14 October 2013

Material Development for Teaching English

I.  Language is complex—in our world, language is speaking, hearing, reading, and culturally imbedded/intertwined.
So, we have to teach ALL aspects.  (A conversation class may avoid the written/reading aspect, but that is only one of four!)

II. Keep in mind that people have different learning styles:
So, activities need to engage ALL learning styles whenever possible.  (Because some people are visual, even in a conversation class, you will have students who want to SEE the words.)

III. Deciding on Materials
·        English textbooks should have correct, natural, recent, and standard English…that is, the ENGLISH that you want to speak/write (American, British, etc.)

·        The cultural information included in English-language textbooks should be correct and recent. It should not be biased and should reflect background cultures of English. It should include visual aids etc., to help students understand cultural information.

·        Content: English textbooks should be useful, meaningful and interesting for students. While no single subject will be of interest to all students, materials should be chosen based, in part, on what students, in general, are likely to find interesting and motivating.

IV. Sources - Resources
·        So much available on-line

·        Publishers everywhere—English is the most sought-after second language in the world.


Online Resources:
http://www.usingenglish.com/teachers/lesson-plans/ (be careful here—some are good, some are useless)

Methodology for Teaching Speaking

“You’re going to make 1,000,000 mistakes...
     …so start making them today!”

How to teach ‘speaking’ in the ESL classroom—
·        Activities may include:
o   imitating (repeating),
o   answering verbal cues,
o   interactive conversation,
o   an oral presentation

·        Speaking activities inherently engage the practice of listening skills as well

IMPORTANT: Imitation.
Provide audio/visual opportunities for students to hear native speakers: speeches, videos, movie clips, songs, television, etc.
Have “Mimic Competitions” – challenge students to try to sound like the people in the above mentioned settings.

Read everything you can aloud – hear yourself, let others hear you, strengthen the face/mouth muscles for specific non-native (to you) sounds in the target language.

MUSIC – fluidity, pronunciation, auditory training (NOT grammar! L )

Conversation Tips
  • Speak about location: Americans love to talk about location. When speaking to a stranger, ask them where they are from and then make a connection with that place. For example: "Oh, I have a friend who studied in Los Angeles. He says it's a beautiful place to live." Most Americans will then willingly talk about their experiences living or visiting that particular city or area.
  • Talk about work: Americans commonly ask "What do you do?". It's not considered impolite (as in some countries) and is a popular topic of discussion between strangers.
  • Talk about sports: Americans love sports! However, they love American sports. When speaking about football, most Americans understand "American Football", not soccer.
  • Be careful when expressing ideas about race, religion or other sensitive topics: The United States is a multi-cultural society. Especially in the last few years, Americans are trying very hard to be sensitive to other cultures and ideas. Talking about sensitive topics, like religion or beliefs, is often avoided in order to be sure not to offend someone of a different belief system. This is often referred to as being "politically correct".

Addressing People
  • Use last names with people you do not know: Address people using their title (Mr, Ms, Dr) and their last names.
  • Always use "Ms" when addressing women: It is important to use "Ms" when addressing a woman. Only use "Mrs" when the woman has asked you to do so!
  • Many Americans prefer first names: Americans often prefer using first names, even when dealing with people in very different positions. Americans will generally say, "Call me Tom." and then expect you to remain on a first name basis.
  • Americans prefer informal: In general, Americans prefer informal greetings and using first names or nicknames when speaking with colleagues and acquaintances.

Public Behavior
  • Always shake hands: Americans shake hands when greeting each other. This is true for both men and women. Other forms of greeting, such as kissing on the cheeks, etc., are generally not appreciated.
  • Look your partner in the eye: Americans look each other in the eyes when they are speaking as a way of showing that they are sincere.

Good Links:

24 April 2013

Are we Born Good or Bad?

Often times in my classes, we begin to discuss those questions that deal with ‘worldview’ and ‘ultimate reality.’  The questions usually begin to surface when I suggest that our perspectives and understandings of the world are built on the foundation of our ‘presuppositions’—those underlying beliefs that we bring to every situation or question.  For instance, we have all have presuppositions about humanity.  I ask my students, “Are people, humans, basically good or basically bad?”

How we answer this question will inform how we deal with others, what we expect of people, how we raise our children, etc.  If I presume humanity to be basically good, then I’m horrified at the Columbines, Auroras, Newtowns and city buses of New Delhi; if I presume humanity to be basically bad, then I’m not terribly surprised by the horrors of humanity (or at least I shouldn’t be!)

But, is there another option?  After we have debated and fleshed out the good or bad perspectives in my classes, I raise a third perspective (presupposition)—humanity is not good or bad; people are born selfish, self-centered.

Anyone who has ever had children will recognize it in a moment.  Children really aren’t morally good or bad until they are old enough to make conscious decisions regarding themselves in relation to others.  BUT, from the moment they are born, they are absolutely self-absorbed, self-centered, selfish.  They want milk…and they want it now.  Then, they want attention.  They want praise.  They want…want…want.  The children don’t just ‘grow out of it’ – just take a three-year-0ld up and down aisles of Toys-R-Us or even just a local grocery stores and you’ll hear it—“But I want….!  Waaaaaaaa!”  I even hear it from teenagers…and, lamentably, from adults as well….

If we were born bad, that would explain some of the horror we see in the world…but not the good we see.  If we were born good,…then the world should certainly be a much better place than it is!  But, if we are born selfish…then, well, that would explain a lot about the world…the good and the bad.

If individuals are selfish, then groups of individuals would develop a “group selfishness”…and we see that as corporations seek market control, political parties push for their party line, as governments push for patriotism and nationalism.  In fact, if we look at many of the problems today—from the small and local to the big and national, we can trace the origins of the problems back to good, old-fashioned selfishness and egoism.

I believe that the Christian Scriptures recognize self-worship and self-importance as the greatest problem with humanity…and call for self-emptying as the highest act of faith.  Jesus taught his followers, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends” (TNIV).  The very greatest love one can have is to commit a selfless act. Jesus even 'walked the talk'...right up to an agonizing death on the Cross.  If that is the greatest love, then the opposite—the worst thing one can do—is to pursue selfishness.

So, if we ‘buy’ this idea—humanity is first and foremost selfish—what does that mean for us?  It means that before or as we teach our children to be ‘good,’ we have to teach them to think of others, to act on behalf of others, to live for the benefit of others…and not just unto themselves.  It means that as adults we must be willing to set aside the pursuit of our personal gain and recognize that we must help others to achieve and gain as well.  It means that our institutions, companies and corporations must look beyond themselves and the bottom-line profits.  It means that our nation and all the other nations must do more than help themselves.

Are people basically good or basically bad?  No…we are basically selfish, and the great human task is to train the coming generation—and move ourselves—to look beyond ourselves, to think of others.  I suppose Jesus is the one who shows us best how to get there....

01 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all!  I hope that you are as happy to see this year beginning as I am.  2012 was a pretty good year…but this year will be even better!

I wish you and yours the very best in the days, weeks, and months to come.  May we live well, live to the full, and live lives that impact others.

More to come…!

Feliz año!!  Espero que también estás muy contento ver el inicio de este año como yo.  El año 2012 fue bueno…pero este año será aun mejor!

Les deseo lo mejor por los días, semanas y meses por venir.  Que vivemos bien, que vivemos con abundancia, y que vivemos en una manera para impactar las vidas de la gente alrededor.

Hasta pronto…!