Newsletter #10

Newsletter #10
Good morning

I hope that you are having a nice weekend. Where I live, the weather has turned to winter fogs and the temperature has dropped, so being inside making videos has its advantages! This week, I have a smorgasbord of delights for you. Some new videos on teaching vocabulary, another observation challenge and a fantastic site for listening materials for your learners.

Let's start with the vocabulary
What does it mean to really KNOW a word? Think about one word that you know- any word. What contexts can it be used in? What different meanings does it have? Does it have tricky spelling or pronunciation? When we're planning to teach vocabulary, there are many things that we need to consider, problems that our learners might have that we need to anticipate and help them with. This week, I've made a series of three short videos here to talk though the things that you might want to remember about Meaning, Form and Pronunciation. Not all words have all these problems, of course, but it might act as a memory jogger...

Sneak preview - Reflective practice number 3

We're into week 3 of our Reflective Practice Challenge and it's great to see so many of your getting involved. Last week, we looked at teacher talk and someone emailed me to tell me that they were concerned that there wasn't enough teacher talk in their lesson- that there was too much time in 'idle chat'. I think that this is a really valid observation. Learner's time is precious and it's important to have a balance. My feeling is that these kind of exercises where you look at your teaching in an objective way are useful to help you think about your talk, whether you think it might be too much, or too little, or not appropriate in any other way. Awareness, I think, is the key. Did you do the challenge? What did YOU notice?

If you want to read a bit more about this, you might like this blog post on Steve Walsh's Classroom Interactional Competence. This might sound all quite academic, but the post is very accessible and interesting :)

This week, I'm setting you another task to increase your awareness of your teaching - we're going to look in a more in-depth way at the questions that you ask.... Have a go and see what you discover and, as always, feel free to get in touch and tell me.

Website of the week
OK- that was all quite heavy, so let's have something much lighter and more practical to finish. Listening is often a skill that is difficult for learners and one of my favourite sites for practising this is It stands for English Listening Lesson Library Online and if you don't know it already, it's a winner! Why?

It's free
There are hundreds of short, semi-authentic listening texts on all sorts of topics at different levels
There are all kinds of voices and different accents on there from native and non-native speakers of English
They all have transcripts and most have vocabulary exercises with them

So what's not to like? You can use it in a class, or give learners a link or two for homework, or why not try out doing a jigsaw listening? If you are teaching online, this is really logistically possible in a way that's difficult in a face to face classroom. Just give half of the class one link to a listening on a subject, and the other half another link to a different listening text on the same subject. Give them a listening task (some questions) and now give everyone 5 minutes (e.g. For a 2-3 minute text) away from the online class (videos and microphones off) so that they can listen at their own pace. Then bring them back, peer check (in breakout rooms) in groups that HAD THE SAME TEXT- then rearrange the breakout rooms so that each learner is paired with someone who had the other text, so that they have to relay information about their own text. Try it out and let me know how it goes.

Well, I think that's about it. Hope that you have fun with all of this and see you next Sunday.

Jo Gakonga
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