Anti-Bullying Week 2014: Teens and cyberbullying

It’s Anti-Bullying Week in the UK from 17-21 November, so lessons at our school this weekend are all aimed at raising awareness of what bullying is, how to prevent it and how to respond. If you’re planning to tackle this topic with your young learners (YLs), then you might be interested materials I’ve made for a class of Elementary level teenagers, aged around 14.

The lesson is inspired by these materials on the British Council Learn English Teens site based on a video project by Digizen.org about cyberbullying. The resources are too high level for my students, so I’ve designed my own activities to go with the video.

cyberbullying screenshot

The idea is to get students to…

-Watch the video and think about how the boy feels and what you would do if you were in his situation.

- Order sentences about the film (from the British Council Learn English website) on the handout that you can download here. (N.B. Only print the first page of the handout for students. The second page is for a matching activity below)

- Match beginnings and endings of sentences, to make advice about staying safe online. The sentences are all adapted from comments below the materials on the British Council Learn English Teens site. If you have access to the internet, you might like to show students some of these comments as people have made really good points in there! The sentences to print and cut up for students to match are on the second page of the download above.

- Discuss which pieces of advice students agree with and how they stay safe online.

- Tell students that Joe (the victim in the video) and Kim (the bully in the video) are ‘coming into class’. Ask students to brainstorm questions they would like to ask them. They can brainstorm in the boxes in the middle of the handout (see above for download). Then listen to the characters’ individual interviews here (for Joe) and here (for Kim) to see if any questions from the class are answered.

- Order the jumbled sentences on the handout and then listen to the individual interviews again and check.

- Watch an individual interview with Rob, another student, and tell students to think about how he feels.

- Complete a role play conversation between Joe, Kim and Rob. Give one group a page with Joe’s words missing and tell them to work together to decide what he would say. Give another group the page with Kim’s words missing, and another group the page with Rob’s words missing. Download the role play here.

- Students practice their role play and then perform it to another group. Tell students to listen and think about how their conversation is different from the other group’s (as each group has a different part missing, a certain percentage will be different).

- If there is time, students can make their own role play by writing their conversation into the box at the bottom of the role play handout.

Due to the time sensitive nature of this lesson, I’m publishing these materials before having used them. So fingers crossed it all works!

 

 

Anti-Bullying Week 2014: Kung Fu Panda

It’s Anti-Bullying Week in the UK from 17-21 November, so lessons at our school this weekend are all aimed at raising awareness of what bullying is, how to prevent it and how to respond. If you’re planning to tackle this topic with your young learners (YLs), then you might be interested in materials I’ve made for a class of low level teenagers, aged 11+ . We’re using a graded reader version of Kung Fu Panda in class this term, and the theme of bullying ties in well using this YouTube clip from the film. Given that your students may not be familiar with the film, you may want to elicit / explain the story and main characters before starting.

Kung Fu Panda screenshot

Then the idea is to get students to…

- Order 12 screenshots before watching the video clip to check the sequence. Download the screenshots here.

- Do a chant with actions with Master Oogway’s words of wisdom from the end of the clip. (I’ve had it translated it into Thai for my students because their level is so low). Master Oogway says:

Yesterday is history

Tomorrow is a mystery

But today is a gift

That is why it is called the present.

- Match sentence beginnings and endings to make full sentences. Then match the sentences to the screenshot pictures. Download the sentences here. (N.B the second page of this document is a brainstorming template for an activity below)

- Display the sentences one at a time, with one word missing from each. Students race in pairs to write down the missing word (on mini-whiteboards if possible) and hold it up in the air. I’m lucky enough to have an IWB to display these on, but download a screenshot of the sentences missing a word here and the answers here.

- If your students are strong enough, you could then hold up one picture and just dictate one word from a sentence. Without looking, students have to try and write the full sentence that matches that picture.

- Do a running dictation using a part of the video clip that starts here. Download the dictation here. (Note: before starting, check the meaning of claws, wing, venom, and quit. Mantis and Shifu are characters in the film. The Dragon Warrior is what Po is training to be.) Then discuss why Po feels this way.

- Discuss why Tigress is not a good friend. Then brainstorm in pairs / groups what makes a good or bad friend. The brainstorming template is on the second page of the sentences download above. Feedback as a whole group.

- Complete a role play conversation between Po, Master Shifu and Tigress. Give one group a page with Po’s words missing and they have to work together to decide what he would say. Give another group the page with Master Shifu’s words missing, and another group the page with Tigress’ words missing. Download the role play here.

- Cut out masks from this online template and stick straws on the bottom so students can hold them up to their face. Then students practice the role play conversation in their group.

- Students perform their role play for another group, using their masks. Tell students to listen and think about how their conversation is different from the other group’s (as each group has a different part missing, a certain percentage will be different).

- If there is time (unlikely in my class!), students can make their own role play by writing their conversation into the box at the bottom of the role play handout.

Due to the time sensitive nature of this lesson, I’m publishing these materials before having used them. So fingers crossed it all works!

Anti-Bullying Week: YL materials

It’s Anti-Bullying Week in the UK from 17-21 November, so lessons at our school this weekend are all aimed at raising awareness of what bullying is, how to prevent it and how to respond. If you’re planning to tackle this topic with your young learners (YLs), then you might be interested in materials I’ve made for my class of 8- to 10-year-olds. The resources are based on a cartoon clip about a child’s first day at a new school. You can access the video clip here.

Bullying

The idea is that students are going to…

- Order nine screenshots before watching the video clip to check the sequence. Download the screenshots here .

- Answer multiple choice questions while watching a second time and then discuss their answers. Download the questions here. (N.B. There is not necessarily a correct answer for the questions. They are designed to encourage students to reflect and discuss their opinions rather than check comprehension).

- Match five adjectives to screenshots where the main character is experiencing different feelings. This is on the second page of the handout above. (N.B. The feelings may not be clear from the screenshots alone. Students need to think about how she is feeling at this point in the clip. The screenshots are designed to simply be representative of that point in the story).

- Continue the story and design a comic book strip about the character’s second day at her new school. I’ve made a template with questions to support students at the note-writing stage. Download the template here. Each stage of notes is colour-coded to match the frame of the comic strip, so students should be able to see how their notes relate to the final product. (N.B. The main bully is the cat in the story. You might need to remind students of this to make sense of the template).

If there’s time, I’d like to finish with these YouTube gems:

- a rap about respecting each other

a funny advert about the importance of teamwork 

Due to the time sensitive nature of this lesson, I’m publishing these materials before having used them. So fingers crossed it all works!

Pushing past the teaching plateau

I just rediscovered an old Prezi I made for a group of Celta trainees to introduce them to the amount of support out here in the blogosphere and on Twitter. It was called ‘Life beyond Celta: where to look for support’ and you can access it here. It was basically what I wish I’d known when I finished my Celta but was in the dark until the lovely @sandymillin did a  similar session on Twitter at my school a few years ago.

Prezi slides

‘Pushing past the intermediate plateau’ was the title of my IATEFL talk last year, and this Prezi could have been called ‘Pushing past the teaching plateau’. Just as language learners can get stuck in a rut, I think we’ve probably all had moments when we’ve felt we’ve hit a wall as teachers. Being inspired by what others are doing via the blogosphere can equip you to climb off that plateau (and perhaps even avoid it all together). So if you’ve got colleagues who feel they’re stuck in a teaching rut, why not run a workshop on what’s out here – and please feel free to use or adapt my Prezi slides.

Job interviews – model answers

Here’s a lesson that my Pre-intermediate students said they found useful to help with job interviews. I wrote example answers to typical job interview questions, and got them to match the questions and answers. The students seemed to really appreciate having some models. It was based on a video from the British Council Learn English site.

Video of example job interview

The video actually comes with a complete lesson plan on the website, but the exercises are too difficult for my Pre-intermediate class. So I used the video, but instead followed my own plan and materials:

  1. Ask students to discuss in pairs: “Can you remember your last job interview? How did you feel? What questions did they ask you in the interview?”
  2. Write students’ examples of interview questions on the board. Students then watch the video to check if any of their questions (on the board) are used in the video.
  3. Then give students the transcript to look for any questions in the video which didn’t match their ideas.
  4. Give students the list of questions used in the video (first page of handout below). Ask them to brainstorm possible answers to the questions.
  5. Give students the list of example answers (pages 2-4 of handout below), and tell them to match the answers to the questions.
  6. Check the answers and go over any of the trickier language. The order should be: 7, 3, 5, 9, 1, 6, 8, 2, 4.
  7. Students go back to their own answers to the questions (in step 4), and revise their ideas based on any language they want to use from the examples.
  8. Students role-play a job interview.

Handout:

job interviews

Lessons from Failure – an #ELTchat Blog Challenge

Lessons from Failure – an #ELTchat Blog Challenge

For the past year and a half I’ve been guilty of teaching something in a way that:

  •  isn’t based on any needs analysis and fails to take into account of my students’ local context
  •  isn’t based on any kind of systematic approach and unquestioningly follows the coursebook
  • does not acknowledge what the students are already able to do
  • disregards the students as individuals, each with their own identity
  • is potentially unachievable, no matter how much they study it
  • has the potential to raise students’ affective filters
  • may be completely unnecessary for the students to be understood …
  • … and potentially even damages their intelligibility!

You must surely agree that this qualifies as a failure, and so merits a place in the ELTchat blog challenge (inspired by IATEFL’s Failure Fest)? Yet if I had simply told you that my claim to failure was about pronunciation, I fear it may have been dismissed with reassurances such as “don’t worry, lots of teachers find pronunciation tricky”…

Yes, BUT… for the past year and a half I’ve been living in Dubai where English is the lingua franca (ELF). Nearly all my students are learning English so they can better communicate in a context where they mostly converse with other non-native speakers. There are thought to be around 150 different nationalities living in this melting pot of a city, where the local Emiratis only make up about 20% of the population. While needs analysis plays such an important role in informing all other syllabus choices, it had never crossed my mind to consider the role of ELF in my students’ lives when it comes to selecting pronunciation priorities. That seems like a major failure to my mind.

Pic courtesy of ELTpics by @sandymillin

Pic courtesy of ELTpics by @sandymillin

My eyes were opened to how badly I’ve been failing my students when I discovered Robin Walker’s book ‘Teaching the pronunciation of English as a lingua franca’, when Robin spoke at the IATEFL Pronunciation SIG day, which was all about ELF this year. It was the first I’d ever heard of Jennifer Jenkins’ Lingua Franca Core (LFC), which is a suggested list of pronunciation priorities for students in ELF contexts – like mine.

What is the Lingua Franca Core (LFC)?

There are four areas that the LFC focuses on, which are thought to be essential for students to get right if they are to remain intelligible. These are:

1)    Most consonant sounds

2)    Appropriate consonant cluster simplification

3)    Vowel length distinctions

4)    Nuclear stress

(Jenkins, 2000:132)

‘Appropriate consonant cluster simplification’ means that inserting a vowel between two consonants is preferable to deleting one of the consonants in the cluster, as the latter is more likely to impede intelligibility.

The things that we normally teach as part of a traditional syllabus (myself included – despite living in an ELF context), but which are NOT included in the LFC because they have no impact on ELF intelligibility are:

-       / ð / as in the ‘th’ in mother, / θ / as in the ‘th’ in ‘thumb’, and dark ‘l’

-       exact vowel quality (as opposed to vowel length, which is a core item)

-       pitch movement (tone)

-       word stress (although critics have queried this omission, given that nuclear stress is included in the LFC)

-       stress-timing

 (adapted from Walker, 2010:38)

Pronunciation features that we normally teach but which are not included in the LFC because they actually have a negative impact on ELF intelligibility are:

-       vowel reduction, schwa and weak forms

-       certain features of connected speech – linking, assimilation, coalescence

(adapted from Walker, 2010: 38)

It’s not to say that these non-core items are not worth teaching with the students’ listening skills in mind. Receptively, it may be useful for students to be aware of things like features of connected speech. But it makes me cringe to think that I’ve wasted time drilling these things to get students to produce them, when it might only serve to make them less intellgible in their day-to-day lives!

Teaching implications

It’s hard to explain what a life-changing lightbulb moment it was for me to learn about the LFC – it’s no exaggeration! I’ve never felt more passionate or evangelical about anything I’ve learnt so far in teaching. I was so inspired that I scrapped the work I’d done on my Masters dissertation up to that point, and changed my topic to research ELF pronunciation.

It’s already started influencing my choices in the classroom, for example by working more on accommodation when it comes to listening (Robin’s book comes with a great CD of recordings of different accents), and in a recent Business Communication course I ran, I only had time to focus on one pronunciation point, so I chose nuclear stress, based on the students’ needs and the fact that this is such an important priority in the LFC. Previously in multi-lingual classes, I never really knew where to start. It felt fantastic on that business course to actually be making an informed choice, based on empirical data, rather than some kind of native speaker intuition.

Once I’ve finished my dissertation, the next step is to start implementing an ELF approach in a much more structured way, and to get down to some serious classroom research. The reason I feel so strongly about this is because my fundamental teaching belief is that the students’ needs should be at the heart of everything we do. My failure to consider the needs of students living in an ELF context, and the implications of this for pronunciation teaching, therefore earns this the accolade of my biggest failure to date. I’m sure there will be plenty more to come as I continue to question my own practices, and gain the experience to be more critical. In the meantime, I’m going to set about spreading the word (read: annoy my colleagues) with my newfound enthusiasm for ELF pronunciation! Apologies in advance!

References: 

Jenkins, J: The Phonology of English as an International Language (OUP: 2000)

Walker,R: Teaching the Pronunciation of English as a Lingua Franca (OUP: 2010)

 

 

The Power of Questions – #ELTchat summary

This is a summary of an #ELTchat discussion which took place on 15th May 2013.

The inspiration for this chat came from an IATEFL workshop called ‘The Power of Questions’ by Margit Szesztay who spoke about the types of questions teachers ask in class, and the effect these have on our learners. The idea was to watch this online before taking part in the discussion.

Pic courtesy of ELTpics by @ij64

Pic courtesy of ELTpics by @ij64

What did we learn from watching the workshop?

We can group questions into three categories: questions teachers ask themselves, questions they ask their students, and questions that students ask each other.

Margit suggested ‘tweaking’ normal questions by changing perspectives. For example, asking ‘why did this picture choose you’, rather than ‘why did you choose this picture’? More practical questions included asking if students want to listen to a recording again. She also encouraged us to get students the questions, rather than it always being teachers doing the asking. Of course, she also talked about the power of questions in reflecting on our own teaching, for example asking ‘how can I make my classroom more democratic’?

@theteacherjames said the workshop made him realise he’s always asking questions but probably not enough variety. So we started talking about different types of questions, moving beyond just the scope of the IATEFL workshop.

Questions that teachers ask students

- elicitation

- checking (CCQs and ICQs)

- stimulating/provoking

- philosophical questions that you can never truly answer (suggested by @sandymillin who said her students are currently hung up on the chicken and egg issue!)

- questions which stimulate students to pursue further knowledge

- questions that show interest in students as people, and create rapport

@hartle pointed out that it’s difficult to understand what’s going on in students’ heads if we don’t ask them how they feel, and @sandymillin suggested that one of our questions should always be: ‘how would I feel in your place?’

Frameworks for types of questions

@ Marisa_C said Francoise Grellet has a great typology of questions for reading in her book. One type of question is what Grellet calls a supposition question, an example of which could be to ask students what they would have done in the shoes of the main character in a story.

@hartle said Bloom’s taxonomy provides a useful model, and @jankenb2 provided a link @Marisa_C explained that Bloom indicates cognitive engagement, and so matches question types to levels of complexity, from higher to lower thinking. @hartle said it can be used to ensure a balance of questions, so not just lower order questions but moving up the scale.

@jankenb2 raised the point that using complex questions may limit the number of questions you focus on during class, but that is ok.

 More complex questions

@Marisa_C highlighted research about the connection between the types of questions and the size of responses. For example, closed – convergent thinking questions lead to shorter student responses. She shared a link to this type of research.

@jankenb2 said the paper shows that teachers tend to over-estimate the number of complex questions they ask. @jankenb2 pointed to research showing that many teachers do not even accurately identify complex questions.

@hartle identified that one of the problems with trainee teachers is that they ask too many display questions, rather than real communication questions. @hartle shared a link to an example of exam preparation questions that go beyond display.

@Marisa_C suggested recording yourself, and each time you ask a question make a note of what type of question it was, to generate a profile of yourself as a teacher.

What about students asking the questions?

@Marisa_C pointed out that where a lot of materials are lacking is that it’s usually the teacher who is asking the questions. Students don’t get to ask enough questions. There were some great suggestions of activities that get students asking questions:

-       ‘Questions Please’ game with the teacher only allowed yes/no answers for students to guess something like a story or text (@Marisa_C)

-       Getting students to remember questions they had before they arrived in their new school / new country and then answer their own questions by making a video (@sandymillin)

-       Exploratory practice with students choosing questions about the learning process such as ‘why is spelling difficult?’ and then researching it and giving a poster presentation to the class (particularly for EAP). Inspired by an IATEFL talk (@KatySDavies)

-       ‘Question Tree’ game. Pen one general question and then drill down with specific questions only. Teams create a concept map using questions instead of facts, for example ‘what is weather? What are seasons? What is winter? (@jankenb2)

-       Personal mindmaps for students to ask each other questions about their research questions (@MarjorieRosenbe)

-       Challenge students to reveal bias by asking them to generate a counter question for every question the teacher poses on a discussion topic. (@jankenb2)

-       Flipping the tables on the students may generate more questions e.g each group bring a text and test the teacher (@Marisa_C)

-       If you get students to write questions on small squares of paper before discussions, it gives them processing time, time to check grammar, and means everyone should have something to ask (@sandymillin)

-       Materials from @englishraven to get students to ask questions (@sandymillin)

Wait time

The problem…

Everyone felt that a big problem with using questions is teachers not waiting long enough for students to answer before jumping in. @shaznosel said we sometimes don’t acknowledge our students need time to think and then use the L2 to express themselves. Wait time needs to allow two-step processing of translating target language to L1 and then processing the concept, according to @jankenb2, and @ aphi_cao pointed out that timing is particularly important in multi-lingual classes to avoid quieter groups being drowned out. @theteacherjames said teachers are often scared of silence.

Solutions?

Count 1000,2000,3000 like a parachute jumper before intervening (@sandymillin remembering tip from @AnthonyGaughan)

Record yourself and time the wait time between a question and a student answer (@Marisa_C)

Think how long it would take you to answer the question yourself in a foreign language that you know (@shaznosel)

Teachers also often rely on one type of question and overuse one form. The trick is to plan out questions as part of an overall strategy (@jankenb2)

I suggested trying the Silent Way approach, which I did for my Delta experimental practice, as it taught me a lot about the benefit of silence.

@shaznosel said there’s less silence in YL classes because they’re less scared of taking risks. To reduce fear of taking risks, @Marisa_C said she often suggests the pair and share idea to her trainees – ask a question, let students discuss answer in pairs and then discuss publicly.

@sandymillin shared two links: a post by @yearinthelifeof (which isn’t strictly about questions but could be), and part of a six-week self-reflection from @geml1 which incorporated one week about questions and wait time

@theteacherjames concluded that he sometimes wonders if the job is really just about asking the right questions at the right times!

Links from the chat

British Council article about questions (shared by @hartle)

A study on teachers’ questions evaluated according to Bloom’s taxonomy  (shared by @Marisa_C)

Research on how teachers use questions (@Marisa_C)

@englishraven materials to get students to ask questions http://t.co/IWpktfSFn7 (shared by @sandymillin)

@hartle ‘s link to an example for exam preparation with questions that go beyond display.

Francoise Grellet’s typology of questions for reading in her book (@Marisa_C)

Bloom’s taxonomy link (@jankenb2)

a post by @yearinthelifeof (which isn’t strictly about questions but could be)

a six-week self-reflection from @geml1 which incorporated one week about questions and wait time

The IATEFL workshop that inspired the #ELTchat discussion called ‘The Power of Questions’ by Margit Szesztay