Lesson Kit 2: Cup stacking

This post provides some items that one could use to construct a lesson or activity based on the following video:

h/t Dr. Alec Couros ‏@courosa

This is more a lesson idea than a kit like the last Star Wars puns. But since I have not done another kit, a kit it shall be.

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:

Jump rope

Sport/cup stacking

Baton twirling

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 : /)

7. As a second stage you can get students to work on some bottom-up listening skills by running the video URL through TubeQuizard.

tubequizard-cupstacking

Click image to go to exercises.

Thanks for reading, hope the video gives you further ideas which I would love to hear about.

Yeah but…A first debate lesson

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:
a. Introduction
b. Statement of facts
c. Division
d. Proof
e. Refutation
f. Conclusion

Add more details to each of the parts, I took mine from Classical Rhetoric 101: The Five Canons of Rhetoric – Arrangement.

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.

Lesson 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.

Video
From 1m45 to 7m33

Lesson Kit 1: Star Wars puns

This post provides some items that one could use to construct a lesson or activity based on the following video:

h/t John Spencer ‏@spencerideas.

The kit includes a bingo pdf (generated from http://print-bingo.com/) and a docx of the relevant puns.

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.

Hope this is a lesson kit you are looking for : )

Kit:

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qslJQUMc9yA

Bingo

Click to access star-wars-bingo.pdf

Docx
https://eflnotes.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/star-wars-weather-pun.docx

Using BYU Wiki corpus to recycle coursebook vocabulary in a variety of contexts

Recycling vocabulary in a variety of contexts is recommended by the vocabulary literature. Simply going back to texts one has used in a coursebook is an option but it misses the variety of context.

I need to recycle vocabulary from Unit 1 of my TOEIC book, so I take the topics from the table of contents as input to create a wiki corpus.

The main title of Unit 1 in my book is careers, with sub topics of professions, recruitment, training. I could also add in job interview, job fair, temp agency.

Note for more details on various features of the BYU WIKI corpus do see the videos by Mark Davies, for the rest of this post I assume you have some familiarity with these.

So when creating a corpus in BYU WIKI corpus in my Title word(s) search I enter career* to find all titles with career and careers.

Then in the Words in pages box I enter professions, profession, recruitment, training. Note search for plural and 300 as number of pages:

wiki-search-terms
Screenshot 1: corpus search terms

After pressing submit a screen of a list of wiki pages is presented, you can scroll through this to find pages that may be irrelevant to you:

list-wiki-pages
Screenshot 2: wiki pages

After unticking any irrelevant pages press submit. I won’t talk a lot about filtering your corpus build here. As mentioned do make sure to watch Mark Davies series of videos to get more details.

Now you will see your newly created corpus:

my-virtual-corpora
Screenshot 3: my virtual corpora

Tick the Specific radio button:

specific-keys
Screenshot 4: specific key word radio button

and then click the nouns keywords. Skill is the top keyword here which also appears in the wordlist in my book:

career*-noun-key
Screenshot 5: noun keywords

What I am more interested in is verbs so I click that:

career*-verb-key
Screenshot 6: verb keywords

The noun requirement, which by the way does not come from the careers unit, appears in the book wordlist but not the verb. So now I can look at some example uses of the verb require that I could use in class.

One step is to see what collocates with require:

collocates-require
Screenshot 7: collocates of require

Clicking on the top 5 collocates brings up some potential language.

Another interesting use is once you have a number of corpora you can see what word appear most in each corpora. The following screenshots show corpora related to the first 3 units of my book i.e. Careers, Workplaces, Communications:

my-virtual-corpora
Screenshot 8: my virtual corpora

The greyed lines mean those corpora are omitted from my search. This could be a nice exercise where you take some word and get students to see how they are distributed. So for example you may show the distribution of the verb fill:

distribution-fill-my-corpora
Screenshot 9: distribution of verb fill

We see that it appears most in the recruit* corpus. One option now is to get students to predict how the verb is used in that corpus and then click the bar to see some examples.

After this demonstration you can now ask students to guess what words will appear most in the various corpora and do the search for the students to see the resulting graphs.

Hope this has shown how we can use BYU WIKI corpus to recycle vocabulary in different contexts.

Do shoot me any questions as this post may indeed be confusing.

A tipple of the TED Corpus Search Engine

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).

Update 1:

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:

Garage
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

Glacier
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

Zebra
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

Nuclear
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

Update 2:

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.

Update 3:

TCSE plays your search term immediately now with an option to play 10 seconds earlier.

Videotelling notes

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.

Thanks for reading.

Easy micro-listenings

John Field has made the case for micro-listenings which are “examples of the same word/phrases in different voices and contexts” (John Field 2013, New directions in second language listening:rethinking the Comprehension Approach presentation, slide 13) that can be replayed easily.

Such listenings helps to develop a learner’s decoding skills. These micro-listenings can be embedded into a task that includes say transcription exercises.

An easy way to get such micro-listenings automatically is to use Videogrep. This tool allows you to search a subtitle file for a word, a grammatical form or hypernym and then able to make a new super cut/edited video containing your search word/grammatical form/hypernym.

I have a 1-to-1 adult student who is keen on motorbikes and wants to see a documentary film of the Isle of Man TT races called TT3D – Closer to the edge (yeah can u dig it, get your motor running, headout on…ah um back to post). He has yet to see it due to lack of time so as a way to take advantage of this interest I created a supercut video using Videogrep.

I initially fed the subtitle file into AntWordProfiler to see what word I could cut, I wanted one that was in the 1st 1000 of the GSL (general service list) but  that did not have  too many hits so get although very interesting (and I may well use that later) had 512 hits so was way too many for a micro-listen. Looking down the list I noticed set with 9 hits. I had read somewhere that set has the most meanings of any word in English.

Anyway this seemed ideal so here is the super cut of set:

Notice we have examples of upset, upsetting, settle so a great way to see if my student can distinguish these from the other uses.

Field recommends a task approach so one can set the instruction before first listen as: The clips have something in common what is it? and then before the subsequent listens one asks the student to transcribe what uses of set they hear.

I’ll report back here how the student got on when I can.

If you want, check out some more examples that includes a search for adjective-noun grammar forms in a Big Bang Theory episode.

Thanks for reading.

Update 1:

The two students I have used #videogrep-ed micro-listenings with liked them a lot. There were some issues about difficulty of transcribing some of the clips which could put off less hardy souls.

Some notes on using videogrep – you can use regular expressions or regex to tighten up searches so for example if I just wanted uses of set and not upset, upsetting, settle I would use \bset as the search term where \b is the regex for word boundary. Here is a list of regexes though I have yet to have a use for anything other than \b so far – http://www.pyregex.com/.

Also you will find you need to expand some clips which are cut early so add the command --padding and a number measured in milliseconds so for example --padding 500 would pad out the beginning and ends of clips by 500ms.

Update 2:

There is an (experimental) graphical interface version for the Apple OSX (103MB) useful for those not comfortable with using command line.

Social media gifts

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.

#flashmobELT

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:

wooden
cycle
Echo

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:
brrr
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.

Pre-social media

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.

The Tinkerer – a corpus informed video activity

This post is a response to Vicki Holletts’ hosted ELT blog carnival on the theme of teaching and learning using videos. I had sent in a previous video activity but seeing as that was a bit old a new one was in order. The video is most suited for engineering/technical students.

This is a video activity that is also a little corpus informed. The lead-in is words taken from COCA using its synonym function. So in this case the search term was [=tinker]. I have included my transcription so that variations/extensions can be done such as gap-fills for detailed listening, or noticing spoken grammar. The jumbled text was made from Textivate.

1. Dictate the follow words to the class (the numbers are the rank order frequency from COCA):

tamper(7), fix(2), toy(4), fiddle(6), mend(8), play(1), interfere(5), repair(3).

2. These words are synonyms of this word T_ _K_R. //write gapped word on board, Tinker// What’s the word?

3. What do you call a person who does this? //Tinkerer; check that they understand the word, room here to personalise e.g. do you like tinkering?//

4. Re-arrange the text (that goes with the picture) into the correct order:

tinkerer-hackaday-text
original text from Hackaday; scrambled text from Textivate

Original text from Hackaday.

5. Watch the video. //approx 8 mins//

6. What word from the list do you think is the best synonym for JJ, the tinkerer? //you could comment on the rank order frequency of the words if most students pick play as best synonym//

7. Why do you think JJ says things are too easy now?

8. Do you agree with him? Why/why not?

Transcript:

When I was growing up, we grew, uh we grew up in the country. I didn’t have a whole lot. Uhm, my dad is very mechanical, uhm he owned a motorcycle shop when I was growing up. So a lot of what I worked on was with engines. Yeah if a go-kart breaks I would have to fix it myself. And sometimes it was held together with bailing twine and stuff just so that I could ride it, but.

It was in West Virginia [laughs] and I picked up a runt bicycle, a bicycle with little tiny wheels. Monkey bikes or whatever they’re called. Picked one up at a yard sale for about five bucks. And I put an engine on it. And I left the bike the way it was. So it was still a pretty big size. And then I thought to myself I’m gonna make it smaller. And then I cut the frame it half. And then I welded a bunch of stuff on there, a little tiny swing arm and used the wheels off a go-ped, uh the sprocket and chains off a go-ped the engine’s off a wheat eater. It’s a micro-bike I like that. That one’s lingered I, I’ve had that a longtime now and it just keeps going.

Yeah, yeah I do a lot of just research on the internet, or uh random stuff. I’ll get on tangents on scientific topics or, or on something engine related or on some sort of hacking thing. I’ll just absorb knowledge I suppose. I normally, I’ll have some sort of inspiration or see a video or something that, I’m like I gotta do that. Or I’ll do something similar or  beat it or something like that. In fact I gotta an idea. You got, you got a rolly chair and there’s a leaf blower right there. Do we want to interrupt this interview, and? [laughs] See if it works. Nope. Oh well. [laughs] It was stupid. But now we know.

And sometimes I feel like tinkering with engines and sometimes it’s that and I keep focus all my attention on that. And sometimes it’s something electronic. And sometimes it’s sumthin else. It’s just that, it varies. Right now it’s the Tesla coil ’cause I’ve been working on it a while all week. That’s, that’s my top priority. That’s what I’ve been researching. I dunno I saw a Tesla coil video, I think, on the internet when I was a teenager. And I just thought I gotta build one of those. I got my son now, and slowed, slowed down my projects. But that’s okay. He is a project, he’s a good project. I’m forming him, in, into what I want [laughs]. Did he do it? Yeah he did.

I, I’ve always had a knack for finding really good deals and stuff, like I’m good at negotiations, I’m good at spotting things that are worth money at thrift stores. It started at thrift stores. Uhm, go there and I would just see stuff that other people wouldn’t recognize. And I clean them up makes sure they work. Go through it, just resell it on Ebay.

You heard that? They shake their body. And hiss like that to sound like a rattlesnake. But you see there’s no rattle. I’ve always, I, I’ve always been a really really curious person. Hafta explore things if I see sumthin I sometimes have to just pull over and hafta look. I’d be the guy you want in a zombie apocalypse that’s for sure. [laughs] Cause I’m very uh, I’m very resourceful. I can pretty much make anything happen with whatever I’ve got on hand.

It’s too easy now. Like back in the day when you wanted a radio. Like you wanted a transmitter or something, you build it. People don’t build them now, you just go out ‘an buy it. You don’t hafta learn how it works, you just use it. Same with computers, back in the eighties and stuff you hadta know how the computer worked before you could just use one. So, stuff’s too easy nowadays.

Thanks to the ELT blog carnival for the inspiration.

No time for corpora? No worries!

For the majority of the ELT world coursebooks and syllabi dominate, consequently teachers have little time for anything unrelated to what they teach from a book and from their set syllabus. This is arguably one of the reasons for the low take up of corpus based teaching.

Frankenberg-Garcia (2012) helpfully outlines several ways teachers can easily integrate corpus information into the classroom without having to outlay much time investment (she does though assume that the teacher knows about corpora, can access them easily and knows the principles of corpus queries, Frankenberg-Garcia, 2012, p.35).

She divides approaches based on production vs reception activities and whole-class vs individual activities.

I have written about reception (e.g. Just the word and TOEIC), whole-class (e.g. general English lexis and DIY corpus) and individual activities (e.g. GloWbE and will suit you; do also see a recent post by Chia Suan Chong/@chiasuan on encouraging learner autonomy via corpora), what caught my attention was the description of the use of corpora in production activities.

Note: I was initially alerted to the Frankenberg-Garcia paper by Wilson (2013), another recommended read for corpora based teaching.

Frankenberg-Garcia gives the example of using collocations of the word beach as a warm-up to speaking or writing about beach holidays.

Looking at Unit 1 Careers in the Cambridge Target Score book (Talcott & Tullis, 2007), Wordandphrase.info gives us the following for career: wordandphraseinfo-career-collocates (click on image for larger resolution)

From the collocates (circled in red above) we can compile say the following list:

  • professional career, successful career
  • career choice, career path
  • begin career, build career

and ask students to use the list to speak say about their current career path, if they know what professional career they want to follow, if so do they know how to build their career and so on. You could give fast finishers the list of synonyms:

  • business
  • profession
  • occupation
  • livelihood
  • calling
  • vocation

and ask them how they would use these when talking about careers.

More interestingly she describes using concordances for the bus that are given to students before they write about something happening on a bus. As the screenshot shows she also highlighted some potentially useful phrases with the bus: the bus concordances (Frankenberg-Garcia, 2012, p.40)

Adapting this for the TOEIC we can use the keyword contract negotiation(s) as appears in Unit 1 Exercise 1 page 9. An extension to this exercise would ask students to write a short news report of the contract negotiation using the picture from the exercise as a prompt: contract-negotiation

(Talcott & Tullis, 2007, p.9)

COCA tells us contract negotiation(s) is most frequent in the news register which can guide us in selecting what examples to use. Wordandphrase.info gives concordances to use to help students before the writing task (note some sentences are adapted and not exact example given by Wordandphrase.info):

  1. They were participating  as  mediators  in  contract negotiations and monitoring  growers’ compliance with labor contracts.
  2. This is specifically  for  contract negotiations and  recruitment.
  3. More than  two  weeks  of  contract negotiations between Air Canada and its pilots broke off this Friday.
  4. The  contract negotiations had   been   confidential.
  5. Trouble has arisen  over  his  fierce  contract negotiations with the management.
  6. They averted a strike and completed the union’s  contract negotiations with the three major North American car makers.
  7. The strike began last October after 10  months  of  stalled  contract negotiations.
  8. During  contract negotiations a few years later, resentment ran high .
  9. Randy  Mueller  handled  contract negotiations and   made   all   personnel  decisions.
  10. They attempted to force a new round of contract negotiations.

Students can be asked to highlight words related to contract negotiations e.g. mediators in example 1 above. They can then proceed to the writing exercise.

It is worth looking up Frankenberg-Garcia in full as she makes a great case for teachers to integrate corpora into the classroom. Thanks for reading.

References:

Frankenberg-Garcia, A. (2012). Integrating corpora with everyday language teaching. In: Thomas, J. and Boulton, A. (Eds.) Input, Process and Product: developments in teaching and language corpora. Brno: Masaryk University Press. 33-50. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/3368339/Integrating_corpora_with_everyday_language_teaching

Talcott, C. & Tullis, G. (2007). Target Score: A communicative course for TOEIC Test preparation. (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wilson, J. (2013). Technology, pedagogy and promotion: How can we make the most of corpora and Data-Driven Learning (DDL) in language learning and teaching? Higher Education Academy research report (July 2013). Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Corpus_Technology_pedagogy_promotion2.pdf