#KELTChat 14th September 2014 (8pm KT) – Making the most of reading materials

Good morning, afternoon or evening and welcome back to this season of #KELTChat. After our summer break and a public holiday, we are back with a one hour Twitter chat on Sunday 14th September 2014 at 8pm Korean time.

As voted for on our Facebook group, the topic for this chat is “Making the most of reading materials.” As ever, we have racked our brains for some questions that might prompt discussion, though we would point out that the chat is by no means limited to these, and should you have questions of your own to ask we would very much like to read and discuss them. One clarification is that we are thinking about textbook style reading texts, as opposed to graded readers and extensive reading.  Here are the questions:

  • What do we hope to achieve by using reading texts in class?
  • Ok you have a text that you need to use. You have been told students need to read it. What can you do with it?
  • What are different ways you can spice things up and move beyond read for gist and read for detail?
  • What are the best ways to exploit texts? How can you encourage students to revisit the text? Do you “mine the text’ for language points? If so, when and how?
  • Are there any follow up activities you have found to be effective?
  • How/ when/ why would you adapt a text for mixed level classes?
  • What would you do with a boring text?
  • How do we best work with fast and slow readers?
  • Why do people insist on giving students a reading text but no task other than “read this?”
  • Are there ways to move beyond the lockstep classes that can tend to happen when reading in class?

If you would like to take part in the chat, you will need a Twitter account. There are some excellent how-to guides at the top of the page (not written by us!). If you would like a more personal explanation, ask on the Facebook group and we’ll be happy to help. We’d also point out that while we are Korean centered, we’re by no means exclusive, and you should feel free to join us from anywhere in the world. We’d welcome the international perspective.

We hope to see you on Sunday.

The #KELTChat team

#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