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Teaching methods and writing

Moderator: Tempo Gain

Re: Teaching methods and writing

Postby Gain » 13 May 2015, 14:15

I personally think IELTS is a much better than TOEFL, the latter is so lame imo(even though I've never taken it :roflmao: )
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Re: Teaching methods and writing

Postby Ermintrude » 13 May 2015, 21:56

Gain wrote:I personally think IELTS is a much better than TOEFL, the latter is so lame imo(even though I've never taken it :roflmao: )


TOEFL has improved and has attempted to integrate skills at least slightly. But it's a much cheaper exam in terms of marking and other stuff (cheaper doesn't mean testtakers pay less). TOEFL's had more issues with security and was suspended for acceptance by UK unis and UKBA, although that's maybe not still the case. It has more multiple choice and so it's easier to game.

But yeah, you're more likely to get a spoken response in Englsih from someone with a higher scorein IELTS than TOEFL because there's the individual interview in IELTS.
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Re: Teaching methods and writing

Postby Gain » 13 May 2015, 22:18

I would be totally fucked if I had to speak to a machine so I chose to do IELTS without any hesitation. :lol:
I don't think I would be able to score that well if I'm to take another test. The test sheets I got were really easy so I miraculously got a 9 on both listening and reading. :roflmao:
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Re: Teaching methods and writing

Postby Ermintrude » 13 May 2015, 22:29

Gain wrote:I would be totally fucked if I had to speak to a machine so I chose to do IELTS without any hesitation. :lol:
I don't think I would be able to score that well if I'm to take another test. The test sheets I got were really easy so I miraculously got a 9 on both listening and reading. :roflmao:


Oh, I'm sure you would. Sometimes people drop a bit because they lose concentration on the listening or get a couple of tricksy reading Qs. Well done, by the way. 9 is pretty damn excellent! :)
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Re: Teaching methods and writing

Postby Ducked » 16 May 2015, 13:43

Morale has taken a predictable hit since we started on the writing stuff.

I knicked an overview Powerpoint from HK Poly

http://www2.elc.polyu.edu.hk/cill/ielts/

though it needed fairly extensive re-writing. The sample essay, in particular, seems a bit of a mess, but I suppose in an overview Powerpoint its mostly there just to fill an appropriately sized space.

Anyway, after a quick run-though of the Task 1 (describing a graph which depicts transport usage trends) example (which is basically OK, though I don't like "amount of people" as a % paraphrase) and solution, I got them to attempt it. No dice

Next day, after an extended, spelled-out, SLOWWWWW run through of the Task1 example, I asked them to state the main trend for cars, in writing.

An example response. Not the best, but not the worst either:-

"A transport with engine and with four wheels. Also use up gasoline for it motivation" :doh:

Think I'll try some of that gasoline for my motivation.
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Re: Teaching methods and writing

Postby Charlie Phillips » 16 May 2015, 16:59

Ducked wrote:"A transport with engine and with four wheels. Also use up gasoline for it motivation" :doh:


Scary thing: after 12 years here, I don't have a problem with this statement except that 'it' lacks a possessive, and there is a redundant 'with'. I would advise my student to rewrite thus: A transport with engine and four wheels. Also use up gasoline for motivation.

差不多 , 就好了.
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Re: Teaching methods and writing

Postby Ducked » 16 May 2015, 20:34

Charlie Phillips wrote:
Ducked wrote:"A transport with engine and with four wheels. Also use up gasoline for it motivation" :doh:


Scary thing: after 12 years here, I don't have a problem with this statement except that 'it' lacks a possessive, and there is a redundant 'with'. I would advise my student to rewrite thus: A transport with engine and four wheels. Also use up gasoline for motivation.

差不多 , 就好了.


Then you'd have missed the point too.

But then you just scan read a website post which described hinted at the point, rather briefly, as opposed to being hit over the head with the point for four hours, slowly, with pictures, by yours truly, before missing the point.

So you have an excuse.

But then they are Taiwanese Students, so they have an excuse as well.

They are supposed to be describing a graph of transport use trends. An appropriate response would be something like " Car use increased dramatically, rising from....etc"

What's a muvva to do?

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Re: Teaching methods and writing

Postby Ducked » 24 May 2015, 17:14

Aborted. won't link
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Re: Teaching methods and writing

Postby ironlady » 24 May 2015, 21:15

You're still teaching facts.

Try providing them a series of scaffolded exercises, with increasingly less support. Start with cloze, and have them read their completed paragraphs/essays out loud to each other. If there's one particular error that is driving you mental at the moment, set that up as a "check sheet" and have the partner listening check each sentence for it. To set THAT up, print out a sample essay with that problem in it, with a checkbox for each sentence or clause, and have them literally put a checkmark in it if the error is NOT there, and fix it if it IS there.

The only way you can expect written English to be different from their spoken English is if they have time to apply rules, and if they know the rules. But "knowing" doesn't mean having seen a presentation -- it means being able to identify where the rule has to be applied, and in this case, since there seems to be a lot of fossilization, it also means overcoming the "this sounds okay" that goes with wrong language so the error can be identified and hopefully fixed.

Writing is a fairly mechanical process for most non-native speakers (and many native speakers). If it were something you could just show a PowerPoint and have everyone say "Oh, now I get it!" the world would be much different from what it is.
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Re: Teaching methods and writing

Postby Ducked » 25 May 2015, 21:40

ironlady wrote:You're still teaching facts.

Try providing them a series of scaffolded exercises, with increasingly less support. Start with cloze, and have them read their completed paragraphs/essays out loud to each other. If there's one particular error that is driving you mental at the moment, set that up as a "check sheet" and have the partner listening check each sentence for it. To set THAT up, print out a sample essay with that problem in it, with a checkbox for each sentence or clause, and have them literally put a checkmark in it if the error is NOT there, and fix it if it IS there.

The only way you can expect written English to be different from their spoken English is if they have time to apply rules, and if they know the rules. But "knowing" doesn't mean having seen a presentation -- it means being able to identify where the rule has to be applied, and in this case, since there seems to be a lot of fossilization, it also means overcoming the "this sounds okay" that goes with wrong language so the error can be identified and hopefully fixed.

Writing is a fairly mechanical process for most non-native speakers (and many native speakers). If it were something you could just show a PowerPoint and have everyone say "Oh, now I get it!" the world would be much different from what it is.


Well, I'd done some of that, though admittedly not nearly as gradual or systematic. I had them do some cloze as an earlier part of the powerpoint. You'know, slide comes up with "activity" on it and they have to do an exercise either off the screen, off a worksheet, or (mostly) out of the textbook.

I don't normally use powerpoints because I'm too lazy/harassed to write/adapt them, but this is unfamiliar material to me as well as them, and that textbook is especially hellish to navigate in a hurry, so its a useful crutch.

This was the second time they'd tried whole paragraphs about a graph unsupported (after a postmortem review of the same material with sample answers the previous week) and it turned out to be a second bridge too far, but, perhaps like Arnhem, it seemed worth a try, before I tried it.

They did improve a bit on subsequent trend descriptions. There were three main trends in the graph, so I identified the trends for them (cars, cycling and walking, and buses) in series, and collected and reviewed the answers to one before getting them to do the next one.

Example:What is the main trend for Buses? "The main trend for bus doesn't change a lot. The bus graph look like a mountain. The summit is in 1970. The percentage of the summit is between 25 to 30%"

That's not at all a bad description, but I doubted that "The bus graph look like a mountain" would be considered acceptable by an IELTS examiner (though I don't KNOW, since I aren't one) and felt I had to say this to the students concerned, though I didn't like doing it, and should perhaps have kept my mouth shut.

Re "The only way you can expect written English to be different from their spoken English is if they have time to apply rules" I don't expect anything much, since, as I said before, I have 10 hours (5 X 110 mins)to cover IELTS Academic Reading and Writing.

With that brief, the best that can be expected is that the students get some appreciation of what's involved. Might save them from wasting money on sitting the real test, if nothing else.

I'm afraid I'm once again in violation of the "Shut up and do as you're told." paradigm, since I've strongly (and once again rather un-diplomatically) suggested to the boss that this was once again a stupidly ill-conceived and doomed mission.

Should indeed once again have kept my mouth shut, since I've now got to do it once again next year, solo (the Taiwanese lead instructor won't touch it again with a barge pole) over two semesters. Won't have the same time shortage as an excuse next time around, but it'll likely get pretty tedious for all concerned.

Going to hold out for some selection and limitation on the class size, though, and they can forget that "you don't fail seniors" crap.
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