Language Blog

26 August 2016 By In Language Blog

 In all the trainings I gave at different government and private schools and in Kasur, Gujrat, Hafizabad  and Khanewal, as well as Bulleh Shah Mills or BRAC Karachi, I used AV Aids to enable my training sessions to be more innovative and communicative. 

I have always enjoyed using AV Aids; they support my use use of songs, poetry and other literature and provide great opportunities for listening and speaking activities. Puzzles, flip charts, flash cards, pictures, building blocks  and charts have been extremely useful for developing curiosity, engagement and creativity as well as supporting my classroom management.

 

 

Whether they are government or private school teachers, they all love videos, music, toys and games, along with realia, for any task. The age group of the students does not matter. 

I have had wonderful experiences with new government and private school teachers as well as very experienced teachers from  prestigious institutes like Aitchison College, LGS, OPF, Jinnah Public School, DPS, Murtaza Academy, Cadet College Hassan Abdal and Lawrence College.  The teachers loved to be taught through realia and toys. The forty hours’ training of LGS that I was asked to conduct was the time I realized, to my pleasure, after two or three toys-based sessions on listening and speaking, that teachers were highly motivated. Most of them were very mature and had more than fifteen years of teaching experience, but they loved the use of toys and realia as strategies for developing language skills. 

 

The training at Trust Schools and F.C. College was a similar experience, where teachers remained connected and attentive throughout the workshop because of the use of A.V. Aids. 

 

 

 

 

 

26 August 2016 By In Language Blog

In all the trainings I gave at different government and private schools and in Kasur, Gujrat, Hafizabad  and Khanewal, as well as Bulleh Shah Mills or BRAC Karachi, I used AV Aids to enable my training sessions to be more innovative and communicative. 

I have always enjoyed using AV Aids; they support my use use of songs, poetry and other literature and provide great opportunities for listening and speaking activities. Puzzles, flip charts, flash cards, pictures, building blocks  and charts have been extremely useful for developing curiosity, engagement and creativity as well as supporting my classroom management.

 

 

Whether they are government or private school teachers, they all love videos, music, toys and games, along with realia, for any task. The age group of the students does not matter. 

I have had wonderful experiences with new government and private school teachers as well as very experienced teachers from  prestigious institutes like Aitchison College, LGS, OPF, Jinnah Public School, DPS, Murtaza Academy, Cadet College Hassan Abdal and Lawrence College.  The teachers loved to be taught through realia and toys. The forty hours’ training of LGS that I was asked to conduct was the time I realized, to my pleasure, after two or three toys-based sessions on listening and speaking, that teachers were highly motivated. Most of them were very mature and had more than fifteen years of teaching experience, but they loved the use of toys and realia as strategies for developing language skills. 

 

The training at Trust Schools and F.C. College was a similar experience, where teachers remained connected and attentive throughout the workshop because of the use of A.V. Aids. 

 

 

 

 

 

23 August 2016 By In Language Blog

 

Children acquire their first language without the fear of making mistakes. On the other hand, second language learners are always conscious about learning a second language as they have already developed concepts related to their first language.  In such situations I find that using literary text, in ESL classrooms, is a highly effective way to keep students engaged and motivated which results in making learning less painful and more fun. 

Literary text can be used in an ESL classroom either in the form of a short story or even as song lyrics. Both of these forms can be explored in order to enhance students’ listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in the second language. Short stories provide students with an opportunity to gather information by reading fewer words. Short stories can be read in one go, so many short stories can be shared and explored during a taught course. Students can also find elements of interest in short stories which keep them motivated to read. Similarly, song lyrics have a beautiful rhythm which keeps the readers charmed and involved in the text. It is poetry with an edge. Exploring song lyrics provides teachers with wonderful opportunities to integrate pronunciation, rhythm,   rhyme scheme and stress patterns through listening and speaking. In addition, they also help second language learners become familiar with slang words, English expressions and idioms in interesting and entertaining ways.

 

29 January 2016 By In Language Blog

I get these recurring queries from teachers: “How do I improve English vocabulary?” and “How do I improve written expression?” and also “How do I help my students become more proficient in English?” Well, to be very honest, there is no sure-fire way to achieve these ambitions. However, I find that exposure to literature can definitely make this journey for both the student and the teacher relatively easier. How do I know this? I strongly believe that literature has an enormous impact on students’ lives and on their learning. Exploring children’s literature provides exposure to the target language in a natural context, which broadens students’ vision as they dive into the depths of reading. So, I always have my students begin with reading children’s literature. It not only leaves a positive impact on students’ attitudes, but also improves the writing ability of the learners. Literature arouses imagination, is a source of enjoyment and facilitates understanding of one’s ‘self’ and others (Raphael, 2000). Furthermore, literature has a variety of expressions set in contexts, which facilitates vocabulary development as well as exposing the reader to written expression.

Depending on students’ interest, various genres can be selected, though you need to start with what your students are interested in. For example, you can start with ‘The Famous Five’ or ‘Secret Seven’. What about the Harry Potter series, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and Ink Heart? My reason for choosing these in particular is that all of these are series. Once introduced to the students, I have found that the they become eager to read more, to ‘read the next book’, which generates an interest in reading and, as a consequence, the continued exposure eventually enriches their vocabulary and supports the development of their written expression. Classics like ‘Animal Farm’, ‘Charlotte’s Web’, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ should also be added to my list of ‘must reads’.

 

 

21 January 2016 By In Language Blog

My Communication Skills Classes.

I’m so pleased with the students attending my communication skills classes at the Ali Institute. Why? Well, I work with a number of students in different institutions and schools, and my experience has been somewhat ‘shallow’ – it seems that ‘learning’ means ‘sitting in the classroom and listening to the teacher’.

I don’t believe it’s possible to develop communication skills simply by ‘sitting in the classroom and listening to the teacher’! I make my lessons for communication skills highly interactive, with plenty of scope for practice and practical application of skills. Perhaps more importantly, we had so much fun it didn’t feel like hard work and we were all having fun! It certainly made my teaching easier.

Here are just a few of the activities we did:

1. Active listening exercise

I ‘labelled’ students as ‘1’ and ‘2’. ‘1’s were listeners and ‘2’s were talkers. Listeners were taken out of the room and told to ‘actively not listen’ for 1 minute, ‘listen but show no non-verbal communication’ for 1 minute and then to ‘actively listen’ for 1 minute. Some of the strategies the students used for ‘actively not listening’ were SO funny, and irritating! Afterwards we discussed feelings about not being listened to and strategies for active listening.

2. Building a sculpture

I made a model out of children’s building bricks and placed it secretly outside the room. I put the students into small groups and had them select one student as ‘the viewer’. The viewers left the room and had 1 minute only to view the model (we called it ‘the sculpture’!) but they were not allowed to touch it. I placed a pile of building bricks on the ‘teacher’s table’. The viewer, with hands always behind their backs, had to direct their groups to collect bricks from the ‘teacher’s table’ in order to reconstruct ‘the sculpture’. We had some very strange results and had an informed discussion about the need for clarity in speaking, the need for checking understanding of the listener, and questioning skills.

3. Telephone game

We had a series of telephone conversation role plays. I provided the scenario for the ‘caller’ and the ‘called’. The students sat back-to-back on chairs and played out their roles. Not seeing each other’s faces simulated a telephone conversation. Afterwards we discussed the differences between communication where we can each other and communication over the telephone.

 

4. Question the film star

I was the film star! The students had microphones and had to devise questions to grab my attention as I made my way quickly from my limousine to the film theatre (the length of the corridor!) If they asked interesting questions I would stop and talk to them otherwise I simply kept walking! Their task was to keep me on ‘the red carpet’ as long as possible. It took a number of tries, but in the end they were asking really imaginative, engaging questions. It was also good exercise as we marched up and down the corridor!

 

20 January 2016 By In Language Blog

Teaching Your Child the Most Common First

It is said by educationists and teachers that vocabulary building is the first and most important step in learning any language. Since English is used as a second language in our country, so we usually need to start our young students with the alphabet and some basic vocabulary words which begin with those letters. Apart from only focusing on the alphabet and the common nouns/names beginning with those letters, it would also be good for a child in second language learning to learn how to use the most common nouns in speech or in writing. This exercise of being able to use the most common nouns in speech and then writing enables students to start using English for the most common purposes first. Children, apart from knowing about the alphabet and learning some common and proper nouns, will be able to have a good use of basic English if they start using the most common nouns in various oral and written sentences. According to  Hagit (2005), the most common nouns used in English language are: time, person, year, way, day, thing, man, world, life, hand, part, child, eye, woman, place, work, week, case, point, government, company, number, group, problem and  fact.

At grade levels one, two and three, a Montessori teacher of English can practice using these words meaningfully with the students by making short sentences first and then longer ones orally. She/he can use these common nouns in the classroom in sentences talking about school or classroom matters such as, ‘We must come to the class on time.’ ‘There is a strange person standing there and I must tell my teacher.’ ‘Students who work hard all year get good marks in the exams.’ ‘It is a beautiful world.’ ‘Life is a great blessing of God.’ ‘You must wash your hands before eating anything’, and so on. When the students are able enough to write anything, then the teacher can use these common nouns to give exercises to students to write down sentences on their own. These exercises will enable young kids to start having the basic use of English as a second language. 

Students, in grade levels four or five can start using more common nouns in making everyday sentences. The teacher can also involve the students in display activities, such as writing classroom rules using these words, writing about themselves using these common words or writing about any of their favourite buildings or historical places using these words. 

According to World English (2003), there is another complete and longer list of the most common nouns in the various forms of English used around the world, which are as follows: (English, 2003)

 

Rank

Word

Rank

Word

1

the

126

name

2

of

127

very

3

to

128

through

4

and

129

just

5

a

130

form

6

in

131

much

7

is

132

great

8

it

133

think

9

you

134

say

10

that

135

help

11

he

136

low

12

was

137

line

13

for

138

before

14

on

139

turn

15

are

140

cause

16

with

141

same

17

as

142

mean

18

I

143

differ

19

his

144

move

20

they

145

right

21

be

146

boy

22

at

147

old

23

one

148

too

24

Have

149

does

25

This

150

tell

26

From

151

sentence

27

Or

152

set

28

Had

153

three

29

By

154

want

30

Hot

155

air

31

But

156

well

32

Some

157

also

33

What

158

play

34

There

159

small

35

We

160

end

36

Can

161

put

37

Out

162

home

38

Other

163

read

39

Were

164

hand

40

All

165

port

41

Your

166

large

42

when

167

spell

43

up

168

add

44

use

169

even

45

word

170

land

46

how

171

here

47

said

172

must

48

an

173

big

49

each

174

high

50

she

175

such

51

which

176

follow

52

do

177

act

53

their

178

why

54

time

179

ask

55

if

180

men

56

will

181

change

57

way

182

went

58

about

183

light

59

many

184

kind

60

then

185

off

61

them

186

need

62

would

187

house

63

write

188

picture

64

like

189

try

65

so

190

us

66

these

191

again

67

her

192

animal

68

long

193

point

69

make

194

mother

70

thing

195

world

71

see

196

near

72

him

197

build

73

two

198

self

74

has

199

earth

75

look

200

father

76

more

201

head

77

day

202

stand

78

could

203

own

79

go

204

page

80

come

205

should

81

did

206

country

82

my

207

found

83

sound

208

answer

84

No

209

school

85

Most

210

grow

86

number

211

study

87

Who

212

still

88

Over

213

learn

89

Know

214

plant

90

Water

215

cover

91

Than

216

food

92

Call

217

sun

93

First

218

four

94

People

219

thought

95

may

220

let

96

down

221

keep

97

side

222

eye

98

been

223

never

99

now

224

last

100

find

225

door

101

any

226

between

102

new

227

city

103

work

228

tree

104

part

229

cross

105

take

230

since

106

get

231

hard

107

place

232

start

108

made

233

might

109

live

234

story

110

where

235

saw

111

after

236

far

112

back

237

sea

113

little

238

draw

114

only

239

left

115

round

240

late

116

man

241

run

117

year

242

don't

118

came

243

while

119

show

244

press

120

every

245

close

121

good

246

night

122

me

247

real

123

give

248

life

124

our

249

few

125

under

250

stop

Rank

Word

Rank

Word

251

open

376

ten

252

seem

377

simple

253

together

378

several

254

next

379

vowel

255

white

380

toward

256

children

381

war

257

begin

382

lay

258

got

383

against

259

walk

384

pattern

260

example

385

slow

261

ease

386

center

262

paper

387

love

263

often

388

person

264

always

389

money

265

music

390

serve

266

those

391

appear

267

both

392

road

268

mark

393

map

269

book

394

science

270

letter

395

rule

271

until

396

govern

272

mile

397

pull

273

river

398

cold

274

car

399

notice

275

feet

400

voice

276

care

401

fall

277

second

402

power

278

group

403

town

279

carry

404

fine

280

took

405

certain

281

rain

406

fly

282

eat

407

unit

283

room

408

lead

284

friend

409

cry

285

began

410

dark

286

idea

411

machine

287

fish

412

note

288

mountain

413

wait

289

north

414

plan

290

once

415

figure

291

base

416

star

292

hear

417

box

293

horse

418

noun

294

cut

419

field

295

sure

420

rest

296

watch

421

correct

297

color

422

able

298

face

423

pound

299

wood

424

done

300

main

425

beauty

301

enough

426

drive

302

plain

427

stood

303

girl

428

contain

304

usual

429

front

305

young

430

teach

306

ready

431

week

307

above

432

final

308

ever

433

gave

309

red

434

green

310

list

435

oh

311

though

436

quick

312

feel

437

develop

313

talk

438

sleep

314

bird

439

warm

315

soon

440

free

316

body

441

minute

317

dog

442

strong

318

family

443

special

319

direct

444

mind

320

pose

445

behind

321

leave

446

clear

322

song

447

tail

323

measure

448

produce

324

state

449

fact

325

product

450

street

326

black

451

inch

327

short

452

lot

328

numeral

453

nothing

329

class

454

course

330

wind

455

stay

331

question

456

wheel

332

happen

457

full

333

complete

458

force

334

ship

459

blue

335

area

460

object

336

half

461

decide

337

rock

462

surface

338

order

463

deep

339

fire

464

moon

340

south

465

island

341

problem

466

foot

342

piece

467

yet

343

told

468

busy

344

knew

469

test

345

pass

470

record

346

farm

471

boat

347

top

472

common

348

whole

473

gold

349

king

474

possible

350

size

475

plane

351

heard

476

age

352

best

477

dry

353

hour

478

wonder

354

better

479

laugh

355

true .

480

thousand

356

during

481

ago

357

hundred

482

ran

358

am

483

check

359

remember

484

game

360

step

485

shape

361

early

486

yes

362

hold

487

hot

363

west

488

miss

364

ground

489

brought

365

interest

490

heat

366

reach

491

snow

367

fast

492

bed

368

five

493

bring

369

sing

494

sit

370

listen

495

perhaps

371

six

496

fill

372

table

497

east

373

travel

498

weight

374

less

499

language

375

morning

500

among

 

Students can be enabled to use this long list of common nouns in speech and writing tasks at grade levels three, four or five. They can be asked to use these words orally in describing various things in class and later write descriptive paragraphs and then short essays on any simple topic using a small and relevant list of these common words. When introducing our young learners to English as a second language, it is always more meaningful to have a knowledge of the most commonly used nouns or  words, but also an opportunity to use them step by step to develop their communicative competence. 

 

References: 

Borer, Hagit. 2005. In Name Only. Structuring Sense, Volume I. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

English, W. (2003, August Tuesday ). World English. Retrieved from World English Organization : http://www.world-english.org/esl.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

01 October 2015 By In Language Blog

Is there a difference between students and learners?  This question has been rattling around in my brain for a while now.  I began noticing that many people seemed to use the two words interchangeably as if they meant the same thing…but do they really?  In looking through dictionary definitions I failed to find any clarity.  Students are defined most frequently as people who learn in school.  Most dictionaries do not define learner.  Instead they direct you to the word learn and by so doing make the connection that learners are ones who learn.  All of the definitions gave me the impression that learners and students were the same thing and that the words could be used interchangeably.  

For me this just doesn’t feel right.  These definitions seem to fall short of capturing the true essence of what students and learners are.  So I’m back to my original question with the realisation that the definition needs to come from me and be rooted in my experiences.

In my mind a student is a person who is learning, typically in a formal environment or institution.  Students are placed into grade classrooms, assessed and evaluated and moved on through the system one grade after another.  When I think of students I think of books, backpacks, desks, rows, and order.  Order in the classroom, order in the school, order in the system that is providing the education.  Digging into my past experiences as a student in school I have many happy memories.   I was a great student.  I knew the “stuff” I was told I needed to know.  I knew how to be successful because I could easily figure out what teachers wanted from me.  I knew the game of school, what the rules were, how to follow them and could easily jump through all of the hoops.  I could memorise facts, poems, information, formulae and then recall them for my teachers when asked to do so.  I loved tests and exams because they allowed me to show how smart I was and almost always provided me with a chance to shine. 

At the start of teaching I realised that I had a problem…my learning as a student was not always helpful.  Knowing “stuff” didn’t matter, knowing “stuff” didn’t help the children in class learn it, knowing “stuff” didn’t help me become a better teacher. What I needed to learn was not the “stuff” but how to use it, adapt it, make it my own and more importantly, make it work for my students.  From that day forward I needed to become a learner.

Now as a learner I want feedback not grades.  I seek out opportunities for collaboration not competition.  I am in control of my learning and pursue not only areas of personal passion but also areas where I need to grow to better support the learners in my classroom.  This learning is not always orderly, in fact it is often very messy but it empowers me in ways that my learning as a student never did.  As a learner my learning is not confined by a building, a time or a preset curriculum - it was set by me.  This learning is relevant, authentic, engaging and extremely satisfying. 

My inquiry is not over on this topic but I do believe that there IS a difference between being a learner and being a student.  This difference appears to lie largely in who is in control of the learning and in the creation of understanding that transcends any one place and time. 

 

22 September 2015 By In Language Blog

Teaching students about Urdu Language Teaching (ULT) was as interesting as teaching them about English Language Teaching. I had imagined that it would be easier teaching a native language as students already have a foundation in it because it is their mother tongue (usually). Moreover, I felt that it would be much easier teaching adults because they already have a proficiency in the language, but when it came to teaching student Early Years practitioners for two days, there were some strange and funny situations. Many students did not know that genres are asnaaf’e adab and that the new terms according to them such as mersiya, nezm’e moera, qata, rubayi,, munqebet were just the types/names of many poems of Urdu that they had been reading since childhood ? The most interesting experience was teaching Urdu phonics; the word phonics appeared strange to them, complicated yet attractive, that was fearful in the beginning when I told them that they will study phonics with me the next day ? When I did Urdu phonemes with them, using some videos, they were pleased to know that they had been doing these sounds since their childhood, but not with the categorisation and sequence of phonics ? Moreover, the students were observed to be excited and playful like kids in the class when they did Urdu children’s songs - with activities - and they were naughty as well. Urdu riddles and puzzles made them even naughtier. Some also had difficulties in comprehending Urdu literature, some had in lesson planning… both problems seemed to be the same as we have in E.L.T. The best part of the lesson was when the Montessori student teachers were  silent while listening to, and watching, the Urdu stories and they all wanted to be the main character of those stories with more creative or funnier ideas ? All students, no matter what their age, do belong to the same age group more or less, especially when they are learning, and here is where the excitement of teaching and learning comes !

31 July 2015 By In Language Blog

Going Step by Step ! 

If there isn’t enough knowledge of a language then communication is not effective. What happens then is that communication errors take over - often with very funny results. This happens in our ESL English language classrooms where students do not have enough vocabulary. I realised that in my teaching of ESL (English as a Second Language) class, that I was actually teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language). I experienced this with some students in a B.Ed. class who came up with funny answers during some communication activities; ‘The stupid man was very intelligent’, ‘The long boy stood in front of the line’, ‘She has tall hair’, ‘I will not setress you do this work’, ‘I need waater far life’, ‘He is a happy cat’, ‘It was a happy class’, ‘He is a beautiful teacher because he has good results’, ‘It should must happen’, ‘I was eaten by that food’, ‘I want to be a nice cook passing B.Ed.’ , ‘I will play in my childhood’, ‘I was eat food’, ‘First I die, then I enjoy me life’, ‘Me Lord, I don’t know you.’ Not to mention how students make a plural of a word like 'fees'! These and many such expressions of some students in the language classes during speaking activities made me realise in the beginning of the teaching sessions that I need to start with the basics. Every language course cannot be designed or taught in the same way. For students lacking the knowledge of the parts of speech, the teacher needs to be patient and plan his/her lessons carefully. The teacher needs to start with vocabulary/noun activities using pictures integrated with listening and speaking, moving to creative speaking and writing. Starting from nouns, then adjectives (how the nouns seem/look), verbs (what the nouns do) to adverbs (how/when/where the nouns do) and then to joining them using conjunctions and positioning them using prepositions is a good step-by-step technique that enables these ESL initial learners to conceptualise language in an effective way. First of all, the teacher needs to assess the students’ knowledge and level of understanding. It is essential for a language teacher to start classes with basic speaking and writing activities in order to form a strong foundation for the students to begin to develop their English language skills. This comes from knowing the level of each student developed from a need analysis. Asking them to enter the  'library of language' to discover more is the aim of the teacher's creativity, becomes an ongoing motivation for students.  This is what I have been doing successfully with my Foundation, Functional Grammar and Communication Skills classes and it has made my lessons as easy as climbing a ladder - it's a challenge, but not impossible!

 

 

02 June 2015 By In Language Blog

A Small Achievement 

A few months back we started using language development software (i.e. Rosetta Stone) with our student teachers. They can use this software in their language lab classes but they also have the opportunity to use the software whenever they want. At the start, it seemed students were not taking advantage of this opportunity but today I was happy to see its effect on the language skills of students - especially on those student teachers from rural locations. 

In the morning, I had a class of English Language Teaching with the students – a lesson on Phonetics & Phonology. I gave them a chart of consonant & vowels sounds and asked them to pronounce these sound after listening to an audio; they pronounced these sounds without listening to the audio. They made hardly one or two mistakes in reproducing these sounds. They said they had learned all these sounds while working with the language software.  In the exercise they had a lot of fun discovering various phonemes within words in order to create new words with the sounds because they were doing it for the first time, but at least they were familiar with the sounds.   

A small, but important achievement.

28 May 2015 By In Language Blog

Students’ Presentations 

I believe presentations play a very important role for developing students’ communication skills. 

In my opinion, presentations are an extraordinary approach to have learners achieve the linguistic competence (grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, syntax) and sociolinguistic competence (when, where and how to use the target language) needed for effective communication. 

Students’ presentations are helpful for them in the following ways: 

• Presentations help the learners to communicate better in every field of life. I also observed that the students who are good ‘presenters’, are better communicators as well. They are capable of structuring and expressing their thoughts clearly.   

• Presentations offer a channel for students to impart to others what they have comprehended. It is additionally an opportunity to test and develop their own understanding. 

• Presentations provide learners with an opportunity to be independent.

01 April 2015 By In Language Blog

Teaching Handwriting Skills to Young Learners

Throughout my teaching career, I never once considered that teaching handwriting skills to young learners would be difficult. The first time I realised how difficult it was to teach young learners to write was when I got my three year old son admitted into a school. He enjoyed his school but when it came to writing, he was not willing even to hold a pencil. 

I searched the internet to find what I could do but nothing worked for him. Then I bought him a writing board and coloured chalks. He showed little interest and started scribbling but still that did not help much. One day while I was busy doing something else I saw him scribbling and doodling on his story book. That gave me an idea to use colouring sheets instead of making him trace letters or shapes.

At first, I gave him coloring sheets which had his favourite cartoon characters, which produced amazing results. He not only started holding coloured pencils and crayons properly but also ended up spending all his free time in colouring different sheets (at times 12 to 15 per day).  Later he sat with me to search for the colouring sheets of his choice. Within no time he began to trace and write letters of the alphabet, numbers and now he can draw some of his favourite cartoon characters and animals as well.

A closer analysis of the sheets he coloured, helped me to identify why he could do it so quickly. Have a look at some of his colouring sheets; he uses various stokes (horizontal, vertical, round etc.) to colour. He rarely uses a single colour; he always prefers multiple colours, always of his own choice. A variety of strokes, while colouring, strengthened his grip and helped him to trace and write properly.

     
     
16 March 2015 By In Language Blog

Video Recording as a Self-Assessment Tool

I have often observed that the term ‘Assessment’ generates fear or anxiety among learners. In order to reduce that fear factor, I use self assessment tools in my teaching sessions.

Self assessment facilitates students to reflect on their learning. It does not require them to grade their performances rather it enables them to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Among the many other self assessment tools, I consider video recording as the most valuable tool for self assessment. 

 After recording students’ microteaches and presentations, I encourage them to follow these steps: 

 

 

I use the following questions to help the learners to take notes while observing their performance:

i. Were your instructions clear and simple?

ii. Did you rephrase your instructions if students were at a loss?

iii. Did you encourage the students to participate/ answer?

iv. Did you try to involve the whole class?

v. What modes of interaction were used?

vi. Can you specify the proportion of teacher talk vs. student talk?

vii. How effective was the use of technology or A/V aids in your lesson?

viii. Did you notice any errors in your speech?

ix. Did you implement the objectives you had planned?

x. What questions would you like to add to this list?

By 

Samia Chattha

03 March 2015 By In Language Blog

What did you do at the weekend?

Technology presents us with amazing opportunities to re-design the way we teach and learn English. Mobile devices allow me and my learners to interact seamlessly with each other in formal and informal learning contexts.  I also have learners from rural areas and they are not as much proficient in English language but somehow they are aware of the usage of mobile technology.

 I encourage the students to create a personal visual story about their daily routine. They take a series of snapshots of different moments in their day- e.g., their alarm clock, a toothbrush, a cup of coffee, their walk to the shop….

They describe the actions to me, e.g., I take a shower and get dressed….. Most of the time, it also highlights different aspects of language that require input from my side. 

For the next step, I ask them to record themselves speaking English and share it with friends, who can offer feedback. This is a great opportunity to practice pronunciation as well. 

Using mobile technology in the classroom has turned the question, “what did you do last weekend?” into a personal story, as students share with other fellows what they did, where they went and how they felt. 

Ms. Sumaira Latif 

16 February 2015 By In Language Blog

There are many people out there who are struggling to learn a second language. There are obviously a lot of programmes and products that cater to them. As most people embark on their language-learning journey, this very question comes to mind: “Should I learn a language solo or find a classroom/formal education option?” Everyone has a different learning style, some tending to be more well-suited to learn solo and some require more of a classroom setting. Knowing what type of learner you are helps greatly.

16 February 2015 By In Language Blog

Teaching Poems

The selection of the right poem matters when you’re teaching poetry; even more so when you are teaching poetry communicatively. You need to stimulate students’ interest and support their proficiency level with the language. 

Here are a few things I do after I’ve a selected an interesting poem: 

i. Show some pictures (taken from newspapers, magazines or the internet) which can diagrammatically represent the poem. Ask students to guess what the poem is about, by looking at the pictures.

ii. After introducing the selected poem, encourage students to discuss the main theme. For this, I always provide relevant vocabulary, sentence starters or clues.

iii. Let them read the poem in chunks and then talk about what they have read, first in small groups and then in whole-class discussion.

iv. At the end I always let the students share how the particular poem made them feel. We do this in small groups or in whole class discussion.

04 February 2015 By In Language Blog

Grammar- The very mention of the word strikes fear into the heart of the staunchest language learner. Many English Language teachers also feel the pit of their stomach churn at the thought of preparing and giving a grammar lesson. But what are we to do? If lexis and vocabulary are the building blocks of language, then certainly grammar is the mortar or structure that holds them together. Teaching it and learning it are therefore inescapable. The only thing to do then is to make it as interesting, pleasant or at least as painless as

04 February 2015 By In Language Blog

Establishing Writing Habits

I believe writing to be the most neglected language skill. The writing skills development of students can be developed through establishing some simple, good writing habits. Make it enjoyable for learners by letting them write their routine tasks or notes to communicate with others. Encourage them to write a wish list for birthday presents, a list of grocery items, small notes to convey messages to friends and family,  maintain a personal diaries, write for a class journal or a blog…

It is better to start with shared or guided writing practices. Once they are used to writing regularly, give them independent writing practice and make them write about the things they imagine.Do not forget to keep them motivated by displaying their work on your classroom soft board or publish it on the blog. 

22 January 2015 By In Language Blog

All languages have words. Language emerges first as words, both historically, and in terms of the way each of us learned our first and any subsequent languages. The coining of new words never stops nor does the acquisition of words. Even, in our first language we are continually learning new words, and learning new meanings for old words. Without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed. If you spend most of your time studying grammar, your English will not improve very much. You will see most improvement if you learn more words and expressions. You can say very little with grammar, but you can say almost anything with words! 

21 January 2015 By In Language Blog

Reading Clubs provide students with a platform to spend time together in order to share and enjoy what they have read. Such groups motivate students to read. Availing these opportunities gives them exposure to a variety of reading texts. At the same time, reading in groups helps them to improve their listening, speaking and writing.

To explain the impact of reading on an individual, I would like to quote an extract from the famous novel ‘Ink Spell’ (Funke, 2005):

“Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you have read it several times? As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells… and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower… both strange and familiar.’’ 

17 December 2014 By In Language Blog

As English is the Lingua Franca, the English  Department at Ali Institute of Education aims to enhance the language skills of the students.  Various teaching methods and techniques are used to improve the reading, writing, listening  and speaking skills of the students. Students are not only trained in grammar but also trained in how to practice language with correct use of grammar. We aim to polish our students in language and communication that can help them improve their interaction and communication with people. We train them in language through