Therefore, posters can be hung in the classroom containing information on the input used. 
  2. Various vocabulary activities and games are essential for activating vocabulary and enabling learners to use it productively. In addition they lower the Affective filter (S.Krashen, 1982) which is believed to block language acquisition.
  • “Intruder” (M. Wallace, 1982) is a game that focuses on semantic fields. The teacher puts groups of words on the board or on cards and learners need to spot which one does not belong. Again this could be organized as a competitive game to create motivation and interest.
  • Matching parts of strong collocations and then using them to create a story or to write the captions of a picture composition. This is a way to get learners to, first identify the missing part of the collocation and then use it productively
  • “Jumbled letters” (M. Wallace, 1982) is a card game that can be used to help with spelling difficulties. Teams are given letter-cards of a target word. Players have to rearrange letters in the correct order. The first team to do so wins. The exact game can be used with collocations, fixed expressions or polywords. Then, this game can be exploited to get learners to work out rules of pronunciation and train them with certain irregularities in the way words sound. For example ‘ph’ is pronounced /f/, ‘psy’ is pronounced /sŒö /
  • Songs could be used to present or revise collocations, by deleting the verb or noun/adjective or noun part and having learners filling in the gap. This would also help with intonation and pronunciation.
  1. Presenting vocabulary through context and not isolated is a way to draw attention to the form and meaning of words. Discovery learning and guess work is essential in order to activate learner’s reasoning and guessing skills. Working out derivatives by making generalizations of what is a positive or negative prefix and suffix, is a way to enrich vocabulary by focusing on selected words in the context used and train learners to do the same either as a class activity or as homework.
  2. Recording vocabulary and organising words is an important aspect of learning, expanding and remembering words. Memory needs constant triggering and stimulating in order to embed and consolidate vocabulary.

Notebooks should be seen as a tool to enable learners to progress and develop vocabulary outside the classroom. Easy retrieval of what is recorded is also necessary if a notebook is to be effective.          

In Implementing the Lexical Approach (1997), Lewis suggests efficient recording by applying a set of principles. For example he mentions topic organisation, situations in which certain lexical items occur, collocations, recording keywords – particularly de-lexicalised verbs and many more. 

I, personally, encourage my students to keep a notebook of the certain type mentioned above. Recording starts in the classroom and usually towards the end of the lesson and not during, and learners are assigned as part of their homework to expand their notes by adding an example, derivatives in form spidergrams, collocates, pronunciation and word stress and meaning preferably in L2.  This is accomplished with the help of dictionaries, a skill which I integrate from early on in a course

  1. CONCLUSION

In the techniques and activities mentioned above learners are given the chance to enhance deep processing of the language through enjoyable and fun activities which are believed to lower the affective filter (Krashen 1982). In addition, according to Krashen (ibid), Suggestopedia is one of the methods that focuses on lowering the affective filter, thus learners obtain more input.

 

  1. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Coady, J and Huckin, T. 1997. Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition.                                                    Cambridge Applied Linguistics, CUP.

Gairn, R and Redman,S.1986. Working with words. Cambridge Publications.

Krashen, S. 1982. Principles and practice in Second language acquisition.                                                   Pergamon Press.

Krashen, S. 2004.  The Power of Reading

Larsen-Freeman, D.,  1986. Techniques and Principles in language teaching,                                               OUP

Lewis, M., 1983. The Lexical Approach. LTP

Lewis, M., 1997. Implementing The Lexical Approach. LTP

Meara, P,  1995. “The Importance of an Early Emphasis on L2                                                                   Vocabulary.”Article on The Language Teacher Online.    

                              http://www.jalt-publications.org/tlt/files/95/feb/meara.html

Meara, P.  Date unknown. “A learner’s nightmare”  –   Article.                                                     www.pearsonlongman.com/dictionaries/teachers/articles

Wallace, M. 1982. Teaching vocabulary. Heinemann Educational Books.

 

Lesson Plan 

Class Profile 

Age: Adults ranging from 23 to 40

No. of students: 6-8

Setting: CELT Athens

Constraints: Second time teaching this group.

Level: Pre-Intermediate

Length of lesson : 1 hr

This is the second time I am teaching this group.  The class is multi-cultural and consists of 3 Greek students, 2 Iranis, 2 Afghanis, a Congolese and a Russian student. They are a mixed ability class, who are reasonably strong in grammar but rather poor in vocabulary.

They do need some remedial work in vocabulary so as to make progress from their current level of English.

As a group they interact fairly well, with the weaker students being rather quiet.

They are motivated and like being involved in activities that generate discussion and require them to give their opinion.

The Greek learners tend to speak among themselves mostly to confirm instructions given by the teacher

 

Lesson Aims/ Objectives for students

Acquisition of 15-20 lexical items.

Primary Aim(s)

  • To lower affective filter so as Ss will be open to new input.
  • By the end of the lesson, students will have acquired semantically related vocabulary about crime and deception that is related with love affairs.
  • Students will acquire vocabulary in
  • greater amounts than usual.
  • They will be able to guess meanings of words from surrounding context.

Secondary Aim(s)

  • Pronunciation practice of any difficulties encountered during lesson
  • Comprehension of crucial points and events in story.

Comments

Suggestopedia and music should bring the learners to a relaxed and receptive state..

  • Activity containing vocabulary from text to match with meanings.
  • Fun game where learners are required to produce target vocabulary to win .
  • The text used discusses a topic which most adults are familiar with and will be interested in. interesting reading input is believed to increase vocabulary acquisition.
  • Matching words/phrases with theirmeanings.
  • T’s feedback on  errors noticed during mini role-play.
  • True/False activity to ensure comprehension of story. 

Source Aids/Handouts

  • Story “The perfect crime”. Source: New Headway Pre-Intermediate. OUP.
  • Cd of classical music
  • Posters with pictures of story and vocabulary that appears in text.
  • A handout with a reading comprehension task. (my own)
  • A handout with matching words/phrases with their meanings. (my own)
  • A4 vocabulary card, so learners can record topic-related vocabulary.
  • Realia to make story more fun.
  • A whiteboard
  • Whiteboard markers
  • Flyswatters ( to be used in game)

Download materials used for this vocabulary lesson    Materials for vocab lesson download

Linguistic assumptions

Learners should be familiar with the topic of the story, and have formed related schemata in their L1. They should have already met some vocabulary on love or crime, through their current or past coursebooks.

Learners should have knowledge of the grammar of lexis, what a collocation, a phrase/expression and a phrasal verb is.

Target Vocabulary

Collocations                                                             

Comfort sb

Take a sip                                                            

A murder weapon                                                 

Search a house                                                     Expressions

Adore your husband                                             didn’t believe her ears

A wedding anniversary                                        Look forward to the evening

Phrasal Verbs

Turn up the heating

Look forward to

Get away with murder

Put on make up

Pick smth up

Prepositions

Be in love with

Walk into the living room

Break into bits

 

Anticipated Language Difficulties

  • Some of the vocabulary that appears in the story might obstruct learners understanding, especially if they are used to word to word translation.
  • Shadow-reading in the “suggestopedia” stage is a technique new to them, so learners might have difficulty in applying it.
  • My timing may not be very accurate, as I cannot estimate exactly how long activities will take.

Solutions/Remedies

  • In the first stages of my lesson I conduct a variety of activities to elicit, brainstorm and preteach vocabulary so as to build Ls confidence in dealing with text.
  • I will demonstrate once or twice and learners will try it out with me too before we begin the activity.
  • If I run out of time, I will just play the game with one or two pairs. If it were my class, I would use the game as a warm up in our next lesson. 

 

Timetable Fit   

This class has just been introduced to guessing meaning through context, which is something they will need to do so as to match the words/phrases we will be working on, with their meanings.

Vocabulary lessons are the ones they are struggling with, so this will be a good opportunity to enrich their vocabulary, practise and expand their guessing skills.

 

Board Plan(s) 

Elicited vocabulary will be written around the theme cards, which will be mounted in the middle of the whiteboard. Any vocabulary brainstorming will be added to these. Posters and pictures will be placed right and left of w/b.

 

Commentary 

In my experience, as a teacher, I have noticed that vocabulary is treated differently from grammar. For example, learners do remedial grammar classes and coursebook designers produce very rich grammar books for students but the same does not apply for vocabulary.

Vocabulary lessons are most often restricted to the input of the coursebook and sometimes this is not enough to enrich and expand learners’ vocabulary resources.

I will attempt to challenge this by giving learners a two-page story and achieve acquisition of target vocabulary through the activities designed.

In the first part of the lesson I will be doing a lot of eliciting and brainstorming so as to get as much vocabulary as I can from the learners.

 

Then, I will be doing some preteaching of vocabulary that will appear in the story so as to support their understanding.

 Pronunciation practice will be carried out in the suggestopedia stage, where the learners will shadow-read the story accompanied by baroque music.

Reading comprehension will be explored through a T/F task on the main events in the story.

Learners will then have the opportunity to do vocabulary tasks which will promote the concept of learning vocabulary in chunks and linking them thematically.

The lesson will end with a competitive game, where the learners have to produce the word they are being described. This will cause great excitement and motivation in the lesson and at the same time vocabulary will become more memorable.

 

If the lesson runs faster than estimated I will deal with recording vocabulary thematically.

Recording new vocabulary in topics is an activity learners will be encouraged to do and hopefully continue it even after this lesson.

 PROCEDURE

Stage

Teacher Activity

Learner Activity

Aims / Purpose

Materials

Interaction

Time

 

Before class T puts up posters depicting parts of the story in random order and a poster containing related vocabulary.

 

To activate “peripheral learning” and to activate imagination & interest in story.

Posters/pictures.

   
 

Once Ls are seated, the T introduces aims of the lesson (to learn a lot of voc, effortlessly) and emphasizes how easy and fun this could be. T then asks “How do you feel today?” and asks Ls to mime their mood to the person they’re sitting next to.

Ls mime to each other how they feel.

To involve Ls in learning experience and explain what T hopes to achieve in this lesson.

Relax Ls and remove any tension that could inhibit progression of lesson.

 

T-Ss

S-S

1-2 min

Warm-up

Stage

T gives Ls a set of

pictures to put in order,

which show parts of the story. T asks Ls to get into pairs to order pic.

T asks for feedback and

justification for choices

Teacher Activity

Ls pair up to order pic.

Ls provide feedback.

 

To set the situation by providing visual input that will activate schematic knowledge.

To playfully deal with task by getting into pairs and sharing ideas. To generate discussion on topic; Act as a lead-in for next task.

Sets of pict.

 

T-Ss

pairs

Whole cls- T

2 min

2 min

 

Pre-Reading

Prediction

T puts title on the board but covers the last word.

The title reads:”The perfect…………”

T asks Ls to read title and look at their sets of pictures and predict content of story.

Ls read incomplete title, look at sets of pictures and make attempts at guessing content.

To get Ls interested and prepare them for the story.

Enlarged title

PART A

and

set of

pictures

T-ss

1 min

Then T elicits predictions by prompting

T asks: What do you think the story is about?

Who is the woman in the picture? Who is the man? What has happened? Why?

Can you complete the title…?

T accepts all possibilities without revealing story.

She only confirms the completion of title, if successful.

Ls respond to T’s qs and share predictions with her.

Ls make suggestions.

To share predictions and exchange knowledge on content of story.

To create a plot in order to be checked when Ls are presented with text.

To create further interest in story.

 

T-Class

Cls

T-Ss

Ss-T

2-3 min

Stage

Teacher Activity

Learner Activity

Aims/Purpose

Materials

Interaction

Time

Completion

of title*

(This is done only

if title hasn’t been

completed)

{ If Ls haven’t completed the title successfully, T prompts Ls in order to complete it. T asks: What do we commit? ( a crime) OR

If we commit one, we go to prison.}

{Ls complete title through T’s prompting.}* Only if not completed in previous stage.

To assist Ls in completing title in order to be used in next stage.

Enlarged title

PARTS A&B

T-Ss

Ss-T

1 min

Vocabulary

Brainstorming

and

pre-teaching

T uses title to get Ls to brainstorm voc. T asks:

1. What kind of crimes do people commit? Why?

2. Can you think of words that will appear in the story?

T arranges voc on board by writing round the theme words “crime” and

“other words”

T prompts Ls to come up with words that will appear in text : weapon, search, didn’t believe her ears , look forward to, adore.

Ls respond to T qs and brainstorm voc.

Ls assist T in arranging vocabulary.

Ls try and guess word T is describing/eliciting

To trigger Ls memory in order to activate rusty vocab and to recall previously taught lexis.

To involve Ls in the process of organizing voc

thematically.

To elicit or pre-teach target voc

Board

and f/cards that read “crime” and “other words”, to be

used for spider gram

T-Ss

Ss-T

T-Ss

Ss-T

4 min

4-5 min

Stage

Teacher’s Activity

Learners Activity

Aims / Purpose

Materials

Interaction

Time

While- reading

(adaptation

of suggestopedia)

Prelude

T tells Ls that she will read the story to them and as she reads, she would like them to listen & visualize the scenes. T mentions that soft music will accompany her and encourages Ls to relax and enjoy the narration. T doesn’t give text out yet.

T encourages Ls to check their predictions as they listen to story but doesn’t insist.

T acts out using realia.

T reads up to a point where Ls can confirm predictions. Ls are then asked: Were your predictions correct? So what actually happened?

Ls listen to T narrating, being as relaxed as possible and visualizing the scenes. Ls at this point do not have the text, as this can distract them from relaxing and can raise Affective filter.

To relax Ls and to desuggest any limitations. To present a vast amount of voc and

cater for all types of Ls

visual, auditory, kinesthetic.

To make voc memorable through miming.

To check pre-reading predictions, if possible at

this stage.

CD

Realia

T-Class

T-Ss

Ss-T

4 min

1 min

Suggesto-pedia

2nd phase

 

T tells Ss that she will continue reading story but at normal speed & they should try to listen to her pronunciation and shadow-read. Ls are given the text. T explains techn & demonstrates. T also mentions that the music, this time, will be slightly faster. T reads the remaining part of the story. Ls shadow-read

 

Ls listen to instructions of technique and try out.

Ls listen to T and shadow-read , being as relaxed as possible.

 

To expose Ls to native-like pronunciation.

To familiarize Ls with technique.

To relax Ls and subconsciously activate acquisition of target voc.

 

CD, story

 

T-Ss

Whole class

 

5-6 min

 

Pronunci-

ation

practice

T invites class to act out a mini dialogue she has selected from the story,

which is colour-coded on the story page.

T encourages Ls to stand up and act it out, as if they are the characters in the story.

T listens & discreetly makes a note of pronunciation difficulties

and goes over at the end of activity.

Ls choose role they like

and act it out adopting the style encouraged by T; dramatic, sad, being hot, etc.

Ls repeat correct pronunciation.

To activate material in a playful way and work on pronunciation.

To deal with difficulties of specific words or sounds.

Story

T-Class

Class

T- Class

Class repetition

4 min

2 min

Comprehen-sion

check

 

 

T gives handout with True/False sentences.

Ls are asked to say which sentences are true and which are false according to the story. Ls are also asked to correct the false sentences orally.

T asks Ls to work in pairs

Locating answers in story is encouraged.

T checks answers with Ls

Ls work on task, note T/F and locate answer in story.

Ls read out answers.

 

To check comprehension through T/F statements.

To check answers and adjust incorrect ones.

 

Handout 1

 

T-Ss

pairwork

Ss-T

 

4 min

2 min

 

Vocabulary matching activity

Feedback

T gives Ls a handout with words/phrases from the story, and their meanings to match. Ls are encouraged to use context to guess the words.

T has highlighted target voc in the story so that Ls won’t waste time trying to find them.

T checks answers with class.

Ls read words/phrases and try to match their meanings. Ls use surrounding context to guess meanings of new words/ phrases/collocations.

Ls read out answers and adjust where necessary.

To focus directly on target vocabulary.

To guess meaning through context.

To increase encounters with input (story) so as toaid acquisition of target vocabulary.

To check answers and correct.

Handout 2 & story.

T-Ss

Ss-T

3-4 min

2 min

Production

of target voc

(fly- swatter

Game)

T tells class that they are going to play a game, in which they will need to remember the meanings of the words, phrases, and collocations they just worked on. The T pairs up Ls and explains game. Players stand by the board and the T appoints a L to call out the meaning of a word. The player, who hits the word first and pronounces it correctly, gets one point. The player who gathers 3 points first is the winner.

T supplies Ls with fly-swatters.

Flashcards of the words are mounted on the board.

T asks Ls if they have any qs before they play the game and clarify any areas of confusion.

T gives 1 min so that Ls can look at voc before they play the game.

Game is played.

T keeps score. Winner is announced at the end.

T asks Ls for feedback on lesson and their opinion of the lesson as a whole.

T thanks Ls for their time.

Ls listen to T’s description of game.

Ls listen to instructions and terms of game.

As above

As above

Ls ask for clarifications.

Ls look at words for 1 min and try to memorize as many items as possible.

To produce the target vocabulary through a competitive game.

To check acquisition of target vocabulary.

To playfully produce target vocabulary

To clarify and further explain game.

To enhance memorization of target vocabulary.

Handout 2,

f/cards of target voc.

Fly-swatters

T-Ss

Ss-T

2 min

1 min

1 min

5-6 min.

Duration of lesson 60 min.

If the lesson runs faster than estimated I will deal with recording vocabulary thematically. Ls will be given a vocabulary organizer to write CRIME voc and OTHER WORDS. Each word/phrase/collocation dealt with in the lesson, will be recorded in alphabetical order. ( mat: A4 voc card)

 

Materials will be added soon in case you are interested

August 2020 News bulletin

 
English for the 21st Century Skills – New Book! 
 We are pleased and proud to announce that we have contributed chapters in the recently published volume on ‘English for the 21st Century Skills’ edited by Sophia Mavridi and Daniel Xeri. It’s a great volume with expert contibutors from around the world, prefaced by Sugata Mitra and with a great Afterword by David Crystal. Two of the chapters have been contributed by CELT Athens tutors! We hope you will order it and take it with you on holiday (as one of our colleagues has fone above!) and enjoy the breadth and depth of the contributions! It was published by Express Pubications and you can buy it here.  

New Dates & New Courses 

 Follow a Cambridge CELTA Fully Online 

We are pleased to announce that we will be able to continue offering fully online course until the end of the year – then we shall see! Please click the button below to review details of attendance and dates and tuition for our upcoming fully online CELTA courses  Upcoming courses
September 1 – December 1 2020
October 5 – December 18 2020 
December 1 2020 – March 5 2021  
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Our Integrated 3-modules Delta Online & in Athens   


Our online/blended course enters its 8th year with more than 200 trainees completing it in synchronous sessions with audio & video. Module 2 assessments can be done in Athens at times convenient to you. 
Impotant new feature: We can send tutors to some locations for observations. Please get in touch with us to find out if a Delta tutor is available in your area! 
 Upcoming courses
October 26 2020 – March 19 2021
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 More about the all modules Delta 

 Our Fully Online Module 1 course   Begin your journey towards obtaining the prestigious Delta Diploma one Module at a time – Module 1 is a great basis for all the other modules, which is why Cambridge suggests this should be the first module to complete. Join our fall course beginning in October.  Sessions are live in our interactive online classroom but study and exam preparation is supported by a thorough asynchronous course.  
Upcoming Courses
October 26 2020 – March 17 2021
December 1 2020 – May 26 2021 
Find out more about Module 1


 
Teaching Young Learners & Teens 


Our Young Learners’ & Teens course is delivered fully online and the participants can drive the content to include topics and materials which are of interest in their current teaching situation. In the 20 hours of the course, a wide range of topics is covered. The course is ideal for CELTA (or equivalent) trained teachers who need a short top-up to get ready for teaching positions where the majority of the classes are primary school children or teens.  Upcoming Courses September 3 – November 5 2020January 11 – April 16 2021
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  Module 3 Support & Courses 

If you have completed your Modules 1 and 2, you may be looking for Module 3 support. We understake to support most specialisms in the following list – do please get in touch to discuss your M3 assignmemt focus! 

Option 1 (Extending Practice & ELT Specialism) 

Option 2  (ELT Management)​Click on the links to learn more about the two different strands and to choose your preferred option.

Upcoming Courses

September to December Exams 2020 
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Find out more about Module  3

 

 Grammar for English Language Teachers  

Are you sometimes worried about your knowledge of English Grammar, especially when teaching advanced classes?     If you are interested in developing your knowledge of the Grammar of English to a higher level, we offer a short course starting in September. The course will not only help you explore major language areas but will also cover methods and techniques of teaching grammar 
 Upcoming Course 
 September 4 – November 6 2020 

Click here for more 

  
Teaching Languages Online   

Whether we like it or not, remote teaching is here to stay, so let’s make sure we use it confidently and competently! We are offering this short course to all candidates for CELTA or Delta courses. The course is ideal to prepare you for teaching online and is free of charge for our own candidates.  Join us to enrich your repertoire of tools and skills for the 2st century! 

Upcoming 5-week Courses start on
August 24
September 21  
November 14 
Find out more here

 
We are back!! Our next monthly free webinar  

The major change from offline to online stopped us from offering our very popular monthly webinars. It did give us many new concerns, raised many questionss and inspired  new ways of solving problems related to teaching and learning online – once more, we are ready to share with our community,
Upcoming Webinars
August 21 – Sharing materials with learners in Zoom and similar
Topics to be announced on our page here 
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Qualify with a Cambridge Certificate or Diploma

 The last few months have tested the whole of humanity and yet, teachers are still dedicated to learning and helping others learn! Our online courses have been very successful in maintaining the learning efforts of many teachers around the world as well as giving them new skills for the new era of remote teaching/online instruction which seems to be emerging because of the pandemic.

Following a Cambridge qualification course will help you with the new demands in our profession. Or, you may just need a top up course, such as learning Grammar in more depth, specialising in Teaching Young Learners or becoming an ELT manager, a position many Delta holders find themselves in. Have a look below and even if you cannot attend a course right now, keep in touch through our monthly webinars which are starting again in late August, and joining our vibrant communities on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn! 

 CELT International Teacher Development Centre 

P is for Politeness

The post which follows is an article which appeared in the IATEFL Business English Special Interest Group Newsletter in 2015 

N is for New Information

N is for New Information


Screenshot of front pages of papers

Definition

New information is information that is assumed by the speaker not

  • to be known to or assumed by the addressee, or
  • previously established in the discourse.

Discussion

New information typically

  • is placed late in the sentence, and
  • has a high amount of stress placed on the words representing it.

Examples (English)

In the following exchange, the stressed words are new information:

A: Do you know where my SHOES are?
B: I put them in the CLOSET.

Source

http://www.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/WhatIsNewInformation.htm

As you can see, the new information becomes OLD information in the second utterance and the NEW information in the response provides additional facts or responds to the new information in the previous utterance.

New information and pronunciation

This high stress placement on the new information is usually called nuclear or tonic stress and marks information which is new or contrasted with information presented in a previous utterance or, simply, adds to or builds on that information.

Lack of such stress placement makes utterances difficult to follow a speaker (whether native or non native) and is a typical problem is foreign learner (and teacher) talk.

In terms of a hypothetical acquisition order of phonological features along the cline between unintelligible and with native like phonological competencies, stress placement seems to be a late acquisition item along with segmentation and catenation.

Thinking Task

Here is the transcript from a clip from the  “Yes, Prime Minister” TV series

It’s a series of aphorisms, which the PM delivers about British newspapers. Read through them and try to predict which parts of each utterance will be delivered with low stress (given information at that particular stage in the discourse) and which particular words will receive high/tonic/nunclear stress (New Information) 

Prime Minister:

“The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country,

the Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country.

the Times is read by people who actually do run the country.

the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country.

The Financial Times is read by people who own the country, 

the Morning Star is ready by people who think the country ought to be run by another country, 

and the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.”

Second speaker:

“Well, Prime Minister, and what about the people who read the Sun?”

Secretary(?):

“The Sun readers don’t care who runs the country as long as she’s got big t***.”

Now Scroll down please to listen to how these lines were actually delivered – listen from 1:04

 Teaching the feature

I usually do this as a whole lesson on newspapers, part of which has to do with genre and features of different newspaper styles.

If you would like to use this in a lesson you might like to consider this procedure:

Lesson Outline

  1. Lead in with a brief chat about newspapers in the students’ native language. How many are there and what kind are they; what/who do they represent.  What paper do they read, if at all.
  2. Give them a handout with the aphorisms above but with the names of papers blanked out – depending on the local culture you might wish to omit the last one with the asterisked bits.
  3. Ss read and decide which of their local papers fit the descriptions – they can insert the names and practice reading them aloud
  4. Ask them to decide which word(s) in each sentence receive(s) the highest, most prominent stress
  5. Ask them to practice reading the sentences aloud in pairs or groups
  6. Then give them names of English newspapers and they can decide where they fit in
  7. Get them to listen to the video and fill in the names first then listen and mark the stress – check if they were right
  8. Last, ask them to read out their views of their own local papers and assign correct stress.

If you like, they can then add or change some of the aphorisms as they please.

This can be followed by more focused work on the lexical, grammatical and textual features of these papers.

Books on Discourse Analysis

Brown, G., & Yule, G., 1983, Discourse Analysis, Cambridge University Press

Johnstone, B., 2003, Discourse Analysis, Blackwell

McCarthy, M. 1991, Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers, Cambridge University Press

Partridge, B., 2006, Discourse Analysis – an Introduction,  Continuum International

Thornbury, S., 2005, Beyond the Sentence, Macmillan Education

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C is for Coherence

Is she coherent? 

Watch this much discussed video of a young beauty pageant contestant answering a question posed by the judges.

 Thinking Tasks

1. Is Miss South Carolina coherent or not?  

2. Read this text and say if it is coherent. Try to answer the following questions:

  1. Where was published?
  2. Who authored it?
  3. What was the author’s purpose for writing it?

These children can be said to have two three or more mother tongues neither language is foreign to that child even if one language is a foreign language for the vast majority of people in the childs birth country. On average in Europe at the start of foreign language teaching learners have lessons for three to four hours a week. The Welsh language is also compulsory up to the age of 16 although a formal qualification is optional..In some countries learners have lessons taken entirely in a foreign language for example more than half of European countries with a minority regional language community use partial immersion to teach both the minority and the state language..In 1995 the s White Paper on Education and Training emphasized the importance of schoolchildren learning at least two foreign languages before upper secondary education.

Scroll down to the end of the post view the answer.

Definitions:

Review the following definitions and choose the best one (or the one you understand best):

1/ Coherence (linguistics)

Coherence in linguistics is what makes a text semantically meaningful.It is especially dealt with in text linguistics. Coherence is achieved through syntactical features such as the use of deicticanaphoric and cataphoric elements or a logical tense structure, as well as presuppositions and implications connected to general world knowledge. The purely linguistic elements that make a text coherent are subsumed under the term cohesion.

Robert De Beaugrande and Wolfgang U. Dressler define coherence as a “continuity of senses” and “the mutual access and relevance within a configuration of concepts and relations” . Thereby a textual world is created that does not have to comply to the real world. But within this textual world the arguments also have to be connected logically so that the reader/hearer can produce coherence.

– from Wikipedia reproduced here 

2/ Here is another definition from the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Applied Linguistics

coherence

Coherence is the quality of meaning unity and purpose perceived in discourse. It is not a property of the linguistic forms in the text and their denotations (though these will contribute to it), but of these cover forms and meanings interpreted by a receiver through knowledge and reasoning. As such, coherence is not an absolute quality of a text, but always relative to a particular receiver and context. A description of coherence is usually concerned with the links inferred between sentences or

utterances. It is often contrasted with COHESION, which is the linguistic realization of such links (Halliday and Hasan, 1976).

3/ A definition from the Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics 

coherence n coherent adj

the relationships which link the meanings of UTTERANCES in a DISCOURSE or of the sentences in a text. These links may be based on the speakers’ shared knowledge. For example:

A:Could you give me a lift home?

B: Sorry, I’m visiting my sister.

There is no grammatical or lexical link between A’s question and B’s reply (see COHESION) but the exchange has coherence because both A and B know that B’s sister lives in the opposite direction to A’s home. In written texts coherence refers to the way a text makes sense to the readers through the organization of its content, and the relevance and clarity of its concepts and ideas. Generally a PARAGRAPH has coherence if it is a series of sentences that develop a main idea (i.e. with a TOPIC SENTENCE and supporting sentences which relate to it).

Ideas for Teaching Coherence

As definition 3 points out coherence in conversational exchanges includes less explicit links but written texts do although coherence refers more to the way ideas are related to one another

Cohesion is generally easier to teach as it involves lexical and grammatical links but coherence tends to be more difficult and it would probably involve quite a lot of recognition and analysis work on the information structuring of the genre you are training your learners to produce.

Activities which might encourage recognition and awareness raising – a few ideas:

  • ordering paragraphs into texts or sentences into paragraphs
  • inserting sentences from a list of relevant/irrelevant ones into a completed or incomplete text
  • completing a text where first – last sentence or first – last paragraph are given
  • discussing how ideas in texts are connected to each other – e..g. comparison & contrast ; cause & effect
  • appreciating how well written pieces are put together and analysing how the writer has achieved this effect.

Here is a good post from OnestopEnglish on just this topic with a great paragraph at the end by Scott Thornbury.

Find a great collection of lesson plans here on a variety of aspects of coherent transitions in writing; although intended for K-12 students, ELT teachers can find a great number of ideas which can be easily adapted to the ELT classroom.

Please share your own ideas or links in a comment; if you have written a relevant blog post or found a great link, I hope you will!

thenia2

Answers to thinking tasks 

1. Not! (with all sympathy for this young contestant  who blanked out in front of the cameras..There are follow-up videos where she explains all,  in case you might want to use this in a lesson)

2. The text above was taken from a spam message on my blog – in response to a post about large school chains – franchises in Greece and elsewhere. It is not coherent because:

  1. It is an irrelevant response to the topic of the blog post. Grice’s maxim of Relevance is flouted.
  2. There is no internal coherence in the paragraph; although the sentences are connected by topic,  it is not obvious how the ideas in the sentences are connected to one another .
  3. The text, is a random collection of sentences, probably copied from various education sites and blogs that have to do with foreign language teaching – a stray and random collection. This is what blog spammers do: to get their sites listed, they put together paragraphs from various pages on the web and post, in the hope bloggers will not notice.

Interestingly, the mind of the reader who reads this text, attempts to find/discover some coherence in this text, simply because it has the shape and layout of a paragraph; hence we expect it to be coherent.

IATEFL 2015 | Marisa Constantinides: Evernote for teacher observation and teacher development | Workshop summary

A great summary of a presentation I did at IATEFL in 2015 – using new tools for teacher observation which also lead to self-observation and reflection.

Here are my original presentation slides on Slidebean – I am afraid that on the day of my second presentation at IATEFL (I did this one twice, once for the LT SIG and once for the main conference), slibean betrayed me and was completely down – so Olya’s summary is without my slides but with the tool itself

https://app.slidebean.com/embed/rtCrPpeNEc

Read on

Olya Sergeeva's ELT blog

Abstract: A tutor, colleague or supervisor with a notepad taking field notes during a lesson is a common sight on teacher development courses. In this talk, I want to show how the use of Evernote can make teacher observations more effective and create an impact that can last longer, leading teachers in training to further reflection and development. Twitter: @marisa_c; slides will are available on Marisa Constatinides’s slidebean. Video is the most reliable way to capture a lesson. There’s technology allowing to easily videotape the class, e.g. Swivel – the teacher is wearing a device, which allows the camera to follow them. But that’s very expensive. What are some cheap alternatives? A lot of observers take detailed notes of everything that happens, what the students and teachers are doing and saying – essentially, becoming a ‘human video’. Typical notes could have three parts: what happened / what you did well / what you…

View original post 594 more words

G is for Genre

discourse-cloud

Definition 

Genre (play /ˈʒɑːnrə/ or /ˈɑːnrə/; from French, genre French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ʁ], “kind” or “sort”, from Latin: genus (stem gener-), Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time as new genres are invented and the use of old ones are discontinued. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions.

from Wikipedia; also follow this Wikipedia link for a list of literary genres

Thinking Task

Watch this video of Peter Sellers and think about the features of the genre he is delivering.

How exactly has he achieved his intended effect?

 

 

Comments 

Peter Sellers delivers the words of the famous Beatles song “A Hard Day’s Night” in the same manner that a Shakesperean actor would deliver the monologue from Richard III – he is not only dressed and surrounded by the props which we associate with William Shakespeare’s Richard III but his spoken style of delivery imitates the spoken features of this particular theatrical genre.

The effect is hilarious.

Is he insinuating that the manner of delivery may sometimes assign some kind of aura to the words that they might otherwise not have?

I don’t know. But what he (or his director) has created is a wonderful starter for discussions on the notion of genre.

Peter Sellers is flouting Grice’s conversational maxim of manner in the deliberate way that artists do in order to generate thought or to create a comical effect.

Imagine if the Beatles set Richard II’s monologue into music similar to a Hard Day’s night. Would we take the words as seriously then, I wonder.

 

 

 

 

Some Books on Discourse Analysis

 

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