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Conscious practice of a specificlanguage item which has been presented to students. (see: fluency practice)
- This covers a number of points.
- 1.) In terms of language, what we say may be technically correct, but notappropriate to the context. It may betoo formal, for example.
- 2.) In terms of material, what we ask our students todo / read / listen to etc. must be appropriate according to the culture andbackground of the group, as well as their age, sex, general interests, thecourse and the lesson aims.
Authentic material is real-life material, such as a newspaper or brochure. It has not been altered for classroom use, but the accompanying tasks will make it appropriate for the level and needs of the class. Authentic language is real, unscripted and un-graded language, such as news broadcast from the radio.
This is when you want to check that students have understood meaning (see concept questions and timelines), or when you need to go over something which has not been understood. It is also the checking of instructions and tasks. Avoid questions like “Do you understand?” because that is not an effective way to clarify.
This is when students work in pairs with someone sitting directly next to them (see: open pairs)
Questions which require a yes/no or one-word answer. (see: open questions)
A type of gap-fill exercise where every 5th (or 10th, or 12th, etc) word is deleted for students to fill in.
One of the best ways to clarify/check that students have understood an item of language is to ask concept questions. These are short questions or prompts, usually requiring very short and simple answers. They check understanding of the concept (meaning) of language. When checking understanding of structures within a sentence, avoid using the structure in your concept questions.
- When the subject and auxiliary verb are ‘joined’, e.g. She’s
- (She is).
controlled practice /
When students do a practice activity where the nature of the activity means there is a tight control over the language that they use. The teacher restricts the students’ language so that the target language is used a lot. Task: a written gap-fill.
The context is the situation, and the situation provides meaning. Context could be a text, a recording, pictures, spoken scenario from the teacher, etc. Language must have context because language must have meaning.
A presentation starting with the explanation of a rule by a teacher, followed by student practice activities. ( see: inductive)
A diagnostic test is to find out the level of a student; how much s/he knows. Within a lesson, a diagnostic task (test-teach-test) is to see how much students already know about a piece of language being focused on in your lesson.
- This is when students repeat a piece of language with the aim of pronouncing it correctly and naturally. They do this having first heard a model to copy.
- Choral drilling is when they all say it together (confidence-building), and individual drilling is when they say it themselves.
- There are different types of drill, but the basic repetition drill is probably the most common type used by teachers. (See also front chaining.)
When a teacher (for no valid reason) repeats back everything the students say. Though usually subconscious, this increases TTT and makes lessons more “teacher centered”.
However, echoing can be used as an error correction technique. Echo sentence with changed intonation or stress. (e.g. You go to the disco yesterday?)
- Try to get the students to tell you as much as possible, rather than you telling them everything.
- Ask them questions, find out what they already know, involve them. It relates to keeping the students actively involved in the lesson and participating fully.
If students have done a task together, get some reaction afterwards as a class. For example, if they have been discussing preferred holiday destinations, find out afterwards what some of them decided. If students have been working on an exercise together, you have to go through the answers with the class afterwards and clarify as required. ‘Plenary’ is ‘whole class feedback’.
- Free speaking or writing.
- When students use all the English they know to communicate, rather than consciously practicing specific grammatical structures recently studied in class. Fluency practice comes at the end of a receptive skills lesson. (see: freer practice)
The way an item is written or said (spelling/pronunciation). “Form” is also used to refer to the grammatical components of items, as opposed to what they mean or how they are used.
front chaining / back
- When drilling a long or otherwise difficult sentence, it can help students if you ‘break it down’ from the front or the back.
- For example: “I’m getting used to driving on the left” becomes “on the left” … “to driving on the left”… “getting used to driving on the left” … “I’m getting used to driving on the left” (back chaining). Each part is drilled in turn with the whole sentence being repeated at the end.
The language we use to express particular ideas or to achieve particular results in particular situations. Examples of functions are invitation, suggestion, apology, refusal, criticism, praise, complaint, deduction, request, offer, giving permission and order. Functions can be illustrated via context.
The sentence or examples of language used to express a function: e.g., “I’m sorry” is an exponent of the function of apologizing.
Personalized tasks where the teacher ‘hopes’ the students will use the target language but may not explicitly say that they must use it. These tasks are well designed so that the language would/could/should naturally arise. Freer practices come at the end of a language systems lesson.
A written exercise in which students put the appropriate items into gaps left in a sentence or text (fill-in-the-blank). NOTE: Be careful not to confuse this with “Information Gap”.
Language (in a text, in oral instructions, etc.) which is simplified so that it can be understood by a foreign learner of English. (see: authentic)
Rather than explaining what something means, teachers should illustrate meaning in some way – via context, visuals, mime, realia etc. In other words, the teacher should show meaning, not explain it. This is also known as conveying meaning.
Leading students to infer or see a rule by showing them examples of the rule in operation.
An activity in which students use language to give and get information to /from each other. Depending on how they are set up and prompted, Info Gaps can be CP, or Freer Practice, or Fluency Practice. In all cases, they are communicative..
The student’s first language or ‘mother tongue’.
The language teachers use in the classroom must be of a level which will be understood by the students, without it becoming overly simple. Obviously, the lower the level of the students, the more graded the teacher’s language has to be. Speaking more slowly is not sufficient if the language being used is too difficult to understand.
- What the students will be able to do at the end of the lesson that they couldn’t do at the beginning. The aims should be written so that the teacher will know whether the aims have been met.
- Poor example:
- Students will understand the listening text.
- Good example:
- Students will show understanding of the listening text by correctly answering
- the comprehension questions.
Another word for vocabulary.
A written exercise (usually CP) where students have to match given words/sentences with appropriate pictures, definitions, etc.
When students get up and move around (as with a “Find someone who…” exercise). With very large classes, and especially when they are sitting behind desks, mingling is not a realistic option.
- This is a sentence in context which includes a structure which the teacher wishes to focus on. It
- allows the structure to be looked at within a meaningful sentence rather than in isolation. For example: I’m leaving tomorrow morning on the first flight contains ‘subject + to be + verb-ing’ (present progressive). It is sometimes also known as a marker sentence.
When students are working together, the teacher should go round as best s/he can and observe their work and provide help and support. Monitoring also involves ‘keeping an eye’ on the class, looking to see if someone has finished a task, for example. Even when the class and teacher are working together, the teacher should maintain eye contact with the students and observe reactions and problems. Watching and reacting is a key teaching skill.
Classes where all the students are of the same nationality. Unless you are teaching in an English-speaking country, most classes you teach will be of this type.
The meaning, pronunciation, and form of a piece of language.
Classes with more than one nationality.
If one student interacts with another student in the room, but not one sitting next to them, this is open pairs. This might occur, for example, when one student is asked by the teachers to ask a question of another student in the room.
Questions which requires an answer involving either sentences or else utterances of more than one word. For example, “Why did he go?” “How did she get the job?” (see: closed questions)
The introduction and practice of a language item through a process of Presentation – Practice – Production. “Practice” here means CP. “Production” here means Semi-Controlled Practice or Freer Practice.
An activity which involves students talking/writing about their life experience or personal opinion.
- A verb and preposition (or adverb) which combine to produce a meaning different from the meanings of the verb and preposition separately:
- e.g., “to run up a bill” or “to get away with.” They are sometimes called “two-word verbs” or “two-part verbs,” even though they sometimes have three parts.
Comprehension questions given to students before they read or listen to a text so that they know what to focus on.
Speaking and Writing – where the students must produce.
Word, mime, etc. which elicits an item, etc. from a student.
- Listening and Reading
- – where the students receive and comprehend.
Teachers need to build a good relationship with their students, but also foster good relations between the students. This is rapport. A good classroom atmosphere and good relations between all the class are essential.
The actual object used to illustrate meaning. For example, if you were teaching the word “fruit” you could bring in realia: bananas, strawberries, oranges, etc.
When a teacher “thinks out loud” in class, giving too much input to students and increasing TTT. It is usually said very quickly and quietly, or comes in the form of “explanation” that students usually do not need or understand. Example: “Ok, now I’m going to give you guys a handout, it’s probably too easy for you but just go ahead and do it anyway, and it’s not a very good photocopy…”
The only sound in the language with its own name, the schwa /ə/ is the most common sound in English.
Practice where the students have more control over the language to use, e.g. finishing sentence starters, making a personal sentence with specific verbs, or creating a dialogue including specific grammatical structures or vocabulary.
Typically, this is when the teacher provides a situation (context) in order to focus on an item of language contained within a model sentence. It is a relatively teacher-centered means of introducing language, but students are involved through the teacher eliciting from them in order to build the context.
A stage in a lesson is a separate part of it. Each stage should have its own aim (objective).
The emphasis placed on a syllable in a word (= word stress) or on a word in a sentence (= sentence stress). Word stress and sentence stress are two of the components of Pronunciation.
A story, dialogue, or any written text cut into pieces (strips/sentences), which students assemble in the correct order.
- Some sentences will have a fixed grammatical structure (invariable) which may be a tense
- ( I’ll have gone by 3pm contains ‘subject + will have + past participle’ = future perfect simple);
- or maybe not (I used to smoke contains ‘subject + used to + base verb’.
- When asking concept questions to check understanding, avoid using the structure in the question.
Any approach which encourages students to participate fully in the learning process, and which fosters autonomous learning. A student-centered lesson would include, e.g., eliciting, pair work closed pair, student self-correction.
Prompting a student to correct him/herself.
Prompting a student to correct another student.
and scanning ( both involve
skimming: when reading a text or listening to a recording, students can be asked to read or listen for gist – what the text or recording is about – the main idea or most important point of something that someone has written or said.
scanning: when reading a text or listening to a recording, students can be asked to read or listen for a specific pieces of information (e.g. prices, dates, names, numbers) without needing to focus on or understand other parts of the text or recording.
- A type of oral CP.
- The teacher elicits a model sentence, and then prompts individual students to change specific words in it to generate other contexts in which the TL structure can be used.
This is the language being focused on in a Language Systems Lesson.
The teacher does the majority of the talking and the students merely listen and records what s/he says.
This is a way of focusing on language in a lesson which first involves some diagnostic task; then the teacher clarifies meaning; then the students do practice tasks.
The visual representation of time; very useful with tenses. They are useful in conjunction with concept questions.
Teacher Talk Time – which shouldn’t be unnecessarily high!
Short activities, used at the start of a lesson, which are not necessarily related to what is to follow. They are useful to wake a class up, give latecomers more time to arrive etc. Such activities could also be used as Fillers when you have time on your hands at the end of your lesson, or during the lesson to vary the pace. Activities can include simple tasks like “Think of 10 adjectives beginning with c”; or “Find out what everyone in the room had for dinner last night.”
Typically these are vowel sounds in unstressed syllables. In ‘Can you help me?’ the word can is pronounced /kən/.
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