Dimmi Domanda is adapted from an idea I saw on The Language Gym (a great resource for this kind of thing!). Using DimmiDeck, or even scrap paper on which the students have written or drawn the relevant vocabulary, students practise question forms and short answers in a simple, fun and frantic card collecting game. Great for kids and teens!
As part of the preparation for taking my DELTA, I will be reviewing certain TEFL books in the hope of helping other teachers to sieve through the huge amount of literature on the market. These are not just recommended books, these are the ones I’ve been recommended that deserve to be seen as essential reading. All the books in this series have helped me in a significant way to better understand teaching English. I’m sure they can do the same for you!
Techniques and Principles in English Language Teaching – Diane Larsen-Freeman and Marti Anderson
This week I wanted to share another ‘classic’ TEFL book that crops up on countless reading lists. Techniques and Principles in ELT (TPELT from now on!) aims to give an overview all the influential teaching methods of the past hundred years or so in a concise, efficient volume.
What’s it about?
The book is essential a short, practical history of how we got here. When I say ‘here’, I’m referring to the current methods that we all use as teachers, i.e., the methods we learnt on CELTA or our original TEFL course.
The ‘communicative approach’ is a term banded around a lot, but really the way most modern language classes operate is by using a mix of various approaches rather than a stand-alone ‘method’. In this book you will get to read about those oft mocked methods such as ‘Grammar-Translation’, the ‘Audio-Lingual’ method and even ‘The Silent Way’.
Whilst it sounds a bit dry and heavy going, the book actually reads very logically. I was surprised to find that it is somewhat of a page-turner (as far as academic texts go) and the short, stand-alone chapters do a great job of breaking up the flow.
But those methods were all proved to be a bit crap weren’t they?
Well… yes and no.
The writers do a fantastic job of remaining completely neutral throughout their descriptions of the methods. They give you the theory behind it, how it works in practice and an example lesson observation. At the end of each chapter you get a short breakdown of the methodology used and are asked to question which parts you agree with or use in your own classrooms.
What was most surprising for me was that a lot of the methods we deride so freely today were actually created with the best intentions. Often they are also based on sound methodology that we still respect.
The main issue with most of them and the reason that we no longer subscribe to such methods (although many are still used in different parts of the world) is that they are mostly very restrictive. They follow their core belief almost obsessively and by rejecting other equally valid theories. This makes them ineffective for the majority of contexts and situations.
On the other hand, whilst alone they seem incredibly rigid and incompatible with what we know today, there is a lot to be learned from these old methods. It makes you question if the way we teach today will be looked upon in hindsight as dated and ineffective.
Who’s it for?
TPELT is for every teacher who wants to understand why we teach the way we do. Much like last week’s How Languages are Learned review, TPELT is essential for teachers who want to understand how we got here. If ‘How Languages are Learned’ shows us the theoretical studies that led us to the beliefs we have today, Techniques and Principles shows us the practical path we’ve taken.
So now, when a student asks you ‘what method do you use?’ and you have an opportunity to explain your approach, you’ll be in a real position to explain to them why you teach the way you do, why you use certain techniques and, most importantly why you don’t use use a ‘traditional method’.
A must read!
It’s giveaway time!
To celebrate our returning to the classroom for a new term DimmiDeck are giving away a 1-year digital subscription to the excellent English Teaching Professional magazine.
Plus, the winner will also get a free DimmiDeck Standard Edition enabling them to use all our DimmiDeck activities in their classroom, plus add a few of their own! If you’re new to DimmiDeck, check out our about page for more information.
Entry is completely free – and by sharing your unique link with your teacher friends they will not only get a chance to win, but you will get an extra three chances to win for each friend who signs up!
What are you waiting for? Sign up for the contest today! Entries will close on Sunday evening and the winner will be announced the following week.
Thank you and good luck!
Anthony and Alessandra
If you’re not using Nerf guns to recycle vocabulary yet, what’s going on?
Disaster at the Art Gallery
A renowned artist has lent the art gallery 12 of his most famous portraits for a special exhibition. There’s only one problem – the exhibition starts in fifteen minutes and you still haven’t set up!
What’s it all about?
I’m a big fan of gallery readings. Focusing on language from a reading text is one of the most effective ways of highlighting new vocabulary and grammar. However, it is really ineffective if the students aren’t engaged in the text.
This is fine for a lot of topics where it’s easy to engage students, but what about those times when it just isn’t going to work?
For this activity I’ve used the example of ‘the passive voice’ as one of those somewhat dull grammar points that is nevertheless important to highlight. This activity, by making the ‘reading’ part of the lesson more of a game, effectively ‘tricks’ your students into noticing the grammar form without having to engage them immediately in a particular topic.
What’s more, there are two options for language study in the same activity – adjectives with -ed/-ing endings or the passive.
Take your pick and slip this fun activity seamlessly into your syllabus!
What You Need
1x Set of information cards for your chosen language focus
.. and some blu tack!
Cut up the different Picture Information cards from the PDF.
Optional – Remove one of the information cards. As a follow-up activity the students can identify the missing card (as there will be one picture without one) and write it together in the same style as the other descriptions.
Place the DimmiDeck characters from the PDF on walls around the room as the ‘art gallery’.
- Divide students into two or three small groups.
- Divide the information cards equally between the groups (ideally three or four per group).
- Explain that they must read their information cards and place them under the correct picture on the wall using blu tack.
- After all the cards have been placed (and assuming every picture has just one information card) students must read through and check the work of the other groups.
- Clarify the meaning of any new and emerging language.
Now focus on your chosen language point as you normally would. The students have now read the texts in order to complete the task and so you can now bring their attention to the language point. You can then continue with standard practice activity such as a gap fill followed by a production task.
There’s a lot of scope with this activity to adapt it for all levels and as an introduction to various vocabulary topics. Why not create your own Information Cards for the deck? Create 8-10 new cards each containing a word from a new vocab set, for example, clothing words, to focus on after the match up.
The examples given here are just that – examples! Create your own cards with your own short texts and give your students an alternative to traditional reading exercises.
The Correction Dilemma
Few of us would argue that correction is one of the most important things we can provide as language teachers. Taking someone’s own, often carefully crafted response or utterance and helping them to perfect it is something that students often only receive in the classroom. This makes it valuable, desired and ultimately expected by your students.
In Defence of Smartphones
Let’s face it, things change.
Even as a (relatively) young teacher I often find myself feeling out of touch with how fast things have moved on since I was a teenager. Just the other week, I presented a computer keyboard to one of my younger students in order to type her name and she explained that she didn’t really know how to use one. She’d only ever used tablets and phones.
Jesus, I felt old.
Yet when it comes to smartphones I’m not intimidated by them. For many teachers they are a scourge amongst teenage classes. They’re an obsession and a distraction, and they have no place in the classroom.
I disagree. Not only should you allow mobile phones in class, but you should integrate them into your activities from time to time.
Hear me out!
We’ve launched on Kickstarter!
We are now live on Kickstarter!
‘Early Birds’ get a 15% discount on the DimmiDeck – limited to the first 150 backers! We are also offering discounts on double decks, limited edition ‘large’ decks and bulk orders as well as Kickstarter Exclusive Cards (scroll down to see!)
One year in the making
For the past year we have been testing, tweaking and improving the DimmiDeck to reduce preparation time and make our language lessons more engaging and more fun.
We’re so happy with the 50 characters that made it into the final deck. 100s of activities, dozens of games and tonnes of vocabulary. Total engagement with minimal preparation. If you’re a language teacher, you’re going to love this deck of cards!
Not your average flashcard!
Each of the 50 DimmiDeck characters has 9 different vocabulary sets (plus some surprises…) built into each card. The same card can be used for teaching a dozen different words.
Don’t have any time to prepare? No problem, any card you choose will show one of the desired vocab topics. Got a little more time? Check out our ‘quick reference’ guide to varied vocabulary sets (plus a sneak peak at all the cards!)
We need your support!
Kickstarter is ‘all or nothing’. We either reach our goal and print a large run of DimmiDecks for language teachers all over the world, or we don’t.
Support us today and as well as being the first to get your DimmiDeck, you can look forward to free activities and lesson plans, future products that expand on new ideas and vocabulary topics, a community of language teachers sharing activities and advice for free and support from us here at DimmiDeck.
What are you waiting for? Check out our Kickstarter campaign, watch our video, try our free activity ideas, see our productions stills and, most importantly, order your DimmiDeck before the discount expires!
Thank you for your support!
Anthony and Alessandra
Thanks to the hundreds of you that entered the giveaway.
“Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., TESL has 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Curriculum Writer in Canada including 7 years in Hong Kong. Patrice has taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs such as ESP, EAP, Business English, and language programs for new immigrants in Canada. Patrice now works as a teacherpreneur (www.teacherpreneur.ca) doing the things that she loves such as writing courses, sharing teaching materials, instructional coaching and travelling at any time of the year to conduct short-term training around the world. Please visit (www.patricepalmer.ca) for free ESL teaching resources.”
Congratulations Patrice! We hope you enjoy the subscription.
Everyone else, stay tuned for future competitions and teaching-related giveaways!
Have a great week!
Happy new year!
We are currently taking a few days off while we prepare to return to Italy after the Christmas break, so there’ll be a smaller blog update this week. Christmas may be over for us in the UK, but in Italy there’s still one big event left to finish off the Christmas period – Epiphany.