Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A new lesson with the Internet

Here's a way to practice listening with the Internet.

You will click on the links and watch YouTube movie trailers. For each trailer, you get three sentences. Listen and decide which sentence is NOT mentioned in the trailer.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • A. "I can live forever"
  • B. "You cannot escape."
  • C. "The boy who lived"
2. The Last Airbender
  • A. "It has begun"
  • B. "The fire nation has declared war"
  • C. "I will kill them."
 3. Eat, Pray, Love
  • A. "I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something."
  • B. "If you could clear out all that space in your mind, you'd have a doorway."
  • C. "Mom, why did you accept your life, you're always searching for something."
Have you seen any of these movies? If you haven't seen them, do you plan to go? Which movie do you like the best?

Write your answers to the listening tasks and questions in the "comment" section.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Something special about teachers (magyarul)

Dear Students,

As some of you may already know, I am a student of the Hungarian language. Just for curiosity, here is a little essay I wrote about Tessa Woodard's plenary at IATEFL's 2010 conference, held recently in Harrogate, England.

A tanár (tipikus?) pályája

Egy előadást hallgattam, ami a tanárok tipikus pályájáról szólt. Az előadó felsorolt három szakaszt, amelyekből szerinte egy tipikus tanár pályája állhat.

Úgy kezdődik, hogy egy frissen diplomázott tanár erősen igyekszik, hogy az első állásában sikeres legyen. Ezért a tipikus kezdő tanár nagyon konzervatív, nem mer semmi rendkívüli módszerrel kísérletezni. Ilyenkor szoktunk este 3-4 órát szenvedni, hogy másnap egy egyszerű 45 perces óra tökéletesen sikerüljön. A fiatal tanár gyakran magányosnak érzi magát, mert a többi kollégának van már párja, gyereke, és más az élete. Ennek a pályaszakasznak a hossza körülbelül 5 év.

Amikor már megszereztünk néhány év tapasztalatot, azaz 6 és 18 éve között dolgozunk, vágyunk újdonságokra, szoktunk konferenciákra járni, szakkönyveket olvasni, esetleg internetes szakmai blogokat, honlapokat nézni. A tipikus tapasztalt tanár magabiztos, mert megtalálta a saját stílusát, és ezért nem fél más módszereket kipróbálni a tanteremben. Ebben a pályaszakaszban gyakran vállalnak a tanárok speciális projekteket, és részt vesznek továbbképzéseken is.

Az utolsó pályaszakasz a 18-40 éve dolgozó tanárokról szól. Ennek van hátránya és előnye. Ami előnyös, az az, hogy a tanár sokkal jobban érzi magát a tanteremben, már nem "fél" a tanítványoktól, és nem is aggódik ha nem úgy sikerül az órája, ahogy szerette volna. Ilyenkor azt mondja, "Hát ez rossz óra volt! Ennyi." De sajnos ezzel a korral együtt jár, hogy bizonyos fizikai változások is történnek, és ezeket persze észreveszik a gyerekek, illetve hallgatók/tanítványok, esetleg a tanár fiatalabb kollégái is. Sőt, sajnos vannak olyan dolgozó tanárok is, akik az eszükben már nyugdíjba mentek, ezért nem érdeklik őket az új tankönyvek, módszerek.

Végül két vicces megjegyzés, amelyeket 7 éves gyerekek mondtak, amikor megkérdezték, hogy milyen egy idős ember:

"Egy idős ember agya változik, és ez az őszülő hajában is megmutatkozik."
"Egy idős ember nem tudja a saját cipőfűzőjét megkötni, mert ha lehajolna, szétrepedne."

Nekünk érdemes szemünk előtt tartani azt, hogy minden kollégánk valamelyik pályaszakaszbanvan. Mindenki más problémákkal küzd. Ha már jobban értjük, miből állnak a különböző szakaszok, jobban érthetjük egymást, és tiszteljük is egymást.

A better way!

Dear Students,

Think of the most unusual association you can, and its unusualness will help you remember!
For example, recently I needed to buy socks, so I reminded myself of socks by thinking of "P" for Pippi Longstocking, a children's story. When I remembered "P", I remembered Pippi, and then long s.t.o.c.k.i.n.g
Just in case you're curious, here is a link about Pippi and a picture of her.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Dear Students,

Today I am thinking about learning words. I hate learning long lists of words, and I definitely can't stand studying for hours. So I learn things for short periods, often. Vocabulary words, I think, have to be learned in small doses. A dose is really an amount of medicine--so I guess new words in a foreign language are like small doses of medicine! Well, take some "medicine" every day and you will feel results quite soon.

It also helps to have a good-looking notebook that you enjoy using. Pick out a special one at the paper shop--not wildly expensive, but spend enough for a pretty one. Write in the words in any order you like. I sometimes organize by writing sayings and expressions together on one or two pages.

Later, if you have a spare 15 minutes, take out your notebook and a piece of paper. Write example sentences with your words from the word notebook, one word per sentence. Give them to your teacher--he or she will be quite impressed!

 V O C A B U L A R Y

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ideas about cohesive teaching

Dear Students,

I am thinking about how to make learning more cohesive. How can I balance old and new in one 90 minute lesson? How can I juxtapose many roles? A teacher must explain, monitor, organize, correct, revise, reteach, react, and so on. This is a "meditation" about combining learning and teaching.

One cohesion point is TTT: test-teach-test. First test and find out what people know or don't know, then teach something new, then test again to find out their progress. The cycle can, of course, be repeated. I like this way, because when we do the first test step and correct the test together, it is motivating for the students to talk about errors and what they believe they need to learn more about. These discussions are student-centered. The teacher receives valuable details--if he or she is listening well.

Today I watched an MS PowerPoint slideshow which showed effective teaching with PowerPoint. First, it showed students what they would reach by watching. Second, the slideshow had numerous dramatic examples showing content in surprising ways. Finally, the ideas presented were based on trusted theories of learning. After watching, I thought: yes, I can apply this to help my own students.

Over to you--what should a teacher do to create cohesion in 90 minutes?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

ÉK2 lesson about jobs

Good morning, Students!

Today you will:

  • review the yeast topic we had last week:  click on the link and watch "Healthy Old Age"
  • next, open this dictionary. You can use it for the next task.
  • now follow the task sheet your teacher gives you. The link is the IFT jobs list.
  • When you finish the task, sign off your computer and come back to the front of the room for a discussion.

Enjoy the lesson, and have a nice day.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dear Students,

The last post contained a professional photo of the Vienna "rathaus" - city hall, and here is my own homemade version, fresh from my new digital camera.

Last week my groups were quite sharp! My lessons were about listening - first main ideas, then details and new words. I also explained that people don't need to understand 100% of what they hear. We don't do it in our native languages, and we don't need it in English, either. Just imagine the radio news or the weather forecast. You want to know how many degrees it will be, and if there will be rain or snow - no more.

I also taught grammar: countable-uncountable nouns with much, many, any, and some; and present perfect compared to past simple verbs, plus linking words (despite, although, even though, etc.). Otherwise, in one group we practiced making pie charts about our daily lives, and one student told me she travels 2 1/2 hours to work and 2 1/2 hours back home every day! I wonder how she uses the travel time.

How far do you travel to and from school or work, and what do you do while you are traveling? Please write a post!

I'll go first. I use public transport all the time. I check the bus schedule and go to the bus stop just on time so I don't have to wait a lot. Most of my travel time -- standing OR sitting -- I close my eyes and relax. About 20% of the time I read teaching materials or make notes about the lesson I have just finished (oh-oh, a present perfect verb has appeared!) Sometimes I look at the young women, because their clothes and accessories are interesting! By the way, if you are thinking ahead to spring 2010 fashions, here is a forecast.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Back in the thick of things

Dear Students,

The title you see here is an English idiom. Here's the story, see if you can get the idiom's meaning from context.

It all started in Vienna.
Had a lovely time - saw things like the Rathaus at right, at night, in its Christmas beauty.

When I got home, I got the flu. Oh, was I sick! But I slept and drank juice, herb tea, and Unicum -- and now I am ready to teach again. Teaching is like most jobs: a combination of stress, interesting people, and things to do all the time -- it is "thick" like pudding! So, now I am back in the thick of things.