Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Motivated students

Dear followers and colleagues from all over the world,

I wish you all the best in 2015. year. A lot of health, success, love and happiness. Let's pursue your dreams and careers. In this post, I am going to say a few words about it how to motivate our students. We all know that we have to motivate both good and those who are less good in learning language, i.e. we have to find appropriate ways how to make them so interested in the process of learning the language. At the very beginning, it is very difficult, but it is worth trying.
Here are some pieces of advice:

Students arrive in our classrooms with the full-range of motivations – and sometimes with what we see as a remarkable lack of motivation. Motivating students is one of the most challenging things we do as educators, and some of us want to throw up our hands in frustration or proclaim that there is little we can do to motivate students to learn. It is true that students carry with them many past experiences that contribute to their motivation in our classrooms. However, teachers can make a difference, for better or for worse, in motivating students to learn. This module is written to give you a basic understanding of what motivates students and to provide some sense of how you can create this motivation. As you read, you will note that many of the ideas we have covered elsewhere are identified here as important to motivation. Keep the following points in mind:
Our ideal goal as teachers is to help students develop the intrinsic motivation that will allow them to become life-long learners.While this module provides many tips you can use to motivate students, many of the ideas outlined here come under a simple rule: respect your students as learners.
Teaching Assistants, because of their closeness to undergraduates, are often in an excellent position to show the respect, caring and concern as teachers that motivate students.
Active learning – engaging students in the class and working with their peers- is an important contributor to student learning.


Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is what we are most familiar with in education; it is motivation to act that comes from the external environment, outside of the person. When we are motivated extrinsically, we act with the anticipation of rewards – grades, praise, money, time off from work, or some other incentive. For instance, teachers motivate students to come to class regularly and join in discussions through the use of participation grades.
When used wisely and thoughtfully, extrinsic motivation can be quite helpful in furthering student learning. We can use extrinsic motivation to our advantage as educators if we know what motivates students, but we need to do so carefully. For example, many students are concerned about their grades, either because of a desire to continue on in school or due to pressure from their parents, and they will do what it takes to earn good grades. So, if we know that grades are important, we can use tests and papers to motivate students to build the skills and knowledge we expect them to have. For instance, if students can succeed simply by memorizing, then they will memorize. However, if tests and papers require analysis and integration of ideas, then students will learn these higher-order skills. 



Motivating Your Students

Intrinsic Motivation

If extrinsic motivation comes from without, then intrinsic motivation comes from within.Intrinsically motivated learners want to learn because they are curious, they want to improve, they seek knowledge, and learning gives them satisfaction. McKeachie notes that this form of motivation nurtures and encourages the habit of life-long learning. As students leave school, external motivators for learning, such as grades and praise, are replaced by long-term goals and less immediate rewards. Intrinsic motivation encourages us to continue learning regardless of what rewards come our way.

How Do We Motivate Students?

Some students worry about grades; others need to satisfy a course prerequisite. Still others want to learn and explore ideas. In fact, many students are probably motivated to learn and to succeed by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic elements. The key for us as teachers is to understand what we can do to build students’ motivation to learn in our classroom, and to nurture the intrinsic motivation that will guide future learning.
We know that students respond positively to three elements in most classes (Davis, 1993):
A well-organized course;

A teacher who is enthusiastic about the material and about teaching;

A teacher who shows he or she cares about the students and their learning.

The first point is very important to motivation and is covered in other modules. The remainder of this module, then, will address the questions of enthusiasm (also discussed to some degree in the module on communication) and demonstrating care for students and student learning.
Below are some basic actions you can take to motivate students in your classroom. You will note, as you read, that these ideas are interconnected; they are part of a complete effort to build relationships with and motivate students. Communicate high but attainable expectations and goals. Most students want to be challenged and feel that they are directing their energies toward a worthwhile experience.
This means that they will work to achieve challenging goals if they view the goals as within their reach. True, some students are motivated by the fear of the daunting “killer test,” but you will lose more students than you gain, and those you gain will not retain their motivation outside of the classroom.
Give students the chance to succeed. High standards for student work are fine, but it is important to make those standards clear and give students a chance to discover and meet them.
You may want to consider the following suggestions to help students succeed:
Give a test, quiz or paper early in the semester, return it to students, and give them a chance to retake or rewrite it. This lets them learn the standards and have a chance to improve.
Rather than giving a few large tests and assignments, give smaller more frequent ones.
This makes the material students must learn more manageable and gives them more chances to succeed.



Motivating Your Students

Increase the difficulty of tests and assignments over time. Tell students you are doing this to help them learn your expectations and develop knowledge and skills to draw upon.
Give early, immediate and comprehensive feedback. The idea of giving feedback is closely related to giving students a chance to succeed. In order to learn, students need and want to know the standards and expectations you have for their performance. Thorough comments from you on tests and assignments show students what is needed to succeed.
But your comments do more than just this: they also show the students that you respect them and are committed to their learning. Students notice when a teacher does (or does not) put forth effort in making comments on student work, and they respond accordingly.
Create a learning community in your classroom. McKeachie notes that interaction, particularly with peers, is an important motivator for many students. There are several easy steps you can take to create an environment where students see themselves as part of a community of learners rather than as isolated individuals. Reward success publicly. This does not need to be an elaborate effort. Thank students for their comments, compliment good points by saying “good point,” and refer back to individual students for their contributions when you can. Share exemplary work with students. Copy, distribute (without names and with permission) and discuss outstanding papers or assignments. This helps students see your standards and it recognizes students who do outstanding work.
                                                       
1) Use collaborative/cooperative learning groups. 
2) Students respond to interaction with their peers. 
3) Putting students in groups can therefore promote their learning. 
4) Know your students and their interests.
5) If you know who your students are and what they are involved in, you can adjust your class to connect with their interests. This can help them see the relevance of the material and motivate them to engage in class.

For instance, one professor teaches a course on French culture in which most of the students are Business or International Relations majors. Upon learning this information, the professor created a project where students worked in groups of three to determine the feasibility of locating a major shopping store in various locations in France. Use a variety of teaching methods. No matter how gifted you are as a teacher, using the same method to teach each class can become monotonous – for you and for the students – causing the students to lose interest and motivation. When possible, vary your methods within and between classes. Break students into groups, give mini-lectures, have class discussions, use case studies, stage a debate, etc. This variety engages and motivates students.
Avoid individual competition. Competition in and of itself is not necessarily a negative. Pitting groups against one another in games that help them learn the material can be a useful motivator. However, you should avoid creating a situation where students see themselves in direct competition with one another for grades.
Try to prevent too much anxiety from developing among students. Most of us tend to work a little harder or a little longer when we are worried about an important test or a big event and want to make sure we succeed. However, too much anxiety can make us want to give up and not even try. This is why it is important to have reasonable goals and expectations and give students a chance to succeed.

If you have some examples of how to motivate your students, please add here or write to my e-mail: radepetricevic@yahoo.com.

Best regards...



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Rewarding pieces of information

Dear colleagues from all over the world,

I hope you are all well. The school has just started and I am very busy doing all necessary things concerning the documentation that has to be written. But I am almost to finish it, and I'm so happy one. I am not going to give you something new I have just learned, but I am going to give some rewarding pieces of information that are useful for your further professional development:
1. Visit the site of Cambridge Teaching English. You will find a lot of very, very rewarding things which can help both you and your students in the process of teaching and learning. You can also find lesson plans that are very important for teachers (but if I dare to say that they are difficult and time consuming for all of us); there are also 'GREAT' webinars which are also helpful and useful for our professional development. At the end of the webinar, you get the Certificate of attendance which recognized by the Ministry of education.
http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/


2. The second thing that is so 'GREAT' for our PD is the scholarship of the USA Embassy. I was lucky one. I got it a few years ago and I completed the course at the University of Oregon. I gained a lot of knowledge which I use in my everyday teaching process. My students also use some things which are suitable for them. Just visit the site of the USA Embassy in your country and you'll get all necessary information about the 'WONDERFUL' scholarship. Just try it, never give up and never lose your hope. For my country the address is: http://sarajevo.usembassy.gov/e-teacher-scholarship.html

I wish you all the best. If you have something that is 'GREAT' send it to me at radepetricevic@yahoo.com

All the best,
Rade 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Teaching English to children with special educational needs

Hi all,

Dear colleagues from all around the world,

I am very sorry of not posting anything new for a while because I was so busy. I had to prepare my students for different levels of competitions. I also had to prepare students to take their exams in English and so on. To tell the truth, all my dear students passed their exams. On the other side, my school children won the first places during the competitions. I am so happy as well as they are.
In this post, I am going to say a few words about teaching English to kids who have special needs. I am so interested in this subject matter, because in my country every teacher has got a lot of problems about teaching these kids. I say this because teachers, in my country, neither have any seminars or any professional development or any lectures about this kind of teaching nor they have an assistant who will help them in the process of teaching kids with the special needs. It is a big problem which my colleagues meet from day to day. Searching through the Internet, I found some rewarding tips that can be useful for many teachers who also have the same problem. 

English as a foreign language for children with additional educational needs It is often thought that foreign language learning for a child with additional educational needs can waste valuable time that could be spent more profitably on teaching 'more relevant' skills and that it may confuse
children who already have problems mastering their mother tongue. However, it is important to provide every opportunity to expand and enhance the range of learning experiences available for these children by including them in a wide range of activities throughout life. One of these activities is foreign language learning. This article builds on the principles of inclusion and is written in the ethos that children with additional educational needs should have the same right as other children to experience and enjoy foreign language learning, and in the belief that they have the potential to benefit and to progress linguistically, psychologically, cognitively, socially and culturally. 

 Diverse needs
Children with additional educational needs may have physical and conceptual difficulties, mild and moderate learning difficulties, severe learning difficulties and emotional and behavioural difficulties, and will usually require some sort of extra support. This article will address the needs of children with mild and moderate learning difficulties, which can include short attention spans and a lack of concentration, memory problems -

A school policy
In order to cater as effectively as possible for the diverse learning needs of such pupils, a school should agree its policy and implement it as a team. This will include decision-making concerning methodological approaches, assessment procedures, ways of supporting the learner, and how best to organise classes depending on the context in which you work.
both short and long term, poor generalisation skills, auditory discrimination problems, visual discrimination problems, a lack of imaginative thinking and poor eye-hand co-ordination. Their needs are diverse and, when deciding what to teach and how to teach, foreign language programmes should aim to start with the needs of each individual child in order to build on their strengths.

Methodological approaches
As we can see above, some of the special needs described are not so very different from those of our 'regular' pupils, and many of the familiar principles which underlie good educational practice, as used by foreign language teachers of young learners, are appropriate. These include effective teaching strategies and techniques, selection of materials, task design, including differentisation, and clasroom management skills.
  • Teaching strategies and techniques
    Good teaching strategies and techniques include the planning and stating of carefully balanced, varied learning sequences with clear achievable objectives, so children know what is expected from them. They will also include using the mother tongue, as appropriate, to contextualise and support learning, so children can relate something new to something familiar and thereby develop a sense of security; providing clear, meaningful, concrete contexts in which to present language; providing plenty of repetition, recycling and reviewing; using plenty of mime, signs, gestures, expressions to convey and support meaning; involving children actively in the learning process as much as possible through the
    use of action rhymes and songs, stories, colouring, making things, dancing, drawing, total physical response activities and games; stimulating childrens' senses as much as possible through multi-sensory aids.
  • Assessment procedures
    Children need to be clear about the learning objectives, which could accommodate the graded objective principles and the Council of Europe statements: for example, I can understand and use familiar everyday expressions. Once these are established, and with systematic post-activity reviewing, children will be able to perceive their progress. In many cases, this will be small-step progression, and needs to be established by the school and team of teachers as part of their overall policy.
  • Materials selection
    Materials need to be varied, accessible and clear and provide plenty of visual stimulus and support in the form of pictures, objects, puppets, realia, storybooks, videos, ICT, etc.
  • Task design
    Tasks should provide a reasonable degree of effort or challenge within the linguistic and cognitive abilities of each child, and have short-term goals and clearly identified steps leading to successful completion, as well as purposeful outcomes allowing immediate feedback and positive reinforcement. In order to design tasks, teachers need to be able to judge whether the level of demands made on each child is appropriate and also to identify the types of demand made. These relate to concepts and notions of language, such as shape, size, colour, location, cause and effect, and language functions, such as describing, classifying, sequencing, predicting etc. Teachers also need to be aware of the kinds of concepts which their pupils can cope with at specific stages of their development. Furthermore, each learner possesses their own learning styles and intelligences and some tasks may only be suitable for specific learning styles or intelligences, making them difficult for learners who do not possess these or have low levels of specific types of intelligence. Differentiation of tasks is also central to successful methodology and needs to be done in a way that the areas of experience, for example, a topic or
    theme, will be the same for each child but the depth in which it will be covered will be different.
  • Classroom management skills
    A well-managed classroom will be one where routines are established, the teacher is firm but fair and establishes a secure, non-threatening learning environment. He or she will explain methodological approaches to avoid a mis-match of expectations and to establish clear ways of working, and will praise all effort, however small. Classroom dynamics will be analysed and seating arrangements planned accordingly. Teacher talk will be analysed in order to keep this clear and simple for instructions and demonstrations, to be sensitive to the level of challenge different questions imply and to pitch them appropriately for individual children, and to avoid excessive teacher talk, which can be confusing. Pupils' attention will be focussed so they keep on task and teachers will be aware of the behavioural effect of activities which settle or stir, occupy or involve, and sequence these appropriately.
Supporting the learners                                                                          
In addition to the methodological approaches described above which support the learner, the school may decide that the help of a support teacher or teaching assistant is required. Their help may be requested on a full-time, part-time or sessional basis and they may work with individual pupils, several pupils or a whole
class or department. In whatever setting a support teacher may work, he or she can help the pupil's learning by having a clearly defined role in the classes, time to share the planning and evaluation of lessons, adequate resources. In addition, the importance of their role in the staff team must be recognized. 

 


Organising classes
From a Vygotskian viewpoint, a child with special needs who is integrated into a regular class would be able, through co-operation and interaction with classmates, to develop their knowledge, language and thinking. In a primary EFL context classes tend to emphasise oral communication, especially in the initial stages. Thus, one of the main weaknesses of the child with additional needs, that is, writing, is avoided. This can be
beneficial in that he or she starts out on an even footing with his academically more able counterparts.
Many of the responses required are whole-class ones so a child is rarely singled out and can learn to communicate in a foreign language without fear of failure. Integration may require the presence of a support teacher to deal with possible unpredictable behaviour which may disrupt classmates and incite general bad behaviour; to explain to classmates a child's particular needs so they can understand and respect these differences and respect the additional effort such a child may have to make in the learning process, to diffuse any potential peer ridicule through such explanation as above, to help with activities that may require cutting, pasting, writing, to help explain the teacher's methodology and to reinforce the classroom code of conduct and to liaise with parents as required. Once basic oral/aural skills have been acquired and other pupils progress perhaps at a faster rate, a school may feel that separate specialised classes may be more appropriate to meet the children's needs, although these classes would be integrated within the framework of the regular school.
The teaching of foreign languages to children with additional educational needs is complex and each school needs to decide on a policy that is best for their context. A great deal of support can be found through CILT who publish an annual Languages and Special Educational Needs Bulletin and have a discussion forum to generate ideas and mutual support for all those who are involved in teaching modern foreign languages to pupils with special educational needs in both special schools and mainstream classes.

Here is also an address of the web site where you can find different activities and addresses which people from all around the world use in the process of teaching English to kids with special needs (http://www.jetprogramme.org/documents/conference/tokyo_ori/2012_to/special_needs.pdf). I also want to hear from you and all your advices and suggestions are welcome. Feel free to write to me. I want to gain new knowledge about this.

Best regards

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Why is writing an essay so frustrating?


How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. 
 Henry David Thoreau




Dear followers,

I hope you are all well. I am so fine, better than ever. I am sorry of not adding anything new to my blog because I was so busy at the beginning of the second term in my school. In this post, I am going to share rewarding tips for writing a good essay. As we all know that it is a little bit difficult for students, who learn English as the second language, to write a good essay. I have been teaching English for almost seven years. I met many students who have different abilities. There were those who are good in English, but at first they could not understand how to write an excellent essay following the logical order. On the other hand, there were those who tried there best and they were every successful in writing so great essay that won many prizes. No matter how they do it, I am always proud of them. Here are very constructive tips which will help your students to write a good essay:


  1. Research: Begin the essay writing process by researching your topic, making yourself an expert. Utilize the internet, the academic databases, and the library. Take notes and immerse yourself in the words of great thinkers. 
  2. Analysis: Now that you have a good knowledge base, start analyzing the arguments of the essays you're reading. Clearly define the claims, write out the reasons, the evidence. Look for weaknesses of logic, and also strengths. Learning how to write an essay begins by learning how to analyze essays written by others.
  3. Brainstorming: Your essay will require insight of your own, genuine essay-writing brilliance. Ask yourself a dozen questions and answer them. Meditate with a pen in your hand. Take walks and think and think until you come up with original insights to write about.
  4. Thesis: Pick your best idea and pin it down in a clear assertion that you can write your entire essay around. Your thesis is your main point, summed up in a concise sentence that lets the reader know where you're going, and why. It's practically impossible to write a good essay without a clear thesis.
  5. Outline: Sketch out your essay before straightway writing it out. Use one-line sentences to describe paragraphs, and bullet points to describe what each paragraph will contain. Play with the essay's order. Map out the structure of your argument, and make sure each paragraph is unified.
  6. Introduction: Now sit down and write the essay. The introduction should grab the reader's attention, set up the issue, and lead in to your thesis. Your intro is merely a buildup of the issue, a stage of bringing your reader into the essay's argument.
  7. Paragraphs: Each individual paragraph should be focused on a single idea that supports your thesis. Begin paragraphs with topic sentences, support assertions with evidence, and expound your ideas in the clearest, most sensible way you can. Speak to your reader as if he or she were sitting in front of you. In other words, instead of writing the essay, try talking the essay.
  8. Conclusion: Gracefully exit your essay by making a quick wrap-up sentence, and then end on some memorable thought, perhaps a quotation, or an interesting twist of logic, or some call to action. Is there something you want the reader to walk away and do? Let him or her know exactly what.
  9. MLA Style: Format your essay according to the correct guidelines for citation. All borrowed ideas and quotations should be correctly cited in the body of your text, followed up with a Works Cited (references) page listing the details of your sources.
  10. Language: You're not done writing your essay until you've polished your language by correcting the grammar, making sentences flow, incorporating rhythm, emphasis, adjusting the formality, giving it a level-headed tone, and making other intuitive edits. Proofread until it reads just how you want it to sound. Writing an essay can be tedious, but you don't want to bungle the hours of conceptual work you've put into writing your essay by leaving a few sloppy misspellings and poorly worded phrases. Dear colleagues, I hope you'll find these tips very rewarding and that you'll share them with your students. Taken from:  http://www1/aucegypt.edu/academic/writers/.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

GAMES

 “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”  


Dear colleagues,

In this post, I am going to say a few words about the games and how important they are to motivate your students and to make the learning atmosphere looks better. I like to use the games as warm-up activities, because I can see a lot of positive results. Games help teacher to create contexts in which the language is useful and meaningful. The learners want to take part and in order to do so must understand what others are saying or have written. Many games cause as much density of practice as more conventional drill exercise. What matters, however, is the quality of practice. Many games provide repeated use of a language form. By making the language convey information and opinion, games provide the key feature of `drill` with the opportunity to sense the working of language as living communication. If it is accepted that games can provide intense and meaningful practice of language, then they must be regarded as central to a teacher’s repertoire. Games can be found to give practice in all the skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking), in all the stages of the teaching/learning sequence(presentation, repetition, and so on) and for many types of communication(encouraging, criticizing, explaining, etc.). It is generally accepted that young learners and adults are very willing to play games. Early teenagers tend to be more self-conscious. Games which can be played in pairs or groups may be particular and useful. It is clear to all observes of classroom practice that the teacher’s own belief in the usefulness and appropriateness of a game affects the learner’s response.
Of the four types of grouping, pair and group work are very important if each learner is to have sufficient oral practice in the use of language. In class work it is easy to demonstrate that learner says only one or two sentences in a lesson or in a week. The greatest `mistake`(if oral ability is an aim) is for the learner not to speak at all. Pair work is easy and fast to organize. It provides opportunities for intensive listening and speaking practice. Pair work is better than group work if there are discipline problem.
Group work games require four or six players. Membership of groups should be challenged between groups and they should be of mixed ability. Groups can operate perfectly well without a group leader. Any games or activities which involve language and which your learners enjoy are language-learning materials. It is usually difficult to find a new game for specific language practice just when you need it. When collecting games it is important to note what language need only be understood by the players.
When preparing your lesson, you start by planning the main items you want to include: the teaching of new grammar, or the reading of a text. But once you have prepared the main components of yours, you may find you still need some extra ingredients to make it into a smooth unit. You may need, for example:
1)       A quick warm-up for the beginning to get your students into the right mood for learning,
2)       An idea for a brief vocabulary review,
3)       A light filler to provide relief after a period of intense effort,
4)       A game or amusing item to round off the lesson with a smile.


  Here are some examples of games and five-minute activities:

Weed-Read
Grammar: Varied
Level: Text for weeding 1: lower intermediate
 Text for weeding 2: advanced
Time: 12-25 minutes
Materials: One text for weeding per pair of students
In class
a) Give the students a text with distracted words you have prepared in or use text for weeding 1 or text for weeding 2.Ask them to work in pairs and weed out the extra words.

b) Ask the students to compare their work in groups of six.

c) Dictate the list of `weeds`.
Students are listening to their knowledge of collocation, grammar and syntax by the rowing out the intruders.

DIY word order
Grammar: Word order
Level: Beginner or Advanced
Time: 15-25 minutes
Materials: Any text
Preparation: Select a text
In class
a) Ask the students to skim the text and to echo their favourite words. Ask some of them to say their words to the group and explain why they like them.

b) Ask each student to secretly choose their favourite sentence from the text. They than cut or fold out and tear a piece of paper into enough oblongs piece.

c) Each student mixes up the pieces and places them on their chair and then the students’ mill around. Remind them to remix the pieces before moving on.

Hinged sentences
Grammar: Syntax and punctuation
Level: Intermediate
Time: 20-30 minutes
Materials: One hinged sentences sheet per two students.
In class
a) Give out the hinged sentences sheet and ask the students to scan through for any that make sense as they stand.

b) Students work in pairs or alone and rewrite each of the twelve sentences into two separate sentences that share a hinged word or phrase.
Example: He loves her children are great-He loves her./Her children are great.
In this case `her` is `hinged` word.

Your words – My grammar
Grammar: Present perfect continuous
Level: Lower – Intermediate
Time: 15-20 minutes
Materials: None
In class
a) Write a sentence in the target structure on the board:
Who’s been eating my porridge?
Explain to the students that you want them to write sentences that have exactly the same grammar as the above sentence. The first word must be an interrogative pronoun, the second an auxiliary verb, the third no change, the fourth a main verb + ing, etc.
e.g. What’s been killing her flowers?

b)ask the students to write their sentences on the board. Ask the class to decide which sentences are right and which wrong.
It is important to start with a short, simple sentence.

Faces and character
Language: Describing people, speculating about age, character, etc. e.g.(He might be...)
Skills: Listening and speaking
Control: Free
Level: Intermediate – advanced
Time: 5 minutes for a discussion of each photograph you choose to show
Materials: Photographs or slides
Preparation:
For class you will need a minimum of three or four photographs of people you know or know about.The pictures should be large enough for class use. For pair work, the pupils must be equipped in a similar way. They could be asked to bring pictures from home of their family, friends or anyone else.
Procedure:
-Class work leading to pair work.
First discuss with the class how reliable people’s appearance is as a guide to their age, interests, background, character, etc. You might tell them that it was commonly believed in the last century that one could recognize a criminal by the shape of his ears. Finally confirm, qualify or reject these speculations by describing the person yourself.

Fortune – Telling
Language: Predicting future events, using will or going to
Skills: All
Control: Free
Level: All
Time: 30 minutes
Materials: Paper and pencils/pens
Preparation
None
Procedure: Group work
The learners need not know each other well: Essentially, however, each learner writes a fortune for someone else. One version goes as follows: in a group of four or five learners each learner writes a fortune or prediction for each of the others. In other words, each learner writes four or five fortunes. He/She must read them out and comment, for example, on whether some of them are the same, or just what he/she had hoped for, or highly unlikely.

Reading someone’s mind
Language: Making statements about other people, using the phrase: I think you are... and adjectives
Skills: Listening and speaking
Control: Free
Level: Intermediate – advanced
Time: 10-15 minutes
Materials: None
Preparation
None
Procedure
Class work
Arrange the class in two circles, one standing inside the other. Each learner should face someone in the other circle. Tell the learners that quite and responsive concentration on another person can often produce a sensation of what they are like, what they are feeling. After half a minute or so ask them to tell each other what it was they felt and understood about the other person.
Note: Before starting this activity you can discuss with the learners the sort of feelings one can sense in other people and you could make sure they have the language to express these understandings:
I think you are...
rather, a little, very, extremely...
happy, anxious, worried, angry, frustrated...


There’s something wrong somewhere
Language: Describing pictures and identifying objects
Skills: Reading
Control: Guided
Level: All
Time: According to the length of the texts
Materials: A picture or pictures. For class use, a slide or a large magazine picture
Preparation
You (or the learner) must write three texts about the picture or pictures, two of which contain some errors of fact. Make copies of the texts.
Procedure
Class or group work
Display the picture or pictures. Give the learners the three duplicated description of the picture or pictures. The learners first find the description that is completely correct. They than underline all the mistakes in the others.
They provide all that is needed for a fully correct description. The learners put these bits together to produce a correct description.

Don’t say `yes` or `no`
Language: Asking questions and giving answers, especially asking questions with question tags(e.g...., isn`t it?....don`t you?....do you?) and giving complete phrases for answers. Using of course, of course not, perhaps, clearly...
Skills: Listening and speaking
Control: Guided
Level: Intermediate – advanced
Time:5-10 minutes
Materials: None
Preparation
None
Procedure
-Class work leading to a group or pair work.
This can be a team competition. Put a number of questions to each team. Each question must be answered without delay and without the use of either `yes` or `no`. The team which answers the most questions in this way wins.
The teacher asks questions of this type:
1) Your name is Peter, isn’t it?
2)You do live near the school, don’t you?
3) It was raining at nine o’clock this morning, wasn’t it?
The students should reply, e.g.:
1) Not at all, my name is Ann.
2) Not, quite, my home is a long way from school.
3) I don’t think so.
When the learners have seen how the game works, they can fire questions at each other to try to catch each other out.

Amazing facts
Listening
Procedure
You and your students may like the idea of having a regular five – minute slot in your lesson called `amazing facts`. You or a student have five minutes in which to inform the class about something they may not be familiar with and which is likely to amaze them.
Instead of trying to fill a five – minute slot, a single amazing statement can be made. It might well provoke some discussion. Here is a brief example: `People often say that it is always raining in Britain`.


Chain story
Narration: Use of the past tense
Procedure
Begin telling a stor.This can be the first few lines of a story from your course book, or improvised, or you can invite a student to start. Then, going round the class, each student has to add another brief `installment` to the story.
Variation:
Before you start, ask each student to choose a word. It can be an item of vocabulary recently learnt or a verb in the past tense or freely chosen. Then each `installment` has to include the word the student has chosen.

Compare yourself
Getting to know each other, use of comparatives
Procedure
In pairs, students find different ways of comparing themselves with each other, and write down or simply say the appropriate sentences.
1) You are taller than I am.
2) Tina has longer hair than I have.
3) Jane is taller than Luis.
Variation:
To encourage more interaction, tell the students they may not use aspects (such as height or hair colour) that are immediately apparent, but only things they have to find out through talking:
1) Peter has more brothers than I have.
2) Marie knows more languages than Diane.
As a follow – up, share some of the things participants have found out with the rest of the class.

Find someone who
Brief pair conversations
Procedure
The students have one minute to walk around the room and find at least one person in the class who was born in the same month as they were: they get one point for every person they find in the time. Then they have to find someone who was born on the same day of the month. At the end, see how many points each student has.

Guessing
Yes/no questions and answers
Procedure
Choose an object, animal or person, and tell the students which of these categories it belongs to. They have to guess what it is. Encourage `narrowing-down` questions, and give generous hints if the guessing slows down. The student who guesses the answer chooses the next thing to be guessed.


 Jumbled words
Vocabulary and spelling practice
Procedure
Write on the board words the students have recently learnt, or ones they have difficulty spelling with the letters in jumbled order. For example, you might give an elementary class a set of words like gdo, sumoe, owc, knymoe, tca,tnhpeeal, ibdr and tell them these are al animals. In the time given they work out as many as they can of the answers:
dog, mouse, cow, monkey, cat, elephant, bird.

Martian
Describing
Procedure
Draw a picture of Martian on the board. Place your two forefingers on either side of your head and tell the class that you are a Martian. Pretend that you are unfamiliar with everyday objects, for example: cars, coffee, ships, music. Pretend also that you do not have a very wide vocabulary in English. The students should try to help you to understand what each object or idea is , but you must continually ask questions as if you do not understand. For example:
Martian: What`s a car?
Student 1: People travel in cars.
Martian: What`s `travel in`?
Student 2:`Travel` means you go from one place to another place.
Martian: But what does a car look like?
Student 3:It`s like a box on wheels.
Martian: What`s a box? etc.

I hope that some of you will find these games rewarding and that they can be helpful, too. I wish you everything the best in 2014. year.

Best regards,
Rade

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Second language learning in the classroom

Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can; there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.
‒Sarah Caldwell-

 Dear,

I am here after a while. I am so busy in my school, I am busy with my private business (tranlsating and interpreting). I am so happy one to see that many people still do visit my blog. I am so glad that I can share everything with you and I have to say that I will share many rewarding things. Today, I will post a few things about learning the second language in the classroom. In this case, it is English because it is the second language in my country. My students start learning English from the third grade of primary school and they continue with it till the end of their university studies. I really like my students who are always ready to work and learn. They always want something new, so I try to do my best in order to meet their needs.


Second language learning in the classroom

Most people would agree that learning a second language in a natural acquisition context or `on the street` is not the same as learning in the classroom. Many believe that learning `on the street` is more effective. Natural acquisition contexts should be understood as those in which the learner is exposed to the language at work or in social interaction. The traditional instruction environment is one where the language is being taught to a group of second or foreign language itself. The teacher’s goal is to see to it that students learn the vocabulary and grammatical rules of the target language. The goal of learners in such courses is often to pass an examination rather than to use the language for daily communicative interaction. Supporters of communicative language teaching have argued that language is not learned by the gradual accumulation of one item after another.


Five proposals for classroom teaching

Theories have been proposed for the best way to learn a second language in the classroom. But the only way to answer the question: ‘Which theoretical proposal holds the greatest promos for improving language learning in classroom settings?’ is through the research which specifically investigates relationship between teaching and learning. Both formal and informal researches are needed. Formal research involves careful control of the factors which may affect learning. It often uses large numbers of teachers and learners.
Informal research often involves small numbers, perhaps only one class with one teacher, and the emphasize here is not on what is most general, but rather on what is particular about this group or this teacher. For each proposal, a few relevant studies will be presented, discussed and compared with one another.
These proposals are:
1) Get it right from the beginning
2) Say what you mean and mean what you say
3) Just listen
4) Teach what is teachable
5) Get it right in the end 


Get it right in the beginning

The `Get it right in the beginning` proposal for second language teaching best describes the underlying theory. It is the proposal which probably best describes the way in which most of us were taught a second language in school. The behaviorist view of language acquisition is in assuming that learners need to build up their language knowledge gradually by practicing only correct forms. Teachers avoid letting beginning learners speak freely because this would allow them to make errors. Here are some examples:
S1: And uh, in the afternoon, uh, I came home and, uh, uh, I uh, washing my dog.
T: I wash.
S1: My dog.
T: Every day you wash your dog.
S1:No.
S2: He doesn’t have dog.
S1: No, but we can say it.





Say what you mean and mean what you say

This proposal emphasizes the necessity for learners to have access to meaningful and comprehensible input through conversational interactions with teachers and other students. When students are given the opportunity to engage in conversations, they are compelled to negotiate meaning, that is, to express and clarify their intentions, thoughts, opinions and so on. The negotiation leads learners to acquire the language forms-the words and grammatical structures-which carry the meaning. The claim is that as learners work toward a mutual understanding in the negotiation process, language acquisition is facilitated.
Example:
S: Me and Jo see, we don’t have the same as hers.
T: That’s fine. Yeah, because there’ll be different answers.
S: Why...uh, we do that with a partner?
T: Simply so you can control.


Just listen

This proposal is based on the assumption that it is not necessary to drill and memorize language forms in order to learn them. Here, the emphasize is on providing comprehensible input through listening and/or reading activities.
`Just listen` is one of the most influential - and most controversial - approaches to second language teaching because it not only holds that second language learners need not drill and practice language in order to learn it. According to this view, it is enough to hear and understand the target language. One way to do this is to provide learners with a steady diet of listening and reading comprehension activities with no (or very few) opportunities to speak or interact with the teacher or other learners in the classroom.



Teach what is teachable

The proposal referred to as `Teach what is teachable` is one which has received increasing attention in second language acquisition. Researchers supporting this view also claim that certain other aspects of language-vocabulary, some grammatical features- can be taught at any time. A learner’s success in learning these varational features will depend on factors such as motivation, intelligence and quality of instruction.



Get it right in the end

`Get it right in the end` is similar to the `teach what is teachable` proposal. Its proponents recognize a role for instruction, but also assume that not everything has to be taught. This proposal emphasizes the idea that some aspects of language must be taught. ‘Get it right in the end’ also differs from ‘Just listen’ in that it is assumed that learners will need some guidance in learning some specific features of the target language. It is assumed that what learners learn when they are focusing on language itself can lead to changes in their inter-language systems. The supporters of this proposal will prevent learners from making errors. It is sometimes necessary to draw learners` attention to their errors and to focus on certain linguistic points.
Example:
S1: Make her shoes brown.
T: Wow, her shoes. Are those mom’s shoes or dad’s shoes?
S1: Mom’s.
T: Mom’s. How do you know it is mom’s?
S1: Because it’s her shoes.



I hope that some of you will find this rewarding for your work. If you have some questions and proposals, please feel free to contact me at: radepetricevic@yahoo.com. 
Looking forward to hear from you.
Best regards,
Rade



Monday, 30 September 2013

Stages of child language acquisition

"The process of learning does not require only hearing and applying, but also forgetting and remembering again"
Dear bloggers,

I am here again. This post will be the continuation of the previous one. I will also post about the stages of child language acquisition. I also want to see your comments and your recommendations about this theme.


Stages of child language acquisition

From approximately 0 to 4 months, child sounds are limited to reflexive crying.This is their only way to express their feelings.This is their first production of what scholars call vegetative sounds.By roughly 4 to 6 months of age babies start to make many more sounds.Before speaking words, babies go through a period of babbling, in which they are practicing the sounds, intonations and rhythm of language. By 9 to 12 months the child`s babbling becomes more melodic.Intonation starts to sound more like adult patterns. By 10 to 12 months babies start to distinguish between the phonemes of his or her language and other languages.In this period, they also start to recognize words and even begin to understand their meaning.Children learn to pick out sound patterns that are repeated through normal adult conversation and eventually attach meaning to them.Baby talk or `motherese` is a natural, instinctive way that parents help this process along.By approximately 14 to 20 months of age, children begin with content words(these would include `mama` or `dada`or `book` or `car`).Of course, they usually do not sound like one would expect.`Book` may sound like `boo`.It is common at this stage to leave off consonants or consonant clusters from the beginning or end of a word.At this stage, a single word may represent an entire thought, i.e.`boo` may mean a `read me a book`. Between 18 to 24 months, spoken vocabulary starts to catch up.At this stage children begin to learn words by imitating.


From approximately 2 years of age, children begin to string two content words together to indicate location, i.e.`daddy gone`, possession `doggie mine` or action `mommy juice`. Multi-word sentences begin somewhere between ages 2 and 3.At this point they understand word order and context.Through practice they begin to master the morphology of language and start adding affixes, like `ing`, so `mommy walk` becomes `mommy walking`.




Learning Language


Children do not learn language simply through imitation and practice.Children`s early speech seems best explained in terms of a developing system.Second language learners pass through sequences of development.Many of these sequences are similar to those of children learning their first language.
Children`s earliest language is often called `telegraphic`.At this early age, children leave out many of the small words, like prepositions and articles.A child`s knowledge of the grammatical system is built up in predictable sequnces.Grammatical markers such as –ing of the present progressive or the –ed of the past tense are not acquired at the same time, but in sequence.The acquisition of certain grammatical features follows similar patterns in children in different environments. Child language is not viewed as an incorrect version of the adult system, but as a system in its own right.Not all errors made by second language learners could be explained in terms of first language transfer alone.
Second language learners` errors could be explained better in terms of learners` attempts to discover the structure of the language being learned rather than an attempt to transfer patterns of their first language.Many error types are common to both learners.Both make errors of subject-verb agreement(for example,  `a cowboy go` and `three robbers in mountain sees` by learner 1 and `Santa Clause ride` and `they plays` by learner 2). Such errors are clearly not due to first language interference but rather are `developmental` in nature.These are referred to as development errors which might very well be made by children acquiring English as their first language.


Development sequences

Research on language acquisition has revealed that there are important similarities between first language learners and second language learners.In both first and second language acquisition, there are sequences or `stages` in the development of particular structures.Developmental sequences are similar across learners from different backgrounds: what is learned early by one is learned early by others.Children`s language learning is partly tied to their cognitive development, that is, to their learning about relationships among people, events or objects around them. But among second language learners it is more remarkable that developmental sequences are so similar.Virtually every English sentence has one or more articles (`a` or `the`), but many learners have great difficulty using these forms correctly.Natural second language learners acquire grammatical morphemes in much the same way that first language learners do.
Although a review of all the `morpheme acquisition` studies that the learner`s first language has a more important influence on acquisition orders than some researchers would claim.Second language acquisition has revealed that learners pass through stages of acquisition which are very similar to those of first language learners.Perhaps more remarkable is the consistency in the acquisition of word order in questions.This development is not based on learning new meaning, but rather on learning different linguistic forms.Second language learners learn to form questions in a sequence of development which is similar in most respects to first language question development.Learners who receive grammar-based instruction still pass through the
same development sequences and make the same types of errors as those who acquire language in natural settings.


I hope that some of you will find this rewarding for your work and studies. See you soon with new posts.

Kind regards,

Rade.