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writing

More than five ways to use milk carton cubes

About 25 years ago, my co-author Ritsuko Nakata taught me how to make cubes out of milk cartons, and I’ve been using them in class ever since. I love recycling things and coming up with new ways to use them in lessons. I know that a lot of you do, too, so I’m beginning a new category for Teaching Village so that you can share your own ideas for creating and using inexpensive or free teaching materials. Recycling always makes good sense for the environment, and in tough economic times it also makes sense for our classrooms. (more…)

Tell a story! (By Christina Markoulaki)

Here I am, back from a short-term holiday and ready for my summer lessons! It is customary in Greece for the winter courses in private language institutions to end around May; towards the end of June schools resume preparations to welcome those students who are willing to finish one more English-language class by taking an accelarated course in the summer months. The point is that the Greek weather is rather an impediment to studying since it is invariably scorching hot and sunny, calling for some soothingly cool sea bathing rather than having language lessons! Therefore, the question that immediately troubled me was: what can a teacher do to help these students start learning on a positive note?

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Rocco’s Day: A student-generated story activity for literacy practice

Though experience and through language we learn. Experience needs language to give it form. Language needs experience to give it content.

~Walter Loban

Children learning English as a foreign language tend to develop oral language skills before they become literate. In countries like Japan, where the grammar structure and writing system of English is so different from students’ first language, students can sit in English class for years before having to deal with anything beyond the ABC song. (more…)

Yes, you can! (write for Teaching Village)

We’re better when we work together.

This isn’t just the tag line for Teaching Village, it’s what I believe. I’m a big fan of teaching degrees and licenses–I have a handful of my own, and value what I gained in the pursuit of them. However, I also believe that great wisdom comes from teacher experience in the classroom, and that we are all better ELT practitioners when we learn from each other. (more…)

Six Word Stories

Recently, I participated in a fabulous digital storytelling workshop through TESOL Electronic Village Online. One of the activities that caught my eye during the workshop was Six Word Stories. The process is simple: Students choose a picture and tell a story in six words. (more…)

Mind Mapping for Writers Part 3 (by Hobie Swan)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Mind Mapping for Writers Article 3

We’ve come to the last of three posts about using mind mapping for writing. The first article looked at using mind maps to brainstorming, capture and organize ideas. The second talked about focusing on an idea and adding details. This final article will look at how to use what you’ve entered into the map to help you write your article, play, novel or, yes, even your school or business report. Mind maps are content- and purpose-agnostic. Use them for anything that requires thinking, planning, organizing, or writing. (more…)

Mind Mapping for Writers Part 2 (by Hobie Swan)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Mind Mapping for Writers Article 2

Welcome to the second of three articles about using mind mapping for writing. The first article looked at using mind maps to brainstorm, capture and organize ideas. This article begins with the list of ideas, and moves to the second stage of creating and managing complex content. (more…)

Mind Mapping for Writers Part 1 (by Hobie Swan)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Mind Mapping for Writers: If you’re more artist than engineer, this approach is for you.

Article 1: Think first, organize later.

This is the first of three articles about using mind mapping to make your life as a writer easier or more creative. If you are serious about writing and have a “visual mind,” then mind mapping might be a refreshing way for you to brainstorm new ideas, capture and organize those ideas, manage complex content, chunk up your writing, and add new flexibility and freedom to your writing process. That’s a lot of claims. We’ll see if, by the time you’ve read all three articles, I’ve convinced you of their validity. I’d encourage you to read this Wikipedia entry to learn more about the history and practice of mind mapping. (more…)

Mind Mapping: Learning and Teaching with Both Sides of the Brain (by Hobie Swan)

Introduction

One of the more undiscovered or, in some cases, underutilized teaching methods is the use of mind maps. While the exact origin of this approach to learning is lost in the mists of time, mind mapping has for decades been a regular feature of primary and secondary education in Europe—in Germany and Britain, in particular. (more…)

Text Your Knowledge (by Nick Jaworski)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

As a manager I interview a lot of teachers.  One question I always ask is about reading texts.  If you have a short reading text, what are some different ways in which it can be used?  I am constantly surprised by the lack of responses I get to this question.  Candidates most often give one of two responses

1)      I have the students read the text and then I ask them questions about it.

Ok, this is standard and nothing wrong with that.  We want to check to see that the students comprehend the text, but this is generally quite boring and is really more of a test than teaching reading skills.

2)      I have the students read it out loud.

Sadly, I have seen this used a lot in classes at well.  I’m sitting and observing a class of 15 students and the teacher asks one student to read out loud while the others follow along in the book.  This has to be one of the worst wastes of time for a class.  One student is speaking and the other 14 students are bored out of their mind and not paying attention.  Additionally, the one reading isn’t comprehending the text because they are too focused on speaking correctly.  The only thing being worked on here is pronunciation of the one student reading the text. (more…)