Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tell us about it

24 November 2011

Today's lesson provided further focus on writing and its planning. I was searching Google Images for award winning photographs and decided to use some of them as prompts in our class. The students were shown a picture of a busy Indian street with lots of traffic and an elephant casually strolling through the scene. Using example questions we started to make notes about what we could see in order to plan a piece of writing to describe the images. The group worked together to elicit certain aspects of the image, notes were made on the board and any difficult vocabulary that arose was clarified. The group then worked together to transfer the notes into a written composition on the board with help from the teacher and peer input. The learners were then put into 3 groups to work on new images, the planning process was then set into motion with help provided in spelling, vocabulary and encouragement to be creative. The groups were very careful not to let others see their pictures. Once the groups had successfully planned and written their pieces all the images were shown on the board one by one with the learners reading aloud their work, describing the scenes to the rest of the class.

Tell Us About It - Worksheets

Friday, 18 November 2011

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

November 10 - 24

We are very fortunate to be working in collaboration with Stuart Jones from the 'Swansea Digital Stories' project, please see their website for information about what they do.

Working with one of the stories "A light at the end of the tunnel" our students were able to focus on idiomatic phrases, verb tenses, descriptive terms and how to plan a written piece of work. The story provided poignant focus on dificult times in life and how things can and often improve, a wonderful subject for our learners in particular.

Idioms, phrases, vocabulary and grammatical forms from the story were focused on with task-based activities (please see embedded worksheet).

In the first activity students brainstormed the meaning of selected phrases and vocabulary amongst themselves before feeding them back to the class. Discussion then followed on meaning and uses of the language points. The next task was to identify verbs in their past and continuous tenses, focusing on how we vary these in writing. With the worksheet we investigated how the writing could have been planned with elicited ideas from the class and help from the teacher, this was well understood leading on to the learners planning their own stories. For the rest of the lesson our learners were helped with their ideas by our kind volunteers Pippa and Jelena. The students were given the task of writing their stories as homework.

In the next lesson we were delighted to see that many of our learners had produced some very interesting, heart-felt and often amusing stories. The stories were read to the class and focus on pronunciation and the subject matter followed.

Next week Stuart will be recording the stories read out by our learners for the Swansea Digital Stories project and website. Stories already written are being marked and feedback, correction and help will be provided.

Many thanks to Stuart for helping us provide these activities which help in many ways such as; reading, writing, speaking and the feel-good factor of self-expression.

Please stay tuned for some of our learners' wonderful stories :-)

The Light at the End of the Tunnel Worksheets

Sour Grapes and Wet Blankets

27 October 2011

  • To say that someone's attitude is "sour grapes" means that they are making complaints or accusations because they are jealous.
  • A person who is a wet blanket is so boring or unenthusiastic that they prevent other people from enjoying themselves. "Come on! Don't be such a wet blanket!"

Teaching idioms and slang is quite a subjective topic. I believe that it is an integral part of teaching EFL. I agree with the school of thought that says that slang and idioms are an every day part of our language and it is important that foreign students are aware of the most common forms they are likely to encounter, the appropriate use of these language forms and what is considered to be taboo in polite society. 

An important matter to consider is that although students can find endless reference books on almost every other form of the English Language, slang and idioms are not considered part of the syllabus and paid no or very little attention.

If we do not teach idioms how is a student ever going to cope with phrases such as - To bury the hatchet, to be in the same boat and to kick the bucket, and to go straight over my head? If you do not know what they mean there is no formula to work out their translation, the words bear no resemblance to what we are saying.

The International TEFL Corporation

In this lesson our learners focused on idiomatic phrases and the use of slang expressions. Our learners often comment on how English can be difficult to understand because of such cryptic language and requested that we have some focus on this in lessons. I can not express how nice it is to have such eager learners and a free-hand in providing what our  students want and need - a truly client-led provision.

The learners focused and discussed between themselves the possible meanings of idioms/slang provided on a worksheet. Their ideas were fed back to the class and we discussed and noted the meanings of the phrases, students were keen to use examples in their own sentences, often with much laughter. Once we'd covered the list a slideshow was shown and students guessed which idiomatic phrases were connected to each image, this helped to further internalise the subject. This provided excellent conversational input and the activity went on for some time with learners often leading the discussion.

The students were then encouraged to write sentences using their own ideas, myself and Stuart circulated and helped the students with the task. The students then fed back their sentences to the class and as always peer correction from the group helped further understanding of usage and pronunciation.

Now, a few weeks on we are hearing our learners eagerly using some of the phrases with much satisfaction and effectiveness - 'all talk and no trousers' seems to be a favourite.

Idioms relating to Personality - Slideshow

English Idioms Relating to Personality Worksheet

A long awaited update

Well it's been well over a month since this blog was updated, my apologies to regular visitors. I have been asked by the WEA (Workers Education Association) on behalf of the National Union of Teachers to train primary school teachers to use 'Smartboard' interactive whiteboard software, and whilst this has been quite productive and enjoyable it has unfortunately eaten into time set aside for updating this blog.

I am very pleased to announce that we now have 3 new volunteer teachers who are committed to helping with what we do at the UiD group. David and Clive are now teaching starter/elementary learners and Jelena is providing well aimed and relevant lessons to the ladies in our group. We are very happy to be firing on all cylinders again, providing productive, inclusive and enjoyable learning activities for our ever eager visitors.

Many thanks for the ongoing support from the CELTA department at Swansea university who have constantly helped us to find such wonderful graduate English teachers willing to volunteer their time.