The British Council and The Bell Foundation sponsored a continuing professional development conference for ESOL tutors, teachers and practitioners working in prison settings, as well as those involved in managing or leading provision of offender education.

The conference was part of the English Nexus Offender Learning project, which has the aim of connecting ESOL professionals through opportunities for developing practice and knowledge-sharing.

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    The online sessions provided teachers, managers and professionals with an opportunity to:

    • find out about the latest developments and research in the UK prison education sector.
    • inform discussion topics and engage in current debate with a panel of experts on the challenges of teaching ESOL in prisons.

    The English Nexus Offender Learning project is a partnership between the British Council and The Bell Foundation, and is co-funded by the European Integration Fund, to provide support to ESOL teachers and learners in prison contexts, through new resources for learners and continuing professional development for educators.



    Thank you for addressing a truly vital issue- though I feel somehow like I missed the 'happy ending.' I would really appreciate having access to your handout as well as to more details of studies which explain the success of your approach. I have seen students make incredible progress in their speaking, reading and writing skills because of an emphasis on listening practice- with exercises you recommend as well as the traditional comprehension question approach typical in assessment tests- but which lead to communication of 'critical thought.'

    Secondly, I think I read somewhere that 30% of children have suffered hearing damage because of environmental noise. Adults then, with an extra 20% of daily worries filling their heads, also have a hard time concentrating on listening.  This is just to say that the equipment used in classrooms needs to be much much better than it normally is, unfortunately.

    Finally, I'm presumptuous enough to add 2 suggestions for listening practice though I'm not sure they fit in with your approach.  The first is to exploit speed settings on PC music players to play a recording- starting from sloowww to faster to normal and on to even faster than normal - This lets students find that they can discriminate sounds with each listening. A reverse process is interesting, too.  They're normally quite pleased to realize they understand even the faster speed. The point I make is that repetition is a technical option they have, with mp3 and dvds, to get their brains tuned into the new sounds of the 2nd language.

    The second exercise, at the end of the class, is to listen to a song.  I tell students just to note the first letter of each word they hear.  Then I only play the first 15 seconds or so of a real surprising song, like Going Under by Evanescence ... After their eyes pop out and back in, we listen again while a volunteer notes the letters on the board. The third time everyone's singing away.  I always hope that both of these exercises will be used by the students on their own as personal learning strategies.

    Thanks again for an interesting talk.

    I have been teaching young children for some years now and it has always been a challenge. And when it comes to the listening exercises I always try to do different things, including a bit of theatre. When I want children to memorize a word I ask them to repeat the word very slowly or fast, then I scream out the word, encouraging them to do the same and right afterwards I repeat the word in a very low voice so that they do the same. Whenever I do this exercise I stand up tall when saying the word out loud and I almost get down on my knees when I whisper the word. The children do the same. I also use rhythm and sound as if it were a song.
    In my opinion songs / music is one of the best ways to teach English to young children in an easy, informal and funny way.

    Hi Mark
    Sorry to hear you are having problems - the video appears to be working here fine - I've tried it with different browsers. Perhaps you could try using a different web browser, as sometimes this can make a difference? Please let us know if you still have problems.

    Nice job explaining complex charts and material. I use a far simpler method to teach vowel sounds - the Color Vowel Chart, and am experiencing significant success with it. There is a British and American version.

    Hello Mark,

    Any chance of a copy of that slide from section 7, please - minimal pairs / watching chips (etc. - 'mistake' intentional!). It would be great as it's such a common error with Spanish speakers, most of whom can't, won't or simply don't move their mouths enough ...

    Thanks in advance!

    Best wishes

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