Beam their errors on to the wall

Type up a list of your students' most common errors into a word or googledoc, project on to the wall and get them to have a gander.

Don't write the names of the author's beside the mistakes, leave them as anonymous...

Stand at the back of the room so that they can't ask you for help.

After a short period has passed, encourage your students to analyze the problems they see and to talk to each other about what they think each correction should be and why...

Switch groups and get them to share their thoughts with their new partners.

Then sit back down in front of computer and get them to call out the corrections to you - your same-time changes should be visible to them.  Discuss any issues that arise at this point.

Finally, you can get them to sit back down and they can either type up their own list or make notes on the errors they found most difficult to correct - or perhaps even the ones they recognize as their own/ that they find themselves making frequently.

That's it!


Useful links
What do you do with emergent language?
Use it, don't let them lose it.

7 silly things you really shouldn't forget to do... (EduBlogging)

string on finger
Traveling through the 'sphere this afternoon, while foraging about for a guest-post I'll be writing for the ELT Blogathon, I noticed some very basic errors made by a number of bloggers, both the newbies and the oldies...

Here's my list of common things you really shouldn't forget to have on your main blog page:

1. RSS feed or email subscription option
Many people don't have the time to enter in your URL each time they want to read one of your posts. Most of the time they can't remember it anyway.   :-)

Providing a link to these enables your readers to either read your blog posts within their readers comfortably (e.g. with GoogleReader) or within their inboxes via Feedburner or the like.    

Place the button to this on the top of your page and again at the side to ensure that your readers can find it easily and subscribe.  Set it to "full" so that they can read the entire post  via this or even their i-googles before deciding if the post is worth popping over to in order to comment, bookmark for later perusal or perhaps even share with friends.

There's nothing quite so annoying, however, as someone who has put the RSS button on their page but has limited the reading to just the headlines.  To be honest, when this happens, I usually unsubscribe.

If you're on Facebook, consider joining NetworkedBlogs and adding this badge to your page so that your readers can follow you there.

2. An "About Me" page
If it's not immediately obvious who you are and what you do, your readers generally want to get an idea of whether or not you really do know what you are talking about!  This is not to be mean, it's just that there are folks out there who are basically not even educators, don't know much about teaching English or who are scammers  just  jumping-on-the-English-is-a-global-language-bandwagon-let-me-see-if-I-can-make-some-money-with-Google-Ads...

As the internet expands exponentially, it is increasingly becoming very important to apply critical thinking and to check up on authority. 

Therefore, consider writing a short summary of your background, add a photo if you're not too shy, embed slides from old presentations (load into a document sharing site like Scribd/Slideshare or GoogleDocs) and provide links to your LinkedIn profile or wherever else you are located within the Social Media realm.  

3. A tag-line or short description of what you blog about
What do you usually write about?  Is it immediately obvious?   

Like the About Me page, a sentence or two describing the sort of topics you write about (or don't write about) is very useful for targetting the sort of people who will be sincerely interested in regularly reading and subscribing to what you have to say.

4. My top posts or favorite posts widget
What were your most visited pages?   Which did you receive the most comments on?   There is a good chance that those posts will also be enjoyed by new visitors so be sure to provide a way for them to easily get to the best of your work.

Regularly check your Google Analytics for these statistics or use a Post-rank widget

5. A menu bar or side-bar links
If you write on a variety of topics you may well be missing out on the opportunity to reach certain readers. 

Having a navigational bar along the top or on the side which clearly indicates the range of your  entire body of work is very important.  Some of your readers will not know how to get around a blog and  they may want to:  it's your responsibility to make this as easy as possible for them to do so.  

Also, the first time they visit  your blog it's actually possible that it was on a day you'd published an article on a topic they're simply not that interested in.  Don't forget that you can use the labels, tags or categories that you normally use to organize your posts to create a list of special links they can get to easily -  this practice also helps to hold a variety of posts written over a long stretch of time together.

Above all, don't forget to leave a way for readers to get back to your HOME page.   

6. Link your like-posts
Remember that your visitors via Google will probably have no idea how to find these older posts and there's nothing worse than reading that this is #5 of a series of 8 and them not being able to find post 2 or post 6.

Whenever you write a series of posts or you're following up on something you had written about two or three or even six months ago, don't forget to tie them all together.

You should be doing this anyway using the tags (labels/categories) function however many of your readers won't know that they can click on these.   One of my favorite widgets in "LinkedWithin" which unfortunately I can no longer use with this template!

p.s Going back and linking the newer posts to these older posts is an area I have to work on too!

7. The Search Bar
Whatever else is missing on your blog, this is probably the most important that you should not forget to add.   After a reader has enjoyed reading something you've written, there's a good chance they may:

a) want to know what else you've written.  The link they had followed on to your page was a direct link from Twitter or LinkedIn. They aren't bloggers so they don't know how to hit the title of your blog and get back to the Home Page.   They don't know how to find the rest of your stuff (see all above tips)... they don't know how to find out if you're ever mentioned something they are really interested in knowing more about, like the Present Perfect...  The search bar will help clear up these issues.
b) want to find a post you wrote about a year ago.  They're in the staff-room having a chat with colleagues and a subject you'd spent some time on crops up... they hit the internet, with a hey "JaneX wrote a funny piece... let me just find it... "  but alas, now there's no way of finding those words again - they have disappeared into the nethersphere and Google's feeling cranky today - who has time to go 10 pages in...  Having a search bar directly on your page will help them get back to your golden gems!

I'm not sure if I've covered it all but in summary try to keep your reading audience in the forefront of your mind and remember that they may need your help at times!

What have you noticed as missing from other bloggers' pages?  
What makes it difficult for you when trying to follow someone's (or my) work regularly?
Share your thoughts with us whether you are a blogger yourself or a reader!


Useful links to previous posts on EduBlogging

Guest Posts

Series: The Best Kept Secrets of Highly Successful Edubloggers

Linguistics, the Internet +David Crystal

1953 Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon(translation key at bottom of post)

Anyone who is any1 in the 'sphere of English Language Teaching or in the outer 'verse of Applied Linguistics knows hu Prof David Crystal is... and in hushed tones he is revered as, well, god-like.

However, with the gr8st respkt,

xme cuz:

I must ?4u... 

why izit valid 4 1 2 write bout a medium 1 doesn't ackuli particip8 in...

@TEOTD, 1DR what cd b sincerely Z ina bk by some1 not in this medium?

I mean... cmon, u no all those things that go on in ur head when u r sendng-out a twt, the uncountable microseconds of deep-thinking-soaked-in-shallow-thinking accompanying de process  when u hit the red -numbers (red on HootSuite) + u hav 2 shorten de twt bk2 140...   (Not on FB status upd8s tho').

How izit poss 4 1 2 sincerely analyze alladat linguistically if 1 isn't actually there, u no, on Twitter, via the various different web clients, suffering w/ those decisions - - by jes rdng tweets??  Na.

After all, if hz lkg @ or 4 rules chng or not.... or, let's go so far as 2 say, if hz searching 4 de very grammar of it all & chkng all de lexical decisions we r mkg whn communic8ng, how can he possbli valid8 them?  2 talk about this, 12nt 1 really hav 2 understand what 1 is tlkng about?

U hav 2 spk Spanish 2 discuss Spanish, Russian 2 write bout Russian? Rite?  If the linguist has no personal need 2 communic8 in the lizt poss amt of charaktrs via SMS, how can he comment or understand the adoption of certain acronyms but not others: + globally?

The decision of which 2 cut iz ultimately up2 each individual.   A mix of wot 1 cz othr ppl dng + the cost of de mobile/cell provider's rate and specs.


1DR, I do,  iz all this the start of a new Eng.?   It wd b interesting 2 kno.  But frm some1 who knos. some1 on the grnd flr.   Some1 hu feels the lang.


.02, WDYT?

R u tchng txtspk 2 ur ELLs?


Useful links:
13mins Video lecture on internet linguistics with David Crystal
Review of Txtng the gr8 db8
David Crystal's Blog

jes de important 1z: 

.02 = my two cents
1 = one
12t =doesn't
140 = refers to the number of characters you can write in a tweet
1DR = I wonder
8 (used to shorten anything that ends with an "eight" sound e.g. w8 =wait, appreci8=appreciate)
 ?4u = I ask you
@TEOTD = at the end of the day
DHNWHTB = does he know what he is talking about
IztU? = is it you?
WDYT = what do you think?
xme = excuse me
Z = said

p.s the pix a joke, alright...

Best-of-ELT-Blog-Posts (Karenne's picks) January 2011

molten earth
What was really "hot" this month
Dave Dodgson kicked off a bit of controversy, striking a nerve when he asked why he should have to pay to present at conferences; George Vassilakis explores their commercialization; Adam Simpson delves into the costs and effort that goes into hosting a conference and explains why he thinks that yes, in fact, you should pay for the privilege and Sharon explains that, from her perspective, by paying a fee you are actually permitting a fellow educator to sit down at the same conference table as you, thereby contributing to the democratization of education.  What do you think?

Although unconnected to the discussion, Anna Varna pipes up with how a presentation she attended didn't live up to her expectations and ends with a touching recall of what keeps us teachers teaching!

Teacher training
In Unplugging Teacher Development, Willy Cardoso challenges us to think about the value of  staffroom discussions with peers over workshops and conferences.  I think he's touched on a major point on why so few teachers do pursue professional development.  He also describes what he would like to see in teacher-training programs.  Although I didn't quite catch the connection to rugby, David Warr then provides ideas on teacher-training-unplugged that are worth reflecting on.

John Hughes, in a very practical series on the management issues involved in teacher training, presents a tick-off list for recruting and managing teacher trainers and Alex Case, ever taking the piss,  suggests 25 different ways to get away with being a crap English teacher.

Adam Simpson lays out a more serious and very helpful list of 10 motivation theories and thinks about why our students are "just not into it... "   Professor Baker has started an interesting series of posts entitled "Explain it to me like I'm an 8yr old" and his post: Connectivism and Connected Knowledge is a must-read.   

Scott Thornbury creates a video conversation laying out the history and criticisms of PPP in ELT - sparking off a highly dynamic discussion: it's worth watching the vlog but especially  reading the ensuing points of view of his contributing commenters.  In the knowledge sharing marketplace, Phillip Towndrow explores ICT and pedagogy: should it be teacher-centered, technology-centered or learner-centered?  

Language & linguistics
Voxy's Theresa Dold shares 15 insightful language and culture infographics.  Beautifully presented and interesting particularly the one made up of the demographics of English on Planet Earth.   Gabe Doyle shares a story about the need for linguistic humility and thinks about the culture of the words we use, a lesson we can all learn from!   Vicki Hollett unveils an ad for the British television show, Law and Order, and discusses translations from UK English-to-US English.  (p.s. Vicki, you really must see The Wire: finger-nail-biting-brilliant!) 

Key Dogmeist and YahooGroupMod, Fiona Mauchline, writes up a guest post for Ceri Jones on ways translation can have a valid position in language learning and shares some excellent tips.  Mark Liberman, in another humorous piece shares with us a bit of grammar's history relating to the  emergence of progressive passive (passive continous) and how it replaced the passival.  Bet you didn't know that!  

On being in the classroom
Cecilia Coelho reveals a personal error in the way she communicated with a student in  her post, the power of the words we say.   Debate opens on the position of the educator vs the intrinsic beingness of teachers' humanity, responding spontaneously to difficult classroom situations.  Also on her blog, she hosts a post from Dave Dodgson who reflects on his life as language learner.   

In his quintessentially philosophical style, albeit that I think I disagree with him...  Diarmuid Fogarty suggests that the deeper we move into getting students to understand and analyze language,  the less they learn.  Candy von Olst faces the word "unless" head on and winds up with a headache, leading me to laugh and speculate that hmmm... perhaps, Fogarty's on to something.

Eva Buyuksimkesyan shares an extremely clever idea of listening to music in another language while trying to guess at the lyrics and writing poems in English; Mike Harrison collaborates with David Warr to create a language plant of Martin Niemöller's poem: First they came; Claudio Azevedo shows us  how to use the film, Did you hear about the Morgans, as a way to practice imperatives.  

And then on the way to work one day, Paul Braddock spontaneously snaps pics of a rather unpleasant lad cutting his nails which leads to him dreaming up an extremely clever lesson tip for using camera-phones with our digital students.   David Vincent found a funny picture he recommends using as  a conversation starter and Ceri Jones closes in on translations in a truly inspired lesson plan comparing literature texts.

ELT EdTech
On the DELTA blog, Nik Peachey lays out the advantages and disadvantages of iPads in the classroom;  Angela Maiers shares a very interesting infographic on cell phone usage - worth exploring with adult Business English language-learners: how are mobile phones affecting their industries or responsibilities?    David Reed, of  the best ELT mobile learning blog out there in the 'sphere, shows us how students can blog directly from their phones to the platform, Posterous.

Ozge continues her alphabetized analysis of Web tools - very useful, I love this series!  Tyson Seburnt presents SoundCloud - a very interesting way to work with authentic listening materials; Ana Maria Mendes shows us a cool way to share youtube videos and Jen Verschoor shares with us how she lost a job due to the fact she teaches with technology in her classroom :-(

The business of teaching
Larry Ferlazzo discusses Merit Pay and provides links supporting why he thinks it is a bad idea:  Jason Renshaw worries about the ELT industry and  questions whether or not a superpower is emerging and how we might be feeling about that.  

And finally, David Truss neatly presents a case for educators being in the learning business not the teaching business and asks why time for professional development can't be embeded into our paid responsibities.

Well, that's it... my wrap up of do-read-these-they're-top-notch-articles written in January, if you'd like to read what else has been circulating the 'sphere, visit this link.  To read what I wrote about in January, come here.

Hope you've now found many new articles to enjoy reading at your leisure,

p.s.  also, do visit this month's ESL Carnival by Alice Mercer, it contains an absolutely superb list of posts!

TED videos for Business English, Part II (Success and Failure)

Lights go out on 75 W light bulb
Often, whether we admit it or not, we measure a person by how successful they are...  but what exactly is success?

It's not how much money someone has, is it?

It's not whether or not they have a family  and friends... as good as all that may be, it's something else, it's something much more illusive.  How do we decide?  What leads us to  this sort of judgement... to saying "oh, don't bother with him, he's a loser" or "Wow, that woman is so amazing, gifted, she's really made it to the top of her profession."  Is it our  own culture that defines this or do these assumptions, opinions, ideas transfer globally?

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Anyway, here are my recommended TED videos for whenever the subjects of success and failure arise in your adult English classrooms.  I've also stuck up a SimplyConversations lesson on Achievements and Ambitions into Google Docs. which you can use as a  pre-task or follow-up activity.

A kinder, gentler philosophy of success (17mins)
Alain de Botton examines our ideas of success and failure -- and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.

Measuring what makes life worthwhile (18mins)
When the dotcom bubble burst, hotelier Chip Conley went in search of a business model based on happiness. In an old friendship with an employee and in the wisdom of a Buddhist king, he learned that success comes from what you count.  Fascinating!!

8 secrets of success (3mins)
Why do people succeed? Is it because they're smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.

True success (18mins)
With profound simplicity, Coach John Wooden redefines success and urges us all to pursue the best in ourselves. In this inspiring talk he shares the advice he gave his players at UCLA, quotes poetry and remembers his father's wisdom. 

Keep your goals to yourself (3mins)
After hitting on a brilliant new life plan, our first instinct is to tell someone, but Derek Sivers says it's better to keep goals secret. He presents research stretching as far back as the 1920s to show why people who talk about their ambitions may be less likely to achieve them.

Success is a continuous journey (4mins)
In his typically candid style, Richard St. John reminds us that success is not a one-way street, but a constant journey. He uses the story of his business' rise and fall to illustrate a valuable lesson -- when we stop trying, we fail.

Don't eat the marshmallow yet (7mins)
In this short talk from TED U, Joachim de Posada shares a landmark experiment on delayed gratification -- and how it can predict future success. With priceless video of kids trying their hardest not to eat the marshmallow.

Hope you enjoyed these as much as we did! 

Which was your favourite?


Write a lesson plan based on using one of these videos (or any other that refers to the subject of success and failure) and post this up on your own website or blog.  Alternatively, upload the LP into a document sharing site (e.g scribd/ slideshare/ google docs and let us all know the URL in the comments below.

Other great videos on this theme, via YouTube

See also:
Part I: TED videos + decision-making 
Part III: TED videos + motivation
Speaking activities for teaching English with TED
Best video websites for teaching adult Business English learners

The Horror of Teaching English Abroad...

This request came in via email - is there anyone out there who would like to help answer it?

I always wanted to teach English abroad but I heard some horror stories.
Can you tell me the real deal about teaching English outside of the US?
Which companies are good to obtain the TEFL and which companies should I avoid?

What a minefield... not really sure where to even try giving good advice  (after all, he's right - there's the good side of teaching overseas and there's the bad side... in abundance) so if you've got some tips to share on shifting wheat from chaff,  avoiding parasitic chains, finding a good school, getting a qualification that turns into a liveable wage... then please don't hesitate to tell them below in the comments and/or if you're a blogger (not a commercial TEFL enterprise selling any of the above),  and you've already written a useful post on this very subject then please don't hesitate to add the URL and I'll be sure to email it on.


How I became an TEFL teacher... (part i)

Kelimutu Colored Lakes - Komodo, Indonesia
The other day, Sean Banville wrote about his journey into TEFL and Scott Thornbury reflected on his path to writing and also asked if our profession is indeed a profession... and I thought, well, hey, I'll share parts of my own road here too.

I've changed names, reordered some of the places and omitted a mention of dates to ensure the privacy of those involved who may one day stumble upon my blog...

He placed the pear-shaped, slightly yellowed, diamond ring on the table in front of me.

"It could still be yours."

I glanced at it briefly, this thing I had so desired for four years, and then looked briefly into his eyes noting the tear in the corner of the eyes of the only man I had ever slept with.

"And Andrea?"

Six months ago, he had come from a two-week vacation deeply in love.  He was twelve years older, I hadn't gone along on this trip because I'd final exams to study for and thought we would do well for having a break from each other.    When he came back with stars in his eyes and a spring in his step, everything in my life fell apart.   Everything we had co-created: our beautiful home, our wonderful cat, everything I'd held secure was turned into an illusion. 

"You can not run away."

I sighed.   I wanted nothing more in the world to be angry and bitter but I had found my own solution and could no longer care.

"I'm going tomorrow, Jack.  It's a little late for all this, don't you think?"  I shook my head at the ring, the ring I had chosen, the ring his new soul-mate would wear soon enough.

"What will you do?  What about your job?"

"I hate it."  I replied.

And I did.   By then I had felt so entirely suffocated by every choice I had made to be different and the only single thought I was still capable of thinking was that I wanted to be someone else in another, different world.

The next day, I climbed aboard a plane headed to Australia with a ten-day stopover in Thailand that turned into three months of exploring.  There are many stories I could stop here now to tell, but unfortunately they would take up an entire book and as this is just a blog post, I shall skip on ahead - past the meditation retreat in a Buddhist monastery where I learned to be silent for ten days; past riding through a jungle on the back on an elephant, race through finally reaching Oz and swimming there with sharks, falling to my death off a waterfall and escaping to have an ephiphany that my life should be about serving... surviving crossing a dessert and walking around a mystical red rock.

I shall jump in time from boarding a plane and arriving on an island filled with multi-coloured lakes with tribes one can only imagine meeting in a National Geographic magazine, skip hitch-hiking on the back of an onion truck and narrowly avoiding rape; only hint at the potential of prison because I'd allowed someone to use my loose tobacco pouch to roll something other than cigarettes and shall arrive back in Thailand where I had officially signed out from ever having anything resembling a normal, sensible life.

"Can I borrow some cash for a couple of days?" She asked.

"How much do you need?"  She answered and I gasped.  It was almost all the money I had still left.

She explained the emergency, a family member was dying and she had to pay the travel agent today - the money would be transfered from Canada in the next couple of days so she would  be able to pay me back however the only way to reserve the flight now was to borrow this quantity of cash now. 

I knew her very well, we'd shared a flat for four months in Australia and although we'd split paths in Indonesia we were now, co-incidentally on the same island in Thailand.   I lent her the money and she disappeared into India.  I would never see or hear from her again.

It took weeks for me to fully realize that I had been conned.  By then I was running very short of money and the embarrassment of it all was too much for me to make a call for help.   I could handle this, I thought.  I've got to get to somewhere I can work.  Brief chats on beaches told me that I had two options: Japan, sitting in bars talking to Japanese businessmen plying them with drinks or Hong Kong, normal bar work.

I went to the travel agent, flipped a coin, Hong Kong won.

When I arrived, I had twenty pounds to my name.   I asked the taxi driver to take me to the absolute cheapest, cheapest, cheapest backpackers' hostal.  He dropped me off at ChungKing Mansions: located just south-southwest of the end of the road of humanity...


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