Learning Strategies & Learning Styles

strategies and stylesLearning strategies vs. learning styles:

* Broadly speaking, learning styles can be defined as general approaches to language learning, while learning strategies are specific ways learners choose to cope with language tasks in particular contexts.

* Learning strategies are the ways in which students learn, remember information and study for tests. They refer to the actions and behaviors students use to learn but learning styles refer to the general approaches that students use in acquiring a new language or in learning any other subject.

* The strategies a student uses to learn depend greatly on his/her own learning style.

Learning styles:

Each student has his/her own style of learning. As a result we have different students with different learning styles inside the classroom as shown below:

1. Visual or spatial learners:
They need to see things to fully understand them. They learn best from visual objects such as diagrams, charts, etc. They prefer to write things down.

2. Auditory or musical learners:
They learn mainly through listening so they learn best through discussions and talking. They benefit most from reading texts aloud and using a tape recorder.

3. Physical or kinesthetic or tactile learners:
They learn through using their body, hands and sense of touch. They tend to use their muscles so they can be used well in playing, tidying, cleaning the board, collecting activity books, etc. They learn best through using their hands making things, fitting things together or taking them apart so hands-on activities are ideal to help those students learn best.

4. Social or interpersonal learners:
They prefer to learn in groups or with other people. They have the ability to understand others’ feelings and intentions.

5. Solitary or intrapersonal learners:
They prefer to work alone and use self-study. They have the ability to understand well their feelings, strengths and weaknesses. They tend to write personal diary, achieve independent projects, discuss feelings about certain topics, express likes and dislikes, etc.

6. Verbal or linguistic learners:
They prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

7. Logical or mathematical:
They prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

Learning strategies:

Many students use learning strategies automatically without any awareness of them. The role of teachers here is to:

* recognize their students’ learning strategies,

* make them explicit to students, bring them to their attention and talk about them.

* encourage students to use them in the classroom

* make them more effective to the learning process,

* base teaching process and techniques on these strategies.

Students use the following learning strategies most often when learning a language:

1. Cognitive strategies which enable the learner to manipulate the language material in direct ways, e.g. through reasoning, analysis, note-taking, and synthesizing

2. Metacognitive strategies which are used to manage the learning process overall, e.g. identifying preferences and the need for planning, monitoring mistakes, and evaluating task success.

3. Memory-related strategies which help learners link one item or concept with another but do not necessarily involve deep understanding, e.g. using acronyms, sound similarities, images, key words.

4. Compensatory strategies which help make up for missing knowledge, e.g. using gestures, miming or guessing the meaning from the context.

5. Affective strategies which help learners manage their emotions, such as identifying one’s mood and anxiety level, talking about feelings, rewarding oneself, and using deep breathing or positive self-talk.

6. Social strategies which enable the learner to learn via interaction with others and understand the target culture, e.g. asking questions, asking for clarification, asking for conversation help, talking with a native-speaking partner, and exploring cultural and social norms.

To be able to use the suitable strategies for you, you should know first your learning style BUT What is your learning style? Click and take a few minutes to do a quiz to be aware of your learning style.

14 Decisions Made by Classroom Assessment

assessment decisions

Classroom assessment can help the teacher make decisions concerning his/her lesson teaching. These decisions depend on answering the following questions before, during and after teaching any lesson. They are as follow:

6 Assessment-based decisions made by answering questions before the lesson:
1. What input do students need to learn?
2. What interests of my students do I need to consider as I plan my lesson?
3. What materials are appropriate to use with students?
4. What learning activities do I need my students engage in during the lesson?
5. What objectives do I want my students to achieve as a result of my teaching?
6. How can I organize and arrange the students in the class for the lesson activities?

4 Assessment-based decisions made by answering questions during the lesson:
1. Is my lesson going well? Are students learning?
2. What should I do to make this lesson/activity work better?
3. What feedback should I give individual students about the quality of their learning?
4. Are my students ready to move to the next activity in the learning sequence?

4 Assessment-based decisions made by answering questions after the lesson:
1. How well my students achieved my objectives?
2. What strengths and weaknesses should I report about students’ learning?
3. How effectively did my students learn this lesson?
4. How effective were my materials, activities, class organization and teaching techniques I used?

8 Kinds of Testing & 6 Types of Tests

testing1

There are eight kinds of testing. They are as follow:

1. Direct testing:
Testing is said to be direct when the student is required to perform directly the skill which we wish to measure. E.g. we ask students to write compositions if we want to know how well they can write compositions. We ask them to speak if we want to know how well they can pronounce a language.

2. Indirect testing:
Indirect testing attempts to measure the abilities which underlie the skills in which we are interested. E.g. we test pronunciation ability by asking students to identify pairs of words which rhyme with each other.

3. Objective testing:
It doesn’t require judgement on the part of the scorer because scoring here is objective. It won’t change even if the scorer has been changed. Multiple choice test is an example of this kind of tests.

4. Subjective testing:
It requires judgement on the part of the scorer because scoring here is subjective. The grades in subjective testing depend on the impressions of the scorer. These impressions are not the same among different scorers. Scoring of a composition is an example of this kind of testing.

5. Discrete point testing:
It refers to the testing of one element at a time, item by item. This kind of testing is always indirect. Each testing involves a particular item. Testing particular grammatical structures is an example of this kind of testing.

6. Integrative testing:
It includes many language elements in the completion of a task. It might involve writing a composition, taking notes while listening to a text and completing a cloze passage.

7. Norm-referenced testing:
This kind of testing relates one student’s performance to that of other students. We don’t say that student is capable of doing well in the language but we say the student gained a score that placed him/her in the top five students who have taken the same test.

8. Criterion-referenced testing:
The purpose of this kind of testing is to classify students according whether they are able to perform some tasks satisfactorily. Who perform the tasks satisfactorily ‘pass’, those who don’t, ‘fail’. We measure students’ progress in relation to meaningful criteria.

TEST1

6 Types of Tests

There are six different types of tests. They are as follow:

1. Placement test:
It is used to place new students in the right class in a school. It assesses students’ productive and receptive skills. It is designed to show how good a student is in English in relation to a previously agreed system of levels.

2. Diagnostic test:
It is used to discover student problems, difficulties or deficiencies in a course. We use this type of tests to know students’ strengths and weaknesses so as to be able to do something about them.

3. Progress/Achievement test:
It is designed to measure students’ language and their skill progress in relation to the syllabus they have been following. This type is directly related to language courses and done during the course.

4. Final progress/achievement test:
It is done at the end of the course to measure students’ achievement of the course objectives or goals.

5. Proficiency test:
It is not necessarily based on certain courses that students may have previously taken. Most students take this type of tests to admit to a foreign university, get a job or obtain some kind of certificate. It is designed to measure students’ knowledge and ability in a language.

6. Aptitude test:
It is designed to discover whether a student has a talent or basic ability for learning a new language or not.

16 Reasons for Classroom Assessment

class assessment

Classroom assessment is the act of collecting information about students, curricula and methodology with the aim of making decisions concerning to students’ needs and teacher’s objectives.

Classroom assessment should help the teacher in:

1. Determining student strengths and weaknesses.

2. Determining learning styles of his/her students.

3. Learning about student interests in various topics.

4. Classifying students into groups based upon their learning abilities, personal interests, characteristics and achievements.

5. Monitoring and following the progress of individual students.

6. Providing feedback about students’ achievement.

7. Specifying suitable teaching materials and activities.

8. Discovering what students have learned and what they still need to learn.

9. Deciding what to teach next.

10. Determining how to adapt lesson content to student need and learning styles.

11. Evaluating the effectiveness of teaching methods.

12. Assigning grades and feedback to students.

13. Giving feedback to parents.

14. Giving feedback to other teachers in the school and the principal.

15. Communicating with other professionals to provide more effective courses.

16. Recycling and revising previous lesson content.

Suggested aspects to focus on in classroom assessment:

1. Participation in the group work.

2. Ability to express in speech.

3. Ability to express in writing.

4. Listening comprehension.

5. Reading comprehension.

6. Neatness of handwriting.

7. Use of school library.

8. Response that show understanding.

9. Oral activities: discussion and answering questions.

10. Sharing in planning and preparing wall magazines.

11. Co-operation with the teacher and classmates.

12. Bringing books and doing homework.

13. Sharing in class activities.

14. Continuity of progress in learning and of dealing in good behavior.

Evaluation, Assessment and Measurement

evaluation

Evaluation is a purposeful, cyclical process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting relevant information in order to make qualitative judgments and take decisions concerning to certain performances, materials, activities, courses or programs in the light of certain aims, goals or objectives.

There are two types of evaluation:

1. Formative which is concerned mainly with forming and enhancing the process of learning. It is the ongoing assessment that teachers do into the classroom in order to decide to what extent they achieve their objectives or goals with the aim of making modifications for bringing about improvements.

2. Summative which is concerned with evaluating the whole knowledge of the learner and his/her progress & proficiency.

Evaluation has two sides: Measurement and assessment.

Measurement is the process of using certain tools, criteria and skills in order to make quantitative judgments of students’ achievements. Therefore measurement is impersonal and objective.

Assessment is the act of collecting information on individual learners’ performance proficiency and achievement in the light of certain objectives. Therefore assessment is personal and specific.

Using Video Clips in EFL Classroom

video in classroom

We often use video clips in EFL classroom to enhance listening skill and promote speaking. Video clips are valuable classroom tools especially when English is considered as a foreign language that is available to be listened to only in the classroom and not spoken outside it. Video clips provide students with an important stimulus for language production and practice. In addition, there are many other advantages of them in EFL classroom. Some of these advantages are as follow:
1. Students can observe in them real setting, actions and gestures.
2. They can be stepping stones to fun and communicative activities which include pre-viewing, while-viewing and post-viewing tasks.
3. They make everyday English accessible to learners.
4. The speech in them is authentic and the adversity of accents is clear.
5. They are rich with English-speaking cultures.
6. The language spoken in them is real, that is, structures are used in real contexts and real-life situations.

There are many things we can do with these video clips in EFL classroom. Here are some video clips-based tasks:

Sound off and watch:
Students are divided into groups. They watch the video clip with the sound turned off. It is preferable that the clip on focus includes emotions with plenty of gestures to stimulate students’ imagination. Students in each group are asked to predict the content of the scene, write their own script and perform it for the public. After the performances students watch the scene with sound turned on and decide which group was the funniest and which one is the nearest to original. This exercise is a good fun and promote speaking and imagination as well.

Information-gap exercise:
Students are divided into two groups. Students of the first group see and hear a clip; students of the other group only hear it. After that students of the second group have an interview with students of the first group asking them about what they have seen. This exercise is good for practicing grammatical structures, promoting speaking and enhancing listening skill.

Watch, observe and write:
Students view a scene full of actions. Then they are asked to write what they have seen. This exercise aims at practicing new vocabulary and writing compositions.

Dictation exercise:
Students watch a clip a few times. Then they are asked to write the main words and important phrases that a particular character says. Students are divided into groups. Each group is asked to focus on a character, listen carefully to what it says then write the key words and phrases of its speech. Teacher checks spelling and grammar of what students have written.
After that students are asked to use their memory or imagination to add to what they have written to compose the whole script of the video clip. Then the groups can perform the scene. This exercise gives students the opportunity to work on grammar and vocabulary, promote listening and practicing writing.

Watch and answer:
Students are asked to focus on the actions they can see and the dialogue spoken. Teacher can teach them the key vocabulary beforehand. After watching, students’ memory and comprehension are tested by asking them a series of true/false questions and asking them to put a series of events in order.

Features of pronunciation exercise:
We can select a scene deals with connected speech in particular prominence (or sentence stress) which is the speaker’s choice and use to convey a meaning. Students can watch the scene and decide which parts of the sentences are prominent and the meaning that the speaker wants to convey with his sentence stress. This exercise is very useful to allow students to practice sentence stress in context.

Put-in-order exercise:
In this exercise students listen to and see some jumbled mini dialogues. They are asked to put the mini dialogues in logical order to make a good and real conversation that we can enjoy and understand. And then students are asked to role play the whole conversation. This exercise develops students’ communication skills and encourages them to practice conversational English.

8 Tips for ELT Teachers’ Professional Development

PD

1. Join a professional organization:
Connect yourself with a network of people who do what you do and who share your concerns. You’ll receive newsletters and periodical journals of ELT. I suggest you to join niletesol.org
NileTESOL is a professional association for all those individuals who are actively involved in the development of the teaching of English and in teaching content in English in Egypt and globally.

2. Attend workshops, conferences, online presentations and webinars:
They’re good opportunities to meet your fellow teachers, get some inspiring ideas and know about EFL books and materials.

3. Meet up with your own support group:
Find some fellow teachers who are willing to meet occasionally or have lunch together for the purpose of exchanging thoughts and ideas. A long-term relationship with other teachers can be very beneficial.

4. Go online:
Have a daily access to the internet and do many things that relate to ELT. First of all visit our eltguide network to learn, share and leave your feedback:
* Facebook.com/eltguide (page on facebook)
* eltguide.wordpress.com (blog on wordpress)
* slideshare.net/eltguide (ELT presentations on slideshare)
Also you can create your own page or group on facebook and invite your colleagues to join and interact. You can sign up for ELT lists too. That provide you an opportunity to talk with thousands of EFL professionals internationally.

5. Get examination copies:
Get a look at them, answer the questions and be aware of the specifications of the exam paper. Learn how to put a good exam on the courses students in your country study. Know well how to evaluate and test students’ English.

6. Get a business card and a CV.:
This will make it easier for you to network when you go to conferences and meetings or even when you go online. This is a great way to introduce yourself as well as to spread your qualifications and achievements to the audience you care for. This gives you a self-esteem boost.

7. Enroll in a foreign language class:
Put yourself in the position of a student and know what it feels like to struggle with a new language. This experience will improve your level in English language and your level in teaching English as well. This exercise is so useful that it is worth repeating every few years to refresh your mind and increase your self-confidence.

8. Expand your ELT knowledge and English vocabulary:
Read, read and read all what you have or can get of ELT materials. Focus on practical ideas that you can make use of and practical steps that you can follow in your EFL classroom. Write down the gist you’ve got from the topics you’ve read about to be helpful resources for you in the future.
Again, read, read and read but this time real English in stories, news, everyday conversations …etc. with the purpose of getting fun and as well for expanding your stock of vocabulary. When you come up to a new word, know not only its immediate meaning but expand on its uses as well and know the prepositions it can take and the different meanings this results in. Also, know more real-life examples of how to use new words.

Six Principles to Communicate Best with Students

communicate

As teaching should be a participative and interactive activity, there must be a kind of communication between teachers and their students. As a result, teachers should be well aware of the principles and techniques that help them be more effective communicators and get what they want from their communication with students. The main six of these principles are as follow:

1. Listening well with signals that prove attention and interest in what students say.

2. Using the voice well with variations of tone that send various responding messages to what students say or do.

3. Using suitable words to convey clear messages and instructions so that students know well what to do exactly.

4. Making the best use of body language to control the class and demonstrate attitudes towards students’ actions.

5. Communicating by eye contact to show interest or encourage students to correct their errors by themselves.

6. Considering the effects of physical environment on creating effective communication. Rearranging the furniture, opening a window, hanging some photos or pictures, sticking some wall sheets and many other similar things can make a big difference with our communication with students.

In fact, there are many other communication principles teachers should stick to while interacting with their students and it’s your turn to add one more below.

Remember that miscommunication between a teacher and his/her students is enough to hinder learning or prevent achieving teaching objectives.

Accuracy and Fluency Activities

fluency vs accuracy

When we focus on accuracy activities we:
* focus on forming correct examples of language use.
* produce language in a controlled way.
* deal with grammar explicitly.
* insist on receiving grammatically correct and complete sentences.
* practice language out of context.
* practice small samples of language.
* do not require authentic communication.

When we focus on fluency activities we:
* reflect natural language use
* deal with grammar implicitly.
* encourage free production of the language.
* reflect automatic performance.
* produce language that is not always predictable.
* require the use of improvising, paraphrasing, repair and reorganization.
* require real communication.

The focus on fluency activities would help learners develop communicative skills but those activities do nothing with linguistic competence. In other words the use of authentic communication particularly in the early stages of learning would help students often develop fluency at the expense of accuracy resulting in learners with good communication skills but a poor command of grammar.

To solve this problem the teacher should do the following during fluency activities:
1. get the learners’ attention to the presence of a linguistic feature in the input.
2. treat with grammatical features explicitly but within context.
3. focus on form but within task-based activities.
4. use various activities that develop the learners’ communicative skills and increase their attention to linguistic forms as well.

Ten Abilities & Skills Primary Teachers of English Need to Have & Develop

primary teachers

1. Understanding and deal well with young learners knowing well their characteristics.

2. Understanding the process of teaching and learning with young learners and overcoming any challenge that may occur sometimes.

3. Creating a relax atmosphere in the classroom and a friendly relationship with the young learners.

4. Speaking English fluently with the correct pronunciation.

5. Creating various & interesting activities and suitable learning environment to get their attention all the time.

6. Selecting & using well the most suitable teaching methods & materials for young learners.

7. Designing suitable assessment tools for young learners and following the right procedures to evaluate them during the language lesson.

8. Encourage, praising and giving a hand to low achievers of young learners.

9. Creating and implementing a remedial programme to raise the level of low achievers.

10. Being an actor, a story-teller, caretaker, mentor to achieve learning objectives with fun.

What else do you think primary teachers of English need to have & develop?

English Language Teaching & Testing Guide © 2018 Frontier Theme