Scooters and Motorcycles

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Scooters and motorcycles are very common in China, and are often considered to be dangerous. In the podcast, students will listen to a conversation about riding scooters and motorcycles. It comes with the transcript and analysis. The key words and expressions are bold which makes it easier for students to understand and learn something new. I will use this material in a high intermediate level ESL class. I will assign this as a homework and discuss it in class to examine students’ understanding.

Learning objectives:

1. To be able to understand short new phrases containing familiar vocabulary spoken slowly.

2.To be able to understand texts that have a simple, clear structure.

3.To be able to interpret statements, questions in familiar situations.

4. To learn more vocabulary and expression about transportation.

5. To develop self-learning ability.

Link:ESL podcast

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Where is the post office.

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I created the “where is the post office” on Stripgenerator to use in a high beginning level class to help students learn and practice asking and giving directions.

Performance indicators:

Answer simple questions on everyday activities with some details
Participate in short conversations on everyday activities using appropriate conversation skills and monitoring for listener comprehension

By using the comic as an example, students will form into groups of 2 and then practice the dialogue using different vocabulary for places provided, such as bank, hospital, shopping mall, coffee shop.

To see if they meet the performance indicator, students will have the opportunity of acting out the comic scene using the structure the comic provides and their own choices of words. We won’t have time for every student to present to you whole class, so asking the class to write down their dialogue and hand in at the end of the class would be a way to see if the class, as a whole, understands.

Forget about cats&dogs, check out small pets!

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People talk about cats and dogs all the time, but do you know there are adorable small pets, as well?

In the video Small Pets that I created on Animoto, I introduced 6 small pets: hedgehog, hamster, ferret, dwarf rabbit, chinchilla and ginnie pig. This video is designed for beginners, I choose to use images as explanation rather than words in the students’ first language.

Performance indicators:

To be able to understand the 6 words in terms of their meanings, pronunciations and spellings.

I will let students watch the video before class, and test their understanding of the meaning by letting them match the 6 words to the picture of the pet they describe. Then, I will teach them the pronunciation of each word, let them repeat, and test their understanding by showing the picture with captions and let them pronounce the word. Finally, I will give them sometime to memorize the spelling, and then test it by showing only the picture and let them write down the word.

Success is a continuous journey

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My lesson: Success is a continuous journey. 

For the lesson I created, I wanted to use something meaningful and inspiring. So I chose the success is a continuous journey. The whole concept is to let students learn English and learn about life.  It is important to draw their attention and get them interested in what they are learning. Not everyone is interested in English, but everyone wants to know how to succeed. So, the topic is appealing to everyone.

According to Standard for ESL, I posted three questions in my lesson to test their listening comprehension of the video, focusing on language alone. In the discussion, I focused more on how-to-succeed. As the objectives of this lesson are not just practicing their listening skills: to be able to interpret statements, questions and commands in a variety of familiar situations; to be able to identify key information/details in a description, but also to provide some useful guidance in their life. After watching the video, I expect the students to understand that as it was emphasized in the video, one needs to keep trying to be successful.

I linked the video of the 8 secrets to success as an additional material in case students need more instructions on those.

Learn English from Sit-comes

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Using a clip from <Friends> as a listening material for a intermediate level class.

The activity would be watching the first part of the video and let students take stand, either they agree with Rachel that Joey will get the acting part or agree with Chandler that he will not get the part and explain their reasons.

Then watch the part that Joey has the audition. Let students guess again if he gets the acting job or not.

Then watch the final part where Joey tells everyone the results.

Performance indicator is: listening comprehension- to understand the video correctly.Interpret information from a conversation and in a variety of contexts, in this case, audition and daily conversations between friends. Distinguish between facts and opinions in conversation.

Asking them who thinks Joey will get the acting job and why can examine their understanding of the dialogue. After watching each clip of the video, asking students to retell what happened is a good wat to see if they listen and understand. However, we want students to not only understand what is going on in the video as a whole but to also be able to capture details. So, another way to see if the performance indicator has been met is to ask detailed questions. Such as: what did the interviewee think of Joey after he showed him the catalog of the bag? The answer would be he thinks Joey is a salesman.

Joey has a bag

Flip Your classroom!

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For centuries, we have been following the same teaching pattern, giving lecture in class and assigning homework for students to do after. But, it is time to think out of the box. Let’s flip the classroom!
If you haven’t heard of it, you should definitely look into and try it in your own classroom.
That is to say, students will have the lecture before class, and do “homework” in class.
I really like this idea as it is a common problem that students don’t know how to put the knowledge learned into practice, or even capture the key points by simply attending lectures. In China, where the educational system is very exam-oriented, it is not difficult for students to get good scores, but hard to perform well in practice. What is the use of learning if you can’t even apply it? By having the students discuss and practice what they learned from lectures viewed before class, the application ability gets improved. Besides, it is beneficial for the teachers, too.

Devoting class time to application of concepts instead of giving lectures might give instructors a better opportunity to detect errors in thinking so the help provided by teachers can be altered and teachers’ value can be maximized.
However, there are drawbacks of this method. Without proper instructions, students may complain about using public lecture videos as they think it is something they can do on their own without paying tuition. Flipping the classroom is passing more responsibilities on to the students. Motivating them to complete the lectures before class is an issue. The workshop can not lead to a good result if students come to class unprepared or even skip the class.
Homework, in my mind, has always been a chore, an assignment, a must-do because it takes up some percentage of the final score. Ask yourself three questions first:
  • If a student does their homework, does that make them a ‘better’ student than one that does not?
  • Does completed homework assignment indicate that a student has learned the material?
  • Does the student need homework to understand the material at hand?

Homework is indeed necessary. The purpose of it should be enhancing the newly-learned knowledge and help students detect unsolved problems. We should keep in mind that everyone is different, and assigning the same homework for everyone is not meeting individual’s needs. When designing the homework, the easier way to do it is to think about its purpose, that is to examine if the students have truly understood the concept.

Trace Effects

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Trace Effects is collaborative learning game for American English and culture. It is one example of serious game.

I played it a couple of times. It consists of two main sessions, the story and the language practice. It takes a little while to load the story chapters. But once you enter the chapter, it is really fun. The story is about Trace trying to go back to the future. It is a typical American si-fi story. As it has a 3D visual effect, it appeals to teenagers. It is designed for 12-16 years old. It feels like a simulation video game but it is language learning involved. Players are put in the simulated situations and learn daily English expressions, such as asking for directions. Also, there will be a exam of your understanding and a practice of retelling. For example, after Trace got the new student ID from student union. A girl asked him for the information of getting a new ID. The game is very well made as when you walk around, you can hear other people’s conversations. It gives players a very authentic feeling.

The goal of this game is to learn American English and culture. Daily life courtesy is including in the conversations you have with other characters in the game. In stead of dividing the topics into different categories, it emerges while you complete the game, which is less rigid and more fun. One thing I noticed is that there is always a emotion status after each sentence. It helps players understand how people would react in dialogues. When you act polite and say “Thank you”, people react in a pleasant way.

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Vocabulary is built through the game. It comes with a language practice so it is very easy for users to exam how well they learned from the story.

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Listening is a major part of the game as we constantly “talk” to different characters without subtitles to get the next clue. There is a repeat button in case you didn’t catch the meaning the first time you hear it.

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Grammar is practiced. In the game, you can find different verbs to add to your option list, and later use them to complete certain actions. To complete an actions successfully, users have to choose the right verb and the right object. It is the gamification of multiple choices.

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Comprehension skills are also practiced. Unlike reading about it, it is more like experiencing the story by yourself.

After each chapter, there is a corresponding language practice. I really like the form of the test as there are images and audios so it is good for both visual and audio learners. In both the story and language practice there is a score system which I like as it is an indicator of your performance as well as a prompt that gives you motivation.

Basically, Trace Effects enables users to learn and play at the same time with very little assistance from teachers. I can see myself using this game as an after-class activity or homework. Apart from using the language practice, the learning process can be assessed in class by doing a role-play or story retelling.