Friday, December 7, 2012

Bridge TEFL Module 6.

20121207 Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Bridge TEFL. Module 6.

Hello good people and fellow teachers of a language other than English.
There are many aspects to language: humour, seriousness, soliloquy, sarcasm, just to name a few. A comedian once quipped that English is impossible to learn, it must be memorised.
So once again, I pretend to be sincere while being disingenuous to the good people at Bridge TEFL for their wonderful charade of insincerity.

As the good people at Bridge TEFL said in the final lessons: Please compare your answer to this example and provide your own assessment.


o   Lexis

o   Phonics

o   Function

Date                      Level – Primary 1 (age 6 – 8)       Duration – 1 hour.

What is the Weather Like Today?

This lesson is typical for level one to three (ages 6 to 8) and introduces concepts about the weather, days of the week and temperature.  It can be used as a lead-in for calendar, counting, use of numbers, what clothes to wear.  Grammar subjects such as present and future can be explored.

Lesson type and subject:

·         Vocabulary and Grammar.


Recording of the weather report for the week. MP3 or CD.  Suitable means to play recording.
Worksheets with days of the week.
PowerPoint or flash cards with new vocabulary words and meanings.

Lesson Objectives:

Teaching the subjective descriptions of weather: sunny, raining, cloudy and fine.
Teaching the quantative measurement of temperature.


Students will be familiar with the General Reading text regarding weather.
Students will be familiar with the order of the days of the week.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:

Problem: - RSVP – Rhythm, Speed, Volume and Pitch.
Solution: - The rate of speech on the recording will be slower than normal radio presenters.  A rate of 0.8 on media player is usually sufficient.
Problem: - Initially overwhelmed by information.
Solution: - Reassure the students that the recording will be played several times.
Problem: - Pronunciation of Sunny vs Sunday.
Solution: - One on one practice with the problem students.


Duration: 10 minutes
Introduce the new vocabulary: Sunny, Fine, Cloudy, Raining and Typhoon.
Introduce the weather by eliciting a response “What is the weather like today?
Write a few of the different ways that this question is asked in English:
·         How’s the weather.
·         Is it a nice day outside?
·         What is the weather like where you are?

The weather report is on the radio after the news every hour.  Draw a picture of a radio on the board.
Show the Hong Kong weather web site as an authentic example of how to check the weather.
The website has a simple chart showing the day of the week and a symbol to represent the forecast.
Elicit a response from the class asking:
  • what will the weather be like on a random sample of days.
  • if they have seen the weather website.
  • if their parents use the website.
  • if they used the website to see what the weather will be like for an important event in the next week e.g. the school picnic or sports day.


Duration: 20 minutes.
Distribute the worksheets with a personal greeting.
Referring to the worksheet, elicit a response regarding the weather on Sunday.
Elicit a response – “What will the weather be like on Monday?”
Elicit a response – what will the weather be like on Tuesday?  We don’t know!.  How can we find out?.
Lets listen to the weather report on the radio.


Duration: 30 minutes.
Reassure the students that the weather report will be played a few times and that there is no need to hurry. 
Start the recording that has 15 seconds of quiet time – during the 15 seconds, pretend to tune the picture of the radio to the news station.
After the first sentence, pause and elicit a response – can you hear?, is it too fast? – adjust if needed.
Replay the recording from the start and elicit a response from a random student – what will the weather be like on Thursday?, ask another student – “Is that correct?”
If there is an incorrect answer or it the answer is unknown – then elicit a response asking how they could find out.  Wait for an answer like – listen to the weather report and then use this prompt to replay the recording.  Replay the recording as needed or often as time permits.

Assessment and final discussion.

Elicit a response from the class for a self correction exercise.
See each student personally and elicit a response for a few of the entries and reward them with a stamp on their worksheet.

Follow up lesson:

What clothes do I wear today?

Use the weather information on the worksheets to prompt for a discussion about what clothes the students would wear according to the weather. 
Elicit a response to the class on what will you wear on Wednesday? 
Why would you wear that?

What is the weather like today.

Listen to the report to hear what will it be like for the week.
Listen for - Sunny, Fine, Cloudy, Raining and Typhoon 1.


26° C
28° C






Weather report.


  • Now here is the weather report for this week:

  • Sunday, the temperature will be 26 degrees and it will be cloudy.
  • On Monday, it will be 28 degrees and sunny.
  • Tuesday, the temperature will be 25 degrees and it will be cloudy.
  • Wednesday, the temperature will be 23 degrees and it will be rainy.
  • Thursday, it will be rainy and the temperature will be 22 degrees.
  • Friday, the temperature will be 26 degrees and there will be a typhoon level one.
  • Saturday, the temperature will be 27 degrees and it will be fine.

Instructor's comments:

Very nice work.  Your choice of activities demonstrates your ability to handle the unique demands of teaching the skill of listening. The recording you´ve chosen, the activities you´ve created, and the problems you´ve anticipated show your experience with this level of student and your skill at creating appropriate listening lessons for them.  Your warm-up ensures that students will be prepared for the listening and your additional listening tasks are appropriate for them.  It was particularly nice to see that you include a follow-up activity that gives students the chance to reinforce new language in an interesting way.

Well done!  Your selection of material and activities shows a sensitivity to your students´ levels and interests as well as an understanding of how to create an excellent reading lesson.  Your lesson flows well from introduction to gist questions to more detailed questions.  It was particularly nice to see your class ending with an activity getting the students to use their new language in a practical, personal way  that involves other skills.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

20121009 Alan Jones and Radio Opinions

Alan Jones, famous opinionated broadcaster - just one more opinion. 

Way back in the olden days, around 1990, when radio was a relevant source of entertainment, there were a select few who made a living by telling people their opinion.  Now everyone can have their opinion seen, heard and even x-rayed on that brilliant 'interconnected series of tubes' we call the Internet.  

While stuck in peak-hour traffic between the hours of 4:30 to almost 9 o’clock we will no longer have rely on the radio for traffic reports, the news, or even listen to the mindless opine of a radio DJ because with the development of mobile-phone technology like LTE, 4G and amazingly inexplicable CDMA-x1 we can now use our wonderful iPhone (n+1) to get an Internet connection in our car.  So, as a result of this incessant march of technology, the last bastion of AM/FM radio the 'The Drive Time slot' is now under threat from the likes of facebook, youtube and Project Free TV.  

One of the loudest and most-opinionated of these broadcast personalities was Alan Jones who was able to earn a decent living for his producers by being so controversially stupid that listeners would tune in and wonder what he was going to stuff-up next.  Mercedes Benz has had enough of him over comments about the Prime Minister's dead dad and asked him to return the free car that was politely provided and has also refused to be associated with him ever again such was the level of embarrassment that can be caused by not knowing the difference between a fact, a logical fallacy and his arse.

There are of course many things worse than talk-back radio DJ’s who spout their biased and illogical opinion on commercial radio stations and are rewarded for their efforts by being paid a million dollars a year, and one such thing are a talk-back radio hosts who spout their biased and illogical opinion on community radio and are paid nothing.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

20120922 Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Bridge TEFL Module 3.

20120922  Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

TEFL Bridge.  The TEFL course which offers accredited training by peer-review.

“The BridgeTEFL TEFL & CELTA certifications are recognized both in the United States and in many countries." says certified TEFL Online & CELTA Graduate Don Guadagni.  So the course is perfect for teaching in the USA and many other non-specific and un-named countries.  If you have no idea where you want to go, then BridgeTEFL can get you there.

Bridge TEFL upholds the standards of the industry by a peer review by the The Accrediting Council on Continuing Education, ACCET, who expresses its sincere appreciation to all volunteers who serve as evaluators.  ACCET was founded in 1974 for the purpose of improving continuing education and training and has been officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Education since 1978 as a "reliable authority" as to the quality of education and training provided by the institutions we accredit.  Being recognized by the Department of Education is apparently just as good as actually being a part of the Department of Education.

Here is an example of the standard of work that can be expected and accepted according to the rigorous marking scheme of the peer-reviewed and accredited BridgeTEFL.  It is unacceptable to use first-person when writing at the tertiary level at most respectable universities but at BridgeTEFL, they take a more modern and relaxed approach than an established and accredited university by allowing the use of first-person as the subject.  After, all this course is about you, the teacher.  The curriculum advisers were told to prepare teachers work in far-away exotic countries and the accountants were given the same instructions regarding your course fee.

Module 3. 

1. Take a look at the list of items below. Decide which system these relate to: lexis, phonology, grammar or function.

I went to London; I´ve been to London.

Lend me $5. Could you possibly lend me $5?

library; bookstore

foot; foots

I'd rather not; No way!

hit; heat

photograph; photographer

should; must

2. Imagine that you work in a language school. You have just received a new student from Korea who wants to study English prior to entering a university in the U.S. The student takes the placement test, which is all grammar and vocabulary and mostly multiple choice. She scores quite high; however, she does not speak very well and has difficulty understanding even the
simplest spoken language. What balance of the four skills and the four systems would you recommend for her study program? For example, would you focus on reading and writing or utilize her strengths in grammar to introduce topics, but make the exercises mostly listening and speaking? Would you focus on function, pronunciation, productive skills because the test was multiple choice and not a fair assessment of her success in a university with writing papers and listening to lectures?Explain what an appropriate balance would be. How did you reach that recommendation?

I would a create a study program where the student listens to recordings and then answers comprehension questions.  All instructions would be given in writing to take advantage of her reading skills. 
There would be no transcript of the recording – the student must listen to the recording.  I would choose a skill level that accounts for student’s difficulty in understanding the spoken language.  (Can we assume that there are no other factors such as a hearing impairment?) The test answers would start as multiple choice answers and other open answer questions that require a short written response progressing into spoken presentation answers as the student develops.
I would focus on function because the skills will be needed to participate in the course and also when she starts university.  The recordings would be examples of asking questions in a classroom and how to elicit a response from a teacher.  Within the teaching of function there would be built-in components of grammar, phonics and lexis that would develop her productive skills.
As her receptive skills improve, the focus would be shifted from developing her listening skills to a fuller, more rounded course where all the receptive and productive skills are further developed in harmony with each other – so that the student is equal in her abilities in each component of the language .
I believe an appropriate balance of receptive versus productive skills would be 80% receptive in the form of listening and 20% productive in the form of written and spoken answers.
My recommendation is based on information in the text – it states that the student has passed a multiple choice question test on vocabulary and grammar.  It seems that the student has developed the reading and writing components of the language well but has not developed the listen and speaking components equally.  The text also states that the student  ”does not speak very well and has difficulty understanding even the simplest spoken language”  and as a result the recommended course of action would be to develop her listening and speaking skills.

Teachers comments
Your choice to utilize reading as a segue to promote an intensive listening and speaking focus shows an astute grasp of integrating and balancing the skills based on individual student needs.    Also, your ability to match the items listed in the question with the appropriate language system shows an excellent grasp of the systems concept.

The History and Spelling of English
Describe how your knowledge of the history of the English language will help you explain things to your students in an EFL class. Give specific examples.

As a Native English Teacher working in China I have had times when I have had to explain that the English language is made up from other languages.  The explanation is usually centered around the terrifying number of wars that Europeans were so good at starting but really needed some help in learning how to stop.  Knowing that a good portion of English is from Latin helps to explain the strange names the English give to appliances as compared to the stark descriptions given to mechanical devices in China.  As an example, in English we have the word television derived from the Latin words “far” and “see” which basically describes the machine as the thing that lets you see what is far away.  The Chinese word for television is Din Shi – or “electrical job” or the thing that uses electricity and to make one is a big job. 
The Chinese students have an English text where a character in the book goes to France.  While there, the character meets a French man named Monsieur Bas – I had to explain to the Chinese students that this is not an English title or name and that most of the letters in French are not pronounced.  The correct pronunciation is “Monsieur Bah”.  I think that it is unfair to introduce a difficult French name to young children that are already trying to learn English.

What differences in student approach to English do you anticipate when working with students who speak a Latin or Germanic language versus students who speak Japanese, Chinese or Arabic?
As a Native English Teacher working in China I have had the experience of teaching the words “athletic” to Chinese children only to have the lesson taken up with explaining how to make the “th” sound.  The problem is compounded when teaching this to a young child who may not have the fine motor skills to form the correct sounds. 

Describe strategies you will use in class to help you with your own spelling, if it´s a problem, like bringing a dictionary to class or writing down troublesome vocabulary in your lesson plan.

I overcome spelling problems by having a dictionary and noting troublesome words in the lesson plan – also as discussed  – eliciting a response from the students can be helpful.

Teachers comments
Your answer shows that you understand the importance of having a working knowledge of the history of English, an awareness of your students´ linguistic backgrounds, and a strategy for dealing with your own spelling weaknesses.  However, more specific examples of how these issues might play out in the classroom would strengthen your response.  Also, when discussing the differences between students of differing linguistic backgrounds, don´t forget that Arabic and Asian students also have a completely different alphabet.

Overall mark


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

20120828 Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Early Childhood.

20120828 Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Early Childhood. ( ... is best done by professionals who are competent in the psychology of early language development.)

The very idea of an online teaching course is flawed and contradictory.  In practice, doubly so.  There are logical-reasoning errors that make circular arguments against itself.  Having said that, I have done this:
Teaching a Gym Class to Pre-school

Completing the TEFL, also known as Teaching English as a Foreign Language, course has proven an interesting exercise in building personal confidence but a poor investment in professional development.  One of my previous blog entries shows a letter from an employer stating that I am "too old" to be considered for a teaching job.  So, in an effort to re-balance the universe; post-rationalise my decision; and force a self-fulfilling-prophecy immortalised in the  words of Jack Black from his role as Dewey Finn pretending to be Ned Schneebly - "Those who cannot do; teach. And those who cannot teach, teach gym".  

Lesson One from Bridge TEFL.
TTT. Teacher Talking Time

TTT stands for Teacher Talking Time.  TTT can be a problem in a class for foreign-language students for a number of reasons.

1) - A teacher may feel that the natural silence that occurs between asking a question and receiving and answer may be "too long".  This time of silence is subjective and can vary between teachers and as a result the teacher may start talking again in an effort to elicit a response to fill an "awkward silence".  The act of asking another question will interrupt the student’s line of thought and delay the answer even further.  A teacher should allow time for a student time to understand the question and formulate an answer before prompting for a reply.

2) - The student's time is valuable.  A language class should give the student time to learn, practice and allow time to recall the information needed to create a positive experience and would like to see some return on their investment.  A student may also be a customer and therefore, customer perception regarding value for money needs to be considered.  A student, a customer, will make a subjective internal decision on the value of a language course based on their experience in the classroom and may frankly assume that a more economical way of listening to an hour of genuine English speaking may be accomplished by simply listening to the radio.

A Native English Teacher working in a Chinese school must consider several factors when the student is thinking of an answer.  One strategy is to put the student at ease by asking them to answer the question in their own language. 
This demonstrates to the teacher that the student can understand the question, and has an answer, but is searching for the right English words.  

How to avoid excessive TTT.

1) Be patient.  Allow the student to think quietly.  Students need to feel that their teacher is patient and their learning is important and we can use the class time efficiently to listen to their answer (Marsh, C. 2008).

2) Overcome the social stereotype that every occasion needs a backing sound.  Students learn better when they recall - it is recall that makes a memory stay (Karpicke et al. 2011).

I plan to use student centered activities such as English word games like Bingo and Hangman. The use of open questions such as "What have you done today?" and "What do like to do?" will be encouraged where students can answer and demonstrate their progress.


Marsh, Colin. Becoming a Teacher. Pearson Education Australia 2008.

Karpicke, J. Practicing Memory Recall Boosts Science Learning. cited 2011.

Bridge TEFL

White, Mike.  School of Rock. Paramount Pictures 2003.