Articles
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Practical Tips for Increasing Listening Practice Time

Learning a language—like learning to dance ballet, weave carpets, or play the saxophone—takes time and practice. In general, it’s safe to say that the more practice you get, the better you will become. That’s how I feel about understanding a foreign language, too. The more listening practice you get, the better you understand the language.

The problem is that students get little dedicated listening practice in their classes—and in some cases, they get almost none. The reasons are many. Teachers lack materials or equipment. They think their classrooms are too noisy or crowded. They value speaking, reading, grammar, or vocabulary over listening. Their curricula are driven by standardized tests without a listening component.

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Observation Tools for Professional Development

Professional development of teachers, including English language teachers, empowers them to change in ways that improve teaching and learning (Gall and Acheson 2011; Murray 2010). 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.

Teacher observation is one step in the process of identifying changes that teachers may want to make (Gall and Acheson 2011; Joyce and Showers 2002). Observers might be peers, other educators who may be more knowledgeable and experienced, supervisors, principals, or government officials. Observation tools, checklists, or rubrics may be used by observers to record notes about the lesson. Feedback after observations that help teachers reflect on what worked, what did not work, and what they might modify is another important element in the teacher change process (Schön 1987; Tenjoh-Okwen 2003). Evidence-based feedback is particularly useful (Gall and Acheson 2011; Joyce and Showers 2002). In fact, Salas and Mercado (2010, 20) urge supervisors to “talk across the data” during feedback sessions.

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Increasing Awareness and Talk Time through Free Messaging Apps

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. One beneficial function of the smartphone is its ability to exchange text and multimedia between users, which is a benefit that is enhanced through the availability of free messaging apps that facilitate the exchanges. In order to explore the messaging function of smartphones and how teachers can employ it to promote spoken communication, this article will describe ways to use text, audio, and imagery inside and outside the English language classroom.

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

Teaching Techniques
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Guided Meditation in the English Language Classroom

We live in a busy world with frequent distractions and many things to think about. The speed of the Internet, noise pollution, smartphones, and instantaneous thought-sharing on social media keep our world in constant motion. Students entering the classroom are thinking about a thousand things: Did I get my homework done correctly? Who will I eat with at lunch? Why didn’t my friend stop at my locker to say hi? Is my hair a mess? Students also have burdens from home on their minds. But when they come into the classroom, teachers expect them to be ready to learn, ready to receive information and retain it. How can students do this with so much on their minds? 

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Speed Drawing for Vocabulary Retention

This exciting drawing activity helps students remember vocabulary. I created the activity when I was working with beginning students at a middle school in Japan. The students were 12 to 14 years old and had a limited vocabulary. Speed drawing was a fun and successful way to help them practice asking questions and using targeted vocabulary.

The activity can work in any style of classroom with a minimum of supplies. The only things necessary are a vocabulary list, scraps of paper, and things that students can use to draw pictures (e.g., pencils, pens, markers). In order to save paper, you may cut the paper into small squares so that students use a small amount of paper for each drawing.

Download notes for teachers, for use with this issue

My Classroom
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Indonesia

Alief Noor Farida is a junior lecturer at Indonesia’s Universitas Negeri Semarang (Semarang State University [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
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Listening and Logic

The word logic refers to a systematic, reasoned way of thinking, usually used to solve a problem or to understand a situation. Logic grid puzzles include a graphic organizer (in this case, a grid) that helps students keep track of information in the puzzle’s clues, use the process of elimination, and make inferences that will lead them to the puzzle’s solution.

The puzzles in this activity require members in a student pair (or small team, if you prefer) to communicate actively. Nobody in the pair or team has all the information needed to solve the puzzle. Students can share their clues orally, but they can’t show each other the written information. Therefore, everyone must listen carefully to identify important details. Beyond developing listening and critical thinking skills, these puzzles are a fun and challenging way for students to practice speaking, review vocabulary, and apply social skills related to teamwork. 

The Lighter Side
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You're Not Listening!

Provided are five quotations on the art of listening. But if you’re listening when you read them, you will notice that something sounds wrong. The word in bold in each sentence doesn’t belong. Replace each word in bold with one from a different sentence to correct the quotes. Then you’ll have five sayings on listening to think about and discuss.

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Format: 2015
English Teaching Forum Volume 53, Number 51
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.