Tuesday August 26, 2008
'Chunking' means learning set phrases or 'chunks' of related language. This upper level reading comprehension is provided as a means for students to improve their vocabulary skills through looking
Chunking or Building Vocabulary Skills with Set Phrases
This upper level reading comprehension is provided as a means for students to learn chunks of relevant language as well as appropriate vocabulary.
Aim: Learning Vocabulary Chunks
Activity: Reading comprehension with follow-up chunking exercise
Level: Upper Intermediate to Advanced
Start off the lesson by asking students to write down phrases related to the enviornment and pollution in particular.
As a class, write these phrases on the board (remember, students are to provide phrases not single words).
If you have a monolingual class, ask students to come up with a few related phrases in their mother tongue.
Quickly discuss the idea of langauge chunks and how useful learning set chunks of language can be especially when writing.
Give each student the worksheet.
Check answers (see following page for some suggestions to possible answers).
Build on this exercise by asking students to find articles in newspapers, magazines or on the Internet. Have students repeat the exercise for the individual articles.
Build vocabulary as a class by asking students to share their vocabulary chunking sheets and articles with the rest of the class.
Western countries are currently rethinking their attitudes towards the environment. Water, air and noise pollution are continually becoming more of a threat to the environment. Further, there is increasing evidence that the ozone layer is being slowly threatened by the ever-increasing output of carbon monoxide which, in turn, has begun to play havoc with world weather patterns. El Nino is just one example of these changes to our environment.
Governments are now beginning to combat these problems with a series of different measures. They are increasingly regulating industry and employing sophisticated scientific research to develop new solutions to the threat of pollutants. Recently, noise pollution has also begun to be noticed, as it has become increasingly difficult to escape the noise of the city. There are also conferences being held on a world level to combat these serious problems. Working together, governments hope to soon find solutions.
Which phrases express the idea that there are problems with our world?
Which phrases express governments' reaction to these problems?
Which words or phrases express types of pollution?
Teaching English Basics
Thursday August 28, 2008
Speaking English as your mother tongue does not a ESL or EFL (English as second language / English as foreign language) teacher make! This guide is provided for those of you who would like to know some of the basics of teaching English to non-native speakers of English. These basic techniques are useful when teaching friends, at a charity, on a volunteer basis, as a part-time job, as a hobby, etc.
Beginning Guide to Teaching ESL
Over the past few months, I have received a number of requests from non-professional teachers who are teaching English as a 2nd or foreign language. The teaching setting varies widely; to friends, at a charity, on a volunteer basis, as a part-time job, as a hobby, etc. One thing quickly becomes clear: Speaking English as a mother tongue does not a ESL or EFL (English as second language / English as foreign language) teacher make! This guide is provided for those of you who would like to know some of the basics of teaching English to non-native speakers of English. It provides some fundamental guidelines which will make your teaching more successful and satisfying for both the student and you.
Get Grammar Help Fast!
Teaching English grammar is tricky as there are just SO many exceptions to rules, irregularities of word forms, etc. that, even if you do know your grammar rules, you are probably going to need some help when providing explanations. Knowing when to use a certain tense, word form or expression is one thing, knowing how to explain this rule is quite another. I highly recommend getting a good grammar reference as quickly as you can. Another point to consider is that a good university level grammar guide is really not appropriate for teaching non-native speakers. I recommend the following books which have been especially designed for teaching ESL / EFL:
Practical English Usage by Michael Swan published by Oxford University Press - Advanced - great for teachers
English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy published by Cambridge University Press - for both beginners and intermediate
Understanding and Using English Grammar by Betty Schrampfer Azar published by Pearson ESL - Intermediate to advanced
The Advanced Grammar Book by Jocelyn Steer and Karen Carlisi published by Heinle & Heinle
Keep It Simple
One problem that teachers often encounter is that of trying to do too much, too quickly. Here is an example:
Let's learn the verb "to have" today. - OK - So, the verb "to have" can be used in the following ways: He has a car, He's got a car, He had a bath this morning, He has lived here for a long time, If I had had the opportunity, I would have bought the house. Etc.
Obviously, you are focusing on one point: The verb "to have". Unfortunately, you are covering just about every usage of have which then also brings into play the present simple, have for possession, past simple, present perfect, "have" as an auxiliary verb etc. Overwhelming to say the least!
The best way to approach teaching is to choose just one use or function, and focus on that specific point. Using our example from above:
Let's learn the use "have got" for possession. He has got a car is the same as saying He has a car... etc.
Instead of working "vertically" i.e. uses of "have", you are working "horizontally" i.e. the various uses of "have" to express possession. This will help keep things simple (they are actually pretty difficult already) for your learner and give him/her tools on which to build.
Slow down and Use Easy Vocabulary
Native speakers are often not aware of how quickly they speak. Most teachers need to make a conscious effort to slow down when speaking. Perhaps more importantly, you need to become aware of the type of vocabulary and structures you are using. Here is an example:
OK Tom. Let's hit the books. Have you got through your homework for today?
At this point, the student is probably thinking WHAT! (in his/her native language)! By using common idioms (hit the books), you increase the chance that the student will not understand you. By using phrasal verbs (get through), you can confuse students who may already have quite a good grasp of basic verbs ("finish" instead of "get through" in this case). Slowing down speech patterns and eliminating idioms and phrasal verbs can go a long way to helping students learn more effectively. Maybe the lesson should begin like this:
OK Tom. Let's begin. Have you finished your homework for today?
Focus on Function
I find the one of the best ways of giving a lesson shape is to focus on a certain function and take that function as the cue for the grammar that is taught during the lesson. Here is an example:
This is what John does everyday: He gets up at 7 o'clock. He takes a shower and then he eats breakfast. He drives to work and arrives at 8 o'clock. He uses the computer at work. He often telephones clients... etc. What do you do everyday?
In this example, you use the function of talking about daily routines to introduce or expand on the simple present. You can ask the students questions to help teach the interrogative form, and then have the student ask you questions about your daily routines. You can then move on to questions about his/her partner - thereby including the third person singular (When does he go to work? - instead of - When do you go to work?). In this way, you help students produce language and improve language skills while providing them with structure and understandable chunks of language.
The next feature in this series will focus on standard curriculums to help you structure your study and some of the better classroom books that are currently available.
In the meantime, take a look at some of the lessons provided in the "Lesson Plans" section of ESL.about.com . These lessons provide printable materials, explanations of the objectives, activities, and step by step instructions to using the lessons in class.