Wednesday, January 31, 2018

English World 1 Unit 11 p.117 Writing

(Supplementary Materials for Specific Textbooks--English World 1)

Google Drive HERE
Writing p.117 Running Dictation: drive, docs, pub
Writing Dialogue: drive, docs, pub

Practice Dialogue (p. 117)
Betty: What are you doing, Sam?

Sam: I am playing in my room.  I am holding a plane.

Betty: What is the weather like?

Sam: It is raining and windy.  What are you doing Betty?

Betty: I am standing in a boat.  I am eating ice cream.

Sam: What is the weather like?

Betty: It is sunny and hot
Adventures in Twitter

Author Tom Holland tweeted:

...and then followed it up with...

I had read Rubicon a few years  ago (see my review here) and I was fairly sure I remembered what the quote was.  So I attempted to Tweet it at Tom Holland.  (P.S.--this was the first time I've ever tried to Tweet at a famous person.  I follow a number of famous people on twitter, but I usually try to avoid being one of those annoying randos who tweets meaningless things at famous people.  But in this particular case, I thought I could help him out by reminding him of the quote he was looking for.)

Tom Holland never replied.
But... I'm still 99% sure this must have been the quote.  I mean, what else could it have been?

Regrettably, I abandoned my Latin studies 20 years ago, and can not now vouch for the accuracy of Tom Holland's translation.  All I can do is compare it with other translations of the same passage.  Here is the same passage from the 1913 Loeb Classical Library:

 Antony also writes to Augustus himself in the following familiar terms, when he had not yet wholly broken with him privately or publicly: "What has made such a change in you? Because I lie with the queen? She is my wife. Am I just beginning this, or was it nine years ago? What then of you — do you lie only with Drusilla? Good luck to you if when you read this letter you have not been with Tertulla or Terentilla or Rufilla or Salvia Titisenia, or all of them. Does it matter where or with whom you take your pleasure?"

This indicates that Tom Holland might have punched up his version slightly.  But then, that's part of the fun of his book.

Monday, January 29, 2018

English World 1 Unit 11 p.116 Listening

(Supplementary Materials for Specific Textbooks--English World 1)

Google Drive HERE
p.116 Listening Transcript: drive, docs, pub
p.116 Listening Word Grab Vocab: drive, docs, pub
Present Continuous Charades: drive, docs, pub
Present Continuous Board Game: drive, docs, pub

Now, listen one more time, and this time match the words to the blanks.
book, down, morning, my, picture, song

Pupil’s book, unit 11, page 116, activities 1 and 2
Hi.  I’m Ann.  I’m reading a _______________.
Look at me! I’m Ned.  I’m playing with my ball.
Hello.  My name’s Amy. I’m looking in _______________ bag.  Where are my pencils?
My name’s Jim.  I’m eating an apple.
My name’s Meg.  I’m drawing a _______________.
I’m standing on a chair.  I’m jumping up and down.  My name’s Sam.
Tra la la la la.  I’m singing a _______________.  My name’s Sue.  Tra la la la la.
I’m pointing at a picture.  It’s a boat.  I like it.  My name’s Ben.
Quick!  Quick!  Sit _______________.  Miss Smith is coming!
Good morning, everybody.
Good _______________, Miss Smith
Pupil’s book, unit 11, page 116, activities 1 and 2
Hi.  I’m Ann.  I’m reading a book.
Look at me! I’m Ned.  I’m playing with my ball.
Hello.  My name’s Amy. I’m looking in my bag.  Where are my pencils?
My name’s Jim.  I’m eating an apple.
My name’s Meg.  I’m drawing a picture.
I’m standing on a chair.  I’m jumping up and down.  My name’s Sam.
Tra la la la la.  I’m singing a song.  My name’s Sue.  Tra la la la la.
I’m pointing at a picture.  It’s a boat.  I like it.  My name’s Ben.
Quick!  Quick!  Sit down.  Miss Smith is coming!
Good morning, everybody.
Good morning, Miss Smith

Friday, January 26, 2018

How Many Hours Does It Take To Move Up One IELTS Band Score?


There's been some internal debate at work about how many hours a student needs to study to move up one IELTS band. (On average--I know the  individual variables are potentially infinite.  But we wanted to find out an average estimate for the purposes of deciding the length of our courses.)

As part of that debate, I spent some time researching on Google, and came up with some quotes from a few websites.
It occurred to me the other day that I should keep this research handy in case I ever need to reference it again.  So rather than have it get lost in my email archives, I decided I would post it on this blog.

Below is what I found out:

Source 1:
“The research revealed that around 300 hours of full-time study (18 hours or more a week) is needed to lift the average candidate’s overall band score from 5.5 to 6.0. Surprisingly, longer than 300 hours of full-time study is needed to move from 6.0 to 6.5, or from 6.5 to 7.0.”
Source: Ryan's IELTS Blog

Source 2:
In the past, IELTS released a study that suggested it takes around 200 hours of course study for a person to improve their band score by 1. Our personal experience combined with this research verify this.  In other words, a student should study around 5 hours/day for 2 months to improve his/her band score by 1.
Source: Scott's English Success

Source 3:
There have been a number of studies investigating the relationship between English language tuition and scores on tests of academic English. However, those studies which have investigated gain scores on IELTS following IELTS preparation courses have produced somewhat mixed results, possibly due to variations in sample size and course duration. For example, in a small-scale (n=17) study in New Zealand, Read and Hays (2003) found that gains made by the students following one month of an IELTS preparation course were not statistically significant. In a large-scale study (n=476) Green and Weir (2003) found that, on average, students’ scores only increased by 0.21 of a band (from an average of score of 5.27 to 5.48) following 3-12 weeks of intensive IELTS preparation and English for Academic Purposes type courses. Retrospective studies based on results from candidates who had taken IELTS on more than one occasion over varying intervals of time (Gardiner 1999, Green and Weir 2002, 2003) produced similar results.
In contrast, Elder and O’Loughlin (2003) found that 10-12 weeks of intensive English language courses in Australia and New Zealand (n=112) resulted in a significant improvement in English language proficiency, with students on average increasing their IELTS score by half a band. They found that the improvement was greatest on the Listening subtest, and gains were likely to be greater for students with low initial ELP. They also found that a range of personal, instructional and environmental factors were linked to these improved scores, but that these factors varied from one language skill to another. However, Elder and O’Loughlin (2003) suggest the need for caution in interpreting these results, as these studies are measuring average gains, and individual performance is highly variable.


(The first source I had already used on a previous post.)

One of my colleagues pointed out to me that of these 3 sources, the first 2 were just blogs, and couldn't be used as serious sources.
Both of the first 2 sources claim to be based on serious studies, but do not link to their respective sources.
I, however, tend towards credulity, and am prone to assuming that even though these blogs didn't accurately cite their sources, they probably are based off of real studies nonetheless.  Use your own judgement I guess.
The 3rd source is reputable.  (In fact the author Neomy Storch is someone I knew about, and had some brief interactions with, during my time at the University of Melbourne.)

But I want to open this up to comment and discussion.  Please comment and let me know what you think.  Let me know of any other studies you are aware of.  Anecdotal evidence and personal experience is also welcome.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

English World 5 Unit 9 Vocabulary

(Supplementary Material for Specific Textbooks--English World 5)

Slideshow: slidespub
Quizlet: docspub

English World 5 Unit 9 Vocabulary

English World 5 Unit 9 Vocabulary

English World 5 Unit 9 Vocabulary

English World 5 Unit 9 Vocabulary

Saturday, January 20, 2018

English World 1 Unit 11 p.114 Reading

(Supplementary Materials for Specific Textbooks--English World 1)

Google Drive HERE
Reading Cut up and Shuffle: drive, docs, pub
4 Seasons PowerPoint: drive, slides, pub
Scrambled Sentences: drive, docs, pub

Pupil’s book, unit 11, page 114, Reading.  What are you doing?
What are you doing, Amy?
I am holding an umbrella.


It is raining.
What colour is my umbrella?


What are you doing, Tom?
I am holding my kite.


It is windy.
How many kites are there?


What are you doing, Jill?
I am going to school.


It is cold.  I have a hat.
What colour is it?


What are you doing, Harry?
I am playing in the garden.


It is snowing.  Look at my snowman!
Where is the bird?


What are you doing, Betty?
I am looking at the boats.


It is sunny.  I have got sunglasses.
How many boats are there?


What are you doing, Max?
I am eating an ice cream.


It is very hot today.
Mmm!  I like ice cream.
It is cold!


I agree. The fact that Obama got so much flack for everything he did makes me all the more incensed with what Trump got away with.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Different Meanings of "Old" Slideshow

(Movie slideshow Grammar Sections--Vocabulary, Adjectives)

Taken from Robin Hood -- Part 12

Presentation only version: slidespub

Version with example sentences from Robin Hoodslidespub

Stealing from Facebook: I saw this on a friend's Facebook page today.

Way back in 2001, in the months before I left for Japan, I was trying to learn Japanese by listening to language tapes.

My college roommates thought it was the funniest thing ever, because half of the phrases would consist of an English word just pronounced with a Japanese accent, and a lot of extra vowels added.

One example that caught their attention was "Whisky Sour", which the language tape gave in Japanese as "ui-su-kii sawaa".
They had fun imagining trying to order a drink in Japan.  Imagine going up to the bar and saying "Whisky Sour" perfectly normal, and having the bartender just stare blankly at you.  Then the second time say (exaggerated Japanese accent) "Wiisukii Souroo", and presto, you get your drink.

Sounds ridiculous, right?

However, once I actually got to Japan, I found out that this ridiculous scenario was the reality.  You actually do need to pronounce English words with a Japanese accent in order to make yourself understood in Japan.

One book I was reading on learning Japanese* said that a major problem English speakers have when is that they pronounce all the English loan words as English, instead of with the Japanese syllabary.
For comparison's sake, the author said, imagine a French speaker who insisted on pronouncing all the French loan words in English with a French accent.

I guess that sounds reasonable enough.
Nevertheless, as the above video indicates, pity the poor foreigner who tries to make himself understood by saying "McDonalds" or "Starbucks" instead of "Makudonarudo" or "Sutabakkusu"

* This was years ago, so I forget the title and author.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Loony Lunar Gold Rush by Carl Barks

(Graded Reader)

Having had good luck with Carl Barks several times, I decided to come back to the well one last time.

I wrote before that "The Golden Fleecing" felt vaguely familiar.  But this story I can say I definitely remember.  I remember reading this comic sometime in childhood, and finding it interesting.
(I remember thinking as a child that this comic was very clever for demonstrating that it's better to be a merchant than a prospector at a gold rush.  Looking back now, this lesson seems so obvious that I'm not sure the comic gets much credit for pointing it out.  But it seemed very clever to 10 year old me.)

My students put up with this story well enough, but after 4 Carl Barks stories in a row, they are beginning to lose a little bit of their initial enthusiasm, and I think I may move on to something else for my next Story Time.

 Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky on Anarchism (BookTV in Depth November 2013)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Too slideshow

(Movie slideshow Grammar Sections--Too)

Taken from Robin Hood -- Part 11,
Taken from Princess Mononoke--Part 9

Presentation only version: slidespub
Version with example sentences from Robin Hoodslidespub
Version with example sentences from Princess Mononokeslidespub

Version with example sentences from Robin Hoodslidespub

Version with example sentences from Princess Mononokeslidespub

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2 Truths and 1 Lie: Icebreaker

(TESOL Ideas--Icebreakers)
Google: drive, slides, pub
[I've used 2 Truths and 1 lie before as part of my Activities that Can Be Used for Any Grammar Point.  But I would be remiss if I didn't include it in my list of Icebreakers as well.
This is not my own game.  It's a classic Icebreaker.  But I've realized lately that a lot of new teachers aren't familiar with it, so I thought I'd officially add it to my blog just in case.
For anyone not familiar with the game, the rules are simple.  You present the class with 3 statements.  2 of them are true, 1 is a lie.  The class tries to guess which is the lie.
In my class, I divide the class into teams, and they compete with each other to guess 2 truths and 1 lie about my life.  (I use the PowerPoint presentation embedded below, but obviously anyone else looking to borrow this activity will have to change the PowerPoint to reflect their life.)
After I had demonstrated using my own life, the students were put into small groups and made their own sentences for their group to guess.]

The Wedding Song Playlist

Wedding Song Playlist

The Fiancee was talking about some songs she wanted to play at our wedding.
I should have just kept my mouth shut, but instead I reacted adversely to some of her some choices.
I don't even remember what they were now.  "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston was one of them, and the other ones were similar in style and genre.

After I had shot down about 3 or 4 of her choices, she turned and said, "Fine.  You make the Wedding Song Playlist. It's your job now."

Realizing that I had just been given extra work to do, I tried to quickly reverse course.  "No, it's okay.  Whatever songs you like are fine.  I won't complain anymore.  I'm sorry."
But she was firm on this.  She would no longer choose the wedding songs.  It was my job now.

Despite my initial reluctance, it was actually kind of fun when I got into it.  After all, what could possibly be more self-indulgent then spending time going through the Internet and picking out all your favorite songs?

There were a couple obstacles, though.
First of all, I  had largely stopped listening to music about 10 years ago.
I mean, I still listen to music in the sense that music is all around us every day, and you can't not listen to it.  But I've stopped actively listening to music.  In my free listening time, I listen to audiobooks, podcasts, lectures on Youtube, etc.  (I think this is a natural part of growing  older--many of us stop being obsessed with pop music at a certain point in our lives.  Or am I wrong to generalize on this?)
So to a certain extent, I had trouble remembering what the favorite songs of my youth even where.  I had to spend some time jogging my memory, and remembering what songs I used to put on my playlists 10 years ago.  (I still have this nagging feeling that I'm forgetting some of the best songs).

Secondly, the Fiance was firm that this had to be a list of love songs, and not just a list of my favorite songs.  So anything like "Working Class Hero", "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" or "War" was out.

But also, even within love songs genre--have you ever noticed that all the most beautiful love songs are about heartbreak?  There were a number of times when I said to the Fiancee, "Okay, this is a really beautiful song, but he's actually singing about a girl who doesn't love him back." She would always respond, "Delete it."
I've got a list as long as my arm of songs I had to cut for this reason.  One example, "I Can't Stop Loving You," by Ray Charles. I really wanted to include it, but a close examination of the lyrics shows that he's actually singing the song to an ex-lover.  Likewise, "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" by The Beatles also got deleted because it was about a dysfunctional relationship.
I tell you, I've got a huge list of really beautiful love songs that had to be deleted because they were about some sort of dysfunctional relationship (--all the most beautiful songs are always about heartbreak).

On the other hand, songs like "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks were rejected by the Fiancee because they were a bit too hard rock, and didn't really fit the mood of the wedding.  (To be fair, she was absolutely right about this.  I kind of knew that in the back of my head before I even asked.)

What's left on this playlist is all the songs I did manage to come up with.
I'm kind of proud of it, in that stupid irrational way that everyone is proud of their own playlists?

(It is kind of stupid when you think about it?  Lots of people are proud of their playlists, but why?   Do we think that we somehow get credit for the songs just because we put them on a list?)

Anyway... for whatever it's worth...

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Golden Fleecing by Carl Barks

(Graded Reader)

After having good luck with "The Thrifty Spendthrift" and "A Cool Deal", I decided to go back to Carl Barks a 3rd time for my story time project.

With The Thrifty Spendthrift, I had just gone ahead and done the first Carl Barks story I clicked on (figuring they were probably all more or less the same.)

But this time around, I did a bit of Internet research to find out what are usually considered the best Carl Barks stories.  There's a big list, but this was one of them.

This has a lot of the hallmarks of classic Carl Barks--Traveling to exotic lands, and encountering fantastic creatures.

That's all to the plus side.  On the minus side, the story relies on knowledge of the Greek Myth "Jason and the Golden Fleece".
My Vietnamese students did  not have this background knowledge, so that made sections of this comic difficult for them to understand.  Especially in the beginning when there were a lot of information dumps about the Golden Fleece.

I considered doing a Story Time on "Jason and the Golden Fleece" first to give my students the necessary background information.  But I couldn't find any materials suitable for ESL learners.

....And besides which, for some strange reason, the names are changed in Carl Barks's version.  In the original Greek myth, the winged woman are called "Harpies".   In Carl Barks's version, they are called "Larkies".  (Anyone out there in Internet land know why they changed the names for this comic?)  So I figured it would just confuse my students to tell them the story of The Harpies.

The first section of this comic my students found very boring, but they put up with it.  The second half, in which Donald and Uncle Scrooge encounter the Larkies and the Sleepless Dragon, went over much better.

As with before, much of the language was above my students' heads, but the visuals carried the story.  And I believe with Krashen that as long as the students are engaged in the story, i+1 will be in there somewhere, even if not everything is i+1.

Other notes:
* Nitpick: Uncle Scrooge seemed out of character to me.  Usually he goes to great lengths to save money.   In this story, he is throwing away a lot of money in his quest for a golden coat, which is an extravagance.  (Although maybe someone more versed in Carl Barks can help me out.  Is this out of character for Uncle Scrooge, or is this typical?)

* This story seemed vaguely familiar to me.  I think I may have read it at one point in my childhood, but I don't remember clearly.

* This story was also adopted for an episode of Ducktales.  I don't remember seeing that either (although who knows--I might have), but there's an interesting blog post which breaks down the differences between the comic book version and the Ducktales version.  HERE.

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky: Antifa is a gift to the far right and US state repression

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Silly Sentences

(TESOL Ideas--Any Grammar Point)
Google: slides, pub
This isn't my idea.  I got it from a co-worker, but I've used it successfully in my classes, and in the future am going to add it to my list of Activities That Can Be Used for Any Grammar Point

The students are given a subject, verb, a number of words, and a selected grammar point (e.g. present perfect, present continuous, past perfect, etc.).  In teams, they must write a sentence using those words, the selected grammar point, and the exact number of words.  Their sentence must have the number of words EXACTLY to get a point.

I've used this several times in my own classes, but mostly as a zero prep game--e.g. if I have 15 minutes to kill, I just throw some words on the whiteboard that I think of on the spot. 
But below is an example of what the game could look like on a slideshow.

It can also be adapted to adjectives, adverbs, and other grammar points.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Interview a Celebrity

(TESOL Worksheet--Writing, Speaking, Projects)
Google: docs, pub
I used this to supplement Unit 8 of English World 5, but it can perhaps be used as an all-purpose Speaking/Writing activity.  (The worksheet itself is only writing, but it can become a speaking activity if the students perform the interview for the class.)

Which celebrity are you going to interview?_________________________
Think of 10 questions to ask him or her.