English Teaching Forum now features articles from six different categories: Articles, Teaching Techniques, My Classroom, Try This, The Lighter Side, and a Reader's Guide.
In Swiss schools, English language textbooks for eight- to thirteen-year-old children contain many arts-and-crafts and science-experiment lessons with a focus on following simple instructions.
The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” indicates that a complex idea can be communicated by a single image.
With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Mr. Negeri is familiar with the subject, using his knowledge to share with students the importance of acquiring this global language.
How Many Words is a Picture Worth
The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” indicates that a complex idea can be communicated by a single image. We might spend an hour reading an article about the devastating effects an oil spill has on wildlife ecology. But a photograph of an oil-drenched pelican gasping for air evokes in us an instant emotional response. While both the article and the photograph communicate the magnitude of the damage that oil spills can cause, the power of an image allows us to grasp this message within nanoseconds.
Indeed, cognitive research has shown that the human brain processes images quicker than it processes words, and images are more likely than text to remain in our long-term memory (Levie and Lentz 1982). With the expansion of technology that allows people from all walks of life to create and share photographs with a few clicks, our world seems to value visual media more than ever before.
Encouraging Learners to Create Language-Learning Materials
Student-produced materials are a powerful tool for promoting learner autonomy. They challenge the traditional paradigm of education because the very concept of learner-produced materials is based on trust in the student-centered learning process; when developing materials, learners do not rely on the teacher to make every decision.
Although material-development tasks are typically initiated and guided by the instructor, students are eventually left alone to create and shape their own learning. They brainstorm, plan, and make decisions as well as assess and improve their work. In short, they use their English and critical-thinking skills. The nature of English also changes in such a context: it is not only a language to be learned but also a means of communication to complete a complex task.
Listening Cloze Meets Info-Gap: A Hybrid Activity to Exploit Listening Materials
In twenty-first-century language teaching, the class should be student-centered and provide learners with skills that empower them in real-life situations. In this regard, it is commonly said that practice makes perfect. It therefore makes sense to ask ourselves how much our listening activities demand from students and to evaluate whether we are getting full benefit from the listening materials we use.
For example, a teacher distributes a handout to the students and tells them that they will listen to a recording several times and write some information on the handout. Afterwards, the teacher checks the students’ work, and that might be the end of the activity. Could more have been done? The students’ role in activities like this one is rather passive, not to mention that limited integration of skills takes place. Finding good listening materials and designing handouts can be time-consuming, and I believe these efforts could be exploited more than they typically are.
Teaching Techniques: Using “Storybird” in Young Learners’ Creative Writing Class
Major changes in technology have had an influence on education. Teachers cannot neglect the impact of new technologies and fail to incorporate them in their teaching practice because that would not cater to many students’ needs. Ignoring technological advances would also entail not benefiting from an array of online teaching resources and academic material. The question that arises then is: why not make use of the tools at our fingertips?
I reflected upon my own teaching practice and decided it was time I tried something innovative in my classes. I have been exploring different online tools and have chosen Storybird as part of the new media to exploit in creative writing lessons. In this article, I will share the experience of using this website (www.storybird.com) in the classes I teach and describe the effect it had on learners’ writing process.
Teaching Techniques: Running for Your Words!
In Swiss schools, English language textbooks for eight- to thirteen-year-old children contain many arts-and-crafts and science-experiment lessons with a focus on following simple instructions. An example of one is making an origami frog (First Choice–Animals activity book).
Teaching Techniques: Beat the Clock
The lack of oral language in the classroom, combined with our students’ lack of confidence speaking with native English speakers, encouraged us to develop a simple technique to increase speaking in the classroom. This original technique, “Beat the Clock,” encourages students to speak in English and increase their oral proficiency at the same time.
Dawit Negeri has been teaching in the English Department at Ambo University for the past five years. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Mr. Negeri is familiar with the subject, using his knowledge to share with students the importance of acquiring this global language.
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