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The Interview Round

29 Feb

Job interviews are fun things to prepare learners for.  A colleague and I once prepared a student for a job interview as a hotel receptionist by sitting her in the director’s office and making spurious phone calls to her in a variety of comedy accents with demands ranging from the mundane (clean towels) to the ridiculous (arranging a private jet to pick the children up from school).  I never found out whether it helped her or not….

More recently, my FCE class did a module on the working world and to finish it off we did a job interview task.  It went really well.  They really enjoyed it, there was loads of great language and some truly brilliant questions which, given that they are teenagers with no experience of the job market, made me very happy.  So I thought I’d share it!

Image credit: Pixabay

Image credit: Pixabay

I divided the class into two groups.  Group A were the interviewers and Group B the interviewees.

Group A worked collaboratively to decide which jobs they were interviewing for and what questions they would ask.  Each interviewer had to recruit for a different job, so we had John recruiting for an astrophysicist and Mary recruiting for a babysitter and Anne for a stage prompter.

Group B worked collaboratively to think of what kind of qualities and experience might help them to get different types of jobs and to think of questions to ask about the terms and conditions, working hours etc.

The key is that Group B doesn’t know what jobs they are interviewing for, so group A have to keep it a secret!

In the interview stage, group A were sat separately around the edges of the room and paired off with someone from group B.  Each pair had two or three minutes to interview / be interviewed and then the students from group B rotated to the next interviewer.

At the end of the activity, Group A got back together and decided which candidates they would hire for their job – and they had to hire someone, so there was a bit of additional negotiation going on there!  Group B had to work out which interviewer was interviewing for which job – piecing it together from clues obtained during the process.

Because of time constraints, I stopped the interview process about two thirds of the way through, so that everybody had only spoken to about four or five other people.  I think that also worked quite well because it added a bit more of a jigsaw element to working out the final task.  I also liked that the interviewees had more of a task to do than just compare questions, which is a problem I’ve come across in the past.

Try it out yourself and let me know how it goes – or if you have any variations on the theme?

 

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Getting to know you: teaching on and offline

15 Feb

I have mixed feelings about Getting to Know you tasks in real world teaching.  I do use them, but it really depends on the class, their age and ability.  For example, if you walk into a corporate client, where all your students have worked together for years, the only person who’s a stranger is you – the teacher.  Many of my real world classes have come up through the levels together and they all know each other for the most part and this is why what I tend to do in my first lessons is more about rapport building than “Getting to know you” per se.

So with that caveat in mind…  when I do feel the need to introduce myself I often use the True False Sentences about teacher routine: e.g. I give the class the following information (or dictate it, depending on age & ability):

  1. I’m Canadian.
  2. I’m 28 years old.
  3. I’m married and I have a young daughter (called Gillian).
  4. I have been a teacher for five years.
  5. I lived in Poland for two years.
  6. I speak Chinese.
  7. My favourite football team is AC Milan.
  8. My favourite rock group is Pink Floyd.
  9. My ambition is to write a successful novel.
  10. My parents own five dogs.

The learners, in pairs, decide which are true and which are false and then ask me questions to ascertain the answers.

They then write their own list of true / false statements which are posted round the room and the other learners decide which are right and which are wrong.

Adapting this for an online environment is somewhat tricky as the interaction would largely be uni-directional (i.e. T-SSa / T-SSb / T-SSc etc) and probably not even that, because after all if you do this on an asynchronous board, you only need one person to ask the initial questions and then the answers are there for everyone else to read…

So to adapt….

Hmm.

You could turn the tables and rather than provide ten sentences, get participants to create their own list of ten true false sentences for you – though this makes the focus very teacher centered and defeats the purpose somewhat.

I think the best way to do it would be to ask participants to post one truth and one lie about each of the other participants on the course.  This would involve information discovery via private messaging and some degree of creativity and humour which would help to engender the right kind of atmosphere.  The people can respond to each other’s posts and say which they think is the truth or not.

I can see this getting very fragmented and unwieldy though.

So a possible variation might be to ask people to post two or three images, one of which should reflect something of importance in their lives and the other of which should not.  The rest of the group can then speculate on which things are more important to the poster or not.

However, this last one is the one I think I like most – it is relatively simple, introduces participants to a great online tool and should be (a) revealing (b) fun (c) easy.

  • Send participants to http://www.wordle.net/create
  • Ask them to cut and paste the contents of their CV into the wordle and click Go.
  • Suggest they play around with the formatting until they find something they like.
  • Get them to post the wordle image in the forums
  • Ask them to visit each others wordles and then make predictions about their lives based on the information they see there.
  • They can then also confirm or deny the predictions made about themselves

This has nothing to do with the original activity that I  thought of, but now that I’ve come up with it, I’m going to adapt it for use in the real world and try it with my next set of new classes!  This would be great for business groups!

Image credit: pixabay

Image credit: pixabay

Note:  I originally wrote this post as part of my training to tutor online, when I did the IHCOLT in 2o13.  I’m currently rationalising some of my other blog projects and migrating some of the content here rather than lose it entirely!

Earth Day – Online Teaching Resources

30 Mar

Earth Day 2012, where we consider our impact upon the planet and variously decide (a) to do something about it (b) gee that’s terrible but what can one person do? (c) It was like that when we got here – is almost upon us, falling due as it does on April 22nd of this year.

Predictably, there’s a wealth of teaching resources available to exploit with your students – here are some of the ones I’ve come across:

The Earth Day network website – http://www.earthday.org/ has a wealth of information, of particular interest to educators might be the “Green Schools” initiative (how to make your school greener) and the “Ecological footprint calculator” – though the number of countries the calculator works for is limited.  Their educators network has downloadable lesson plans (native speaker K-12) on most environmentally related topics.

The Great Green Web Game is probably suitable for younger learners (who won’t worry about the relative lack of sophistication) of intermediate level and above.  Learners answer questions to progress around the game board.  (Spotted on CristinaSkyBox).

Another younger learner resource comes via funschool which has various “Earth Day” related resources – though the language element present here is rather limited – check them out before using them in class!

Linda Starr & Gary Hopkins have collated a great range of resources for educators at Education World – these are aimed more at native speaker learners, so might need some adaptation for English Langauge learners, but there’s a lot of interesting looking stuff there that would be suitable across age ranges – and very suitable for anyone into CLiL.

A fantastic option for adults, particularly in the business sector is the Environmental CEO game:  CEO2.  In this one you take on the role of the CEO of a major corporation, working in either the insurance, automotive, chemical or power industries.  You’re presented with certain targets, balancing the needs and wants of a number of stakeholders and given a range of decisions to make in order to achieve these.  A certain amount of text, reading and analysis is required, I’d suggest B2 level learners and above should be fine with it.  (again – thanks to CristinaSkyBox for the spot)


National Geographic have a beta version of their education site up and running at the moment – including a teaching resources section that looks promising.  I found the navigation took a little getting used to, but the content seems spot on.  Again, aimed at native speakers, so probably more useful at higher levels than lower levels and probably better with teenagers rather than the younger learners.

The Best Earth Day Sites” is Larry Ferlazzo’s collection of Earth Day resources – a list he started work on in 2009 and which he updates annually.  There’s a lot there, all of which is accessible for English language learners.

Michelle Henry’s Earth Day resources is another great collection of lesson plans, interactive games, webquests and printables relating both to Earth Day and also to wider environmental issues.

The “Go Green!” section at Teach Children ESL has fantastic downloadable pdf flashcards, worksheets and activities, including an “Earth Day Poster” lesson plan which might be nice to use in the build up to Earth Day.

If you have, or if you know of, any related resources you think should be included in this list – why not leave a comment and let me know?

Cambridge English Teachers’ Competition 2012

24 Feb

If you help learners prepare for one of the Cambridge exams, then you might be interested in their new competition: Cambridge English Teachers’ Competition 2012.

All they want is one practical exam preparation idea, succinctly expressed in 300 words, for one of the following exams:

BEC (Preliminary, Vantage or Higher), ILEC, ICFE, YLE (Starters, Movers or Flyers), KET, PET, FCE.

Deadline for entries is April 16th 2012.

More details (including prizes!) from their website:  Cambridge English Teachers’ Competition 2012.

The Best Education Articles From “The Onion” | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

7 Feb

If you don’t know The Onion – you should take a look – it’s a satirical newspaper that sometimes hits the nail on the head.  It’s also a great source of articles for use with classes – the occasionally puerile sense of humour appeals to teenagers, whilst the (not always) sophisticated parodies of mainstream news events makes adults smile.  Also some great stuff for business English classes and I think they now have short videos which could be used for listening tasks.

Anyway – this was all prompted by a post from Larry Ferlazzo – The Best Education Articles From “The Onion” – with well – these are Larry’s picks for the best education related Onion material.  My favourite is the cost cutting decision to remove the past tense from school curricula….  after all – who needs to talk about yesterday?

English teaching: A Friday request | The Economist

10 Jan

Originally spotted on Simon Thomas’ efl-resource – it appears The Economist has become aware of it’s own potential in the ELT sphere!  They’re asking their readers, ELT professionals in particular, for their thoughts in how to make best use of Economist material in the classroom and how The Economist can help us to help our learners access their material.

Even if you don’t have any strong desire to contribute to the debate – it’s probably worth taking a look at the article and the comments section underneath it – lots of ideas from people about how they use The Economist!

English teaching: A Friday request | The Economist.

 

The World in 2012: Predict this!

3 Jan

It’s that time of year when the media maelstrom coalesces around a single topic – the future!  What’s going to happen in the next twelve months?  What can we all expect from the next year?  Will we face triumph or disaster?  And when we look back on it all in December, what will we have achieved?  And just how many “future forms” can you cram into a short paragraph anyway?

Rather than just asking your learners to “predict” the future, which let’s face it is difficult enough at the best of times, let alone in another language…  it’s probably best just to discuss the future for two reasons:  (1)  you immediately broaden out the number of possible “future forms” that you can focus on  (2)  you open things up to discussing the implications of events – so not only “what will happen?”  but also “and what does it all mean for us?”

Over at Slideshare, they’ve collated “12 presentations with predictions” which could form the basis of useful discussions (or comparisons with learner predictions?).  Their 12 presentations are aimed more at the business / tech crowd.  Probably not so good with younger learners

Here’s their top pick – Ross Dawson’s “What to expect in 2012”:

The Economist publishes an annual magazine “The World in … ” which is divided up by topic area and by geographic location.  This year’s copy has a lot of online content here: http://www.economist.com/theworldin/2012 – though some of it may be premium paid for content – check before using!

The biggest / oldest prediction concerning 2012 is of course the Mayan calendar:  for more info check out this wikipedia article.  Two further websites that focus specifically on the forthcoming end of the world that might be of interest (though I don’t vouch for their accuracy) are :  http://www.december2012endofworld.com/  and http://www.2012predictions.net/.

The BBC has a nice review of the best of the British Press predictions for 2012 here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16381278, while they include the thoughts of their top correspondents on the likely big stories of 2012 here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16071986

IATEFL BESIG – Lesson plan competition

22 Nov

Calling all Business English Teachers – this one’s for you!

The IATEFL BESIG, in conjunction with CUP’s Professional English Online website, are running a Lesson plan competition.

It’s open to all (as long as you haven’t had materials previously commercially published) and the deadline is 31st January 2012.

Thanks again to Cherry M. Philipose for sharing this on facebook.

 

 

Teaching Resources: Steve Jobs

7 Oct

It’s not until someone goes that you realise the impact they had on your life – Steve Jobs was one of those public figures who inspired belief and achievement in others.

One of my classes was asking if we could talk about Steve Jobs and his life, and clearly he meant a lot to a lot of people – so here are some resources that you can use with your learners.

The Guardian has a reader tribute interactive here: “Dear Steve, your products changed my life.”  They also have a photo slideshow featuring reactions from around the world.

Also from the Guardian, this page “Steve Jobs: the 10 best tributes“.

The Lexical Press Blog from the American TESOL institute has a comemorative lesson plan available here: http://americantesol.com/blogger/?p=366

Cecilia Lemos at Box of Chocolates has an obituary style lesson plan available here: http://cecilialcoelho.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/hot-off-the-press-an-activity-about-steve-jobs/

@MrTESOL tweeted this link to an interactive online Steve Jobs quiz:  http://www.tutor2u.net/business/bizquiz/061011/quiz.html.

Eva Büyüksimkeşyan at A Journey in TEFL has a lesson idea here: http://evasimkesyan.edublogs.org/2011/10/06/a-lesson-idea/, she also mentions Sean Banville’s News English lesson: http://www.newsenglishlessons.com/1110/111006-steve_jobs.html.

Via A school at the end of the world – I just came across The New York Times’ Learning Network post: “Imaging Apple Without Steve Jobs”

 

Finally, you’ve probably seen it elsewhere on the web recently – but here’s Steve Jobs’ famous speech at Stanford university:

 

Online Teaching Resource: Idioms Videos

29 Sep

I just came across, during a further exploration of the Pearson ELT Community site, their idioms discussions space.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of discussion, but they have posted a set of mini-videos which purport to explain English idioms and expressions.  The videos are very short (about a minute) and are followed with a dictionary definition.  One of the tasks they give is “Can you guess the idiom before the definition comes up?”  If you had learners in teams with different coloured board pens, and they raced to write the expression on the board before it came up, it could work….

The videos are also available via the Pearson You Tube channel (I’ve tried to embed one of them below, but don’t think it’s worked – so click the link instead).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHo5DXDFGyo

Here’s the original page again:  ELTCommunity.com: Space: Idioms Discussions.