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Autumn 2013

IH Journal

of education and development

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Minimum system requirements for online components Windows Windows XP SP3 Windows 7 & 8 CPU Speed Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Duo, (equivalent) 2.53 GHz 2.93 GHz Browser IE 8, 9, 10 / Firefox / Chrome Internet connection required Macintosh OS 10.6 10.7 10.8 CPU Speed Core 2 Duo, (equivalent) 1.83 GHz Browser Safari 5, 6
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Open Mind


Minimum system Windows requirem ents for online compone Windows CPU Spee nts XP SP3 (equivale d Core 2 Duo, Windows Macintosh 7&8 Browser nt) 2.53 GHz OS Core 2 Duo, IE 8, 9, Internet 10 / Firef 2.93 GHz 10.6 10.7 CPU Spee connectio ox / Chro 10.8 (equivale d Core 2 n requ me RAM: 1GB Duo, ired Browser nt) 1.83 GHz for 32 Audio bit, 2GB sound Safari for 64 card 5, 6 bit, Displ For custo ay: 1024 mer supp x 768 pixel ort pleas s, 32-bi e conta t colou ct help@ r, macmillan. com

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Open Mind is a ground-breaking new course for adult learners, providing them with the skills they need for success in all spheres of their life. Available with full blended learning delivery. Open Mind is about learning more about the world and your place in it, as well as learning English. Mickey Rogers, Open Mind author

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013



Autumn 2013

Editorial............................................................................................................................................................................. 4
Language matters
Pre-teaching lexis reconsideredChris Og .......................................................................................................... 5

Classroom matters

The write ideasMatt Parks .......................................................................................................................................... 8 Accentuating the cultural aspects of L2 writing: a Saudi Arabian context Sulaiman Jenkins, Donald Peter Lambe and Dr. Motasim Badri...................................................................... 10

Management matters Young learners Technology

DoS-ing all over the worldNick Kiley....................................................................................................................... 14 Unlock VYL teachingAlex Bishop .......................................................................................................................... 17 Is your institute social media savvy?Emma Cresswell................................................................................... 18 CALL: Computer Assisted Listening LessonsDaniel Schulstad.................................................................. 21

Teacher training and development Special report

Handing over the reinsMagnus Coney.................................................................................................................. 27 Lexical inferencing a chance to demand high?Margaret Horrigan......................................................... 30

Special interest columns

YL columnKylie Malinowska..................................................................................................................................... 39 Developing teachersSandy Millin........................................................................................................................... 40 TechnologyShaun Wilden......................................................................................................................................... 42 30 things to enhance your teaching?Lizzie Pinard.......................................................................................... 45


Motivating Learning by Jill Hadfield and Zoltn Drnyei Danny Norrington Davies, IH London................................................................................................................ 47 The Company Words Keep by Paul Davis and Hanna Kryszewska (Delta Publishing) Dan Cornford, IH Valladolid................................................................................................................................ 48 Comparing ELT dictionariesDiana England, IH Torres Vedras................................................................. 50

IH Journal Editor: Elizabeth Arbuthnott

IH Journal International House Unity Wharf 13 Mill Street London SE1 2BH +44 (0)20 7494 2143

Editorial Board: Steve Brent, Pippa Bumstead, Roger Hunt, Jeremy Page, Scott Thornbury Lucy Horsefield

Advertising: Elizabeth Arbuthnott +44 (0)20 7394 2147


IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013


This 60th anniversary year is now drawing to a close and it has been quite a year for IH, with many different celebrations to mark the occasion taking place across the network. And the celebrations continue! The 60th anniversary online conference, which has been organised in conjunction with IH London, takes place on 29th30th November. For more information about the conference speakers and programme, and to watch the live stream feed head to See you there! In this issue of the IH Journal there is an excellent mix of articles and reviews, from Margaret Horrigans Special Report on Lexical Inferencing to Nick Kileys slightly unorthodox account of DoSing around the world! Reviews

include Diana England comparing five online learner dictionaries and Danny Norrington Davies taking us through Jill Hadfield and Zoltn Drnyeis Motivating Learners. Our usual Special Interest features return, including a look at digital storytelling from Shaun Wilden, suggestions for alternative Christmas activities for YLs from our YL Coordinator Kylie Malinowska and tackling observations in the Developing Teacher section. We have also included a new feature by Lizzie Pinard from IH Palermo, who will be giving us 30 ideas over the coming issues on how to enhance your teaching Happy reading! Elizabeth Arbuthnott IH Journal Editor

Language matters

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Language matters
Pre-teaching lexis reconsidered
By Chris Og
This article sets out to explore the merits of pre-teaching items of lexis in receptive skills lessons, a standard procedure for many teachers when working on receptive skills in class. It is a technique that most trainees will learn on pre-service teacher training courses such as CELTA and one which will thus naturally form part of their subsequent teaching. However, while it may be seen as standard practice for many, I certainly have my reservations about its utility, not only in my own teaching, but when observing assessed practicum on teacher training courses. What is pre-teaching?
There is no denying that successfully comprehending a text involves knowing at least some of the lexis therein. Christine Nuttall (1982: 62) cites the suggestion that moderate L1 readers can recognise about 50,000 words, which does seem like a lot, and is certainly far higher than the lexicon of the average learner. This has obvious implications for the latters ability to process text and is why coursebooks grade their texts to different levels, changing (amongst other aspects) lexical density and including more common lexis with greater coverage. Likewise, teachers adapt material as one way of helping learners cope with text, with pre-teaching being another. Pre-teaching lexis prior to receptive skills work in class is essentially the selecting of a few items that the teacher thinks the learners need to know in order to complete the subsequent exercises. This lexis should be unblocked to enable the students to better read the text without having to worry about focusing on words they do not know. It is a well-intentioned attempt, therefore, to obviate problems, such as learners 11 slowing their reading speed to process such items 11 not recognising certain essential items in listening lessons 11 becoming distracted by these items by reaching for a dictionary/translator to look them up 11 being unable to complete exercises as certain words in the text are essential to doing so In short, then, it is a means of attempting to scaffold receptive skills exercises to provide support in the development of these skills. In the staging of a standard receptive skills lesson, the pre-teaching would tend to come before the learners interact with the textpart of the pre-reading/listening stagebut generally after the context has been set through a lead-in or through an activity such as predicting content in some way.

Problems with pre-teaching

As set out above, the pre-teaching of lexis would seem like a logical means of facilitating learners receptive skills development in a supportive manner. However, I would argue that, in fact, it often does exactly the opposite, for the reasons listed below (in no particular order): 11 it can break the flow of a lesson 11 learners often seem somewhat bewildered at why four seemingly random words are being taught 11 I am not convinced it actually helps learners develop strategies to deal with text independently 11 dont think of white bears! What are you thinking of now? If some lexis is highlighted before moving on to receptive skills work, is there not a risk that this actually distracts learners by drawing attention to difficult items?

Language matters 11 if done badly, it can be seriously counterproductive and can lead to boredom, disengagement, etc. 11 it is not how we process text in real lifeis anyone going to pre-teach some selected items for learners when they encounter text in the real world? 11 it is not useful for learners preparing for exams. 11 selecting the words often involves unprincipled assumptions about the learners. 11 choosing only difficult lexis also involves assumptions about the usefulness of such items. 11 it is not appropriate for every receptive skills lesson but is often presented as such, e.g. when I was a CELTA trainee. 11 it can distort the focus of the lesson from reading skills development to a lexis learning. 11 it may hinder learners developing wordattack skills, to borrow Christine Nuttals term, such as working out which words are important/can be ignored, inferring meaning, etc.

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

than a positive argument for the inclusion of preteaching in lessons. It is, in my opinion, highly unfair to attempt to help learners process text better by asking them poorly graded questions, something I am fully aware of from studying for Spanish DELE exams.

Teacher training


I mentioned in the introduction that preteaching forms part of teacher training courses such as CELTA. There is good reason for this, and another argument in favour of at least introducing pre-teaching as a technique (or more precisely for raising awareness of reading as strategies/skills) is that for many trainees it can be revelatory. For those with little or no teaching experience, it can help focus the idea that there is such a thing as a skills lesson, one not focused on systems such as grammar or lexis; likewise, for trainees whose teaching backgrounds are more traditional, it is often common practice to treat receptive skills lessons as simply primarily a way of reinforcing language input (Field, 1998: 110). This approach has precedents in older approaches such as The Reading Method recommended in the USA in the 1920s, which revolved around the text as the central component of the learning process, with each text being accompanied by a list of vocabulary which was to be taught before any reading occurred (Richards and Rodgers: 2001). However, this is not pre-teaching, as it aims to teach lexis, not facilitate reading development. Here, the text is being used for language development, not to develop the learners skills in reading (or listening). While this distinction may seem unintuitive for some, it is an important one, and one pre-service courses have a duty to make.

Given that the above is a somewhat lengthy list of reasons against pre-teaching, you may think that I am simply being polemic and refusing to countenance any benefits to preteaching as a technique. In order to redress the balance, let us say that pre-teaching does, perhaps, have a place in some lessons, but not all. For example, teachers may deem it appropriate to assist learners with very specific cultural items, letting them know quickly that Marinsk Lzn is a place, for instance, so they are not overly distracted upon encountering it in a text about Spas and faded European grandeur. However, this should be decided upon based on the text, the lesson, the learners, the aims, etc., specific to the particular group and class and not simply be a given in any receptive skills lesson. Another reason to pre-teach might be that the questions the learners have to answer contain difficult lexis. This argument is made with relative frequency, even by teacher trainers, and while it is perhaps valid if the teacher has no control over the questions, it is more indicative of poorly written comprehension questions, rather

What to pre-teach and a suggestion

Another question that arises when considering pre-teaching lexis is what to preteach. How does a teacher choose which words to isolate and prioritise over others? The general idea seems to be to choose difficult lexis that the learners are unlikely to know but which is essential for their comprehension. However, might it not be an idea to in fact

Language matters select the most frequently used vocabulary to focus on? After all, it is this lexis that might help the learners get the gist of a text more than glabrous, for example. Indeed, there is research that claims that pre-teaching the most frequent words can greatly aid learners reading comprehension (Hanciolu and Eldridge: 2007). An idea might be to try using a Wordle (you just input the text and it prettifies it into the most frequently recurring words) or putting the most frequent words up on the board and getting the learners to check them in a dictionary (paper or electronic), or to predict the content of the passage from them before reading to check (an efficient gist task).

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

their skills in reading/listen and avoid the temptation to over-scaffold by pre-teaching too much or at all. After all, is that our job?

References Field, John (1998). Skills and Strategies: Towards a New Methodology for Listening. ELT Journal Volume 52/2, pp110118. Oxford. OUP. Hanciolu, N.and Eldridge, J. (2007). Texts and Frequency Lists: Some Implications for Practising Teachers. ELT Journal Volume 61/4: 330340. Oxford. OUP. Nuttall, Christine (1982). Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language. Macmillan. Richards, J. and Rodgers, T. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. CUP


So does the teacher pre-teach or not? The answer is to use your professional expertise and make judicious choices. You will probably find that it is not as necessary as you might think to pre-teach, and maybe not necessary at all. Indeed, let the learners try to make sense of the text as they would in real life, help them develop

Chris Og is the Teacher Training Coordinator at IH Dubai. He is a CELTA and Delta Modules tutor and has previously worked at IH Costa Rica and IH Prague, though IH Dubai is certainly hottest! His interests in ELT lie in Dogme, TaskBased Learning and, unsurprisingly, Teacher Training and Development. Chris occasionally blogs about various ELT matters at and can be contacted on Twitter via @chrisozog or by e-mail at

Classroom matters

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Classroom matters
The write ideas
By Matt Parks
If anyone has any trepidation when doing written freer practice in class with fears of slumped shoulders, audible groans and heads on desks then here are a few ways to spice up your classes and to get students to write. These activities generally do the job when I want to activate certain language points and provide students with written freer practice. If these dont work then make sure you provide cushions on the desks for soft landings when students nod off! (Light-hearted) Letter of complaint
The context is that their teacher (you) has been incredibly rude in class and the students have to complain to the Director of Studies. Before they write, the students think of all the inappropriate things a teacher could say in the class. This can be done as a board rush to create ideas and pace. Then get the students to choose 3-4 ideas that they think are the worst. They then write the letter of complaint reporting to the DOS exactly what you said. This task works well as the students try to out-do each other with their complaints. The lesson can be extended in a worthwhile manner by getting the students to read all the boarded complaints and vote on who had the most noteworthy complaint. This writing activity is particularly useful to get students using reported speech. get the students to put the writing on the wall and get the others to read them and vote on who had the most amazing life. This is useful for getting students to use past simple tenses and vocabulary to do with achievements etc.

New inventions

(Light-hearted) Epitaphs

At first this could seem a tad grim but I have always found it to work well. To set it up get the students to think about all the great things people hope to achieve in a lifetime. Here get them to be a bit creative, for example: discover Atlantis, learn how to talk to animals, discover the secret to a long life, learn how to teleport etc. Then tell the students that its 2113 and ask them whether they think they are alive or not, to which they say no. Next tell them that they have just died and that they have to write their epitaphs, reminding them that they have died at a very, very old age and that they have led great lives. Alternatively, put the students into pairs and get them to write the epitaphs for other students in the class. For feedback

If you search for crazy Japanese inventions on Google a selection of fun (real?) products appear such as: a helmet that you can wear on the subway to allow the wearer to sleep upright, a baby romper suit that doubles up as a mop, a butter container in the form of a glue stick etc. Give each pair or group one product and get them to come up with a description of how it is made, what it is used for, how it is used etc. Give students a template to write on and tell the students that there will be a vote on the most popular one at the end. Afterwards get the students to present the products and attempt to sell them to each other, which turns the writing task into a fun, competitive speaking task. This writing task works well if you want students to use the passive.

Picture stories

I have about 12 pictures of different stages in a relationship such as the first meeting, the first date, marriage, a row, a break up, etc. I put them on the white-board and invite the students up to write verbs and adjectives associated with the pictures. I do this mostly when I am teaching phrasal verbs and idioms to do with relationships. This task works as a brainstorm and if its for a lower level also get the students to tell you the past tense of each verb. Afterwards, give the students a set

Classroom matters of the 12 pictures and tell them to choose 6 pictures to tell a story with either a happy or a sad ending. Then get the students to stick the pictures on a template and in pairs they write the story. However, before they write encourage the students to think of a title, give the people names and discuss what is going to happen. For feedback get the students to cover up the writing and get the pairs to tell others what happened in their stories by using the pictures that they have selected as prompts.

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

the students to read and find out about the whole story. This task is useful for higher levels to activate a range of narrative tenses. If anyone wants the text please feel free to email me and I will send it to you.

Setting the tasks up

There are many things that as teachers we can do to set up tasks effectively but the following are suggestions that I find to be quite useful to ensure the writing tasks go well. Before getting the students to write, try to ensure that they are well-prepared for it and arent going into the task cold. Techniques that work quite well here are setting some discussion questions, playing quick vocabulary games with vocabulary associated with the context or picture brainstorm tasks such as the one mentioned above in Picture Stories. Also ensure students have some time to prepare their ideas and think about what to say and the language to use. To help the students to use the target language and to inspire them with ideas, its useful to give the students a model (one that you have come up with) of the task. However, its difficult to always do this if you have a busy teaching schedule. Though I try to make sure the students have a template to work on and if possible have it mounted on colour card . I find that if students have a template then it makes the task seem so much more manageable than if you just hand them a blank piece of paper. Also if students have a well-presented template, as opposed to a scrappy piece of paper, then they are more inclined to take time over it and produce a more presentable piece of work. At the end ensure that there is not only language feedback but also content feedback on what the students have produced. A useful technique to get content feedback is to use the writing task as a spring-board into a speaking task, such as getting students to present their work or sell their idea to each other. If you have any questions about any of the ideas please feel free to email me or give me feedback on how successful or not the tasks worked for you.

Promotional leaets

I give the students a product, usually a new car, to promote. The students then have to come up with a promotional leaflet aimed at young adults to promote their product. Once the students have thought of a name for their make of car, board all the names for the other students to see. Then tell the students that in their promotional leaflets they are allowed to make (disparaging) comparisons to the others and that they can say what they like in order to sell their make of car. For feedback get students to vote on the most effective leaflet other than their own. This can be quite useful to get students using the first conditional or comparatives and superlatives.

Answering unanswered questions

I get students to read a short piece of text taken from a novel or a short story. The piece I use, which was given to me by a former trainee, Donald Quist, is taken from The Girl on the Fridge by Etgar Keret. The extract is interesting enough that it creates lots of unanswered questions (Its about a man who comes home to find everything stuck down and his wife hanging upside down glued to the ceiling laughing. He then reaches up to kiss her and they become stuck together). Put the students into pairs and get them to come up with questions that they want the answers to. Generally, the students come up with 68 questions, which are then boarded. Then get the students to choose a question that they really want the answer to. Having done that, tell the students that you dont have the answers but they in fact do and that they have to come up with and write the answer to the question that they have chosen. For feedback put all the stories on the white-board and get

Classroom matters

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Matt Parks is a CELTA teacher trainer at International House Bangkok, where he has been for nearly five years. He also has teaching experience in London, Jakarta and Istanbul. Currently, he is attempting to enter the digital world as well as hoping flowery-shirt Friday catches on in other schools apart from IH Bangkok. He can be contacted at:

Accentuating the cultural aspects of L2 writing: a Saudi Arabian context

By Sulaiman Jenkins, Donald Peter Lambe and Dr. Motasim Badri
For many EFL instructors in foreign contexts, teaching English writing will undoubtedly be a difficult task because writing, a very complex cognitive and linguistic skill, requires extensive time and practice to master. Students must first gain competency in English grammar, understand how to construct meaningful sentences and paragraphs, and then subsequently organize those into various rhetorical modes: an arduous cognitive enterprise. By adding the layer of L1s influence on writing acquisition, the task very quickly compounds in complexity. That is because a plethora of other important considerations must be factored into the equation when accounting for the role that L1 plays in developing writing proficiency. Does the L1 culture have a tradition of writing or does it follow a predominantly oral tradition? Are the thought processes involved in composing texts similar between the L1 and L2 (e.g. linear vs. circular)? These particular questions and their answers provide some insight into how the transition process might be for foreign students learning to write in English and may also highlight potential hurdles many of our students face, hurdles that, we believe, are often overlooked and not entirely accounted for. For this, we sought in this brief article to explore and investigate some of the ancillary cultural issues surrounding L2 writing and at the very least, hoped to raise awareness as well as stimulate discussion about how to best address the cultural intricacies involved in teaching writing courses. We must first briefly look at three critical areas: 1) what are some of the critical stages of the writing acquisition process, 2) how does writing differ from culture to culture, and 3) how does one adopt the most suitable pedagogical approach to writing depending on ones particular context? There is a plethora of sub skills learners must acquire in L2 before advancing in writing proficiency. L2 writing involves being able to formulate ideas and express them clearly in English, which is predicated almost entirely on vocabulary and grammar knowledge (Grabe & Kaplan 1996, cited in Schoonen et al. 2003). Naturally, the growth in the complexity and sophistication of students texts will be commensurate with the size of linguistic knowledge theyve learned, have command of, and can employ competently at the sentence and paragraph level. So initially, students must have the ability to manipulate their


Classroom matters knowledge of vocabulary and grammar in order to competently express themselves. However, becoming competent isnt restricted to just linguistic knowledge; as proficiency grows, so too must metacognitive understanding about what works/ doesnt work in English. After students build a sizable linguistic foundation, they must start internalizing the norms and expectations of the audience for which they are writing. This is a very significant part of the acquisition process in that, beyond merely learning new words and grammatical rules and manipulating them, students must deconstruct the concept of what constitutes good writing in L1. Essentially, they have to distance themselves from the cultural backgrounds [that] influence their organization of writing[and] how they express their main ideas (Ming et al. 2008). Because writers cultures encapsulate values which necessarily influence their understanding of whats appropriate/ inappropriate, this process of deconstruction is not always an easy transition. English functions primarily in a linear fashion, whereas other cultures (e.g. Chinese) focus on more circular patterns of reasoning/ expression. Some cultures place the onus on the reader to figure out what the writer intends with his/her writing rather than place it upon the writer to make his/her ideas and line of reasoning crystal clear (S. Allaei & U. Connor 1990). As such, what happens when a student is completely foreign to such concepts? How can the students learn about these critical differences, sometimes stark, if theyre never taught explicitly? The world is quite vast, and as such, people have different writing systems to express themselves. Therefore, it becomes very important to prevent ourselves from falling in the danger of adopting myopic approaches with regards to teaching writing, approaches which assume that learning to write in English is just a matter of learning grammatical rules, sentence structures, or particular writing strategies. There needs to be a bit more pedagogical support to help students make this important transition. This is where, we believe, one must analyze more

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

thoroughly some of the important cultural underpinnings involved in developing L2 writing skills. Decades ago, Robert Kaplan provided some insight into the differences between L1 and L2 writing when he introduced the concept of contrastive rhetoric. Kaplan (1966) galvanized attention when he wrote logic which is the basis of rhetoric, is evolved out of culture; it is not universal. (p.12) He went on to explain that by extension, rhetoric cannot be universal either but must rather be considered an artifact which varies from culture to culture. In addition, thought patterns which guide and mold rhetoric are also cultural bodies which evolve out of culture, no one thought pattern being superior to another, not a better or worse system than any other, butdifferent. (p.12) In time, his theories have been challenged (a synopsis can be found in Kubota & Lehner 2004), but nevertheless, we are to be cognizant of the fact that our students may have backgrounds in writing systems that are completely different than what theyre attempting to learn in English. As educators, then, it becomes incumbent on us to factor that into the pedagogical/curricular equation; we must take into account some of the cultural constraints that L1 could possibly have on L2. This is best achieved by having some insight into the functions L1/L2 writing have played in the society/educational system, especially with regards to the frequency of/exposure to L1/L2 writing as well as differing systems of organization. These two areas are critical in that students who are not exposed to writing in L1/L2 at all (e.g. from predominantly oral traditions) or who have limited exposure to writing will have a brittle foundation from which to operate. In the context where we teach, Saudi Arabia, it is well-known that it is a culture doesnt particularly write much and that reading and writing are not widely utilized/practiced skills (Al Yacouq 2012). Furthermore, in a smallscale study we conducted on 75 male/female students (see Table I) we found that students had very little practice writing in their own languages, let alone in English! If this is the case, then this has to be factored in when


Classroom matters determining the pace at which teaching L2 writing is conducted. For example, developing or teaching a writing course in our context, in which little writing has been done before, would need extra care and attention focusing on 1) practicing the skill of expressing ones ideas through writing by freewriting or journal entries first and 2) understanding and constructing solid English sentences before moving on to more complex organization (e.g. paragraphs and essays). This way, students build a solid linguistic and cognitive base in writing before advancing on to more complex stages in the acquisition process. Contrarily, to begin a writing course in such a context by teaching paragraph structure and different rhetorical modes without giving any consideration to the function writing has had in L1 is disastrous and could actually demotivate students as they struggle to figure out what works/doesnt work. With regards to systems of organization, they differ from culture to culture. In Arab culture, studies have shown that Arab cultural thought patterns may reflect elements of repetition, indirectness, elaborateness, and affectiveness (Rass 2011). A student, then, who hasnt been exposed to English thought patterns may write beautiful sentences using L1 thought pattern. In our case, if students use the same Arabic thought patterns but with English lexicon, they will run the risk of their work being evaluated as irrelevant, illogical, or unclear (Ming 2008) because their presentation of ideas will closely mirror that which theyre accustomed to in L1. So rather than get to the point, they might express their ideas in a circular fashion. In this instance, then, it is also important to explicitly teach students that there may be very different ways of presenting ideas in L1 vs. L2. It is the job of administrators/instructors to determine how to raise student awareness of those differences and help provide ample practice so that students can internalize the thought pattern that governs English writing. One possible solution could be to take an academic source of L1 writing and compare it to an academic source of L2 writing on a similar topic. Instructors and students could discuss what they thought was similar/different between the presentation of ideas.

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One final point is that we feel this call for explicit instruction of some of the cultural intricacies of L2 writing is particularly important in EFL settings for two reasons. Firstly, students studying in ESL contexts have the advantage of being exposed to English on a daily basis and a wealth of linguistic input to draw on due to the very nature of them studying in an English speaking country, whereas EFL students usually suffer from a scarcity of input in English (comprehensible or any other) [as well as] serious limitations in variety, richness and volume of the input available (Tarnopolsky 2000). Secondly, ESL students also have the liberty of having any linguistic input constantly situated in L2 cultural pragmatics and norms. Therefore, their predictions about and experimentation with the language are always reinforced by the metacognitive knowledge they necessarily gain by constantly interacting with proficient L2 users. EFL students, on the other hand, are not afforded these opportunities, and as such may require much more time and effort to gain such metacognitive knowledge. In conclusion, this was a brief commentary on some of the peripheral, yet integral, cultural issues that we felt are important parts of the writing acquisition process, especially for students studying English in foreign settings. Hopefully, educators and curriculum designers alike find currency in this important proposition and incorporate some of these ideas so as to make this important transition to academic English writing as easy as possible for learners.
TABLE I results **Results Likert scaled in which 1 = extensively and 4 = rarely Represents average results for all male/ female participants Mean

Prior exposure to writing

1. In high school, I wrote............ in English. 2. In high school, I wrote ............ in Arabic.




Classroom matters

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Allaei, S., and Connor, U. (1990). Exploring the dynamics of cross-cultural collaboration in writing classrooms. The Writing Instructor, 10 (1), 1928. Al-Yacoub, I. (2012). Sum of all fears: Arabs read an average of 6 pages a year, study reveals. Al Arabiya News. Kaplan, R. B. (1966). Cultural thought patterns in inter-cultural education. Language learning, 16(12), 120. Kubota, R., and Lehner, A. (2004). Toward critical contrastive rhetoric. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13(1), 727. Rass, R. A. (2011). Cultural transfer as an obstacle for writing well in English: The case of Arabic speakers writing in English. English Language Teaching, 4(2), p206. Schoonen, R., A. V. Gelderen, K. D. Glopper, J. Hulstijn, A. Simis, P. Snellings, and M. Stevenson. (2003). First language and second language writing: The role of linguistic knowledge, speed of processing, and metacognitive knowledge. Language Learning, 53(1), 165202. Tarnopolsky, O. (2000). EFL teaching and EFL teachers in the global expansion of English. ERIC Clearinghouse. Xing, M., J. Wang, and K. Spencer. (2008). Raising students awareness of cross-cultural contrastive rhetoric in English writing via an E-learning course. Language Learning & Technology, 12(2), 7193.

Sulaiman Jenkins is a US citizen working as an English lecturer. He completed his BA at Amherst College and his MA in TESOL at New York University. His research interests include the relationship between culture and language, learner identity, and second language writing. Donald Peter Lambe is currently Chairman of the English Department and has been working in Saudi Arabia since 1990. His research interests include first/second language acquisition as well as syntax. Dr. Motasim Badri is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics and graduated from theUniversity of Cape Town, South Africa. He published widely in infectious diseases with focus on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. His research interests also include medical education. All authors are currently working atthe College of Science and Health Professions, King Saud ibn Abdul Aziz University for Health Sciences in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Management matters

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Management matters
DoS-ing all over the world
By Nick Kiley
Oh here we are and here we are and here we go All aboard and were hittin the road Here we go DoSin all over the world And I like it, I like it, I like it I li-li-li-like it, li-li-li-like it Here we go DoSin all over the world

(Rock dinosaurs / legends (delete according to taste) Status Quo demonstrating their trademark lexical dexterity from the days when they worked as TEFL teachers, before realising that the word rockin, even with cruelly-discarded g, was going to sell more records than a musical whinge about managing teachers. If you dont know them, look the song up on YouTube so that you have the right tune in your head.)
So, one day I was innocently sitting in my office doing what everyone knows all DoSes do: killing time until I could safely pretend I had an outside appointment by playing Patience on my prehistoric computer (if youre too young to know what Patience is (the game or the concept), find a computing museum). I had just comforted some teachers about their busy schedule by overwhelming them with empathy and pointing out that I had an inhumane amount of admin to catch up on waiting for me on the office computer, had negotiated the minefield of the staff kitchen to get myself a cup of tea without being asked for another brilliant idea for an activity to practise past simple, and had settled down to break my personal best for stacking virtual cards in numerical order whilst maintaining a look on my face of extreme engagement in important school matters (for the uninitiated, this is a skill bestowed upon DoSes at their passing-out ceremony (although unlike military academies, DoSes actually graduate by passing out from alcohol consumption)), when I got one of those annoying little pop-up e-mail received messages. My curiosity got the better of me and I had a quick peak at who it was from. It was from the renowned editor of this esteemed journal. Using the normal IHWO register for communicating with minions, she had written Oi Kiley! Write an article for the Journal! Or Ill tell everyone that youre playing Patience (Someone once ill-advisedly leaked this knowledge to IHWO and it has been held against DoSes ever since) Make it goodwrite about something you know! Dont write about cows! Well, dear reader, you can imagine my panic. Having made a pact at one of the secret DoS moots to never allow another leak of any of the secrets of DoS-ing, and having even sealed it with the secret DoS handshake (which coincidentally looks like finger-correction, including perplexed wiggling of one finger and painful squeezing together of two others), I found myself desperately trying to come up with something worth submitting to a publication so noteworthy that it refers to itself as a journal. Realising quickly that tips for succeeding at Patience wasnt going to cut it (even putting aside the fact that Shaun Wilden had delivered what most people agree was the definitive presentation on the subject at the IATEFL conference last year), I was desperately seeking inspiration. It was then that I received a message from TEFL-leaks, the lesser-known subsidiary of Wikileaks. Mr. Kiley. (Man, theyre good!) Weve been monitoring IHWO correspondence for some


Management matters time now, and this is the first time weve seen anything of interest. This is your chance to blow the lid off the whole thing. To tell the world what they need to know. Although you might have to live in the embassy of a central-American republic afterwards, but dont worry about that right now. As I lay in bed that night sweating and wondering if I could betray the Fellowship of DoSes, an apparition appeared above my bed. It took on the form of Jeremy Harmer, and advice began to issue from its lips. In an unnecessarily spooky voice it said, Stop eating cheese before you go to sleep Isnt that an old-wives tale? I had chance to mutter before the apparition disappeared. When I awoke the next morning I realised that I could write about the challenges and rewards of working as a DoS in different IH locations around the world. This would keep the renowned editor happy by producing an article, TEFL-leaks would get some inside information, and the spirit of Jeremy Harmer would be appeased by my attention being drawn away from cheese. I then realised I was late for work so, bits of cheese still hanging from my mouth, I rushed to work and fired up Patience. Just then an eager young head popped itself around the door. Excuse me, sir, it said. (Its always good to maintain a respect for authority amongst teachers). What?! (I had been trained at IHWO) I wanted to ask your advice Ive been offered a job as a DoS at a larger-in-some-countriesbut-not-quite-as-well-regarded-as-IH school, managing a small group of newly-qualified teachers. Im going to accept, because we all know youre rubbish to work for, but is there any advice you could give me? Ignoring the insult and the clearly gate-happy lack of respect, I mutated my face into its wisest look (although Im not, as yet, sure if this is very distinct from its trapped-wind look). No, I blurted out, but I do need an article on what its like to DoS in different places around the world. Go and do some research. I need a thousand words or so by Friday. (I may have inadvertently

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given away another secret of the Fellowship of DoSes here, that everything they publish in journals, present at conferences, deliver in training sessions, was actually created by a minion.) The now-perplexed young head disappeared and a great day of DoSing was rounded off by skilfully convincing an angry parent that I was the cleaner and equalling my personal best on Patience. A couple of days later the eager young head reappeared around the door. After putting on my best listening face (actually, now I think about it, also quite similar to the trapped-wind face), I prised the following information from the eager, well-researched head. It seems that all schools are different. Different systems, different teaching schedules, different demographics of teachers. I nodded sagely at the eager head as I suddenly realised that I knew some stuff. Ah, yes, I offered (all sages seem to start with this expressionits an indication that something the speaker perceives to be wise is about to issue forth), but often their concerns are similar The eager head became a confused head. This is when the expert sage goes in for the kill. They all have concerns about class numbers, syllabuses, resources. Usually, nodding and reassuring with a confident, leaderly yes is enough to appease them and send them on their educational way. I leant back for effect. The eager head nodded and gave a confident, leaderly yes. Oh, this one learns quick, I thought, before feeling really appeased and like I could go on my way. Before long, a small group of passing teachers had gathered round to listen to our conversation and for some reason I was wearing a flowing jacket with huge sleeves that I could fold my hands into, Id developed a long, wispy moustache, and taken to starting my wisdom with the expression Confucious say As you arrive in your new destination, my young acolyte, take some time to find out how people do things, how they like to do things, and most importantly, how the Director makes


Management matters decisions. Spend time gathering information, building relationships, building mutual trust and respect. Then, remembering myself, Oh yes, and when the grasshopper jumps in the grass, be ready to face the moon. (Always leave them thinking that you are so wise that they cannot hope to understand all your wisdom). This will be a different country, master (a nice improvement on sir), so how will I know all these things? You need to learn something of the culture. How things work, is it based on relationships or bureaucracy, and so on. How will I show people that I am observing, learning, studying, formulating plans and so on, oh wise one? (Getting better with the names) They will never understand. One day you will reach enlightenment, switch on your computer, fire-up Patience and adopt a look of earnest engagement in school administration. When this day comes you will know that everything is running smoothly, all systems work perfectly and everyone knows what they are doing. You will also realise that you are asleep or hallucinating. Youll then realise at the DoS

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moot that you are not alone and the secrets of Patience will finally be bestowed upon you. After shooing away the suitably impressed teachers, I realised I had given far above my daily quota of one piece of wisdom and went for a well-deserved drink, after explaining to an angry parent in the corridor that I didnt work here and had accidentally walked into the wrong building for my origami class. That night, the spirit appeared again, but for the sake of balance it was in the form of Jim Scrivener. The silly, spooky voice was still there, though. You did well today. Now, try some Jasmine oil in your bath to help you sleep. I work in TEFL I dont have a bath.., I had chance to mutter as he disappeared. The next day it was discovered that TEFL-leaks was in fact just a disgruntled teacher who liked to post angry things about DoSes on a well-known Internet forum for posting personal gripes, and the renowned editor of this esteemed journal discovered that she did, indeed, have plenty of better articles to publish. I discovered a new game called Minesweeper and life went on

Nick Kiley has worked for IH since 2001 in a variety of locations around the network, and is currently Director of Studies at IH Riga. He has been a DoS in IH schools since 2006 and is currently Secretary of the Fellowship of DoSes, although that might end after this article. He is also a teacher trainer and in his spare time enjoys bestowing wisdom upon unwelcoming ears.


Young learners

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Young learners
Unlock VYL teaching
By Alex Bishop
A handy list of key ideas for people taking on very young learner classes (35 years old) for the rst time.
FF Praise: Infants need lots and lots and lots of praise and rewardsuse stickers or stamps on hands, congratulations on work well done, high fives, star charts, written comments on worksheets or book, smiley faces, cover sheets for folders for them to stick stars on a little path towards a point where they get a certificate, rewards in groups, rewards individually etc. FF Fairness and consistency: They need to know what is expected of them and where the boundaries are. Have a set of simple, clear rules (e.g. listen, sit down, hands up, silence please and speak English) and clearly defined consequences if they dont follow the rules (e.g., a warning, move places in the class, speak to a senior member of staff, speak to their parents). More than anything be consistent and apply the system in the same way every class. FF Humanity: Bear in mind that you are not just an English teacher to themfor that hour you are their reference for everythingfun, rules, structure, consolation, affection, nosewiping and lots more! They may be coming to your class after a full day at school and be very tiredbe nice! FF Routines: The class should have the same routines (e.g. to start, recycle/revise/present language, work in a circle on the floor or sitting at the table, tidy up and finish). What you change is the content of each stage. FF Clear and simple: rather than instructions have an example or demonstrate activities, with a very clear route to the end of the stage. Keep them in lockstep for each substage so you can keep maximum control and you dont end up with some students finished and some not started! Try this: demonstrate yourself, demonstrate with a student, two students demonstrate then everyone does it. FF Mystery: infants love mysteryhave a bag or box with a different object in it each day for them to feel through the bag or put their hand in to guess what it is. FF Movement: at such a young stage they are still growing fast and need to movebuild in activities which involve use of major muscles, i.e. jumping, walking, getting up and down. If you dont build it in they will do it anyway! FF Back-up plan: have some spare activities up your sleeve such as colouring sheets, a story, a song etcyou never know when a planned activity may go wrong and having something ready to pull out of your bag will get you out of a tight spot. FF Creativity: infants love (and spend a large amount of their time) doing arts and craftsbuild this into your lessons whenever possibleit gives them an achievable, finite, personaliseable, fun task that is out the book as well. Everyone can do the task to their own level of ability. FF Fun! After all thats the most effective way for them to learnplay games (with flashcards, soft toys, plastic fruit, plastic animals), sing songs (any one, it doesnt have to be some awful EFL coursebook song!), dance, read stories in silly voices, and remember if they are not having fun they will not learn half as effectively!

Alex Bishop has worked in ELT since 1999. He has worked for IH Madrid since 2000 in various rolesas an ADOS, DOS YL, then since 2010 as Director of Human Resources, with responsibility for recruitment, timetabling and professional development in the company. He is also a CELTA tutor and trains teachers as part of the in house professional development programme. He likes teaching VYL and beginner level adults.



IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Is your institute social media savvy?
By Emma Cresswell
Sometime in 2009: Emma, youre young, you use computers, do you use this Facebook thing? (My boss to me) And thats how it all started. Fast forward to 2013 and Ive been Online Services Manager at IH San Isidro for over four years. Ive spoken at the last two DoS Conferences about getting your institute online and then how to maintain this online presence. Am I an expert? No. Is it my way or the highway? No. All I hope is that you can take something away from this article that you may be able to implement in your school or institute. Some statistics:
11 There are over 1.4 billion Facebook users worldwide. 11 The total amount of minutes that people spent on Facebook each month during 2012 averaged 700 billion. 11 Depending on sources, between 190 and 400 million tweets are sent each day. 11 93% of marketers use social media for business. 11 25% of smartphone owners ages 18-44 say they cant recall the last time their smartphone wasnt next to them. 11 Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the web. These figures seem to speak for themselves. The question shouldnt be why should I use social media to promote my institute? but why shouldnt I? So how do you go from being Facewhat? to a social media connoisseur? This is what were going to talk about Once you have taken the decision to get social there are some questions you should consider before the big launch: 11 11 11 11 What? Who? Who? How?

When people think of social media, its usually Facebook that springs to mind. But what if you live in China? Or Russia? If your country has its own social media network akin to Facebook its a good alternative. Talk to your students, which one do they use more frequently? Then theres Twitter. Sure you can only use 140 characters, but you can say a lot in 140 characters. (Those two sentences? 101 characters.) And dont forget about LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr, Bebo, Cloob, Habbo, MocoSpace (and I didnt make any of those up!) The point is, there are so many social media networks it can get overwhelming, even if you pride yourself on being SMS (thats Social Media Savvy!) My advice? Start small. Stick to Facebook. If you want to branch out, also open a Twitter account. You can link the two accounts so that whatever gets posted on one automatically appears on the other. (More on that later).

WHAT social media network(s) do you want to join?

WHO are you aiming this social media at?

Existing students? Potential students? Current teachers? Potential teachers? The ELT world in general?


Technology Whilst its not necessary to narrow down the target audience to the smallest of categories, and nor does it have to be one single category, it will help you plan your content better. For example, if you decide that you want to primarily target students (both current and potential), the chances are they wont be interested in articles discussing the latest methodologies in ELT. But they might find a blog post on English slang quite handy. It could also influence the language you predominantly post in. Lets say your main aim is to attract new students, then it would be better to have at least some, if not most, of your advertising and posts in the language of your students.

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with a webquest, or just a general perusal, will get the students liking or following. Advertise. Make posters to go in the classrooms or in common areas. Adding a QR code to the poster can lead people directly to the page when they scan it with their smartphones. Entice. Create a competition or contest to get the students online and interacting. Again this can be introduced during class. Dont forget, IH Experience runs contests throughout the year, which is a perfect way for you to start promoting both your social media and that of IHWO. Ask your staff. The chances are, for every idea you come up with, theyll have two more. Social media is about being social and sharing ideas (and cat videos), so share it with your staffroom. And there you have it: a person, a plan and a social media network or two.

WHO is going to be in charge of these new social media accounts?

Once youve come up with a plan and a target audience, or even before, its time to think of the person who will be running this venture. For some, the obvious candidate would be the DoS, and I can hear DoSes across the network crying out that they are already working 26 hours a day (and that doesnt include cover teaching). My suggestion would be to create a new position. Find a teacher or a member of the administrative team who is interested in online work, someone who already uses social media, and importantly, someone who shares the vision of the school.

HOW are you going to get followers?

Once youve created the social media account of your choosing, you need followers. Word of mouth will help, as will random searches that people type into the social media platforms. But to really spread the word, youll need to be more proactive: Tell your staff. The teachers are the ones who have the most contact with the students, so are the ideal candidates to tell them about this new social media account. Incorporating it into the class,



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NOW what?

No one wants to be a one-hit wonder: Dexys Midnight Runners? Chesney Hawkes? Baha Men? Whatever happened to them? So to avoid becoming the one-hit wonder of the online ELT community, maintenance is the key: Scheduling is your friend. Look into programmes such as HootSuite or LaterBro which allow you to schedule tweets and Facebook posts in advance. Link up the accounts. With a couple of clicks of the mouse you can link your Facebook to your Twitter, or your Twitter to your LinkedIn. This means one post can appear on numerous platforms at the same time, saving you precious time. Time that you could be spending on YouTube looking at baby hedgehogs or marking compositions or sleeping Create regular competitions to encourage interaction. Every time one of your fans/ followers interacts with your account all their friends will see it too, thus enlarging the potential captive audience. Interact with your audience. Ask questions in your posts, respond to peoples posts. Keep up with the network. Join up with other IH schools and see what they are doing. Not only will your students be able to see what is happening in other parts of the network, therefore reinforcing the idea that they are part of a network, but you might get inspiration for future posts.

Share and acknowledge. If you do find something interesting on another page, share it or acknowledge the source. Copying something and posting it as if you had found it, well its just like telling a joke down the pub which only one person hears and then goes on to tell it as if they had made it up and takes all the kudos. You just dont do it. However, perhaps one of the most important things is moderation. Its tempting to go overboard on an enthusiastic wave of social media glee, but it probably wont last. Work will get in the way, or the internet will go down, or your football team will lose and youll be drowning your sorrows down the pub. So start small and as you feel more confident and begin to find your social feet start taking bigger steps and before you know it youll be sailing away into social media cyberspace.

Statistics taken from: (both accessed 21/10/2013)

Emma Cresswell is ADoS and Online Services Manager at IH Buenos Aires San Isidro where she has taught for over five years. When she is not teaching her role as OSM obliges her to spend lots of time online playing around with social media and checking out memes under the guise of finding something to share with our followers. Outside of the classroom Emma can usually be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes or roaming the streets of Buenos Aires finding random things to Instagram.



IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

CALL: Computer Assisted Listening Lessons

By Daniel Schulstad
Listening is one of the hardest skills to master for the ESL/EFL learner (Chang, Tseng et al. 2011; Leveridge and Yang 2013). Learners in authentic situations struggle to decipher native-speaker speech in real time, as speed of verbal delivery, local accents, lack of contextual or visual cues (telephone English) and lack of vocabulary knowledge impede understanding, which in turn blocks communication. Without preparation or prior information as to content, with the additional complexity of a strong regional accent, even a native speaker can struggle to understand spoken English. Inability to communicate is de-motivating for language learners, which in turn affects learning negatively as per the affective lter hypothesis, which emphasizes the role of emotional state on learning (Krashen and Terrell 1983).
Due to these two factors; difficulty and limited exposure, researchers have looked to the affordances of computer facilitated multimedia learning as a way to not only encourage more meaningful learning, but also increase practice opportunities for learners in EFL contexts and in classrooms with a high student to teacher ratio (Liou and Tsing 1994; Ba 2006; Tsai 2012). Multimedia can be seen as quite a broad term, encompassing many mediums, from online web learning to CD-ROM products. For the purposes of this paper we are going to use Mayer and Morenos (2003) definition describing multimedia learning as learning facilitated through visuals and words (printed or spoken) (ibid., p. 43), as this allows us to develop principles that are applicable to both online or offline computer facilitated materials. Cognitive load theory allows some common sense application of theory to lesson design. While measuring types of cognitive load is problematic (Kirschner, Ayres et al. 2011), certain key terminology is needed to make distinctions between what can be changed by designers and instructors, what the learner themselves brings to the equation, and what the task itself contains. Cognitive load research has focused on extraneous load, in other words the mental effort that is expended unnecessarily due to poor or superfluous learning design (Adesope and Nesbit 2012). As working memory is limited, a designers concern is how to facilitate transfer of information from the working memory to the long-term memory as quickly and easily as possible. A dual processing theory of multimedia learning divides up working memory into an auditory and a visual system, both limited in capacity and to a certain degree independent of one another (Diao, Chandler et al. 2007; Chang, Tseng et al. 2011; Adesope and Nesbit 2012). See Figure 1 overleaf. This division has lead researchers to study the interplay between auditory (words) and visual (pictures including textual) information in learning design, in order to create optimal conditions for learning. Mayer and Moreno (2003) and Diao et al. (2007) have advanced research into what is termed the redundancy effect where cognitive load is increased due to mirroring of information in both the visual and auditory modes. It is this theory of a redundancy effect, resulting in cognitive overload, which is problematic when applied to the teaching of languages. The use of redundant text and audio in the form of closed captions and subtitles has been extensively employed in language learning practice and, in conflict with Mayer and Morenos theory, has shown to be actually effective in improving language learning outcomes (Diao, Chandler et al. 2007; Leveridge and Yang 2013). However, even in the field of language learning, other research has indicated that there are certain conditions under which Mayer and Morenos (2003) redundancy effect is also valid; for example with older language learners, or in



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Figure 1. Mayers Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (2003 p. 44)

the teaching of listening strategies as opposed to improving listening comprehension (Diao, Chandler et al. 2007). In addition, the level of proficiency of the language learner is an important variable, making measurement of learning outcomes more difficult, as many studies have not allowed for this effectusing the same listening material across a variety of learner levels and abilities to draw conclusions. The results are then predictablelower level learners rely heavily on captions, while more proficient learners find them distracting, adding to extraneous cognitive load (Leveridge and Yang 2013). The common teacher recommendation watch with English subtitles can be counter-productive. Tracing the findings of the following studies, it is possible to see an evolution of thinking about the application of cognitive load theory and verbal

redundancy to language learning. Adescope and Nesbit (2011) see a need for further research to confirm the findings of their meta-analysis and they provide a stronger foundation for the design of multimedia listening lessons. The affordances of multimedia learning design can also facilitate common ESL practice applied to the teaching of listening skills lessons. Current practice includes tasks that are a combination of both top-down and bottom-up strategies when developing comprehension (Tsui and Fullilove 1998). Top-down strategies include activation of schema prior to listening, in the form of visuals and brainstorming. Schema theory views learned knowledge stored in the longterm memory that is in a schematic form, allowing the addition, building and adaptation of existing frameworks. This process

Table 1. Relation of cognitive load theory and multimedia learning to language learning
Authors & Objective Mayer and Moreno (2003) Reducing cognitive load to enhance learning Positive findings Dual channel assumption of auditory and visual input facilitates meaningful learning Negative Findings Redundancy Effect shows better transfer of learning when words are auditory rather than auditory and visualrecommends avoidance of presentation of identical stream of printed and spoken words (p. 46) No effect was observed on listening skills in generalfull scripts or simultaneous subtitles results in extraneous cognitive load that interferes with learningvisual aids should be eliminated when teaching learners to listen

Diao et al. (2007) Investigation of effect of simultaneous written presentations on comprehension on spoken English as a Foreign Language

Written subtitles and scripts aid comprehension



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Authors & Objective Adescope and Nesbit (2011) Meta-analysis to investigate the effects of spoken-only, written-only and spoken-written presentations on learning retention and transfer

Positive findings Learners who learn from spokenwritten presentations learn more than from spoken-only presentations Presentations showing key terms resulted in higher intake than verbatim presentationspartial redundancy is beneficial Signaling text associated with greater learning Adding text to audio narration beneficial

Negative Findings Prior knowledge strong variablehigher level learners do not benefit as greatly from spokenwritten presentations Verbatim spoken-written presentations no significant effect without consideration of moderating effects pacing reading fluency of learners level inclusion of images or animation Adding audio narration to text not beneficial Split attention affect means that benefit of partial verbal redundancy is negated by concurrent use of visuals such as animation and diagrams

facilitates deeper learning (Diao, Chandler et al. 2007). Gist listening, designed to allow access to general understanding, followed by listening tasks that require intensive listening, where understanding is provided through focus on individual words and phrases, are known as bottom-up strategies. These strategies can be implemented into multimedia design, and correlate with principles drawn from cognitive load theory involving transference of understanding into the schemas stored in long term memory. In addition, the preteaching of vocabulary is a practice that lowers the germane cognitive load on the learnerwhich is defined as the amount of useful information and activity required to complete the task (Kirschner, Kester et al. 2011). By simultaneously activating existing knowledge (schema) and preventing a blocking effect when encountering new words (pre-teaching of vocabulary), using visuals or animation in listening lessons has been shown to contribute to effective learning (Samur 2012). Self-pacing, by which learners are able to replay, back-track and repeat sections until they themselves are satisfied with the outcome, seems to be positive for lower level students, while adding to cognitive load for higher levels (Koehler, Thompson et al. 2011) and in a related sense, learner control over the path and order of the learning materials is not universally beneficial either (Ferney and Waller 2001).

Again lower level learners risk disorientation or uneven learning as a result of having to make decisions related to content, while more advanced learners find choice that doesnt facilitate their learning more extraneous and frustrating, than a system determined path. Indeed compensation, or customization for different levels of learners is complicated in the language-learning context, where global level determinations do not take into account individual skill levels in each area of learning. Different levels of proficiency have been shown to have a significant impact on cognitive load, reducing the effectiveness of materials across a wide range of abilities (Atkinson, Derry et al. 2000; Diao, Chandler et al. 2007; Chang, Tseng et al. 2011; Koehler, Thompson et al. 2011). In terms of interface design, Ferney and Waller (2001) provide useful guidelines for considerations that have implications on cognitive load and usability of multimedia materials drawn from their experience designing a CD-Rom for an academic English context. A summary of their considerations follows: 11 use of drafting storyboards to best balance text and images 11 control over the amount of text optimally displayed on a computer screen, as well as optimal font size (12pt)


Technology 11 use of visual cues, chunking of text and clear signposts to aid learner navigation 11 clear menus, tables of contents, headings, summaries, page numbers and so on, to aid in navigation, as learners may be learning independently without the assistance of a tutor to help them navigate 11 consistent use of font types, sizes and color 11 clear separation of content from feedback and model answers based on color and font use (Reagan and Murray 2002) The limitation of computer generated multimedia feedback that largely consists of standardized model answers (Ferney and Waller 2001) may be compensated through the value provided through the inclusion of worked examples, which break down the process of task completion for the learner (Atkinson, Derry et al. 2000) and, if provided both prior to and post task completion are similar to Mayer and Morenos (2003) idea of pre-training for complex tasks. Atikinson et al. (2000) also propose that feedback include a cuing strategy, so that, in the case of a listening lesson for example, portions of the text containing the answer to comprehension questions can be visually or aurally highlighted. This is also called signalingand has been seen to be beneficial for learners across different disciplines (Kirschner, Ayres et al. 2011). Vehbi (2012) also takes this idea a step further, recommending that such signaling or cuing be available to the learner on demand. Working specifically with listening texts in a multimedia context, it appears that this signaling effect can be applied to captioning in general. While full subtitling or captioning may indeed increase cognitive load, especially across a range of proficiencies (Diao, Chandler

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et al. 2007) supporting Mayer and Morenos (2003) redundancy theory, there is evidence that some use of key words with captioning can result in improved comprehension (Diao, Chandler et al. 2007; Hung 2011; Samur 2012). The showing of key information simultaneously with audio increases comprehension for learners, especially for lower level learners who struggle to decode full captions (Li 2012). In addition, if this feature can be turned on and off it allows individual learners to choose the mode that best suits their style. This allows for the ultimate goal of teaching listening strategies to be realized; for learners to be able to listen to and comprehend authentic materials and operate in authentic situations without scaffolding. In summary, given the research on cognitive load theory and multimedia design, optimal computer facilitated listening lesson design can include: 1. Simultaneous display of key words with audio to assist in comprehension 2. Schema activating pre-listening activities including removal of blocking vocabulary 3. Worked examples that explicitly illustrate the listening strategies and cognitive process leading to successful comprehension 4. Feedback, including signaling or cuing portions of text that contain answers 5. Consistent interface design to allow easy navigation and clear signposts 6. In-built learner controlled scaffolding to allow for materials exploitation at different proficiency levels allowing choice of pacing, subtitling and glossary use.



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Adesope, O. and J. Nesbit (2012). Verbal redundancy in multimedia learning environments: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology 104(1): 250. Atkinson, R. K., S. J. Derry, et al. (2000). Learning from Examples: Instructional Principles from the Worked Examples Research. Review of Educational Research 70(2): 181214. Ba, E. (2006). A Blended-learning Pedagogical Model for Teaching and Learning EFL Successfully Through an Online Interactive Multimedia Environment. CALICO Journal 23(3): 533. Chang, C.-C., K.-H. Tseng, et al. (2011). Is single or dual channel with different English prociencies better for English listening comprehension, cognitive load and attitude in ubiquitous learning environment? Computers & Education 57(4): 23132321. Diao, Y., P. Chandler, et al. (2007). The Effect of Written Text on Comprehension of Spoken English as a Foreign Language. The American Journal of Psychology 120(2): 237261. Ferney, D. and S. Waller (2001). Reections on Multimedia Design Criteria for the International Language Learning Community. Computer Assisted Language Learning 14(2): 145168. Hung, H.-T. (2011). Design-Based Research: Designing a Multimedia Environment to Support Language Learning. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 48(2): 159169. Kirschner, F., L. Kester, et al. (2011). Cognitive load theory and multimedia learning, task characteristics and learning engagement: The Current State of the Art. Computers in Human Behavior 27(1): 14. Kirschner, P. A., P. Ayres, et al. (2011). Contemporary cognitive load theory research: The good, the bad and the ugly. Computers in Human Behavior 27(1): 99105. Koehler, N. A., A. D. Thompson, et al. (2011). A design study of a multimedia instructional grammar program with embedded tracking. Instructional Science 39(6): 939-974. Krashen, S. and T. Terrell (1983). The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in the Classroom. Oxford, Pergamon. Leveridge, A. N. and J. C. Yang (2013). Testing Learner Reliance on Caption Supports in Second Language Listening Comprehension Multimedia Environments. ReCALL 25(2): 199214. Li, C.-H. (2012). Are They Listening Better? Supporting EFL College Students DVD Video Comprehension With Advance Organizers In A Multimedia English Course. Journal of College Teaching & Learning 9(4): 277288. Liou, H. C. and N. Tsing (1994). Practical Considerations for Multimedia Courseware Development: An EFL IVD Experience. CALICO Journal 11(3): 47. Mayer, R. E. and R. Moreno (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist 38(1): 4352. Reagan, N. and O. Murray (2002). Book Reviews. TESOL Journal 11: 4952. Samur, Y. (2012). Redundancy effect on retention of vocabulary words using multimedia presentation. British Journal of Educational Technology 43(6): E166E170. Tsai, S.-C. (2012). Integration of multimedia courseware into ESP instruction for technological purposes in higher technical education. Educational Technology & Society 15(2): 50+. Tsui, A. and J. Fullilove (1998). Bottom-up or Topdown Processing as a Discriminator of L2 Listening Performance. Applied Linguistics 19(4): 432451. Vehbi, T. (2012). Design of Feedback in Interactive Multimedia Language Learning Environments. Linguistik Online 54(4): 3550.

Dan Schulstad is Center Director at International House Boston. In addition to CELTA training, running a busy summer camp for teenagers and the odd carpentry job around the school, he has just completed his Masters of IT in Education and Training. This has left him with more spare time to spend with his toddler, record collection and lowbrow detective novels (occasionally in that order).


Teacher training and development

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Teacher training and development

Handing over the reins
By Magnus Coney

ight, weve got a bit of an emergency. I was supposed to do todays session, but weve just had a phone call from one of the teachers who is off sick. There is no one to cover her lesson, so Alina is going to swap sessions with me and Ill cover the class. The problem is that the lesson starts in ten minutes and Alinas having problems with the computer. So I need to help her with that. Since we are in the final week of the CELTA course, how about if you plan a lesson for me? The lesson is just an hour long, the students arent using a course book and just want to speak about something interesting and get feedback on it so no need to make any materials. Remember what we said about gaps the other day: information, experience, opinion and knowledge gaps. I just need a warmer, the main task and some kind of follow-up. You could work in pairs and Ill pick one. Is that OK?

How it happened:

Due to the number of trainees we had an open slot the next day. I sometimes get trainees who are not teaching to do some kind of game but this time I had decided I would do something myself instead i.e. teach a class planned by them. The open slot offered the perfect opportunity, and I decided to use the session to get them to plan the lesson for me. Since the students in question were a lovely bunch of Italian women, I shamelessly stereotyped them and suggested that the lesson could be based around my upcoming wedding. Firstly, the trainees brainstormed activity ideas related to the topic of weddings in groups. They then regrouped to share their ideas and agree on three they liked, which I recorded on the board. Finally, they returned to their original groups and used the ideas on the board to plan the lesson. The results are below:

This is how I started my CELTA session on materials-free teaching on a recent CELTA course (July 2013) at IH Milan. Although it sounds like throwing the trainees in at the deep end, they all immediately got down to work, and lo and behold, 10 minutes later I came back to see two different lesson plans written up on the board! I was very proud of them and felt quite guilty having to admit that it was all a hoax (although I suspect some of them had already guessed). In my defence, it showed them that they were capable of planning a lesson from scratch with very little time which is a valuable skill for their future teaching careers. I think the other reason this worked was because on the timetable that particular session was down as TBC rather than Materials-free teaching so the trainees were not forewarned.


Teacher training and development There are some great ideas and Im sure anyone doing a lesson based on weddings will find something they can use. Unfortunately, due to the length of the lesson and the level of the class I was due to teach, there wasnt anything that could easily be done. I did use the brainstorming idea, and followed it with the Paper interviews activity from Scott Thornbury, as I felt this would encourage them to use more of the brainstormed vocabulary. It was a fun lesson, but nonetheless I felt bad that I hadnt been able to use more of my trainees ideas. So, what would I do differently? Looking at the whole process, I think there are four main stages which I have outlined below:

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time I might introduce an actual planning strategythey only had experience of writing very detailed plans usually based on course books with a linear approach. For this kind of activity a more global approach would work better and one approach I like is from Duncan Foord. He suggests planning as a spider diagram where you make your main communicative task the centre and brainstorm other activities (for scaffolding or follow-up) around it. This would help them make sure that everything in the lesson contributed to the main task performance. The other issue is how to ensure that everyone has a say in the plan. Perhaps giving each group a different part of the lesson to plan, or just accepting that its very difficult to have input from 12 different people on one 45 minute plan! I also think its important that you teach their TP group if you can, so they know the level of the group. As most CELTAs have two TP groups, perhaps each half of the class could prepare a separate lesson, if both tutors are happy to teach.

The session

The session doesnt have to be materials-free, but I felt it fitted well as they didnt have to worry about preparing materials or analyzing a lot of language. From the plans it is clear they had recently looked at TBL so this might be another option. It was also important that this happened quite late in the course (week 3), so they already had some experience of lesson planning. I was happy with the session itself (we moved on to Dogme and other practical ideas following the planning stage). However, next

Before the lesson

The next thing I would change would be to make sure there are a couple of days between the session and the lesson. That way you can have a look at the plan/plans, and highlight any


Teacher training and development areas youd like them to rethink. Its more work for them, but I think the motivation of seeing you teach a lesson they have planned would make up for it. Following their revisions you can provide them with a final copy of your plan, hopefully incorporating as many of their ideas as possible. I would keep it as just the sequence of activities, so you can keep them in suspense as to the actual techniques you will use!

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might be revealing as well, seeing if they noticed any differences between being taught by the trainees and by the tutor.

In conclusion

During the lesson

If you wanted to give the trainees even more work, you could ask them to design their own observation task for the lesson. They could work in groups and come up with a couple of questions for each stage of the lesson, such as What if they cant think of any wedding vocabulary?, How will he give the instructions for this stage?. Alternatively you might design your own observation task for them, based on some techniques that you will use that you want them to notice. I also considered asking the trainees for comments/help during the lesson itself -What checking question could I ask now? or to monitor for errors that they or I could give feedback on. I cant say how your trainees or the students would feel about this, but I think it could be very effective if everyone is happy with it.

As I said, this is the first time I have tried this. Although I feel that it could be really beneficial for the traineesthey have a lot more investment in observing this lesson than they do in others (Weve all had trainees sending the occasional text message or planning their next lesson thinking we cant see them while observing classes), and hopefully they can be exposed to a variety of techniques that do not sink in so effectively when they are simply described by the tutor. The only issue for me is that of time -an intensive CELTA is exactly that. If you can get around that, then I hope you try it and let me know how it goes!

Thanks to

Nick Baguley, my MCT, for suggesting this article. Agnese, Azzurra, Frances, Georgia, Laura, Louise, Luisa, Matteo, Patrick and Serj for suggesting the wonderful ideas above and being a fantastic group of trainees.

After the lesson

Bibliography Lesson-planning-from-the-heart/464598 Meddings & Thornbury, Teaching Unplugged (Delta Teacher Development Series 2009).

The obvious first step would be for the trainees to give you feedback based on their observation tasks. They should also do some kind of evaluation of their plan and suggest how it could be changed. A questionnaire for the students

Magnus Coney is a teacher and CELTA tutor at IH Milan, where he has worked for the last 3 years. He occasionally blogs at


Special report

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Special report
Lexical inferencing a chance to demand high?
How to encourage informed guesses about the meaning of new words in the language classroom

By Margaret Horrigan
A quick research on the internet will provide you with a number of ideas on what inference is. We make inferences about situations, events, people etc. without formalizing our thoughts. We do this every moment of the day. When we make inferences we are basically making personally informed assumptions about what we see or hear. However, our eyes and ears can often deceive us and we can make completely inaccurate assumptions. For example, if we hear a group of people shouting we automatically might assume that theres an argument in full swing. If however, we add a few contextual clues, well, things change drastically 1. We are outside a door 2. The door leads into a theatre stage In essence, in order to appropriately infer meaning we need the bigger picture. In language teaching this bigger picture is context. Context is not the only way we infer meaning however, but it is always the first step, a top down approach, to infer meaning of new vocabulary. Most articles and studies in the field of lexical inferencing are quite linguistic in nature and can often overwhelm the EFL or ESL teacher who would like to experiment with challenging their learners and encouraging them to reflect at deeper levels. In pedagogical literature it tends to be mentioned in passing (Thornbury 2002: 148) or explicitly avoided (Ur 1991:202) and without much usefuladvice for classroom application. Hence the scope of this article, a quick introduction to lexical inferencing and suggestions on how to demand high through meaningful questions in order to harness lexical inferencing strategies in the language classroom so as to increase potential retention (Haastrup 1991:29) with particular reference to lexical items occurring in written texts.

Pros and cons

The outstanding question about lexical inferencing in the classroom is Is it worth taking a whole lesson segment to deal with lexical inferencing strategies? We have the following arguments against lexical inferencing: 11 Successful arrival at desired meaning is not guaranteed 11 There are cultural issues connected to context 11 The language proficiency level of learner and ultimately the difficulty of the text are important variables which contribute to the success of a lexical inferencing lesson segment However, arguments in favour are: 11 It involves both declarative and procedural knowledge to arrive at conclusions 11 The more effort we put into arriving at those conclusions, the more likely successful retrieval will be 11 It is giving students strategies for use beyond the classroom 11 It may push learners towards more complex production 11 It may be an opportunity for teachers to demand high 11 So the pros outweigh the cons and therefore lexical inferencing is certainly worth addressing in class

Context and register

This is without a doubt an essential ingredient and must be part of learners schema (Soria 2001:4)) in order to be effective as it informs us


Special report on many subtle levels. What, for example, does /lu:d3:r/ mean? I hadnt heard of it until about three years ago on a visit back home. Three little boys in the west of Ireland, my nephew, Michael and some friends were outside playing. They started speaking to each other about their gocarting abilities. The lucky lad who was being referred to had run a go-cart into a wall. Now, heres the text: Go onyou luder! Youre useless! From the context we know that a luder is not something youd ever strive to be. Concept questions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Is it a formal or informal situation? Why? Is a luder something positive or negative? Why? What do the boys think about the other boys driving? 6. Why? 7. What do you think luder means? For the purists among us, the word luder is from the Irish ludramhain /lu:drm:n/ which means fool. In a top down approach to lexical inferencing a good strategy is to blank out the words somehow so that the learners are forced to go above the word level and draw on clues which lie outside the word itself. The word could be gapped with a line, blacked out or substituted with a nonsense word. By starting from this point the challenge level can be adjusted more readily on the spot. Starting from a bottom up approach can compromise the challenge level as the game is given away too quickly and therefore the demand high nature of the task could be lost. Therefore, questions about the context, register and discourse communities around the text, in our example childhood friends, may enable to learners to reflect more usefully on potential cultural issues and, therefore, might be more demand high.

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are synonyms of each other. If you consider their meanings more deeply, though, you will notice that little carries the meaning of not just size but also the speakers attitude towards the object or person being described. This is true for most synonyms in English. If all the words were really doing their job well we wouldnt need so many near synonyms which mean almost the same thing but have a grain of extra meaning. Therefore little and skimpy show a positive and negative attitude respectively towards a portion size, for example, and small is neutral. Antonyms, on the other hand, are words with opposite meanings such as short and long. Mutual exclusives such as dead and alive are sub-categorised as complements (Graddol et al. 1994:111) and cannot have any other opposites. Other examples are father and son, husband and wife etc. For lexical inferencing purposes synonyms and antonyms should go hand in hand with the context issue set out earlier in this article. A teacher can certainly design tasks or ask learners to pick from a potential list of synonyms and antonyms what a new word might mean. In cases of opposites the word not will often come into play of course as this must be employed to bring the antonym closer to the meaning of the new word. Sometimes this can add unwarranted complexity, however, in negative sentences. For example attempts to deal with the word dreadful in: Hes not a dreadful writer could cause confusion if we say 11 Does he write badly? No. 11 Is he not a bad writer? Yes. Weaker students would find the negatives very confusing and assume that dreadful means not bad. Therefore, this will mean that the learners need to scour the previous and subsequent lines of the text around where the word sits in order to arrive at an informed conclusion. If a list of synonyms and antonyms is provided immediately you could be setting up a potential moment of haphazard guesswork which is not

Synonyms and antonyms

A synonym is a word with the same or nearly the same meaning. For example, small and little


Special report conducive to lexical inferencing skills at all. The board is possibly a more useful tool here to drip feed the list of synonyms and antonyms to the learners when training them to use these skills initially for this reason. Perhaps a pair of words of which only one is the correct option would help somewhat here. Eliciting justifications for choice of word made is essential as the learners will be forced to explicitly state the clues which led to their choice. Carton (1971) set out a neat trio of terms to show that these clues can occur at intralingual (sentence), extralingual (schematic) and interlingual (between languages) level. This think aloud (pair) problem solving (TAPPS) (Lochhead and Whimbey 1987) strategy should be encouraged as often as possible between students, and teacher with student(s), and is currently the only tool available to researchers in the field. It is also, in my opinion the type of task which is promoted by demand high teaching moments where the learners are pushed to reflect and think at much deeper levels and for longer periods of time than is normally expected but such sustained effort requires teacher orchestration (Bingham Wesche & Pribakht 2010). Despite the apparent simplicity of synonyms and antonyms it is my belief that many of these antonym and synonym tasks could prove counter-productive as the learner will more than likely rely on the old reliable word rather than make the new word part of their lexicon. I say this because I cannot remember a single incident where inference via synonyms or antonyms occurred when I was learning Italian. The logic being perhaps, why learn a new word when you already have a similar one which seems to do the job quite well? It may be something akin to going out to buy a whole new wardrobe of clothes when what you have is fine so there will certainly be people out there who are serial gatherers of clothes and, of course, words. The teachers trick should be in highlighting the slightly different meaning between the old and new synonym or antonym in order to illustrate the value of the new word. A well placed prompt or question would go far in these moments I believe in order to demand high and push learners into deeper understanding of a text and increase potential of retention.

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Hyponymy, hypernymy, meronymy and holonymy

These are words which are subordinate to a word with a more general meaning, for example: rose, lily, tulip are hyponymy of flowers. The word flower however, is the hypernym of rose, lily etc. An example of how this fact might help lexical inference? I remember being an avid reader of a girls comic called Misty many many moons ago. One of the stories in this comic carried the word rhododendren . Not being much of a gardener back then either I could have been at a loss as to what a rhododendren actually was but given that the actual text said something on the lines of: She smelt the roses and rhododendron as she walked up the path... I was convinced that it was some sort of flower but discovered later that it is a shrub. Now, bitter debates may erupt between horticulturalists if I had dared declare that a rhododendron was a flower but for all purposes that I might ever need to use the word, assuming that it was a flower was absolutely fine. The fact remains; however, that rhododendron is not a hyponym of flower but it is a meronynm of gardenthe word garden is the holonym in this instance. So how can we turn this into a useful classroom inference task? Try answering the questions in clockwise order: Fig.1. Concept checking questions
Where is this thing exactly?

Where else could it be?


Is it animate/ alive or not?

Is it a ower?

The above example of concept questions for rhododendron should have guided most people to the fact that the word indicates something which grows in a garden but which is not necessarily a flower. The questions have exploited the hyponymy, hypernymy, meronymy and holonymy relationships in this way:


Special report 11 Where is this thing? Obviously in a garden or where there are lots of things growing 11 Is it alive? Probably, because it had a nice smell like the roses 11 Is it a flower? Well, there is a great chance that it actually is a flower 11 What else could it be? A tree, shrub, weed, bush, treeanything that grows in a garden, basically. However, in order to demand high, the following questions and prompts could be added: 11 What is it NOT? A chair, a bench, a gnome... 11 Why? It was mentioned alongside rosesand had a pleasing smell 11 Draw the scene in one minute

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

everywhere;on the ground, on the grass, on his bed. Being a lazy dictionary user it took me a couple of chapters to infer that giaceva must mean lie down. It is, in fact the imperfect form of to lie down. It hung out with too many horizontal surfaces to mean anything else. In a classroom situation one of the best tools for collocations is the substitution table. This is reiterated many times by Lewis (2008). For example the verb to have can be collocated as in table 1 below, to exemplify and some useful teacher questions about possible categories for the different meanings of have would certainly push students to reflect at a deeper level. Table 2, however, would challenge the learners much more. If a teacher wanted to demand high they could ask the learners to justify their combinations. The teacher could also play devils advocate by proposing some awkward combinations and asking why these are acceptable or not. For example, I have a dog in my pocket is not as absurd as it might seem. My brothers pocket was the means of transport for our long gone family dog, Ratzer, many many moons ago. Such short anecdotes, sometimes seen as tangents on formal training courses, are, however, another meaningful encounter for the learners with the target item.


One of my favourite definitions of collocations is how words hang out together as it really gives you the idea of little communities or groups of words that frequent the same hotspots together. More technically, it is how words tend to co-occur at lexical level (Lewis 2008:8). This co-occurence is often very difficult to guess or certainly justify. An example of how I inferred meaning from collocation many years ago was when I was reading Herman Hesses (1973) Siddhartha in Italian. From the start, Siddhartha giaceva

Table 1
I have a headache pen doctors appointment dog coffee pain glass of warm milk right now. in my pocket. tomorrow. called Fred. for breakfast. in my stomach. at night.

Table 2
I have a headache pen doctors appointment dog coffee pain glass of warm milk for breakfast. called Fred. right now. at night. tomorrow. in my pocket. in my stomach.


Special report

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Etymology, spelling and affixation

it might sound ridiculous but how the word looks from a visual point of view can help many learners. Obviously compound nouns carry two nouns where one of the nouns, usually the first in the compound, behaves like an adjective . So a toothbrush is a brush (noun) for cleaning your teeth (function). A hair-dryer dries (function) your hair (noun). However, it seems that the more time passes the less relevance the name of the item has to the object and for teaching purposes this is a disaster. The walk-man didnt pick you up and carry you places. The iPod looks nothing like a pod. So, branding has taken over somewhat in more recent times. However, for inventions which range from the middle ages up to the early 80s the use of compound nouns is a common phenomenon and worth considering for this reason (Licata 2013). Specialist words, or professional jargon, may require a more bottom up strategy when the target language is close to the learners first language (L1) or if these terms have been borrowed from another language as is the case for many legal and medical terms in English. In such instances comparisons between first and target language items should be encouraged as these may draw on the interlingual clues (Carton 1971) such as spelling or affixation. Anthony Burgess (1962) A Clockwork Orange is a go-to favourite of mine for activating lexical inferencing strategies during seminars but if a native Russian speaker were present they would not see the point as Burgess relied heavily on Russian in order to force the native English speaker into unfamiliarity at a lexical level. Native speakers of Latin based languages, however, would be at an advantage with most English legal and medical terms. Therefore, consideration of learners L1 and their L2/3 etc., if not English, obviously has an important role to play when dealing with interlingual clues. In more focused learning contexts, the learners profession may play an equally important role as a lawyer, nurse or doctor would have a better chance at grasping medical or legal terms in English due to the specialist jargon they are exposed to on a daily basis in their L1.

An example of exploiting how the word looks I would like to strategically use here are the words epidermolysis bollosa1. There are three clear indicators here that the word is a skin disorder/ disease. From our own world experience weve heard of halitosis, thrombosis and possibly myxomatosis. So we know that the suffix -sis tends to indicate a medical condition or disease. The epiderm obviously means skin and even if youve never opened a biology book you have probably heard of some skin care product with derm embedded in its name. The bollosa part sounds like boils, or something unpleasant, because your brain has managed to pare down to limited possibilities what epiderrmolysis means and jump to a conclusion for what bollosa probably means. In addition to this, there is the potential phonological sounding out of bollosa which obviously has an etymological root which can be linked to boils . So, because the word contained a spelling pattern weve seen before and the affixation, we can tip this knowledge onto the third word and make an informed guess that epidermolysis bollosa is a medical condition or disease. However, this can be misleading too as in the case of impeachment, for example, but it may allow the teacher to play devils advocate (Scrivener & Underhill 2013) once more in demand high moments in the classroom . In the classroom you might ask the learners to find familiar sections of words and work outwards with questions by asking what the function of each part of the word is. Give the learners options. For our example above we could ask: 11 Which part of the word looks familiar/Have you seen before? (Epiderm) 11 What other words have the ending -sis? 11 So if epidermolysis is a disease of the skin what do you think bollosa means? Naturally, the words here never occur in isolation but in a clear text and context which should be exploited in a top down manner via open questions to ensure that learners are moving as closely as possible to the core meaning of the words and encourage real

This is a very rare skin disease which is worth Googling and donating to as it gets very little publicity worldwide. Any revenue from this article is donated to Debra Italy.


Special report reflection. So, some solid top down and demand high type questions or prompts regarding the text/context of epidermolysis bollosa might be: 11 Is it a common disease? No, very rare 11 Where would you find this text? A hospital, clinic, online 11 Who would normally read it? Patients, parents or friends of patients 11 Why? They are in a waiting room with nothing to do, they are informing themselves about the condition online

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describe what the differences were between skinny and thin. Now, there are a number of people who would say that being called skinny is a compliment today but 18 years ago there was a clearly negative connotation to the word skinny. Unfortunately, the number of products that exploit this change in connotation are many, skinny jeans is an example that comes to mind, and without a doubt advertising has a huge role in changing language and connotation. In the classroom you could simply ask the learners if they think the word means something good or bad, positive or negative. Some words are completely neutral, such as thin and small, and asking a connotation question will help in these cases also and increase the demand on learners to process the language at a deeper level. Another strategy to involve demand high moments where connotation is being dealt with in the classroom could be to encourage L1 comparisons (Carton 1971) with the target item in order to highlight the connotation of the target item more thoroughly.

Parts of speech

Closely related to affixation is part of speech when we discuss lexical inferencing strategies. Probably every teacher has dealt with lexical inferencing at this level where a student gets a blind spot and cannot see that the word which is causing her trouble is a close relative of another word which might be familiar to her in verb or noun form. So again we should work out from the root of the word. In the classroom you could ask learners to underline the root of the word and to identify the remaining parts of the word. So, to use Haastrups (1991) indisciminately exampleit clearly comes from the verb to discriminate but here it is an adverb and probably means the opposite because of the pre-fix in. Here lies a solid example of how declarative (knowing what) and procedural knowledge (knowing how) work together in shaping meaning around the unknown word. In Merrill Swains (1995) output hypothesis learners are capable of providing themselves with their own comprehensible input+1 (Krashen 1986). Therefore it is highly likely that the more we probe learners declarative and procedural knowledge of an item in a teaching moment the more the teacher is demanding high and creating the prefect storm so to speak for language acquisition to occur, but more of that later.

The perfect storm


Although not a category as such the connotations we link to words reflect our social and cultural experiences. This leads me to comment on how connotation can change or shift over time. When I was interviewed for my CELTA course 18 years ago I was asked to

It is my understanding that demand high teaching requires teachers to select tasks and craft questions which encourage learners to probe deeper into language. Demand high teaching is not an approach or method but more a belief or meme that learners need to be challenged more during formal instruction in order to increase the quality of their second or other language. It is my suggestion, therefore that the teacher work on crafting questions, tasks or handouts based on accuracy, fluency and complexity of new language items in order to trigger learners procedural and declarative knowledge (Haastrup1991:32) and make the encounter more meaningful because these questions may indirectly or directly encourage reflection to occur at deeper levels. I suggest that the following schematic representation is a good starting point for crafting questions in particular but may serve well also in screening tasks and activities which can be exploited for demand high teaching:


Special report Fig 2. X = The perfect storm 5. 6. 7. 8.

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Say it slowly. Say it like a child. Say it like a mother. Say it like a teenager.

Complexity 1. Is it formal or informal? 2. Use it in a formal situation! 3. Is it OK for a child to call an adult a luder? 4. What might the adjective be? 5. Why? 6. Is there a verb form? 7. Why? 8. Put it in a negative sentence. 9. Put it in an interrogative sentence. 10. Whats the opposite? 11. Would English people use this word? 12. How do Irish people pronounce the er suffix usually? 13. Do you know any luders? Who are they? Why are they luders? 14. Have you ever been a luder? Obviously, the more experienced teacher will realise that the last four questions above are moving towards procedural knowledge and sourcing of long term memory which is clearly a good strategy. There is also an ideal order to all the questions above which might involve moving back and forth between categories but working systematically through the questions would also help to create the perfect storm which seems to be brewing at the foundations of the demand high meme. I would, however, argue that it is essential for teachers to analyse target items and craft meaningful questions or prompts at planning stages rather than rely on their instincts on the spot which seems to be at odds with some of the literature emerging from the Demand High debate and discussions. This type of planning would place the teacher herself in a much more informed position in order to determine what is a useful TAPPS and how to exploit these fully in demand high moments of a systems focused lesson by encouraging different strategies through wellplaced questions and increase the potential of retention (Haastrup 1991). On the down-side, there is no account for how demand high teaching can transform

In the last decade a clear movement away from the accuracy fluency continuum has occurred. Research into task based learning (Ellis 2003) has showed that complexity is often an indicator of learners attempting to express themselves beyond their level. It is my belief that the errors which occur from these attempts should be embraced by teachers as opportunities to demand high. As a teacher you should craft as many accuracy, fluency and complexity questions as possible to encourage the learners to reflect at deeper levels about use, meaning and form, to create the perfect storm (see X above) in the brain, so to speak, where acquisition is more likely to occur. Adhering strictly to the labels of accuracy, complexity and fluency is not essential but should be attempted to provide balance and avoid emphasis on one feature over another. In our case, lexical inferencing, some demand high questions and tasks relating to our very first example, Go on you luder! could be: Accuracy: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. What type of word is it? Does it refer to a person or a thing? What do you think it means? How do you know that? Is it plural or singular? Whats the plural? Where is the stress?

Fluency 1. 2. 3. 4. Say it angrily. Say it comically. Listen to Xhow are they saying it? Say it quickly.


Special report declarative knowledge into procedural knowledge and move beyond short term memory retention. There is also the indirect rekindling of the learning-acquisition debate where the activation of the learners monitor (Krashen 1986), or formal teaching and correction, is no guarantee of acquisition. However, this may not be the case in the skills of reading and writing where the monitor would naturally be more active (Stern 1983:404) and therefore give more support to a demand high teaching moment involving these 2 skills which, in turn, adds support to the lexical inferencing classroom suggestions and perfect storm proposal set out above. Regardless of skill involved, a fine line needs to be drawn between what might be useful, thought-provoking questions and tasks and what might be perceived as essentially a hokey method which could, at its worst, do damage to the classroom dynamic and general integrity of the profession and the professionals proposing it.

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has as much to learn from planning and implementing the lesson as the learners have from participating in it. The importance of designing questions is obvious. Learners may be pushed to reflect at deeper levels. For this reason, lexical inferencing lessons or lesson parts also require handouts. As lexical inferencing is inherently a cognitive effort employing many strategies, a well-crafted and well-timed handout is essential as a record to remind the learners of the processes involved. This is by no means a conclusive study on how lexical inferencing strategies could demand high in the language classroom. It is basically a hunch that by implementing these types of lessons, or lesson segments, that teachers may have an opportunity to plan for demand high teaching through top down and bottom up strategies where learners are forced to draw on their declarative and procedural knowledge systematically and increase their chances for language acquisition to take place. It is a schematic starting point for teachers who are interested in creating demand high lessons around lexis in general and lexical inferencing in particular but clearly has potential application for grammar focused lessons also.


Despite the challenges involved in planning, I believe that a lexical inferencing lesson, or lesson part, is well worth a try as the teacher


Special report

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Burgess, A. (1962). A Clockwork Orange. Penguin Books, London, England. Carton, A. (1971). Inferencing: A process in using and learning language. In P. Pimsleur & T. Quinn (Eds.), The psychology of second language learning (pp.4558). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford University Press. Graddol, C. Cheshire, J. & Swan, J. (1994). Describing Language. Buckingham: Open University Press. Haastrup, K. (1991). Lexical inferencing procedures or talking about words: Receptive procedures in foreign language learning with special reference to English. Tubingen: Gunter Narr Verlag. Hesse, H. (1973). Siddharta. Adelphi Edizioni S.P.A. Milano, Italy. Krashen, S.D. (1986). The input hypothesis: issues and implications, Longman Licata, G. (2013). CLILThe Middle Ages. Presented at:International House World Young Learner Conference, Rome, Italy, March 2013, unpublished. Lochhead, J. & Whimbey, A. (1987). Teaching analytical reasoning through thinking aloud pair problem solving. In J.E. Stice (Ed.), New directions for teaching and learning, No 30. Developing critical thinking and problem solving abilities (pp.7392). San Francisco: Josey-Bass. Scrivener, J. & Underhill, A. (2013). http://demandhighelt.wordpress.comaccessed on May 27 2013 Soria, J. (2001). A study of Ilokano learners lexical inferencing procedures through think-aloud. Second Language Studies, 19, (2), 77110. Stern H. H. (1983). Fundamental Concepts of Language Teaching. OUP Swain, M. (1995). Three functions of output in second language learning. In Cook, G. and Seidlhofer, B., Principle and Practice in Applied Linguistics. Oxford University Press Thornbury, S. (2002). How To Teach Vocabulary, Pearson Education Lts., Harlow, Essex Ur, P. (1991) A course in language teaching: practice and theory. CUP Wesche, M. & Paribakht, T. S. (2010). Lexical inferencing in a rst and second language: Crosslinguistic dimensions. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Margaret Horrigan has been an English language teacher since 1991 and is also a Cambridge ESOL Delta, CELTA and YL ext. trainer and assessor and EAP teacher at the LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome. Margaret is the Director of Teacher Training with IH, viale Manzoni, in Rome and holds an MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL.


Special interest columns

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Special interest columns

Young learners
By Kylie Malinowska, IHWO YL Advisor
Some people call it the Silly Season. Its that time of year again when, traditionally, YL teachers do the ol Christmas lesson. Over the years Ive done countless Christmas in Australia gaplls, letters to Santa etc. If done well, theres nothing wrong with the ol Christmas lesson, but if youre looking for a bit more this year, this issues Five in Flash aims to go beyond the crossword delights of (which also has free Christmas printables). Five ways to deck your (school) halls with boughs of jollyjolly students that is 1. Have a not so Silent Night
A friend recently complained to me that that last year she went to a carols evening they didnt have Santa. Taken aback I replied, But carol evenings arent about Santa!. Back home in Australia I used to love Carols by Candlelight. Hundreds of people, strangers throughout the year, coming together and sitting side by side smiling and singing in harmony and soaking up all that lovely togetherness. A carols event can be a great way to create that sense of community among your students and remind them that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their class. Help them feel they are a part of your school. Your English Family. You dont even have to celebrate Christmas to hold a carols evening. Carols are nice, but any familiar songs will do. Classes perform their songs. Guests sing along. Evening is great but really, any time of day works. Dont forget the project aspect leading up to the event too. You could ask each YL class to choose a song (Christmassy or otherwise). Arrange for students to send out invitations, make flyers/ posters, organise a potluck of snacks could be an idea too. Print all songs (with words and maybe pictures drawn by the class or a paragraph detailing why they like it or chose it) in a songbook which is printed for the guests. Make sure everyone feels welcome and is encouraged to join in and be a part of the event and you cant go wrong. A student who feels a part of their school is a happy student and more likely to remain a student.

2. Christmas exchange

As much as I miss eating prawns on the beach on December 25, I just love hearing about different customs and celebrations in other countries and am equally fascinated by the beauty of snow and the craziness of eating Brussels sprouts! Instead of relying on Google, why not get your class to contact students in other schools around the globe and find out firsthand how they celebrate Christmas, or about other important celebrations and customs. Students could share their finished research on posters, on a blog, in a YouTube video or via any medium they enjoy using.

3. Christmas is for giving

Its all very nice to have pretty baubles and Christmas trees, but I think the best thing about Christmas is the giving. Instead of you giving your students sweets, or getting them to write letters to Santa detailing all the goodies they want to receive, help them to give this year. As a class or as a whole YL department, children could research ways to give and then decide on who and how e.g. they might decide to donate warm socks to an orphanage overseas or sponsor an endangered animal at a local zoo. Each class or student can be allocated roles and/or tasks to complete such as writing a letter to explain to the parents, creating posters, reporting on the progress in a blog/ newsletter, taking photos etc. If this isnt possible, how about projects where


Special interest columns they research and present on what/who they would give to if they were a millionaire.

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4. Reections and resolutions

Christmas is a great time to reflect back on the year and also to write some (English language learning) resolutions which can be read again after the Christmas break (if you have one). Cut up paper stars (its up to you if the paper is coloured or glittered). On one side of the stars students should write something they achieved in 2013 (in regards to their language learning). On the other side, or on separate stars, students should write something they hope to achieve in 2014. Stars can be stuck to a poster, hung from a mobile or put in a sealed envelope to be read again in a future lesson. Be sure to really highlight to students how much they have achieved in 2013 and how much potential they have for 2014.

have been living under a rock in 2013. Instead of covering the whole Christmas thing, makes some tweaks and adjustments to use it as an opportunity for real learning. I find young learners either love or hate Christmas lessons. Some students are bored with the same old material year in year out and some just love sweets and colouring. Either way, it couldnt hurt to vamp it up a little, right? By all means bring in the tried and trusted Christmas card lesson, but really ask yourself What are they learning? What could they be learning? What opportunities for extra learning can I exploit further? I challenge you as a teacher who cares (you must, otherwise why are you taking 5 minutes to read a teaching journal?) to get the most you can out of each Christmas lesson this year. Feel free to share them with me too. Id love to hear about them Wishing you and your young learners a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

5. Demand High this festive season

If you havent heard of Jim Scrivener and Adrian Underhills Demand High meme, you must


Kylie Malinowska started with IH many moons ago at IH Newcastle, and is now a Teacher, YL ADOS, Pre-School Coordinator & IH CYLT tutor at IH Prague. She also works part-time at the YL Advisor for IHWO, as well as one of their IH CYLT online tutors & IH CYLT (TiT) Mentor. She is currently working towards an MA TESOL (Applied Linguistics) and tries to find time to post on her TEYL blog when she can.

Developing teachers
By Sandy Millin
Observation: a word to strike fear into your heart? Or something you cant get enough of? However you feel about them and whatever your level of expertise, observations should be a key part of your development as a teacher. There are as many forms of observation as there are types of teacher, and I dont claim to be an expert. Instead, I will offer a series of suggestions in the hope that it will inspire you to experiment with observations or even to overcome any fear you might have of them.


Senior staff: When you first think of observations you may picture a manager sitting at the back of the classroom. They are watching a nervous teacher, who is scared that if they fail the observation they will lose their job. Although they are there to assess the quality of your lesson, a good observer is not trying to catch you out: their job is to help you. Observations by more experienced staff can be particularly useful in helping you to deal with difficult situations.


Special interest columns Your colleagues: Peer observations are a good way to collect new activities and classroom management strategies. If you can, try to arrange a return observation so that you observe each other. You can also watch lessons online if its difficult to arrange live observations. Try typing watch EFL teachers into YouTube. Finally, Jeremy Harmers The Practice of English Language Teaching (2007) comes with a CD-ROM with excerpts from lessons, along with commentaries on them. You: Self-observation is probably the most daunting form of observationnobody likes hearing a recording of themselves. However, taking an audio or video recording of your lesson can show all kinds of things that you werent aware of doing, or that youd been told about but cant seem to stop. From video observations of my own lessons (http://sandymillin.wordpress. com/videos/) I realised that I move around all the time, especially when giving instructions. Id been told about this before, but until I saw myself doing it, I found it difficult to remember to stand still when I want the students to focus.

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before the lesson is to make a plan but not show it to the observer. During the lesson, the observer reconstructs what they think it should be. Comparing the two highlights what actually happened in the class, and can be a rich source of discussion about the teachers decisionmaking before and during the lesson.

How long for?

Observations do not necessarily need to be for the whole class. In fact, you can often learn just as much from a small part of the lesson as you can from the whole thing. If you choose not to observe/be observed for the full lesson, make sure you know whether the observation is at the beginning, in the middle (a drop-in), or at the end of the lesson, as this will influence your observation question(s). For example, 30 minutes at the beginning of a young learner class may focus on starting routines and how the teacher gets the students settled, whereas at the end of the lesson it may focus on what the students take away from the lesson and whether there is a clear end point. With audio/video observations, you may record the whole lesson but choose only to watch select points relevant to your observation focus. You are under no obligation to listen to/watch the whole thing!


The question of what you are looking for during an observation is very important. As an observer, its important to make it clear to the observee what criteria you are judging their lesson on (and it does always feel like a judgement!). As an observee, you could select one area of your teaching you want to improve and ask the observer to only focus on that. This is particularly important for audio/video observations, where the data can be overwhelming if there isnt a focus. For example, you might choose to look at task set-up or the balance of attention you give to all of the students in the class. Its good to have a fixed question, such as How efficient were my instructions? Did the students understand what they were supposed to do? There are a lot of examples in chapter 7 of Jack C. Richards The Language Teaching Matrix (1990). The purpose of the observation will also determine whether a formal plan is needed. An alternative to producing an extended plan

What next?

The most important part of an observation is feedback. Whether given by a senior member of staff, a peer, or yourself, it should be constructive and supportive. While critical feedback may be necessary at times, it should also be accompanied by suggestions on how to improve. Follow-ups to observation could include: 11 recommended reading/watching, like books, articles, blogs or webinars; 11 an observation plan, either of the observee being observed again, or of suggestions for other teachers they could watch; 11 action research, with the observee being helped to put together some experiments to try in the classroom to improve their [instruction giving/listening teaching] based on the observation.


Special interest columns However you decide to observe and be observed, dont forget that its a learning process. We all have off-days, and sometimes they coincide with observation days, but you can always learn something new. Good luck!

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Harmer, Jeremy (2007) The Practice of English Language Teaching (4th edition), Pearson Longman Richards, Jack C. (1990) The Language Teaching Matrix, Cambridge University Press

Sandy Millin is currently DoS at IH Sevastopol. Before that, she taught at IH Brno and IH Newcastle, as well as in Paraguay and Borneo. She is interested in making professional development available to everyone, and to that end is an active member of the online ELT community, with three blogs and a Twitter account for teaching:

Digital storytelling
By Shaun Wilden
Once upon a time a teacher said to his class, Ok, for homework I want you to write a story and the class groaned but that was once upon a time!
Digital storytelling has become a very popular activity in education. Defined on the digital storytelling website (1) as the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories, stories can be created by using a mixture of media including photos, text, audio recording and video. With the growth of mobile technology, the tools for digital storytelling are quite literally in the hands of the student. Its obvious why digital storytelling is so popular in language classes. A class story can give both the students and the teacher the opportunity to embrace the 4Cs of 21st-century education (2); collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking. Storytelling has long been a means of getting students to produce work in English. Technology, in particular mobile technology, has just created a way to make it easier and perhaps given students the chance to be more creative. Tech users often refer to Puenteduras SAMR model (3) when evaluating technology use and digital storytelling is a tasktype where technology creates the possibility for task redefinition.


Special interest columns There are many blogs written about digital storytelling and potentially hundreds of apps (4) that can be used in or out of the classroom. Any app where you can record sound or use of photos can be used for storytelling such as 30hands and Movenote (5) Students can narrate a story by using photos they have taken. They can produce the story in groups which is great is you dont have a device for everyone. A simple project would be to get the students to plan and tell a story based around a given number of photos. Firstly, they plan the story, then decide the photos they would need and the next step would be to take the photos before (re)planning and recording their stories. Then share the stories with the whole class and follow up as necessary i.e. for listening and language development. Collaborative projects such as storytelling are a great way of dealing with mixed ability classes by giving those whose skills might not be language the chance to shine. The project above is an example of this as it calls for photos thus tapping into the skills of the budding photographer and the apps I mention later on tap into artistic talents such as drawing and design even more. Therefore, the better stories are likely to be from those groups that have drawn on the talents of the group as a whole, not just the linguists. Such projects will to be motivating for all students and youll find that rather than having to teach the language, you may find your role changes and youre advising and helping students frame their thoughts and dealing with language as it emerges as they put together a story instead. However, before embarking on storytelling projects, it might be an idea to have a lesson that focuses on what makes a good story. Most websites on the topic refer to the seven elements that are vital for digital storytelling which include, point of view through to pacing. One way to introduce these elements would be using this video on youtube (6) and discussing whether the chosen soundtrack for it is apt or not. The digital story website (7) suggests that in education we should also add purpose, choice of content and good language as elements to consider. So, whether you chose to focus on the initial seven or the ten elements, they can be used as guidelines for post-story evaluation

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Apart from just using photos and voice, there are apps that allow for an even more multimedia approach to storytelling. These apps add the typed word and the possibility of creating drawings rather than just using photos. You could use these apps for longer projects with the end result being book-like creations. You can even use them to encourage school storywriting competitions. However, bear in mind that such apps tend to be for iOS devices rather than Android. One such app is Storykit.(8). It is free to download and works on iphone, ipad and ipod (though you might need to look in iphone apps to find it in itunes). The app has some classic stories in it that can be edited or remixed by the user. However, you can also create your own stories by typing, drawing , uploading photos and adding audio (either as a narration or a sound effect to augment part of the story). The photo below shows how they all fit together to create a page of the story.

A potential disadvantage when comparing it to similar apps is that the only way to share the work is through Storykits own site. You upload your finished work and it sends you a link that you can share. While this might be seen as


Special interest columns limiting, it does mean that students dont have to create accounts to use the app. There is, however, an app that allows you to share in different ways its called book creator. The finished work can be printed, emailed, converted to pdf, opened in various apps and even put on ibooks. As it is very easy to share it means that students work has a real audience; not just the teacher although unfortunately its not free (though you can download a free version to try it out and make one story). As with Storykit you can type, draw, upload photos and add audio but the layout is more sophisticated.

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to fit your students needs, your syllabus and the time you have available. Digital storytelling will not make everyone live happily ever after but after completing their first story, you may well see smiles on your students faces THE END If you and your class do make digital stories, share the links with me and Ill include them in a future column.

1. 2. our needs and accounts for 3. 4. 5. For an extensive list of apps see http:// 6. 30Hands works on iOS. Movenote works on both iOS and Android. 7. watch?v=a1f-_FXgJZM 8. page.cfm?id=27&cid=27&sublinkid=31 9. storykit/id329374595?mt=8 10.

This multimodal approach to writing is clearly a step up from the written stories we once asked our students to do. Its more creative you can incorporate speaking, listening and writing practice as well and gives a clear context for collaborative and creative work. The range of apps means you can make a storytelling project

Shaun Wilden has been involved in English language teaching for over twenty years. He is currently the International House World Organisation Teacher Training Coordinator. He also maintains several online teaching sites including and is interested in the application of technology to teaching. He is a moderator of the twitter #eltchat group which meets every Wednesday to discuss issues and ideas in ELT and membership secretary of the IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG. Feel free to follow him @shaunwilden or read his blog ( When not sitting at a computer, Shaun enjoys growing food in his garden and then cooking it.


Special interest columns

IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

30 things to enhance your teaching?

By Lizzie Pinard
To celebrate my 30th birthday (18/06/2013), I made an attempt to identify 30 thingsthat Id incorporated into my professional practice over the preceding year. 30 is quite a large number, but having spent an academic year at Leeds Metropolitan University learning vast amounts while tackling the Delta integrated into an MA ELT, thought I should be able to pinpoint any number of things and by doing so, it would reinforce them in my mind as well has creating a record to look back on. Despite the nal length of that blog post, each of the 30 items was only briey treated. In this column, I revisit that blog post, selecting items and expanding on them.

Spoken English and storytelling

What is the difference between how we say things and how we write them?
Spoken grammar is closely linked with how language in conversation is co-constructed and context-dependent. An interesting example of this is the use of though. In spoken English it is often used as part of an exchange and very differently from how it would be used in written English, e.g:S1:Mmm, lovely food!S2:Bit spicy though. Sometimes it is not even necessary for S1 to produce the first part of such an exchange, if this is implicitly understood by both speakers.(After I learnt about how though is used in spoken language, from Dr. Timmis of Leeds Metropolitan University, I listened out for use of it, both mine and others, and found it really interesting because until then I never realised how often I used or heard it!). It could be argued that we still tend to expect learners to learn to speak written English. Of course, it may not be useful or relevant for learners to study features of native speaker spoken grammar, but for others, learning about it, at least on a receptive level, could go a long way towards making the spoken English they hear in an English-speaking environment less opaque and more comprehensible to them. In addition to its grammatical features, spoken language can be analysed in terms of its generic features. Indeed, analysis of the generic features of casual conversation is a fascinating area of study. For example, storytelling, described by Thornbury and Slade (2006:168) as a universal

This depends on the kind of speaking and the kind of writing under discussion. A preplanned speech may have much in common with a piece of writing on the same topic, in terms of sentence complexity, choice of vocabulary and lack of redundancy, while a casual conversation dealing with the same topic will be very different, showcasing features specific to spoken language, such as spoken discourse markers and structure (co-construction by participants who use a multitude of strategies to shape the direction of the discourse and to cope with the demands of real-time communication). We have moved beyond considering spoken English to be a poor relation of written English, indeed Eggins and Slade (1997:6) explain that despite its sometimes aimless appearance and apparently trivial content, casual conversation is, in fact, a highly structured, functionally motivated, semantic activity, but how does this translate into the ELT classroom? This is further complicated by the rise of the Internet and use of email and social media where written language closely resembles spoken language down to the use of emoticons to compensate for the absence of the paralinguistic information used in face-to-face exchanges and written equivalents of the sounds we use to show interest, confusion, dislike etc.


Special interest columns human activity, is a very common feature of casual conversation, used for building and maintaining relationships and constructing identity. Eggins and Slade (1997) divide this genre into four sub-genres: narrative, anecdote, exemplum and recount, each of which exhibits different mixtures of Labovs (1972) six possible narrative stages (abstract, orientation, complication,evaluation, resolution and coda). Of the four sub-genres, anecdotes are the most commonly told. Often, when we teach storytelling, we tend to focus on the role of the storyteller and the chunks of language a learner needs in order to frame their story. However, a neglected yet very important role in the telling of stories is that of the listener. This involves responding to what is being recounted through the use of supportive noises or language called back-channels. Storytellers are sensitive to listener response, using it to gauge understanding and interest in what is being recounted. Absence of this type of response can be awkward and uncomfortable, leaving the storyteller uncertain as to whether they should proceed or not with their tale. Therefore, as well as helping learners by teaching them structural features of anecdotes and the chunks of language typically used to realise this, the importance of evaluative language and nonlinguistic devices, e.g. gesture, intonation, pace; it is also important to teach them how to listen supportively to English.

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You could make a concordance that provides learners with concentrated illustrations of the use and function of your chosen features. Whether or not learners will then want to experiment with production of such features will depend on your context and learner needs. To help learners improve at storytelling; both as speaker and as interlocutor, you could use an activity that Jones (2001) describes, which involves the production of two versions of an anecdote. One version should be bare of all structural language, evaluative devices and listener interaction, while the other should include them. Learners can be guided to notice the differences between the two versions and discuss the effect that these features have on a story. Useful chunks can be identified and recorded, and activities using these can be devised. You could give learners a bare anecdote and ask them to work together to write in examples of a given feature or selection of features. Or, as a colleague of mine did for her Materials Development module assignment, you could find an example of a written anecdote and get a friend to record a spoken version, having done some experiential activities with the original text, for learners to compare with the written text. In terms of response tokens, helping learners contrast their own language with English may help them avoid negative transfer of potentially inappropriate responses. For example, a typical Spanish active listening response si, si, si, translated directly as yes, yes, yes could imply impatience, while the French response bien sur (of course) might imply arrogance. Thus, transferal of these would be a pragmatic error (OKeeffe et al., 2007:157). Awareness of common tokens, and use of intonation, is relevant across spoken genres, not restricted to storytelling, and therefore could be a valuable use of time. Again, you may want to limit the features you focus on within a single lesson, to avoid overwhelming learners. If you are interested in spoken language, I recommend reading Timmis (2005, 2012)

How can I use this knowledge in the classroom?

To raise learners awareness of features of spoken language, in terms of its grammar and structure, select a course book dialogue (e.g. one you have already used with your learners) and rewrite it so that it includes features of spoken grammar (spoken discourse markers, hesitation, redundancy, spoken grammar and response tokens) Or alternatively, ask a colleague to help you make an alternative recording, based on the same premise and see which features come up naturally! Learners can compare your recording or doctored transcript with the original and identify the differences. Having identified the differences, you could then select just one or two features to focus on, to avoid completely overwhelming learners.


Special interest columns and McCarthy and Carter (1995). For learning about storytelling and other features of casual conversation, I would highly recommend reading Eggins and Slade (1997) and/or

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Thornbury and Slade (2006)even if you dont want to use their theory in your teaching, they both make fascinating reading!

Jones, R. A consciousness-raising approach to the teaching of conversational storytelling in ELTJ volume 55/2. Oxford University Press. Oxford. 2001. McCarthy and Carter (1995)Spoken Grammar: What is it and how can we teach it?in ELTJ vol. 49/3 Oxford University Press. OKeeffe, A., McCarthy, M. and Carter, R. From Corpus to Classroom. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. 2007. Thornbury S. and Slade D. Conversation: From Description to Pedagogy. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. 2006. Timmis, I. (2005)Towards a framework for teaching spoken grammarin ELTJ vol. 59/2 Oxford University Press. Timmis, I. (2012)Spoken language research and ELT: Where are we now?in ELTJ vol. 66/4 Oxford University Press

Lizzie Pinard recently completed her MA in English Language Teaching with integrated DELTA at Leeds Metropolitan University and is now working at International House in Palermo. As well as teaching and experimenting, she enjoys making learning materials, doing classroom research, writing (blog posts, book reviews, this column, you name it!) and presenting at conferences.



IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Motivating Learning by Jill Hadfield and Zoltn Drnyei

Reviewed by Danny Norrington-Davies, IH London

Motivation is often cited as a reason for success or failure in L2 learning and for many teachers motivating their learners is one of the toughest jobs they face. Though academic study has explored these issues in some depth, motivational strategies are rarely included in course designs and there have been few resources for the language classroom specically designed to create and strengthen motivation. This is where Jill Hadeld and Zoltn Drnyeis Motivating Learning comes in.
In 2005, Drnyei proposed the L2 Motivational Self System, a construct he divided into three components; the Ideal L2 self, the Ought-to L2 self and the L2 Learning Experience. He claimed that If the person we would like to become speaks an L2, the ideal L2 self is a powerful motivator to learn the L2 (2010). In short, if students have an inspiring vision of what they can become, they will be motivated to work towards achieving it. Motivating Learning therefore explores how the various components of the theory can be structured into a teaching sequence which puts the theory to the test by putting it into practice. The result is a resource with practical activities and projects that teachers can use not only to motivate their learners but also to monitor and sustain that motivation. As in previous books in the Research and Resources in Language Teaching series, part I reviews current research into the L2 Motivational Self system and discusses implications for classroom practice. In this section, the authors discuss how the motivational capacity of a learners vision is not automatic and will only become active once certain conditions are met. This leads the authors to propose a motivational programme divided into six components; creating the vision, strengthening the vision, substantiating the vision, operationalising the vision, keeping the vision alive and counterbalancing the vision. These research outcomes feed into classroom practice in part II, which contains 98 practical activities. The first chapter, entitled Imaging Identity: my future L2 self is designed to encourage learners to create and map visions of their L2 selves and to enable them to monitor and keep their visions alive. I particularly liked the authentic examples of L2 future-self texts which can be used to encourage learners to write their own. I also liked the way that later activities act as a form of reality check, suggesting that a desired vision is meaningless unless it is achievable. Therefore, students are encouraged to discuss what is and is not achievable before they create a final vision of their future L2 self. Where the first chapter in part II is more affective and imaginative and includes the use of visualisation and relaxation techniques, the second chapter, Mapping the Journey is more concrete and practical. The idea here is for learners to use their visions to create short and long term goals that are realistic, attainable and precisely specified. For example, students can align their goals with a syllabus, consider self-study strategies, outline ways to monitor


Reviews progress and share ideas on how to study effectively. To facilitate this, the book uses different techniques and task types such as brainstorming, questionnaires, ranking activities and checklists. There are also suggestions on how the classroom activities can be integrated with homework and self-study plans. Part 3 then offers suggestions as to how the activities can be integrated into a syllabus or used alone. The writers also explore how the materials can be applied to different age groups, proficiencies and learning contexts. The final section then completes the cycle by returning to research and making suggestions for professional development projects and action research. This is designed not only to improve quality but to address possible challenges teachers face and to encourage them to contribute to the literature on the L2 Motivational Self-System. Along with the integrated skills work and the impressive range of activity types, the future research angle is one of the most interesting

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aspects of this book. Motivating Learning does not position itself as a resource with all the answers but one that sets out to help teachers find them. Though I feel it would particularly suit teachers working with students over an extensive period, I believe that material from the initial chapters would work well to inspire learners on short courses to think about what they can achieve and how they might get there. On longer courses however, we would be able to find out if they do. This knowledge would make Motivating Learning an extremely useful resource. Lets see what the future holds.

Drnyei, Z. (2005) The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition research. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Drnyei, Z. (2010) Researching Motivation: from integrativeness to the ideal learner self. In Hunston S. & D. Oakley (eds.) Introducing applied linguistics. Concepts and skills. London: Routledge

The Company Words Keep by Paul Davis and Hanna Kryszewska

Delta Publishing

Reviewed by Dan Cornford, IH Valladolid

Twenty years after Michael Lewis popularised lexical chunking in The Lexical Approach, Paul Davis and Hanna Kryszewska take the lexical chunk and corpus analysis as the basis for their impressive addition to the Delta Teacher Development Series, The Company Words Keep. In the introduction, Kryszewska poses the question Does a new language description have to result in new methodology? In this book, the authors put forward a convincing argument for the affirmative answer in the case of a lexical approach to language teaching.
As with other Delta publications, The Company Words Keep is divided into three sectionsPart A gives a sound theoretical foundation for the methodology, Part B provides a plethora of teaching ideas which take the lexical chunk as their starting point, while Part C focuses on teacher development, encouraging reflection and further research. In the opening pages, Davis and Kryszewska give a concise and readable justification for the book, not only defining chunking in detail but


Reviews also relating the approach to language learning and teaching, the learner and materials. Useful side notes direct the reader to specific activities in Part B which build on the theory being discussed. A comprehensive glossary of terms is also provided. The authors cast their net wide with discussions on learner training, awareness-raising, course book adaptation, ESP, EAP, exam classes and authentic materials. Reassuringly, Part B backs up the broad scope of the opening chapter with over a hundred different activities spread across five sections: In the beginning, In the coursebook, In action (consolidation and practice of chunking), In authentic contexts and In data (working with online resources to promote learner autonomy). Each activity comes with detailed information on purpose, preparation, procedure, extension ideas and connections to other tasks in the book. While many are designed as stand-alone activities, several can be bolted on to existing teaching ideas and classroom routines to exploit resources for more language. While the focus is always on lexical chunking, the activities undoubtedly develop speaking, listening, reading and (to a lesser extent) writing skills as well. However, most activities (bar those in the In the beginning section) make a central assumption: that both teacher and students are familiar with and are comfortable manipulating and talking about chunks. If this is not the case, I fear many otherwise excellent teaching ideas may fall flat. To take one example, Listening for chunks requires students to listen to a song and write down any chunks they hear. Not only is this a challenging listening task, but it also assumes a detailed understanding of chunking before the activity starts. Other activities seem rather decontextualised and would require significantly more work to clarify the meanings of quite random lists of language chunks.

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Whilst the inclusion of ideas for use with authentic materials and online resources is valuable, some of the later activities feel less focused on learning and using chunks and more on cultural awareness and entertainment. For example, I would question the value of knowing whether the chunk Christmas Day has more hits on Google than Christmas Eve in the Fight for culture activity, while some of the ideas based on novels, songs and films seem to require an unrealistic amount of preparation. However, overall this is an impressive bank of varied activities and the majority of which I can imagine including in my classes. Finally, Part C encourages the teacher to reflect on their own knowledge of chunking, on their lessons, and on their learners by asking thoughtful questions designed to get teachers thinking about chunking on both a practical and theoretical level. It also provides a helpful list of online resources and a bibliography which encourage further reading and research. By including the theoretical background to the proposed methodology as well as an intelligent focus on professional development, The Company Words Keep avoids being just another resource book. To get the most out of the book, teachers should perhaps take time to read the opening and closing sections as well as to sift through the myriad of interesting activities to find what will work best for their learners. A Guardian article in March 2013 by Leo Selivan asked why the lexical approach has been so long in comingThe Company Words Keep will certainly aid its progress.

References: mar/26/leixical-approach-revolution



IH Journal Issue 35 Autumn 2013

Comparing ELT online dictionaries

Reviewed by Diana England, IH Torres Vedras

Look at how the denition of the word dictionary has changed in just six years: that gives a list of words in alphabetical order and explains what they mean. . that lists words in one language and gives translations in another. (Macmillan English Dictionary 2007) which provides information about words and their meanings, uses, and pronunciations. A dictionary may be published as a printed book, or as a and it may be monolingual, bilingual, or multilingual. (Macmillan Online Dictionary) (my italics). With the rise in the use and reach of the Internet, learners are increasingly less likely to thumb through a dictionary than they are to click through an online dictionary when they need to clarify the meaning and use of a word or phrase. Indeed, Macmillan announced last year that it had printed its last paper version of its dictionary, in favour of a free online version. I was interested to find out what major international publishers were offering in this respect, and to that end I have created a

checklist of features which may help teachers and learners assess the suitability of some free online dictionaries, both in terms of quantity and quality of content. In a highly unscientific study, I compared the following five publishers free versions of online dictionaries: 11 Cambridge Dictionaries Online http:// learner-english/ 11 Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 11 Macmillan Dictionary http://www. 11 Merriam Webster Dictionary http://www. 11 Oxford Dictionaries http://www. By using the following questions and looking up the following words: thorough drive put up with over the moon press release economy rainfall sincerely


Reviews 1. Are the definitions clear and straightforward for intermediate learners to understand? 2. How are the meanings and example sentences organised? 3. Do the entries offer authentic, helpful and easy-to-substitute illustrative sentences? 4. Do they give related collocations / synonyms / idioms? 5. Do they give alternative spellings? 6. Do they give information about the part of speech of the word? 7. Are the symbols used to denote extra grammatical information about the word easy to interpret? 8. Is it easy to find other words from the same word family? 9. Do the entries indicate level of formality or register? 10. Can you see the phonemic transcription of the word? 11. Can you hear the pronunciation of the word? In British English? American English? Both? 12. Are there other resources that learners can use? What are they? 13. Are the dictionaries easy to use and navigate? 14. Is it attractive and easy on the eye? And here are the results of my unempirical study: 11 Cambridge Dictionaries Online dictionary/learner-english/ There are various online versions of their range of dictionaries, and I chose the Learners Dictionary as this is aimed at Intermediate level learners. As soon as you type in the word you are researching, a drop-down menu of possible words within the same word family or other derivatives appears, making it easy to select the appropriate option. Clicking on this word opens up the dictionary entry, which is attractive and easy to read, as the word itself, its part of speech, pronunciation (which you can hear in both British and American English), definition and example sentences have been picked out in different colours, fonts and font sizes. Certain grammatical terms which are

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glossed in the print version do not appear to be explained in the online version (such as I or T for intransitive and transitive) so this type of valuable information may go over some learners heads. The definitions and illustrative sentences would be readily accessible to intermediate learners, and I liked the fact that there was some additional information, such as sincerely being formal, two collocations were offered for rainfall (monthly and heavy), and that over the moon is a British idiom. I couldnt see that there were any direct links to the Cambridge Thesaurus, so I was not able to access synonyms for the words. For those learners on the move, the Cambridge online dictionaries are also available as apps. 11 Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English There are some elements of this dictionary that make it very accessible for learners: the features of parts of speech, pronunciation, definition, example sentences and so forth appear in different colours, the font size is suitably large and the entry pages are in general (given the ubiquitous ads) well-formatted. Additionally, grammatical terminology is not abbreviatedindeed, it is clearly explainedso learners do not have to guess what C might meanit clearly says countable, and there is some additional information, such as that thorough does not normally appear before a noun. A list of head words annotated with various parts of speech and collocations helps guide the learner towards the precise word and meaning they are looking for, and there is a section of related word families in some cases. In two cases, however, my search did not produce any results: for put up with and over the moon. And unless the word you are looking up begins with the letter D or S (!), you wont be able to hear the pronunciation; for this, youll need to buy the CD-ROM version. 11 Macmillan Dictionary This dictionary is very easy to navigate from one part of its website to another. For example, in order to see synonyms or related words, you can click on a red T button, which takes you


Reviews straight through to the Thesaurus. The various features of a word entry are in four different colours, against a clean white background, making for easy reading. It is also easy to select the correct option you wish to research and, having selected this, the definitions and illustrative sentences are well within reach of an intermediate level learner. Where appropriate, the entries also provided examples of idioms or other phrases including the word, such as a false economy. Whilst only British pronunciation is available, there are some other really useful resources: an irregular verb wheel game, phrasal verb games and various wordsearches which allow learners to have fun while learning. 11 Merriam Webster Dictionary This dictionary will be of particular interest to those students learning American English. The drop-down menu of words is quick and easy to use as a starting point to get to the exact word the learner wants (for example, to decide which form of drive) and the terminology is clear and easy to understand. At first glance, the entries appear well-organised, with a list of definitions of the word in order from most to less frequently used. However, all illustrative examples of these meanings come at the end of the section of definitions, making for somewhat disjointed reading. That said, these sentences are very accessible to even a lower intermediate learner and there is additional information on synonyms, antonyms and a translation into Spanish if you are so minded! Connected to this site are some vocabulary and spelling quizzes

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and intriguing Top 10 Listssome of which are rather arcane, but interesting nonetheless. Finally, there is a free app of the dictionary available for download. 11 Oxford Dictionaries This is least visually attractive of the five online dictionaries in this review. All text is in grey against admittedly soothing pastel green and blue, but it makes it difficult to pick out different sections and headwords. The illustrative sentences are clear and easy to understand. The information on the origin of the words may be of marginal interest to language learners (although did you know that over the moon comes from the nursery rhyme from the line the cow jumped over the moon?), but it was the only dictionary that pointed out a warning regarding possible confusion between thorough and through (the very reason I had selected this word). It provides translations of words into French, German Italian or Spanish, and includes phrases or idioms where the word is included. Whilst, as in all the dictionaries reviewed, the phonemic script is provided, there is no audio available for learners to listen to and imitate. However, there is a Spelling Challenge 2.0 game, where learners can listen to words and try to spell them. There are also some word puzzles , crosswords and other games. A word of warning: with all of these free versions, the entries are surrounded by rather irritating horizontal and vertical ads, which can be muted, but someone considering using this version frequently may well wish to install an ad blocker, such as