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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Online Speaking Activities! What’s for?

Did you use to be afraid when you had to speak or read aloud in front of all of your classmates at school when you were a kid or teenager? Or is it happening yet?

Well, my teacher Ellen gave us a great idea to teach students in a funny way. She gave us a blog link which has a lot of these great ideas; here you can have access to it. I’ve amazed by this new kind of attractive teaching and learning activities! They are amazing. The most that I liked are the Voki and the Voxopop which are great and entertaining.
But, how can we say that these activities are for teaching and learning? Is there any interesting or helpful about it? How could it help students to learn?

  • Voki: What about it? As a teacher, how could I use it? Let’s see an example.

“Today, the teacher and the students have already read a science article. But, time is up. Most of the students will go home and they could summarize the article being helped by their parents; however, they will have to do it in another way without any kind of help. How? They will have to participate in a Voki Classroom! It’s gonna be fun. Students will have to create their own Vokis, what’s for? As a teacher I want everyone to participate in class and I want to know if everybody understood the lesson, so, they will have to tell me what they understood and in what ways they could apply the information (if it is possible), if it was an interesting lesson or if it was what they had expected.”

Click here to see an example of a Voki:
http://vhss-d.oddcast.com/vhss_editors/voki_player.swf?doc=http%3A%2F%2Fvhss-d.oddcast.com%2Fphp%2Fvhss_editors%2Fgetvoki%2Fchsm=ba2c92165dd7a37eb63d987bcd1e0f69%26sc=5758384

Using this Voki Classroom the teacher will have access to the students’ Vokis and could check if all of them worked as he/she had hoped. In this way, teachers can manage the students’ work online. Moreover, it is interesting that the students are learning at the same time that they are speaking without any kind of peer. Students wouldn’t feel nervous as the same way as if they would be at school. Furthermore, the teacher has the opportunity to grade them as a class or individually. Isn’t it an easy and interesting way to grade your students?

In the Voxopop, teachers and students can handle a conversation where they can discuss about one topic. Here, most of the students will have to speak; they will have the chance to practice their pronunciation and to learn a little bit more about vocabulary. It’s a fascinating way to practice your English. Moreover, it’s able to do oral presentations. I think it could be for those students who are in an advantage class.
So, if you thought that teaching could be only with a chalkboard and a full amount of books at a boring classroom, there is no excuse. Teachers can use more than one tool…

Llet’s go beyond walls!

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Posted by on 27/03/2012 in TKT HOMEWORK

 

Have you ever play a role in a Literature Circle?

Do you know what does “Literature Circle” mean? I bet to you that you had participated on one of this Literature Circles at least once!

Frankly, I had never heard that whole sentence in my life; but, like you, I’ve been working and learning English with this kind of teacher’s technique during my last years and I’m amazed because I have never thought that those activity that I used to do at school had a name! Exactly: “Literature Circle”. It’s an easy, interesting and funny way for students to learn and interact with their own classmates; moreover teachers can work better with their students at school when time is not enough to wrap with an activity up.

I’m surprised because I could never imagine that each little activity that teachers do at school with students could have a name, that’s why I need to take this course! But, let’s back to the second question of this theme. Do you know what does a Literature Circle mean? This technique is when a teacher divides a whole student’s class into many little groups; each group will have to work in a book. There are different ways to work with this kind of technique, e.g. Classroom Book Clubs ,Mini Literature Circles ,Literature Circles with Roles ,Nonfiction Literature Circles ,Structured Literature Circles ,Literary Lunch Bunches , however the most I liked is the Literature Circles with Roles.

There are many different roles that a student can play in a Literature Circle, e.g. Passage Master, Illustrator, Questioner, Connector, and Word Wizard.

I believe I could use this funny activity the day I became a teacher with my students. As I said before, I would like to use the Literature Circles with Roles because in this way the students would be able to work in each area and they could immerse a little bit more in the reading. Moreover, they wouldn’t have to participate in only one area, and they could practice or at least to learn how each role has to be played. The most interesting thing about this activity is that the teacher is not going to be immerse in this activity with the students, rather students will have to work together and they would have to establish the way in which they want to work, (however at the last it wouldn’t  matter because each area is going to be rolled) there are some activities that each member of the group would have to be responsible for it, e.g. finding the most interesting information of the text, summarizing it, creating questions, finding ways to connect the story with the real life, and picking out the most interesting or unknown words from the text. After that, at the end of the activity ( the durability of this activity is going to depend of school schedules’ time and the teacher too, some activities could take a few days, but some of them could take a little bit more than just one week, or months) the students and the teacher also can compare their answers and can evaluate the work.

Wasn’t it incredible?

Most of us have learned and worked with this activity during many years, and it’s not been practiced only for English classes, it is also practiced in many languages and in many different subjects around the world, too.

So, that’s amazing how much a teacher has to know about teaching techniques!

 
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Posted by on 21/03/2012 in TKT HOMEWORK

 

Unit 3: Phonology?

What is Phonology?

Is the study of features of sounds that we produce. In English these features include phonemes, word stress, sentence stress and intonation.

A phoneme is the smallest unit of the sound that can make a difference to meaning in a language. These are represented in writing by phonemic symbols such as /aʊ / and /ʃ / each one represent only one phoneme.

But, there is more! In phonology we have to use these phonemic symbols in a phonetic transcription which is a set of phonetic symbols and when they are written one after the other to represent a word or a group of words and it has to be written with slashes “/______/” at the beginning of the word and at the end of it, too. e.g. Important /ɪm´pɔ:tnt/

Also, when we pronounce a word in most cases it has stress on it. What does the stress mean? Is when we stress only one syllable of the word, we say it with greater energy and usually higher. Are we going to stress all the words of a sentence? No! Every sentence is made with content words (nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjective) and function words (or structural words: prepositions, articles, pronouns and determiners).  We are going to stress the content words which most of the time give us the most important information. Do we have to mark the stress in the phonetic transcription? Yes, the stress it’s writing with a sign like this:

Moreover, in phonology there is also intonation, what am I mean? Is it not the same like stress? No, intonation is when we change the level of our voice when we’re speaking and it gives a different meaning to the sentence too. Intonation has two different ways to be pronounce, there is the falling intonation and the rising intonation. We are going to find the falling intonation in:

  • Sentences: I’m studying.
  • Commands: Do it today.
  • WH questions: How do we get to the place?

The falling intonation is represented with a downward arrow. The pitch of your voice goes down at the end of the utterance. But, before it goes down, it rises on the vowel sound of the most important word that is stressed.

Did you get it? Now, what about the rising intonation? We’re going to find it in:

  • Yes-No questions: Did you see him?
  • Choices: He went to England, France, Spain, and Russia.

In the rising intonation the pitch of the voice goes up at the end of the utterance. It rises on the vowel sound (of the stress syllable) of the most important word and continues to rise. We also use rising intonation when naming items on a list or offering choices, except for the last item or choice, for the last one use the falling intonation. Let me show you:

However, there is more to learn about phonology but time is flying, so I’ll do an effort to give you more information about this in a future.

Now, I have added a new activity to practice what we have learned, so click on the next Icon and practice it!

YOU WILL FIND THE NEXT VOCABULARY ON THE FOLLOW EXERCISE:

Phoneme Phonology Word stress Sentence stress Intonation Diphthongs
Content words Structural words Connected speech Minimal pairs Rhythm Rhyme

PHONOLOGY

Have a nice day!

 
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Posted by on 15/03/2012 in PERSONAL SUBJECTS, UNIT 3

 

WHY SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT ACRONYMS ?

Do you know why your English book have an A,B or C at the front or at the back on it? Does it have any relation with the topic above? Did you know that those letters are related with the ALTE and CEFR? But what do ALTE and CEFR mean?

ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe)

CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference)

Would these acronyms be important for teachers?

As teachers we must to know these terms because when we apply for a test the result will be related with a level which is going to be taken from the CEFR which at the same time is related with the ALTE.

What am I mean?

Let’s see:

“The ALTE works closely with testing organizations, schools and academics worldwide to support the developments of language testing in theory and practice while the CEFR helps to define language proficiency levels and interpret language qualifications.”

So, all Cambridge English Exams are developed using the principles and approaches of the CEFR.

In a few words the ALTE describes what learners can actually do in a foreign language or how much they know about: listening, speaking, writing and reading. The ALTE has three general areas: Social and Tourist, Work, and Study.  Which one of these areas are categorized in six different levels that the CEFR has, which are from the A1/A2 for basic users, B1/B2 for independent users and C1/C2 for Proficient users.

Did you get it?

This is the first time I have read about this topic. Now I can understand why the books that I have had from other semesters and schools had an A1 or A2 and the last ones had the B1 or B2 in bold at the back, and now I realized that it’s because it is referred to the CEFR level! Moreover, I have noticed that each exam has been organized to find in which areas the learner is good at. I can’t believe how well organized is the material that we get at school and how every English program has relation with an association that it is known worldwide.

Don’t you learn something new every day?

 
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Posted by on 13/03/2012 in TKT HOMEWORK

 

REFLECTIONS ABOUT :Lexis

LEXIS

What is lexis?

Lexis refers to individual words or sets of words, for example: tree, get up, first of all, all’s well that ends well, i.e. units of vocabulary which have a specific meaning.

What kinds of meaning can words have?

These past days I had learned that words can have more than one meaning, for example there are at least three different meanings for one word (obviously it depends of the word because some of them can have more than one meaning).

Some words can have a Denotative meaning: which is when the meaning describes the thing behind the vocabulary, and we speaking this way. There is Figurative meaning which is an imaginative meaning.  The last one depends of the Context of the sentences or text.

But, there is more. Some meanings come from the form of the word, for example there are affixes which are added to the base form and they are called prefixes (which are added at the beginning of a word) and suffixes (which are added at the end of a word)

But also, we can find more different meanings of the words:

Compound nouns: two nouns link together with a different meaning from the base form.

Idioms: fixed expressions that can’t be changed, however their combination of words doesn’t mean as their individual meaning.

Collocations: words that often occurs together. (Clear skin, take a holiday, etc)

Synonyms: words with the same meaning.

Antonyms: words with an opposite meaning.

False friends: words which have the same or similar form in two languages but different meaning: Embarrassed is not the same than Embarazado.

Homophones: words with the same pronunciation but different meaning.

Homonyms: words with the same spelling but different meaning.

In my opinion, students should know the different meanings of the words, obviously it depends of the ages of the students, but in case of adult students, they have to know how they can use the words in different ways.  However, students could learn the different meanings and new vocabulary step by step. Teachers can make exercises using as much grammar or vocabulary as they want. An advantage that teachers have is that they know the abilities or disabilities that their own students have to learn new things. So, they have to choose the best tools to teach students in the best way they can learn. Even that some students can learn just by translating vocabulary, they can’t do it during their entire learning because in a future they would like to do the same forever.

Would you let your students search words in an English dictionary and their meanings? I would, because they could see the root of the word, the transcription, part of the speech, example sentence, the definitions, and more than that on it. Probably at the beginning they could feel a little overwhelmed but if they practice the words as much as possible they wouldn’t forget them. Sometimes there is no choice about read and memorize, because there is no another way to learn, the difference is how would you learn it? Only by memorizing? Why don’t understand it and practice? After a hard work students would be able to apply their knowledge in a test.

Let’s make the difference in learning!

 

 
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Posted by on 10/03/2012 in BOOK'S REFLECTIONS

 

REFLECTIONS ABOUT: Grammar

Describing language and language skills.

What is GRAMMAR?

Grammar refers to how we combine, organise and change parts of words, words and groups of words to make meaning.

There are nine parts of speech in English:

  1. Nouns: to name people, places, things, qualities, ideas, or activities to act as the subject/object of the verb.
  2. Verbs: to show an action, state or experience.
  3. Adjectives: to describe or give more information about a noun, pronoun or part of a sentence.
  4. Adverbs: to say more about how, when, where, etc. something happens by adding information to adjectives, verbs, other adverbs or sentences.
  5. Determiners: to make clear which noun is referred to.
  6. Prepositions: to show the relationship between a noun, noun phrase or pronoun and another word or phrase.
  7. Pronouns: to replace or refer to a noun or noun phrase mentioned earlier or about to be mentioned.
  8. Conjunctions: to join words, sentences or parts of sentences.
  9. Exclamations (interjections): to show a (strong) feeling-especially in informal spoken language.

For further practice you can visit the websites that are going to be added on mi sidebar.

Here there are some teachers’ comments, which I would like to know which do you agree with and why?

1. My students say learning grammar is really boring and doesn’t help them speak.

2. Children don’t learn grammar when they learn their first language but adult who learn a second language really need to.

3. We need to learn grammar terms to help us learn a language more easily and quickly.

In my opinion I agree with the second one, because it doesn’t matter which language you speak, the problem is when you want to explain it to people, even if you’re a native speaker I assure you that you couldn’t be able to explain it.

So, if we are not able to explain grammar of our native language, it could be very hard try to explain grammar of a second one. So, we must  have to learn grammar , that’s why  I’ve been studying it, I had never studied grammar before, and now I’m learning new things and how hard it’s when you’re trying to keep on mind all of the rules to speak it and improve it.

However, when you have good teachers who most of the activities are fun and homework is not hard or boring to do, you can easily learn new things. So, have fun when you study and when you teach!

I left you some pages above that have exercises and you can check them if you want to entertain a little bit and you want to improve your grammar.

Have a nice day!

 
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Posted by on 09/03/2012 in BOOK'S REFLECTIONS

 

Why Web 2.0?

Nowadays with Web 2.0 most people have access to all kind of interesting applications. In some of them, we can have our own space and write as much as we want and comment in other spaces too. We can modify our researches, download videos, and read other people’s ideas too. Now, people not only can be users, they are also participants. So, I’m going to make an effort to look up for the best information and share it with people who are interested in.

I’m so excited because now I can find out a lot of the most helpful information about Teaching English. For example, all of the people who are interested in this topic have access to look up for teachers’ researches, what’s the best way to teach students, what a teacher has to handle with, and there are a lot of great ideas to teach students to learn in an easy way. Most of the teachers had uploaded videos and their own ideas to help new teachers who want to improve their knowledge about this topic.

That’s why I’ve joined to this new application; it will be a pleasure to share with you as much as I learn from my TKT course and from the material I would download. But if you have a doubt or you want to help me with my research, please don’t’ doubt it and leave me a comment.

Here we go!

 

 
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Posted by on 06/03/2012 in TKT HOMEWORK