Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Business English Ideas: The Trainer's Learner Autonomy Scorecard; Assessin...

Business English Ideas: The Trainer's Learner Autonomy Scorecard; Assessin...: As an addition to my post on the BESIG World Blog, I would like to share some more ideas on fostering learner autonomy in the Business Engli...

A very useful post from Charles Rei. It's tied to my thinking about how I teach people who don't need to learn a lot more English.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

On the tip of my tongue, but...

Today I am thinking about how students can overcome problems of forgetting words during a conversation.

Some of my students say they are okay with reading and understand almost everything they read, grammar is okay, etc but when they get into a conversation they often get stuck because some word they want to say just doesn't come to mind.

I feel guilty because this is my job, to solve such problems.

 My students use a cd I have made, a melange of short stories that they listen to over and over in their cars. They say it helps to have those words " ringing in their ears" and when they chat the words come more easily. Actually, i made the cd for someone else, and gave it to these students just for general listening and pleasure. So, by giving them the cd, I really just got lucky! I guess that's okay even though it isn't  such a "professional" solution. Really the students found the remedy-- or at least it's a partial remedy--themselves. 

That's what we really want to do,isn't it: let the students take initiative. Teachers can be a resource and a guide.

Part of the problem comes, of course, from living in their native language environment where they must spend a large part of the day " out of English"

What else can I do? I could make another cd for them, maybe include some listenings that are relevant to their work or typical of conversations they are having in English .

Integrate traditional lessons with Internet teaching

I am really pleased with the series of lessons I have had with some upper intermediate learners recently. The overall topic was money.

The first lesson involved a traditional printed on paper article about universal currency. It dealt with challenging Vocabulary of international money markets (e.g. exchange rate, transaction fee, etc.). In addition the text was structured as pros and cons of a universal currency, so we debated those and formed opinions. Homework was to create a vocab test based on the words and give it to another student.

Second lesson: buy nothing day.  Focus on overconsuming, wasting money.  I emailed a link to a website about BND. Students read it and discussed the idea. Homework was to write a persuasive email to their boss suggesting a BND be organized for employees. Teaching point pragmatics, and expressions were elicited From which students chose for wording their email.

Third lesson: mark Boyle, the economist who lived for a year without money. Students got a check list of keywords from a video about Boyle. Task was to tick words as they heard them while watching the video.

One thing I've always been interested in since I heard the expression CALL for the first time, in 2002, is how to integrate it with traditional pre-CALL methods. This series worked very well from that point of view. The students tend to print or photocopy whatever I give them, look up any words they don't know and write them into the text in L1. With this series of lessons, we included that tradition with listening to a video online and ticking what they heard, so we moved gently to an integrated style.