#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 Slowburn: “What role does translation have in the language classroom?” 7th April 2015, 11am-7pm (KST)

Tuesday sees another longer form #keltchat  Slowburn™, happening from 11 am to 7 pm. 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 the role of translation in teaching languages. Translation has in the past had somewhat of a bad reputation, particularly when collocated with “grammar”. However, almost all speakers of a second language seem to do some translation, some of the time. How often have you heard a fluent L2 speaker of English pause and say to themselves, “now how do you say that?”

As usual, here are some questions to act as prompts for the chat. Feel free to answer any or all of them during the chat. Tangents are also very much encouraged. However, when you first join the chat, you might want to consider sharing your thoughts on the first two questions as a way into the discussion.

  • What role do you think translation has in the language classroom?
  • Do you use any translation techniques in the language classroom?
  • What’s good to translate? What’s not good to translate?
  • Should we abandon the grammar translation approach entirely, or were there some benefits to it?
  • What are some useful spoken translation activities?
  • How about written ones?
  • How can native teachers use translation techniques even if they do not speak the students’ L1(s)?
  • How can teachers use translation with mixed L1 groups?

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 Summary for 25/11/12 – Task-based Learning in Korea

This summary was written by @johnpfordresher, whose own excellent blog stylings can be found at http://observingtheclass.wordpress.com

Another Keltchat has come and gone, and once again a lively debate helped the collective better understand Tasked Based Learning (TBL). A quick roll call was conducted and then on to the TBL goodness.

@breathyvowel moderated the event masterfully and began by asking participants who had tried TBL and how strong a form of TBL they usually use.

  • @johnpfordresher admitted to weakly attempting it a few times.
  • @hallg has used medium strength TBL with her int/high university level “comm skill” courses and is eager to try more after the positive responses she has received from her students.
  • @GemL1 has tried to strictly stick to the tenets of TBL a few times, and loosely applied them at others.
  • @ChopEDU told the group that he first began using TBL tasks before he knew they were TBL tasks.
  • @michaelgriffin has done them strongly numerous times and received mixed feedback from his students, however the final results of his TBL tasks were “fabulous”.
  • @SophiaKhan has used them but with less structure than others
  • @yitzha_sarwono has only used TBL slightly over the years.

Asking about what negative feedback students have given teachers regarding TBL Michael Griffin reported, “We [students] don’t know what we are **LEARNing.” And not enough teacher support.

With that came the end of the first part of our discussion and our moderator moved onto asking why TBL is “not so big here in Korea?’

  • @hallg probably b/c test-taking is such a strong focus?
  • @michaelgriffin chimed in whit his typical humor “I wonder…I just don’t know it could be… umm maybe.. well I think mm what about GRAMMAR… (yeah that’s it)”
  • @sophiakhan Yes, can be scary for both T & students – less control/predictability. Students may not understand the validity
  • @GemL1 because they like to focus on grammar and prefer / r used to approaches like PPP. And teacher centered classes are more popular here.
  • @chopEDU wondered if traditional/cultural views of student/teacher roles in Korea inhibit the acceptance of TBL?
  • @michaelgriffin speculated TBL might be an approach used more if teachers were very explicit and showed students TBL was a “thing” and not made up. More to buy into
  • @sophiakhan so maybe in Korea the face validity is a big thing (showing that it is a researched and established approach)
  • @Seouldaddy notes that task based instruction is taught in teacher prep but reality sets in when they get a job

Our moderator @breathyvowel then adroitly moved the discussion forward with the following question. So my thinking is that students passive knowledge could be activated by TBL, no? Everyone readily agreed. Mr. Moderator then asked us what positives could come from utilizing a TBL approach in our classes here in Korea.

  • @hallg breath of fresh air for Ss tired of stale class life?
  • @keisenhow accomplishing a task brings confidence
  • @gemL1 gives Ss the opportunity to b creative both with language and in other ways, welcome break from normal approach
  • @michaelgriffin redresses the (un)balance that we have been talking about
  • @chopEDU TBL enables Ss to use language in meaningful ways

(On a side note @johnpfordresher asked what exactly a “task” entailed.

  • @Rhettteacher Agreed! Esp with #youngesllearners Give me a pencil task or activity?
  • @hallg basically: goal-oriented, adaptive, authentic, meaningful, etc. activity
  • @sophiakhan This is a v. imp Q. For me a ‘task’ is not just an activity. Must be real life purpose & entail a range of lang
  • @hallg – agreed!! real-life purpose esp….I always tried to tell/show my Ss how tasks reflected ‘real life’
  • @chopEDU a task is some kind of communicative (and potentially authentic) activity that has a clear outcome)

Our moderator then asked the group to think about how they have, or could, implement TBL in their classrooms here in Korea.

(This led to another side note started by @seouldaddy said, “I don’t believe that it is that valuable in the current environment. #keltchat great for developing communicative competence but that’s not the focus now. @Keisenhow disagreed and said the new NEAT test was designed specifically for communicative competence. @rhettteacher mentioned that extra curricular teaching plans are being phased out! Korea should find a more TBL curriculum.)

  •  @hallg suggested we revise or create one task based on book focus/content…& try it out…revise strategy & expand. One ‘real life’ task I did was to get Ss to participate in panel discussion…b/c my students were likely to do something like that in future. I’ve had Ss introduce how to make a presentation or how to design & edit a video.. real-life for my classes, too
  • @GemL1 suggested TBL doesn’t have to be a whole lesson, can just be an activity. most people have probably used TBL without realizing / calling it that. Ideas: planning trips, planning a dinner party, job interviews, making a documentary
  • @seouldaddy WebQuests are a nice problem-based approach. Many of the examples online aren’t aging gracefully, but the approach is solid.
  • @breathyvowel asked “In some forms of TBL, the tasks are graded & designed to push students to the language they need. Anyone ever tried doing this?
  • @michaelgriffin I have designed tasks to meet language needs of students, which are discovered through prev. tasks. I don’t really have much to say about implementation aside from try it out and be brave and ready to justify decisions. #justdoit
  • @rhettteacher implementation is a evolving process. It changes each time you teach. Teach Students, not classes.

@GemL1 noted it is difficult to assess using standard tools which led our moderator to ask about for participants to share any experience with self-assessment that they have had. @rhettteacher mentioned his elementary assessments in my class often get a smiley face for successfully participating in the “task”

As time was drawing to a close our moderator asked participants if there were any drawbacks to using TBL in our classes.

  • @breathyvowel Downside – monolingual classes may use a lot of L1 when completing the task
  • @michaelgriffin Downsides include students not seeing/feeling progress (suggestions include making sure they can). Students might feel lost without T input. Potential Solution: Lots of feedback. Ah, another tip: Realize and express to students the teacher realizes that this is different! Help them feel that it is an (planned!) adventure. More advice, Forget bout Ellis/Willis/Ect and make it your own for something that works for you and your students.
  • @hallg yes feedback is so important. Also, helping Ss along the way with scaffolding. For example, when doing int vids, I model how to approach Subjs & ask for perm to interview & record
  • @GemL1 – potential downside – some Ss may dominate and contribute a lot more than others, solution: assign specific roles
  • @leoselivan I like the idea with specific roles and perhaps rotate them too

@michaelgriffin I didn’t even vote for this topic and I don’t have much to say.

And with that the chat came to a close.

A whirlwind of an hour it was, I hope this summary has helped to piece together the many lines of thought brought out by Mr. Alex Grevett. A great thanks to him for expertly moderating and helping all of us work out the ins, outs and what have yous regarding TBL in Korea.

Some confusion lingered throughout the chat as to the definition between TBL and PBL. Perhaps this would be a good topic for a future discussion? Do you have any ideas for our next chat? If you do, add them in the comment section below, or find us on Facebook at #Keltchat.

Links

–Write up on strong form TBL – http://kevingiddens.posterous.com/teddy-bears-bookmaking-and-publishing-ceos-ta

–A TBL idea mentioned by @hallg and @gemL1 – http://fiftypeopleonequestion.com/

–Michael Griffin shared a review of “widgets”- a different type of coursebook- http://eltrantsreviewsreflections.wordpress.com/542-2/ and http://www.widgets-inc.com/teacher/tblt.php

–The great @Kevchanwow talks TBL- http://theotherthingsmatter.blogspot.kr/2012/04/4-approach-challenge-or-attempt-to.html

–Six things all language teachers should know about tasks – http://sixthings.net/2010/06/25/six-things-all-language-teachers-should-know-about-tasks/

–@GemL1 shared a good example of a TB grammar lesson which can be found here-  http://www.onestopenglish.com/grammar/grammar-teaching/task-based-grammar-teaching/

–@leoselivan shared this link to “From tasking purposes to purposing tasks” by Anthony Burton- http://www.eltj.org/ELTJ%20debate%202003/bruton1.pdf

–@leoselivan defends TBL – http://leoxicon.blogspot.kr/2012/05/in-defence-of-tbl.html

–@keisenhow mentioned “Rod Ellis has a clear and concise slide show on TBLT on Slide Share- . http://www.slideshare.net/search/slideshow?searchfrom=header&q=task-based+language+teaching

–From Marisa Constantinidies- “Here is a good page from the Willises” – http://www.willis-elt.co.uk/taskbased.html

#KELTChat Preview: Task Based Learning in Korea – Sunday 25th November, 8pm

Hi everyone,

Introduction

This weeks poll resulted in a crushing victory for the topic of task-based learning. This is not entirely a surprise given that there has been some chat surrounding this on our Facebook group recently.

Background

For those of you who are new to the concept of task-based learning, here’s a Wikilink which outlines some of the definitions and issues. If you want to dig a little bit deeper, I would suggest these two articles which examine the concept of a task, and the influence that TBL has had on ELT publishing. Finally, should you wish to go the whole hog, here’s Dr. Andrew Finch’s evaluation of the task based learning program that was designed and implemented (and afaik is still being used) at Andong university.

Things to think about

This being #KELTChat, we’re happy for the discussion to take whatever form that it may. However, here are some things might come up in the chat if you wish to do some thinking beforehand.

  • Have you ever tried TBL? Was it successful? Why?
  • Why isn’t TBL more popular in Korea, especially in universities?
  • What are some of the barriers to implementing TBL?
  • If TBL’s focus is on task completion, how do we evaluate it?
  • How can teachers design their own tasks effectively?
  • What is the role of the teacher during the task?
  • How might we get administrations to be more accepting of TBL?

If you have any other questions, opinions or musings outside of these areas, please do feel free to mention them in the chat. I hope to see you all on Sunday at 8pm.

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, @johnpfordresher) or on our Facebook page.

Cheers

Alex G (@breathyvowel)

#KELTChat Summary: Automaticity & Fluency (23rd September 2012)

This a summary of the #KELTChat that took place on Twitter on the 23rd September 2012. It is dual posted on the KELTChat Blog and my personal blog The Breathy Vowel, but feel free to only read the one version!

On Sunday night we witnessed one of the busiest #KELTChats ever, with over 200 tweets sent in an  hour on the subject of Automaticity & Fluency. Along with regular members, I’d really like to mention the great contributions by two first-timers (I believe): @bora_maren and @jankenb2. Welcome to the community :)

We started out chatting about how important fluency was in our classrooms. The consensus was that it is important in every context, but especially so in Korea, where the bias of school teaching (we will return to this later) is towards grammar and vocabulary, and some teachers are guilty of treating language as knowledge, rather than as a skill, especially where speaking is concerned. We also pointed to the fact that opportunities for practice outside the classroom are limited. I think this is why those of us who teach at universities, such as @languagebubble, put fluency “at the forefront” of their classes.

For @keisenhow it was not only speaking fluency, but thinking fluency in English that was important, which she tries to promote through a task based approach, with thinking time built into a pre-task stage. Combined with relevant tasks and good modelling this helps her students to access the language that they need to complete the task.

We then had some fascinating ideas about the nature and role of fluency. @jankenb2 felt that fluency helped students to free their minds to focus on meaning more (I think I may have Matricized this a little in transcription), and @tamaslorincz added that it might also help with accuracy and range. @chopedu summed this up nicely with a metaphor: “Like learning to drive, we struggle before we can relegate the mechanics to the subconscious and just focus on the journey”. I wasn’t quite sure I agreed with this view on fluency though, for me meaning should always come first, but I am in no doubt that fluency helps to deliver quicker and clearer meanings. The beauty of #KELTChat was that this was then jumped on by both @bora_maren and @chopedu, claiming that form should sometimes come before meaning, and that students could not focus  on meaning, accuracy and fluency all at once, and that performance in the other two factors would drop if students focused on just one. This thread of the discussion then moved on to the role of repetition and games in the classroom. I suggested that simple speaking tasks could be redone with different audiences, and different focuses each time, and @jankenb2 highlighted the role of games in maximizing repetitions within an environment where they are actually required (ie. not just endless drilling).

While all that was going on, another chat within a chat was taking place about the role of fluency within high school classrooms. @bryanteacher (another brilliant recent addition to the #KELTChat squad) suggested that he focused much more on fluency activities, and introduced us (well me, at least) to the concept of ‘unlocking’ what the students already know. This was heartily agreed with by @annehendler, and the point was raised that it often meets opposition from school teachers who prefer to focus on the eminently more measurable and testable quality of accuracy (@josettelb).

At this point @alexswalsh chimed in with a very good point about the fact that fluency activities were strongly tied to motivation and the reasons the student is learning English. This seemed a good point, and again goes back to the testing culture here – why bother putting in the effort to be able to produce something fluently when all you need to do is check a box on a multiple choice exam. @michaelegriffin, @languagebubble and myself all agreed that motivation is crucial in developing fluency, but that we may be able to ‘sow the seeds of motivation’ by giving enough space for fluency in our classrooms. The flip side to this argument came from @alexswalsh again, suggesting that a) students may just throw chunks of language together to finish a task, and b) that doing fluency activities with large classes is not practical because many students simply revert to the L1.

Another issue that came up for public school teachers is that of level, and teachers not trusting their students, or not thinking fluency activities were necessary at lower levels. @bryanteacher pointed out that any “low-level” middle school student has a good few years of English education behind them, and this would seem to make the case that fluency needs to be concentrated on from the very beginning, a bit like what I understood Demand High ELT was all about.

The penultimate part of the discussion stemmed from the motivation thread, and considered how we could make an atmosphere in our classrooms that was conducive to practising and building motivation to achieve fluency. We talked in terms of a “safety zone” (@languagebubble), of which features might be “thinking time” and a “friendly atmosphere” (@bora_maren), or a “social presence” (@keisenhow). “Lightheartedness and laughter” and improving student dynamics through team building are important for @languagebubble.

Actually, that wasn’t the penultimate bit of the discussion, as another thread popped up at the last (this is not the easiest #KELTChat to summarize, in case you hadn’t noticed). This brought in a bit more SLA research which says that students learn linguistic features in predictable sequences. What does this mean for fluency though, @chopedu asked @jankenb2? The response was that even when students seem to be backsliding (I assume in terms of grammar and lexis), especially in conversations, this may still be a sign of progress, and again brought us back to the separate concepts of ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’.

Finally we did get down to talking activities, which for the sake of my tired fingers I’m going to present as a list.

In terms of book recommendations @languagebubble and I also highly recommended English Firsthand for developing fluency, especially at lower levels.

And that more or less rounded off the chat for the evening. Both moderating and participating was a thrilling experience, it seems like every chat is better than the last right now, so thanks to everyone who joined in! I’m going to leave the final word to @bora_maren, in one of my favourite #KELTChat tweets ever:

“It was my first time joining.I enjoyed it a lot. It was a bit confusing and I am still dizzy but I am sure i will get better.”

Pretty much sums it all up I think.

Cheers,

Alex (@breathyvowel)

PS I’ve tried to be as accurate here as possible, while weaving the various threads of the chat into some kind of cohesive whole. If anyone feels that they’ve been misquoted, misrepresented or misused, please get in touch and I’ll do my best to correct it. You can also see a Storify of the important bits of the chat here:

http://storify.com/breathyvowel/keltchat-23rd-september-2012-automaticity-and-flu

#KELTChat Preview: Automaticity & Fluency – Sunday 23rd September, 8pm

Hi everyone,

There’s no poll this week because the last one ended in a tie between NEAT (if you missed it check out @alexswalsh ‘s summary) and Automaticity and Fluency. We took the decision to do NEAT that week, and tackle Automaticity and Fluency this.

Personally, I think that fluency is an often ignored concept in Korea. We’re all aware of  standardized tests which require such a breadth of knowledge that any time available is spent cramming in new information, rather than working on improving what students already know. Sometimes just the pressure of trying to cover a curriculum, or even just not wanting to bore students with too much repetition causes us to neglect it.

During the chat, we hope to explore how to foster automaticity and fluency in our students; how to do it, when to do it, and how to make time for it in class. We’ll also look at what constitutes a fluent speaker. We also hope that people will share any fluency building tips or activities, and there may also be space to explore the role of related areas such as error correction and accuracy.

If you want a little pre-chat reading, you could do much worse than scan this piece by Scott Thornbury and the ensuing discussion in the comments.

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.

Cheers

Alex (@breathyvowel)

#KELTChat Summary (19th May 2012): Superstar Activities

@JosetteLB has curated a marvellous summary of Sunday’s #KELTChat on storify.com. It contains all the key posts and links from the chat, and will be of great use to all of us in planning our classes in future.

For now we’re having trouble with embedding or publishing the story on this blog, so please follow the link instead. You can find the story here:

http://storify.com/JosetteLB/summary-for-13th-may-2012-superstar-activities

If anyone knows how to publish or embed a Storify story on a WordPress.com blog, please do get in touch.

Alex G (@breathyvowel)

#KELTChat 13th May 2012, 8pm: Superstar Activities: Activities that rock your classroom

For those of you who can read it (sorry, the image came out rather small and I’m in a hurry), the most popular topic on this week’s #KELTChat poll was “Superstar Activities: Activities that rock your classroom” as suggested by @seouldaddy in our chat two weeks ago.

This is a chat that I’m personally very much looking forward to. I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us to add to our “teacher toolkits”, and find some new activities to boost flagging midterm morale.

During the chat we hope to discover some of what makes an activity “great”, especially for the Korean context, and why some activities simply don’t work. For the most part though, this is a great chance to share the what and how of some of your positive teaching experiences. I look forward to hearing all about yours on Sunday at 8pm.

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.

Alex (@breathyvowel)