Speed Citations

The great thing about staff rooms is that they are excellent place to hear about a task and then use it in your class, so that’s what I am going to share with you today. A cool task on citations/ referencing.You can do this with your learners if you teach EAP or writing classes that require research and referencing. My colleague John, who works at the ELTC at Sheffield University, told me about this one, so shout out to him. I did change it a bit though.

Speed citations

I had already introduced citations and students were familiar with what they need to do when citing a source in their texts, but there was still a bit of uncertainty.  How does this task work? Students need to find the author and date of a publication as quickly as possible and write it down as they would do in in-text citations.

Procedure

  • Give your students one publication/source each. If you have 12 students, you need 12 sources. I used books, journal articles, and a newspaper (I told them that one of the sources could not be used in their academic writing projects and that’s why the newspaper was in it. My students are not journalists and the newspaper was the Metro paper which is a free paper).
  • Put students in a circle and tell them that they only need a piece of paper and a pen.
  • Each student has about 30 seconds to find the author and the date of the source and write it down as they would as part of their in-text citation.
  • After the 30 seconds, students give their source to the person next to them and move on to the next source. This is done clockwise.
  • At the end, give them a couple of minutes to check what they have written on their paper and make necessary corrections.
  • In order to check their answers, each student comes to the board and writes what they have written. One source per student.
Music Department

Sheffield University ( Department of Music)

My thoughts

Why is this a good task?
This was a follow up task, something like a revision which brought the element of ‘fun’ into my ‘dry’ academic writing classes. Students, especially Asian learners, struggle when it comes to identifying the difference between a first name and a family name. They also don’t know where to look for the date or which date they should put in their texts. Learners had a bit more fun cause this was like a game.
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So, there you have it folks. Speed citations. If you are looking for more fun ideas, you may want to have a look at the calling all EAP tutors post and specifically the comments section.

Getting adult learners involved in peer- feedback for writing

So, today’s post is about using peer- feedback in the classroom. This post was originally written for the TESOL Greece Newsletter (issue 127) and since I will be doing peer feedback with my learners on Monday as part of my academic writing class, I thought it would be a  good idea to share that article here as well. So, let’s talk about peer feedback.

Feedback is a way for teachers to make suggestions on students’ written work and help their learners improve (Harmer, 2013). An alternative way to give feedback for writing is to get the students to peer-review and offer feedback. Peer-assessment does not replace traditional assessment but it does enhance the learning process (Topping 1998, cited in Peng).  But before moving on, what exactly is peer-assessment? It is:

an arrangement in which individuals consider the amount, level, value, worth, quality, or success of the products or outcomes of learning of peers of similar status.

                                          (Topping, 1998, cited in Peng 2010)

This feedback method works well with all learners, but especially adults. Therefore, getting learners to provide peer-feedback in an EAP, Business or any other type of English lesson aimed at adults is very beneficial. This article discusses why peer-feedback for writing can play an integral part in the everyday classroom routine and makes suggestions regarding different tasks a teacher ca use in class in order to encourage peer-feedback.

Why Peer-feedback?

There are many reasons why a teacher should encourage adult learners to give peer-feedback. Firstly, it promotes active learning as learners have to think about another student’s work. It helps build trust among students and is also a way to get students to co-operate and collaborate.

Why not peer-feedback?

It may affect the ‘balance’ between the teacher and the learner                                    (Gardner, 2000) as traditionally it is the teacher who provides the feedback and not the learner. The learners may not feel comfortable or may even feel unwilling to mark other students’ work. They might also be too generous and do ‘friendly marking’ which means that they are more interested in the fact that they are marking their friends’ work and not so much in the actual feedback.

While all these are quite ‘valid’ reasons why a teacher might avoid peer-feedback in the classroom, surely with lots of training, good monitoring on behalf of the teacher, and a constant reminder of why peer-feedback is necessary and how helpful it can be, both the learners and the teacher can benefit a lot from using the alternative feedback method.

Tasks that promote peer-feedback

There are lots of tasks that can be used in the language classroom in order to get the students to peer-assess. As the purpose of the article is to promote peer-feedback among adults, the activities chosen, are more appropriate for mature learners.

Using rubrics/checklists

When a teacher first introduces the idea of peer-feedback, it is essential that this is done in a more controlled manner. The teacher can make a checklist or provide rubrics according to which the student gives feedback to his/her classmate’s work. If the group is quite weak, instead of providing feedback on grammar, learners could be asked to check if their classmate has a thesis statement or if there is a main idea in each paragraph and so on. Another good idea is to get learners in groups of four and form a feedback reading circle where each student gets feedback from the three other members of the group.

Reformulation

Reformulation is when the student hands in a piece of writing and the teacher reformulates the original with a better version. Instead of the teacher providing a better version, it can be the learners who are providing the improved version of their classmate’s work.

To conclude….

Peer-feedback involves ‘’students in their own destiny’’ and encourages autonomy as well as motivates them even more (Brown 2004, cited in Peng 2010). It can be a very useful feedback method for every teacher as long as it is monitored and planned well. It will probably never replace teacher feedback but it is a method that can be used to get adult learners more involved in their work.

How often do you use peer feedback in your adult classes? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

References

Gardner, D. (2000). ‘’Self–assessment for autonomous learners.’’ Links and letters: Hong Kong p.40-60.

Harmer, J. (2013). The Practice of English Language Teaching. China: Pearson.

Peng, J (2010). Selected Proceedings of the 2008 Second Language Research Forum, ed. Matthew T. Prior et al., 89-107. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Calling all EAP techers

So, today I am feeling inspired cause well, I have been feeling a bit uninspired lately especially when it comes to EAP writing. So, today you, my readers/fellow teachers are going to share with me your top tips. How on earth do you make your academic writing classes interesting and fun when teaching in an EAP context and especially if it is an intense pre- sessional EAP class?cam building

My context: a group of post grad Asian students who are having sessions in order to be ready for their master’s degree in September. I have loads of academic ‘stuff’ to go through and not that much time. Sure I do my pair writing, my peer feedback, I try to integrate more skills and introduce a summary writing task based on a speaking task. I say a few jokes, I may even offer a chocolate or something for the best writing but that’s about it. I bore my students to death and I get bored myself ( there. I said it).

So, how do you do it? So, take off your fun EFL teacher hat and put on your EAP cap and tell me what you do. How do you make academic writing less boring? The comments section is all yours..

Thanks!!

Professionalism or a ‘joke’?

So today’s post was prompted by a question online regarding professionalism and I started thinking about what is considered professional and what unprofessional in teaching/education.

OK, first of all, what is professionalism?

According to the Cambridge online dictionary, it is

the combination of all the qualities that are connected with trained and skilled people.

Hmm trained and skilled, I see. So, you need to have your degrees and diplomas. You need to be trained and have skills. I guess I can tick those boxes. So, yay!! I am a ‘professional’. But what else?

clinique pop

I don’t see anything about personality traits. Here’s the thing. What got me questioning my own professionalism or lack of, was what type of person is viewed as a ‘professional’ and what isn’t.

I will cut to the chase. If you are a funny, chatty teacher, does that make you less professional than someone who keeps their distance? What is the fine line between being professional and being too connected with your learners? Are you more professional if you are an introvert teacher or does that have nothing to do with it? Are bubbly teachers doomed and not taken seriously? How much sharing is oversharing? Are girlie treachers, who like to talk about lipstick in the office during the lunch break, and not whether they should be teaching unplugged, plugged or whatever, doomed to be labelled unprofessional?

Do teachers gain respect if they are unapproachable? Does being quiet make others think you are better at whatever on earth you are teaching? What about  your cultural background? I am Greek, we are loud. If I am in the office with quiet people and I speak (loudly, but like me), is that viewed as unprofessional? This actually brings culture into the conversation as well? Are some cultures considered more professional than others?  I have actually been ‘teased’ (?!) by a fellow teacher

You are Greek, and you work? Wow!

I am actually the type of teacher who talks about my life with my learners, I have old learners on my Facebook page, I even go for dinner with past learners, I hug my learners before they take exams, I have been on the phone with a student who was freaking out before a language exam and it was 1 in the morning. That is not professionalism… or is it? I have also been doubted by a (female teacher) cause I dared to wear makeup!

In education, where you provide a service, and that service is language learning, a service which involves interaction, what makes you a respected professional and what makes you a joke (the term joke is used for dramatic purposes)? Does the learner affect how professional or unprofessional you are? Do you become more professional when you teach adults and less professional when you teach kids?

Is it actually either… or?

Once again, a whole lot of questions and no answers. The floor is all yours folks. Feel free to share your thoughts.

Jo

 

11 Things (blog challenge)

11 things blog challenge.jpgHi everyone!!

I haven’t rambled here for a while cause I have been super busy teaching, cause I don’t really have that much to share regarding my teaching, cause blog number 2 is getting all my TLC and cause well I dunno! Anyhooooooooo, I was tagged in the 11 random facts/ 11 things blog challenge and while I think I have already written one of these a zillion posts ago, I thought I’d write a 2nd post cause I got tagged quite a bit and cause it’s fun.

So, Kevin started the idea and Claire, Sandy and Elly have nominated me, so here are my answers to Clare’s questions. She tagged me first :p (xx Sandy and Elly thanks for the tag).

 

How this works

Share 11 random facts

Answer 11 questions asked by the person who tagged you

Nominate 11 bloggers

Ask 11 questions for them to answer

Welcome to my random world

  1.  I am a Capricorn
  2. My favourite song is “Should I stay or should I go” by the Clash.
  3. My favourite city is London.
  4. My favourite ‘romantic’ city is Strassburg.
  5. My favourite Greek dish is stuffed tomatoes with rice.
  6. I once made tea, started drinking it,and then realised I also boiled a spider. Yes, I live to tell the story.
  7. Even though I am colour blind, my favourite colour is pink. I think. It’ the colour I gravitate towards so I must love it.
  8. I am afraid of heights and wooden bridges.I don’t like glass floors or glass elevators either.
  9. I am a wannabe fashionista.
  10. I’d love to do a PhD but I don’t have the energy to do it. I am looking into MAs that have to do with writing or journalism.
  11. I am materialistic and I know it. So, I guess that’s one step in the right direction, right? I wish someone would give me a Channel bag already.

 

Clare’s questions

One: How are you feeling today?

I am exhausted. I have been running around like a crazy teacher cause my students were taking proficiency exams and I also had various social events: a get-together, a birthday party and a hen party. That’s a lot of stuff for a gal my age!

Two: What book is closest to you as you write this? And would you recommend it to others? Why (not)?

That’s interesting.I have two books. A notebook/planner and an actual book. The planner is really important for me cause I love planning both as a creative outlet but also cause it helps me get things done. The book next to me is The decision book: fifty models for strategic thinking by Krogerus and Tschappeler. I like this book a lot. It is great for people who want to be productive and love planning (like me). There are many interesting strategic thinking models and they are explained in a way that is very easy to understand (I actually reviewed it for blog number 2 here)

Three: What’s your top tip for de-stressing after a hard day at work?

Do something you like. For me it’s watching YouTube videos about applying makeup or sitting, drinking some coffee and blogging. Just do your thing and stop thinking about whatever is stressing you out!

Four: Have you ever learnt any foreign languages? How has this helped you be a better language teacher?

So, I grew up in Sydney and the foreign language I learnt at school was Greek which is actually the language my parents used when they spoke to me at home ( I didn’t speak Greek as a kid). I then moved to Greece and English became the foreign language I learnt at school (which sounds odd. I know). The only foreign langauge that I actually learnt and had nothing to do with where I lived etc.etc.  were  German and Spanish. I sucked at Spanish!! I didn’t learn a thing cause I actually never showed up for lessons ( I was in uni. I had other ‘things’ to do). I learnt German and I like the language. I would say I can communicate a bit,but not that well. I can only talk about the present and have no idea how to use past tenses! It has helped me out cause I realise that motivation is key to learning a language and I try to instill that into my learners’ minds. I also know how hard it is to learn and use a language. The fact that I moved from Australia to Greece and moved from an English-speaking school to a Greek speaking school as a teenager was extremely challenging. I struggled a lot. I felt embarrassed for not being able to communicate my thoughts and that allows me to empathise with my learners.

Five: Describe your teaching style by comparison to an animal, and explain the similarities!

Oh! That’s easy. Stubborn as a mule/ donkey.

I am gonna get the message across even if I am blue in the face,poor student. I will try to find a way to get you to understand whatever I am trying to help you understand!

Six: What are your areas of specialism & expertise within ELT / teaching, and your strengths as a teacher?

I have been teaching for 18 years. I used to teach young learners  and exam classes mostly.  I have moved on to ESP. I love teaching and learning about EAP and BE. Am I an expert? Don’t think so, but I really have fun teaching these types of English.

Seven: Which are the most recently used smiley/emojis on your mobile phone/whatsapp or instant messenger programme?

❤❤ always!

Eight: What was the most recent photo you took?

I shared this one on Instagram. It is from a tavern we went to have my friend’s hen party.

sunset cropped.jpg

 

Nine: Where are you based, and would you recommend working there to others?

I am based in Greece, but I teach online (mostly). I would definitely recommend teaching online. I also teach EAP in The UK and definitely recommend that too!!

Ten: What’s your best memory of a lesson you’ve taught?

Hmmm I don’t know how to asnwer that one. I have had loads of great teaching experiences. Cannot really mention just one!

Eleven: What would you like to say to me, now that I’ve nominated you for this challenge?!

Thanks for nominating me Clare (and Elly, Sandy). You know I enjoy tags! These tags are a great way to learn more about the person/teacher.

A question from Sandy’s questions:

What tip would you offer to a new blogger?

Write about the things you love. Blog when you feel like it. Don’t worry about page views. If you really like blogging and want to start a second one. Go for it! I have 2 blogs!!!

A question from Elly’s questions:

Who inspires you (Personally or professionally)?

Anything that challenges me, inspires me. I like to push my limits. I like to take (calculated) risks. You only live once, so you gotta make your ‘what ifs?’, ‘I dids’.

So now my 11  semi-random questions😀

1. How do you spend your free time?

2. What’s your favourite song?

3. What’s your favourite food?

4. My guilty pleasure is…….. (fill in the sentence).

5. Share a picture. What is of (inspired by Clare)?

6. If you could go anywhere in the world to teach, where would you go and why?

7. What’s your top tip for new teachers?

8. What’s your top tip for teachers who feel burnt out?

9. If I wasn’t an English teacher , I would be a/ an…….

10. What’s the funniest thing that has happened during a lesson?

11. Describe a typical work day.

I am nominating aka you have been tagged, and yes, you can thank me later…  😀

Anna

Tekhnologic

Marc

T. Veigga

Kirsty

Maria Theologidou

Ljiljan

Christina

I know I haven’t tagged 11 people, but I am also tagging you/ anyone who likes my questions and feels like writing something🙂. Also, many of you have already been tagged.

Happy Sunday!

Till next time……

Jo

Drawings in the EAP classroom (my Iatefl presentation)

Hi everyone,

Today’s post is a video. It is my Iatefl (Birmingham) presentation.Un fortunately, I was unable to go to Iatefl, so I thought I’d make a voiceover video.  My talk is about using drawings when teaching academic writing.

Before watching please keep in mind:

  • My presentaion was part of the forum on academic writing and it needed to be 15 mnutes long.
  • My abstract stated that I was going to also talk a bit about presentations and how to use drawings there, but I decided to only briefly touch upon that as this forum was about academic writing.
  • Even if you do not teach academic writing, you can still use some of these drawings in your classroom.
  • I was nervous!

So, I hope enjoy the video and feel free to leave a question, comment in the comments section below.

Thanks for watching.

Joanna

Good Rapport & the Guilt Trip

I had a terrible thought cross my mind today while I was marking a test and I wanted to share my ‘horribleteacherness’ with you (new word?). Let me start by giving you some context.

I teach one to one lessons and my learners are in their teens. My leaner, let’s call him X, has been learning English with me for about 6 years now. He was a student at my langauge school and when the language school shut down, I took him on as a one to one learner. So, we have been a team for a long time. When you have a learner for so long, lines start to get a bit blurry cause the relationship becomes a bit more personal. Your student is like your kid. I have a great rapport with X and he feels comfortable when we have lessons, but he is a teenager taking exams. He wants to pass, I want him to pass, his parents want him to pass. Is passing an exam what’s important? No. But com’on, it is the Greek reality and I roll with it.

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So, X has been acting up lately. Revolting. Being a teanager and our great rapport has moments when things get a bit electrified (aka he pisses me off). But we do have a good teacher-student relationship and in the end I do get the message accross (aka I am the boss, I win).

About 10.000 words later, I am going to tell you what the problem is. It’s one month before the test and X wrote a mock test which was supposed to be 90 minutes long and he finished it in 50 minutes.

He gave me the test and said, ” I finished. It was easy”.

Me: ” Are you sure?  Did you check everything?”

X: ” Of course Miss! Always! I am going home now.”

Me: ” OK”

But! Of course he didn’t check everything and of course he got a low grade. He can do much better than this and that’s where my ‘horribleteacherness’ will come in. I am going to take X on a guilt trip and play the ‘I am disappointed in you’ card.

You (the reader): “Oh! No, you aren’t!”

Me: “Oh! Yes, I am!”

Time for a guilt trip!

My teenage student needs drastic measures and I am taking them. I will say that:

  • I believe in him and his capabilities.
  • I am going to ask him to tell me why he finished so quickly.Are there things he had difficulty with?
  • I am going to ask If this is the best he can do. If this is what his best effort looks like.
  • I am going to say how this test makes me feel like a teacher.
  • I am also going to use the F word. yeap. Fail. “If you keep this up, you will fail. If you do not try harder, you will not pass”.

Now, before, you start rolling your eyes, and feeling like unfollowing me and giving me a piece of your mind regarding how anti-pedagogical this is, I will say that if this was a weak student who needed more encouragement, I would be more soft in my approach, but it isn’t. This is a student who is very bright and often arrogant. Very arrogant. I need to address this arrogance.

Of course I agree with Merton’s self-fulfilling prophecy and I always tell my learners that they can do whatever they set their minds on. I encourage and support them. I do this with X all the time (maybe that’s why he is arrogant) but sometimes I resort to tough love and this is one of those cases.

So, there you have it. You can tell me off now or not….

Joanna