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Best Practices in Low Level Teaching (ESL)

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Hiraya Haraya

on 21 September 2014

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Transcript of Best Practices in Low Level Teaching (ESL)

Best Practices in Low Level Teaching
Challenges in Low Level Teaching
Skill Practice Ideas
Motivating/encouraging/supporting students at these levels
I'm cool and so are you if...
Getting them to write
Flipping the Classroom
Things I’ve done in my flipped classroom:
1. Assigned video grammar lessons as homework.
2. Assigned controlled practice which makes it easy for both theSs and T to assess comprehension of the lesson. Ss gets instant feedback.
3. Automatic grading of online quiz after viewing.
4. Organized links for writing, listening, speaking and reading in folders.
5. Tips on how to practice a skill using a specific link.
6. Comprehensive grammar review before a level test. (Students love it!)
7. Class pictures (last day photos)
8. Goodbye notes for students who have just left.
9. Answer student queries even during the weekend (more like a 911).
10. Conduct polls
11. Informal tutorials via individual messages/ Reminders.
12.Student badges
Provide scaffolding. Take the time to give detailed instructions and show how past lessons link with the current one.
Present grammar creatively using a variety of activities for student engagement.
Create an environment that is safe for learning/making mistakes.
Use technology as a tool and not as an end. Work around your learning objectives and not around the medium.
Give added value to lessons by giving real world tasks and life skills that go beyond the classroom.
Incorporate meaningful experiences in lessons.
Compassion. It's hard to be a language learner! Just like us, students are unique, complex individuals.
Give extra challenge but be careful not to overwhelm.
Give positive reinforcement. It always does wonders!
In pairs, Ss write sentences without punctuation and capitalization. Another pair will edit.

Apps for the Flipped Classroom

“I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
Peer-reading - 1-2-3- pass
In a circle, Ss edit each other's work. Variations: 1 grammar focus per round.
Feedback through Google docs
Audio comments (Kaizena)
-for pre-Intermediate and Low Intermediate
"Kill your darlings. " - William Faulkner
Show and Tell (Instagram/Phone Photos)
Hot Potato Interview - 1 interviewer, 1 interviewee

Improvisations -theater-based communicative activity where the Ss improvises his/her responses according to the situation presented to him. With improv exercises, participants learn how to listen and respond in the moment (as in real life!) through speaking, facial expressions and movement, helps improve fluency, pronunciation/intonation, focus and attention to details. Some exercises also help the student gain an understanding of the basic concepts of narrative and descriptive writing.

Vocabulary - Name Game, Honey Walk, Greetings, Gift-giving, What you're saying makes me feel.., Secret Word, Family Portrait, Categories
Grammar: Lies, Rumors, Zip-zap-zup, Web of Life, Inventions
Narrative technique - Fortunately, Unfortunately; More Specific!, 5-sentence story
.....and a lot more!
Kinesthetic Listening - for note-taking, gist and detail. The letters A-D are laid out on the floor (I usually use paper plates)
- Ss do note-taking in pairs. T reads multiple choice Q's and Ss choose the letter of the correct answer.
Wordstorm: Low Level Teaching Challenges
Ss use their words/ choice of new vocabulary words by elaborating on them through personal stories. Then, they have to finish the sentence,"I'm cool and so are you if..."
“We have this idea that we need to be in the mood to write. We don't.” - Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way
Is this adaptable to other class levels?
How can we adapt this activity to each level?
Common Causes of Student Frustrations:
level test anxiety
level test result
feeling of lack of support
difficulty in understanding lesson
difficulty communicating in class
difficulty communicating in class
range of abilities in class
Brainstorm: What's your favorite activity?
Timed Writing (Pre-Int/Low Int)
-a continuous motion-timed writing that helps overcome resistance/block, builds writing stamina.
-a writing workout
1. Ss write in 1-5 minute increments without stopping/ editing.
2. Ss read their work to their peers aloud, discuss ideas.
3. Ss write again.
Possible prompts:
a word, a line from a story, a picture prompt or a question.
Ss brainstorm for 5 min. then write for 5 minutes. Then, they revise a paragraph by covering the original for another 5 minutes.

Ss freewrite for 5 minutes, share their piece with peers and write for 10 minutes.
Online responses
- allows students to think about an audience and encourages and motivates Ss not only to write but to write better in the language that they are learning.
- motivates Ss to focus on crafting their writing for an intended audience and affirms the fact that they are part of a democratized media.
Other types of prompts:
Writing to Learn
-low-stakes writing where Ss listen to an audio while writing down personal responses (from questions) followed by group talk.

Variation: Ss can write responses on color-coded post-its which they can use for a gallery walk/ viewing.
Looking at a picture, putting it down and having them write what they remember. Preteach vocabulary for beginners and have them write sentences.
I remember, I don't remember...
Write everything that you know about...
Write about what's in front of your nose.
Write about the 1st object that you touch inside your bag.
Your favorite thing.
What did you do last weekend?
What are you going to do next weekend?
Dictogloss: Listening (and reading), jotting down keywords, collaboratively recreating the text and error-correction.
Asking Qs that focus on meaning and implications of the message: "How did the woman feel? What will happen next?"
Running/Shouting dictation
Using a checklist: Did you capitalize the first letter of every sentence? Do you have a subject and a verb in each sentence?
Photocopy their writing and have the student correct it.

U-Talk - Chairs are arranged in a U-formation. Ss answer a question sheet (controlled practice), then use those as discussion questions as they move from chair to chair, each time with a different partner. T goes around, listens for errors, jotting them down on sticky notes for class correction/feedback.

Focused questions-breaking down the text into manageable chunks using Y/N questions; good for beginners since they tend to be overwhelmed.
Word association - word, related noun, related verb/s, illustration
Piecing parts of a paragraph/dialogue/ essay together.
Summarizing: take turns saying what happened next.
Jigsaw Reading

Giving Feedback
Ask Ss: What was the purpose of that activity? What were the challenges, what did you achieve? What skills did you practice? Which worked, which didn't and why? What might have worked? Elicit suggestions from students who were successful in the task. How could/might we do things better in the future? (I prefer could/might to "should" because the former means being open to possibilities)
Breaking things down then giving the big picture/ wrapping things up
Set time aside for personal reflection and sharing. This is good for creating good group dynamics.Also creates a safe environment for learning and making mistakes without being judged.

Using Edmodo as an online classroom platform for additional support for students; works for highly-motivated learners the weak students as well as weak students.
Show Me
What works for us
Checking in via informal talks before/after class hours to give them time to warm-up and for them to feel more comfortable with the teacher.
Giving them topics that are relevant to them.
Having Ss process things by themselves first before they discuss in groups. Consider the personality differences between students.
Setting up an online classroom. This approach helps them become autonomous learners, and allows the class to do more production practice and thus, higher quality student-T amd Ss-Ss interaction.
Giving feedback after every activity for them to see the value of the lessons, pay attention to their errors, and the various ways of approaching the challenges presented to them for them to do better next time.
Having them reflect on their learning through 2-minute writing during the last few minutes in class. We all know the value of self-reflection and how it helps us become better in our craft. Giving them the time to reflect on their accomplishments and challenges everyday allows them to process their experience.
Give out one-page handouts with instructions and encouragement for journaling, some prompts and some space to try it out in class.

Spelling help:
Make your own list of words and play games to study them.



Speaking with a partner then reporting back to the class about your partner. They'll be repeating the same information, but they'll have to change "I"/ to "he/she". This also tests whether they communicated effectively (or if they were just goofing off)
Mingling with Music - Ss walk around the room while the music plays. When the music stops, Ss stop walking and starts a conversation with another Ss by asking questions, using the grammar/vocab focus on the word cloud.
Describe and Draw - good for a lesson on adjectives
Field Trips
Grocery store (with scavenger hunt: make your shopping list and take photos)
Library (get library cards, visit ESL section)
Follow directions to get to the destination
Listening Links:
Family Portrait: A lesson on Parts of Speech
Describe and Draw: A lesson on modals of deduction/ adjectives
"Write fast, revise slow." - Seymour Bernstein, composer
Free Practice
Find someone who ...
How would you adapt this for someone who was struggling?
How would you add challenge for someone who had an easy time?
Adapting activities
-for pronunciation, listening and grammar practice (Q&A)
Last but not least...
A Low Int class wall:
Ideas inspired by/ adapted from/ stolen from:

Natalie Goldberg, Writing the Landscape of Your Mind
Anne Lammot, Bird by Bird
Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way
Jeff Anderson, Ten Things Every Writer Should Know
SARK, Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper; The New Creative Companion
L1 use
Charge $ for photocopies or L1 use: buy pizza
Fun punishments:
Sing a song in English
Positive reinforcement: leave early, longer break, no HW, blue ticket
dance party (lose 30 seconds for L1), star student of the day picks song, choose topic
Level test
Practice with similar activities: speaking with photo, timed writing (maybe 2 weeks before)
Check in after the test: what was hard? Base a class on that.
Talk to each student individually about their result. Leave the rest of the class with a video or reading w/ questions.
2-min daily reflection of a Low Intermediate student
Dealing with frustration: Teacher Ideas
Pre-Int Music Class (Gallery Walk)
Exhibit 1: Gender biases (Warm-up responses)
Exhibit 2: What if? (Warm-up response, 2nd conditional: sentence completion)
Exhibit 3: Synthesis

Abstract Noun: Horror
Abstract Noun: Elation
Thank you!
For our phrasal verb of the week, word of the day, idiom of the day or a question targeted to practice grammar.
Students doing the Gallery Walk
Theme: Relationships

Grammar Focus: Conditionals
EC Boston, 2013
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