Five Effective Strategies to Make Vocabulary Stick

Many experiments demonstrated that vocabulary forgetting starts as soon as learning happens. So what can be done? Research shows that there are some effective strategies teachers can use to help make vocabulary learning stick. The following are the main five of them:

1. Use peer explanation:

Ask students to explain what they’ve learned to their classmates. They can pronounce the words and explain their meanings. This strategy can not only increase retention but make vocabulary learning permanent in the long-term memory. In addition, it encourages active learning and students’ engagement.

2. Recycle the key vocabulary:

Review important vocabulary throughout the school year. Re-expose students to the previous vocabulary and give them multiple opportunities to use them in new contexts. Research shows that students perform better in their exam when they are given a brief review of what was covered several weeks before.

3. Give frequent practice tests:

In addition to regular review of the previous vocabulary, frequent practice tests on vocabulary can boost their long-term retention. Frequent practice tests protect against stress that often impairs memory performance. You can use a quick quiz at the start of each lesson to test your students’ knowledge of the vocabulary taught in the previous lessons. It is an effective remedial plan for low achievers who often forget vocabulary quickly.

4. Use word mapping:

Write a key word on the board or on a wall sheet and ask students to write related words or phrases to it. When similar words are grouped together, students will remember them more often. In addition, their stock of vocabulary will increase. This approach is helpful for students when writing a paragraph on certain topic.

5. Combine text with images:

It’s often easier to remember words that have been presented with visual aids. Visual aids can not only attract students’ attention, but also they can facilitate and reinforce learning. It’s easier to remember what’s been read and seen.

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Question Types to Test Your Students’ English Skills

As a teacher of English, you need to test your students’ English periodically to know to what extent they learned the language. Learning English should include mainly learning vocabulary and grammar. In addition, you should test their reading comprehension and writing skill. If you want your test to be complete and comprehensive, your test should include a listening activity and a speaking task. Here are some suggestions for the questions you may include in your test:

Vocabulary

To test knowledge of vocabulary, you can ask students to:

  1. Write words which relate to common topics such as family, work , school, jobs, …etc.
  2. Use the appropriate word from a list to fill in the space in a context.
  3. Match the words with their meanings.
  4. Choose the right word from certain options to complete a context.

Grammar

To test knowledge of grammar, you can ask students to:

  1. Choose the right word or phrase from certain options to complete a structure.
  2. Change a sentence from tense to another using a clue.
  3. Rearrange words to make a grammatically correct sentence.

Reading

To test reading skills, you can ask students to:

  1. Read for skimming to answer questions on the main points of a reading passage.
  2. Read carefully to answer some questions on details.
  3. Summarize a long reading passage in two or three sentences.
  4. Extract some information from a short text to fill in a table.
  5. Read a story and then put the main events in the right order.

Writing

To test writing skills, you can ask students to:

  1. Write accurately certain amount of words about certain topic using correct sentence structure, word order and connectors.
  2. Write different kinds of written texts like essay, letter, email, story, short paragraph, etc. following the rules of writing each kind.
  3. Use some given guided words to write about a certain topic.

Listening

To test listening skills, you can ask students to:

  1. Listen for specific information in listening texts.
  2. Listen to short dialogues and tell the meanings of some words in context.
  3. Follow a listening short text and show understanding by doing the instructions included in the text.

Speaking

To test speaking skills, you can ask students to:

  1. Speak clearly using appropriate stress and intonation.
  2. Pronounce words so that they can be understood.
  3. Describe pictures or other visual material connecting ideas together accurately and with a range of language.

Five Things You Must Do Well If You Want to Be Effective Teacher of English

There are some important characteristics and skills which are a must for any teacher of English to do his job effectively. Without these things, it’s preferable for the person to try another job or for the teacher of English to teach any subject other than English language. These things are as follows:

1.Talk well:

As a teacher of a language, you will not be able to teach it if you prefer to be silent most of the time especially during the class. You should be a model for your students in talking well using the language. Talk and encourage your students to talk to learn the language.

2. React well:

Good reactions are the main element in the learning process. You should have the ability to react to your students’ talk, questions and responses. Your reactions should not only be in a verbal way. Non-verbal reactions are often more effective. In your reactions you should use all means you have to give the suitable and effective feedback.

3. Explain well:

The core of teaching is explanation. You need to learn how to clarify language items to your students. Explanation includes many skills; e.g. giving examples, presentation, clarification, wrapping up, … etc. it’s a joke if you are a teacher and not having the skills of explanation. But it is not too late. You still have the opportunity to learn to teach, I mean to explain.

4. Enjoy:

Learning a new language is and must be usually an enjoyable experience. Suppose that you don’t feel excited when you learn or teach the language, how come to make your students enjoy learning this language. Enjoyment and excitement make learning permanent and guarantee achieving all learning objectives.

5. Create:

Teaching a language does not only mean presenting some certain individual words or teaching grammatical rules directly using very controlled activities but it should include creating real-life situations to use the new language. If the teacher of a language is not creative, students will not have the opportunity to live with the language. Language will be something stable for them. Teacher of English should go beyond controlled and guided tasks to free production stage. This kind of transfer will not be possible unless the teacher has the sense of creativity and encourages the students to be creative, too in their use of the language.

Six General Tips to Manage a Class

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What does “Classroom Management” actually mean?

Classroom management is the most important factor affecting student learning.

It is the effective discipline in the classroom that provides a safe, comfortable learning environment, motivates your students, build their self-esteem and encourage them to be imaginative and creative in daily lessons.

It is having control of the class by organizing students and resources so that teaching and learning can occur effectively.

Reasons for disruptive behavior in the classroom:

Students misbehave for several reasons:

  • They are bored.
  • They don’t know the purpose of your presentation.
  • They are not aware of the importance of the information that you are delivering.
  • Activities are not interesting.
  • The pace of the teaching is too fast, or too slow.

Principles of classroom management:

  1. Dealing with disruptive behaviors.
  2. Minimizing off-task behaviors.
  3. Engaging as many students as possible in learning activities.

Six General Tips to Manage a Class:

1. Over plan your lessons:

If you don’t plan, the student will plan for you.

The more you plan, the more effective the lesson and delivery will be and the less problems with discipline will occur.

  • Ensure that you fill each minute of the period with learning activities.
  • Be prepared and organized well.
  • Minimize transition time among tasks.

2. Arrange the seating:

  • Rearrange the desks — both for your language lessons and sometimes even for a particular activity so that it is both easier and more natural for students to see and talk to each other.

3. Look at the students:

  • If you are standing, and your eyes are constantly moving over the class, everyone feels involved.
  • Your eyes help your students’ concentration.
  • The easiest way to check whether your students understand what you have said or what they have read or heard, is for your eyes to look at theirs.
  • Any incomprehension or confusion will show in their eyes long before they tell you that there is a problem.

4. Use your hands to encourage and direct students:

  • A simple gesture can indicate who is going to answer a question or which pair of students should now read a dialogue.
  • Simple gestures can also indicate that something is wrong.
  • Use a collection of gestures to avoid unnecessary language which can distract students.
  • Gestures can indicate what is required from individual students, or even from the whole class, with a minimum of fuss.

5. Vary your voice:

  • Pauses, stress and changes of voice when you change from comment to instruction and from statement to question will mean that it is much easier for students to follow and pay attention to what you say.

6. Gain attention:

  • Gain student’s full attention before giving instructions.
  • Provide instruction with simple and clear language.
  • Provide one instruction at a time – do not provide too many different instructions.
  • Make your lessons relevant and interesting to your students.
  • Use examples that interest students.

16 Types of School Tests

1- Objective Test vs. Subjective Test:

Objective test is independent of the person marking that test. There is usually a key of answers that leaves no room for subjectivity in grading (e.g. M.C tests or false-true tests) but in Subjective test, the score depends on the marker. It usually happens that different markers give different scores. The gap between the markers may be sometimes very wide (e.g. in free writing).

2- Speed Test vs. Achievement Test:

The speed test aims at measuring the speed of performance. It is made a little longer than the time given. (e.g. Two hundred items on grammar to be answered in an hour) but achievement test aims at measuring students achievement. The given time is made to be adequate; emphasis here is on measuring achievement not speed.

3- Public Test vs. Local Test:

The public test is given on a country-wide scale and prepared by a central authority. It is usually announced and relatively long. It is normally given at the end of a school cycle but the local test is locally prepared and given at the same school level by the class teacher.

4- Standard Test vs. Normal Test:

The standard test is carefully designed and undergoes long experimentation and research. Each score has a special interpretation that indicates where a certain scorer stands among a statistical population of similar individuals but the normal test is not standardized. The majority of tests, of course, belong to this normal category.

5- Written Test vs. Oral Test:

The answers for written test are to be given in a written form but the answers for oral test are to be given orally.

6- Announced Test vs. Drop Test:

The teacher assigns the test material and fixes a certain date in advance for the announced test but the drop test is given without previous announcement. It is usually a short one and it aims at keeping students on the alert.

7- Classroom Test vs. Home Test:

The test questions of the classroom test are given and answered in class but the home test is given in class but answered at home .

8- Closed-Book Test vs. Open-Book Test:

Textbook are closed while students are taking the closed-book test but students are allowed to use their books while answering the questions of the open-book test.

Eight Tips to Manage the Classroom and Keep your Students’ Attention

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Classroom management is mainly based on attracting and keeping your students’ attention. If you succeed to do that, you will be able to achieve your learning objectives easily. Here are some tips to attract your students’ attention

  1. Use a signal for zero noise (e.g. if I raise my hand, you all should keep silent.)
  2. Come close to two students chatting and surprise them.
  3. Give clear instructions for each activity telling students what to do exactly.
  4. When making transition from one activity to another, ask for your students’ attention.
  5. Eye contact with as many students as students to monitor the entire room.
  6. Differentiate and vary your activities during each lesson to break monotony.
  7. Ask questions to check students’ comprehension.
  8. Keep silent for some moments while looking at students until they pay full attention.

Quick Guidelines for Writing Effective Test Questions

It is a challenging task for teachers to write test questions, especially when a test is being used to measure certain learning outcomes. Take into account the following guidelines before you begin writing test questions.                                                     

True/False questions

True/False questions include high probability of guessing the correct response so it is better to avoid them and find a more substantial way to ask the questions. If you think of using this kind of questions, you must not include them any of the qualifying words such as “sometimes” or “always” because these words provide a clue to the correct answer. True/False questions are best used for pre-tests to help identify what the learner doesn’t know.

MCQs

Multiple choice questions or MCQs are less subject to guessing. In addition, they can be used to assess higher-level thinking. The stems and solutions or alternatives must be constructed effectively by:

  1. Stating the stems clearly presenting a single, clear problem or question in each stem.
  2. Avoiding negative phrases or irrelevant material in the stems.
  3. Avoiding clues to the right answer and using “all of the above” or “none of the above” in the alternatives.
  4. ensuring that distractions or alternatives are reasonable and presented in logical order.

Essay Questions

Essay questions are and should be used mainly to measure higher-level thinking skills such as analyzing, synthesizing and making connections. In these questions, clear guidelines should be provided about the topic, grading or marking so that students can be well aware of how to write the essay. Students should be provided with a lot of practice on writing several short essays rather than on a long one to allow them to write on a variety of topics.

Seven Kinds of CLT Activities to Build up Students’ Communicative Competence

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is based on the main goal of involving students in meaningful communication using the target language. There are many activity types that can be used in the classroom to achieve that goal. The following are the main ones of them.

  1. Communicative activities:

In these activities students should use the language in real-life communicative situations where real information is exchanged and authentic language is used. In addition, the language used is not predictable.

E.g. when asking about directions and how to get to certain places; the nearest bus stop, café or train station.

  1. Information-gap activities:

These activities achieve the goal of people’s communication which is getting the information they don’t possess. Students are encouraged in the classroom to do this kind of activities to communicate meaningfully to obtain information.

E.g. divide students into pairs to practise role-playing. Each student has information that the other doesn’t know. One student asks for information on train departures, prices, the time, … etc.

  1. Task-completion activities (puzzles, games, map-reading, … etc.)

In these tasks the focus is on using the language resources to complete a task.

  1. Information-gathering activities (survey, interviews, searches, … etc.)

In these activities students are required to use the language resources to collect information.

  1. Opinion-sharing activities:

In these activities students share their values, opinions and beliefs such as listing the most important qualities of a good teacher or the best friend.

  1. Information-transfer activities:

In these activities students take information from one form and represent it in a different form. E.g. reading information about a subject and represent it in a graph or a map.

  1. Reasoning-gap activities:

In these activities students derive or infer information from given information.

E.g. deriving information from the classroom timetable.

 

Aims & Key Stones of any Teacher Mentoring Programme

Mentoring is a partnership created to help and assist mentees to reach the highest levels of professional and personal development.

Effective mentoring programme should aim at the following:

  1. Identifying and meeting mentees’ personal and professional needs.
  2. Facilitating the growth of mentees personally and professionally.
  3. Providing mentees with ongoing support, professional conversations and supervision.
  4. Reducing the problems that mentees may encounter during their teaching practices.
  5. Supporting development of mentees’ knowledge and skills.
  6. Providing mentees with the opportunity to analyze and reflect on their job and roles.
  7. Building a theoretical foundation with mentees for teaching and learning.
  8. Providing mentees with various resources to get information.
  9. Developing mentees’ understanding of teaching strategies, delivery skills and classroom management procedures.
  10. Familiarizing mentees with subject content concepts and activities that facilitate learning.
  11. Supporting mentees’ understanding and implementing of various means of students’ assessment in the classroom.

Key stones in any mentoring programme:

  1. Active listening.
  2. Classroom observation and teacher conferencing.
  3. Role modeling for teachers.
  4. Giving and receiving feedback.
  5. Leading reflective professional conversations.
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