IATEFL Glasgow Online

Posted on February 29, 2012. Filed under: ELT Sites, Training |

Glasgow Online

I will be attending the IATEFL conference in Glasgow in a few weeks time. I will be presenting my research on lexis and the outcomes of an article I wrote on Lexical Notebooks (the link is at the top of the page).

Some teachers from Brazil will be going and some will be helping online. I hope you can jion us at least online and we’ll try and keep everyone updated on what is happening.

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Is Second Language Learning is Dyslexia?

Posted on September 18, 2010. Filed under: Training | Tags: , , , |

In a recent private class my student told me my explanation about his learning difficulties was the same explanation for people who have dyslexia

Now, I’m no expert on how the brain works but have read my fair share of papers on cognitive linguistics for my research in vocabulary teaching and acquisition. But this comparison between learning a second language and dyslexia came up after my student was explaining about his work with attention deficit disorders. He holds a PHD in this area and has specialised in children (he is a specialist in cognitive paediatrics) with types of disorders such as ADHD, dyslexia, hyperactivity etc for 12 years.
His Emglish level he believes is intermediate but I would place him nearer to basic. This  came up after his complaint came as I was listening to him speak about the drug Ritalin. At times he could not express the word he wanted in English and reverted to his native Portuguese. Each time he did this I would allow him some time to see if he could think of the word in English before writing down and pronounce the word he could not say. At one point he expressed his frustration by explaining that he always knew the word I had translated for him but could not express it.

I reassured him (as I´m a nice guy) and explained that during his studies and reading he had received valuable input from his study of research papers in his area but had not formed a bridge by not making conscious and cognitive decisions, such as noticing, to link this input to output. I explained that my job was to build this bridge and offer him opportunities to make this rich information he had already acquired available for output.

I used a metaphor of having to islands one which was called Input and the other Output which we needed to link together. My student then suddenly smiled and turned around and said that this is the explanation he would use if he were explaining dyslexia. He joked that he was now dyslexic when studying English.

I asked him to explain in Portuguese at the end of the class and I explained in more detail what I had understood between the difference between 1st and 2nd language differences. As the cognitive understanding of learning a second language is still a relatively new field we still need to understand how our brains work in processing information but that in fact, there might already be information out there somewhere in a field which is becoming more and more relevant to our work as teachers in dealing with behavioural disorders.

Could the processes found by students who have Dyslexia be one way of understanding our adult student’s difficulties in progressing? Is dyslexia not about difficulty in reading but difficulty processing the information to understand and use?

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The Teaching Sensation

Posted on July 28, 2010. Filed under: My Portfolio, Training |

I was giving a training session to a group of teachers on presenting and practicing language. We got round to practicing concept questions and I remembered when I did this how difficult it was at first and now, how natural it has become and each time so rewarding.

At the end of the trainees´ presentation, I found myself explaining what an exhilarating effect you can have when you know the student really know what you have taught and they confirm this to you. When you have checked the concept and notice how well the students respond and are clear of what they have just covered in class. It can send shivers in me when this happens and it feels me with immense pride when the students really know you have ‘taught’ them something they did not know before. I think they are also proud of themselves too.

It then made me wonder how many young and new teachers miss this essential part of the class completely. It is because they rely too much on the course book which cannot explain or teach them about this important classroom concept or teachers don´t even know the importance of checking what the students have done. Not only do the students not get an efficiently managed lesson but also teachers miss out on this fantastic sensation. It is this feeling that can drive the teacher and keep them motivated If they don´t even know how to teach this important part of the lesson they can soon become disenchanted and start to burnt out.

I noticed this change recently in two of my teachers who had come back from doing their CELTAs. They suddenly found this new sensation they did not have before and it was as if they had learnt a new language and we could communicate because we shared the same motivational experience. I watched their classes and they had at last understood the importance of taking time to plan the most important parts of their lessons such as giving instructions and concept checking.

I could see that when they carried these parts of the lesson out they had changed and know I could put my finger on what it was when I spoke to the trainees. These two teachers could clearly see what they were doing and achieved their objectives well with a positive and constant student response. It is a shame that many teachers can´t see this importance and never feel the difference it makes not only to their learners but to their own esteem as they miss or even ignore concept questions or good instructions. They miss the classroom synergy it can cause.

I explained it to the trainees as the sensation you feel in your heart when something goes well and you mutually feel this connection with the students. I may seem a bit far-fetched but I think it is true. The students all start ‘singing the same tune’ so to speak, and you know you have their confidence and the learning process is made easy.

There are fewer better teaching experiences.


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Fun Activities for Cambridge (1)

Posted on July 25, 2010. Filed under: ABCI 2010, Activities, CAE, CPE, FCE, Training |

Opening Warmer – Word Transformation for Use of English

This is an excellent introduction on the first day to the word transformation exercise.

Materials – Pieces if small squared paper

Note this activity uses the students knowledge and helps you see who may have been placed incorrectly. It also can be done with sufixes, which I do after this game, but here I will explain with prefixes.


A. Preparation

Before class write different a suffix on each piece of paper. Different Cambridge exams will demand different prefixes with CPE being the most advanced (of course) but for FCE you could use:









TIP: Look at the word transformation section of the Cambridge exam practice papers to get an idea of the prefixes you´ll need

Now number each preffix beforehand unless you may get in a mess

B. The Classroom

  1. Now split your class into 3 or 3 students depending on the size you have ( you could do it in pairs but a minimum of 3 is much better.
  2. Now assign one student to write.
  3. Now present the task
  4. Write the word manage on the board
  5. Ask students if they know the suffix (they may say manag(er) or maneg(ment)
  6. Now ask them what the prefix is and hopefully they´ll say ‘miss-‘
  7. Now make sure the Ss realise these are siffixes and prefixes and in the Use of English they will have to transform words using these. Tell them they are going to work with prefixes. The prefixes MUST modify a root word (such as manage)
  8. Now hand the first prefixes (they must be different) to each group. Now tell Ss you are going to give them 1 minute to write down any words.In groups Ss must tell the person writing as many words as possible. Why is it important that the groups have different prefixes? because they could overhear words from other groups and copy so again… make sure the prefixes are different.
  9. Now after one minute…. go to the first group and give them a new prefix. Then take their prefix and give it to the next group and then do the same with this group i.e. remove their prefix and give it to the next group. So you are introducing one new prefix and giving the other groups a new prefix but one the previous group has already done.
  10. Keep doing this by introducing a new prefix after one minute. Timing MUST be strict as it is more fun under pressure. You´ll notice why numbering the papers is imprtant here.
  11. At the end give the learners 2 extra minutes to go through their list of words.
  12. After 2 minutes swap the lists of each group. Then another group can check their work

C. Checking

  1. Now the teacher selects a prefix, for example ‘im-‘
  2. Now ask the groups to check their ‘new’ list and say how many ‘im-‘ worsds the other group have.
  3. Here you can clarify language doubts but the group with the highest list wins. be carfeul here in managing this. You may have 4 groups and you don´t have time to here all of the words from each of the groups so just listen to the longest list and if this is still the most compared to the other groups. They win.
  4. Allocate a point (on the board) for each time a groups gets the most words correct with each prefix.
  5. The group who gets the most point wins.
  6. Be ready with a prize.

I give ‘the super shaun smile’ but this is another story

Now they learners can do an exercise from the test or book

Have fun and comment if anything is not clear


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CPE Reading Material

Posted on October 3, 2008. Filed under: Saturday CPE, Training | Tags: , |

Excellent and cheap books are regularly produced by the British Council.  I suggest the New Writing series of books .Instead of the classics it would be better you read modern writing by different authors around the words

You can by them online for next to nothing at Amazon

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Web 2 Teachers workshop

Posted on March 7, 2008. Filed under: EVO, Training |

On 11th march 2008 some teachers from my school got together to talk about using web tools. Each have different experiences about using internet tools and we shared our knowledge.

Here are the links to the videos we used:-

Web 2 from Graham Stanley

Please note: Graham will be at Braz-TESOL 2008 in July

 Blogs in ESL/EFL

 Asa Sul, Cultura Inglesa, Wikispace

Blogging with WordPress

 The machine is us.

How to set up a podcast from Webheads  EVO course

These can be used by teachers who were not on thw workshop and the last link( the EVO course) has much more information about web 2 tools than I could ever be given in a workshop session. I did the course and it was great.

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