#KELTChat: the great coursebook debate (Sunday 31st May 2015, 8pm KST)

It is time for another KELTchat. The next chat will be a one hour chat and will start at 8 pm Korea time– click here for times in other areas. Even for all the recent debate, it’s probably not that controversial to say that coursebooks are here to stay – but what should our relationship with them be? While many teachers may be at times frustrated with coursebooks, they may also be to some extent reliant on them. The issue of if and how we should use coursebooks is the subject of this #keltchat. Questions

  • Are textbooks beneficial to ELT?
  • What textbooks have you used? Which were most helpful and why?
  • What are the characteristics of a good/bad textbook?
  • How do you use textbooks effectively?
  • What are alternatives to using textbooks?
  • Why might some teachers choose to use textbooks in spite of their drawbacks?
  • What strategies might teachers use to make the most of a textbook that is ill-suited to their learners?
  • If we reject coursebooks on the basis that a grammar based, synthetic syllabus is not effective at causing learning, what alternatives do we have? Should we teach grammar at all?

If you have never participated in a chat before but would like to start, there are some useful hints on the how-to tab above. Questions and contributions of any kind are also welcome at our Facebook page. We hope you can join us for the chat.

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#KELTChat Slowburn: “Participation: what is it, and (how) should we measure it?” 19th May 2015, 11am-7pm (KST)

Tuesday sees another longer form #keltchat Slowburn™, happening from 11 am to 7 pm KST (click here for times where you are). Slowburn™ chats are designed for people to drop in and out of the chat, and to allow topics to be developed in a little more depth than our one hour chats. You are not obliged or even expected to participate for the full eight hours. The topic for this chat is participation in class. As teachers in any context, this might be one of the ways in which we might judge a student. In fact, anecdotally speaking, a participation score seems to be a component of the grade in many university English courses in Korea, but less common in other contexts. Here is a link to one teacher’s participation rubric for you to read and which will form the basis for the chat: Participation Rubric. Here are some questions based on the rubric and the notion of assessing participation as a whole. These can form the basis for contributions to the chat and discussions, but input not based on these questions is welcomed.

  • What is your definition of participation? How does it differ from the rubric posted here? Would you like to share your own rubric?
  • Do you assess participation in your class? Is this something you would like to start or stop doing?
  • Does having a participation grade make it more likely that students will participate?
  • Are there any potential drawbacks from having a participation score?
  • Does a participation grade privilege naturally outgoing students? How could we compensate for this?
  • Should students be able to play a role in assessing their own participation, as suggested in the rubric here?

If you have never participated in a chat before but would like to start, there are some useful hints on the how-to tab above. Questions and contributions of any kind are also welcome at our Facebook page.

#KELTchat on “The myth of proficiency” May 10th, 2015

It is time for another KELTchat. The next chat  will be a one hour chat and will start at 8 pm Korea time– click here for times in other areas.

The main focus of the chat is “The myth of proficiency” as discussed by Donald Freeman at the IATEFL 2015 conference. The talk can be viewed here and is not required viewing in order to participate in the chat. Also, the slides from the presentation can be found here: Donald Freeman Plenary (1). Finally, Lizzie Pinard has written up the talk here: http:// http://reflectiveteachingreflectivelearning.com/2015/04/11/iatefl-2015-opening-plenary-donald-freeman/

Regarding this topic, one teacher says, “It struck a chord because my classroom seems a long way from the ‘real world’ and I don’t really feel as if my job is really readying students to go out and speak English, more to give them a bit of a peek at what they might have to do in future.”
What do you think?
How do you see your role as a teacher with reference to proficiency and preparing students for the real world?
If we are not preparing learners for the “real world”, what else can we be doing?

In the talk, Freeman quotes Nunan who says:

“Proficiency, simply put, refers to the ability to perform real world tasks with a specified degree of skill.”
Nunan, 1987.“The ghost in the machine,”

What do you think of this definition?
Do you share this definition?
Are there any problems with this definition?

Freeman points out that proficiency is often graded using terms such as “near-native”, but this is an experiential and geopolitical concept rather than an empirical and linguistic one. He argues that this makes it almost impossible to teach or assess on this basis because the concept covers a wide and shifting range of knowledge, skills and contexts; language is like water, not ice. He argues for a much more bounded view of language and proficiency in the classroom.

How might teaching towards “native-like” proficiency impact your teaching?
How might freeing yourself from the shackles of this myth impact your teaching?
What kind of boundaries do you or could you set up in your classroom to make clearer goals?
What about learners’ voices? How can a teacher involve learners in the critical consideration of this myth in order to determine how it affects language learning goals?

 **Update**

Here’s a link to the storify of the chat in case you missed it or just want to re-live it.