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Same Old Dog, New Tricks:

Lesson Planning as Friend, Not Foe
By Dauid Propst

(What I know about this subject)
w L
(What I want to know about this subfect ) ffiat I just learned about this subject)

I believe lesson planning (rick dl thar apply):

Helps me cover the curriculum material
- necessary
Serves as a guide for the class, but isnt a

- strict list of items to complete

Isnt ncessary as I can just follow the book
- Is more useful for newer teachers
- Is not worth the time it takes ro write up
- Serves as a record ofthe class

- Helps ensure focus on student development

- and progress
My lesson plans (tick all that apply):
Are in mv head
Are on a scratch piece ofpaper
- Are in bullet-point form
- Include approximate timing
- Include student performance objectives
- Include optional activities
- Follow a detailed format
- Other:
My lesson plan objectives are worded witl a focus
on (tick all that apply):
Material I will cover
- Discrete skills students will practice
- Functions students will practice
- Grammar specifically
- Other:
After a lesson,I (tick all that apply):
Discard the lesson plan
Save my lesson plan in a file

- Compare how activities went with the plan

- I wrote
'Write notes
on my lesson plan to
- improve the lesson for next time
Share ideas that worked well with colleagues

- Other:

Reflective Activity for "Same Old Dog, New Tiicks: Lesson Planning as Friend, Not Foe" created by Maria Snarski

Same Old Dog, New Tricks:
Lesson Planning as Friend, Not Foe
By Dauid Propst

\Triting lesson plans is an integral part of teaching. Un- ent in this article. This instrument can be used by teacher
fortunately, too many beginning teachers and teachers in trainers in a workshop setting to introduce trainees to les-
training consider writing lesson plans a tiresome and un- son planning or by teachers who are looking for a change
necessary chore with which they will quickly dispense of pace.
once out from under the watchful eyes of their supervisors.
And once in the "real world," in their own classrooms, they The instrument consists of three main parts: 1) a list of
resort to this horrible chore only when they know their les- benefits derived from lesson planning; 2) a lesson plan
sons will be observed. form with space for objectives and an outline of the lesson;
and 3) a set ofquestions to consider about the objectives,
Perhaps this negative image of lesson planning is the fault the structure of the lesson, and the lesson after it is present-
of teachers, professors,and teacher trainers the world over ed. (See Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure l, Figure 4, Figure 5,
who give trainees a simple lesson plan format with one or and Figure 6 below.)
t'wo examples and then require that the trainees produce
a certain number of their own plans in order to pass a The first part of this instrument (Figure 1), the list of ben-
course. Instead ofbeing presented as a heuristic, as an aid efits, is by no means exhaustive. The items on this list are
in times of preparatory trouble, lesson planning is present- self-explanatory, so I will not elaborate on them here, but
ed as a requirement, a loathsome task that "real teachers" they do provide a good starting point for a discussion on
do not bother with anyway. the merits of lesson planning. In a training program, it is
important for trainees to understand these benefits and to
In my experience working with teacher trainees, I have no- be encouraged to add their own to the list. Lesson plan-
ticed that their frustrations with lesson planning usually ning should be presented as a creative, imaginative, and
stem from three main sources. First, they do not under- ongoing process that helps teachers become more profes-
stand why lesson planning is necessary and exactly how it sional and better at their jobs.
can help them; the purpose and rationale behind it are not
adequately explained and discussed. Second, there is often Next we move to the lesson plan form (Figure 2). There is
no consensus among the trainees (nor among the trainers, nothing innovative or new about this form. It resembles
for that matter) about what constitutes an objective and others in that it elicits from the teacher basic information
how to write one. Third, the trainees find the lesson plan such as date, materials needed, lesson objectives, an outline
forms they are given too vague and of little help in prepar- of the lesson, etc. In that regard, it is indeed a familiar "old
ing a lesson. In other words, first they decide what they dog." But I have included a variety of categories under the
want to do in class and then struggle to make their ideas fit heading of objectives. As mentioned above, trainees and
the format rather than letting the format serve as a guide. trainers often have a hard time deciding on exactly what
an objective is. Many trainers teach ffainees to write "per-
\Mhile working with a group of Peace Corps volunteers in formance" or "measurable" objectives, i.e., objectives that
Poland, I found that they felt the same frustrations as those can be stated: "The student will be able to..." The problem
mentioned above. In an effort to clarify the role of lesson with teaching only this rype is that there are many worthy
planning in teaching and to counteract these frustrations, objectives that cannot be stated in these terms (e.g., "the
I designed a lesson planning instrument that I will pres- students will speak English during the entire class period,"
which could be considered an "aim"). And there are still planning format in each lesson. This causes frustration be-
other objectives which simply do not need to be stated cause it is not always possible (or advisable) and results in
in those terms (e.g., structures and functions that will be artificial lessons. One must keep in mind that all five of
covered during the lesson). these phases (or the phases in any lesson planning format)
do not always need to be completed in every single lesson.
The trainees, therefore, become frustrated because they One lesson, for example, might begin with "preparatiori'
spend a good portion of their time trying to figure out and end with "communicative practice" with the next les-
how to put all of their objectives into these terms, ofren son devoted to "evaluation" and "follow-up," or any other
analogous to trying to fit square pegs into round holes. By combination.
broadening our concept of objectives, we free the trainee
to look at the lesson from different angles. And once some As with the lesson objectives, a list of questions regarding
of the other types of objectives have been identified, the the structure of the lesson helps rhe teacher to consider
trainee is more likely to write good performance objec- carefully each phase of the lesson (See Figure 5). \t(hile
tives. (Here it should be noted that rarely would one be these questions might seem obvious, the old adage that
able to list objectives in each ofthe categories on this form some things are obvious only after they are pointed out
for a single lesson. Indeed, a lesson might include only one holds true here. Sometimes a teacher has a great activity
of these rypes.) that can be used during the "communicative practice"
phase but forgets to consider how the students need to be
A set ofquestions about lesson objectives (Figure 3) helps prepared to handle the activity and how to evaluate them
the teacher dete rmine exactly what they should be . There is afterwards. These questions help the teacher to consider all
no one starting place; rather, the questions can be used to angles before s/he enters the classroom.
help guide a teacher who already has an idea or rwo in mind.
For example, if a teacher knows that the lesson will include The final part of the instrument is a list of questions for
a certain function (e.g., giving directions), then s/he can the teacher to consider after the lesson (See Figure 6).
fill in the function category on the objective sheet and then Teachers, especially those starting out, should be encour-
look at the questions regarding functions to help him/her aged to keep journals in which they record their successes
decide about other aspects of the lesson. Using these ques- and failures in the classroom. If teachers do not refect
tions, s/he might then decide on an appropriate situation on what they did, they will condnue to repeat the same
and structures to teach. Then s/he can fill in those sec- mistakes or will fail to see what made a particular lesson
tions on the objective sheet, look at the questions regard- excellent.
ing them, and identify more objectives of different rypes.
These questions will
also help the teacher in planning the There is nothing revolutionary about this lesson planning
structure of the lesson, which we turn to next. instrument. fu the title suggests, it simply serves to put a
new slant on an age-old process. In my sessions, I found
I into five main phases (Figure 4).
have divided the lesson that it helped to clarify the reasons for lesson planning,
I decided on these phases based on lesson plan formats I helped the trainees to write better objectives, effectively
have used in the past, ideas culled from various sources, guided them through the lesson planning process, and
and classroom experience. There is nothing sacred about helped to foster a more positive view of lesson planning.
this format, but I believe that it represents a solid ESL/ Like everything in teaching, this is a work in progress, and
EFL lesson. Beginning teachers are often taught that they I would welcome any criticism, comments, or discussion
must include dl of the phases identified on the lesson about these ideas.

David Propst is an English Teaching Fellow at the University of the North in South Africa. He also taught English in Slovakia, Poland, and Yemen.

Lesson planning will:
I Focus you

2 Provide you with a plan

3 Force you to consider the purpose of the lesson and the reason for each step

4 Establish clear goals for the lesson that are understood by both you and the learner

5 Establish clear goals for the lesson that are understood by both you and the learner

6 Help you design a coherent and cohesive lesson

7 Help you make a smooth tiansition from one lesson to the next

8 Provide you with a written record of the course

9 Encourage you to examine the lessons critically and make improvements

10 Addyour own

Lesson Plan Form:

Course: Date:
Teacher: Time:
Recent information covered:
Materials needed:







Learner Tiaining



Questions to Answer about Lesson Objectives:
Theme/Topic/ l. \Vhy have I chosen this topic? 'Was it dictated by the text?
Situation(s) 2. Is it ofinterest to the students?
3. How can I personalize the material (i.e., make it relevant to the students)?
4. \7hat is the best way to present this topic initially (e.g., reading, pictures, music, etc.)?
5. Does this topic suggest certain suggest situations?

Aims 1 \7hat is the general purpose ofthis lesson?

2 do I want to encourage the students to do?
t{/hat do I want the students to get out of this?

Skills 1. Does the topic of this lesson suggest a particular skill(s) that should be focused on?
2. Does the material I have chosen to use in class pre-determine a particular skill(s)?
3. For which skills do native speakers use the structures and functions presented in this lesson?
4. How can (should) I integrate all four skills into this lesson?

Vocabulary 1. Is there any new/unfamiliar vocabulary in the material?

2. Are there any idioms suggested by the topic/situation(s) chosen?
3. \X4rat is the best way to present the vocabulary items (e.g., cloze test, quiz, pictures, etc.)?
4. How can I get the students to practice using this new vocabulary?
5. In what "real life" situations does one find these vocabulary items?

Structures 1. V4rat structure(s) would a native speaker use in this context?

2. How can I present this structure(s) in context?
3. 'il4ratare some functions commonly performed using this structure(s)?
4. Do the students already know the structure(s)?

Functions 1. V4rat structure(s) is used to perform this function(s)?

2. 'il4rat skillG) is suggested by this function(s)?
3. In what situations do native speakers use this function(s)?
4. Sfhat activities would allow students to use this function(s) in a communicative way and for a real
5. Are there any topics suggested by this function?

Phonetics l. Are there any phonetic aspects ofthe structures that should be addressed (e.g., "what do you do?"
becomes hatdyado?")?
2. Are differences between American and British English relevant here?

Learner Tlaining 1. Are there any skills, apart from language, that I can train my students in (e.g., note-taking, oudining,
study skills, self-evaluation, etc.)?
2. Can I help my students find out more about their personal learning sryles?
3. How can I help my students improve their learning?

Affecdve 1. \7hat type of atmosphere do I want to create and what is the best way of doing this?
2. How can I help the students feel comfonable?
3. Can Ghould) the students have fun with the activitis I have planned?

Performance I. \What do I want the students to be able to do at the end of the lesson?
2. How can I determine whether rhis is accomplished (i.e., how can I evaluate their performance)?
3. Under what conditions will I evaluate their performance (e.g., role-play, test, etc.)?
4. tVhat standards will I use to evduate the students?
Lesson Structure:

Phase Time Activity Grouping Comments



Communicative Practice


\X{hat potential problems can I identifr?

What can I do about them?

Questions to Answer about Lesson Objectives:

Preparation I \ff4rat is the best way to introduce the topic?
2 How can I get the students interested in the topic?
3 How much time should I spend on this phase?
4 How can I get the students to contribute to this part of the lesson?
5 Can I use the students' previous knowledge or prediction abilities?

Presentation 1. Does my presentation depend on the materials I have (e.g., a song, textbook, travel brochure,
newspaper, etc.)?
2. Vhat do my students need to know in order to perform the tasks I have set for them?
3. tVhat is the best way to present this?
4. How can I make the students actively participate in this phase?
5. \(hat can I elicit from the students and what do I need to "teach"?
6. Do I need to review/preview vocabulary?
7. \fill they be working with structures of functions they dont know?
Communicative 1. Are the tasks, activities, and/or experiences I have chosen based on what was presented in the
Practice previous phase?
2. Are the tasks communicative? Are they learner-centered?
3. \7hat should my role as teacher be during this phase (e.g., facilitatot resource, participant, etc.)?
4. What rypes of activities would work best here (e.g., information-gap, jigsaw, interview, etc.)?
5. What sort of classroom arrangement would best fit the learning experiences I have chosen
(e.g., discussion circle, small groups, etc.)?

Evaluation 1. How can I best determine whether the students have learned what I wanted them to?
2. Is this part of my lesson student-centered?
3. \7hat is the best way to arrange the class for this phase?
4. Can I help the students learn to evaluate themselves?
5. \X4rat rypes of learning experiences would be best for this phase of the lesson (e.g., a general discussion,
student presentations, group projects, role-plays, etc.) ?

Follow-up 1. \7hat can I have the students do that will reinforce what they have learned in this lesson?
2. Should this be done as homework or in class (-"yb. for the next lesson)?
Refecting on the Lesson:

\fhat was the best thing about the lesson?

\Vhat did I enjoy most? \7hat did the students enjoy most?
How did the students react? \fhy?
tVhat would I change about the lesson if I used it again?
At what points in the lesson could I have engaged the students more? How?
the students able to do what I wanted them to do? V/hylwhy not?

Add your oan questions.

Article reprinted uith permission: Propst, D. 1997. Same Old Dog New Tiichs: Leson Pknning as Friend, Not Foe. English Teaching Forum 35 (4).

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Change in the Language Classroom:

Process and lntervention
By Joy Reid

(What I know about this subject)
(What I wmt to know about this subject
(What I just learned about this subject)

I have made changes in the way I teach in

the last year:
None -
- 1-3

Something I have changed in my reaching in the
last year is (tick all that apply):
The arrangement ofthe students'seats
- Reducing the amount of Ll I use in the class
- Usins more oair/srouo work
Reducine the amount of teacher ralk
Incorporating technology in the class
- Having students take responsibiliry for their
- learning
Having students create learning materials
- Other:
ti(rhen making a change in the classroom, I (tick
all that apply):
Implement the change without warning the
- students and see how the change is received
that day
Explain the change to the students before
- implementing it
Discuss how the change benefits the stu-
- dents (before or after)
Do not repeat the change if it isnt fully
- successfirl the first time
I believe making changes in the classroom (tick all
that apply):
Is dificult
- Can only be done by recent graduates
- Should happen at the beginning ofthe
- school year
Takes time
- Goes throush stases

Reflective Activiry for "Change in the Language Clmsroom: Process and Intervention" created by Maria Snarski
Change in the Language Classroom:
Process and Intervention
b Jol Reid

Change is a predictable and natural response to evolving yourself with the idea that the change will be beneficial
needs (Stoller l99l). But that does not mean that change 1[21, for example, a different route to your home will
is easy, and it does not mean that change occurs in the
-be quicker, easier, or more beautiful. Finally, think about
foreignJanguage classroom just because teachers teach. Yet how you would feel if any of those small changes had been
change is at the basis ofeducation; change in the language imposed on you (rather than freely chosen).
classroom is continuous and ongoing. In fact, education
is change. Specifically, foreign-language students who The Change Process
are learning how to use noun clauses or to guess a wordt Research about change (Goldenberg and Gallimore 1992;
meaning from context or to request a librarian's help or Gresso and Robertson 1992 Kirkpatrick 1987; Schloss-
to structure a paragraph are constantly making changes in berg7987) has shown the following:
their background knowledge and experience, and in their
learning styles and strategies. This article discusses the pro- l. Educational change occurs in individuals first. That is,
cesses ofchange that occur in the language classroom and change is a highly personal experience, and only after
suggests that teachers who consider the integral relation- individuals change does change occur in larger groups:
ship between education and change can better assist their classrooms, institutions, and nations.
students in the learning (that is, the change) process. 2. Individuals change only if the change will benefit them.
There are, of course, many kinds of personal benefits:
In our everyday lives, change occurs constantly. \7e choose financial, intellectual, social, psychological. One ben-
ro eat a different food for breakfast, to take a different route efit is a good grade on a test; another might be a word
to work, to read a book we haven't read before. Sometimes of praise from the teacher.
the change is larger or more complex: we decide to marry; 3. People may appear to change even when they have not.
we choose to take a new job; we plan the curriculum for a V/hile imposed change can make individuals appear to
new class. Choice is a key word in change; when we choose change, real change comes only if individuals determine
to change, we recognize the benefits of the change, and or are persuaded that the change is in their best
we realize that our choice involves both responsibiliry and
-interest. -
consequences. 4. Change takes time, patience, and resources, and the
more complex or difficult the change, the more time,
But even choosing to change does not mean that change is patience, and resources it will take.
easy or fun. In fact, research shows that even small changes 5. Significant change (that is, complex change) is neither
can leave us tired and irritable. For example, as you de- fun nor easy.
liberately take a different route going home, observe the 6. Significant change is not an event. Rather, it is a pro-
amount of time and energy such a small change takes. cess, and that process includes several stages.
As you eat dinner, eat in a different sequence. Tomorrow
morning, consciously choose to comb your hair or shave The research model I find most applicable to change in the
in a different pattern, and refect on your feelings about classroom, the Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM)
even this single discrete change. Then consider the ways in (Hord et al. 1987), has shown that there are seven stag-
which you might make one of these changes permanent. es of concern in the change process. These stages occur
You would need to remember, to practice, and to mztiaate when students encounter a new concept in the classroom

(or when teachers, parents, or citizens encounter change individual has committed to that change. Vhy crucial?
in their lives). tble l, below, defines the seven stages of Because it can be and usually is a stage filled with
- -
reluctance, frustration, even resentment. Think for a mo-
ment about culture shock those feelings of I hate the
Change in the classroom I hate tbe country), I - the people, I hate the language
Of course, not everyone begins the change process at the that travelers have, to a greater or lesser extent, when they
6rst stage (awareness). Rather, individuals enter the change 6rst live abroad. If we think about culture shock in light
process at different stages one person in class may be at of the change process, we could say that these travelers are
the information stage, while another may have concerns at going through the personal stage of change, during which
the personal stage. The stage ofconcern depends on: they feel reluctance, resentment, and even anger about the
imposed changes they are experiencing changes that
. The nature and complexiry of the change: How -
they have not yet committed to and for which they have
much does the student aheady know? How dif- few or no coping strategies.
ficult is the change? How complicated is the
change? Students in our language classrooms may probably do
. The nature and situation of the student who is have the same kinds of feelings when-they musr, for
changing: Is the student open to change? Moti-
-instance, memorize verb tenses, write an essay, or read
vated to change? Able to change? and summarize a book in English (whether or nor rhey
. The ways in which the teacher implements and articulate those feelings to their teachers). They may
supports the change: How experienced is the say or at least think X worbed fne for me in my
- -
teacher in the change process? Is the teacher sensi- Preuious education. Why should I change? or How will
tive to the needs of the students who are facing this change make my life better? or Is this going to be on
the change? Are there appropriate resources to the test? Notice that all of these comments are personal.
give the students practice opportunities and ap- They all say Tbll me exactb how this change is going to beneft
propriate feedback? me. As these students learn more about the topic (for ex-
ample, noun clauses, idioms, or transitions), and as they
Moreover, the stages of concern are not necessarily lineaq have opportunities to practice and receive feedback on
but rather are deuelopmental and recursiue. Students may, their work, we hope that they will find the acquisition of
for instance, move from the information to the personal new knowledg. the change beneficial and thereby
stage, then step baclsvard again into the information stage.
will commit to that change. -

The first two stages and informatisn- arc1hs Of course, the teacher can impose change forcing stu-
ones we teachers are most familiar with. It is often our re-
dents to write English paragraphs with topic sentences or
sponsibility to introduce topics raise awareness and to practice dialogs for the doctort office or to fill in blanls
- -
give information to our students. \7e initiate learning and with correct verb tenses, for example. But imposing change
answer the questions as we establish credibiliry and trust is, at best, a last resort that we can only hope will evenru-
in our classrooms. Part of our job as language teachers is to ally result in the students' commitment to the change. For
have the necessary information and to be able to interest without commitment, real change doesnt take place. Stu-
the students in learning that information. The students' dents may perform, but they will not become.
responsibility is somewhat limited at these first two stag-
es; they need only to be interested and willing to learn. Once students have committed to the change, they have
For both teachers and students, these stages ofthe change entered the management stage of concern. These concerns
process are well known. involve time- and effort-management, and they are com-
parable to a teachert first week of teaching, or rhe first
Itis the middle rwo stages of concern Qtersonal and man- month with a new textbook in a class. The amount ofwork
agement) that ESL teachers are most likely to encounter in seems overwhelming, the time spent doing the work seems
their classes, and that they may not recognize. Of these, endless, and there is an inabiliry to prioritize or ro com-
the more crucial is the personal stage, which occurs after plete work. Our language students are often in the same
the individual has learned about change but before the predicament: overloaded with many changes in their lives,

having very little perspective about long-term objectives the stages in which the student puts his/her new knowl-
and even less understanding of the prioritizing of work edge to work, adapts it to fit specific situations outside the
and skills, they feel helpless, and, as a result, they may classroom, and modifies it to fit his/her own needs. S/he
even retreat to the personal stage of concern. As students evaluates possibilities and implements changes that benefit
learn more about the change and have opportunities to him/her. Unfortunately for teachers, these stages almost
practice that change, they begin to gain more control over always occur after the students have left the class, when
their efforts. Many students end a language class in the they use the information and skills they have learned in
management stage: they have learned and can manage the order to work successfully in other classes, and/or to com-
change within the classroom, though they may not be able plete other work. As teachers, we would be delighted to be
to modify the change in ways that will allow them to use it able to stand back and watch these processs take place,
outside of the classroom environment. but we rarely have that opportuniry because the class has
The consequences stage of concern involves a shift
from teacher responsibiliry to student responsibiliry; Teachers and Change in the Language Classroom
it can have a significant impact on the class, since the re- Learning about the processes of change is educational for
sult is a commitment by the students to independent and teachers in several substantial ways, and knowledge about
long-term learning. Students who have moved out of the the stages ofconcern can lead to change in a teachert class-
management stage have taken control of their work and room approach. First, because students as well as teach-
identified successful learning strategies. They have the ers should understand that learning is integrally related to
self-confidence to embark, individually, on work within change, and that learning (which is change) takes time,
the specific change area and, importantly, to evaluate how patience, and resources, teachers will spend some time at
well their skills, strategies, knowledge, and the products the beginning of the course explaining the basics of the
associated with the change work. Students who are in the change process to their students. Moreover, students must
consequences stage are the teachert delight, with their in- be made aware that change involves process stages through
dependent discoveries, their perceptions, and their growth. which other students also pass. Therefore, later in the
Those who are in the consequences stage have learned: course, when many students seem to be struggling with
they can apply the change in a variety of situations, and the material, small-group discussions about the stages of
they know how to initiate and implement their own work. concern can allow students to share their feelings, their
These students are often excellent group leaders and peer problems, and their possible solutions with fellow stu-
coaches in the classroom. If the change is small and rela- dents. \X/hile teachers need not spend large amounts of
tively discrete (for example, using the past tense correctly, time teaching the change process, the topic does provide
or specific vocabulary words, or appropriate roleplay), the content about which students can write, read, and speak.
teacher is likely to be able to observe the consequences
stage: the student using the past tense correcdy outside In order to use the change process successfully in the lan-
of class, or reporting the ways in which learning certain guage classroom, teachers must next establish a mindset.
'We must understand, for example, that the more complex
medical vocabulary and practicing it in roleplay situations
enabled him/her to communicate successfully with the the change, the more time, patience, and resources such
doctor. But certainly not all students enter this stage before as lectures, field trips, readings, and collaborative projects
they leave the class; indeed, most students reach only the the change will take. In addition, we must believe that
management stage during the 4-6 months of a language personal concerns about change are normal, shared, and
course. This is unfortunate for both the teacher and the even expected. And we must understand that the stages of
students: the teacher is not confident that s/he has been concern do not exist in a vacuum; they are influenced by
successful, and at least some of the students are certain students feelings about the change, by their percepdons
they have not been successful. of their abilities to use itldo it, by the number of other
changes they are involved in (the more changes a student is
The last two stages of concern, collaboration and refocus- experiencing, the less willing that student will be to accept
ing, show that, as students progress through the stages of new change), by the classroom environment, and most im-
change, their responsibilities grow. These last stages are al- portant, by the kind and level of support and assistance
most entirely the responsibiliry of the students. These are they receive as they move through the stages of concern.

The teachers' responsibilities in helping their students Finally, as our students move through the process of
through the stages ofconcern begin at the awareness stage. change, we can help them to become aware of their prog-
First, early in the change process, as part of introducing ress. For example, at the beginning of a module or an as-
the topic (for example, skimming and scanning in the signment, we might ask our students to reflect on why we
reading class, or the use ofverb particles, or the use ofthe are studying the structure of a comparison/contrast para-
infinitive) and providing information, the teacher should graph or vocabulary about earthquakes or the pronuncia-
have persuasive evidence to present svidsn6s that shows tion of those vocabulary words. Students might discuss in
why the change is necessary and beneficial. This is the sell- pairs or groups (or write in their journals, or discuss with
ing part of teaching we must be able to convince our the teacher) what they expect to learn in this module or as-
students that what we are teaching is important and in- signment. In the middle of a class or a lesson, we could ask
teresting and valuable for them personally, and we must students to discuss what they are learning, and have them
make clear the positive short- and long-term benefits of write questions about the material that needs answering.
such learning (that is, changing). At the end of a single class or a series of lessons, we might
ask students to write on the chalkboard or in their journals
At the same time, the teacher should be informing the (or discuss with a group of peers) what was easy or dif-
students about their responsibility in the learning process: ficult about the class or module, what problems they en-
students must decide whether or not to learn to commit countered and how they solved those problems, and, most
to the change. And students must understand- that choos- important, what they learned.
ing either to commit or not to commit to a change involves
both responsibility and consequences. Il for example, stu- Researchers call this approach to learning metacognition:by
dents choose not to read and learn certain material, or learn writing about and discussing what they are learning, how
how to spell certain words, or practice the syntax of certain they learn best, what they do not understand, and how to
sentence forms, they risk failing an examination or being apply their learning in a variety of situations, students are
embarrassed in class. If students in a writing class choose becoming aware not only of what they are learning, but
not to adapt their writing sryles to fulfill the expectations that they are learning they are changing. Metacognitive
of an English-speaking academic audience, they must un-
activities demonstrate to students that they are responsible
derstand that certain hardships can occur. They will, at the for their own learning that only they can choose to
very least, spend more time explaining their writing sryles
change. Teachers in a metacognitive classroom can help
and strategies to their professors. They will have to learn to their students through the stages ofconcern by designing
endure a level of confusion or misunderstanding from their metacognitive opportunities and by offering positive com-
teachers. At worst, they risk not succeeding in their studies. ments that show the students that they are learning: "I'm
But it is their choice; the choice is therefore their respon- pleased with what youve learned by doing this essay," or
sibiliry. If, in contrasr, srudenrs decide to learn about the "You have learned this very well!"
expectations of their academic audience, and to adapt their
styles accordingly, the benefits are clear: easier and more Teacher Intervention
successful communication. By talking with students about the change process, by ad-
dressing the stages of concern as we plan our awareness
Next, we teachers should be prepared for student reac- and information lessons, and by demonstrating to our stu-
tions during the personal stage (which may not be actu- dents that they are capable of learning and changing, we
ally spoken or even visible in class), reactions that range are already intervening indirectly in our students' stages
from reluctance to resentment. Moreover, we should not of concern. But intervention can also occur more directly.
take these personal reactions personally. Because even Teacher intervention in the change process can assist stu-
small, incremental, deliberate change can be time-con- dents in moving through the stages of concern more easily
suming and frustrating, we must expect the reactions of and quickly.
our students to complex educational change to be quite
negative, at least at first. And we must be accepting of Such intervention involves using techniques that are ap-
students who regress to rhe personal stage, as we recog- propriate to each individual stage of concern. That means
nize the validity of the problems and the developmental that teachers must become skilled in identifying the stages
quality of change. of concern in their students and assessing the immediate

needs of those students. Table 2, below, shows rypical re- become aware of and understand the expectations of the
sponses to each ofthe stages ofconcern. class.Only then can students become responsible for an-
ticipating and fulfilling those expectations.
In general, appropriate responses to the two most crucial
stages, personal and management, include the following: In order to facilitate these changes, teachers will need pa-
tience with themselves and their students, time to develop
PERSONAL STAGE: \7e must be able to say, in truth, their ideas, and the necessary resources to implement the
that we understand how hard change is, that we appreciare changes. They will need to remember, to practice, and to
the hard work, and that, with time and effort, the students motivate themselves with the idea that these changes will
will succeed. be beneficial for their students.

MANAGEMENT STAGE: Here is the perfect place for The principal benefit for foreignJanguage students in a
sryles and strategies training, and for coaching in time change-process classroom is the formation of independent
management and priority setting. Being able to identify Iearning skills. For example, students who understand the
their learning strengths and to practice overcoming their relationship berween education and change, and who real-
weaknesses empowers students at this stage. ize that the stages of concern are shared by other learn-
ers, may be able to move through the crucial personal
One caution: teachers must be careful, during this stage, and management stages more easily. In addition, teaching
not to get too far ahead of their students in the change students about their choices in the learning (the change)
process. As teachers, we can see the next stages (conse- process can give students a sense ofresponsibiliry for their
quences, collaboration, refocusing), but the students may own learning. \X&ile students may initially find this re-
have not yet moved beyond the struggles of the personal sponsibiliry burdensome, it will, with time, patience, and
or the management stage of concern. Students who have resources, benefit and empower them.
intense personal concerns will have litde or no receptivity
to solutions to management or collaborative concerns, and References
inappropriate responses to the needs of the students may . Goldenberg, C. and R. Gallimore. 1992. Changing teaching
actually hinder their progress. The intervention of the takes more than a one-shot workshop. Educational Leader'
teacher in the change process should, therefore, be focused ship, 47 ,7 , pp. 69-71.
on reducing concerns at a specific stage. . Gresso, D. V. and M. B. Robertson. 1992. The principal as

process consultant: Catalyst for change. NASSP Balletin,76,

Conclusion 540, pp. 44-47.
This article has recommended that foreign-language teach- . Hord, S. M.,1W. A. Rutherford, L. Huling-Austin and G. Hall.
ers investigate and then promote the integration of the 1987. Takingcharge ofchange. Nexandria, Va.: Association for
change process into their classes. Of course, the decision to Supervision and Curriculum Development.
incorporate change in the language classroom will not be . Kirkpatrick, D. L. 1987. How to ntanage change ffictiuely.
easy. Teachers committed to this change in their teaching San Francisco, Calif. : Jossey-Bass.
approach need time to plan the explanations and discus- . Schlossberg,N. K. 1987. tking the mystery out of change:
sions. They need to become more responsible for provid- By recognizing our strengths and building on them we
ing students with the long-term objectives and rationales can learn how to master transitions. Pslchology Today,21,
for teaching and learning that will allow their students to pp.74-76.
take charge of their own learning. Atrd they need to de- . Stoller, F. 1991.IEP administrators perceptions of program-
velop explicit criteria for evaluation and the consequences matic innovation. Doctoral dissertation, Northern Arizona
surrounding student choice, so that their students can Universiry.

Joy Reid teaches and coordinates the ESL support program in the English department at the University ofrVyoming in Laramie. Her interests include computers and
composition, discourse analysis, and contrastive rhetoric. She has written several ESL composition textbooks; her newest 6ook is Tbaching ESL Vriting.

CBAM Stages of Concern
Awareness: This initial stage might be called unawareness; it occurs before a student knows much
about the idea or the issue (the change).

Information: This is the stage during which the student wants to know more about the idea or the
issue, and the teacher has the opportunity to give information about the change.

Personal: During this crucial stage, the student makes a commitment to the change.

Management: This is the period during which the student struggles to accommodate the change.

Consequences: The person in this stage of the change process has successfully implemented the change
in one area and is now able to apply what s/he has learned in other areas, and to evaluate the results.

Collaboration: During this stage, the student reaches outward, beyond him/herself, to see how others
have managed the change.

Refocusing: The student now has adapted the change to fit his/her needs, actually making changes
within the change to make the change work better for him/her.

Responses to the Stages of Change

Awareness "I'm not very interested."

lnformation "I d like to know more about it."

"-What does it mean?"

Personal "How will it affect me?"

"It looks very hard."
"I dont think I'll be very good at doing it."
Management "I'm spending all my time trying to do it."
"It's taking too much time."
Consequences "How will my other professors evaluate it?"
"\(/hat will happen when I do it for others?"
Collaboration "How are others doing it?"
"I'd like to share what I'm doing with others."
Refocusing "I have some ideas about it that would make it work better."
"If we changed this part, it would be more successful."

Anicle reprinted with permission: Reid, J. 1994. Change in the Language Clasroom: Proces and Interuention. EnglishTeachingForum 32 (1)

Rrrlrcnvr AcnvlrY FoR

What Works in the EtT Classroom?

Using Robust Reasoning to Find Out
By Lisa Harshbarger

(What I know about this subject)
(What I want to know about r{ris subject )
(lVhat I just learned about this subject)

I take the following into consideration when

preparing for class:
The students' levels
- Th. classroom
- The different learning sryles among the
- students
My comfort level with the material of the
- d^y
The learning/teaching theory behind each
- activity
If something goes wrong in the classroom, I:
Hope it doesnt happen again and am
- thankful it wasn't worse
Complain about it to a colleague
- Talk to a colleague to try to understand
- why it happened
Plan never to do that exercise again
- Think critically about what went wrong to
- prevent the bad experience again

After a class finishes (or at the end of the day),

I stop and think critically about how the
class(es) went:
- If something really went wrong
- If something reallywentwell
- Almost never; I have no time.

My teaching sryle refects:

The wav I was taueht
The wav I like to be taueht
Current practices in the field
- Th. sryle best suited to my students' learning
My focus on the classroom is:
Getting through the material in the time
- I have
On what I'm doing activity by activiry
- On how my students are experiencing the
- activity

Reflective Activiry for "\(hat Works in the ELf Classroom? Using Robust Reasoning to Find Out" created by Maria Snarski

What Works in the ELT Classroom?
Using Robust Reasoning to Find Out
By Lisa Harshbaryr

English teachers are known for asking a lot of questions. the classroom. However, we were not very confident that
One of the questions we ask ourselves every day is, "Did this approach, or any other approach, would "work" in
my students benefit from what happened in class today?" our classrooms.
If the answer to this question is "yes," we can start prepar-
ing for our next day of classes. However, if it is "no," most English teachers all over the world have been engaged in
of us try to determine how best to remedy the situation. similar debates in staff rooms and in private soul search-
We usually carry out this daily evaluation of the effective- ing at the end of a day of teaching. At times it can feel
ness of our teaching privately, unless we feel the need to as if we are caught in a perpetual cycle of questioning
ask a sympathetic colleague or supervisor for help with a the effectiveness of anything we try in our classrooms. I
particular teaching issue. believe that most of us engage in this questioning pro-
cess throughout our careers because we feel responsible
Sometimes, however, this evaluation is public. This hap- for the effectiveness of our teaching. \7e are motivated
pened to me during my first year of teaching, at a uni- to look for the best language teaching method that will
versity intensive English program in the early 1980s. The provide our students with the English language skills
communicative approach was becoming popular, and they need.
many of us teachers were experimenting with what were
then new methods and activities. Terminology such as This article is not intended to resolve anyonet search for
"authentic materials," "Natural Approach," "communica- an ideal method that will work in all teaching contexts.
tive language teaching," and "learner-centered teaching," Instead, my purpose is to explain the benefit of using
could be heard in the staff room every day. \(e debated "robust reasoning" (Johnson 1999) to discover what
whether using these new methods improved the language "works," that is, what is effective and appropriate in our
proficiency of our students. \7e all had students who classrooms.
participated eagerly in any communicative activity, but
showed very little improvement on tests. \We also had A plethora of methods
students who preferred teacher-fronted instruction and In the past, the definitive answers given to teachers' re-
participated reluctantly in any form of learner-centered quests for something that "worked" were specific ap-
activity, but who did better on tests than their more en- proaches and methods. Now, there are almost too many
thusiastic classmates. approaches and methods to choose from. Richards
(1999:34) points out that there are concurrent models of
Because of this problematic relationship between the new effective teaching, each with "specific assumptions about
methods that we were trying out in our classes and the what the essential knowledge base, skills, and attitudes
progress our students made, some of us began to won- [for effective teachingJ are." FollowingZahorik (1986), he
der if the claimsmade about the effectiveness of the classifies these models, or conceptions, and their under-
new methods could withstand major scrutiny. Most of lying assumptions into three categories: science-research,
us found the concepts that underpin the communicative theory-philosophy, and art-craft .

approach attractive, and the activities that were recom-

mended effective in motivating students to use English S ci en c e-res earc b c oncep tio ns
in interactions resembling real communication outside Science-research conceptions of teaching, according to

Richards, "view teaching as a type of scientific activiry... second language acquisition, such as Krashent (1981), in
that is formed and validated by scientific research and sup- their development of new definitions of language profi-
ported by experimentation and empirical investigation" ciency that were not based on rhe mastery of a specific
(1999:34). He presents the audiolingual method (Fries set of grammatical and phonological components. Instead,
1945) as an example. Proponents of this method consid- they defined language proficiency as the abiliry ro use rhe
ered it a scientific sysrem of teaching foreign languages grammatical, discourse, functional, sociolinguistic, and
based on the incorporation of behaviorist learning theory strategic components of the target language appropriately
and structural linguistics. Th.y actively discouraged teach- in order to communicate effectively.
ers who used the audiolingual method from modifying the
recommended instructional activities in any way, so as nor This new definition of language proficiency led to the de-
to interfere with this scientific process of teaching. velopment of new language learning objectives as well as
new classroom activities and techniques that would enable
Thsk-based instruction and learner training, according to students to meet these objectives. Teachers were no lon-
fuchards, are two current science-research conceptions of ger required to lead students in lock-step fashion through
teaching. Thsk-based instruction, or the use of interactive textbook exercises designed according to principles of be-
tasks to encourage language learners to negotiate meaning haviorist learning theory or structural linguistics. It was
in the target language, is, according to Long and Crookes assumed that a language learning environment that en-
(1992:27), based on "second language acquisition re- couraged students to "engage in the pragmatic, authen-
search, particularly descriptive and empirical studies com- tic, functional use of language for meaningful purposes"
paring tutored and naturalistic learning." Learner training (Brown 2001:43) would facilitate development of com-
relies on research in the learning sryles and strategies used municative competence. Therefore, teachers were expected
by successful language learners both to develop learner to replicate this environment in their classrooms. In other
training techniques to be used in the language classroom words, students were to be encouraged to interact with
(O'Malley and Chamot 1990) and to raise learner aware- each other freely through acdvities that were motivating
ness of the importance of these styles and strategies in their and resembled language use outside the classroom. The
own learning processes (Oxford 1990). These two con- primary responsibilities of the teacher in this environmenr
ceptions are based on the assumption that what "works" became monitoring on-going student interactions and
in the language classroom has already been identified by providing feedback to students on the effectiveness and
researchers. The job of language teachers, then, is to use appropriateness of their interaction.
these findings in their own classrooms.
fuchards (1999:45) observes that both science-research
Th eory -p hilos op hy conceptions and theory-philosophy conceptions of teaching have a
Theory-philosophy conceptions of teaching, in con- strong top-down perspective. These conceptions view
trast, are "built not on empirical research, but on gener- teachers as the recipients of research findings and theo-
ally data-free theories and principles...justified on logical, ries about effective language teaching that have been de-
philosophical, political, moral, or other grounds" (Rich- veloped for them by researchers. Teachers are expected to
ards 1999:38). Richards claims that communicative lan- understand the implications of these findings and theories
guage teaching, possibly the most infuential approach and to develop lesson plans and activities that incorporate
in our profession today, is a theory-philosophy concep- them. However, they are not necessarily encouraged or
tion of language teaching. Because so many studies have held responsible for doing their own research or determin-
been done, and articles wrirten, about the relationship ing what is effective in their own classrooms.
between CLT and language learning, it is often assumed
that the effectiveness of this approach in language class- Art-crart concE tions
rooms, regardless of their context, has been proven by re- Art-craft conceptions of effective teaching, in contrast,
search. Richards points out that the development of the do encourage teachers to determine what "works." These
communicative approach was only indirectly related to conceptions, according to fuchards, place great emphasis
formal research findings. Theorists such as \Widdowson upon the skills and personality of the individual teacher.
(1978) and Savignon (1983) drew upon Hymesb theory They avoid prescribing particular approaches or methods,
of communicative competence (1971) and theories of but instead promote processes of self-discovery that enable

teachers to develop our own definitions of effective teach- construct explanations for, and respond to the social inter-
ing. They also encourage us to discover our own strengths actions and shared meaning that exist within and among
and weaknesses through professional development activi- teachers, students, parents and administrators, both inside
ties and refection (Fanselow 1987). and outside the classroom." Although each teacherb rea-
soning is based on informal knowledge and personal be-
Art-craft conceptions of effective teaching frequently use liefs, Johnson makes a clear distinction between teacher
metaphors and analogies to help teachers develop their reasoning that focuses solely on subjective perceptions of
own perspectives as to what "works" in their classrooms. teaching and "robust reasoning...when teachers expand
This use of metaphor and analogy is based on the assump- their understandings of themselves, their teachings, their
tion that giving teachers tools to help them refect on what classrooms and their schools" (1999:139).
constitutes effective teaching is more productive than hav-
ing them consider the implications of research results or To ensure that our reasoning is robust and not just a rehash-
theory. One recent teacher training course, using the art- ing ofour own personal concerns, Johnson (1999:139) en-
craft conception of effective teaching, asks course partici- courages us to repeatedly ask ourselves the following guid-
pants to reflect in writing on the simile of "teaching as an ing questions:
art" (Adams and Brewer 200112:15).
. \Who am I as a teacher?
Having the freedom to develop our own definitions of ef- . \7ho are my students? How do they experience my
fective teaching can be exhilarating, because it credits us teaching?
with having valid perceptions of what "works" in our own . 'S7hat do I know about my teaching context?
classrooms. However, most of us have little time or en- . \il/hat do I know about the subject matter content
ergy to engage in active reflection. A heavy teaching load, that I teach?
a crowded curriculum, and the pressure of standardized . \il/hy do I teach the way that I do?
final exams leave many of us with limited time in a rypi- . \il/hat are the consequences of my teaching prac-
cal day to thoroughly prepare our classes, let alone refect tices for my students?
on them. This problem is compounded if we work in an . How do I make sense of theoretical knowledge?
environment where sharing insights with colleagues is not . 'Who
is my professional community?
encouraged. In addition, some of us may find this freedom . \What sort of change do I see as fit for my own
a little frightening. If we have been told for years that only teaching?
the researchers have solutions to problems we encounter
in teaching, we may find it difficult to trust our own in- Johnson encourages teachers to ask themselves these ques-
stincts. Others of us may be interested in developing our tions "again and again throughout ftheir] professional
own definitions of effective teaching, but dont see how careers. By doing so, teachers remain lifelong students of
reflection activities, such as journals, can contribute to that teaching... [and] are able to articulate why they teach the
goal. \We hope to see more concrete results from our ef- way they do" (Johnson 1999:139). Thking a closer look
forts, such as increased student achievement and higher at how best to ask and answer these questions can enable
test scores. us ro see how each is intended to help us develop robust
"Robust reasoning" and effective refection "Who
Refection on onet own teaching is much more than an arn I as a teacher?
amateur form of personal therapy. It is actually a logical As teachers, we need to look closely at all of the teach-
extension of the question, "Did my students benefit from ing and learning experiences we have had. V/hich of these
what happened in class today?" Refection is an effective experiences has had the strongest impact on how we
way of fine-tuning our evaluative skills to the point that teach today? For example, does the way we teach strongly
we feel confident in our own abiliry to define what "works" resemble the way we were taught, or have we consciously
in our own classrooms. Its effectiveness increases if it is tried to teach in a different way? Thoughtful and honest
done critically using a focused set of questions. Johnson answers to these questions can provide insight into how
(1999:1-2) defines reflection as "reasoning... [that] repre- past educational experiences have had an impact on onet
sents the complex ways in which teachers conceptualize, identiry as a teacher.

Who are nzy students? Hou., do they exlterience my ness of onet own styles and strategies can make language
teaching? learning easier. Some textbook series, such as Thpesny
Most of us ask ourselves a version of this question every (1992), incorporate language learning sryle and stratgy
day. However, our answers often tend to focus more on awareness activities into each unit. Using these or similar
the responses of our students to our teaching, and less on activities throughout the course can motivate students to
broader issues such as the learning sryles of our students. exploit their language learning styles and strategies.
Johnson urges us to "focus less on what you are doing as
a teacher, and more on what your students are experienc- rl(hat do I hnow aboat my teaching context?
ing in your classroom...determining what causes difficul- For Johnson, this means being aware of the relationship
ties for them, what challenges them...what they get out of between the courses you teach and the larger educational
participating in your instructional activities" (1999:140). environment (including administrators, orher reachers,
and parents), as well as the expectations that are placed
To avoid relying solely upon their subjective impressions of upon your students. One component of this awareness
what "works," many teachers involve their students in this concerns school politics, both overt school policy and the
evaluative process. Students can give us helpful feedback chain of command, and the decision-making processes
on their perceptions of different aspects of our teaching, that determine how things really function in a school.
such as the purpose or effectiveness ofcertain class activi- Holliday (1994:130), in his discussion of English language
ties. Some teachers obtain this information by distributing project management, calls these two sets of administrative
evaluation forms to students at the end of a course, but and decisionmaking behaviors "surface" and "deep" ac-
student feedback on a particular aspect ofa course can be tion. He defines surface action as the official, documented
done whenever we feel the need for more formal feedback. elements of any educational institution, such as "official
agreements, contracts, job descriptions and official re-
Murphey (1998) oudines a journal acdvity that provides sponsibilities, artendance registers, textbooks, teaching
a way for students to give ongoing feedback. Unlike free hours, examinations and students assignments" and deep
writing journal assignments, the primary focus of his jour- action as the "tacit rules...unspoken recipes... traditions...
nal activity is to ask students for feedback on a daily basis [and] micro-politics" of that same institution (1994:130).
about what they perceive the objective of the lesson to be Teachers who are unaware of the effects that institutional
and their overall reactions to it. Students are asked to write deep and surface actions have on their students are much
a short description of and comments about the class every less likely to develop courses that are relevant to their stu-
day in a notebook. These descriptions can be general a dents'needs.
simple outline of what happened that day
or they can
include detailed observations about a task or activiry that A caveat about context
the teacher has asked them to complete. The teacher col- Holliday (1994) oudines a sociocultural distinction that
lects the logs from the students each week and reads them, has a tremendous impact upon the effectiveness of lan-
writing only short appreciative comments in response and guage teaching methodologies in various educational
perhaps saving particularly relevant student comments for contexts. He divides all language teaching contexts into
later reference during lesson planning. two categori es: BANA (private or university-based British,
Australian and North American) and TESEP (national
Students can also help us determine which language learn- Tertiary, Secondary and Primary). The overriding distinc-
ing methods are most effective for them, what motivates tion between these two categories of teaching context is
them to study English, which learning styles they use to not geography, cultural background of the students, or
process language input, and the strategies they use in class teacher comfort with the communicative approach, but
and at home to promote their own learning. Reid (1998) the firnction of the language course in the view of the edu-
has a collection of surveys that can be administered in class cational institution rhat offers it.
to help students investigate how they learn languages and
which classroom techniques would be most beneficial to The primary function of a BANA institution, according
them. Before passing out these student surveys, teachers to Holliday, is to provide English language training to
should first lead a group discussion about learning styles clientele who are either paying for the course themselves
and strategies to help students understand why an aware- or are funded by another institution to learn English.

The purpose of the courses a BANA institution offers is tive environment for learning English, regardless of the
to provide clients with the English language skills they context in which the language is taught? Holliday
need to fulfill personal or professional objectives that they (1994:96) notes that the learning ideal is often promoted
themselves have identified, or that have been identified for as more "democratic" because of its focus on students as
them. TESEP institutions, in contrast, have a very differ- individuals. The activities of a rypical BANA classroom
ent function because they are governmental. Graduates appear to give students more individual freedom than
of these institutions are expected to find their places in traditional teacher-fronted methods, which seem to pro-
sociery so the purpose of courses offered by TESEP insti- mote uniform student behavior under the watchful eye
rutions is to socialize students in the national norms and of the teacher. But, as those of us who try to implement
mores of the educated populace of their country or region. the learning group ideal in our classes know, ensuring that
The abiliry to use English well is often considered a sign small group interaction among students is effective actu-
that this process of socialization has been successful, but ally requires more control over student interaction than
other knowledge and skills are also considered important. does traditional teacher-fronted instruction.
Therefore, English language courses in TESEP institutions
are normally just one component of a larger educational During group work, if the teacher does not check how
whole, instead of the primary reason for the institution's successfully the groups complete their tasks, some of the
existence. groups or individual students within groups are likely to
go ofltask. If a number of students are permitted to re-
The qype and amount of educational resources available to main ofltask for even a short period of time, group work
teachers in BANA as opposed to TESEP institutions also becomes less focused for the entire class. \7hen this hap-
differs substantially. Because many BANA institutions are pens, the lesson plan and any follow-up activities that are
self-supporting, they can afford to provide students with a dependent upon the group work run the risk of suddenly
state-of-the-aft language learning environment. This en- becoming irrelevant. Then the teacher is forced to impro-
vironment is intended to meet the professional needs of vise alternative ways to keep the entire class focused on
individual clients, so every student is given individual at- the point of the lesson, which was not covered successfully
tention. In practical terms, this means that BANA students during the group work. If the teacher is unable to do this,
are often assigned to small classes where instructional tech- the lesson itself loses its purpose, and everyone, includ-
niques that promote frequent small group interaction in ing the teacher, may feel that the entire class was a waste
the target language are used. In addition, BANA teach- of time. In short, maintaining the BANA learning group
ers are often given the training and resources they need to ideal requires that the teacher constantly strive towards the
teach effectively in this environment. Holliday (1994:54) continuous involvement of all students in all of the activi-
calls this the establishment of a "learning group ideal... ties selected for the lesson.
[with] conditions for a process-oriented, task-based, in-
ductive, collaborative, communicative English language What TESEP teachers can do
teaching methodology." Holliday argues that, because TESEP and BANA teach-
ing contexts (including teacher responsibilities) are so dif-
Many classrooms in TESEP institutions, in contrast, suffer ferent, it is imperative that TESEP teachers be allowed
from a lack of adequate resources. This is compounded by to develop methodologies that are appropriate to their
the fact that English departments in TESEP institutions educational institutions. These methodologies may incor-
are frequently forced to compete with other departments porate some modified BANA techniques, such as group
for limited educational resources. In addition, TESEP work and learner-centered interaction in English, while
teachers are much less likely to have access to the profes- retaining culturally appropriate roles of TESEP teachers
sional materials and training that their BANA counterparts and students. Such methodologies could develop out of
receive. Frequently it is impossible for TESEP teachers to the answers that teachers provide to the nine questions of
replicate a BANA learning environment and "learning robust reasoning.
group ideal" in their classrooms.
Hollidays distinction between the BANA and TESEP
Another looh at the learning group idzal teaching contexts, while very usefirl, is still an overgen-
Is the BANA learning group ideal truly the most effec- eralization. There are ESL classrooms where the language

teaching philosophy parallels those of many TESEP insd- school administrators will be much easier. A well-thought-
tutions, and many private EFL language schools through- out explanation of your teaching practice is often enough
out the world offer their students BANA-sryle English lan- to convince others that both the day-to-day and long-term
guage instruction. Perhaps the differences berween BANA decisions about what should happen in your classroom are
and TESEP contexts reflect the economic and cultural dif- based on your best professional judgment.
ferences berween the public and private educational sec-
tors. Nevertheless, the recognition that such a difference The final four questions focus on broad personal and pro-
does exist is the first step for teachers to be able to de- fessional issues that affect a teacher and her students.
velop their own definitions of what really "works" in their
teaching contexts and why. It will lead us to recognize that are tlte consequences of *y teaclting practices
the effectiveness of using methods developed for private fo, *tstudcnts?
schools in a public school teaching context will be contin- The purpose of this question is to focus on how a teach-
gent upon how well these methods have been adapted to er handles her students' personal problems and conflicts
the new context. A direct transfer of private school meth- among students. Academic concerns, such as competitive
ods into the public school context is likely to lead to inef- exams, and social concerns, such as unemployment, can
fective teaching. have major impacts on students and their relationships
with each other. Sometimes these issues will have a direct
Vhat do I hnow about the subject maner that I teach? impact on the teacher as well. Planning how you will re-
Answering this question involves more than being able to spond to these issues and developing supportive ways to
recite the rules of English grammar. \7e need to consider handle classroom relationships and confict before prob-
what content we teach and how we present it to students. lems occur will enable you to demonstrate that you respect
If we emphasize one aspect of the content, we may exclude your students as people and that there are parameters for
other aspects. Critically analyzing how we presented the appropriate behavior in your classroom. It is impossible to
lesson content is more useful than asking a question such prevent classroom conflict, but it is important to be pre-
as, "\7hy was today's lesson so terrible?" because it focuses pared for it.
on what we actually do in class, rather than how we feel
after class. Questions about subject matter and lesson con- Hou do I rnahe sense of tlteoretical hnowledge?
tent can motivate us to develop alternatives to teaching Some of us have fond memories of our student years, when
choices we have made in the past, which is an essential step we were preparing for a teaching career. \7e may have had
in the development of context-appropriate methodology. comparatively few responsibilities at that time, so we were
able to enjoy the opportunity to learn about and discuss
\Vhy do I teach the utay I do? theoretical issues related to the English language and lan-
After the prior questions of robust reasoning have been guage teaching. Others may remember those years as an
addressed, this question, which concerns the decisions a extensive period of probation, when our academic abilities
teacher makes every day, will be much easier to answer. were under constant scrutiny. may have been forced
In fact, the answer is a personal justification for why we to take examinations in a multitude of subject areas, some
teach the way we do. In paraphrasing the question, John- of which, in retrospect, were only distantly related to the
son asks, "\fhat instructional considerations figure most skills we needed to teach effectively.
prominently in your reasoning?" (1999:l4l). One way to
answer begins, "The way I teach on any given day depends our memories of our pre-service training are,
on...." This shows that you take into account all of the fac- they are likely to come to the fore whenever we attend
tors that have an impact on your teaching when you plan in-service training or a professional conference, and when
lessons. we discuss language teaching trends with our colleagues.
'We are not in school anymore, and no one will be evaluat-

There is an additional advantage to having a sound justifi- ing how current our theoretical knowledge of the English
cation for why you teach the way you do. Once you have language or language teaching is. As practicing teachers,
articulated the reasons for your day-to-day teaching deci- our relationship to theoretical knowledge should be that
sions, explaining those decisions to other interested parties of consumers. Before buying anything, wise shoppers learn
such as students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors or as much about the available products as they can. 'Wise

consumers of theoretical knowledge should learn as much the elements that have an impact upon your teaching and
as possible about new theories, approaches, and methods how you rypically respond to them, you are ready to change
before deciding whether to incorporate them into their what you do in your classroom so that it "works" more ef-
teaching. fectively for you and your students. As Johnson points out,
"The process ofchange occurs when teachers articulate to
Many of us, however, are not given the option of choosing themselves and others what they want to change and why,
which approaches or methods to use in our classrooms. when they identif' the factors that inhibit change, and
Our educational institutions or a larger government au- when they develop strategies to implement change over
thority makes this decision for us. Despite this, it is still time" (1999 143).
our responsibility to find out as much as we can about the
approaches or methods that we are required to use and to This holds true regardless of the magnitude of the change
determine ways to make them relevant to our classroom that you are contemplating. For example, if you have used
contexts. This suggestion is not revolutionary because robust reasoning to determine why your afternoon classes
most methods and approaches are implemented in very don't respond well to pair work, you may uncover one of
different ways in actual classroom practice. Richards and these possible situations:
Rodgers (200I:157) note that "the wide acceptance of the
Communicative Approach and the relatively varied way in . The seating in the room where you teach in the
which it is interpreted and applied can be attributed to the afternoon makes pair work difficult.
fact that practitioners from different educational traditions . The pair work tasks you have selected for your af-
can identifr with it, and consequently interpret it in dif- ternoon classes are boring and need to be modified.
ferent ways." Our own interpretation of a method may be . Students who come to your classes in the afternoon
perfectly acceptable. However, we need to become familiar are exhausted after a full day ofschool work and can t
with its components so that we can show a clear relation- concentrate on pair work.
ship between the method and what we do in our classes. . Students in your afternoon classes are worried
Again, if we can explain to ourselves why we do what we about final exams and dont see pair work as rel-
do, it will be much easier for us to articulately explain our evant.
decisions to others.
No matter which of these causes is the most pertinent,
rVho is my professional community? there is probably more than one way to handle any of
Answering this question involves looking closely at how them. Continuing to engage in robust reasoning to de-
colleagues within your department and throughout the termine the most appropriate solution will enable you to
school view their work and their students. Johnson points decide on which changes to make and how these changes
out that "the underlying values, norms, and expectations can be implemented.
shared by the teachers and other professionals with whom
you work will shape, in part, the way you understand and Conclusion
respond to the actions and interactions that go on around Robust reasoning involves much more than keeping notes
you" ( I 999: 1 42). Your relationship with your professional in a diary on how well classes go. It involves looking at
community may be productive and cooperative, or polite the past, present, and future of every component of your
but distant, or overtly antagonistic. No matter what the re- work in the classroom, plus evaluating new research and
lationship is, it will have an effect on what you do in your methods in terms of whether or not they would "work"
classroom. Refecting on the qualiry of your interactions with your students. In addition, it includes making con-
with colleagues may lead you to recognize how and why scious decisions as to the most effective ways to reinforce
your views and theirs differ substantially. It will also help the positive and respond to the negative elements of class-
you define in what ways your teaching "works" for you and room interaction.
your students, regardless ofhow others see it.
Using robust reasoning to answer the question, "Did my
sort of change do I see asftfor m! own teaching? students benefit from what happened in class today?" will
This question cannot be asked or answered until you have lead us to definitions ofeffective teaching that are context-
answered the previous questions. Once you have defined appropriate and applicable to our classrooms. This in turn

will enable us to develop teaching methods and activities . Long, M. H. and G. Crookes. 1992. Three approaches to task-
that "work." It will also make it easier for us to explain to basedsyllabus design. TESOLQuarterly,26, l,pp.27-56.
others why we do what we do in our classrooms and why . Murphey, T. 1998. Multiple assessment action logging. In
we believe that what we do "works." In an age when there Neut uays in classroom Astetsment,ed. J.D. Brown. Alexandria,
are very few instant solutions to the teaching issues rhat VA: TESOL.
confront us when we enter a classroom, robust reasoning . O'Malley, J. M. andA. Chamot. 1990. Learningstrategies in
is an effective way to generate our own solutions to class- Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
second hnguage acquisition.
room realities. siry Press.

Oxford, R. 1990 Learningsh'ategies: IVhat euery teacher should

References hnow.Boston: Heinle and Heinle.
. Adams, E. and H. Brewer. A
200712. Teaching creatively: . Reid, J.M., ed. 1998. Understanding learning styles in the
symbiotic process. IATEFL Issues, 164, pp. 14-15. fuver, NJ: Prenrice-
second language classroom. Upper Saddle
. Brown, H. D. 2001. Tbaching h1 principles: An interactiue Hall Regents.
approach to language pedagogl. rVhite Plains, NY Addison . fuchards, I. 1999. Beyond training. Cambridge: Cambridge
Longman. University Press.
. Fanselow, J. 1987 . Breahing rules. New York: Longman. . fuchards, J. and T. Rodgers . 2001. Approaches and methods in
. Fries, C. C. 1945 . Tbaching and learning English a: a foreign knguage teaching (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
language. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press. siry Press.
. Holliday,A. lgg4.Appropriatelnethodologlandsocialcontext. . Savignon, S. 1983. Communicatiue competence: Theory and
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. classroom practice. Reading, MA: Addison-\?'esley.
. Hymes, D. 1971. On communicatiue competence. Philadel- . Scarcella, R. C. and R. L. Oxford, eds. 1992. Thpestry.Bos-
phia: Universiry of Pennsylvania Press. ton: Heinle and Heinle.
. Johnson, K. 1999. Understanding language teaching: Reason- . Viddowson, H. G. 1978. Tbaching language as communica-

ing in action. Boston: Heinle and Heinle. tion. Oxford; Oxford University Press.
. Krashen,S. 1981. Secondknguageacquisitionandsecondkn- . Zahorik, J. A. 1986. Acquiring teaching skills. Journal of
guage learning. Oxford: Pergamon. Teacher Education,37, pp.21-25.

Lisa Harshbarger is the Regional English Language Officer assigned to the American Embassy in Trhkent, Uzbekistan. She also wrote the anniversary secrion,
A View of the Past, in the July and October issues of English Teaching Fomm.

Artich reprinted uith pemision: Harshbarger L. 2002. lYhat Worhs in the ELT Clnsroom?: Uing Robust Reasoning to Find Out. EnglishTeachingForum 40 (4).

Rrrlrcnvr AcnvlrY FoR

The Communicative Approach:

Addressing Frequent Failure
By Glenn Deckert

K w L
(What I just learned about this subject)
(What I know about this subject) (What I want to know about tfiis subject )

The average percentage ofteacher talk to student tdk in

my class is:
TT:90 ST: l0
- TT:80 ST:20
- TT:70 ST 30
- TT 60 ST:40
- TT 50 ST:50
- TT:40 ST 60
- TT' 30 ST 70
- TT' 20 ST:80
- TT, l0 ST:90
-My students are exposed daily to purposefirl exchanges
in English outside the classroom.
Strongly agree
- Asree
- Disaqree
Strongly disagree
-My classroom features which of the following (pick the
most common lhree):
Teacherled drills
- Quizzing memorized material
- Extended explanation ofEnglish rules
- Low-profile teacher role
- Frequent pairlsmall group workproblem solving.
- Students responding to authentic samples ofEnglish
-I would use Commrnicative Approach nore iS
I tausht a hieher level
\7e had more authentic materials available
- We had exams to match the skills of CLI
- I had smaller clmses
- I had a lighter teaching load
- I had better clmsroom equipment
-I have surveyed my students to find out their preferences
in class regarding:

- Drills
- Pair/grouo work
Level of correction provided/preferred
-I would welcome someone to observe my class and log
the degree ofteacher t"lk and student tdk, etc.
Yes, definitely

- Yes, but Id like some advanced notice.

- Maybe
- Not sure
- I dont think I d like an obsener.
- No. My class is my class.
Reflective Activiry for "The Communicative Approach: Addressing Frequent Failure" created by Maria Snarski

The Communicative Approach:
Addressing Frequent Failure
By Glenn Deckert

Reports abound on the practical difficulties of imple- use of traditional examinations, and the absence of new
menting a communicative approach when teaching forms of assessment to match CLT priorities. Leng re-
English in English-as-a-foreign language (EFL) settings. fers to the economic problems that account for overly
These settings are the environments in which students large classes, teachers' healy teaching loads and out-
have little exposure to English outside the classroom. moded classroom equipment. She also points out how
Some reports attribute the failure of the approach to administrative practices in teacher assessment may even
inadequacies of the teachers themselves. Karavas-Dou- penalize teachers who use communicative techniques in
kas (1996), in her study of 101 local secondary school their classes. Thus, it appears that even instructors who
teachers of English in Greece, concludes that part of the are well versed in the theory and fundamentals of com-
problem stems from the instructors' misunderstanding municative language teaching face an uphill battle in
of the very nature of communicative language teaching EFL settings.
(CLT). Thus, she found that even when using textbooks
designed for communicative activities, teachers tended to Frequent challenges to classroom communication
revert to traditional teacher-centered routines. Kumara- In spite of the many challenges to implementing a com-
vadivelu (1993), drawing on teaching experience in India municative approach in EFL conrexrs, there remains a
as well as North America, concludes that teacher trainers strong rationale for pursuing CLT methodology, espe-
sometimes simply fail to equip teachers with the skills cially when instruction envisions learners moving on
and techniques they need for implementing CLT in their to use English for further education or career advance-
classrooms. ment. That is, in EFL settings, most learners outside
the classroom lack daily exposure and inclusion in pur-
Often the difficulty is attributed to the EFL environ- poseful exchanges in the English medium. These EFL
ment. Focusing on cultural values that may interfere learners are far more dependent upon whatever guided
with CLT in Japan, Stapleton (1995) points out how communicative practice they can get in the classroom.
Confucianism as a belief system is in tension with un- It is mainly in the classroom that they can learn, in the
derlying notions of CLT. For example, Confucianism words of Larsen-Freeman (2000), "when and how to
establishes the superior status and knowledge of the say what to whom" in English (l2l). Accordingly, pro-
teacher over that ofthe students, thus elevating the role ponents of the CLT approach argue that EFL students
of the teacher above the students. Similarly, Ellis (1996) are in need of CLI methodology in order to gain facil-
raises questions about the basic compatibility of CLT ity and confidence in using English. Based on student
with Vietnamese learners, who have deeply rooted no- centeredness, the CLT approach features low-profile
tions about social uses of language. That is, in Vietnam teacher roles, frequent pair work or small group prob-
knowing and using the acceptable linguistic forms in lem solving, students responding ro aurhenric samples
interpersonal exchange is highly important. Li (1998), of English, extended exchanges on high interest top-
with observations from South Korea, and Leng (1997), ics, and the integration of the four basic skills, namely
reflecting on teaching and learning in China, each re- speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The CLT ap-
port local conditions that are detrimental to CLT meth- proach discourages extensive teacher-controlled drills,
odology. Li observes the scarcity of relevant authentic quizzing of memorized material, and extended com-
materials, lack of student prerequisite skills, continued mentary on forms of English.

In the face of the many adverse conditions that militate and wide-ranging. They were but one means of explor-
against significant and authentic communication among ing local notions and habits regarding teaching and
students in EFL classrooms, my own observations in EFL learning English.
settings have led me to conclude that the most frequent
obstacle to CLT is excessive talk on the part of the teach- The 75 instructors were based in two different divisions
er. This teacher tendency possibly rsts upon teachers' of the university. The majoriry were instructors in the
own contrary beliefs about how language learning takes English Teaching Unit that provided approximately 15
place. There may be failure to appreciate the way CLT hours of English instruction per week to sections of first-
methodology aims to track the known processes of sec- year students over a period of rwo or three semesters. All
ond language acquisition. Alternatively, excessive teacher entering students, except a few that had already obtained
talk may simply be the reassertion of old habits that resist a score of 500 on a practice TOEFL exam, had to com-
change in spite of teacher acknowledgements about the plete these courses. The classes in the English Teaching
value of CLI activities. Conceivably, lack of preparation Unit were composed of students of similar majors. Text-
time may lead some teachers to fill the class hour with ex- book materials were chosen for topical relevance for the
temporaneous talk about the target language. students planning to study engineering, science, social
the cause, students end up doing less talking. That is, ex- studies, and business. Other instructors were members
cessive teacher talk hampers the emergence of sustained, of the English department and taught the courses consti-
purposeful student talk. tuting a major in English. The major consisted of both
language and literature, although my in-class observation
This is not to deny that the breakdown may indicate was limited to the language courses. I personally taught
a lack of a ready repertoire of CLf techniques, or that and observed classes in both the Teaching Unit and the
classroom conditions are often limiting. I also recognize English department.
that some instructors may harbor doubts about their own
abiliry to model the complex sociolinguistics of spoken As reported from other EFL situations, I found even in
English. Over time, however, much can be done to allevi- my own classes an initial pull toward what seemed to be
ate these drawbacks. On the other hand, the teacher talk a default position of traditional teacher-fronted, form-
variable is most immediately accessible to change and focused instruction, with the result being a more passive
clearly under the command of the teacher. I maintain student role. That is, students' customary reliance upon
that as teachers self-impose a reasoned and disciplined teacher initiative countered my efforts to make them
control of their own talk in the classroom, classroom ac- independent learners. Although the students had had in
tivities, with a few basic techniques, will move in the di- secondary schools several years of English lessons from
rection of meaningful exchange between learners. curricula with a distinctly CLI orientation, they seemed
restless and distracted in the roles I assigned. Classes I
Case Study on EFL Classrooms observed, taught by both native and non-native English
My recent semester teaching EFL as a Fulbright Schol- speakers, while displaying the instructors' able facility
ar at a university in one of the emirates on the Persian in English, largely assumed teacher-centered activity.
Gulf gave me fresh opportunity to investigate the no- For example, I witnessed large portions of class time
tions and practice of EFL instructors. Here most of the devoted to the instructor's analysis and commentary
75 instructors giving English instruction to both male on students' written errors, extended explanations on
and female Arabic-speaking students were from sur- usage and vocabulary, and volleys of teacher-initiated
rounding countries, most having obtained their highest exchanges yielding only short responses from students,
qualification from \Testern institutions. I was privileged often in chorus.
to be an observer of many of these colleagues' classes
and an informal interviewer about my observations. Often while observing my colleagues' classes, after ev-
Also, while teaching my own two English classes, I was ery 30 seconds I ticked on a worksheet whether the
able to administer questionnaires to my colleagues and communication at that instant was coming from the
a large number of students to gain further insight into instructor or the students, whether there was silence,
local perspectives on teaching and learning English in or whether other kinds of activities were taking place.
this EFL context. The questionnaires were exploratory Doing rhis for periods of 30 minutes or more at a time

provided an approximation of the amount of class time courses, an English language instructor should devote
consumed by instructors' talk versus that of the students. most of the class time to giving explanations, examples,
Upon adding up these norarions on class activities, I and error correction." Here, 5 chose "I strongly agree,"
found that, typically, instructors were speaking an)'where 9 selected "I tend ro agree," l9 indicated "I tend to dis-
from rwo to five times more often than all their students agree," and 5 answered "I strongly disagree." The other
combined. I also observed that in whole-class activiries, 3 respondents indicated theywere uncertain. Therefore,
student utterances more often consisted of just one-, on this item, 14, or 34o/o, revealed that they believed
rwo-, or three-word utterances. Occurrences of extended they must use most of the class time for giving expla-
student discourse of several sentences or more were in- nations, examples, and correction. Ten of the 24 who
frequent except in the case of their asking quesrions or indicated they ought to correct most of their students'
delivering prepared speeches. In eleven observed classes, errors were among the 14 who saw their role as that
each lasting either 60 or 90 minutes, eight classes gave a of giving explanations, examples, and error correction.
portion of the time to group activity. The group activity One other questionnaire item explored the instructors'
in 6ve of these cases averaged just five minutes; other use of group work in their lessons. The statement was
classes devoted 12, 20, and 35 minutes to group work. as follows: "Most of the lessons I teach for enhancing
Spontaneous student communication dramatically rose students' English language proficiency include at least a
when class activity shifted to these small groups albeit 10-minute period of paired or sub-group activities led
not always in the target language. - by the students themselves." Just 15 of the 41 respond-
ing instructors claimed that this was their own practice,
Exploring instructor beliefs
In an effort to uncover some of the instructors' operating That 59o/o and 34o/o of the 41 respondents admittedly
beliefs, I administered a questionnaire to which instruc- hold positions on their classroom roles that translate into
tors responded anonymously. The questionnaire consist- extensive teacher talk is consistent with the teacher-cen-
ed of 24 statements about beliefs and practices followed teredness I observed in the classrooms. In fact, the most
by Likert scales to elicit respondents' Ievel of agreement common class activities I observed were reinforcement of
or disagreement with each statement. The questionnaire textbook explanations and analysis ofstudent errors. Re-
was distributed to 75 instructors of English, nearly all of garding teachers' focus on student errors, Stevick (1996,
whom had at least a Mastert degree in English, educa- I55,200) concludes from past studies, that constant cor-
tion, or applied linguistics. Of the 41 who completed rection inhibits students and constrains both the content
and returned the questionnaire, 20 identified themselves and forms of students' expression. In summarizing a con-
as native speakers ofArabic, 14 as native speakers of Eng- cern of Silent proponents, Stevick writes "the more
lish, and 7 chose nor ro specify their first language. Of the teacher talks and explains, the less internal work the
the 4l respondents, 30 taught in the Teaching Unit, and learner is likely to do" (221).In my study I suspected the
l1 worked for the English department. On average, these scarcity of authentic communication among learners in
41 instructors had taught at the university for nearly 6 the classrooms stemmed in part from instructors' beliefs
years. about handling student mistakes.

Responses to two questionnaire items directly pertain One can conclude that teacher talk, a variable obviously
to the instructort understanding of his/her classroom subject to teacher control, and the beliefs that sustain
role. First, instructors were asked to respond to the this activiry are the primary variables to focus on in
statement, "Generally, instructors must correct most helping teachers implement CLT methodology in their
errors students make in speaking and writing so that classrooms. Unquestionably, teacher talk is essential for
the errors do not become a permanent habir." In re- initiating learning acrivities, setting standards, assessing
sponse, 9 chose "I strongly agree," 15 "I tend to agree," performances, and providing some forms of feedback. In-
14 "I tend to disagree," 2 "I strongly disagree," and I structors, however, too often seem compelled to promote
claimed to be uncertain. Thus, 24, or 59o/o, indicated learning by their own extended talk. One can only guess
they agreed to some extent that they must correct most rhe extent to which this variable of teacher talk limits the
student errors. Second, the instructors expressed their realization of authentic communication among students
level of agreement with the statement, "In first-year in the classrooms.

The students' perception language learners. Teachers must strive to sift through
Data from a similar questionnaire administered to stu- the many claims they have encountered about Ianguage
denrs in the same context were even more decisive. A learning and determine what in fact they themselves
total of 181 Arabic-speaking students, mostly in their hold to be most descriptive of the process. As Pajares
6rst year at the universiry were administered another (1992) points out, it is beliefs more than mere knowl-
Likert-scale questionnaire on perspectives and habits edge or awareness that establish the roles teachers as-
in language learning. One statement of immediate rel- sume in the classroom. Teacher acknowledgements abott
evance was as follows: "If English instructors do not CLT are not necessarily what inform their classroom
correct most of the errors students make in speaking behavior. Rather, their classroom conduct rests on their
and wriring, the students will not make much progress beliefs. once teachers idenri$' their operating beliefs
in English." In response, 86 students indicated that they about how a second language is learned, they can com-
strongly agreed; 50 responded that they tended to agree; pare those formulations with prevailing theory on the
just 12 indicated a tendency toward disagreement; and matter.
eight replied that they strongly disagreed. The other 25
claimed not to know. Thus, 136 of 181, or75o/o ofthese One widely shared portrayal of second language ac-
students, appear to believe that their teachers ought to quisition for teachers to consider is often referred to as
regularly corlect most of their mistakes. Interestingly, learner interlanguage. This refers to the learnert imper-
there was a srriking statistical difference (p<.0005) be- fect but evolving representation of the target language
tween males and females in the replies to this item, at any point in the acquisition journey. Brown (2000)
with 87.5 percent ofthe 104 women agreeing with the summarizes this acquisition process as "the creative con-
srarmentJ versus just 58.4o/o of the 77 male students. struction of a system in which learners are consciously
Vharever the reason for that diffe re nce , a clear majority tesring hypotheses about the target language from a
of these students believe it is the duty of the instruc- number of possible sources of knowledge..." (215).
tJThat teachers say in class about the target language or
tor to identifr and correct most of their errors. With
many instructors inclined to think similarly, the shared about mistakes is only one ofthe sources and not neces-
perspectiye perperuates an atmosphere in which the in- sarily the most important one. Btown further explains,
structor is the dominant speaker, So, on the one hand, "By a gradual process of trial and error and hypothesis
the questionnaire revealed a major obstacle to meaning- resting, learners slowly and tediously succeed in estab-
ful communication in the classroom. lishing closer and closer approximations to the system
used by native speakers..." (215). lhis trial and error
On the other hand, the questionnaire uncovered the fact process, according to the theory, pertains to all aspects
that the majoriry of participating students had a positive of second language mastery, that is, the phonology, syn-
view of grouped activiry in the classroom. In response to rax, lexis, and social conventions oflanguage use. Thus,
the statement, "It is usually a waste of time to be put in while there remains a place for formal linguistic expla-
small groups to do group assignments during class," 103 nation and correction on the part of the teacher, the
of the 181 srudents disagreed, 48 agreed, and 30 indi- CLT approach assumes that a student's interlanguage
cated they did not know. Also, in response ro the state- development is benefited most by uninterrupted trial
ment "Small group work in class with classmares (e.g, and error, along with aftentiveness to the responses of
for 20 or 30 minutes ar a time) is usually a good use of interlocutors. It is through all ofthese acts ofcommuni-
class time for improving my English," 128 of the 178 re- cation and feedback in the target language that students
spondents agreed' 27 disagreed,, and,23 said they did not gain facility in the language. Inevitably, students will
know. Clearly, most students viewed small group work exhibit shortcomings, ups and downs, unpredictable
with little involvement of their instructor as a beneficial sensitivity !o contextsr and only gradual improvement
experience. on the road to mastery. It is, however, this experience
with the target language that ensures progress.
Suggested response
The reported observations and questionnaire data sug- Teachers inclined to talk excessively in the classroom
gest a need for teachers to reflect on their own past may benefit from in-service training to facilitate their
second-language learning and that of their own second- introspection and experimentation and to reorient their

beliefs. However, as Pajares (1992) points out, some their expectations about who does what in the class-
teachers are more inclined to question and alter their be- room. This negotiation between teacher and students
liefs in the face of firsthand classroom evidence rather promises a high level of classroom interaction in its own
than in response to secondhand acquisition theory given right.
them by trainers. For such teachers, having them experi-
ment with basic CLT techniques and urging them to re- In conclusion, CLT in EFL settings need not be elu-
duce their teacher talk and observe the resulting student sive; teachers can take the first critical step toward rais-
performance might help them reconsider their beliefs ing the level of authentic classroom communication by
about how students learn. sharply reducing the amount of talking they do. To take
this step, however, presupposes the belief on their part
In-service training can also broaden teachers' reper- that real communication promises a greater payoff than
toires of techniques for furthering in-class communica- extensive teacher commentary and frequent corrective
tion between students, and it can help teachers explore intervention. The teacher, of course, needs to acquire
how some ESL/EFL textbooks can be adapted to serve facility for adapting textbooks, creating communicative
as a springboard for communicative activities. \With less tasks, and providing selective, useful feedback to stu-
proficient learners, for example, teachers can explore dents on their performances. Granted, the reorientation
ways to use magazine pictures, personal photographs, may come slowly as students overcome old expectations
cancelled postage stamps, and even road signs, bumper and new insecurities and as entire programs accommo-
stickers, and advertisements for communicative pur- date to the changes being made in the classroom. Dur-
poses. At the intermediate level, as in my own classes, ing this process of gradual pedagogical and curricular
teachers can have students explain some frequently mis- change, however, teachers can find encouragement in
understood aspects of their culture. Or they can have knowing they are not expected to attain some ideal CLI
students report on both the process and findings of as- standard. Lesson by lesson, activity by activity, teachers
signed internet searches. They can have students brain- can gradually increase the degree of meaningful inter-
storm controversial topics for class discussion and pre- action between their students. 'W'hat English teachers
pare pro or con positions as part of moderated panels. need, however, is administrative assurance that their less
They can have students prepare two-minute oral news dominant role in the classroom is not a sign of negli-
reports from notes on assigned topics and reply to their gence or loss of control, but rather a sign of informed
classmates' questions. Teachers can have small groups of belief that students learn best by using language for
students formulate solutions to real local social prob- purposeful communication.
lems and present their ideas to classmates orally or in
writing. Teachers working with advanced students can References
challenge them to draw upon their own experience and . Brown, H. 2000. Principles of language learning and teach-
specialties to teach each other. \7ith all these activities, ing,4rh ed.'$7hite Plains, NY Addison \fesley.
the teacher's role is to select or design appropriate class- . Deckert, G. 1987. The communicative approach: Helping
room tasks that contain relevant topics and to serve as a students adjust. English Tbaching Forum 25 (3): 17-20.
resource as needed. . Ellis, G. 1996. How culturally appropriate is the communi-
cative approach? ELTJournal 50 (3):213-218.
A final area of in-service assistance to teachers who wish . Karavas-Doukas, E. 1996. Using attitude scales to inves-
to move closer to a communicative approach is to have tigate teachers' attitudes to the communicative approach.
them consider ways to reorient their students as to the ELT Journal 50 (3): 87-197. Kumaravadivelu, B. 1993.
roles they and their teachers should assume in the class- Maximizing learning potential in the communicarive class-
room. Results of the student quesrionnaire indicate that room. ELT Journal 46 (1): 12-21.
most students are fond of small group activities in the . Larsen-Freeman, D. 2000. Techniques and principles in lan-
classroom and feel they are beneficial. However, as re, guage teaching,2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ported earlier, some studenrs may view a good teacher . Leng, H. 1997. New bottles, old wine: Communicative
as one who constantly corrects the spoken and written language teaching in China. English Tbaching Forurn 35 (4):
errors of students. Thus, as Deckert (1987) points out, 384r.
teachers face the challenge of helping srudenrs adjust . Li, D. 1998. It's always more difficult than you plan and

imagine: Teachers' perceived difficuldes in introducing the tional Rescarch 62 (3)z 307-332.
communicative approach in South Korea. TESOL Quar- . Stapleton, P. 1995, The role of Confucianism in Japanese
terly 32 (4): 677-703. education. Tbe Language Tbacher 19 (4): 13-16.
. Pajares, M. 1992. Teachers' beliefs and educational re- . Stevick, E. 1996. Memory rneaning and method, 2nd' ed'.
search: Cleaning up a messy construct. Revieu of Educa- Boston, MA: Heinle and Heinle.

Glenn Dcckcrt is an Associate Professor oFESL/TESOL at Eastern Michigan Universiry where he has taught ESL and MATESOL courses since 1993

Artich repinted uith permission: Dcckcrt, G. 2004. Ihe Comm*nicatiae Appmach; Addrcssing Frequnt Failura. English TeachingForum 42 (I).

This actiui4t inuolues students preparing a nAme tent u.tith
additional detail: on it (one item in each corner) to prompt When to Use lt
o 'fi1 build rapport
conuersation for a get-to-know-7ou/warm-up actiuit!. The r fi1 get participanx familiar with one
goal is
for participants to get to know one another, ?ractice another in a class or training
asking and answering questions, and warm up for the ses- . the facilitator learn names of par-
sion ahead. Tlte additional information that is requestedfor ucrPants

the name tent is flexible and therefore can be tailored for the
r J[ informdly assess level of learners/
focus of the session.

Facilitators can prepare their name tents ahead of the session or do
Lever agV
them along with the participants. Distribute the papers (8.5 x 11 or
A.4 will work) and markers (do not distribute hard-to-read 661e15
skirrs &!
red, orange, yellow, etc.). NB: Your name should be in large letters
for all to read from a distance. The goai is to learn one another's Practice @ .*
names, and having large letters is helpful.
Procedure Paper for rram tents, markers, tape
l Distribute the papers and markers.
2. Explain to participants that they will make name tents with sev-
Preparation Time
5-10 minutes
eral items oFinformation. They should wait for full instructions
before beginning.
3. Explain what should go on the name tent. Give an overview of
15-30 minutes, depending on interaction with
all items before they start to write/draw Then go through each
participants during mingling portion
item one by one, giving clear instructions.
4. Allow time for participants to complete each corner. Other
5. When participants are finished, they should turn to the Corner Name Tents can be folded and put in
person sitting closest and ask and answer questions about the pic- front of a participant if they are seated at a table
tures/words on the name tent. Give them five to seven minutes to or taped onto the front ofthe desk. They can be
swap information. saved for use in subsequent sessions until names
6. Have participants introduce their partners to the group and say are known.
something about one of the corners on the name tent.

1. Ifparticipants are from only a few locations (cities/institutions), mix them up by not allowing participants from the same
institutions/cities sit next to each other during step #5 above.
2. As the facilitator, you can participate in the pair work portion and model the introduction.
3. Depending on the length of the training, you can mix participants up later and have them swap name tent information
with someone else.
4. You can add to the name tents other items throughout the training and turn them into a type of evaluation of the work-
shop. E.g., Draw/write the activiryyou are most likely to use as a result of the training; the activiry that you won't use and
why; whether you achieved the purpose of this training, etc.
5. Be sure to revisit the corner that relates to the goals of the training near the end of the event to see if the goal was reached.
This can be part ofthe evaluation at the end.

( ontr;butor: Maria Snarsli, RFLO Brazil

Roll call does not always haue to be a tedious actiai4r in
which precious classroom time is spent on administratiue is- When to Use lt
o J[ take amendance and get feedback from
sues. (Jse it to enhance the teaching point that day or to
reuiew something that was discussed or learned preuiously. . To help learners become more
responsible/accountable for learning
Making instructional use of the roll call makes euery student
. To keep track ofparticipation in class
accountable for giuing input. It can also prompt students to
become more dctiaeb inuolued in the classroom.
Level VVV
Selcct rype and manner of feedback desired (vocabulary, content,
language point, etc.).
skills & $ lD

Procedure Practice :;:


1. lnstruct students on feedback required and call roll rcquesting

that feedback.
Type of "markers" for atendance (cards,
2. If used as a Bell Activity (see page37), write directions for the
clothespins, magnets)
feedback on the board or have them ready on PowerPoint or a
projector so students will see them upon entering.
Preparation Time
5 minutes
Srudent Responsibiliry for Attendance: Activif fime
Use laminated name cards/magnets/clothespins with students' Throughout class time 5-15 minutes; e.g., feed-
names on them. Have an in/out area for these cards/magnets/ back request
clothespins. Students are to be responsible for moving their name
from the "out" side to the "in" side, indicating their attendance. Beginning level:
Give a command with a familiar verb; students
The instructor can also use cards/magnets/clothespins to ensure s/he
act it out. "Stand," "Sit," "Open your book," etc.
hears from each student during a class, moving the marker as s/he
has an interaction with each student (answering a question/asking
High beginning levet:
an appropriate question, etc.)
Each student must say a vocabulary word
related to a specific category (food, colors,
clothing, narionalities, etc.)

Low intermediate level:

Give a verb; the student gives the past participie
(or mix up with different subject pronouns, etc.)

lntermediate leveh
Act out a verb; studen$ guess the word in the
target language

Contributor: David Malatesta, Spanish teacher, Niles West High School, Chicago, lllinois lvith additional ideas from the Office of English
Language Programs

The Entrance/Exit actiuity can d.ouble a.s a wa! to get infor-
mation/feedbach frorn students and to tahe roll,

Prepare the question you will use for the Entrance/Exit activiry ahead
of time. This should be based on the feedback or the topic you'd like
the students to respond to; .g., tVrite the activity you liked best to-
day and explain why. W'rite a question about today's topic that youd
like to learn more about.'Write one thing you learned today that you
didnt know before class.'Write five past participles, etc.

1. Hand out slips of paper if necessary.
2. Give the instructions for the feedback requested for that day.
3. Students write their name and feedback on the paper.
4. Studenrc hand the slip of paper in as they leave the classroom.
Use laminated name cards/magnets/clothespins (as described in Roll
Call/Attendance on page 35) with students' names on them. Stu-
dents can put their feedback in their clothespin and drop it into a
basket or slip it under their name magnet.

The feedback can also be collected verbally before students leave the

Contributor: David Malatesta, Spanish teacher, Niles West High School, Chicago, lllinois with additional ideas from Maria Snarski, RELO
Brazil and Monica Wiesmann-Hirchert, Senior English Language Fellow, Brazil,2011

This actiuity should be ready so that students can begin
worhing As sozn as the! enter the classroom. It should be When to Use lt
r '' J! transidon sudents inro English
a light actiuity to get students thinhing and interacting in r li1 warm up a class
English. It can be a puzzle, a riddle, a word game, etc.; e.g., o Jf ser the schema of the students
copies of the same puzzle placed around tlte classroom be- r f[ focus srudenrs after a break
fore the class begins (could be at group tables, one for pairs,
projected, on the board, or taped on the taalls around the VVV
room). Instructions should be on a screen or tlte board, en-
couraging students to get started on the puzzle As soon as the!
enter tbe room.
skills ry.P
Depends on activity

The instructor prepares whatever the activity is ahead of time (selects
the riddle, prepares copies ofthe puzzle, etc.). Ifnecessary, the an-
swer key should also be prepared to show to the class. Instructions
Materials :

Depends on activiry: copies of puzale; *elected

should be displayed on the board.
riddle used
Sample instructions on board:
. 'Work alone or in groups to complete the activiry (puzzle, rvord Preparation Time
game, etc.). 5 minutes
. Vlhen you have completed the task, the individual or all group
members should raise their hands.
Activity fime
. The first group to complete the activiry correctly will win a prize. 5-15 minutes
(The prize could be a srarla point for completing it first, or a
round ofapplause! It need not be a concrete prize.)
See puzzles From TIte Lighter Sidz ofTEFL
http: //exchanges.state. govlenglishteaching/
resfoneachlpubcat/teach- res-rnat/teachtech/
1. Before the students enter and the class begins, pre-position the
puzzles for the groupings/pairs. Put them on the desk with some
colorful highlight so it stands out.
2. Have the instructions up on the board or on the screen for
students to view upon entering (see sampie above).
3. Tiy to keep quiet about the instructions on the board; students should notice the instructions on their own and start
4. As groups begin working, walk around to provide any needed encouragement/support.
5. \7hen the first group completes the puzzle and indicates this with raised hands, bring the class together and go over the
6. Distribute the prize if applicable.

1 . Depending on the number of students in class, rhe ptzzle could be combined with the "Four Corners" (page 78) activiry by
having one puzzle in each corner (taped on the wall or available on a table) for the students. Students could be pre-divided
(by color/number) to go to a designated corner to work on the puzzle with others.
2. The activiry could be as easy as a one-line riddle or puzzle on the board that students could do at their desk. lt need not be
something as formal as a long, involved group activiry.

Contributor: Maria Snarski, RELO Brazil, with additional variations by frain theTrainers participants in Brazil

Thh is dn oral actiuiyr that gets students out of their seats
and talhing to each other. Tlte goal is to fnd someone in the
When to Use lt
r J[ serve as an icebreaker
class w/to ctn Answer a giuen suruqt question affirmatiuely. r J[ practice asking and responding to
It is commonly used as an icebreaker but is also a good utay questions
to Practice Particular grammar forms and, of course, t0 prac- . To practice a particular grammar point
tice speahing. (verb tenses, etc.)

A list of ten to rwenty questions (teacher- or student-generated) is
Level W VV
needed to start. These questions should be related to the charac-
teristics and experiences of the particular class (e.g., Do you speak
more than rwo languages? or Have you ever traveled by plane?). All
Skiils & $ ry.t
students are given rhe handout with these questions on it. It may be
useful to go over the questions with the students to prepare them
Practice @ Si
with pronunciation or vocabulary. There could be some sort of prize Materials
for whoever finishes first. Handouts

Procedure Preparation fime

1. Students are instructed to walk around the room and find one 5-15 minutes
classmate to respond positiveiy to each question on the list.
2. Students ask any of the questions to a classmate. The questions
Activity Time
10-20 minutes
need not be asked in any particuiar order.
3. Students are allowed to ask only one or nvo questions of the
salne Person.
4. Students must actually ask the question and not just point to the
question on the handout.
5. If the students being asked can answer in the affirmative,
the interviewer writes the intervieweet name next to that question. If the interviewee answers negativelv, then
nothing is written down, ar.rd the interviewer will need to look lor someone else who might be able to answer
6. More advanced students can be instructed to ask follow-up questions.

1. The questions can be put into a Bingo grid. (See the Bingo activity on page 68 for more infbrmation.) If this option is
chosen, it is recommended that the questions be placed in different squares on each Bingo card so that students don't all
call "Bingo!" at once.
2. The questions can be written out for the studenrs exactly as they should ask them, or they can be given simple sentence
stems or vocabulary items so that they construct their own question practicing a particular grammar point.

e.g., Presenttenseihabitquestions exercise every day '* Do you exercise every day?
Simple past speak English n+ Did you speak English yesterday?
Prcscnt perfecr questions eat apple pie rr* Have you ever eaten apple pie?
3. Have pairs of students create the questions using information prompted by the teacher (past tense, daily routines, etc.).
Give a limit to pair instead of question limit. Collect the papers and redistribute them for pairs ro use.
4. Have students report/write what they found out about their peers.

Contributors: Staif at Harvaii Pacific University, Katie Ryan and Caralyn Bushey from the Office of English Language Programs, and David
Ma latesta, Span ish Teacher, Chicago, i noi s

Find Someone Who...

Circukte around tbe room and fnd someone who can ansuter 'yei to each of the folhwing questions. If the
answer is yes, haue him/her sign your sheet. Try to get as man! signatures ds you can. Change the uerb to the
?ast ?articiPle xuhere necetsary.

Have you ever...

1. (to live) overseas for more than one year?

J (to sing) karaoke?

3. (to be) without a shower for more than two weeks?

4. (to ride) a horse?

5. (to eat) frogs' legs?

6. (to be) vegetarian?

7. (to swim) in three or more different oceans?

B. (to fly) an airplane?

9. (to break) a bone?

10. (to do) volunteer work?

11. (to climb) a tree more than 20 feet vertically?

12. (to have) a close relative who lived to over 100?

13. (to cook) a meal by yourself for more than 20 people?

14. (to keep) a hamster as a pet?

15. (to lump) out of a plane?

16. (to see) a polar bear in the wild?

17. (make your own question!)

As this actiuity focuses on similarities and dffirencet it is
useful in introducing, consolidating, or reuiewing the use of
When to Use lt
o J[ find out more about classmates
certdin key words and expressions suclt as both, and, bur, r J[ practice comparing and conrrasting
and however. It is also useful in getting students to know using real data
each other better and build class rapport.

rever v v
There is virtually no preparation needed for this activity if the gram-
mar has already been introduced. To exploit the practice of but and
howeuer, students should be prompted to use them in conrrasring.
skiils & $ .p
Practice @l
1. Put students in pairs. Materials
2. Pairs work together to determine five things they have in None
common and five things that are different berween them.
3.Students write the ten items down and later report to the class or Preparation Time
a larger group. None
NB: Students should be prepared to report the similarities using
both, and, but, and howeuer.
Activity Time
20+ minutes
We both like...
She likes. , but I like..
r[/e are both tuearing..

He /iues in... , bur I liue in...

Ve both haue (math).. with.

We both saw (mouie)..

I . This activitv gives students great practice in asking questions. It works best if the question format and topics are brain-
stormed ahead of time. Students workwith partners initially and then report to a larger group or the whole class.
2. With more advanced students, you can play this as "Uncommon Commonalities," where easy subjects (such as rravel or
food you both like) are off limits. An uncommon commonality might be a food that both of you have never tried or the
sum ofthe ages ofyour parents.
3. Have students find commonalities using a Venn diagram. Students read the list of activities and take turns asking about the
items on the list. If neither of the students does the activiry they write that activiry outside the circle. After they go through
the list, the activity can become a mixer. Pairs of students stay together and interact with other pairs of students trving to
fir.rd others who do an activity that they have listed at the bottom. \7hen they find others who do that activity, they write
the nrmes next to the activity.

Ve do not...

My partner...


But these people do...

" tVe do nor. . . , but these peopk do."

I walk for exercise. I I want to learn how to speak a

I go swimming in the summer. I language besides English

I play soccer. I I exercise almost every day
I go to see professional soccer I I often ask my parents for
games. I advice.
I help my parents do the I I play video games.
housework. I I like to watch rhe Olympics.
I know how to play badminton. I I know how to ice skate.
My favorite sport is tennis. I I use a cell phone often.
I watch English TV programs.
I watch golf on TV.

Contributor: David Malatesta, Spanish teacher, Niles West High School, Chicago, lllinois

This actiui4t focuses on getting students to fnd information
using reading or speaking skills. It is useful for introduc-
When to Use lt
r Jf give an overview of something to the
ing a uariety of topics or themes jiom something "big," such students (location, institution, class,
as a neighborhood, to something more particular, such as textbook)
rules and regulations of a class or institution, or euen getting . To build teams
to hnow a textbook. Scauenger Hunt is typically played in . To provide critical thinking practice

teAms, so it is also useful as a team-building exercise.

Level 9 VV
Depending on chosen
The instructor prepares the list of questions on a worksheet based
on the theme of the scavenger hunt. Room should be left fbr the
Skills r"t
answcrs. For a sample of a scavenger hunt based on this book, see
page 43.
Practice f,i =#=
1. Put students in groups (by counting off, those wearing similar
\?'orksheet for each group
color of clothing, etc.).
2. Groups work together to find the answers to the questions on the
Preparation fime
worksheet. To facilitate rvorking together, groups should share
10-20 minutes
one worksheet.
3. The first group to complete the worksheet with the correcr an- Activity fime
swers wins. 15-30 minutes

This activity can be made with very straightforward questions or
turned into a ptzzle to make it more challenging and tap into critical thinking. For the latter, an answer can be the next clue
to the follorving answer.

Straightforward: What is the number of the classroom? (e.g.,415)

More difficult: tVhat is the sum of the digits of the classroom? (10)
Even more difficult: The number ten is the sum of this location number. (415)
Answer bccomes another clue: What is the title of the page that equals the sum of the classroom?

Contributor: Maria Snarski, RELO Brazil


1 . How many chapters are in this book?

2. ln what chapter can you find ideas about using songs in the classroom?

3. ln what year was the book published?

4. What is written on the spine?

5. How many pages are in the book?

6. Who is David Malatesta?

7. What website is written on the back cover?

B. Who is the intended audience of the book?

9. What page is the table of contents on?

10. Where is the Appendix?

s tZ'01 '6 qupul 1o sraqreal 'g

to3',ksequasn'pzetqtolqsyBua '1 sronq!4uo)
^ aqt lo auo '9 9SZ '9
sagllnglry tugqreal a8entuel ,o loog ralsuow aql 't ZtqZ 's , 'Z ltl 't

This actiuity is a good controlled speahing actiui4t, whicb
When to Use lt
uses A worksheet that can be tailored
for the students in the . To "break the ice"
class. I Ji1 begin a discussion of a particular ropic
o Ji1 review marerial
Make the student worksheet. Depending on the size of your class,
you will have one or more even-numbered groups (at least six per Leve, gvv
group works best). \Write enough questions for all but one group Deperrding on quesrions chosen
member. (So, if you have groups of six, you will r.reed five different
questions.) These can be getting-to-know-you quesrions or ques-
tions related to a specific topic or language point. On the left side of
skills & t

the worksheet, number one through six (or the number of students
per group) followed by a blank line. On the right side, write the
five questions (for example, if there are six group members) srarring
across from number nvo. See sample below. \Worksheet for each studenr

Procedure Preparation fime

1. Divide the class into groups with equal numbers in each group. 10-20 minutes
2. Give each student a worksheet that has been folded down the
middle. (So, the students can only see rhe numbers and the Activity Time
blank lines, not the quesrions.) l5-30 minutes
3. Each student should write his/her name on line number one,
then pass the sheet to his/her left to a group member. That per-
son will write his/her name on line number two. Continue as
such until each student receives his/her paper back. (Note: You can play some upbeat music during this paper-passing, as it
fow of the actiuiry.)
keeps rhe
4. Students open their papers and mingle in their groups, asking each quesrion to the student whose name is to the left of the
question on their sheet.
5. After the students have had a chance to "make the rounds," ask them to rerurn ro rheir seats for a whole-group discussion,
depending on the intent of the exercise. What did you find interesting? What did you learn? Vhat did you want to talk
more about?, etc.

During the question phase, you can choose to leave the responses oral or have students take notes on the answers ro reporr
back. With larger groups, especially, it may be helpful to take notes.

e.g., Unit on Food


2. \what are
r.r. rnr;;;;Y;;;;,. ..0r,
J. Do you know how to cook? If so, what?
4. What's your favorite resrauranr?
5. Who's the best cook in your family? What does this person like to make?
6. What food or dish would you recommend to a foreigner? \X4ry?

Contributor: Elizabeth Crockett, English Language Fellow, Urazil, 2010

This actiuity takes no preparation and is a good ua! to get
students up, mouing, and participating in an early ,:lass When to Use lt
. fb "break the ice"
for the semester. Ahernatiuely, the question can be changed . 'lo- begin a discussion of English
slightly to prouide practice during A czurse. r f[ launch a class
This activity has no preparation and takes very few resources. It capi- Level gVV
talizes on student participation. Look ar variations to mix it up

1. Start with a clean board or at least enough space on the boald Skills ?
ir :l:
make lists.
Set a time limit to challenge the students to race against the
Practice d\ ml

3. Give one of the students a piece of chalk or a pen to write on the
Board, marker
4. The student goes to the board and writes any word that s/he Preparation Time
knows in English and then returns to give the pen to the next None
5. When the time is up, you count the words, erasing the ones that Activity Time
are repeated or wrong. 5-15 minutes
6. Show students that they already know a lot, but as a group thev
always know more. Make them talk about how they can learn
from each other.

1. For more advanced groups, you can ask them to write words whose first letter is the last letter from the last written word,
or limit it to a category such as food, furniture, fads, etc.
2. For large groups you can divide the board into rwo parts and the class into rwo teams.
3. Do this activity in the beginning and at the end of the semester to see if they have learned more and if they are more com-
fortable with group work.

Contributor: Julie Holaway, English Language Fellorv, Brazil, 2010

This actiuity helps bring young learners together to stop
on the teacber and-get ready
what they are doing andfocus
When to Use lt
r f6 warm up the class
for the next actiuit!. It's a plaffil, neatiue, participatoryt . To practice vocabulary
wd! to get learneri attention. Tlte game is similar to "Simon I 16 get students'attention
Says" in that students should copy arm mzuements while the
instructor is saying This but not cop1 the arm mouement Level g VV
when tbe instructor says That.

Preparation Skills &

None 9. 1
Practice I-{
I. Start saying This several times and make a different movement Materials
with your arm for each This said.
2. The children should copy the movements demonstrated.
Preparation Time
3. After several arm movements with 'Ihis, make a movement and
say That. The children will follow your movement and you
should point out next time you say That they should nzt copy ActivityTime
your movement. Once you have their attention, you can move 3 minutes
on to the next activity.

1 . Use alte rnative intensiq'
and ways of body or voice use. For example, make smaller move ments or use a finer or deeper tone
of voice.
2. Have a learner conduct the game or cvcn play it in small groups or in pairs.

(,ontributor: Matias Ansaldo, Argcntina, Buenos Aires, Beth School

This is more of a technique than full actiuity. The point of

this actiuity is to get secret responses fom students about a ..ii.':,:,,:,Ib:,e*1$r{,!f

ii .: ..:.:*l.i,:.
question things lihe tuhether they dld their homeworh or
liked an actiuity, or if they understood the grammar point

or want to change seats. It's an ed$l-to-ase wa! to get secret

:i::,r&r$ii,.$e&i,,ifl- hic.i, itli :il
answers from students. ..t.r.::.:Jb..&l{i i&&.a!{:,klilndit&q${,,' :,:'..;rl,:r,
.:.,.,'..::....'!l@l$!qt4 .. :i:,..r;:..,r.....,.rr,i:,,1
revel SE W
1. Tell students you will ask a question, and they are to put up one
finger for true and two for false.
skills &
2. Students are to keep their eyes closed during the activity. Check-
ing that eyes are closed can be done in a fun, lighthearted way
3. The first couple of questions can be "fake" questions, with the
instructor asking things like "Is it \(ednesday today?" Raise one
finger if true; rwo fingers if false. "Is this English class?" etc.

I . If the class is small enough,you can have students line up in one
row so that others cannot see their fingers up in the air while they a itity:liirE
are looking straight ahead. 5,:itlilitttdi l,i:i::..,,it :'::,r

2. Have students ask questions.

Contributor: David Malatesta, Spanish teacher, Niles West High School, Chicago, lllinois

This actiuity comes from a garne hids used to pky. h is really
gredt as a warm-ap or get-to-hnou-lou actiuit!. Tlte main
airn is to get the participants to mahe staternents using "Ibe
neuer" in ordzr to fnd out a little about others. It's a great
wa! to add a llttle bit of laughnr and energy at the begin-
ning of a ckss and the participants learn a lot about hou
conseruatiue or aduenturous their peers or colleagues are.


1. Put students into groups ofabout five or six.
2. One student in each group begins by creating a truthful state-
ment beginning with " Ibe neaer. . ." e.g., Ibe neuer eaten sushi; or
Ibe neuer clirnbed a mountain.
3. Each group member who has done the activity in the statement
must put a finger down. The nexr group member says hislher lbe
neael statement.
4. 'I1r'e game continues until there is only one member with one or

more fingers still up.

5. Remind the participants that the goal is to say things you think
others have done.

1. Depending on the level, this can be used with the following srrucrures:
a. Last week/month/yeaa I didnt... (go to a resrauranr, exercise, take a bus)
b. I like sushi, jazz, swimming in the ocean.
2. Information from the activity can be used to build personaliry profiles of peers or surprising comments could be revealed
during a report session.

Contributor: Scoft Chiverton, Senior English Language Fellow, Brazil,2011 and20'12