Written on April 15, 2013 – 1:54 pm | by Marisa Constantinides
Just got back from Liverpool IATEFL 2013 where I went for my annual inspiration shot – connecting with the profession and the latest ideas and concerns was an incredible experience once again
This year, and for the first time in a long while, I did a joint presentation with Shaun Wilden, co-moderator on the weekly #ELTchat hashtagged conversation on Twitter. We wrote our talk from our homes, in Athens and Oxford, and skyped, shared googledocs, used dropbox, twitter, and email to decide on our content, collaborate on our slides, create our talk.
We rehearsed our talk and our timings only once – just a couple of hours before the actual presentation!!!
So here are the slides accompanied by the podcast created by James Taylor, the third #ELTchat moderator present at this talk . You can also find and download the slides on slideshare and download the podcast here.
If you click on the link of the recordings, you can also find the title of my talk and watch my presentation online.
Curation tools and websites mentioned
I have used one of the tools to explain the others, and there is may be one more loop in this learning playlist which I created with Mentormob, a great tool for curating content and presenting it to teacher colleagues or to your learners in one tight capsule.
Written on April 30, 2013 – 12:39 am | by Marisa Constantinides
This week’s ELTchat topics are once again influenced by the rich set of resources provided by the IATEFL recordings.
The 12 BST #ELTchat will
revisit the topic of
Since we’ve covered this topic before often from the why do we need course books point of view, we realise it might cover some of the same ground but we’d though we’d call the chat “The coursebook authors fight back”. Your source material for this chat is, amongst others:
Written on March 24, 2013 – 4:55 pm | by Marisa Constantinides
Presenting language in small fragments hoping that they will one day automatically transform into fluent near-native talk may not be enough. My talk at TESOL Greece highlighted some ways in which skilled performers achieve excellence and focused on practical activities promoting holistic language learning using a variety of free online tools.
Photo by Mike Harrison
Fragments of knowledge
The standard practice of the Foreign Language classroom is to present language in fragments, smaller chunks, or grammar McNuggets. Scott Thornbury has invented the wonderful term Grammar MacNuggets, in the linked post on his A-Z blog.
Teachers do so in the hope that these partial views of language will one day be successfully synthesized to form a coherent whole in the learner’s mind, hopefully resulting in fluent output.
Research and experience have proved this inadequate.
Like a computer’s hard drive, all this fragmentation leads to slow processing. None of the applications we use on our PC’s really work well when the hard drive is fragmented.
In the same way, the ‘MacNuggeting’ of language knowledge bytes leads to fragmentation and lack of ability to access language and be able to use it in a natural and fluent way.
Holistic Activities as defragmenters
In this talk, I looked at the profiles of skilled performers, drawing analogies between what they do to achieve a polished and skillful performance and what this implies that foreign language learners ought to do in order to improve their productive skills – their performance skills, in other words, in the target language.
Suggestions for practical classroom activities focused on holistic language practices involving
Sustained talk / long turns
Engaging learners in higher order thinking processes
involving technology which promotes holistic learning rather than iterative practice
motivating learners to acquire language through collaborative and meaningful projects using a variety of Web 2.0 tools.
Skilled performers are both knowledgeable as well as skillful at what they do, so this talk aims to redress the balance in favour of increasing the frequency and focus of productive skills activities to promote more skilled/fluent and accurate language users.
Written on January 3, 2013 – 9:25 pm | by Marisa Constantinides
This post is long overdue but I thought it would make a fitting opening to 2013 as the talk I am reporting is one of the most interesting ones I followed in 2012 and adds to what many colleagues will have read of the work of Dr Stephen Krashen.
Dr Krashen’s talk, ‘Technology: useful tool if used to create and enhance comprehensible input ‘, was one of the plenaries on the second day of ‘Wired in or out’ technology symposium at Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul on December 1 & 2, 2012.
Dr Krashen reviewed his Language Acquisition theory, and talked about the good (as he called it) war between the skill building hypothesis and the comprehention hypothesis, a war which is “good” in the sense that (1) it deals with the core issue of language education, and (2) we are learning from it.
He then quoted some case studies (including his own) and talked about input that is not just comprehensible but compelling as well. He also talked about the value of narrow reading, i.e., reading the same genre or the works of the same author.
Despite the lack of technology in his talk – one handout, no powerpoint! - his presentation inspired and engaged the audience. He is a great speaker, indeed!
Some Notable Quotes
“Twitter and Facebook are underground ways of getting information.They are indeed our underground for sharing and getting information, covering what the traditional journals do not cover. “
“The skill building hypothesis is delayed gratification, while the comprehension hypothesis is immediate gratification”
“Self selective reading is the way to go”
“Teenagers are probably oreading and writing more today than ever in history”
“If you give someone a prize for something that’s already pleasant, you are telling them it’s not pleasant” a quote borrowed from Alfie Kohn.
These are just a few of the great lines which I have included to whet your appetite and get you to listen to the talk itself.
Click on the title of the talk below to download the handout.
On listening to the talk again, I could not help but reflect how truly important narrow reading was for me and how it helped my own language acquisition.
Some unknown instinct drove me to scour the library shelves and go through all the works of every author I chose to read, or listen and transcribe the words of each and every song of each band or singer I loved as a teen. Surely, that is narrow reading and, quite possibly, narrow listening as well, although Dr Krashen used this term in a different way in his talk.
The other reflection I wanted to share with you is one about the notion of ‘compelling’ material, which Dr Krashen suggested in his talk. I cannot help but think how utterly boring or instantly forgettable a lot of coursebook materials can be and how easy it is for the language which they aim to teach to slip away without a handhold on any memorable events, stories or characters!!!
On the contrary, some of the greatest and most successful materials of all time have been those which had powerful or memorable stories in them – never mind the methodology; the texts and dialogues had exceptional memory value. And language acquisition seemed to follow suit.
One final thought which I wished I had raised at the end of the presentation, is the notion of incubation time for writing; which is something I entirely agree with and is indeed what happens to me when I write anything – even these lines are a revision, an addition to the post.
However, in terms of classroom time, this is not what most teachers can do with their learners, allow them indefinite or as-much-time-as-you-need-time in order to produce a piece of writing.
Has Dr Krashen turned against classroom instruction?
In an earlier talk, which you can follow here on You Tube, he talked about classroom instruction being necessary up to the intermediate level, a level needed for learners to be able to deal with their own learning. How will writing be taught then is an interesting question.
It would be interesting to find out how he envisages classroom instruction today, even in very broad terms.
Later, at the end of the symposium, Dr Krashen was kind enough to say a few words to me in a short interview.
Stephen D Krashen You can download some of the books freely as well as recent research articles