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Milica Vukadin - Let's Speak Up: Engaging Young Learners with (8) Chit-chat Activities

Speaking as a production skill somehow always comes last in large classrooms simply because there is this lingering idea that having too many students lowers the chances for speaking activities. While every teaching context is unique, I always disagree with my colleagues when it comes to skipping out on speaking activities in large classrooms. Why? Because I stand by the saying 'the more, the merrier!'

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Word Wall – an excellent vocabulary building technique by Mrs. S. Akilandeswari

Children nowadays need immediate results and they are happy with easy, simple and interesting techniques.  I teach English to students of age 15-17. The technique I use with my students is Word Wall. Word Wall is usually used in Primary classes and very rarely used in the Middle and the Senior Classes.

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To Speak or Not To Speak?

"Let's talk" is likely one of the most commonly used sentences in an EFL classroom by EFL teachers, as spoken language is the most crucial communication instrument. Let's talk about this, let's talk about that ... We look forward to our students speaking fluent and accurate sentences. The result, however, is not the way we want it. Then, we look for the effective ways to promote this. 

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Finding the Unusual in the Usual

There are a number of simple exercises aimed at expanding and solidifying your students’ vocabulary which I found very useful. Most of them work well with any age and level; you just have to trust your own ability for trial and error, and for distinguishing between the “right” and “wrong” activities for your class.

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A Journey of Learning: Reading

Reading is the process of taking in the sense or meaning of letters, symbols, etc., especially by sight or touch. [1], [2], [3], [4]

Another definition is the interpretation of symbols to extract the meaning from the visual notations or tactile signals (as in the case of Braille). [5]

Goodman defined reading as: “a receptive psycholinguistic process wherein the actor uses strategies to create meaning from text” (Goodman, 1997) [6]

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Maximising speaking opportunities

While speaking skills can best be learned in a natural face to face scenario, this may not be true for coy and shy teens. Online classes can be a silver lining to them. There’s no doubt that speaking activities like group discussions, pair work etc can be challenging to monitor owing to multiple break out rooms. However, activities such as role plays and public speaking if done using synchronous and asynchronous tools can be a good bet in a virtual setting for all types of learners. Below are some ideas/practical activities that can help maximize speaking opportunities.

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The proof of the pudding

When I am asked, both by students and by colleagues, how to begin speaking, how to overcome the language barrier, I usually give the same answer. The proof of the pudding is in its eating. Or, to paraphrase the famous charmingly ungrammatical quote from “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne, “one can’t have spoken without something having been said”. If one wishes to say something, one should say it. It sounds simple; why then is it so hard to really start speaking in a foreign language? I am sure any psychologist would produce a zillion reasons.

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A celebration of languages

Just as individuals identify themselves with a nationality likewise their being with a language. Languages help people associate with cultural, ideological, religious or ethnic characteristics. In today’s global era where impetus is on ‘one world one language,’ it becomes all the more necessary to celebrate languages.

Why do we need to celebrate?

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The significant 5 R’s in Vocabulary Teaching and Learning: Read, Review, Recycle, Reflect and Research.

1.  Reading: 
Reading habits are directly proportional to vocabulary growth. Reading is mainly categorized into two types: Extensive and Intensive. Both of these types are helpful in developing and strengthening vocabulary skills. Extensive reading (e.g. reading magazines and blogs) is reading for enjoyment with no tight boundaries, and the latter type (e.g. comprehension passages) is based on specific course objectives and tasks. We can include both of the types in the vocabulary lesson plan for maximum benefit.

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Transforming Online Classrooms to Maximise Speaking

Ensuring participation of all learners in a classroom is an accepted challenge in online classrooms. Since learners are in remote locations, the teacher lacks a number of advantages possessed by traditional classrooms. For example, in an online classroom, a teacher cannot physically verify if a learner is actually doing classwork or paying attention. Remote learning has flattened the three dimensional physical space and multidimensional intellectual and affective space into a one dimensional flat screen.

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