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Teaching Pronunciation that Matters (by Nina Septina)

Nina on guitar

Pronunciation is like an art to me, and I’ve always enjoyed it. It is like learning how to play guitar, where we have to figure out when to use different picking strategies or strumming patterns to produce the desired sounds. In pronunciation, we also need to use many different techniques and tongue positions in our mouth to produce the right sounds. Another similarity is that we’ve got to know when to change how hard or softly we should hit the guitar strings when playing a song. The same thing happens when we have to figure out how hard or how soft we should stress certain syllables in words, or some words in sentences when speaking. Finally, there’s the use of rhythm as the main component that shapes the flow of the song, just as it also shapes the flow of the speech in pronunciation.
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Help! I just got another new student!

pick me

What happens when a new student enters your class at a very different level than the students who are already there? That’s the question a teacher would like to ask Villagers (that’s you!). Have you ever been in this situation? What advice can you share?  (more…)

Parking Lot Archaeology: An engaging angle on teaching academic English (by Ron Campbell)

Every car tells a story

“Every car tells a story; all you have to do is listen”

It’s become something of a cliché, but every teaching situation presents its own unique set of challenges. However, my challenge wasn’t all that unique – in fact, it was pretty well-worn itself. My students were falling asleep as I tried to guide them through science readings and lectures in preparation for the TOEFL.

What I’d like to offer you here is a brief review of a class project that seemed to catch my students’ interest and got them deeply involved with academic material.  This one simple exercise opened a wide door into helping students interact with abstract material and getting them to build a set of experiential and critical thinking tools that they could call on later when trying to understand and appreciate other technical topics in English.

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You’re a thief and a liar (by Graham Jones)

SkypeRead: Movie read-through for language learners

TESS: Do you know what your problem is?

DANNY: I only have one?

Ocean’s Eleven (Warner Bros., 2001)

The scene in Ocean’s Eleven where Danny confronts Tess, his ex-wife, in the restaurant of the Bellagio hotel and casino is a wonderful bit of cinema.

The emotions of the characters are highly complex. Danny — who has just been released from prison — still loves Tess and wants her back. Tess, on the other hand, hates Danny. But, deep down, she still loves him too. She’s also terrified, because her new husband — Terry Benedict, the ruthless owner of the Bellagio — is about to arrive at any moment. Things are complicated for Danny as well. He’s secretly planning to steal a hundred and fifty million dollars from Benedict.

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Kids on Tablets: More Addictive than Pills (by Patrick Jackson)

My ten-year-old son Kai and his friends don’t have crazes in the same way that we did as kids. We had crazes for everything, becoming obsessed by roller-skating, paper planes, conkers, skipping, marbles, hopscotch, spinning tops, catapults and tiddlywinks just to name a few. There was even a craze for knitting one year. There were also crazes for collecting things; cards, stamps, figurines from cereal boxes, beer mats, stickers. You name it and it was probably a craze at some time or other. Battled over, swapped and just as soon dropped, these were the lifeblood of our playtime. I guess that three weeks was the average length of a craze but during those three weeks you couldn’t imagine that it wasn’t going to last forever. Some crazes were seasonal, while others cropped up randomly. We were all over them like locusts while they lasted. During a craze we ate, slept and breathed nothing else. In some ways I guess I haven’t changed.

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Children’s perceptions of poverty, race and culture (by Kieran Dhunna Halliwell)

I saw a really interesting article posted on Facebook, entitled ‘Photos of Children from around the World with Their Most Prized Possessions’. For those who haven’t seen it, the article shows images of children in their home settings, surrounded by a selection of their favourite toys, and there are comments left by viewers of the article generally saying what a lovely idea it is. Several users suggest that the collection would be a good idea for a children’s book and advocate that the images could be used to educate children about other countries and cultures.

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Writing for First-Time Readers: My Creative Process (by Daniel Olsson)

On November 17th at the ETJ Kansai Expo in Osaka Daniel Olsson, author of ELF Learning’s new TRW Reader series, will be sharing his experience of the writing process. Here he gives a brief sneak preview of his tricks and techniques — some of which may be surprising.

Everybody has a passion. It’s not inevitable, however, that everyone will get a chance to indulge in that passion or have the opportunity to apply the related skills to something practical. When I was asked to write a reader to accompany ELF Learning’s Think Read Write phonics-based reading and writing workbook, however, that’s exactly what happened. I would be using my writing skills directly alongside my teaching skills and the kids I saw in my classroom on a daily basis personified my inspiration and my end goal. Here, I’d like to share some of the key elements of my creative process that resulted in a book that, I believe, has the young, first-time reader at its heart.

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Behind the Scenes of Picture Book Writing (by Mari Nakamura)

When I was a little girl, my father used to travel abroad often as a buyer of chemical materials. One evening before his departure I told him that I would miss him while he was away. Then he said to me, “Mari, look up at the sky if you feel lonely at night. I will be looking at the same moon.” I never imagined that I would co-author a moon-themed story back then.

 I had the honor to co-author the picture book, Lily and the Moon (ELF Learning), with a renowned picture book author, Patricia Daly Oe. Like many other projects, this collaborative work turned out to be a nonlinear process which involves a lot of discussion, both casual and focused, and numerous decisions to be made during the process. In this short article, I will share the journey I took with my amazing coworkers for this project.

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The Little Girl and the Golden Bird (by Malu Sciamarelli)

Stories from the Garden

In February, Malu wrote “Where do your stories come to life?” for Teaching Village. She shared her first story from her garden in May (The Little Girl and the Magic Words). I’m thrilled to share another original story from Malu’s garden. Barb

Among the many treasured trees in the little girl’s garden, the mulberry was her favorite. She loved climbing the tallest trees from which she had a view over the whole garden, and spending hours eating mulberries, talking to the tree, flowers, birds, bees, ants and all the varied insects she could see.

What a joy it was to come back, with her lips all red from the berries, contrasting with her pale skin and golden hair, and tell her dad she was full of blood, make up horror stories just to get kisses and hugs, and laugh together!

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Classroom Management with EFL Students (by Natalie Britton)

On the first day of school in Busan, South Korea, I stood at the front of my class five minutes before the bell rang waiting to greet my new middle school students. After seven minutes had passed, I was about to go and search for my class when I heard a loud rumble coming from the floor above. Suddenly, three dozen pairs of feet came running into the classroom attached to three dozen pairs of flailing arms and three dozen shouting mouths. Stupefied, I stood frozen and looked on, wide-eyed, as my classroom was ripped apart by thirty-six wild monkeys.

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