Text summary and analysis

This is a great follow-on to my last post about learning words with corpora. I have to try ozdic.com for collocations with my students

A Hive of Activities

Copyright © 2014 Emma Gore-Lloyd

Copyright © 2014 Emma Gore-Lloyd

This is a great way to get Proficiency students reading, finding useful vocabulary in the text and sharing it with each other. I got it from the inspiring Elspeth Pollock who gave a talk on teaching CPE students in Seville in February.  She reminded us that proficiency students are (at least in Spain) pretty special students and this should be reflected in the classes. I have used her General Text Analysis handout and also adapted it to make my own for my class and I attach both here with her permission.

After doing a class activity or exam practice on a certain topic, I asked my students to go home and find an article in English on the same sort of general topic – something which interests them – and to follow the handout. They have to summarise it (practice for Part 1 of the Writing paper)…

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corpora – a whole new world of lexical learning

I just learned about corpora (maybe I’m behind the times) and the very idea of a data base of a billion plus words which one can instantly see in context takes learning to a new level.
I never liked dictionary definitions too much. Firstly, language is subject to nuances and subtleties not reflected in dictionaries, and secondly and more importantly dictionaries don’t show us HOW to use language.
Let’s take a practical example. The word ‘farewell’. It’s goodbye, right? Well no, not exactly. Let’s go to the dictionary:

Used to express good wishes on parting:
Farewell Albert!

An act of parting or of marking someone’s departure:
the dinner had been arranged as a farewell
1.1 [MASS NOUN] Parting good wishes:
he had come on the pretext of bidding her farewell

Australian /NZ Back to top
Mark the departure or retirement of (someone) with a ceremony or party.

OK so now we know it’s an exclamation, noun and adjective. We use it to express good wishes on parting. Would an EFL learner still know how to use it correctly without making it sound wooden? ‘Hi, I came to wish you farewell.’ This is correct but we simply don’t say it.

Now let’s go to corpora and see what we can find. 9663 sentences with the word ‘farewell’. Here are a few:


Does this help our learner more? It certainly does. We’ve got some fantastic collocations to learn like ‘farewell dinner, farewell address, farewell song’. We can see from the context how it is used and therefore how it isn’t.

We see living language as it is used, today, on the net and not how it is subjectively defined (no matter what the level of expertise)

There are also some great activities our students can do with corpora which end up being much more fun and much more REAL than searching for definitions. Plus they are learning living language all the time. Feedback? Comments?

The Strangest and Most Tragic Ghost Towns From Around the World

The Strangest and Most Tragic Ghost Towns From Around the World

Here is a link with a ton of amazing pictures of abandoned cities around the world. This is wonderful visual material for a whole load of writing or speaking activities

– trying to imagine what these places were like before they were abandoned

-practising ‘used to’ past forms

-creative writing in general

Practicing the present perfect and comparatives with a pop video that demonstrates use of photoshop

Here’s a great opportunity to practise the present perfect with your students. (upper-intermediate/advanced)

1.Pre: listening – general discussion about the uses and abuses of photo-shop. How is photo-shop used in the world around us? How can photo-shopped photos potentially be harmful to us?
2. Tell the class that they are about to watch a songclip (not in English) that demonstrates how photo-shop changes what we see. Tell them to make notes as to what changes are made to the singer’s looks via photo-shop throughout the clip.
3. After watching the video ask the students what changes have been made to the singer’s looks by the end of the video. Teacher models sentences using the present perfect tense such as
‘Photo-shop has changed the colour of her eyes.’

Students discuss other changes they notice.
The song could provoke further discussion or be a basis for any type of work on this topic or something similar.

Reblogged: A dozen basic guidelines for educators

A dozen basic guidelines for educators

eacher Vanessa Ford takes a break to visit with students Silvia Gutierre (Amanda Voisard / The Washington Post)

D.C. teacher Vanessa Ford and student (By Amanda Voisard / The Washington Post)

Do we really need education policies and practices to cover everything that goes on in the classroom? Author Alfie Kohn says “no” and, below, offers basic guidelines that can really help teachers. Kohn is the author of 12 books about education and human behavior, including “The Schools Our Children Deserve,” “The Homework Myth,” and “Feel-Bad Education… And Other Contrarian Essays on Children & Schooling.” He lives (actually) in the Boston area and (virtually) at www.alfiekohn.org.

By Alfie Kohn

To create the schools our children deserve, it’s probably not necessary to devise specific policies and practices for every occasion.  Rather, these will follow logically from a few core principles that we devise together.  Here’s a sample list of such principles, intended to start a conversation among educators, parents, and (let’s not forget) the students themselves:

1.  Learning should be organized around problems, projects, and (students’) questions — not around lists of facts or skills, or separate disciplines.

2.  Thinking is messy; deep thinking is really messy.  Therefore beware prescriptive standards and outcomes that are too specific and orderly.

3.  The primary criterion for what we do in schools:  How will this affect kids’ interest in the topic (and their excitement about learning more generally)?

4.  If students are “off task,” the problem may be with the task, not with the kids.

5.  In outstanding classrooms, teachers do more listening than talking, and students do more talking than listening.  Terrific teachers often have teeth marks on their tongues.

6.  Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.

7.  When we aren’t sure how to solve a problem relating to curriculum, pedagogy, or classroom conflict, the best response is often to ask the kids.

8.  The more focused we are on kids’ “behaviors,” the more we end up missing the kids themselves — along with the needs, motives, and reasons that underlie their actions.

9.  If students are rewarded or praised for doing something (e.g., reading, solving problems, being kind), they’ll likely lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward.

10.  The more that students are led to focus on how well they’re doing in school, the less engaged they’ll tend to be with what they’re doing in school.

11.  All learning can be assessedbut the most important kinds of learning are very difficult to measure — and the quality of that learning may diminish if we try to reduce it to numbers.

12.  Standardized tests assess the proficiencies that matter least.  Such tests serve mostly to make unimpressive forms of instruction appear successful.

ABC’s of teaching

Here are some of the ABC’s of teaching – I’m sure I’ll think of more as I go along

A is for analyse- we not only teach analysis but we need to be involved in the process the whole time. We need to ask ourselves – what is going right? what is going wrong? why?

B is behaviour – bad behaviour cannot be treated in a black or white way, rather it is something holistic. There are always reasons why students misbehave and our job is not to act as a shrink, but rather to readjust our lesson, our perspective and how we address the students according to their needs. Bad behaviour is not personal, it just is and we have to come to terms with how to deal with it.

C is cognition- cognitive processes go on in all shapes and forms – how to we release that spark? How do we connect our students to what they are studying?

D is for defining goals- the more a teacher defines what he or she is expecting from the class, the more cooperation he or she will get in return

E is for educator – a teacher is an educator – it’s not a job, it’s a calling.

F is for feeling – a teacher must have a feeling for the class and for the individual students. It’s not dry science here.

G is for gimmicks – a class always need a bit of lightening up here and there, so gimmicks such as games, sending answers via sms, something cute do quieten the class down can all be useful. Just don’t rely on them as a replacement for real teaching.

is for using your HEAD – don’t get emotionally boiled over by manipulations or harrassment – always use your head and avoid knee-jerk reactions.

is for intelligence. Remember ALL of your students are intelligent in one way or another and remind them that intelligence comes in many shapes or forms. There is no such thing as a ‘stupid’ student in my class.

J- is for judgement. There are rules and there is judgement based on a given situation. Don’t ever make yourself come across as unfair to your students. Always work on the assumption that they are doing their best.

K – is for knowledge. Your knowledge as a teacher can only take you so far. Strengthen it, increase it.

L- is for learning strategies. Teach your students the best learning strategies so they can take responsibility for themselves.

N – is for nourishment – don’t expect kids to learn on empty stomachs. It is impossible for them.

O – is for options. A class like having the power to choose. Giving them options in exercises and activities gives them a sense of empowerment.

P- is for peripheral vision – you must have your eyes on the periphery of the classroom ,as well as its center.

Q- is for questioning. Asking key questions which make them question is the best way to give them Y2K skills.revi

R – is for review – try to find time at the end of the class to review all the material you have learned.

S – sleep your brain needs it, so does theirs.

T – testing – not too much, not too little. Where, when and how have to be seriously looked into.

U – understanding. You must understand their needs, they must understand your requirements.

V – verbalize – they may know the answer, but having them say it is a different skill.

W- winning. Your class are all winners and they must understand that. Encourage them in every way, one word of encouragement can go a very long way.

X – try to not to put too many of those red X’s on a page – it’s so discouraging. If a student does really poorly, just have them do the test again.

Y – year. The school year goes by in the blink of an eye, so make it count!

Z- zest for learning. Do whatever you can to give your students a zest for learning!