Articles
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Applied Theatre, Adolescent English Learners and the Performance of Literacy

Youth in middle and secondary grades, between childhood and the adult world, sometimes struggle with their identities as readers and learners. Too many describe themselves or are described by their teachers and parents as “reluctant, disengaged, and/or unmotivated” by classroom texts or by the rows of books in school libraries.

Even though blockbuster series have powered young adult fiction and cinematic markets over the last two decades (e.g., Harry Potter The Hunger Games Diary of a Wimpy Kid), “I don’t like to read” is nevertheless a common refrain in schools and in homes. The self-construction of adolescent youth, especially boys, as “bad” or “reluctant” readers is alarming at a number of levels—first, for those young people who have framed themselves in that way; and, second, for the societies they will enter and ultimately sustain. As such, creating a “culture of reading” across schooling contexts has been the subject of scholarship and international forums specifically dedicated to research and practice for literacy (Christenbury, Bomer, and Smagorinsky 2009; Power, Wilhelm, and Chandler 1997; Wilhelm 2008).

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Engaging Students as Tutors, Trainers, and Leaders

One of the greatest joys for teachers is to be able to inspire a love of teaching in their own students. Having students tutor other students is one way to accomplish this. A well-planned and carefully organized tutoring program can lead to remarkable gains for tutors, tutees, and teachers.

While starting a tutoring program may seem like a daunting and time-consuming task, it does not have to be. The best way to approach the creation and development of a tutoring service is with a list of clear objectives. In this article, I describe the process I used to create a tutoring program with my English as a foreign language university students. I identify questions that need to be addressed at each step of the program development process, then explain how my student tutors and I answered these questions.

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On How Thinking Shapes Speaking: Techniques to Enhance Students' Oral Discourse

The institution where we work in Buenos Aires—Asociación Ex Alumnos del Profesorado en Lenguas Vivas “Juan Ramón Fernández” (AEXALEVI)—is devoted to the teaching of foreign languages, particularly English, and it administers examinations all over Argentina. One central problem we have identified in our work in the AEXALEVI Teachers’ Centre is the compartmentalization of instruction and assessment.

For five years we held virtual and face-to-face forums with instructors from Buenos Aires and other districts, and most of these teachers reported that they generally teach the content of the syllabus as one thing, and they deal with exam training as a separate component in the course design, developed close to examination time and not before. However, when the teacher indulges in teaching to the test, the student does not have the chance to develop skills over time. For example, we have observed students who can rattle off the summary of a story, overtly learned by heart, without ever being able to answer a simple question from the examiner or interact with a peer in a communicative task. Were the students trained to recite the story? Surely they were. Were the students given opportunities to develop oral skills throughout the course so that they would be able to engage in realistic talk? We do not think so. Here lies the danger of treating course and exam, and by the same token, teaching/learning and evaluation, as two separate components rather than as an integrated whole.

A guide designed to enrich your reading of the articles in this issue.

Teaching Techniques
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Nouns on the Job Market: An Approach for Recognizing Noun Position Errors

As an English as a foreign language instructor, you don’t have to look at too many student writing samples before you see sentences like this:

1.     *The boy he went to the store.

2.     *The first situation, the girl loses her purse.

3.     *That is the boy who I know him.

4.     *That is the boy went to the store.

At first, these sentences seem to represent disparate grammatical problems. The first sentence could be interpreted as a subject issue, the second might be a prepositional phrase problem, and the third and fourth might reflect a lack of mastery of adjective clauses. However, dealing with these issues separately is time-consuming and redundant when they can all be subsumed under an overarching category of noun position. In fact, an understanding of noun positions in sentences can correct many recurring problems in the writing of English language learners. This article outlines an approach for anticipating and preventing these sorts of errors while providing a framework to explain the errors to students. For this approach to be successful, students need to have an understanding of parts of speech, so it works best with low-intermediate to advanced students.

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Teaching Descriptive Writing through Visualization and the Five Senses

The descriptive paragraph and subsequent essay are usually among the first assignments students must complete in composition classes. Typically, students are told to describe their childhood home, a person of importance, a special object, or a summer vacation. Most students, especially learners of English as a foreign language (EFL), have difficulty beginning the assignment. In 2014, I was teaching an intermediate-level English class to first-year university students in Namibia, and after observing my students’ struggles with writing a descriptive essay, I searched for techniques to implement in class. I found that visualization based on the five senses––what we touch, see, smell, hear, and taste––can be used as a technique to get ideas down on paper. This technique could be useful for teachers in a variety of EFL teaching contexts, from primary school to university, and can be used with a wide range of texts that are particularly vivid and that stimulate the senses.

Download notes for teachers, for use with this issue

My Classroom
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Peru

Angela Huanca Barrantes is a highly respected teacher of English as a foreign language (EFL) in the La Pampa neighborhood in the city of Ilo, and she has a strong impact on the lives of students at the Admirante Miguel Grau secondary school and at Centro Cultural Peruano Norteamericano, one of four binational centers in southern Peru.

Yet Ms. Huanca did not always like English. In fact, she admits that at one time she disliked it because she did not understand it. Her feelings changed when, as an undergraduate student majoring in tourism at the National University of Saint Agustine, she enrolled in an English class taught by Rosa Sifuentes, who inspired Ms. Huanca to not only open her mind and heart to the English language, but also to one day share this newfound love. According to Ms. Huanca, “Teachers like Ms. Sifuentes inspire you to always continue learning, and I am still learning.” During her fourth year of university studies, Ms. Huanca worked at the university’s Language Center, and she realized then that as a teacher she could have a positive and important impact on others.

Try This
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Role-Play Party: Talking About Jobs

This section presents a stand-alone language-learning activity emphasizing speaking. Specifically, students will participate in role plays to describe occupations and job-related duties.

The Lighter Side
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Stage Directions

Stage directions describe characters’ emotions or actions; they help actors interpret scripts. The short script below has several stage directions, but some words have been left out. Fill in the blanks by scrambling the letters in one of the words the character speaks in that line.

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Format: 2015
English Teaching Forum Volume 53, Number 2
Cover image contains illustration of the backs of four men standing in a line all wearing top hats and trench coats
English Teaching Forum supports the teaching of English around the world through the exchange of innovative, practical ideas.

Applied Theatre, Adolescent English Learners, and the Performance of Literacy

Beth Murray, Spencer Salas, Michele Ni Thoghdha
Youth in middle and secondary grades, between childhood and the adult world, sometimes struggle with their identities as readers and learners. Too many describe themselves or are described by their teachers and parents as “reluctant, disengaged, and/or unmotivated” by classroom texts or by the rows of books in school libraries.

Engaging Students as Tutors, Trainers, and Leaders

Deirdre Derrick
While starting a tutoring program may seem like a daunting and time-consuming task, it does not have to be. The best way to approach the creation and development of a tutoring service is with a list of clear objectives. In this article, I describe the process I used to create a tutoring program with my English as a foreign language university students.

On How Thinking Shapes Speaking: Techniques to Enhance Students’

Myrian Casamassima, Florencia Insua
The institution where we work in Buenos Aires—Asociación Ex Alumnos del Profesorado en Lenguas Vivas “Juan Ramón Fernández” (AEXALEVI)—is devoted to the teaching of foreign languages, particularly English, and it administers examinations all over Argentina.

Reader's Guide

This guide is designed to enrich your reading of the articles in this issue. You may choose to read them on your own, taking notes or jotting down answers to the discussion questions below.

Teaching Techniques: Nouns on the Job Market - An Approach for Recognizing Noun Position

Sandra Tompson Issa
Using the employment analogy provides a fun and memorable way to help students relate to this sentence-level grammatical concept.

Teaching Techniques: Teaching Descriptive Writing through Visualization and the Five Senses

Katherine Carter
This technique could be useful for teachers in a variety of EFL teaching contexts, from primary school to university, and can be used with a wide range of texts that are particularly vivid and that stimulate the senses.

My Classroom: Peru

Deanna Paglia
This article was written by Deanna Paglia, an English and Spanish second language teacher and teacher trainer who is currently the English Language Fellow hosted by Centro Cultural Peruano Norteamericano in Arequipa, Peru.

Try This: Role-Play Party, Talking About Jobs

This section presents a stand-alone language-learning activity emphasizing speaking. Specifically, students will participate in role plays to describe occupations and job-related duties.

The Lighter Side: Stage Directions

Stage directions describe characters’ emotions or actions; they help actors interpret scripts.
English Teaching Forum Volume 53, Number 1
Forum Cover Image
Forum has a new look, but its purpose remains the same: to support the teaching of English around the world through the exchange of innovative, practical ideas. 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.

Teaching Techniques: Guided Meditation in the English Language Classroom

Amy Jenkins
This teaching technique focuses on meditation in the classroom. Meditation has been linked to increased ability to focus and to lowering depression, anxiety, and stress. Meditation is an act of focusing one’s thoughts completely and fully. It is being present in the moment, silencing other thoughts and noise running through our minds.

Teaching Techniques: Speed Drawing for Vocabulary Retention

Sara Hendricks
This exciting drawing activity helps students remember vocabulary. The students were 12 to 14 years old and had a limited vocabulary. Speed drawing is a fun and successful way to help them practice asking questions and using targeted vocabulary.

Increasing Awareness and Talk Time through Free Messaging Apps

Andrew Pollard
For many people, mobile phones are a part of modern life. Although the purpose of this technology revolves around language and communication, its application to language learning still appears to be underutilized. This is changing, as the widespread use of this handheld technology offers numerous opportunities to use functions that are ideal for exposing learners to communicative interaction on their language-learning journey.

My Classroom: Indonesia

Alief Noor Farida is a junior lecturer at Indonesia’s Universitas Negeri Semarang (UNNES). Now teaching her fourth semester and an alumna of the English Education program at UNNES, Ms. Farida is an especially motivated and dedicated educator. She teaches 18 hours per week, specializing in grammar and writing-skills courses. The Intensive Course she teaches, focusing on reading, writing, speaking, and grammar skills, serves as a foundation for incoming English Department students.

Try This: Listening and Logic

Heather Benucci
This section presents a stand-alone language-learning activity emphasizing listening, critical thinking, and teamwork, along with five ready-to-use examples.

The Lighter Side: You’re Not Listening!

The Lighter Side activities related to listening in the classroom.

Reader's Guide

This guide is designed to enrich your reading of the articles in this Forum issue.

Practical Tips for Increasing Listening Practice Time

Kevin McCaughey
This article help teachers of English reconsider how to think about listening tasks. It provides guidance for increasing classroom listening practice through short, dedicated tasks, with an emphasis on the practical business of setting up and “class-managing” listening activities in order to give students more practice.

Observation Tools for Professional Development

Kathleen F. Malu
Professional development of teachers, including English language teachers, empowers them to change in ways that improve teaching and learning. In their seminal research on staff development—professional development in today’s terms—Joyce and Showers (2002) identify key factors that promote teacher change. Three of these factors are observation, feedback, and practice.