When wo/men speak up | An evidence-based activity

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It’s international women’s day and I just happened upon some management research into the differences in impact on status and potential leadership position between men and women as a result of speaking up. This research was cited in the latest Harvard Business Review (March-April 2018, p.24) but was originally published in the Academy of Management Journal, 2017 as The Social Consequences of Voice: An Examination of Voice Type and Gender on Status and Subsequent Leader Emergence, by Elizabeth J. McClean et al. It just goes to show that while some progress has been made, we’re still very far from equity and you don’t need to look beyond the article’s title to see what I mean: Men Get Credit for Voicing Ideas, but Not Problems. Women Don’t Get Credit for Either

Here’s an activity for business professionals designed around this text/research


  • Lead in by asking learners what the phrasal verb ‘to speak up’ means and whether there is a culture of ‘speaking up’ in their organisation.
  • Ask learners to then draw this matrix in their notebooks.

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  • Get the learners to individually decide if speaking up in each of the situations helps men and women gain (+)  or lose (-) status in the team or organisation. For example, if a man points out problems, is he likely to gain (+) gain the respect of his colleagues and increase his status or lose status (-). They can also decide that there’s no impact (=).
  • Put them in small groups and have them compare their answers.
  • Ask learners to then access the article on their phones. It’s quite short and the title (Men Get Credit for Voicing Ideas, but Not Problems. Women Don’t Get Credit for Either) says it all. Encourage learners to compare their guesses to the research.
  • Have them read the article again and identify what promotive and prohibitive voice mean and which one they tend to hear in their own team interactions.
  • Finally have them read the last line of the article and discuss what this might mean in terms of team dynamics, diversity, equity, innovation and productivity.

”The researchers say that their findings highlight an impediment to objective, nongendered evaluations of team members’ contributions.”

  • As a follow-up task, learners could come up with suggestions or guidelines for working towards ensuring that everyone’s inputs are valued regardless of who they are.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

 

Free secondary images for corporate training materials

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A secondary image is a picture that has a background. I prefer using primary images (which are basically cut-outs on a white or transparent background) in print materials but secondary images can look really good in presentations if used well. Here are some sites that provide free downloads of secondary images under a creative commons license. Note that some images under creative commons require attribution and others don’t – this is usually mentioned next to the image when you’re downloading it.

  • Unsplash: different collections including  Workspaces, It`s business time, Computers, phones & tech, Desk + Work, Work and collaboration, generally no attribution necessary but some individual images may require you to credit the owner under Creative Commons.
  • Pixabay: a huge variety of business images including primary and secondary images as well as illustrations. Some require attribution, others don’t.
  • Picjumbo: Some beautiful shots but the range is limited to hands and laptops on desks unfortunately. No attribution necessary.
  • Gratisography: a limited range but high quality whimsical images including the one I’ve used in this post. After accessing the site, search for key words like business, work, technology etc. No attribution necessary.
  • Pexels: corporate looking images. No attribution necessary.
  • Burst: a nice range of business images with no fuss downloads. A bias for hands on laptops though. No attribution necessary.
  • Stockvault: free business stock photos – quite a large collection with no attribution necessary for their free stock photo collection. You’ll need to be careful on this site though as you could easily end up on Shutterstock signing up for a paid account.
  • Stockphotos: a limited collection of pictures but includes some primary  images, attribution necessary.
  • RGBstock: scroll down to the business categories – there’s a combination of illustrations and photographs. The site requires registration. I have to admit that I’m not completely convinced that the people who’ve uploaded pictures to the site actually own them.
  • Freerangestock: you need to register to download. This is another site where you can quickly end up being asked for your credit card details on Shutterstock. No attributions required.

Do you have any favourite stock photo sites which have a free section for business-related images?

‘Topless’ images | A bias exploration activity

Topless image

This activity is inspired by something I saw on a project I was on although that particular activity was being used to explore gender roles. Since then I’ve used ‘topless images’ many times with my learners. Whether or not you want to explore biases and stereotypes, it’s a really productive speaking activity that gets everyone talking.


Objective

  • Explore biases, stereotypes and their impact
  • Develop oral fluency in this context

topless photos ELT

Materials

  • You will need to keep an eye out for images that are sure to provoke a discussion on biases.

Preparation

  • Snip the tops of the images and place them on slides or print them out.

Procedure

  • Put learners into small groups.
  • Bring up each image and ask learners to come up with a backstory for the person in the image.
  • Take whole class feedback (Learners will generally suggest that A is a Hindu/Indian woman who is getting married, B is an Asian female model and that C is a Scottish bagpiper).

Debrief 

  • You can either display the original images and tell learners who these people are or ask them to visit the Huffington Post articles they’re taken from and confirm their backstories.
    • A is from http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/11/08/heres-theresa-may-looking-gorgeous-in-a-saree/
    • B is from http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/11/04/80-year-old-model-crushes-stereotypes-with-his-runway-swagger/
    • C is from http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/11/07/indias-first-female-bagpiper-is-a-self-taught-delhi-girl/
  • I usually keep QR codes ready and ask each group to send a representative to scan the QR Code on his or phone, access the article, skim and discuss it with their group members. Alternatively, you could stick the articles up on the walls of your classroom.
  • Ask learners to discuss how similar or different the real stories are from the back stories they came up with. Ask them to consider what this might reveal about their biases and the impact stereotypes have on their thinking. Get them to discuss what kind of impact this might have on their interactions with others, at work and in their personal life.

Here are the original pictures:

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Image attribution –  fair use for educational purposes: 

  1. Here’s Theresa May Looking Gorgeous In A Saree (Link), Huffington Post, 09/11/2016

  2. 80-Year-Old Model Crushes Stereotypes With His Runway Swagger (Link), Huffington Post, Suzy Strutner, 04/11/2016

  3. This Woman, Who Claims To Be India’s First Female Commercial Bagpiper, Has Made Some Really Cool Music (Link), Huffington Post, Anwesha Madhukalya, 07/11/2016

The headless black and white image is in the public domain.

Socrative SAQs | Formative assessments

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Lately, I’ve been using Socrative for formative assessments. While Kahoot is engaging and brings gamification into the classroom, it’s sometimes good to run a quiet learner-paced assessment which Socrative enables you to do. The other advantage that Socrative has over Kahoot is that it offers multiple question types within the same test and it’s got multiple choice questions (MCQs), true or false and short answer questions (SAQs).

I like interspersing brief Socrative based interactions through lessons. Learners get instant feedback and I can track their progress – and everything is happening on their own devices (using the Socrative Student App). It’s also a useful affordance to have the ability to capture longer responses from the students using the SAQ feature and when coupled with automated assessment, it’s potentially a very powerful tool

I’m going to be focusing on my experiences with using SAQs in this post.

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What really excited me about the SAQ feature was that you could automate grading by feeding in a targeted response. This works well with:

  • Form based gap-fill for grammar items
  • Missing word exercises for vocabulary items such as collocations.

You can add as many correct answers as you’d like but this is where there’s a catch. The responses are case sensitive which you could perhaps proactively address by supplying different permutations like I’ve done in this example. However, if students leave a space before or after the word or have a typo, then they’ll get marked incorrect by the system. These kind of errors are unavoidable when students are typing responses on their mobiles.

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I haven’t really faced an issue with automated validation for gap fills but with exercise types that require students to type an entire sentence, it’s been really challenging. For instance, at a recent session where we explored ways of reducing wordiness in emails, students were required to reword a sentence. I had two alternatives for the correct answers ‘We want to successfully implement this initiative’ with/without terminal punctuation. We’d just looked at masked verbs and how to uncover them as a way of reducing wordiness.

Socrative challenges

Here are the responses I got from the students:

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One of the learners wrote “we want to successfully implement this initiative” but because the first letter wasn’t capitalised, she got it wrong. The next closest to my targeted response was “we want to implement this initiative successfully” but because I didn’t have it my list, she got it wrong! In a subsequent question, the rubric was really explicit but nevertheless, most of the students got it wrong on the system although their response was possibly correct.

There’s no easy solution to this. Plugging in every single permutation of an answer (including with and without punctuation & capitalisation) is mind-numbing. I could eliminate the correct response option (Socrative lets you do that) and have that question graded manually but that’s something I wanted to avoid and was in fact one of my principal reasons for using Socrative.

Until I figure this out, I’ll have to convert these exercises into MCQs which of course makes them a lot less challenging. The other option is to give feedback in a whole class discussion as I did when I discovered that the whole test was going awry.

Open Badges for CPD

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I’ve been a bit disingenuous in recommending digital badges for informal learning without properly investigating them. So I was truly surprised to discover that I’d already earned a badge for attending a webinar on speaking assessments.

What are badges? 

Think of them as alternatives to certificates. They’re proof that you’ve completed a learning activity or achieved some kind of outcome (such as a language level). Unlike a certificate which you download and which only sees the light of day when your supervisor demands evidence of CPD, the badge can be displayed in a gallery accessible by others.

I found my badge on speaking assessments at Open Badges passport which Cambridge uses.

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However, Mozilla Backpack appears to be a lot more popular.

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It’s also possible to display the badges in your LinkedIn profile.

How does it work? 

An organisation or institution designs and issues badges. They then allow participants who have completed an activity to add a particular badge. In practice, anyone can design badges using a site like Openbadges.me or Open Badge Factory. There is ostensibly some kind of quality control in place because the badge links back to the organisation or person who issued it.  Here’s a worksheet with some interesting questions for badge issuers to think through.

Badges for CPD 

Is there value in displaying the CPD activities you’ve completed or achieved? I think there might be. Beyond the obvious ‘feeling proud of yourself’, they can be useful in work contexts where performance appraisal systems require evidence of having completed a certain number of hours of professional development. I also think they provide an opportunity to members of a community of practice to check in on what other practitioners are doing and perhaps think about doing similar activities .

Badges in teacher training 

I was thinking about how badges might work for pre-service teacher training courses. Would we give badges (scout-like) for discrete skills like giving instructions or for achieving a certain number of hours of training practice or accomplishing criteria related to assignment? Or would that dilute the goals of a criterion-referenced course? It would be interesting to introduce new teachers to badges in a session like ICT where they could receive a badge on ‘Starting a class Wiki’ and encourage them to get more badges when they kick start their CPD plans.  Here’s a useful presentation on creating badges for your own course.

Badges & informal learning 

We know that a lot of learning happens informally through classroom practice, peer interactions among others. Digital badges perhaps imply that these informal learning activities don’t hold as much value because you can only earn badges for activities endorsed by someone else. I do see a link for ‘Apply for a badge’ in Open Badges Passport but I’m not sure why Cambridge or any other provider would let you have one of their badges if didn’t attend their event. And there’s always that danger of a learning provider subverting the system to serve its own interest which one major publisher has allegedly attempted.

Do you issue badges for your teachers or students? What has been your experience with using badges to promote CPD and learner autonomy?

Drama inspired storytelling activities

I attended another workshop at Adhyayan who work with schools in India. This one was called Storytelling and Literacy and it was heaps of fun. Like the ones I participated in earlier this year, this one was also led by two drama students who are studying in the UK: Leah & Anthi. Here’s a list of some newish activities I experienced at this workshop:

Warmers & energisers 

  • Gossip: Find out three things from your partner and share it with the rest of the group as if you really like them or you don’t like them or you are telling a secret or gossiping etc.
  • Honey I love you: Students stand in a circle with one person in the middle. The person in the middle must go around saying “Honey, I love, will you please please smile?” The student who this is said to must reply “Honey, I love you but I just can’t smile!” However, no one is allowed to show their teeth so students must fold their lips over their teeth as they says these sentences. If a student slips up and shows his or her teeth, s/he becomes the person in the middle of the circle.
  • Walking around – variation 1: Ask students to walk around the space with purpose. Caution them about forming a circle which is a natural tendency in this activity. They should try to fill up all the space that’s available. Announce a letter such as ‘B’ and ask students to stand still and become starting with ‘b’. Quickly ask those with quirky looking gestures what they’ve become.
  • Walking around – variation 2: Ask students to walk around the space with purpose. When you clap your hands once, they should jump. Do this several times before you introduce two claps when they need to bundle themselves into a ball on the floor. At three claps, they need to become their favourite character from a book. Combine these different claps to get students energised.
  • Name in the cauldron: A variation of name in the bucket. Students stand in a circle and imagine a great big bubbling cauldron at its centre. Students should chuck their name into the cauldron with a lot of energy.
  • Hypnotic finger: Students play this game in pairs. One of the students holds a finger in front of her partner’s eyes and the other follows the finger as if hypnotised. Students take turns, moving around the room.
  • Prop charades: Students use mystery objects in different ways and their peers guess what these objects might be.
  • Mirror game variation 1: Students stand in a circle with one person in the centre. Students then copy everything this person does. .
  • Mirror game variation 2: Students pair off and mirror their partner’s actions.
  • Mad libs: Ask students to write 1. the name of a girl 2. a boy’s name 3. a place 4. a place 5. an article of clothing 6. some more clothes 7. a number.  And here’s the mad lib: 1. ________ met __________. They had their first date at 3. ____________ They got married at 4. __________ She wore 5. _____________ He wore 6. _______________. They had 7. _____________ babies.
  • Running dictation with Shakespeare: Students work in groups to run to a short text from Shakespeare stuck on the wall, memorise a line from it and run back to their teams and tell them what it is. This could be a lead-in to a task that involves analysing or responding to a Shakespearean text.
  • Back to back drawing: Ask students to sit back to back and provide one of them a line drawing and ask them to describe it to their partner who has to draw it. Use this activity to elicit the importance of detail in storytelling. Here’s my drawing – my partner wasn’t familiar with the words fireplace or mantelpiece but we managed 🙂

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Expectations 

  • Hi-five hands: Give students chart paper and ask them to use a pen to stencil out one of their hands. They should then cut it out and write their expectations on it. Revisit these hands periodically and ask students to hi-five their hands when the expectation is met.

Storytelling

  • Using interactive stories to engage children: I ask a lot of questions during storytelling but I can’t recall asking students perform actions and make noises as they listen along. Leah used the story of Anansi the Spider and the Tiger. Each time she would say Anansi, she would get us make little spiders with our hands and when she’d say tiger, she’d get us to growl and make a tiger face.
  • Draw your favourite part of a story: After you finish telling the story, ask students to draw their favourite part. Mine was when Anansi tricks a snake into tying himself to a bamboo.

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  • Story sequences: Ask students to then stand in the sequence of the story with the picture they’ve drawn.
  • The girl on the hill: Get students to stand or sit in a circle and tell them about a girl who really wanted to fly so she climbed a hill and found a lot of feathers there. Students must work in pairs to construct a frame that explains what happens next. They mustn’t move when they present this frame to their peers. Students then guess what the story behind this image might be.
  • Guild of archaeologists: Tell the students that they are Egyptologists on a dig in the desert and that they uncover a mysterious tomb. Show them an object (anything will do but Leah had a little plastic plate that was painted black. She held it gingerly and said it was found in the tomb. She then passed it around asking students to guess what it was by saying “I think it’s the Pharoah’s heart …” and holding it as if it were a heart.
  • And then what happened: Students sit in a circle and co-construct a story by asking each other “and then what happened?”
  • Prop game: Pass around a box of mystery objects and ask students to come up with as many creative uses for it as they can.  This could be limited by lexical sets. For example, imagine this stapler as different objects related to sports
  • The Walrus and the Carpenter: Read the poem out to the students with a lot of drama. Then give a stanza to pairs of students and ask them to create an image that represents these lines. They can use a little bit of movement if they need to (this is called image theatre by the way).
  • Music & art-based prompt: Play some instrumental music and ask students to draw or sketch as they listen to it. Then ask them to summarize their art work by jotting down a feeling. Ask students who’ve written down similar feelings to get together. Ask them to now write down the name of an object. Groups need to write a short story using the five words. Ask each group to pick a storyteller to narrate their stories to the rest of the students using interactive storytelling techniques.
  • Imaginary friend: Ask students if they had an imaginary friend when they were growing up. Get them to draw their imaginary friends and ask them to share stories about their imaginary friends. You can also get them to enact how they play with their imaginary friends. Here’s my imaginary friend:

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  • The key: Tell students to imagine that they are going about their business when they discover a mysterious key in an envelope (Leah told us a longer story – I can’t remember it but it ended with a key in an envelope). Students now need to write a story narrating what happens next. They should focus on the ‘who’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of this mystery key.
  • Shakespeare’s couplets: Take two lines from different Shakespearean plays and cut them out so that you have one line to give to each student. Students mingle and find their partner (for example “Double, double toil and trouble” and “Fire burn and cauldron bubble”). Students then present the scene where their only lines of dialogue are the ones they’ve been given. They must however plant the scene in a non-Shakespearean setting. For instance, these lines from Macbeth could be uttered by a couple of tired cooks.

Coolers

  • Soundscape: Get all the students to lie flat on the ground with their heads in the centre of the circle with the feet. Ask them to close their eyes and imagine that they are in a forest. Ask them to make the sounds of the forest. Then lead them out to a beach and have them create the sounds they would hear near the sea. If you’re doing this with a group of teachers, you could have them imagine the sounds of their current and their ideal classroom.

Leah was also kind enough to recommend Games for Actors and Non-actors by Augusto Boal, a companion piece to Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and is based around a school of thought called the Theatre of the Oppressed. I had a look at the book and I don’t think I’ll get around to trying out all the activities in this lifetime!

IATEFL 2017 LTSIG Day | Some resources & thoughts

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This is a pre-conference event I would have loved to have watched or attended, particularly because the Learning Technologies Special Interest Group collaborated with the Teacher Development Special Interest Group and both are areas I’m really interested in.

Here’s some stuff I found on the event. The first one is a short video by Will Leung – a nice overview of the day’s flow and topics that were explored.

And here’s Marisa’s Storify. I found this very useful because it had specific references to the tools that were being presented.

Here are my two bits on these tools:

Articulate Storyline: It’s a fantastic course authoring tool but it’s time consuming and really, really expensive. In fact, Articulate have recently published their new all-inclusive version Articulate 360 and I haven’t even bothered looking at the trial because given the price tag, there really is no point (unless you’re an institution that has money to burn).

Office Mix: I’ve had this PowerPoint add-in for the last six months and I haven’t yet used it. In fact I’ve been trying to get rid of it because it hogs my Webcam and blocks other applications (Camtasia, Document projectors) from using it. I’m going to revisit it based on David Read’s recommendation and see if it has any utility. In any case, I’m just not able to rid myself of the darn thing!

Edpuzzle: I’ve explored this tool but I just haven’t been able to use it for an actual lesson. I’m going to give it another go.

H5P: I hadn’t heard of this one before. It’s a web-based tool for creating HTML5 content and has a rang e of interaction types for learning. Seems free.

You can download David Read’s presentation and see examples of content created with each of these tools using this nifty interaction David has created in Storyline.
Joe Dale delivered a presentation on using the green screen in the language classroom. I’m really quite intrigued. Joe has shared some details in this Google doc and in this presentation but I’m not really sure about the specifics of how the green screen is being used. I don’t see anything on his blog either although a search throw up a couple of links. Might shoot him a mail.

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IATEFL 2017

Let’s listen to the learners | IATEFL 2017 session summary

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Brian Tomlinson’s much needed talk was in a sense quite damning about how smug we often are about learner-centricity when we barely ask learners what they want.

He started off with three bits of research he’d been involved in:

  • In a study for a publisher on who selected textbooks, Tomlinson found the following figures across 12 countries: 85% by administrators, 15% by teachers, and 0% by students.
  • In another study, he explored what students and teachers wanted from textbooks. Sales folks who worked with publishers predicted that it would be grammar. In facts, students and teachers wanted interesting texts, particularly stories.
  • In the third study he referenced, he investigated why Headway was so successful. He discovered that it was because teachers felt it gave them everything but that they felt sorry for their students because it was boring.

You can tell a teacher but you can’t tell them much.

Tomlinson asked whether car designers would design cars that no one would want to drive and whether restaurants would cook food that their customers wouldn’t want to eat. And yet, he pointed out, we consistently develop coursebooks that learners don’t want to use.

We don’t listen enough to what:
• they have to say about life
• they have to say about learning a language
• they need
• they want

And yet:
Learners only learn:
• what they want and need to learn;
• when they want and need to learn it.

Tomlinson suggested that there was a lot of research to support this line of thinking, especially from psychological readiness theory. He went on to state that curriculum, syllabus and coursebook sequences were a waste of time and that we don’t know what learners want simply because we don’t consult them. He provided some recommendations for addressing the situation and what I really appreciated was that each strategy was linked to specific piece of classroom research.

By involving them in decisions about: 

  • their curriculum. For example, in Zambia, Tomlinson invited student representatives to sit on a curriculum committee to provide suggestions, Ottley in Iraqi Kurdistan co-designed curriculum with his students to meet their needs.
  • their coursebooks, In Namibia, Tomlinson was involved in writing a national coursebook called On Target, Students were asked by questionnaire what topics they wanted. Teachers predicted fashion, pop music and football. But in fact, students wanted drug abuse, domestic & marital violence and corruption because this is what they talked about in the playground and wanted to discuss htat in class as well. At a Japanese university, Tomlinson was required to use a particular coursebook. He asked students which units they wanted to start with creating their own sequence, subverting the existing one and omitting units which didn’t get votes.
  • their objectives. Some businessmen from Lyon in France enrolled in a course were sick of doing grammar for two years, They wanted communication, so Tomlinson developed a course with them where they shadowed British businessmen and did projects.
  • their class. In an example from Bell College of placement, all the students enrolled in the course were asked to self-select themselves into levels by going to different parts of the room where there were examples of student work and coursebooks, which they used to validate their decision. They then sampled classes over a week before deciding their final level.
  • what they do in class. Some Iraqi diplomats wanted poetry and song instead of ESP which they found familiar and boring.
  • their assessment

From a soon to be published anthology by first time action-researchers:

Thirty “seventh grade students (14 boys and 16 girls) of a government aided school in Karnataka, India” evaluated their coursebook and reported the following:

1. too much grammar

2. wanted activities as opposed to language practice exercises

3. wanted a lot more opportunities for listening and speaking

4. preferred to focus on one skill at a time

Modugala, M. (in press). Listening to children’s perceptions and experiences of English language teaching material. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.), Papers from the British Council English Language Teaching Research Partnership Award Project. New Delhi: British Council.

Apropos number 4, Tomlinson pointed out that he recommended that we listen but not blindly obey students. He explained that if your decision goes against what the students want, then we have an obligation to explain why and demonstrate the value of doing it differently.

By giving them opportunities to:

  • choose their own texts: An Indonesian teacher asked students if they liked the texts their coursebook and found that they didn’t. She divided students into 10 groups charged each group with bringing in English texts each week. In the second term, she asked students if they wanted to go back to the coursebook. They didn’t want to so she supported groups in developing their own lesson plans for texts they’d selected and guided them to teach these lessons to their peers. The other example Tomlinson referred to involved providing generic activities but for texts that students had selected themselves. Essentially, the teacher provides the activity (in this case focusing on the language of editorials) and the students provide the texts from the web. In a British Council project that covered 12 Sub-Saharan countries aimed at society leaders with different language levels, students were given a choice of graded texts in an activity. In each unit, there were three versions of the text, authentic, slightly modified, and much reduced, and students chose which version they wanted to work with.
  • adapt their materials
  • choose their own activities. Tomlinson’s example, drawn from his own teaching, involved getting learners to listen to a poem about an old lady sourced from The Happy Haven by John D’Arch and provide students with a selection of activities based on this text as stick-ups on the wall. Students then decide which one they want to do. Here are the activity ideas he shared:
  1. Learn to recite the poem in the voice of the old lady.
  2. Paint a picture of the poem.
  3. You are the old lady, your son lives in Australia, write a letter to your son.
  4. Everyday the old lady goes to a park and there’s an old man sitting on the bench where she normally sits. Write the conversation between them.
  5. You are the lady’s family, You are worried about her. You are having a meeting to decide how to help her.
  6. Plain vanilla comprehension questions (He explained that students never ever choose this option).
  • devise their own activities. For instance, in Singapore, Tomlinson used an affective text titled I’m a bully sourced from Brenda Tan’s Come into my world: 31 stories of autism in Singapore. The text is about a mother who bullies her autistic son. Students devise their own activities to process and respond to the text.
  • write their own texts. In Vanuatu, Tomlinson got his students to chuck their coursebooks and instead write a novel. He asked them think of their village and picture someone who was interesting in their village and see what they were doing. He told them that this was the first page of their novel. This is what they did in their lessons through the term. At the end of the term, they had written and illustrated their own novel. He tied this to the work of Erasmus+Project PALM (Promoting Authentic Language Acquisition in Multilingual Contexts) where children and teenagers develop authentic materials for other learners.

By encouraging them to 

  • express themselves. An example from India where learners were encouraged to maintain diaries.
  • personal response questions. Tomlinson often uses children’s books (such as Bumblebear, Not Now Bernard) with adults to do this.

By this time, he’d run out of time so the following strategies, unfortunately, weren’t support with examples but they’re mostly self-explanatory.

By encouraging them to:

  • communicate information (e.g. presentations)
  • be creative (e.g. stories, poems, novels)

By providing ways of giving feedback:

  • talking to learners about how they learn
  • inviting feedback on trial materials
  • task talk-aloud protocols
  • weekly forums
  • e-mails to the teacher
  • Research
  • Learner conferences (e.g. MATSDA)

I’m really intrigued by the MATSDA conference that he briefly spoke about. He explained that at this conference, all the speakers would be learners describing their needs and experiences to educators.

What a brilliant talk! Filled with insights from research, experiences from the classroom, practical strategies and the unsaid implication of the extent to which teachers like you and me are inadvertently letting the status-quo go unchallenged.

IATEFL 2017

Integrating plurilingual practices in ELT in a superdiverse world | IATEFL 2017 session summary

Angelica Galente

Angelica Galante opened her talk with a question that I’m all too familiar with, “Where are you from?” Said with a particular intonation, one tends to ponder over its intention. Students want to adopt the behaviours and language of the host culture, particularly in the tertiary setting when they are away from their home countries for prolonged periods of time. Galente was interested in whether plurilingual identities could be promoted instead of a focus on acquiring an ‘English’ identity.

The rationale for plurilingualism is that bringing the diverisity of the real world into the classroom prepares the learners for that real world. Plurilingualism considers all the language and cultural experiences people have had in their lives. Galente suggested that people’s lives were not like a pre-fabricated puzzle that you live with one language or one culture so even when you may think you are monolingual, you may in fact have a plurilingual identity.

Some of the benefits of plurlilingualism include the following:

Enhances metacognitive skills (Bono & Stratilaki, 2009; Psalter-Joyce & Kantaridou, 2009; Vorstman et al., 2009)

Has positive effects on motivation and self-esteem (Bernaus, Moore & Azevedo, 2007; Corcoll, 2003)

Awareness of individual plurilingualism is seen as an asset for communication (Marshall & Moore, 2013; Prasad, 2014)

Mediates the process of additional language learning (Payant, 2015)

Learners who speak 3 or more languages are more open-minded, have more cultural empathy (Dewaele & von Oudenhoven, 2009), and

Plurilingual posture towards language learning (Jeoffrion et al., 2014)

In ELT, practices such as an English-only classroom have hampered plurilingualism. Some of the other barriers include:

Plurilinguals are unaware of their full plurilingual potential (Oliveira & Ançã, 2008)

Plurilingual ESL teachers have more positive attitudes towards their students’ language learning process and plurilingual strategies compared to monolingual teachers (Ellis, 2013)

Lack of teacher education in plurilingual pedagogy (Ellis, 2013); teachers who are unaware of learners’ linguistic repertoire see their plurilingualism as an annoyance (Pauwels, 2014)

Gap between policy that promote plurilingualism and classroom practice (Göbel & Vieluf, 2014; Pickel & Helót, 2014; Pinho & Andrade, 2009)

English-only policies create barriers for classroom plurilingual practices (Abiria et al., 2013)

Galente recommended strategies such as translanguaging, code-switching and crosscultural awareness to build language & cultural awareness, validating identity, agency and inclusiveness. She described several tasks to achieve this.

Task types

  • My plurilingual identity: Students draw their own body placing languages and cultures they have learnt on different parts of their body. Students can also include their future languages or cultures which intend to learn or experience. Students then explain their rationale.

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  • Code-switching: Students work in groups of three and come up with a situation where they code-switch. They prepare a one minute skit.  Their peers try to identify the type of code-switching (from one sentence to another or mid-sentence), the languages/dialects used, the reasons why they code-switched.
  • Idioms in different languages: Students try to figure out the meaning of an idiom and then identify an equivalent idiom in their first language or dialect.

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  • High and low communication styles: Students are presented with different scenarios and they decide if they would prefer to use a direct or indirect utterance. Students develop an awareness of the characteristics of the two styles and reflect on how people in their own lives communicate and how they could adapt to a style that’s different from their own. They then discuss situations where they had issues communicating with people with different styles and they get peer feedback on how they could deal with this.

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Galente studied the impact of tasks that promote plurlilingualism in a university context and found that the results were positive both from a student as well as an instructor perspective. She believes that students have started to shift from trying to camouflage their identity to accepting their pluri-identities.

More information on this project is available at Galente’s site.

Living as I do in a super-diverse country where plurilingualism is the norm, I’ve always wnated to try out code-switching with my learners but have never been able to identify an appropriate and manageable way of introducing it. These are some interesting task types but there’s only one that explicitly requires students to use L1. Galente mentioned ten tasks types in her research – I’m going to write to her and see if she can share any others.

IATEFL 2017

Easier said than done: using mobile phones for a test | IATEFL 2017 session summary

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This talk had a lot of promise but unfortunately didn’t live up to it. I suspect partly because the presentation lacked specificity (perhaps for proprietary reasons) and partly because in actual implementation, the idea of taking a test on a mobile device isn’t revolutionary at all, it just replicates test formats from a computer with some adjustments for mobile UI.

The speaker, Adrian RapRaper and Sean McDonald from ClarityEnglish and TELC explained that this pilot was in response to the challenge of providing a placement test to 2000 students at Asia University in Taiwan. They had to work with a smaller screen size, and move away from true or false and MCQs but ensure reliability and validity.  They suggested that new devices enabled new types of interactions and new items which you can’t do on paper including cross-skills testing. They were quite vague about these new test types and only explained one in detail: moving a word into a right place in a sentence, which is a fairly conventional digital activity and not all that uncommon in assessments. They described a reading test where candidates can look at the text and questions by flicking between the two but again this was described quite superficially.

Much of the presentation dealt with the security issues that come with using mobile devices such as the fact that candidates could go into Google if they’re using their own device. They suggested that the two ways of dealing with this is through a time limit and through question type. They claimed that the item type that involves moving a word into the right place in the sentence is fairly cheat proof. I really doubt that – Google can show you sentence patterns with a general search.

The way it works is that the candidates download the assessment app before they come to the test centre. At the centre, they are given a code to access the test. In case of poor connectivity, the app puts answers into a queue similar to how Whatsapp operates but the upload sizes are only about 23kb which is really tiny. The other issues they touched on were more interesting such whether the type of device has any impact on performance, the latest iPhone vs. an older smartphone. They are are collecting data about this in their pilot. They don’t currently offer gap fills or writing item types because of the problems associated with typing: auto-correct and the default language on the device which might not be English.

IATEFL 2017