In a previous post I spoke about the importance of Positive Reinforcement in the language classroom. It’s important that teachers show learners what language they are using correctly and praise them for it.
My justification for this is because we as teachers know what language is correct and incorrect, but that doesn’t mean learners know. In fact, as long as they have executed a successful communicative act, then they have achieved the desired goal: they’ve communicated a message.
Language is a wide topic and showing examples of good language use could range from grammar through lexis to pronunciation. Today, I’d like to focus only on vocabulary. Continue reading
Learning a foreign involves a lot: new vocabulary to learn, grammar to acquire and sounds to master. It isn’t a challenge for the light-hearted! This couldn’t be truer for English Language Learners. Not only do they have to deal with the Language Learning Process, as for any other language, but they also have to manage a language which differs greatly between its written and spoken forms.
As languages go, English is definitely not a phonetically written language. Other languages, such as Polish or German, largely spell the language as it sounds. Of course, there are sounds and special clusters of letters you have to learn, but they generally don’t change: you could say there are hard and fast spelling rules in those languages.
When it comes to English, however, there aren’t many hard and fast rules. Rough, through and though all contain the same -ough cluster, yet it is pronounced completely differently in each one.
This, of course, has a big effect on Listening Skills. Many courses, teachers and schools teach the language from the written word. Think of all the notes you get your learners to make in a single lesson – even in the very first lesson!
Listening is an important skill that needs to be practised not only regularly but authentically. So what can English Language Learners to work on their Listening Skills, even the beginners? Continue reading to find out more… Continue reading
Young Learner courses are most often associated with fun and games. What about the more serious stuff? How do we bring in the ‘boring bits’ without killing the life and soul of the lesson? Spelling is a topic which definitely falls under the ‘more serious’ department. However, it does not have to be all bore – there is a way to get fun and games out of spelling.
Given the nature of children, it is inevitable that Young Learner classes contain some element of fun – most usually a game of some sort. Lessons with my younger learners (under the age of 12) always contain games. In fact, lessons are structured around revision + game and new input + game. Due to the consistent presence of games as well as to avoid regrouping the learners every lesson to create an atmosphere of comradeship and team spirit, the learners belong to a permanent group: The Koalas, The Tigers, The Pandas. Throughout everything they do in class, regardless of who they are working with, they represent their group: if they misbehave, their group loses points, if they score in a game then the whole group is rewarded with points.
Teacher Training programmes, development courses and INSETT sessions very often try to push teachers into going that one step further in presenting grammar: guide the learners into discovering the rules, set up tasks which demand the use of the target language, let the need for a particular aspect of grammar arise naturally during a lesson.
Vocabulary, on the other hand, seems to take the back seat in the ferocious drive to being the best. An argument for that might be the notion of grammar being more important, as it is the bare bones of language, the structure upon which words are placed. However, research carried out by the likes of Halliday with his work on functional grammar has shown that vocabulary plays a much more significant role in the structural theory of language than ever before thought. There is also the argument of logical reasoning: words carry meaning – admittedly grammar does as well – without words and only grammar, no message could be communicated.
With the importance of vocabulary established, why does it remain on the back-burners of ELT methodology? Where is the demand high movement in vocabulary teaching?