Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Using films in the classroom - Happy Gilmore

There are so many things to consider when picking a film to watch with language learners.


  1. The first thing I thought about, as a language teacher, was the language in the film. 
  • Is it appropriate for analysis? 
  • Does it contain a lot of swearing or bad language?
  • Are there accents that would make comprehension difficult?
  • Is slang language used?
     2.  The second aspect of the film I considered was the story of the film.
  • Does the plot have a good story?
  • Are there messages to the film?
  • Are there deeper meanings?
  • Could you predict what was going to happen?
     3.  Next I considered the characters in the film. 
  • Are the characters strong individuals?
  • Would they be interesting to describe?
  • What clothes do they wear? Why?
  • What influenced their lives?
  • What do you think happened to the characters after the film?
      4.  Finally I considered if the film could be offensive or challenging for my students.
  • Does it contain nudity or violence?
  • Does it model bad behaviour?
  • Are there scenes that could upset some students? 


Last Friday we watched Happy Gilmore with a group of ESOL students.

Here's a summary of their comments about the film.



Saturday, 12 February 2011

Preparing ESOL Students for their E2 Reading Exam



The exam is next week so I wanted to coach the students in some of the techniques needed to find answers in the text.

I decided to write an exam paper that would really challenge their ability to deduce words they didn't know.

I wasn't sure how students would take it.

Here's the document:

Emma likes Ati



Differentiation was used with fewer 'made-up words' for lower levels. I also made the words easier to guess by asking students questions about those words;

"Where would you find a KW?"
"Look at the verb in Line 1."
"What nouns can you use with that verb?"
I found that soon students understood the task and a great amount of learning took place as students analysed the lexis.

For homework I asked students to write about a process and then change some words for made-up words or words in their first language. The next lesson students tried to guess what the processes were.

Students have also accessed past papers via moodle. They have done this in their free time under 'honesty exam conditions'. I explained that the only people they were cheating were themselves.

I have had a lot of marking as a consequence but have been able to pinpoint students "weaker" skills, i.e. alphabetical order in Task 3 or finding keywords in a text in Task 1.

Forms and tables have their own challenges as cultural familiarity and general lexical knowledge needs to be pre-taught. An example of this is how British names are not instantly recognised as people's names because they are unfamiliar.

I think the reading exam presents a number of challenges to an ESOL learner but once given techniques to answer questions they can certainly achieve good marks.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Quiz Break - a Jeopardy generator and so much more from CLEAR

Just made a jeopardy game using QuizBreak - see the game here.


Quiz Break is the work of the Centre for Language Education and Research in Michigan USA. Visit their site
http://clear.msu.edu/login/account.php to find a great range of tools to place on your website, wiki or blog.


This screen print from the site gives you an idea of what is available...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

New statistics for the Action for ESOL petition



I have updated the statistics. We are averaging between 400 and 500 signatures a day. We must keep this momentum to reach 10,000 by next weekend! Please ask family members, friends and colleagues. Can we take the petition global? As you can see on slide 3 there are a large number of signatories from abroad, should we build on this?

Updated statistics for Action for ESOL petition.
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