Sunday, October 31, 2010

479. Self-directed

Students who achieve learning English, more and more, have appropriate learning strategies, as I have already written on this blog. Now you can consider the following words, clarifying ones, taken from OXFORD, Rebecca (1990) Language Learning Strategies. What Every Teacher Should Know. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers. I copied them while carrying out my doctorate papers, on May 29, 2004.

“Learner self-direction is not an ‘all or nothing’ concept; it is often a gradually increasing phenomenon, growing as learners become more comfortable with the idea of their own responsibility. Self-directed students gradually gain greater confidence, involvement, and proficiency.” (10)

/ Photo: georges-melies-a-trip-to-the-moon-le-voyage-dans-la-lune-painting dmorth wordpress com

Thursday, October 28, 2010

478. Speaking led to mutual love: Charlot & a blind girl!

From British Council – BBC teaching-English website. September 7.

Help! How to teach a native speaker of French to speak English?

Dear all,

My private student is a young lady from France. Basically, she knows nothing about English and I have very limited knowledge of French. The textbook we are going to use is "Interchage" published by Cambridge University Press. I'm very worried about our fist lesson. How could she understand me if I do't speak much French?

Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks a lot. Effie

Hello Effie and everyone,

Calm down ;) Be, as you well know, welcoming and polite. I don't know the objectives this lady wants to attain with your private speaking classes. You yourself can mark a short and realistic set of objectives - make a plan and write it down.

I would tell you not to speak any French. All in all, don't worry if some words in French slip out during the conversation. But those classes of speaking English must be so, in English, all the time.

A piece of advice: classes should not last more than three quarters of an hour. Anyway, do whatever you decide, obviously.

Use the photos of Interchange - I know that series. It's sensible you would speak in English a lot, very slowly, about specific points of one photo. For example, describe and repeat and repeat basic things about the picture - not many details. Sort of "This is a woman, this is a man, they are speaking by telephone". Mime the gestures of speaking by phone. While you are describing the photo, point with a pen on the people and the main object.

Don't make her tired with the same photo, though.

When you ask her a question to be responded by the English word of one object of the photo, and she answers correctly, you can nod, slightly smile, say ok.

Your learner needs visual aids. You can write the word "telephone" also, on a notebook, with clear characters, for her to match the written word with the picture. Next day make a quick revision of the photo, quickly - nod and smile.

It seems also good that she would listen to you saying a rather longish speech: she will notice the special texture of the English language. And this, definitely, make her more acquainted with listening and understanding your English.

So as to involve the learner more into the process of learning, frown your forehead and ask her how she says that word in French, and you sort of say oh, I see, this is a ("telephone" in French).

Show her she is making quick advance. When learning a new language, each word is a step forward, and the learner notices his or her advance, more quickly than an advanced learner.

Little by little you can step forward, you can proceed into longer conversations. Longer but basic.

At your entire disposal.


Teacher of English. Teacher trainer. Granada

/ Photo from: city-lights-petit-big City Lights, premiered 1931 in New York. From: www sinepil org

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

477. Going back to the problem

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Discipline in the school? Consider the following case and try draw your conclusions. In certain school a student, when hanging around in the playground with his friends, a teacher went past them, at some steps away. That student said sort of a disgusting nickname at this teacher, an insult, coming to the head. The teacher consulted this case with another teacher, and the latter one, a veteran one, told the former that this student ought to be expelled from the high school.

Ultimately the aggraviated teacher addressed the direction staff and they agreed the ‘small terrorist’, so to speak, had to continue at the school. If the decision would be to fire the kid, this process should keep something educative for him, should not hurt him forever, and a beneficial thing for his life.

Anyway, on this blog you have heard the first thing to do is to make helping tutorials, and useful punishments, if any.

The key point of a school: educate the person.” / Photo from: technician www oriontech co za

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

476. The correct task at the correct time

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Yesterday I invented a simple game. It helps learn present simple, because it refers to habits. It’s for a low level class. On the blackboard I write a series of times of a regular day, like 7:30am, 8:00pm, etc. That part on a column. On a parallel column I write activities in present simple, like ‘I rise’, ‘I do my homework’, etc, at random. And they’got to match the times with the activities. As simple as that, as useful as it sounds to practice that verbal tense.” / Photo from: www vetforu com

Monday, October 25, 2010

475. Her capability to acquire Spanish?: Awesome!

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “The teacher of English needs wisdom. For any regular day. Wisdom makes classes and education of our students deeper and more human, with plenty of values. I found some words by John Paul II that made me think. Listen,
‘In the Old Testament [of the Bible] was developed and flourished a rich tradition of wise doctrine and thought. On the human level, such a tradition shows human person’s desire to coordinate the data of his or her experiences and his or her knowledge, in order to direct his or her life as the most fruitful and wisest one.’ Something I’m rolling in my head lately is that the human person’s wisdom, the teacher’s wisdom and competence ultimately come from God, who has an everending Wisdom. Our wisdom is like a spark, a big one, of God’ one.
Well, sure thing, counting on the teacher of English’s learning and working.”
[The translation of the text is by me; I’ve done slight changes, precisely to clarify its meaning. The text is from the general audience to ordinary people in Rome on April 22, 1987]. / Photo from: student1 uncg edu

Saturday, October 23, 2010

474. He (she?) is building up communication

Here you have a post by a teacher, published on British Council – BBC’s website about teaching English. And an answer by me; I suppose one of the replies by other teachers.

Hi everybody! My name is Valeria. I'm a teacher of English from Argentina. I'm carrying out a research paper on How to evaluate speaking skill. Have you ever reflected upon this issue? What aspects do we have to take into account when evaluating speaking? How can we help our students develop those aspects? What do you think about this?

It would be a great pleasure for me to read your feedbacks and include them as part of the investigation.

Thanks in advanced.




Hello Valeria and everyone,

I think you have hit the target. I mean, speaking could be one of the most important skills for a reaserch, because speaking may be the most important or usual means of communication.

See it this way: if a student can speak in English, up to some point you can say that person manages communicating in that language. Evidently the skills of listening, reading and writing are as well of a paramount importance, and necessary. Anyway, roughly speaking, I usually think that that person manages English, because he or she can actually speak in English.

I've worked out a lot on speaking. My doctorate theme encomprises speaking.

Teaching English = (a too general view, I do know) helping and teaching students how to speak... and communicate by speaking.

I'd tell you the following things, if any useful to you.

First thing to take into account when evaluating speaking: the message the learner conveys in English, in other words, the communication which is held among two people. Don't get me wrong with what follows: "forget" about accuracy of grammar. That person is trying to tell you something, and you are trying to say something, trying that person would understand your ideas, your messages.

Honestly most of my class-time is devoted to speaking, to connect people through communication. The classes are entirely in English: the classroom is a special place, say, an environment where English is the only language among us. “I don't understand Spanish": it's a funny treat in which I act out as if I would not understand Spanish. And it's their business to solve the problem of communicating with me. Even I make faces because "I don't understand".

An anecdote: a few times my new students have asked me what country I'm from: and I'm Spanish like most of them. They are already in the classroom when I come in, waiting for me, for the teacher.

But if the students have close to no idea of English? I don't care. It's good for them to listen, massively, in English. And furthermore I use miming, eye-contact, the board, drawings, examples, cognate words, humour, fun. I can assure you they, admirably, little by little, with the big aid of grammar and vocab, they achieve even to utter full sentences, even to maintain conversations.

There is no room here to tell you more things. I stop here. I hope all this stuff would be helpful and give you some light for your research paper (and some help to other colleagues of ours, I'be be glad).

Sorry, I feel I've spoken too much about myself; anyway it's the nice experience I've had.

Best for your research paper.

Fernando M Díez

Teacher of English. Teacher trainer. - Granada

(September 6)

Photo from: nigeria aderinola wordpress com

Friday, October 22, 2010

473. A smart girl in my class

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I have told you loads about learning strategies, and it’s okay. Anyway, your students also need a lot of presentation of grammar, of grammar patterns that will help them construct real communication. Present, explain grammar, let them listen and understand and write down notes. Before being able to speak they need to listen to you speaking to them, speaking with them.” / Photo from: Afghan Beauty (Talal Salaam) pinktaxiblogger blogspot com

Thursday, October 21, 2010

472. That's challenging

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Challenging activities. Your students like them. Yesterday a new activity came up to me. I was with my students in the classroom. Oh, I had forgotten to take a piece of chalk, a new one. I was on the point to up and go to take one. But then I thought otherwise: I should say to one student to go and fetch it. I explained to Marta where the chalk package was, in my office. I gave her my keys, and explained to her how to reach my office, in English. I spoke slowly, for her level is low, and also I made up kind of a map onto my desk with my hands and naming different parts and rooms of the school. She took her time to understand but showed eager to catch my instructions. She achieved the mission – Sláinte!” / Photo from: highschoolsports nj com

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

471. A big picture of the circumstances

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Some days ago one colleague of ours met with a student’s father, in a tutorial. This father used to scold and reprimand his son, sort of: Life is hard, Western-World economics is close to get choked, no employment, his student had to fulfill his duty, he must study same like his father goes to his disgusting work, the father also had repeated his son umpteen times he had to study, to study, to do his homework, not to lie... This colleague suggested to this father why not listen and retain his son’s problems and small trifles – not trifles for the kid, maybe blarney for the father, why not put in his son’s mind. Another day this teacher met with this father again, and he showed how to ask and listen to the kid, how to ask questions that would hit the target of the problems, how to paraprhase the kid’s statements, how to ask him his own views, how to ponder about his arguments, how to nod when listening to the kid, how to reason and to make reasoning, how to set short-time and attractive aims...” ---Blarney is an Irish expression and means “nonsense” / Photo from: caillebotte-paris-a-rainy-day blogs laweekly com

Monday, October 18, 2010

470. Follow the scheduled plan

One day teacher of English C said to teacher of English B, “Couple days it’s my first-day class ever; I’m scared, to be honest. I don’t know if I will be able to manage the class; I imagine the worst; they’ll soon realize I am absolutely rookie.” B replied, “Uh..., my suggestions, just my suggestions. The point is that you are going to present the subject of this year, I guess. No problem they notice you’re anxious. Stop speaking when a smart cookie wants to be funny. Stare, gaze at him, do some slight sign at him. Hand them out a test to find out their level of English. You may be nervous but you do not tolerate anything wrong, anything out of the ordinary conducting of a class.” / Photo from: duke university.

Friday, October 15, 2010

469. Their coach's outfit to win the game

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “When I was a kid, we, boys, were so concerned for the image we could show off before girls, which was one more thing for getting distracted during the class. In single-sexed education, which is the one I’ve had more experience of as a teacher, boys don’t have this factor for being in the clouds. This is my experience at teaching. That said, I want to add, single-sex education is one option a lot of teachers prefer; many others prefer coeducation, evidently, and they have their reasons why. You know what? A girl 13 years old likes a guy of 17, and so the boy aged 13 in the same class as that girl may feel somehow put aside. Girls cover their class-folders with pics of George Clooney or Leonardo Di Caprio, whilst boys put pictures of Formula 1 Fernando Alonso taking a curve.” / Photo from www boston com

Thursday, October 14, 2010

468. Do you really know your students?

A big welcome, Leticia, to our blog. Thanks a lot for signing up as a follower and for your interest. At your disposal.

I have learned a lot from Spanish great pedagogue Víctor García Hoz, who wrote in 1968 (translation by me), that only can we consider as didactic that teaching whose goal is “the improvement, the bettering of the person who is taught, an improvement whose inmediate sign is learning itself.” This quotation is from: José Bernardo Carrasco (2004) Una didáctica para hoy. Cómo enseñar mejor. Rialp: Madrid, Spain / Photo from: www uky edu

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

467. Learning to be good parents

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “We teachers are concerned with our students’ education, and we give our lives to this goal. Ok, but we’ve got to also learn how to rope their parents’ in their inherent role of education. I reckon this may be sometimes not easily achieved, but I maintain what I said: the parents are the first teachers of their children. If the parents don’t care much about education at home, the business is cat. From a positive point of view: phone the parents to come to the school to a conversation with you. Or listen to them whenever they come to see you. You know, I rather say every marriage are concerned for this educating, but some of them don’t know much how to accomplish it, and you can help them out.” / Photo from: blog engeneral com

Monday, October 11, 2010

466. You've got meet this nice family

Hello Humay, very welcome to our blog. If you wish to make any comment, feel free to do it. Thank you for having signed up as a follower. I hope you’ll like this blog.

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “What is the order of priority in the school for this one to fulfill its educative mission? Evidently the people: we teachers should take care of the parents, then the teachers, and then the students. In this order. At the same time. One example: we can invest our strenghts at full, but it’s the parents of the boys and girls who must educate their children. If you say something to your students in order to educate them, but at home dad and mom do not set an example at hard-working, much is lost, or better said, not lost but hindered.” / Photo from: Thatch roof cottage in Ireland. Source of the picture: on it itself.

Friday, October 8, 2010

465. Struggling to reach excellence in their future jobs

Hi followers,

Sorry, I don’t have some of the links to your blogs. I’d like to follow them, and maybe make myself a follower. I guess I lost your links, sorry. I’d like to learn from you and subsequently I might make a comment or ask you something useful with regard to teaching or human growth. Would you please send the links to the hidden comments of my blog I would appreciate. No obligation, of course. As you like. Or any other reader could send me his blog link.

Something else for today. A friend of mine usually reads a novel in English, for he says it helps him keep, up to some extent, his fluency and aptitude to speak in that language. Sometimes he reads for pleasure, sometimes he focuses on every sentence, other times he rereads a few expressions and sentences already read, and this latter thing helps him notice and learn English expressions. / Photo from: opendoorexchange org

Thursday, October 7, 2010

464. She either has no clue to prepare an exam...

Ayer leí lo siguiente que te puede hacer pensar:

La vitalidad del mundo educativo es siempre un signo de esperanza. Su ágil capacidad de reacción ante los hechos que puedan afectar su encomiable tarea honra a este gran número de profesionales. Padres y profesores son los coprotagonistas del complicado viaje de aprendizaje, en el que sus hijos y alumnos se formarán, a su vez, para ser los “maestros” de la siguiente generación. Por eso, el sector educativo –con las familias al frente- es uno de los pilares fundamentales de la sociedad. Y, precisamente por eso, hay que alegrarse de su inconformismo ante un uso rutinario y esclavo de las pantallas[1].

Ya he hablado de cómo evaluar el progreso del alumno. Ahora vamos a ver cómo pueden ellos preparar un examen escrito.

Si le preguntas a un alumno tuyo, te dirá que estudiando más. Bien. Si le preguntas cómo aprender inglés, te dirá que estudiando más. Bueno. Qué tienes que estudiar más, le preguntas a continuación: el vocabulario y la gramática. Bueno está.

El profesor debe evaluar el aprendizaje o adquisición de la lengua, día a día. Un solo examen al trimestre no refleja fielmente el proceso de aprendizaje. El aprendizaje es para la práctica, para la comunicación, algo pragmático. Ya dije que el examen debe ser práctico, en perfecta consonancia con comunicación. Es más, es un acto de comunicación. Ya hablamos más arriba de la evaluación de la destreza de la expresión oral (speaking), que naturalmente no se puede introducir en el examen escrito: las otras tres destrezas sí: listening, reading y writing (comprensión oral, comprensión escrita, expresión escrita).

La preparación, por tanto, no consistirá en estudiar la víspera, sino una actuación comunicativa día a día. Sí puede ser que tengan que repasar alguna forma gramatical o un vocabulario... pero que han practicado de forma práctica a lo largo de los días (dejo la redundancia conscientemente).

De todas maneras, sí que es verdad que el examen seguirán preparándolo el día anterior, para qué nos vamos a engañar, como siempre ha ocurrido. Pero teniendo en cuenta lo anteriormente explicado de la pragmática, hasta donde se pueda. Que es mucho.

Por todo lo dicho hasta aquí, los alumnos... aprenderán a aprender. Y esto al margen incluso de lo que les “mandes” como deberes. Mételes este gusanillo. Que aprendan a aprender, que sean autónomos, pregúntales a varios cómo hacen ellos por su cuenta. Todo esto acabará reflejándose en la nota. Díselo a ellos.

Practicad la comunicación en L2. Sugiéreles estrategias de aprendizaje; hazles pensar qué más, qué más pueden hacer para entrenarse cara a la comunicación; lo necesario que es, para hablar, un buen vocabulario y formas gramaticales y expresiones idiomáticas. Sin palabras conocidas y practicadas no hay comunicación. Mantén con ellos conversaciones. Y que practiquen con el profesor nativo.

Pregúntales si van a, y cómo lo harán, para seguir aprendiendo al terminar el periodo escolar obligatorio. Transmíteles el gusanillo. Que te vean a ti aprender cosas nuevas, que te vean entusiasmado, que estés deseando darles clase y verles (no es una utopía. Lo puedes, lo estás consiguiendo). Que te vean que echas de menos al que falta, que te corriges a ti mismo en clase, para pronunciar mejor tal expresión, que te les entregas en clase, con todas tus fuerzas y dinamismo, que cambias de actividad si ves que no funciona, que muestras entusiasmo y sonríes al ver en tu guión qué actividad toca ahora. Que te das cuenta de que estás hablando en castellano, y vuelves al inglés o al francés: hazles ver con humor tu despiste; que Nuria te está preguntando en L1 y tú, lógicamente, le escuchas con atención, y de pronto caes en la cuenta de que ella también debe cambiar a hablar en inglés. Si tienes entusiasmo, se lo transmitirás a ellos. Y todo de manera simpática, atrayente, cercana, entusiasmada, con fuerza, con ganas de que ellos se expresen, también cuando te preguntan algo en L1. Si te encanta la L2 y dar clase, esto les ayudará a ellos a alcanzar el éxito en la adquisición o aprendizaje de L2.

Por el contrario, ya te lo dije, pero interesa repetirlo, me cuentan los chavales que los exámenes en sus centros escolares son de esta o de aquella forma: mucha traducción; ejercicios sin vida, teóricos, que no tienen absolutamente nada que ver con sus vidas; mucha conversión de oraciones (por ejemplo de afirmativa a negativa); pensar la pregunta que se ajuste a tal respuesta proporcionada en el propio examen; traducir unas oraciones coloquiales a español (pero que ellos no pueden saber porque sencillamente no lo habéis trabajado en clase...). Algo de todo este tipo de ejercicios hay que hacer, pero ve procurando poco apoco llegar a un ejercicio práctico, pragmático, comunicativo (insisto). Quizá tú te me encuentres entre los que hacen los exámenes un trozo de vida.

Que sepan qué le gusta a la profesora examinar, y con ello podrán repasar ese tipo de actividades en casa.

Un señor profesor, ya te hablé de él, les devuelve los exámenes y que se queden con ellos. A veces, a veces, incluso miran qué tipo de actividades les pone normalmente. Y aunque no lo miren nunca, van entendiendo qué suele incluir este señor.

/ Photo from: ibeconomics files wordpress com

[1] Tomado del editorial de la revista Contraste, nº 26, abril 2008. Edita: Asociaciones de telespectadores.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

463. Learning from others

Hey, I noticed art as one of your interests, I started a new art blog maybe u'll like it! Thanks and keep up great work. (Comment by Makavetis. I publish it on a new post because to be honest I receive few ones, and the label of “comments”, beneath every post is so small).

Hello Makavetis,

Nice to send me your comment. My compliments. I don’t like fine arts, I love them. As well, paintings show that great capacity of creativity by the artists; or if you prefer, by any men and women, ultimately. I liked the design of your blog, awesome. I’ll follow it and maybe I’ll sign up as a follower. I’m glad to hear you’re from California. Some years ago I was close to go to San Francisco to teach Spanish. I just love the US and have many, many friends there.

Hello Álvaro,

I sent you a comment to your blog right yesterday. Thank you for your interest and trust.

Photo from: 1258974416_831 www swanleisurecentre co uk

462. Useful concepts for your teaching

I think this post may be useful for us teachers of English, and those teachers who wish to deepen into ways to improve teaching and learn some sheer concepts. From:

Copied and slightly modified August 10, 2010

Overview of Language Teaching Methodology

The word "methodology" is itself often misinterpreted or ill-understood. It is usually given lip-service as an explanation for the way a given teacher goes about his/her teaching, a sort of umbrella-term to describe the job of teaching another language. Most often, methodology is understood to mean methods in a general sense, and in some cases it is even equated to specific teaching techniques. It does (or should) in fact mean and involve much more than that. I've found that Brown's (1994:51) definitions (reflecting current usage at the time and drawn from earlier attempts to break down and classify elements to do with methodology) are the most useful:


The study of pedagogical practices in general (including theoretical underpinnings and related research). Whatever considerations are involved in "how to teach" are methodological.


Theoretical positions and beliefs about the nature of language, the nature of language learning, and the applicability of both to pedagogical settings.


A generalized set of classroom specifications for accomplishing linguistic objectives. Methods tend to be primarily concerned with teacher and student roles and behaviors and secondarily with such features as linguistic and subject-matter objectives, sequencing, and materials. They are almost aways thought of as being broadly applicable to a variety of audiences in a variety of contexts.


Designs for carrying out a particular language program. Features include a primary concern with the specification of linguistic and subject-matter objectives, sequencing, and materials to meet the needs of a designated group of learners in a defined context.


Any of a wide variety of exercises, activities, or devices used in the language classroom for realizing lesson objectives. / Photo from: Viejo_camion_de_Bomberos_by_jludizel fc04 deviantart net

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

461. Skillful enough to carry out tough ops

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Some posts before I told you something to keep in mind if an adult goes to you in want of private classes. Can an adult, even oldish, learn a language? This person has learning strategies a kid doesn’t. This adult can submit himself to a discipline, to an effort, to a perseverance whatsoever dead weight might occur on regular days. Furtherly this learner can apply the skills and mentality he has acquired with his job or profession. And he can be more aware of his obligation and necessity for learning.” / Photo from: russian-antarctic-station-2 www hiddengarments cn

Monday, October 4, 2010

460. Can my children fly that high!

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Some days ago one colleague of ours met with a student’s father, in a tutorial. This father reprimanded his son, sort of: ‘You’ve got to become a useful man in life!’, ‘When are you going to mature?’; also 'There is no employment?, that his student had to fulfill his duty... This colleague of ours suggested to this father that besides all those reasons, why not listen and retain his son’s problems and small trifles – not trifles for the kid, maybe blarney for the father. This teacher told this one how to ask and listen to the kid, how to ask questions that would hit the target of the problems, to paraphrase the kid’s statements, how to ponder about the teen's arguments, how to nod when listening to the kid, how to reason and to make reasoning, how to set short-time and attractive aims...” (“blarney” is an Irish expression that means “nonsense”). Excuse me, Denisse. / Photo from: parapente_landing www amanecerin es