Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Free EFL/ESL speaking and listening course

As I have to come up with a teaching course that prepares students for the speaking and listening sections of the CAE/CPE and ALCE/ECPE exams for the school, I decided that I would share this with all of you out there, whoever you may be.I decided that I would create a Wikispace, as I did with my previous course, EFL and Web 2.0 tools. It's still very much a work in progress so please forgive any typos and the like.

I hope in the course of the next two weeks to have it all ready and find suitable links online so that you will have access to video audio clips etc.

Here is a small taste;


This course is intended to help prepare advanced students (the Council of Europe levels C1 and C2) for the interview and listening sections of examinations such as;


Whilst the lessons do not follow any one particular test format, they do help students practice the core skills required by any high level EFL/ESL examination. The course needs to supplemented by examination practice activities such as past papers and mock tests to make sure that learners feel comfortable with the format of the examination they are doing.

The material consists of thirty lessons which are divided into three categories;

1 Short exercises - these are designed to be done in 30 minutes or less and can be repeated as many times as you like during the duration of the course.

2 Long exercises - these are designed to be done in either one or two 45 minutes teaching periods.

3 Projects - these are designed to be done over a longer time frame and can either be done in the lessons or set as long-term home work exercise.

Course Principles

Every activity described in this Wikispace follows the same core principles when it comes to learning to produce and understand spoken language.

1 Design your lessons for success.

Any lesson should be designed so that even the weakest student has been given the chance to make a contribution. Otherwise it's like inviting a friend to dinner and not giving them anything to eat. Questions, therefore are open ended whenever possible.

2 Always prepare your students for what they are going to do.

You must allow your students the chance to prepare for what they are going to say or hear. few people speak well without such preparation, even fewer understand. In real life context provides us with a wealth of information which allows us to comprehend what other people are talking about. Hence all the exercise are designed to get students thinking along appropriate lines before doing something else.

3 Group work is absolutely vital

"Two head are better than one". Not only do we give students the chance to practice what they want to say before the risky task of saying it in front of a whole class, group work also allows everyone the chance to say something. Group and pair work are built into the very fabric of each lesson.

4 Shut the teacher up, please!

The more you talk as a teacher the greater the disservice you are doing to your students. The exercises are designed to shift the focus of attention in the classroom away as much as possible from the teacher. You already know how to speak English, you don't need the practice, your learners do.

5 We all need feedback.

The abilty to record ourselves without using expensive, specialised equipment is one of the great boons to come out the recent digital explosion of the last decade. We can record video or voice using a cheap digital camera, mp3 player or mobile phone. In terms of learning most of our students now possess a language lab which fits comfortably into their pocket. This means that they know have the ability to hear what they really sound like in English and, if necessary take steps to improve. Not asking students to do this is unacceptable - would you ask them to write a years's worth of essays and never return them? The activities often include students producing something which can be recorded and saved digitally.

6 Realia is king

For advanced studenst there are no compelling reasons not to use realia, and as we can easily find material on the internet etc our choice of teaching material should reflect what is important to them and what is happening in the world now. Everything in the course comes from non-EFL/ESL sources.

7 Engage the whole brain

Too often foreign learners of English are treated by course book writers as idiots unable to absorb "complicated" ideas. The exercises are designed to make the learner think not just about grammar, vocabulary and the like, but also deeper, more challenging themes.

8 English is not a dead language, so lets feel it.

Emotion is not a dirty word. The more you can create strong feelings in the course of the lesson the more likely students will remember what they learnt. The exercises are designed to make people feel something. Learning a foreign language is not the same as doing a crossword.


dorapap said...

It's great work what you ahve done! Thabks for sharing!

teacher dude said...

I hope to get it all up and running soon.