Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Cambridge Assessment English's online course, Exploring the World of English Language Teaching. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second Hello everybody, and welcome to our end of Week 4 review. I’m here again, this week with Marie Therese who’s back from visiting a course in Portugal. A CELTA course? Lisbon, yes, lovely. - in Portugal. And I’d like to begin by talking about the metaphors. Lovely lot of metaphors have been put on the end of week review from last week. And they fell into a series of different groups. Some people talked about recipes and preparing a meal. And brought in the idea of a lot of preparation but adapting - adapting the recipe, adapting the meal to suit your guests. Changing it in the light of past experience to make it better. Another group talked about the lesson as being a journey.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds So maybe climbing a mountain - with challenges along the way, but at the top, you get a great view. And we have the treasure hunt one - Oh, we had the treasure hunt one. - and I imagined it was going to the Caribbean, and pirates, and all that. Exactly. We had boat journeys. We had jigsaw puzzles. There was one group I particularly liked, which was the idea of building a house or being an architect and building the house or building the building with the students according to a plan - but having that plan and the building being constructed together. It’s a really good metaphor, right? Isn’t it?

Skip to 1 minute and 11 seconds Especially because you’ve got the foundations and then you build up, and then you have a complete house at the end. Who’s idea was that? Oh, that was Olana. Olana? OK, nice. Thank you. And so fantastic metaphors - do have a look at the end of Week 3 review to have a look at those metaphors. Now this week’s theme was language. That’s grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation - so a big theme. And one question that was asked was do we actually teach the grammar? We said in our introduction that teachers need to know their grammar. But do you explicitly teach the grammar to students? Well, that depends. Something is very important though, and what’s that Mary Therese?

Skip to 1 minute and 47 seconds Well, I think we didn’t actually talk a whole lot about teaching grammar and approaches to teaching grammar and so on. But I think that what came out in the units in the week, and also what came out in the activities, and what the teachers said is the importance of context. So if you’re going to teach grammar, it may not be important that the students know that you’re teaching the present simple, or the name of what the tense is called, or the name of the structure. But what is important is that they understand how to use it and what it means. So you might be teaching the present simple, but you make sure that you have a context.

Skip to 2 minutes and 24 seconds So for example, if you teach in the present simple for routines, you might introduce a character into your lesson. And you will show this is the Brown family, and Mr Brown, and Mrs Brown. And then you’ll talk about their routines. So they get up, or he gets up, or she gets up at 7 o’clock. They have breakfast. They drive to work and so on. And so you’re introducing the present simple through a story, through a situation, through a context so that the students can see, can understand what it means and how it’s used. And so then, perhaps after you’ve done that, you’d get them to say what their routines are and how they start their day and so on.

Skip to 3 minutes and 8 seconds So then they see the examples of the language in context, and then they see how it’s used, and then they use it themselves. And I think also you wanted to make a point about practice. Yeah, I think lots of people said that actually - that any language learning requires lots of practice, lots of repetition. And quite a few people mentioned the need for exposure so doing lots of reading and listening so that you actually see how a language is used. Yeah, and you have a lot of accurate examples.

Skip to 3 minutes and 36 seconds But the other thing as well about exposure and doing a lot of reading a lot of listening - somebody was saying that they listen to BBC news a lot because they can see from the pictures. And they encourage their students to do that, because they can work out what’s going on. But also the thing about reading and listening is that it increases your vocabulary without you really even realizing that it increases your vocabulary. So that was our second subject - That was the second theme, yeah. And I - Sorry, you go first. I think there was a lot of activity around the making a vocabulary game. Is that right? Absolutely.

Skip to 4 minutes and 12 seconds We had two activities this week where we asked you guys to go off and prepare an activity and then bring it and share it in the discussion. And one of the activities was the vocabulary games. And we had loads and loads of them. People went off and made games. And then we could try out the games to see if they worked, and I think that was a really nice step - lot’s of contributions from people. But actually I really liked Hunan’s. I’m sorry if I’m pronouncing your name incorrectly. Hunan’s idea of a game that she uses in class, which is absolute simplicity itself. What she does is she writes a word on the board.

Skip to 4 minutes and 48 seconds So for example, she writes “encyclopedia” and the learners in her class have to make as many words as they can using that one word. It’s a really nice idea. It’s the kind of thing you could do at the beginning of a lesson or at the end of a lesson. No preparation, no photocopying - lovely idea. Thank you, Hunan. And our third theme was phonology. Oh, OK. That’s true - pronunciation. Yeah. And I think that’s teachers’ biggest worry I think because they worry about whether they’re modeling the right model of English. Particularly with non-native speakers - they seem to have an idea that their English is very, very different from native speakers.

Skip to 5 minutes and 25 seconds But if you compare Glaswegians, people from Glasgow, the people from Northern Ireland, people from Newcastle, myself from the Caribbean - we all speak quite different kind of a English. And very often individual sounds aren’t that important. A lot of it, again, coming back to the idea of context. So for example, it’s summer now. But if it were Autumn and I were to say there are lots of leaves on the ground. You would understand that I have mean leaves and not lives. So people get worried too much about sounds. I think so. And I think that national variations anyway - different varieties of English - have pronounced different sounds.

Skip to 6 minutes and 1 second I mean American and British English is a classic example of the difference, isn’t it? Some people actually mentioned - I think actually it was one of the students who was interviewed said that American English is easier to understand. than British English - again, it depends doesn’t it? I think it’s what you’re exposed to, because there’re so many movies and so on. Yes, anyway, but also in the pronunciation this week, we set a challenge for people. And we asked them to go away and look at some websites and come back and say which websites they liked and which websites they didn’t like.

Skip to 6 minutes and 33 seconds And I think we had a really good example from Lucero this week, who provided a pronunciation game where she introduced - I’m going to ask you to talk about whether you think we should introduce phonemics symbols to students or whether they’re really just for teaching. But she says she uses a game where she writes a word out in phonemic script. And she plays a game with the students. They hold up the thing for their partner, and their partner has to say what the word is. And I think it’s an interesting idea, because quite often you can guess what the word is. You can guess.

Skip to 7 minutes and 11 seconds There were questions about whether it’s necessary or advisable to use the phonemic script, and it can be very useful. So for example the “schwa.” We all know that in English the “schwa” that this sound is very frequent. So use - As in mother - “uh,” “uh,” “uh.” And you can have the “schwa” sound on the board. And maybe if you want to point to it to remind people that that’s the sound they need to make. I used to say that you needed to learn the phonemic script to check the pronunciation of words in a dictionary.

Skip to 7 minutes and 38 seconds But of course nowadays, you’ve got an audio where you can click on the word in a Cambridge dictionary online, for example, and you can listen to the word. So maybe less necessary now. An awful lot of focus and sounds, less on stress - that’s something that you might like to think about, thinking about the importance of stress, which is probably more important than sound. Because it’s a real feature of English pronunciation– the fact that we are a stress focused language rather than a syllable focused language. So we focus on stress, and we just gobble up the other words. So can I come to your house tonight? All of those unimportant words are just gobbled up, and it’s because of stress.

Skip to 8 minutes and 19 seconds It’s because I’m hurrying to get to the word “house” when I say, can I come to your house tonight. I’m so hurried to get to “house” and “tonight” that I don’t worry about all the others. And that’s really important. And if I said “come house tonight?” You’d understand wouldn’t you? Yeah, and my intonation tells you whether I’m asking you a question. Very important, very important. So we’ve had, I think, a massively productive week this week talking about grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. And next week? Next week, we’re looking at resources. So again, a very big theme because there’s hundreds of resources out there. And we’re going to have a look as well at digital resources.

Skip to 8 minutes and 54 seconds There’s going to be a bit in the second half of the week when Mary’s going to come back and talk - In the Facebook session. That’s right. And we’re going to talk a lot about digital resources but also course books, and using visuals, and all those sorts of things. So again, a very busy week but we are at week 4. Only two weeks to go so keep going. And there will be lots and lots of interesting things to read about next week I’m sure. So that’s goodbye from us. See you next week. Bye, bye.

Video review of Week 4

Monica and Marie Therese talked about some of the work done on the course this week and last week. If you missed these steps and would like to look at them again here are the links:

Metaphors from participants about teaching about teaching and learning English: Step 3.15

Vocabulary task - choose a set of words and create a game using one of the websites suggested: Step 4.13

Pronunciation task - choose an activity from the websites suggested which you think would help learners improve their pronunciation: Step 4.18

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Exploring the World of English Language Teaching

Cambridge Assessment English