Friday, April 20, 2012

How To Use A Mind Map

How To Become A Brilliant English Teacher

Teaching Beginners

Goals and strategies in teaching beginners & elementary learners

(from a talk by Robert O'Neill circa 1980 post publication of "Kernel One")
Goals can be classified by TYPE and STATUS. See "Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives"
  1. Cognitive
  2. Affective
  3. Psycho-Motor
  1. Long term
  2. Mid term
  3. Short term.
Many basic mistakes are made by teachers because they do not pay enough attention to Affective Goals and they fail to distinguish sufficiently in their own teaching and analysis of other people's teaching and materials between long/mid/short term goals.
Strategies: Expository
  1. Explaining
  2. Focussing
  3. Problem-setting
  4. Exemplification
  5. Correcting and
  6. Model-Giving
  7. Summarising.
Strategies: Eliciting
  1. Questions
  2. Drilling
  3. Role-Simulation
  4. Repetition
  5. Recall
  6. Modelling
  7. Silence
Strategies: Integrative
  1. Linking lesson-segments to lessons
  2. Linking lesson-segments to blocks of lessons
  3. Linking blocks of lessons to overall goals
  4. Establishing rapport with the class
  5. Establishing rapport and interaction between members of the class.

TEACHING BEGINNERS: with reference to Robert O'Neill's Kernel One 1978 Longman SB 51925 X TB 51926 8
Two basically different approaches to teaching beginners:
Approach One:
  1. Select simple structures and vocabulary
  2. Move from one step to the next slowly and carefully
  3. emphasize accuracy throughout.
Approach Two:
  1. Select only according to strict functional criteria
  2. Present & practise variety of structures and lexis in one lesson
  3. Emphasize fluency rather than accuracy.
Staged Progression (Kernel One):
  1. What's your name? My name is..
  2. What time is it? (1-6 o'clock)
  3. What's his/her name?
  4. What time is it? (7-12 o'clock)
  5. Is/isn't a city/country ... is/isn't a big/small country ... is in ...
  6. He/she is in ... Is he/she in..? Yes/No is/isn't
  7. .. is a big/small country/city
  8. Are you in..? Yes, I am/ No, I'm not.
  9. He/She is from.....
  10. Where's ...from?
  11. Where are you from? I'm from..
  12. Are you from..? Yes, I am. No, I'm not.
  13. ... is near... It's a town/city
  14. He/She has got a bike/ small/big car.
  15. What about you? I've got a...
  16. I haven't got a.. He/She hasn't got a
  17. Have you got a Has he got a phone/flat/house/bike?
  18. Numbers 12-100.
Themes and Operations to be distributed throughout the course:
  1. Talking about ones job, salary, colleagues
  2. Describing ones own flat or house, giving such information as address, telephone number, how to get to where one lives
  3. Describing ones own hobbies & interests
  4. Getting information from others in reference to three above themes
  5. Getting and giving opinions about films, books, clothes, food, other people's behaviour and tastes
  6. Family, home and friends (describing relationships, "doing" socialising language)
  7. Talking about, buying and ordering food & clothes
  8. Making & getting suggestions about what to do, where to go in ones spare time
  9. Giving & soliciting advice
  10. Giving & getting instructions about how to do things.
  11. Describing ones daily habits and routine.
  12. Describing other states such as certainty, uncertainty and doubt = expressing such things directly. Describing and inquiring about Cause and Effect in various areas
  13. Health, minor illnesses
  14. Language associated with travel.
TOPIC: Some examples of typical goals for elementary learners categorised according to status or term.
  1. SHORT TERM Teach a few examples of the most frequent questions we use to get information from and about other people's jobs, nationality, where/live
  2. MID TERM Building on Wh corpus above, extend outwards to other functions such as inquiring into cause, asking about likes/dislikes. At the same time begin to contrast systematically the difference in construction between simple & progressive Qs.
  3. LONG TERM Help the learner towards generative competence in Giving & Getting information about oneself & other people, asking for things, suggesting things, offering & refusing things. Relate these utterances to the structural principles underlying them:
    • Tense
    • Word Order
    • Modality.
This will involve contrasting utterances like -
  • Can/Do/Did you (do)?
  • Are/Were you (doing)?
  • Have you (done) (been
  •  Source:

English vocabulary

Key developments in the teaching of English vocabulary during the mid 20th century

  • 1944 TWB The Teacher's Word Book of 30,000 words by Edward L. Thorndike and Irving Lodge containing lists of the most frequent words in written English.
    There are two semantic counts one by Thorndike & Lodge and another of the 570 commonest words by Lorge.
  • 1953 GSL A General Service List of English Words by Michael West Part 1 contains 20,000 words (those ocurring at least once per million words). Frequency is indicated on a scale of 1 to 5
  • 1960 BSV A Basic Sight-Vocabulary by Dolch 220 words had considerable influence in the teaching of reading at elementary level in the USA:
    The basic words in Dolch's list are: a about after again all always am an and any are around as ask at ate away be because been before best better big black blue both bring brown but buy by call came can carry clean cold come could cut did do does done don't down draw drink eat eight every fall far fast find first five fly for found four from full funny gave get give go goes going good got green grow had has have he help her here him his hold hot how hurt I if in into is it its jump just keep kind know laugh let light like liitle live long look made make many may me much must my myself never new no not now of off old on once one only open or our out over own pick play please pretty pull put ran read red ride right round run said saw say see seven shall she show sing six sleep small so some soon start stop take tell ten thank that the their them then there these they think this those three to today together too try two under up upon us use very walk want warm was wash we well went were what when where which white who why will wish with work would write yellow yes you your

    Sight words are words whose meaning the reader grasps so rapidly that they "do not seem to come between him and meaning at all". They are so common in reading matter that all children should know them instantly by sight.

    "Basic" because it includes the service words that are used in writing whatever the subject: conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, auxiliary verbs and some regular verbs. No nouns are included.

    Dolch considers that nouns are in a different category because each relates to a special subject matter. N.B. Wilga Rivers observes that L1 readers lean heavily on content words (nouns etc) to provide meaning. L2 readers can't draw on them so rapidly.
  • 1965 L.A. Hill's 5 lists: 500 750 1000 1500 2075 headword vocabularies used by OUP authors. 3000 or even 5000 word vocabularies are insufficient for fluent reading of all kinds of texts. Knowledge of the most widely used words will serve as a basis for intelligent guessing or inferencing when learners encounter unfamiliar content words.
  • 1968 The Longman Structural Readers Handbook containing 2340 words. Note that 10,000 words are needed to read & understand an English novel, looking up a maximum of 4 to 5 words per page.
  • 1974 Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English uses a defining vocabulary of 2100 words. These are the words used in formulating the dictionary definitions in order to make them comprehensible to learners from non English language backgrounds.
  • 1974 Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English containing 61,000 words
  • 1980 Roland Hindmarsh's Cambridge English Lexicon: words are graded for difficulty on a scale of 1 to 7. Words within the 1-5 bands are needed for candidates taking the Cambridge First Certificate in English examination. Words in bands 6 - 7 are also needed for candidates taking the Cambridge Proficiency in English examination.

Vocabulary Selection Criteria

1960s-1970s approaches to vocabulary selection in English language teaching empahsized the following criteria:
  1. Frequency of use
  2. Which style/register? Speech or writing?
  3. Difficulty - appropriateness to level, Learnability & Teachability, Memory Load.
  4. Pedagogic value in terms of the use of the vocabulary items in delivering a structurally based syllabus: for example, volume 1 of Geoffrey Broughton's "Success With English" coursebook [Penguin Books 1968], widely used in the late 1960s and early 1970s, introduced words such as "plane", "wing", "tail", "monkey" in the early stages, because they were easy for the artist to illustrate unambiguously and also facilitated the course's structural gradation when they were recycled. They were certainly not the most relevant or functional vocabulary items to present to most learners using semantic criteria.
By the 1980s, functional load or communicative need became a key criteria for vocabulary selection. By this time, syllabus guidelines were being developed by The Council of Europe [see the updated version: Threshold Level 1990: Modern Languages - the syllabus specifications set by the Council of Europe for modern language courses at the intermediate level]. Another influential work was John Munby's Communicative Syllabus Design and works of a similar nature began to appear in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It would be a pretence to say that coursebook writers had not catered for learners' needs and language in use before. However, the 1980s saw the appearance of a few coursebooks which claimed to be "lexical" in their approach in a communicative sense.

Some of these "lexically-based" coursebooks clearly lacked the structural thread which most learners and teachers required and were never able to compete with classics such as Streamline Departures [Oxford 1979]. The Collins Cobuild project, using large corpuses of authentic texts (both spoken and written) provided excellent offshoots in terms of dictionaries and reference books (e.g. dictionaries of phrasal verbs). However, coursebooks offered as offshoots from this project enjoyed a limited shelf life.

One explanation for their lack of popularity with language learners and teachers is shortsightedness in defining authenticity. The danger of lexical computing projects using authentic texts from all walks of life lies in the list of lexical items which is returned as the most frequent and therefore the most useful. You can end up with a very generalized bag of useful words, which are not especially useful in meeting the needs of language learners from non English backgrounds studying at the elementary level in UK cities or holiday resorts.

The intuition of teachers working with these learners, informed by direct knowledge of the social spheres determining their immediate language needs (basic survival!), probably offers a better means of vocabulary control, especially at the elementary level. A teacher's attempt to simplify so that a beginner can have a chance of understanding can also be considered an authentic use of language in its own right. Both pedagogical and street environments can be included in the definition of what is authentic.

It is often stated that texts should be more authentic as learners progress to higher levels. However, English has an enormous vocabulary and contains far several times the number of lexical items that any native speaker will manage to learn in their lifetime. So even when second language learners are more proficient, we should be careful not to turn our concordancers on language data from all walks of life in selecting lexical content for their courses. Many a stupid act has been committed in course and lesson planning on the basis that learners are being given a chance to experience authentic materials.

A truly communicative language course will consider the learners' language needs. Generalized findings representing all walks of life will not return the best list of lexical items to offer learners embarking on higher education in academic institutions, jobs in hospital wards or work in a UK dockyard. More recently, those involved in computational linguistics have categorized corpus data so that syllabus and lesson planners can focus vocabulary selection on particular occupational and social fields. There are now several concordancers (some available on Internet web sites) which allow users to target categories of corpus data which come closest to meeting their needs.

Material on this site to improve survival vocabulary at beginners and elementary level:

a graded reader for beginners

Materials on this site for higher level learners in need of more vocabulary for discussion of a wide range of topics:

28 crosswords and vocabulary themes for discussion classes at higher levels


Teaching English sounds

Priorities for phonology in the pronunciation class

Here are some of the main criteria:
  1. Comprehensible: are learners able to identify the sounds and are their articulations understood by native speakers?
  2. Social Acceptability: are learners producing sounds that are aesthetically acceptable to the ears of native speakers?
  3. Ease of Production: do learners have a good chance of successfully learning to produce the sounds?
  4. Number of familiar words (functional load): do the sounds occur frequently in essential &/or very useful words?
  5. Likely to be a bad habit affecting other sounds: are errors getting in the way of other important targets?

Functional load, frequency and meaning

Confusing / θ / and / ð / will rarely lead to misunderstanding, but confusing /s/ and / θ / , / ð / or /z/ can. This is likely to affect learners of English from French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Russian language backgrounds. Speakers of these languages do not have separate phonemes for these English consonant sound contrasts.
The consonant contrasts affect many common English words, so poor production of these sounds will be noticeable. Teaching should focus on both recognition and production. Difficulty of production should not be too great, because the above consonant sounds are produced at the front of the mouth i.e. this motor skill is not too difficult to learn.

How much phonetics and phonology do teachers and learners of English language need to know and use?

Language is a means of communication. Differences in sound systems have a phonological basis: they depend on variation in speech organ positions or breath control. Teachers must understand the physical aspects of sound production.
Teachers will not necessarily teach these to students, but this knowledge will provide a basis for teachers to identify the physical reasons for inaccurate approximations of foreign language sounds, enabling them to give precise instructions which will help students correct faulty pronunciation. Unless teachers understand how students are using their speech organs in producing a native language sound and what they should be doing to reproduce the foreign language sound acceptably, teachers will not be able to help students beyond a certain stage of earnest but inaccurate imitation. Incorrectly articulated consonants will affect the production of vowels, as vowels will affect consonants. Students therefore require steady practice and muscle training. Pronunciation is a motor skill that needs practice.
Phonology lessons will centre on:
  1. Hearing: physical demonstration. Discrimination exercises e.g. ship or sheep? / ɪ / or / i: / ?
    Which vowel sounds occur in: "it", "bit", "eat", "fit", "feet", "seat", "sit" ?
  2. Production. Physically making sounds.
  3. Expanded contexts. Phrases and sentences as well as phonemes between closed consonants.
Click HERE for lists of COMMON ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION MISTAKES BY LANGUAGE BACKGROUND and suggestions for learners and teachers.

Recommended materials for English phonology practice

cover cover cover cover cover
[L1]-[L2] Tree or Three? : Student Book (2nd Edition) and 3 audio CDs - by Ann Baker, Leslie Marshall [****]
[L2]-[L4] Ship or Sheep? Student Book (third edition) and 4 audio CDs - by Ann Baker [*****]
[L2]-[L4] English Pronunciation in Use Elementary Book with Answers, 5 Audio CDs & CD-ROM by Sylvie Donna and Jonathan Mark
[L3]-[L5] English Pronunciation Illustrated: Student Book John Trim, Peter Kneebone [*****][excellent collection of minimal pairs]
[L3]-[L5] English Pronunciation Illustrated: Cassette
[L3]-[L5] English Pronunciation in Use Intermediate Book with Answers, Audio CDs and CD-ROM by Mark Hancock
[L3]-[L5] Elements of Pronunciation Colin Mortimer [*****] [covers consonant clusters, link up, contractions, weak forms, stress patterns]
[L3]-[L5] Elements of Pronunciation Set of 4 Cassettes
[L4]-[L6] English Pronunciation in Use Advanced Book with Answers, 5 Audio CDs and CD-ROM by Martin Hewings

Phonetics and phonology: resources for teacher development

Learner English Michael Swan (Ed.), Bernard Smith (Ed.) [*****] [covers common phonological & grammatical errors by language background]
Learner English: Audio Cassette
Learner English: Audio CD
Phonetics for Learners of English Pronunciation (book and audio CD) by Marianne Jordan
Longman Pronunciation Dictionary by J. C. Wells [*****] [by an expert in the field] [published 2000]
Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (17th Edition) with CD-ROM by Daniel Jones, Peter Roach, James Hartman and Jane Setter [*****]
The Communicative Value of Intonation in English David Brazil (Ed.) et al [Brazil's system for describing how intonation works]
Teaching English Pronunciation Joanne Kenworthy [ Good for language teachers embarking on the theory and practice ]
English Phonetics and Phonology Peter Roach [A Practical Course: good for higher level learners as well as teachers. Accompanying audio recording also available ]
A Course in Phonetics by Peter Ladefoget [ 9th August 2000 ]
This book [ originally published in 1975 ] has also been through several editions and is still acknowledged as the best course for university undergraduates seriously interested in articulatory phonetics. Like the above title, it is offered as a "course", though it sufficienty comprehensive to satisfy the needs of students of linguistics. "Phonetics" focuses on "the production of sounds", while "Phonology" extends to the "study of sounds within a language system". Students whose practical and linguistic interests relate directly to the English language, should consider an easy practice book from the section above or the next title in this section by A. C. Gimson.
Gimson's Pronunciation of English [ 2nd March, 2001 ]
Originally published in 1962 as "An introduction to the pronunciation of English", there has been nothing to better this course, which covers the production of speech, sounds in a language, the English vowel sounds and the English consonant sounds as well as social (e.g. Received Pronunciation), geographical (e.g. Regional Variations) and historical perspectives.
English Accents and Dialects: An Introduction To Social And Regional Varieties Of English In The British Isles by Arthur Hughes and Peter Trudgill
This book is most suited to students of sociolinguistics who wish to sample variations from "received pronunciation" within the geographical regions specified in the title. The level of analysis is for people with a background in linguistics. However, an actor or actress wishing to perfect their Lowland Scots, Devon or Dublin accent and to pick up some of the lexical items in a particular dialect, may find this a valuable source. There is an accompanying audio cassette.
International English: A Guide to Varieties of Standard English by Peter Trudgill and Jean Hannah
This study takes English beyond the British Isles. Here the analysis focuses on variations from "received pronunciation" across Continents. "International English" covers the distinctive features of English in England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Wales, the USA, Canada, Ireland, the West Indies, West Africa and India. Again, the work is probably most likely to appeal to students of sociolinguistics (language and society) at university level. However, this and the previous title make excellent background reading for any student undertaking stylistic analysis of any regional, social or occupational variety of English. Sixth formers in UK Secondary Schools are now continuously assessed on project work, which may include a study of the language of journalism (news reports), advertising, pop music, fashion, teenagers or other social groups. These projects are usually functionally based and adequate attention is usually given to language function and lexis. Further consideration could probably be extended to how phonetic & phonological features help to recognise the functions of professional and/or social registers. Some background in phonetics or phonology is really needed to get the most out of these works.

Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A Guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet
The headquarters of IPA is in University College London, which has been graced by the presence of many of the UK's best linguists, especially those specialising in phonetics and phonology. If you are looking towards a recognised qualification in both the practice and theory of phonetics, then the handbook will allow you to see the IPA Chart and will give you some idea of the number of sounds you will have to cover, including the bilabial click (a kissing sound which exists in several African languages, though not in English!). Likely candidates for the recognised public examination include linguists who are expected to be able to transcribe speech or speech therapists who are expected to have a thorough knowledge of speech organs and the methods of articulation. Linguists such as David Crystal have made valuable contributions both to language teaching theory and to description of language disability. There are careers for good phoneticians both in education and the health service at levels ranging from classroom teacher or practical therapist to senior researcher.

Academic research

Educational resources for phonetics and phonology from University College London.
People from various fields (higher education, language disability, drama) who wish to pursue an interest in phonology (e.g. for doctoral research) should take this link for a description of the MA in Phonology offered at University College London - the home of the International Phonetic Alphabet.
If you want to sample a text book for the study of speech pathology and audiology (which you may well use on a UCL course), take the link to a Speech Science Primer: Physiology, Acoustics, and Perception of Speech.