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This introductory lesson is something the author used on the first day of class with students around the globe.
Curriculum design and implementation can be a daunting process. Questions quickly arise, such as who is qualified to design the curriculum and how do these people begin the design process.
Aliona Podolean knew from the moment she started teaching English that she had found what she wanted to do.
A Ten-Step Process for Developing Teaching Units
Curriculum design and implementation can be a daunting process. Questions quickly arise, such as who is qualified to design the curriculum and how do these people begin the design process. According to Graves (2008), in many contexts the design of the curriculum and the implementation of the curricular product are considered to be two mutually exclusive processes, where a long chain of specialists including policy makers, methodologists, and publishers produce the curriculum in a hierarchical process, at the end of which lies the teacher.
The teacher’s role is to implement the course and use materials received from the specialists. One weakness of this specialist model of curriculum design is a misalignment between materials and the classroom in which they are eventually implemented (Graves 2008). Common examples of these sorts of materials are the coursebooks that many English as a foreign language (EFL) schools and institutions rely on as the sole basis of their course syllabus (Cowling 2007). While coursebooks can fit this role adequately when they are a suitable match for the context and meet student needs, issues of alignment arise when they do not meet the needs of the students and the goals of the institution (Cowling 2007).
Literature Circles as Support for Language Development
There are many instructional approaches for helping English language learners improve both reading comprehension and overall language proficiency. One such approach, the literature circle—which is somewhat like a student book club in the classroom—has drawn a great deal of attention in recent years (Schlick Noe and Johnson 1999). Many teachers champion the strategy and use it consistently in their classrooms (Daniels 2002).
According to the Standards for the English Language Arts published by the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English (1996, 32), the instructional practices realized by literature circles embody quality educational standards and are used by teachers “who are bringing out the best in their students day by day.” To shed light on the many ways that literature circles improve English skills, this article defines the term, provides a brief theoretical foundation for the use of literature circles, describes their benefits, and then presents a four-lesson unit that applies the approach to the teaching of a literary text.
The Rio–Warsaw Connection: Encouraging Interculturalism among Students
It all began in Norwich. As they do every year, teachers from different parts of the world went in July 2012 to that beautiful little city in the east of England to take part in one of the two-week professional development courses offered by the Norwich Institute for Language Education (NILE). Sponsored by Rio de Janeiro’s Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos (IBEU), I had chosen Advanced Language and Intercultural Awareness.
On the second day of the course, I—the only Brazilian participant—went with Karolina Isio-Kurpińska—the only Polish one—to a supermarket just outside the campus of the University of East Anglia, where our classes took place. We had a long talk about our respective countries and how similar and different our experiences were. During the rest of the course, we became good friends and even did our final project together. What we had gotten from that exchange would come to matter a lot very soon.
Teaching Techniques: Critiquing Questions
Question formation is a basic part of teaching and learning English. However, we often focus on the ability to form the question properly and not as much on the quality of the information the question is seeking. Whether teaching English language learners or students who want to be English teachers, teachers need to carefully consider the intent of questions.
If students are expected to provide simple factual information, a question such as “What kind of pet do you have?” will elicit that information. However, if you want your students to discuss their preferences for certain types of pets or the advantages and disadvantages of different pets, then another type of question must be asked to promote discussion—in other words, a discussion question. The purpose of discussion questions should be to guide and stimulate discussion, not just to acquire information.
Teaching Techniques: Cultural Introductions by Way of Storytelling
This introductory lesson is something I have used on the first day of class with students around the globe. The activity touches on each of the skill sets associated with English language acquisition, with special attention paid to cultural issues that can be applied on a country-by-country basis. No matter what country you use this technique in, the goal is to create an inviting lesson in which students exercise English abilities while sharing their cultural and personal norms (or exceptions). Whether you are a local teacher or foreign instructor, the technique offers many variations, as each of us is unique, with different likes and dislikes to share. Depending on the circumstances in your classroom, the technique can be used as a warm-up activity or take up an entire hour-long session.
Teaching Techniques: Group Grammar
<p>Before becoming a teacher of English to speakers of other languages, I taught French, and too often I saw that impersonal grammar exercises about “Jacques” and “Nathalie” were meaningless to the students. Worse, those exercises led to apathy and stagnation. So I decided to do grammar activities in which students used each other’s names, instead of random ones, and used the grammar to express ideas about their own lives. I hoped that instead of grammar being impersonal and meaningless, it would become a tool to help students get to know one another better. Now, I incorporate group grammar techniques into my lesson whenever possible. In the following activity, I describe ways to use group grammar effectively. In this activity, students practice using the target grammar to do something they naturally enjoy: learning about each other.</p>
Aliona Podolean knew from the moment she started teaching English that she had found what she wanted to do. “Teaching arrested me during my first teaching practice at the university,” said Ms. Podolean, a Senior Lecturer at Shevchenko State University. “I remember that day so vividly. I was running home after my first lesson to inform my family that I would be a teacher, but, before that day, I had assured everybody I would be an interpreter.”
How Was Your Weekend?
This activity is a kind of mingle. In a mingle, students move individually from classmate to classmate, usually with a question to ask or specific information to find. After talking to each other long enough to complete the task, the two students move on to other classmates and repeat the process. Although mingles can be noisy and sometimes look disorganized, they typically have a specific language focus. In this activity, students practice asking classmates about their weekend activities. As they move from classmate to classmate, they use the targeted language structure over and over. At the same time, they also need to listen to their classmates’ replies so they can react and respond appropriately.
“Small talk” refers to short, friendly conversations about topics that are not serious. Below are nine “opener” questions that can start small-talk conversations. In each question, a word is missing. Complete each question by choosing the most appropriate word from the List of Words. Then, choose the most appropriate small-talk topic for each question from the List of Small-Talk Topics.
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