Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
– Oscar Wilde
In Pursuit of Alternatives in ELT Methodology: WebQuests
Although the Internet has opened up a vast new source of information for university students to use and explore, many students lack the skills to find, critically evaluate and intelligently exploit web-based resources. This problem is accentuated in English-medium universities where students learn and use English as a foreign language.
In these cases, the task of finding and extracting relevant and useful information is daunting for students. Also, they spend too much time looking for information and become demotivated or end up copying and pasting without enough time to think critically about the issues. In response to the challenges faced by students in effectively exploiting web-based resources, the School of Foreign Languages, Eastern Mediterranean University, has recently begun using a new approach developed in the late nineties in America known as WebQuests.
The Modern Languages Division of the SFL provides service English courses for students studying in various departments, and one of its aims is to link English language with concepts used in the departments by benefiting from the resources on the Internet. The underlying principles inherent in the design and implementation of WebQuests provide a reason and motivation for students to use and produce English with real tasks relevant to their departments while exploiting the richness of the Internet.
It can be further surmised that the use of WebQuests has broader implications in helping students develop better digital literacy, even when English is not their native language. This study introduces the idea of WebQuests and the adaptation of this approach using sample tasks which were developed and piloted at the Modern Languages Division, SFL, EMU. In this article the details in the preparation, design, implementation of WebQuests and the results obtained from teacher and student questionnaires are presented.
(The following are appended:
(1) Teacher Notes for WebQuest 1;
(2) Teacher Notes for WebQuest2;
(3) Summary of Questionnaire Results; and (4) Summary of Written Comments. Contains 2 footnotes.)
To access the full paper, please visit: http://www.eric.ed.gov
*** English lessons for primary school teachers on cards ***
Gandhinagar: The Gujarat government is planning a major campaign to improve the quality of education in primary and middle schools of the state, with special focus on improving teaching in mathematics, science and English. Sources in the government said that one aim of the drive will be to improve teachers’ proficiency in English so that they can teach the language well to students.
An announcement about the campaign (likely to be called ‘Gunotsav’) is expected soon after the Lok Sabha elections are over and it will be formally launched around Diwali this year.
Read the complete news item here: http://www.dnaindia.com
***Essay: Giving English language learners the classroom support they need***
In the 1990s, I was a science teacher at Central East Middle School, now the Feltonville School of Arts & Science. I usually taught five sections of students – more than 150 young adults per week. My classes were built around weekly lab experiments, and I worked hard to make concepts about science concrete through these hands-on and minds-on activities.
On any given Saturday, I could be found with other teachers taking classes or workshops in search of ways to improve my teaching. But I never took a class to help me teach students for whom English was a second language, even though half my students came from homes where English was not spoken by all the adults.
Read the complete news item here: http://www.thenotebook.org
***Schools face teacher shortage, language barriers with computer program***
The sound of little voices broke the silence in the classroom.
“Los niÃ±os escriben,” said the voice in the headphones
“Los niÃ±os escriben,” repeated 7-year-old Alanna Lewis.
For about 300 kindergarten and first grade students at Sam Houston Elementary School in Port Arthur, there’s a new language teacher in town. And it’s not a certified educator.
The Port Arthur school district recently purchased the Rosetta Stone language -learning program to use at three of their campuses, Dowling and Houston elementary schools and Woodrow Wilson Technology Theme School.
The software, which uses pictures, sound and feedback to offer students a self-paced learning program, allows the district to expand its language instruction even when it does not have the teaching staff to do so, said Morcease Beasley, Port Arthur’s deputy superintendent for curriculum, instruction and school leadership.
Read the complete news item here: http://www.beaumontenterprise.com
***English hurts Arabic schools warn***
DUBAI // A state school programme that uses English to teach maths and science is threatening to undermine pupils’ Arabic skills, school principals have warned.
One said the Arabic vocabulary of younger children is so poor, some cannot name their body parts.
Principals from the Madares Al Ghad (Schools of Tomorrow) programme, commonly known as MAG, took their concerns to the Federal National Council (FNC) yesterday. They want the Ministry of Education to take action.
The MAG programme was introduced into 50 schools in the UAE in autumn 2007 by the ministries of Education and of Higher Education and Scientific Research as a pilot programme. One of the main goals is to create bilingual graduates by teaching maths and science in English, as well as the English language.
Read the complete news item here: http://www.thenational.ae
***Teaching: No ‘Fallback’ Career***
As private sector professionals lose their jobs or suffer cutbacks in pay and benefits, more and more of them are thinking about second careers. Public service is suddenly popular with all generations. Teaching may not pay a lot, but it comes with relatively good benefits and, in public schools, job security in the form of tenure after three years.
Read the complete news item here: http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com
***Teaching assistants and English skills***
In response to the editorial of April 13, we agree that teaching assistants need to communicate well in English in order to teach effectively. That’s why the University of Minnesota sponsors a program of assessment for prospective international teaching assistants and sets a higher spoken language score than many of our peer institutions. It’s also why we offer two-credit classroom communication courses for students with lower scores.
These teaching and communication courses address the practicalities of pronunciation, word stress, clarity, fluency and the rhythm and intonation of U.S. English. The courses engage TAs in practice teaching and discussions of cultural topics. Does this training result in “perfect” English? No. Our goal is that international TAs develops the skills required for clearly organized, fluent and comprehensible communication.
Read the complete news item here: http://www.mndaily.com
***Creating an English Language Teaching Hub, Philippines ESL Journal & Asian EFL Journal, Philippines, August 7-8***
The First TESOL Philippines International EFL ESL Conferencewill be held at the Crown Regency Hotel, Cebu, Philippines, from August 7th-8th 2009.
The aim of this conference is to bring together EFL practitioners across Asia to exchange views on a wide range of issues in EFL ESL practice and research. Through this exchange, it is hoped that participants will gain better insights into the world of EFL ESL and the challenges it faces. TESOL Philippines and Asian EFL Journal are proud to co-host this inaugural special event .
Keynote speakers will include:-
Proposals (up to 250 words) for 30 minute presentations should be related to research and practice into EFL ESL teaching and the teaching of ESL EFL in Asian contexts or with Asian students. Papers are invited:-
Suggested topics are but not limited to:-
Abstracts in English should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org byJune 30th, 2009 and should include the following information:
Notification of acceptance will be given by July 4th, 2009
A Conference Proceedings edition will be published in 2009 and for this purpose full papers should be submitted by October 2009 to
Enquiries concerning the conference should be directed email@example.com
***ELT in India Today and Tomorrow, Udaipur, India, November 5-6-7***
The First International EFL ESL Conference will be held at in Udaipur in November 2009.
The aim of this conference is to bring together EFL practitioners from across the Globe to exchange views on a wide range of issues in ELT EFL ESL practice and research. Through this exchange, it is hoped that participants will gain better insights into the world of ELT EFL ESL and the challenges it faces. The Department of English, Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University, Udaipur is the primary host. The Rajasthan Association of English Studies, India TESOL and Asian EFL Journal are proud to co-host this inaugural special event .
Keynote speakers will include:-
Over 90 other presenters will present papers and workshops
Proposals (up to 350 words) for 30 minute presentations should be related to research and practice into EFL ESL teaching and the teaching of ESL EFL in Asian contexts or with Asian students. Papers are invited:-
Suggested topics are but not limited to:-
Abstracts in English should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31st September 2009 and should include the following information:
Notification of acceptance will be given from August 31st onwards until all speakers positions (110) are filled.
A Conference Proceedings edition will be published in early 2010 and for this purpose full papers should be submitted by October 30th 2009 to
Enquiries concerning the conference should be directed to Dr. Robertson email@example.com
For further details and pre-registration, please visit: http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/Call-for-Papers-India-2009.php
The first Latin American English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Colloquium, held in Sao Paulo (Brazil) in 1988, aimed at providing a forum for sharing teaching experience and research results in the fields of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and/or English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at secondary and university levels.
Since then, similar colloquia have taken place in other Latin American countries, such as Chile (Santiago: 1990), Mexico (Mexico DF: 1992, 2004), Brazil again (Natal: 1994), Venezuela (Mérida: 1996), Colombia (Barranquilla: 2000) and Argentina (Catamarca in 1998, Salta en 2003, and Río Cuarto in 2007). It is thus the second time it will be held at the University of the Andes (Mérida, Venezuela).
For the first time, though, this Colloquium is also called “1st Latin American Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) Colloquium” so as to represent and honor other languages taught for specific and/or academic purposes, such as Spanish, French, German, Italian, etc. We therefore encourage teachers/researchers to submit proposals dealing with research conducted not only on English for specific purposes but also on other languages for specific purposes, both in oral and written contexts.
***2009 ACTFL ANNUAL CONVENTION AND WORLD LANGUAGES EXPO, San Diego, California, November 20-22***
Submission Deadline: January 9th
Theme: Speaking Up for Languages… The Power of Many Voices
The Annual Convention and World Languages Expo of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) will be held Friday, November 20 through Sunday, November 22, 2009 in San Diego, CA with Pre-Convention Workshops scheduled on Thursday, November 19. The ACTFL Convention features over 500 educational sessions and events covering the whole spectrum of the foreign language profession. The entire selection of sessions is designed to provide attendees with an exciting array of sessions and events to further their knowledge and help them be better teachers or administrators. We welcome you to submit a proposal for consideration. When you login, please read carefully the Submission Guidelines before proceeding to complete your online submission.
The convention draws approximately 6,000 attendees and is the only national event bringing together all languages, levels and assignments within the profession. Please note: Presenters whose proposals are selected for presentation MUST be available to present any day during the Convention.
For further details and pre-registration, please visit: http://convention3.allacademic.com
This video features Straightforward author Lindsay Clandfield giving a workshop at the IATEFL Conference (2007) on tips for presenting grammar in EFL classes.
The Creative Classroom: Teacher Resource Material
By Hall Houston
The Creative Classroom introduces language teachers, substitutes and teachers-to-be with brand new ways to design their teaching plans. The Creative Classroom introduces 84 well thought out in-class activities to enlighten and enrich any existing curriculum. The Creative Classroom helps students generate more ideas for speaking and writing, to solve problems more effectively, and to complete projects with greater enthusiasm. These 84 flexible (from 5 minutes to an hour), generic (from beginner to advanced), and easy-to-follow activities serve as a handy encyclopedia to fill any unexpected classroom gaps with fun and creativity. The Creative Classroom inspires teachers to go to the next level, to improvise, and to create their own new set of teaching techniques.
Textbook ISBN: 978-1-894929-12-7
Textbook price: $33.95 USD
“The Creative Classroom: Teaching Language Outside the Box, by Hall Houston, contains dozens of bite-sized exercises to spark authentic language and creative discourse, This slim book, published by Lynx, should especially appeal to ESL students with a background or interest in engineering, science, and the arts.”
Eric Roth, Compelling Conversations
“[Plenty] of suggestions for finding new ideas…useful as a tool to help teachers explore their work… beneficial for teachers of students who enjoy problem-solving, especially a conversation class.”
Simon Mumford, English Teaching Professional
“This book is for anyone looking for something different to do in class, for teachers who want to be more creative and stimulate more language, anyone interested in creativity, or anyone in need of some material to fill up the first or last ten minutes of class. In short, it is a great collection of useable and user friendly activities… I recommend this book to any teacher in any teaching context – particularly those of you who wish to extend your own thinking and that of your learners.”
Kaithe Greene, TEFL.NET
A Creative Approach to Lesson Planning
by Hall Houston
Lesson planning is an essential part of any teacher’s work. The act of planning out a lesson helps teachers to clarify the steps of the lesson and see how they fit together. As Jim Scrivener states in his book Learning Teaching, “Planning is imagining the lesson before it happens. It involves prediction, anticipation, sequencing, organizing and simplifying.”
This article is not going to explain the best way to plan a lesson or give some sample forms for teachers to fill out. What I want to share here are some techniques borrowed from the world of creativity training that can add some surprises, twists, and sparks of life to lesson planning, not to mention your lessons. The point of giving a creative emphasis in lesson planning is to encourage teachers to look at their lesson plans from several perspectives, and consider changes that might produce a more enjoyable lesson. For more creative techniques that can be used in class, I refer you to my book, The Creative Classroom, published by Lynx Publishing (www.lynxpublishing.com).
The following are a few suggestions for creative lesson planning.
SAM HARRISON’S FIVE STEPS
In his amazing book, zing!, Sam Harrison explains that there are five steps of the creative process. The first step, Explore, is where you spend time getting some inspiration from books, articles, websites, or just taking a walk down the street. The second step, Freedom, is the brainstorming stage, where you start work on your project. The third step, Pause, gives you an opportunity to step away from your work, take a nap or run some errands. The fourth step, Embrace, is where you return to your work in progress and do some serious editing. The fifth step, Life, is where you present your completed project to the world.
I think these five steps can provide a useful model for planning lessons. Take a look at the notes below for suggestions on how you can follow Sam Harrison’s five steps.
Explore – Think of some resource books or websites to consult for new ideas. Talk to some of your colleagues about what they’re doing in class.
Freedom – Find a comfortable, quiet spot to brainstorm your lesson plan.
Pause – Plan an ideal getaway, somewhere you can completely detach from thinking about the lesson plan.
Embrace – Look for a few ways to improve your lesson plan. Ask colleagues for their opinions.
Life – Consider how you can capture your students’ attention at the start of class. Find ways to motivate sudents to participate in the lesson.
Force-fitting is another way to inspire creativity. Here you take something at random, and try to apply it something completely unrelated. Do one of the following and think about how the answers could suggest something for your next lesson:
Look around you, and write down the first 5 things you see.
Walk into a store you’ve never been into before, and make a note of the first 5 things you encounter.
Grab the nearest book, open to a random page, and write down the first word you see on that page. Try again with other books, until you have 5 words.
With your items, think about each one carefully, and try to come up with several answers. An object, such as a clock, might be useful in an activity, or it might hint that you need to develop better time management strategies. A word, such as “red”, could suggest that you wear red to the next class, or alternatively, give you an idea for a warm-up exercise where students talk about the meanings of colors in different cultures.
Scamper is a famous creativity exercise created by Bob Eberle. It is a checklist of questions that allow you to generate innovative ideas. There are 7 questions, each one that is summarized by a word that starts with one letter of the word “SCAMPER”.
Here is the list:
S = Substitute – What can I substitute here?
C = Combine – How can I combine something with something else?
A = Adapt – What can I adapt from another source?
M = Magnify – What can I magnify here?
P = Put to other uses – What can I put to other uses?
E = Eliminate – What can I eliminate here?
R = Rearrange, reverse – What can I reorder or reverse here?
While these questions can be applied to any situation where you need to be creative, here we will consider some ways to apply them to lesson planning.
Substitute – Consider substituting parts of your lessons with other things. For example, take the listening exercise in your coursebook, and use another activity instead.
Combine – Mix two types of activities together (for example, a Find Someone Who activity with a dictation, or a role play with a competitive game).
Adapt – Explore other areas. Teach material from another subject area, or teach things that are practical (writing resumes, communication skills).
Magnify – Conjure up ways to extend activities. You might want to focus on one skill or one type of activity for a longer period of the lesson.
Put to other uses – You can use a short text from the coursebook as a dictation, a vocabulary exercise, a translation practice, or even a memory game.
Eliminate – Find the weakest link. Which part of the lesson could be discarded?
Rearrange – Try putting things in a different order. If your lesson always follows a predictable structure, you can mix things up and see how your students react.
Now take this list and work through each question with your lesson plan. Take notes of any interesting discoveries.
MAKING SIMILES AND METAPHORS
When you’ve finished a lesson plan, ask yourself
“In what ways is my lesson like _____________________?”
For example, I might think “In what ways is my lesson like a variety show?”
Some answers off the top of my head — My lesson is like a variety show…
because it’s entertaining
because it’s most attractive feature is the variety contained
because it contains a lot of short segments
because I always feel like I’m putting on a show
As I form these metaphors, I speculate on how they might suggest some changes or improvements, as well as think about how they might reflect my own teaching philosophy.
Now it’s your turn. Choose one of the metaphors below (or make your own), and give it 3 or 4 answers. When you’ve finished, see what they have to say about your lesson plan and your teaching.
In what ways is my lesson like…
a game of Kabaddi?
a Aishwarya Rai film?
Write your answers down. Now spend a few minutes to unravel the meanings of these metaphors.
Many people consider lesson planning to be a tedious process. I hope this article has convinced you that it doesn’t have to be. Apply some creative techniques to your lessons and your students benefit from your efforts.
Further Reading on Lesson Planning and Creativity
Planning Lessons – Jim Scrivener (Onestopenglish)
Planning – Callum Robertson (Teaching English)
Idea Generation Methods – Jack Martin Leith
Creativity Web – Charles Cave
Zing Zone – Sam Harrison
Hall Houston has taught at universities in Taiwan and Hong Kong for over a decade. His first book, The Creative Classroom, was published in 2007 by Lynx Publishing (www.lynxpublishing.com). He is currently working on his second book. His professional interests include cross-cultural communication, discourse analysis, creativity and critical thinking. E-mail: hallhouston AT yahoo.com.
*** English-4kids.com ***
This website offers vital ESL/EFL kids lesson materials. Lots of free stuff for young learners.We also offer you all the tools you need for your EFL/ESL kids lesson plans.Were you wondering where to get some ideas for games in your kids class? Check out the games and tips section. Teachers and Parents can use our kids lab videos to help their kids study by themselves or with minimal guidance. Before I forget to mention, this site is FREE for educators, No Logins, Membership and other time-wasters.
Are you running out of ideas on how to teach your children? Are you tired of using mainstream games and activities like hangman? Then visit our games section. Here we have games that really work. Games that were created and tested in the classroom and have been known to be effective classroom tools for any teacher-new or old.
Explore English-4kids.com at http://english-4kids.com
*** Englishbaby.com ***
Learn English free with EBaby’s online English lessons. Their ESL lessons help kids study English slang, basic English, business English and have streaming audio to listen to natural conversations.
There are many ways to use Ebaby! Make sure to catch the Lesson of the Day for the latest cool English lesson. Search our English lessons to find thousands of other lessons on hundreds of topics, and have fun with our Vocab Quiz to study our database of over 15,000 vocabulary words.
Explore Englishbaby.com at http://www.englishbaby.com
*** TheEnglishe.com ***
the English provides practical, ready to use resources for the language classroom. All their materials are fully photocopiable. Simply PRINT, COPY and TEACH.
Products available from the English include –