As I was teaching a module on understanding numerical information I used some numbers from the video as a pre-viewing activity.
1. Ask how are the following numbers related?:
1.786s (world record for fastest time)
622809 people (world record for most people stacking at same time)
5.3s (time journalist achieved)
A frequent response from students here was the rate of births and deaths. (Instead of numbers you could ask say how the following are related – cups, 3-6-3, California)
2. Then ask which of the following is a (Junior) Olympic sport:
They are all (Junior) Olympic Sports. Some time may be spent on discussing what these sports are exactly.
3. Next ask students which of these sports are related to the numbers mentioned initially.
4. Tell them the first time they watch the video to not make any notes but simply be prepared to give a reaction/comment.
5. The second time to take notes and invent some questions to ask their classmates.
6. Play for a third time depending on level of your students. Another option is to split the video at about the 4min mark before the part on the specific techniques. And get students to ask questions based on information up to this mark.
Possible vocabulary queries may include what P.E. means (physical education).
Some questions to prompt class if they are feeling taciturn:
What may be problematic for the future of the sport?
When and where did the sport originate?
What features of the cups are mentioned?
What is a scratch?
What is the most frequent pattern?
What do the numbers presented at the beginning refer to exactly?
What is merch short for?
One class wit came up with – When was this form of mental illness discovered : /)
There is an opportunity here for opinion sharing on what makes a sport.
7. As a second stage you can get students to work on some bottom-up listening skills by running the video URL through TubeQuizard.
Click image to go to exercises.
Thanks for reading, hope the video gives you further ideas which I would love to hear about.
This post suggests a first lesson for debating. It shows students, via a transcript and its related video, how a formal debate speech is done as many of my students are used to a more free-for-all kind of style.
1. Write on the board the following:
Who’s that? Right on! True that.
Tell students that these three things refer to three important ways to persuade people. Invite students to guess what they are.
It is likely they will first recognize the third one – True that. Inform them that this refers to the logic and reason of your arguments. Also known as Logos.
Then add that Who’s that? refers to the credibility and character of the speaker otherwise known as Ethos. Right on! refers to emotion and appeals to the heart, classically called Pathos.
There was a short comment/discussion on what Hilary Clinton & Donald Trump seemed to prefer in terms of Ethos, Pathos and Logos. This can be an opportunity to categorise the style of whoever happens to be the talking point of the moment.
2. Next write on the board 6 bullet points. Tell them that these refer to how the structure of a typical speech is arranged. Ask them to guess what they are.
As students respond add the following to the 6 bullet points:
b. Statement of facts
I also noted that the statement of facts can be critical as this is where you get the chance to frame your debate. Hence if your opponents try to shift ground you can claim that they are being irrelevant with respect to how you stated your concerns initially.
3. Next in groups of 3 (or 2) instruct 2 (or 1) of them in the group to put in order a jumbled text (I split the text into 10 parts but you could change this, see end of post). The other person will have the text in the correct order. The person with the text can monitor the people/person that have to rearrange the text. Also the person with the text can check whether the text follows the Arrangement outlined previously.
4. After this have a discussion on the text in terms of arrangement. Students may point out that there is not a real Refutation part. This is true though the lines “But like this is only ordinarily regrettable.” and “It’s not hugely harmful.” could be pointed to as being short admissions of weakness.
5. Now play the video. After playing the video ask class for comments about the delivery. Students may mention things like hurried delivery at times, use of “like” and “right”.
6. Ask students to search the text for any things they notice about the language used.
E.g. Use of humour at start – “So my job tonight like all good feminists is to make you hate things you love and to, like, ruin the simple pleasures of life, like going out.”; Exaggeration/irony – “But then what happens was that Taylor Swift had one coffee with Lena Dunham and the whole of the history of feminism was altered for ever.”; Repetition and groups of three – “But, secondly it is just a huge amount of cultural power mis-spent. It’s a huge number of interviews and a huge amount of airtime that she could be spending,”
This lesson took me about an hour. For the remaining 30 mins I asked them in small groups of 5 (or 4) to pick a debate from the idebate.org 100 most popular motions. They then had to work out positions to argue. This was rehearsal for next week’s session where they would perform in their groups in front of the class.
Thanks for reading and I would be very interested to hear about other debate class lessons or ideas or resources.
Video Transcript So my job tonight is like all good feminists is to make you hate things you love and to, like, ruin the simple pleasures of life, like going out. So I’m gonna explain to you why you should be deeply regretful of the rise of Taylor Swift. I’m gonna explain to you why you should wish that she had never exploded the way that she did onto the music scene and why specifically we should regret her faux feminist awakening and all the ways that has helped all the women in the world, specifically Taylor Swift.
So, like, first let’s have a little chat about Taylor Swift pre-feminism. I know it seems like a long time ago but this was only last year, right. This was, like, the album she released before 1989. When she was happy to write lyrics like “She’s an actress better known for what she does in the mattress. She wears high-heels I wear sneakers. She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts.” And of course “I’m not that kind of girl”, right. Lyrics designed to make clear the superiority of Taylor Swift over, like, some un-named slut-shamed other in her, like, pursuit of the man in the song, right. But like this is only ordinarily regrettable. This is only, like, standard beautiful white woman popstar is imperfect in the mass-media, right. But then what happens was that Taylor Swift had one coffee with Lena Dunham and the whole of the history of feminism was altered for ever. So the the rest of my speech is broken down into what I’ve called Girl Power Squad Feminism, White Feminism, and then lastly Self-Serving Taylorism.
So firstly Girl Power Squad Feminism. What is this? Well, like, basically, this is when Taylor Swift parades out large numbers of supposedly successful but noticeably very beautiful women, stand behind her while she talks about solidarity and girl power. Which means, incidentally, buying tickets to Taylor Swift tours, right. Like, firstly, this is just not good enough, right. That’s not what feminism is. It’s not enough to be just successful and claim that you should be behind her just because she’s a woman. But like, secondly, it’s this really strange version of feminism where she declares that she’s supporting other women by letting them stand behind her on her stage whilst she makes a fortune. Like when she drags out the women’s soccer team and gets them to all stand behind her on a stage, at the, whatever the equivalent is of the Wembley Arena is in New York. Like no-one is helped but Taylor Swift. Like, this is just not interesting feminism. It’s not hugely harmful.
But then we come to White Feminism. And because when your feminism is that simple some women necessarily get left behind. Some women are necessarily not helped by a brand of squad girls, white girl feminism. So let’s see for example her exchange with Nikki Minaj labelled a spat or a cat fight or something other, something else gendered and boring in the media.
So what happens is Nikki Minaj tweets saying that women of color are structurally disadvantaged in the music video. Taylor, poor Taylor, feels victimised and plays the solidarity women card which is what feminism is, remember. She says “All I’ve ever done is love and support you” and then says “If I ever win something you can come and stand behind me like you could at one of my concerts, right. This is, like, a kind of strange feminism that just, like, revolves around Taylor, one, not getting it, not getting like the patriarchy affects women of color differently, that it affects queer women differently, that it affects disabled women differently. That your access to a version of empowerment that is built around looking like Taylor Swift is only available to you if you are a woman who looks like Taylor Swift but, two, this is an example of her like, like getting in the way of other women trying to explain some real problems in the world in order to advance her own personal, likable, girl next door brand.
And this is the thing with Taylor Swift’s feminism it is so transparently self-serving. It’s like so completely designed to enable her to use the language of an emerging social movement, popular feminism for her own PR and financial gains. It’s a way for her to deflect criticism and protect her girl next door likability. So if another artist criticises her for getting undue attention because she is a privileged white woman writing inoffensive pop songs as opposed to a woman of color celebrating black female bodies and empowerment in the music industry. She gets to say that, like this is a breakdown of feminist solidarity right. Because of course to be a feminist is to love and support Taylor Swift. It enables her to defend herself against the less powerful right. In the same way that she like uses her enormously powerful team of legal experts to sue people who make “Shake it Off” branded mugs and sell them on Etsy for six dollars. Taylor Swift is using her power against those less powerful than her which includes like Etsy vendors, Niki Minaj and all other women who aren’t Taylor Swift.
So we’re proved she’s not a perfect feminist but does that make her by herself especially regrettable? Well I think it does for several reasons.
Because firstly she hijacks the emerging movement of popular feminism. Something that is, like, building a groundswell of support amongst young women who are starting for the first time to call themselves feminist. And makes it about something just too simple and too easy and that crucially does absolutely no good to anyone but a tiny number of women, right.
But, secondly it’s just a huge amount of cultural power mis-spent. It’s a huge number of interviews and a huge amount of airtime that she could be spending, like, actually helping someone, raising money for women’s charities or, like, doing something else.
But lastly, like, it just obscures the work it takes to live a properly feminist life, by making it too easy, by making it all like squad girls, goals and selfies and for me that’s not good enough. Propose.
Strange title you may say, don’t we always exploit linguistics in class? Certainly, what I look at here is presenting explicit linguistic information in the form of “factoids” or “trivia”. I have done this over a number of weeks with one class as a warmer activity. I word the warmer as Language Trivia.
Examples of such items have included:
American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year (2015) and associated lists
French phrases hidden in English Words
Selena Gomez’s “Good For You” And The Rise Of “Indie Pop Voice”
Top phrasal verbs in English, using the PHaVE dictionary
Mysteries of vernacular: Robot
After some weeks I asked the students to bring in their own examples of language trivia. There were some great examples which I may use later. For example one student told me that all the letters of English are contained in the phrase – The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs, an example of a pangram.
Sometimes the reactions of students to the linguistic information is great to watch. Language trivia are a great way to activate the natural curiosity people have with language.
If you keep an eye on social media there are many examples of language trivia that can be used.
Have you tried something similar in your classes? Do share any language trivia you have come across.
One idea is to test listening skills via the bingo card (columns L and A are the winning columns), further work could be done on explaining the first three/four puns in the text file.
Another thing to do is use phonetically transcribed word in bingo card.
Do let me know of other things that could be done.
This post may be of interest to debating courses, and in particular those wanting to introduce a bit of rhetorical analysis.
First off I used a photo prompt to get students to come up with a debating point. I would normally use a video but finding decent videos takes time. Finding a photo is faster and leaves room for more interpretation, for this class I used a photo of people camping outside an Apple shop.
The students produced three topics – brand addiction, consumer society, power of advertising. They then formulated “This house believes/would” sentences such as This house believes that society suffers from brand addiction. The class then broke into groups, picked a formulation, they had 5 min preparation time and debated for some 10-15mins (timings will vary according to student level and emergent issues).
I showed the class the Veni, Vidi, Vici quote along with the English equivalent (I came, I saw, I conquered) pointing out that this was one kind of rhetorical technique that repeats some language structure (technically called a tricolon though I did not use this term with students). I also noted that this kind of pattern tends to come near the end of a sentence or clause.
I then showed them an extract from the Martin Luther King I have a dream speech and pointed out the repeated use of the same words – I have a dream, one day. Adding that this repeating device often comes at the beginning of a sentence or clause.
I also took the opportunity of highlighting an example of a repeating structure (every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight).
Next I mentioned the upcoming UK elections and that they were going to analyze two introductions from the election manifestos of the Labour party and the Green party. Letting them know I picked these two parties due to the text all fitting on one side of A4 paper :).
In groups of two I gave them three tasks:
1. count the words in each sentence and plot the number of words vs sentence number
2. identify repeating words
3. identify repeating structures
Once they had done this they were asked to find another pair with the same text and compare notes.
As I saw pairs finishing I went round and asked them questions about the shape of the graph and why the writer would want to use such a pattern, on the repeating lexical and structural patterns they identified and the possible effects of such usage on persuading a reader.
Finally pairs did the same with the second manifesto introduction.
For the next class they were told to rewrite their arguments from the earlier mini-debate using the information they had gained from their rhetorical analysis.
Thanks for reading and roll on Thursday May 7 2015.
This post may be useful for people teaching TOEIC to French students – I know you are out there ;).
I have already mentioned the Cobra Dictionary and my use of it. To recap I used a gap fill activity (using the word bid) as a first stage, then a dictation activity as a second stage (where students needed to match the dictated English sentences to given French equivalents) and a reverse translation activity (students translated the given French sentences to English and check with original English sentences) as a third stage.
Here is a short (and no doubt to some obvious) note about working with the TED Corpus Search Engine,TCSE. I was looking at examples of the use of route, there are 126 results. I want my students to go through these and transcribe the 2 different ways the word is said. 126 is however too long, so a simple way to reduce this is to use the n-gram feature.
For 2-grams we get:
1 route to 13
2 the route 12
3 route of 5
4 a route 6
5 this route 4
So I could use route to with strong students with 13 examples that they would have to listen to and this route with weak students as they would just need to examine 4 examples.
FYI TCSE can now play search term immediately with an option to start 10 seconds earlier.
Maybe a series of short posts if things pan out 🙂
Two of my classes are learning the phonetic alphabet, they have already been introduced to it, they have had a couple of exercises on it and they have had a go playing with the Cambridge English phonetics focus set of games and activities.
In a bid to keep a low level of revision going the Ted Corpus Search Engine (TCSE) could be useful. Taking the example of neither (borrowed from a Guy Aston workshop on spoken corpora at Lancaster TaLC 11 this summer) I intend to ask them how they think it is spelt phonetically.
Then I will ask them to search for the word in the TCSE and to look at entry 555 – Michelle Obama and then entry 768 David Cameron and get them to see if they can transcribe the phonetic differences (/ni:ðər/ and /naiðə/ respectively).
I used the above in my classes recently and it went very well, it was integrated with another worksheet they were already doing on pronunication and phonetics. I introduced it with Google images of Michelle Obama and David Cameron.
The following are some more words I may try in future classes:
880 Rory Sutherland: Sweat the small stuff UK
1931 Christopher Ryan: Are we designed to be sexual omnivores? US
1911 Yves Morieux: As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify Fr
561 Yann Arthus-Bertrand: A wide-angle view of fragile Earth Fr
1768 Didier Sornette: How we can predict the next financial crisis Fr
535 Al Gore: What comes after An Inconvenient Truth? US
1699 Richard Turere: My invention that made peace with lions Kenyan
735 Kiran Sethi: Kids, take charge Ind
1701 Colin Camerer: Neuroscience, game theory, monkeys US
1103 Paul Root Wolpe: It’s time to question bio-engineering US
2069 Andrew Connolly: What’s the next window into our universe? UK
2067 Martin Rees:Can we prevent the end of the world? UK
2035 Chris Domas: The 1s and 0s behind cyber warfare US
1979 Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion Fr
The TCSE puts in a delay of 10 seconds when playing the youtube video, to get youtube to play your search term immediately you need to add in 10s, have a read here by the developer on how to do this.
TCSE plays your search term immediately now with an option to play 10 seconds earlier.
I caught a video as I was heading out to class this morning called What is that? from my wordpress feed courtesy of An idea a day. I was quite taken with it as I recently had my father visiting and recalled a few times I got annoyed with him for asking me a question repeatedly. I was also looking for an activity for my class that would fill in 20 mins or so.
Having seen Jamie Keddie demonstrate video telling I knew that this could work very well with this video. The following is an example script which I managed to think of as I was running the class, bonus :).
There is an old man and young man sitting down.
What do you think they are they sitting on? You often find it in pubic places?
They are sitting down on a bench. The kind you might find in a park. However they are not in a park.
Where do you think they are sitting?
The bench is near the back of a house. In what seems to be the back garden.
What do you think is the relationship between the old man and the young man?
The young man is reading something.
What do you think he is reading? It is something people read everyday.
The young man is reading a newspaper. The old man sees something.
What does he see?
He sees a bird. The old man then asks a question.
What does he ask?
He asks this question a number of times.
How many times does he ask this question?
The young man gets very annoyed and angry.
Why does the young man get angry?
The old man leaves to fetch something from the house.
What do you think he gets? It is like a notebook, people write down their experiences in it.
The old man shows a diary to the young man and points to an entry. He says one word to the young man.
What does he say?
After reading the diary entry the young man does something.
What does he do?
The young man hugs the old man and kisses him on the head.
Why do you think he does this?
So what do we know about the story so far?
Discussion questions after watching:
What is your reaction?
What do you think is the message of the video?
Who has ever gotten annoyed by questions parents ask? Maybe they ask you about computers all the time?
One addition to the video telling I made was to ask the class to summarize what we knew about the video before we watched it. I also shared with the class my recent experience with my dad as a way to encourage them to share their experiences for the discussion questions after the video.
I discovered afterwards that Jamie Keddie is putting up a series of videos titled Taking video apart. Highly recommended and he has some nice concepts like language pulling and language pushing.
What is evident in video-telling is that the video needs a strong story so that the script one makes from it can flow easily, and also it does not even have to be in English as demonstrated by the video in this post.
I did have some practice with video telling as I had copied used Jamie’s Scratch Card story some time previously which allowed me to see the challenges in this kind of activity. So I would recommend doing that before using your own scripts.
I hope everyone enjoyed their Xmas break and their gifts – the physical, psychological and social. And that everyone is having a good first week back (if you are back, if not lucky you!).
This time some two years or more ago I would have been in much more of a panic due to having to come up with some interesting lessons. Now with the gift of social media I am able to rely on teachers around the world sharing great ideas.
The first resource I leant on was the #flashmobELT. I used the Tag It activity posted by Anna Loseva/ @AnnLoseva. The way I used it was to write on the board 3 tags that described three events of my Xmas holiday:
The students were asked to question me to find out the meanings of the tags.
(scroll to end for the meanings).
The students then did this in pairs themselves, with me highlighting the need to probe for any details, once finished they told me what they had discovered about their partner’s Xmas break.
The engagement in the activity was very noticeable, I also rounded up some typical language errors that stood out.
This is a very simple setup that can work with a number of language points. Although the activity itself is not new, the way it was framed by Anna as tags gives it a contemporary feel which my students easily recognized. Recommended!
An Idea a day – Brrr
The next resource I used was provided by ellensclass/ @ellensclass on her Idea a day site. The blog post was on the arctic temperatures over in the USA, I used the video and the NPR news text.
To set up the video I asked my students to rearrange the mixed up title of the video that I had boarded. I then told them to offer suggestions as to what advice the video would give. I asked them if they had heard of the low temperatures hitting the USA.
Then I simply played the video one time. I did a quick comprehension check by asking them to list the activities in order and what the guy said at the end of the video.
Next I asked them to imagine making a quick survey to poll people based on the activities e.g. see this photo of the board:
The aim of this was to review and practice some language for approximating data – so I did the poll with the class and asked then to rephrase the results e.g. Nearly everyone in the survey has listened to the snow, Hardly anyone said that they would go swimming outside in the winter etc.
I then used the NPR text in a match the title to text race, where I dictated the 7 titles to the students (explaining that they referred to 7 events that happened in the chilly conditions in the US) and then in teams they had to run over to a table containing the texts to find a match. The team who finished first with correct matches wins.
I did use a course book resource when looking at telephone language in another part of the lesson. And as mentioned all the activities are not new but in my pre-social media days finding appropriate and interesting content such as the video and the text would have been much more difficult.
So thanks very much to all the folks in my social media who freely share and inspire daily.
And thanks for reading.
Oh yeah nearly forgot my tags:
wooden – It was the first real Xmas with our 20-month old son so the wooden referred to the wooden/cardboard tree we bought rather than a real Xmas tree. Great fun was had by our son in playing with it
cycle – I am not too keen on NYE parties partly because of the transport issues and partly because they are usually disappointing. This year however as my wife stayed home with our baby and also as my friend only lives 15/20 minutes aways by bike I ventured out. And had a surprisingly good NYE party, nice!
Echo – This was the name of an art exhibition, of someone my wife knows, that we went to see – video installations, not bad.