#KELTchat Preview: Building Rapport (with students)

It is with great pleasure that we announce the next topic for KELTchat:
Building rapport with students 

This is a topic that has had a long and storied career in the voting process, and was in a virtual tie with BURNOUT last round.

Some questions to consider (and perhaps discuss in the chat include: 

  • What is rapport?
  • Is it important? If so, why is it important?
  • Any observations related to rapport in the Korean context?
  • What do you usually do to build rapport with students?
  • What rapport building strategies would you like to try?
  • Any rapport-related success stories to share? Any failures? 
  • What are some challenges to developing rapport you face or have faced?
  • Any rapport-related resources to share?
  • What rapport-related advice would you give to new teachers or younger versions of yourself?

Some possible pre-reading:  

  1. Scott Thornbush Thornbury with R is for Rapport. 
  2. Mario Rinvolucri’s Six ways of improving relationships on the excellent (but inactive) 6 Things blog and as recommended on Twitter by the excellent Carol Goodey
  3. A very short piece from our friends at Teaching English: in which they define rapport.
  4. An #ELTchat summary on “Building rapport and confidence with students in ELT classes.
  5. Chris Ożóg with some insights on rapport (and teachers and yoga) 

Preview on Bringing L2 Output into our Classrooms.

[This preview was written by John Pfordresher.]

Hello Keltchatters,

The next Keltchat will be Sunday November 11, 2012.
The chat will start at
8:00 PM Korea Standard Time (+9GMT).
The topic will be
Bringing L2 Output into our Classrooms.

The topic, elected by Keltchat members, to discuss this week will deal with how we as educators can bridge the gap between the classroom and the world beyond.

English has become a global language and is used by non-native speakers as a means for communication. Everyday around 75% of English communication in the world is conducted via non-native speakers.

This begs the question (especially here in Korea), are we preparing our students for this reality?

The Korean education system favors specific countries from which to recruit their native teachers. The textbooks and CD-roms it chooses are highly Americanized. Our British friends know all too well the difficulties students have, in the beginning, understanding them.  What if a student met someone from Ghana? Or Russia? How would that student respond? Would they have the communicative competence needed to successfully navigate such an encounter?

Through our discussion we will tackle these questions and really explore the “why” element of bringing varied forms of output into the classroom.

Things to consider before the chat:

  • How could bringing non-native output into our classroom benefit our students? (or possibly hinder?)
  • What effect would bringing L2 output into class have on our students?
    • Motivation?
    • Curiosity?
    • Awareness?

In addition, for the second half of our discussion we will devote time to discussing ideas on how exactly we can bring those varied forms of output into our classrooms.

Things to consider for before the chat might be:

  • Is it possible to do with the demands placed on teachers today? How?
  •  How do you find authentic material for your classroom?
  • What resources exist online that might help us achieve such a goal?

If you have time you might want to head over to esllol.org and see what two of our Keltchatters have put together regarding the topic of our discussion.

Any further links or resources would be greatly appreciated, and can be added through the comments section below.

We hope to see you all there at 8:00 for a lively discussion.


John (@johnpfordresher)

3 announcements and a preview

Hello, Keltchatters and friends!

As you might guess from title, this post will share three announcements and a brief preview for the upcoming chat.

Announcement 1
The next #KELTchat will be on Sunday, October 28, 2012.
The chat will start at 8:00 pm Korea Standard Time.
The topic will be: The Lexical Approach (more on this below in the preview).

Announcement 2
For this #KELTchat we will have a special guest moderator!
Known on Twitter as @lexicalleo (perfect fit for the chat, right?), Leo Selivan is a senior teacher trainer and materials developer with the British Council in Tel Aviv. He has been with the British Council for the last 9 years and has delivered teacher training in many countries in the Wider Europe region. His key interests are vocabulary development and using video in the classroom, the topics he often speaks on at teachers’ conferences such as IATEFL, TESOL France, IATEFL Poland and ETAI. Apart from writing for the TeachingEnglish website, he maintains his own blog Leoxicon. We are thrilled to have Leo participating and hope and believe it will be a great chat.

Announcement 3
Due to the likelihood (possibility?) of having some newer members to #KELTchat this time Alex Grevett (@breathyvowel) has kindly offered his time, expertise, and help starting at 7:30 pm. In this 30 minute pre-chat, Alex will help newer chatters get their sea legs under them. Please come with questions or just ready for some scaffolded practice.

(Note: most of this preview (the good part) was supplied by @annehendler)

The democratically selected topic for the chat is “The Lexical Approach.”

It has been said that “words are the building blocks of language”. Sometimes it is added that “grammar is the cement”.

It seems like (even more so in Korea?) that grammar and vocabulary are thought of as “wholly other” things and that there is not much room for combining them or thinking of them in a different way.

Some questions to think/chat about might include:

  • How much focus do you give to collocations in class? How much would you like to give? Why?
  • How much focus do you give to fixed expressions? How much would you like to give? Why?
  • What are some ways that teachers can effectively focus on fixed expressions/collocations?
  • How can we improve our learners’ fluency through lexical instruction?
  • How can we best “sell” these ideas to students and admin?
  • What are some potential drawbacks from following a lexical approach?

Want to learn more about the Lexical Approach before the chat?

This one minute video on the Lexical Approach (from @MrChrisJWilson) is a good start.

Some additional potential starting points for pre-reading:
(perhaps mostly roughly in order of accessibility/ease of reading/assumptions of prior knowledge)







Please feel free to add any additional links in the comments.
Questions are most certainly welcome as well.

As always, we would be happy if you would join us for this discussion and add your own questions or tips.  If you’re new to Twitter chatting and aren’t sure quite how it works, check out this handy guide. If you have no idea what #KELTChat is, have a look here or here. You can also contact us through Twitter (@breathyvowel, @JosetteLB, @michaelegriffin, @alexswalsh, @annehendler) or on our Facebook page.

KELT chat: Through the eyes of a newbie

[This post is re-posted here through the kind generosity of John Pfordresher, whose excellent blog, Observing the Class, can be found here.]

There are a myriad of ways to get professional development (PD). The advent of new technologies is constantly increasing those possibilities and the size of the communities that can participate.

One method of PD I find particularly difficult to participate in is a Twitter chat. Now, I am still relatively new to Twitter, joining early this year, and have found it an instrumental resource for PD. This being so I can understand and see the how benefits directed chats, through Twitter, amongst a large group of educators could be enormously helpful.

However, every time I am on and ready to participate I find myself muted (which for those who know me, is an unusual circumstance). There are a number of problems.

  1. It goes so fast! I will be watching everyone and see something interesting I would like to comment on, but by the time I formulate a response within the constraints of Twitter (140 characters) I look up and the conversation has passed me by and everyone is onto a new topic. So I delete my comment and begin to “lurk” again.
  1. It can be severely disjointed. With a large group of people talking in a room, there is a bit more cohesion in the discussion and it is much easier for participants to navigate the contributions from participants. On twitter, everything is visual and can become overwhelming when trying to follow the conversation as one might in the “real” world.
  1. It’s short. Only an hour, and after the flurry of activity an uninitiated one, such as myself, can come away a little shell shocked. Grateful for all the information, opinions, and resources, but also a little “at a loss” with what to do with it all. How to organize it into a manageable manner that I can use for myself and my teaching.

Here I will admit, that so far, I have allowed these issues to dissuade me from joining on a regular basis. They have most certainly kept me from contributing. And that frustrates me, because I like to have my voice heard. I believe everyones voice being HEARD is exactly what the community is for, and why it is such an instrumental tool in improving ourselves and each other.

For all you other newbies like me, don’t give up just yet! After conversations with a number of regular contributors I have come to understand the forum of the Twitter chat a bit better. It is, for sure, still a bit daunting, but try and remember this.

  1. A twitter chat is moderated. It is the moderators job to make sure that all the voices that should be heard are heard. It is the moderator who will recognize your comment, and even though it may not fit with what is on the screen that moment, he/she will make sure you are heard.
  2. Don’t back down. If the moderator misses your comment, but you think it is a valuable addition, speak out again. Let it be known that you feel something is missing from the debate.
  3. Read the recap! Kelt chat, in particular, always has a write up the next day (or within a reasonable span of time) of the pertinent topics, big points made, and a list of resources thrown out throughout the hour. If you do not catch everything the minute it pops up, you will have a chance to gather it all at your own pace here.

I know this can be an invaluable forum for PD. I am going to keep trying, and I know that , just as with Twitter before it, I will become more comfortable with how to navigate it and use it in an immensely positive way. Won’t you join me?

Kelt Chat is held bi-monthly Sunday nights 8PM (+9 GMT) #KELTchat 

(PS- After completing KELTchat this evening (10/7/2012) I realized something else for the first time. Watching the tweets fly in I saw that in reality, it was a long list of many individual conversations. Many pairs or small groups have conversations all at the same time. This can be overwhelming if one expects to respond to everyone. However, between the moderator, and retweets, it is fairly easy to catch all the main points, and carry your own conversation. Something to keep in mind for the inexperienced – MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU)


This summary was graciously shared by Alex Walsh (@AlexSWalsh) and was based on the #KELTchat from September 9th, 2012. 

KELTChat Returns!

After an extended absence KELTChat returned with record numbers of participants to discuss the topic of ‘NEAT’.

More information needed

With enthusiasm for the topic overflowing the chat kicked off with a discussion as to what we can expect from the NEAT in comparison to TOEIC/TOEFL exams. @Michaelgriffin questioned whether the NEAT speaking section really is that similar to the current industry main players as some reviews have suggested 1. To truly compare what was being tested @ELTExperiences suggested we first gather some more information on the format of the NEAT speaking exam, despite @ChopEDU (who has recently completed an M.A assignment on this topic) rightly pointing out the dearth of information in English on this topic (a controversial yet insightful fact in itself) @BarryJamesonELT came up trumps with 2, @ChopEdu provided the following extremely useful links on assessment in general 3 and @michaelgriffin reinforced the relative wealth of information with 4.

After a quick skim of the provided links all agreed that the NEAT was introducing the assessment of the ‘4 skills’ into the Korean education system for students in middle school 3rd grade and below (2015 university applications).

How can we adapt our teaching to NEAT?

Our host for the evening (@josettelb) gently moved the discussion on to whether we are having to make any changes to our teaching approaches to help transition our students into the change. @bryanteacher pointed out that public school NETs have been largely uninvolved in the transition, a sentiment all agreed with, questionably a cause or effect of the dearth of English information.

The natural flow of the chat moved towards whether the test would involve critical thinking, @keisenhow summing up the evidence by stating it looked doubtful based on the information available, however @michaelgriffin suggested there is, at least, some real life application to the assessment, in agreement with @keisenhow that, for example, letter writing is a transferable real life skill. @AlexSWalsh meanwhile suggested that in the speaking assessment he had recently done on his students (which copied the speaking part of the NEAT exam, see 5 for more details) the students were required to incorporate both creative and divergent thinking skills, especially in the categories of ‘advice giving’ and ‘story telling’.

Time to prepare…

@MichaelGriffin, in his usual forward thinking manner, began questioning how we can help to overcome the ‘chaos’ of preparing students for the NEAT exam. @Bryanteacher pointed out the need to try and avoid what seems to be the knee jerk reaction in Korea of having students focus on regurgitation of memorized expressions, and @Seouldaddy sharing that perhaps huge changes don’t have to be made and a slow transition may be the best way. @AlexSWalsh suggested one way NETs can help is by building similar speaking activities into our lesson plans (for more information/examples see 6)

Poor students

There was concern amongst the participants about the effect this test will have on students, @Chopedu providing evidence that students will be ‘doubling down’ (having to do two sets of tests, the current KSAT plus the new NEAT exam 7), and it was pessimistically, but realistically agreed, that the NEAT could end up being exploited as just another way to make money by certain parts of the Korean EFL industry, which could also lead to a widening of the gap between urban and rural students.

On a positive note

On a more positive note it was pointed out that positive washback of NEAT may help push CLT and TBLT forward in Korea as well as the teaching of lexical ‘chunks’ of language, leaving a general scent of cautious optimism amongst the teachers.









http://ltj.sagepub.com/content/25/1/39 – An article on EFL testing in Korea by Inn-Chul Choi

All about Assessment

Assessment: Follies, Strategies and Teaching to the Test

It was another active chat with lots of sharing, questions, ideas, and challenges shared. Expertly moderated by Alex Grevett (aka @breathyvowel), the chat was held on Sunday, June 17th at 8:00 pm Korea time.

The only valid assessment?
(photo courtesy of albertogp123 on flickr)

Some key issues and questions that emerged were:

  • What is the purpose of assessment?
  • What are we assessing? And why?
  • How can we balance our beliefs about assessment with other factors like admin?
  • How we can assess the quality of the assessments; how objective?
  • How and what should we measure?
    (These last two questions came courtesy of @chopEDU)

How are we currently assessing students?

After some hellos and comedy we started the chat out with a quick rundown of our current assessment practices/situations. The responses were varied, as one might expect considering the variety of contexts that #KELTchatters work in, as well as the amount of students and “face-time” we have. Here is a sampling of the answers:

@breathyvowel wrote, “My university expects either a written or spoken quiz each week, plus a 70/30 written/spoken mid-term and final.”

@BarryJamesonELT shared, “I’m in a hagwon so assessment is.. erm.. basic. Tri monthly test. Basic scores daily for each class for word test, memorize.” Barry later mentioned that, from his view, the tests are not extremely beneficial and that there is sometimes some score changing to please parents. When asked for a suggestion on improving things he wrote, “First step, change the actual tests we give. They are basic generic tests which really only check writing then we just attach a few questions which counts as a speaking test. Not really testing anything.”

@michaelegriffin: (focusing on one specific class for “clarity and sanity purposes”) said, “Scoring system is midterm & Final 25% each,project 10,weekly quizzes 10, participation 30 (chosen by me) for my discussion course.” Mike (who apparently loves to use the third person about himself) continued, writing, “students know that if they come to the exams they will get a high score and a bunch of comments bout what i heard” in exams where students talk for 10 minutes to rotating partners about previously discussed topics. Mike also mentioned that he tries to listen for what students ask him to listen for.

@languagebubble employs a similar system, writing, “I do group conversation – 3 Ss, 10mins… i prompt when the conversation is stalling.”

@AnneHendler tweeted, “I am required to evaluate Ss RWSL + vocab, grammar on the fourth day of class. :) I use ongoing assessment.” Anne elaborated saying that she mostly does mostly observations in which students  “don’t know they’re being assessed” and that she is “looking for improvement over the course of the week.” She later mentioned that she writes “comments on what they did well and how to further improve on the written eval.”

Chiming in from England (with many Korean students) @sx200i wrote, “Assessments every 6 weeks, not on what Ss have been taught via book or other face time but using Cambridge exam papers” and later adding, “no speaking test – only an assessment relating to CEF.”

In regard to his current context Mr. @AlexSWalsh shared the following tweets (after which he apologized for moaning):

“Sometimes I wonder if im testing my ability to listen more than their ability to speak English, especially by the 450th test. “

“Yep 450 speaking tests, each one is 2 mins. I can’t figure out how it’s anything but a waste of time
they get 4 questions a week before, are randomly asked one, give them a mark in a rubric”

“Last year I had 5mins and I thought it was quite interesting for the Ss and me, but not sure it was worth 4 weeks teaching time!”

“I guess I’m just a bit confused about them the more I do them. I also question why the Ss r actually taking speaking tests?”

“What am I looking for? Who’s lived abroad the longest!”

Memorization of answers as well as help from hogwan teachers on such tests were also mentioned as potential problems.

@GemL1 had a more positive view of speaking tests, writing, “I think it’s good for younger Ss to have spking tests, shows spking is as important as other skills” and added, “it helps them focus in my classes more and good practice for future, only bout 10% of their overall grade.“

What about scoring participation?  

On this issue, Breathy wrote, “As part of my encouragement of personal responsibility, my Ss award themselves participation… I give them a rubric, and they tell me at the end of each class what they think they merit” with the caveat that “I do reserve a right of veto though.” Mike admitted that his participation score was something along the lines of coming to class and not sleeping. Breathy said that this system actually saves him time because he just needs to determine if the students are being reasonable or not (though his words choice was a bit different). Barry shared a guest post by @phil3wade on his blog about grading participation http://t.co/ZvygVtyk while noting that participation is hard to mark.

What are common beliefs about assessment in Korea? And why?

Anne shared her thought that a preference for “objective” assessment seems to be quite important in Korea and @michaelegriffin added, “Yesterday a Korean HS teacher told us that Korean schools prefer paper tests because they seem objective (reliable? valid?).” @breathyvowel mentioned, “I think also paper tests tend to be quicker to mark, which is a big thing for a lot of people everywhere.”

Also, someone wondered if there might be a lot of assessment for assessment’s sake done in Korea.

What are some other ideas/tips?

One idea that was floated was to (secretly) listen to a few students per class and then try to get a clear picture of their abilities this way, rather than a big test at the end. (There were some questions about how to make this work numbers-wise but it was an idea.)

@quietpotato asked, “How about focusing on communicative tests? E.g. Trinity GESE exam syllabus – multi level speaking tests YL & Adult” and then provided the following link: http://t.co/p601cvBF.  He added, “though it again takes the form of a conversation, so the student doesn’t have to worry about ‘learning lines.’”

@breathyvowel shared a quiz idea he tried recently, offering, “We were doing verb patterns (hope to, enjoy -ing). I had Ss write 6 sentences, but they couldn’t write their name on the paper. Graded out of 15, 6 grammar, 6 intelligibility, 3 if I guessed who you were.”

@languagebubble has speaking homework assignments which allow him to listen more carefully to specific students and provide feedback to them.

Thanks all for the great chat and see you when the summer hiating is over.