RATE ISSUES WINTER / 2014  

In this issue:
 

 

ISSN 1844 – 6159

Editor's Notes:

By some fortunate set of circumstances, EFL teachers in Romania have received funds to spend on professional development as they please this year. Leaving aside political considerations, this raises an old question: if available, what would such funds be best spent on?

Some would choose courses, others language practice books or collections of teaching ideas. While all of the above are vital, it may be worth remembering that, of all resources, teachers themselves are the richest, both owing to their competent experience and to their own personality or acquired wisdom. What follows logically is that, leaving ourselves aside, the richest pool of teaching resource and support is none other than our colleagues. Whether it may cost dearly or not, let us remember to strengthen our network as teachers. Whether formally or informally, let us pledge to share more with colleagues, let us give and seek professional and emotional support. We need not look further than the staff room at our own school sometimes. No need for special funds either!

Ovidiu Leonte, Colegiul Național "Mihai Eminescu", Iasi

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 Methodological Suggestions in Teaching English as a Foreign Language

by Alina Ianeț, Colegiul Naţional  “Nicolae Titulescu”, Pucioasa


Keywords: methodological suggestions, level of preparation, efficient teachers, body gestures and signs, modifiers and quantifiers, audio visual aids.
 

Abstract:
As far as I know, nowadays there are various methodological suggestions which teachers offer so as to help students to enhance their level of preparation.
Teachers at every level need to interact with their classes. Teachers must set up interesting and captivating situations in order to challenge students to use the language. Thus teachers may introduce the new vocabulary item and/or grammatical structures on the blackboard or in a reading or listening exercise, then set up some tasks which can be performed in pairs or groups. In this way students can try the language out. As a follow-up, discussions, role-playing or game activities are used to reinforce the newly acquired items or structures.
 

Introduction
First, an important way of teaching English is to have students practise some common phrases until they feel thoroughly comfortable with them. This technique helps students to focus on correct pronunciation and accent. When teaching a foreign language, it's important for teachers to focus on the most useful and common phrases first, so that their students can start conversing right away.
Efficient teachers should have the ability to act.
Being a teacher is not only a professional occupation but also an art. Being a good teacher means being a good performer. Teaching has turned into acting lately. Nowadays, it is vital for a good teacher to be a good actor, especially when teaching foreign languages.
Secondly, one of the skills teachers need when they want to start teaching English as a foreign language is the ability to use body gestures and signs in an effective way. Many pupils recognise that they learn foreign languages better when they have to speak only English in the classroom. By refusing to use students’ mother tongue, teachers challenge them to learn English by using body language and gestures to introduce new words. Then, students use what they've learned so as to build up even more knowledge. This pattern of learning a foreign language closely imitates the way little children learn a language, and therefore this method of teaching is more efficient than using rote memorization of English words and phrases.
What is more, being a good teacher means being a good actor. Teachers should perform well in order to convey the meaning of the word. They should tremble if they refer to cold weather or they should fan themselves with their hands when talking about summer. Similarly, teachers should do their best to clarify meanings by using both gestures and facial expressions.
Moreover, teaching becomes useful when it starts with modifiers and quantifiers. It is essential that beginners should get used to nouns, pronouns and adjectives first. In the beginning, it is advisable to avoid using verbal forms. Nouns, pronouns and adjectives represent the best cues for this purpose. It is a fact that students perform well on modifiers, this being the advantage which leads to effortlessly understand verbs later.
There are a lot of possibilities for teachers to make their lessons more interesting and captivating. For example, jokes, anecdotes or poetry recitation can raise students’ interest in learning a foreign language.
Regrouping students.
Teachers get to know the abilities of their students after some preliminary teaching lessons. They ought to divide the students into groups or pairs according to their level of understanding and mental approach. Grouping students helps the students as well the teacher. The point is that the group should be created to practise together the lessons previously taught to them. Practising individually is always helpful in learning, and grouping is the best way for this kind of drill.
Teachers should use media in the classroom.
The use of media in classroom activities is very useful for the teacher. It permits the teacher to use few words and offers the students a variety of possibilities to develop interesting follow-up activities to reinforce previously taught structures.
Audio visual aids help teachers as well as students.
‘Example is better than precept’. It is essential for teachers to keep this saying in mind and use audio-visual aids in their classrooms. Pictures make learners understand an idea more easily than using a lot of words. Audio-visual aids are especially helpful when teaching vocabulary, prepositions and verbs.
Don’t use too much descriptive grammar.
Too much descriptive grammar should be avoided in teaching foreign languages. It turns the student from his real objectives. The teacher ought not to lay emphasis on the rules but on the function of the words. Sometimes, too much correction may annoy the learner and he/she may become frustrated.
When it is necessary, use the learner’s mother language.
If a teacher is familiar with the language of the learner he can use it during classes. When using grammar-translation methods, classes are usually conducted in the students’ mother tongue. They practise rules by doing grammar drills and translating sentences to and from the target language. Although there is not usually any listening or speaking practice, and very little stress is put on pronunciation or communication of the language, this method is beneficial to students learning a foreign language.
Continue practising.
Everybody knows that practice makes us perfect in our field. Learning a language needs serious repetition . Students as well as teachers should repeat the lesson in the class. The teacher ought to repeat every sentence, so as to make the student become aware of the importance of the information and produce the appropriate language skills.
Develop learners’ confidence.
Usually, second-language students are aware of of their inadequate knowledge of the language. Sometimes they become irritated and anxious. It is the teacher’s duty to provide students a better and safer atmosphere for language learning. He or she should build up learners’ confidence and tell them that mistakes are not to disappoint but to correct their language.
All things considered , teaching should be highly interactive at any level. Teachers must set up interesting and captivating situations in order to challenge students to use the language. Thus teachers may introduce the new vocabulary item and/or grammatical structures on the blackboard or in a reading or listening exercise, then set up some tasks which can be performed in pairs or groups. In this way students can try the language out. As a follow-up, discussions, role-playing or game activities are used to reinforce the newly acquired items or structures.
To conclude with , teaching ESL requires some understanding of how the language works, a lot of patience, and considerable drama , as non-verbal techniques, facial expressions and gestures. These elements are very important “to scaffold the weaker linguistic understanding of the learner”.
 

Bibliography
Oxford, R.L., 1990 - Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know. New York: Newbury House.
Rubin, J., & Thompson, I., 1994 - How to be a more successful language learner (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.
Wenden, A.L., 1991 - Learner strategies for learner autonomy. London: Prentice-Hall International.

Web bibliography
http://www.yale.edu/graduateschool/teaching/learningstyles.html
http://wikitravel.org/en/Teaching_English


Biodata
Alina Ianeţ has been teaching English for 13 years, to all kinds of students: primary school students, very young learners, lower-secondary school students and high school students. She has always been interested in developing her own knowledge. She has attended courses, seminars and workshops for teachers, as a way to improve her teaching skills and help her students in their process of learning.
 

 

 With or without Tablets, that’s the Question! Is Mobile Technology a Game Changer or just a Fashionable Cliché of Digital Education?

by Armanda Ramona Stroia, Avram Iancu School, Dej



Keywords: Digital learning, apps, training course, Porto, video-based inquiry, QR codes, Treasure Hunt, pilot-project, tablets in the classroom, digital classroom

Abstract:
Starting from the idea that nowadays our pupils are ”Digital Natives”, and that technology has invaded almost every chapter of our life, we, as teachers should not be so reluctant to embrace technology, but rather try to explore how to implement our mobile devices into learning and teaching in an efficient way to keep up with the rhythm imposed by our increasingly high-tech society and thus prepare tomorrow’s European students to be competitive in the Digital World. This article tries to provide a possible answer to this question which arose in the context of a very challenging course Tap-Swipe-Pinch. Tablets changing the way to learn and teach held in Porto, Portugal, and to outline some important steps to develop a long-term school policy plan on integrating tablets in the classroom. Though it may sound for many of us as a future classroom scenario, actually this article wants to offer some valuable and practical suggestions of approaching this challenge by taking small and well-planned steps in order to use today’s technology in today’s classroom


Is mobile technology really changing the way to learn and teach or just a fashionable cliché of Digital Education?
Digital devices are part of our daily life, inextricably linked with our habits and lifestyles. Whether you are a BBC (born before computers) or a digital native (born in the Internet Age) we all have to admit that every aspect of our life has been taken over by technology, except one major sector: the world of education.
Undeniably, transition to digital education proves to be far more challenging than in any other domain. Even more in our educational system. In my opinion, the real challenge aside from the obvious technical challenges, is rooted sometimes in our own mentalities and reluctance to embrace the new, the unknown, in our own struggle to resist change. To be immune to this virus. Surprisingly enough, only in this area. However, our pupils have grown up interacting with digital technology from an early age, so they are incredibly receptive to new technology.
It is commonly known that every beginning is difficult and implementing the mobile technology might be time-consuming and expensive. Yet, rewarding would certainly agree those brave enough to give it a try. So, why shouldn’t we learn how to exploit for example, the great potential of tablets and integrate them into our current didactic scenario to take student learning to the next level? Why shouldn’t we at least try to explore different posibilities of learning and teaching to keep up the rhythm with our increasingly ever changing high-tech society, to remain open-minded if we don’t want to embrace the change?
Tablets, these powerful information tools allowing students to have the world at their fingertips in the classroom represents a controversial issue able to fuel heated debates even among teachers, not to mention parents and third parties, the main attitudes being polarized somewhere between frenetic enthusiasm and reluctant skepticism.
On the one hand, the most common viewpoints of those too conservative or too afraid to adapt to and adopt technological innovations are often filtered through the myopic lens of some clichés: tablets are quite expensive and are not able to replace traditional teaching, infrastructure is inadequate, lack of technical support and good wireless connection, focus on the formal aspect (editing) rather than on the content (delivery of presentation), tablets perceived as a toy not a learning device.
On the other hand, digitally confident and supportive teachers eager to benefit from the invaluable potential of these portable devices, are aware of the unprecedented opportunities to develop personalized, flexible, student-centered learning. More than that, these portable devices support essential skill areas — complex communication, new media literacy, creativity, and self-directed learning, offering engaging and interactive learning environments to both students with learning difficulties and gifted ones. All in all, mobile technology, tablets in particular, represent an alternative way to traditional classroom teaching and learning. Of course, they are not meant to replace it.
In addition, tablets are portable meaning that students can take pictures, record audio, and shoot video, in a variety of settings. They can tell multimedia stories, screencast how to solve math problems, create public service announcements, simulate virtual tours of ancient cities, and so much more. All of a sudden, students have as much access to knowledge as the teacher, and maybe more.
Digital education, mobile devices effectively integrated in the classroom, tablets in the classroom…is this scenario too futuristic and unconventional for a typical Romanian school? Though it may sound for many of us as a future classroom scenario, actually this article wants to offer some valuable and practical suggestions of approaching this challenge by taking small and well-planned steps in order to use today’s technology in today’s classroom.
This puzzling question has haunted my mind in a persistent way lately, and directed me to write a successful application on behalf of my institution for an Erasmus + KA1 project in order to implement a school policy plan to develop the international dimension and digital learning. This project consisting in six mobilities in four different countries (Portugal-Porto, Spain-Benalmadena, Finland-Helsinki and England- Cambridge) has been funded by European Commission.
So, here I am going to outline some essential steps in developing a school policy plan on digital learning, particularly implementing tablets in the teaching and learning scenario after my two colleagues Galu Aida and Corina Cristoreanu and I attended Tap-Swipe-Pinch,Tablets changing the way to learn and teach organized by Euneos in Porto, Portugal.
One of the main goals of our project Developing International Dimension and Digital Learning is to implement and document until 2016 two pilot group projects’ successes and failures of integrating tablets in the classroom and even in the curriculum, one at the primary level and the other at secondary level, to monitor and elicit best practices to serve as the foundation for potential future expansion.
The preparatory stage
First of all, before the actual implementation of tablets in the classroom is vital to offer teachers the opportunity to attend professional development courses.
Our school has already sent two teachers to attend "Tap-Swipe-Pinch. Tablets changing the way to learn and teach" organized by Euneos in Porto, Portugal in September. These teachers will play an active role of promoters of innovation in our school responsible with organising workshops and training for school staff. More than that, in cooperation with the two beneficiaries of the Best Practices Benchmarking course from Finland they are going to edit a useful Guide of How to Integrate Tablets in the Classroom and a Teacher’s Digital Portfolio with resources like lesson plans organised according to subjects, cross-curricular activities integrating technology.
Infrastructure: wireless connection and technology management
The next step is related to infrastructure. We have already found financial support to set wireless connection in the school, this being the first sine qua non condition for the actual implementation of the project. Then if a school does not have the financial capacity to implement a 1-1 model, then you can experiment with Bring your Own Device (BYOD) model, like in our case. However, you don’t need a one-to-one classroom (one device for every student) to integrate tablets into classroom. Whether you have one tablet or five, possibilities for teaching with them abound. For example, Load up your tablet with books in a reading app. Allow students to check out the tablet for the day or week for in-class.

Some digital teaching and learning methods:

Inquiry based learning and short video production
Inquiry is a pedagogical research based on investigating some research questions or problems, pupils playing the active role of dedicate researchers.
This innovative approach can be taken to another level if tablets are taken as working tools, especially because the results of their research can be presented in the form of audio-visual storytelling.

As a course participant we were engaged in hands-on collaborative inquiry-based learning projects that resulted in videotaping, editing and publishing up to two-minute video-stories using I-movie app and mobile devices. For example, our team chose to research the connection between the Neo-Gothic famous Lello bookstore from Porto and J.K. Rowling’s best-selling saga Harry Potter. It was a fantastic learning experience fostering cooperation and team work, planning skills as well. More that that, even though filming and taking photos were strictly forbidden in the premises, we have finally managed to get an interview to Antero Braga, the general manager of the bookstore. You can’t imagine our feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment!
Other colleagues created a very interesting and funny clip in sort of a film-trailer to explore the topic of the best wine in the world – Porto wine.
I am positive that this approach is able to motivate and develop our pupils’ creativity, team-work and analytical skills as well. Each team member can be assigned a film job role from the director, editor, assistant editor, screenwriter or somebody in charge with the script/ the sounds for a professional effect. What students would refuse the temptation to work as little professionals in the film industry, even though you ask them to research a serious subject as the history of democracy in your country, to mention just an example that crossed my mind.

It is highly important to give our students some tips before working with this method.
Maybe a short insight in the video production, the importance of quality and scenario, production, editing, publishing/sharing; privacy, ownership and safety. For example, pupils must know that it is recommended that the clips should be short (several seconds) in order to be easier in the editing stage, to use the tablet/ mobile device in the landscape mode, to keep it close to the person they are interviewing, preferably in a quiet environment. This iPad app (iMovie) allows you to combine photos and videos as well.

”The upside down tablet-oriented classroom”

The upside down classroom or Flipped Classroom model is based on simple, logical principles, starting from the hypothesis that students in age of technology have digital native skills of decoding information via media. So, the most important features of the Flipped Classroom model are the short instructive videos prepared by the teachers for students to be watched and studied at home. Consequently, this kind of blended learning is a step towards self-directed learning. In the age of iPads/ tablets and Google students have been, though unconsciously, using such kind of self-learning since they could walk.

Activity Treasure hunt-QR codes for learning purposes:

QR codes are great little boxes of learning. Terrific for exciting treasure hunts, fantastic for locating digital resources and brilliant for linking the land of individual pencil and paper to the world of cloud based portfolios.
For example, we were asked to embark on the next QR challenge: Treasure Hunt about Porto. Organised in teams and armed with our tablets and/ or mobile phones after we had decoded the QR code with instructions by scanning it with our tablet (we had previously installed an app to read QR codes) we had begun our adventure of finding the the QR Quiz questions hidden in various places around school. You can’t imagine our childish happiness when we found the papers one by one and decoded the codes to answer the questions! It was an absolutely fantastic activity, I bet that this will be our students’ top one in the list of learning with tablets!
Besides our unforgettable immersion in the amazing Portuguese experience, an old but modern cosmopolitan city breathing history through its all pores and beautiful azulejos,
Finally, we are very positive that our school can successfully implement innovative digital learning and teaching methods as we have started with small but carefully-planned steps, based on a long-term policy plan on digital learning and tablet use in the classroom.
So, it is highly important that schools share a common vision for learning, offer extensive support for teachers in learning to use these new devices, and a willingness to learn from the teachers around the country who have already piloted these tools.
Last but not least, for those who grasp the enormous potential, change is an exciting and rewarding opportunity. Doing things differently implies participating in the change in a personal way, encouraging teachers to find solutions of how to use and incorporate technology in their teaching. Once the students have the world at their fingertips– anywhere they might be — the only limitation to what students might do in this endless space is the vision of teachers. However, focusing only on the apps, or student control, that really limits the true potential of the tablets - "a tool to think with."
Whether we like it or not, sooner or later, we have to adapt to and adopt the new technology in the classroom as well, or will be caught by the wave. The digital wave.
If we add to this amazing training course, the stunning architecture or Porto, this old but modern cosmopolitan city breathing history through its all pores and beautiful azulejos, the fado music heard along Douro river, the best wine in the world and tasty Francesinha you have all the ingredients of un unforgettable Portuguese immersion!
 

Useful references:
1. http://www.tap-swipe-pinch.com/course-materials.html where you can find a valuable collection of apps, iPad tutorials, Android tutorials as well as course presentations (Video reports on inquiry projects, Theory & practice of teaching and learning with tablet computers)
2. Critical Mistakes Schools Make With iPads (And How To Correct Them) by Tom Daccord on September 27, 2012. Available from http://www.edudemic.com/5-critical-mistakes-schools-ipads-and-correct-them/
3. http://www.tap-swipe-pinch.com/links1.html where you can find useful links to articles, lesson plans, researches and contributions covering tablet PCs in education

Biodata:
Armanda Ramona Stroia graduated from „Babeş-Bolyai” University from Cluj-Napoca and teaches English at Avram Iancu School, Dej. She has been awarded one Comenius grant (Exeter, UK, 2011, Developing Fluency in the Secondary English Classroom) and she has written a successful application for an Erasmus+ grant on KA1 “Developing International Dimension and Digital Learning” in 2014, consisting of six mobilities in four different countries (Portugal-Porto, Spain-Benalmadena, Finland-Helsinki and England- Cambridge) being the project manager. Next year in July, as a result of this project funded by European Commission she is going to attend "How to become a teacher trainer" course in England, Cambridge. She is currently working on her PhD research on Linguistics based on Clichés in Romanian Mass-Media.
 



 

 

Whole-Brain Teaching Using V.A.K.


by Iozefina Șandor, Colegiul Național „I.C.Brătianu”, Hațeg, Hunedoara

Key words: VAK, teaching, adapting, involving students, being yourself
 

Abstract: The aim of this article is to stimulate creativity and diversity in ELT by using different resources and combining learning styles, referring here to the most common and widely spread: VAK. Getting an idea on how this can be exploited in ELT is the first step towards assuring the prefect environment for the students and the teacher to feel at ease during the English class.


Traditionally seen as an uncountable noun, "intelligence" now has a number of distinct meanings, being used in the plural, due to Howard Gardner. He has talked about a revolutionary concept at the time, which is the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. At a first glance, it seems a complicated issue, most of us feeling unable to deal with it. We tend to consider it a modern approach, but we don’t have time to waste, since we are teachers and we have to do our job! But who do we teach? In case we care about that, we should try applying Gardner’s Theory on our learners!
Stop asking yourself: How intelligent are you, my dear Student? Instead, why not trying How are you intelligent, my dear Student?
So, how is this theory helpful for English Language teachers? For those of us who teach more students or larger groups at the same time, this helps for a better understanding of our students’ reactions and behaviour.
The Multiple Intelligences concepts offer relatively simple and accessible methods to understand and explain people's preferred ways to learn and develop. It is thought that the Learning styles theory is a concept that emerged from Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Different hypotheses have been taken into consideration and there are numerous ways of categorizing our students. But, if we look for a simple and efficient one, we’d better start with VAK.
1. Differences between individuals
According to Geoff Petty, ’’We used to teach subjects and classes – now we teach students’’. It means that we take into consideration different learning styles when we plan our lessons. Our strategic choices are affected by our students’ personalities and by their natural tendency towards a certain intelligence and, consequently, towards a specific sensorial preference. It simply happens. This explains why teachers teach the same lesson differently, according to the class needs. This also explains why students react in various ways to the same exercise.
It has been agreed that there are some major learning styles:
• Visual learners - students remember information by recalling how it was set on the page. Using visual input during our classes (pictures, posters, wall displays etc.) will definitely help these students progress and learn quickly. Some activities we could use to address this type of learners would be those who aim to develop both oral and written productive skills and critical thinking. Using a short commercial clip or some visual props, students can create a follow-up of the story presented. Depending on students’ age, they could even go deeper into interpreting and discussing (pair work) some possible symbols or stereotypes they noticed. This type of activity can be expanded and adapted.
• Auditory learners - they need to hear things to be able to remember information. For this type of learners, verbal instructions and explanations, dialogues and discussions seem to be the most efficient. Also, pair and group work are beneficial for them. That is why one of the activities students like is exploiting song lyrics. They do enjoy it a lot. This type of activity can be used for teaching grammar and/or vocabulary. For instance, while listening to the song, students – either pair work or individual work - should fill in the missing word. Identify the part of speech, see how it is used, guess the meaning from the context. It can also be used for teaching verbal tenses. All we need is to print the lyrics and to decide what words to hide. Then, we can either pre-teach the lesson and ask our students to fill in according to the rule – especially for verbal tenses, or we can simply use an inductive method. Ask them to listen to the song, fill in, then decide how present perfect, for instance, is formed. Using our imagination, follow up activities will come. In my case, students were asked to rephrase some of the lyrics, using other adverbs used with present perfect. (resource: Michael Buble – Haven’t met you yet)
• Kinaesthetic learners - they find it quite difficult to sit still for a longer period of time. They are dynamic so they need to experience things, to be physically involved in a certain activity. Competitions and role-plays are some of the activities teachers could use to address this type of learners.
• Tactile learners - they recall information by the sensation of touch. For them, it’s easier to remember things if they do something with their hands while they read or listen. To avoid being annoying for the teacher, this kind of learners should be asked either to label a diagram or to fill in a grid, as they need to ’’feel’’ what happens.

For these two types of learners, an activity that involves and motivates them is the ’’Basketball game”. We simply transform English from a purpose in itself into a means of reaching our goal – in this case, the more correct answers, the more chances to score.

How does it work? Simple! Divide your class into two teams (maybe three if they are numerous), set a time limit for choosing a name for their team. Grammar or vocabulary exercises can be used (fill in, matching exercises, find synonyms etc.). Allow them a certain time to complete the task then check the answers. Each team should propose a leader who will present the answers. After having checked, each team should try and score. The number of chances to score equals the number of correct answers, or, teachers can establish the right proportions. All we need for such an activity is a small basket and a small ball – to be used in the classroom.
According to the teacher’s imagination, the game can be different. Or, we can also establish some rules or games with the entire class. Sometimes we could take into consideration our students’ ideas as they like being involved in the educational process.

What would be the benefits of VAK activities? Well, children learn while having fun. They start to communicate and to cooperate, to get used to team work, to take risks and not to be afraid or ashamed of failure. There are some other values that go together with English Teaching. Values that will help them change mentalities and grow up.
Obviously, the above mentioned categories are not clear cut. Just like Multiple Intelligences, none of us has got only one. We have many, but there is a predominant one. The other(s) are not that well developed. This explains why students learn better if they receive different types of inputs simultaneously. For example, it has been proven that visual props help auditory learners recall things better and kinaesthetic learners often respond very well to tactile cues also.
According to another criterion, learning styles can be categorized as:
• Innovative learners – look for personal meaning; they need social interaction, such as discussing opinions and beliefs
• Analytic learners – patient and reflective, they want to know ’’important things”, which will develop them intellectually while learning
• Dynamic learners – mostly kinaesthetic, they need challenging activities as they somehow like adventure.
• Commonsense learners – more practical, they want to find solutions and to make things happen.
Although there are different categories, two main types of learners can be distinguished:

• The Thinker – seems to be analytic and innovative. He wants to know WHY and always needs an explanation. Thinkers are demanding, often overwhelm teachers with their request and need for further explanation. But, at the same time, open minded teachers consider this type of learners a ’’joy to teach” as they are creative, eager to work and learn fast.

• The Doer – looking for action, restless during long explanations. Often learn lessons by heart without understanding what they are saying and they are often disappointed and unhappy with their results. Generally hard to teach, it is advisable to have them concentrate on one thing at a time, then let them try it out.
2. All and Each at the same time
The class can be seen as a group of individuals brought together for an educational purpose. Each of them having his/her own personality, the teacher should address all and each and encourage them to cooperate rather than compete. It will lead to gradually create and shape its own group personality. Why is that helpful for us? Simply because a relaxed and friendly atmosphere will allow us to feel comfortable in the teacher’s position and, at the same time, students are offered the opportunity to develop critical thinking and creativity.
Teachers should select and adapt teaching materials according to learners’ attitudes and interests. Of course, following the syllabus but at the same time caring about students’ needs. Finding a balance between the activities is quite a challenge, but let’s not forget that satisfaction matters.
3. VAK and Discipline problems
Frequent discipline problems might be a sign that there is a certain learning style we, as teachers, haven’t addressed. Disruptive behaviour is hostile to the teacher and it can be difficult to handle. This is not particularly applicable to one age group. There might be different causes that generate that particular reaction or behaviour. Of course, establishing a ’’code of conduct” is an important step in dealing with this type of situation but, at the same time, using a diversity of teaching methods and activities which involve different students, even weaker ones, could be a form of preventing disruptive behaviour. But this is an issue that will be dealt with in a future article.
The main conclusion to be drawn is that learners are different. And teachers are Life Long Learners!!! Once you are able to recognize your own learning style, you will easily adapt and understand the importance of taking into consideration students’ intelligences and their sensory preferences.
Differentiation doesn’t mean adding an extra task for the slow students, but it mostly asks for an attitudinal change, referring to adapting materials, planning and task choices. Make sure this bears real fruit and teach all the students in the room, not only those who are fast or better at languages.



Bibliography
Harmer, J. (2000) The Practice of English Language Teaching, New Edition, Longman
Scrivener, J. (2012) Classroom Management Techniques, Cambridge University Press
Vizental, A. (2007) Metodica predarii limbii engleze; Strategies of Teaching and Testing English as a Foreign Language, Editia a II-a revazuta si adaugita
http://www.businessballs.com/howardgardnermultipleintelligences.htm
http://www.businessballs.com/howardgardnermultipleintelligences.htm#vak visual auditory kinaesthetic learning styles inventory theory model
 

Biodata
Iozefina Sandor is an English Teacher at Colegiul National ”I.C.Bratianu” in Hateg, Hunedoara and trainer in The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. She considers non-formal education to be complementary to formal education and this is why she tries to integrate it into the English classes she teaches.
 


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 Motivation Fostered through Games

by Oana Andone, Colegiul Național "Mihai Eminescu", Iași
 

Keywords: motivation, anxiety, games, integrative and instrumental motivation.

Abstract: The justification for using games in the classroom has been well stated as benefiting students in a variety of ways. These benefits range from cognitive aspects of language-learning to more co-operative group dynamics. Affective benefits include the fact that games lower affective filter , encourage creative and spontaneous use of language, promote communicative competence, motivate learners to speak and provide fun. All of the above are connected to one essential reality of the learning process: motivation.

Research over the last three decades has consistently underlined the important role of motivation in successful language-learning. It is possibly the most significant determining factor in retention and achievement. For the language learner, motivation is an important topic for the vital reason that the motivated learner will always surpass the unmotivated learner in performance and outcome. People have an innate need to be competent and effective in their work and motivation is a key factor in helping them reach their goals. Furthermore, learners who temporarily stop full-time language study motivated about their communicative ability in the foreign language are more likely to continue acquiring the language, hence becoming lifelong learners.
Studies have found that motivation is very strongly related to achievement in language learning. Previous motivation in language learning leads to success, and success in language learning breeds its own motivation. Therefore it is difficult to separate the cause from the effect. The proportion varies particularly in the case of the different types of motivation.
A distinction has been made between integrative and instrumental motivation. These are defined as the desire to identify with and integrate into the target language culture, as opposed to the wish to learn the language for purposes of study or career promotion.
Another distinction, perhaps of more use to teachers, is that between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. The former is defined as the urge to engage in the learning activity for its own sake, whereas the latter is derived from external incentives or rewards. Both of these have an important part to play in classroom motivation and both are, at least, partially accessible to teacher influence.
Intrinsic motivation is in its turn associated with what has been termed cognitive drive, the urge to learn for its own sake, which is very common in young children and tends to deteriorate with age. Intrinsic motivation is largely rooted in the previous attitudes of the learners, whether they see learning as worthwhile, whether they like the language and its cultural, political and ethnic associations. However, a teacher can certainly help foster these attitudes by making it clear that she shares them or by giving further interesting and attractive information about the language and its background.
Extrinsic motivation derives from some kind of external incentive. Many sources of extrinsic motivation are inaccessible to the influence of the teacher, such as the desire of the students to please some other authority figure (parents), their wish to succeed in an external exam or peer influences. However, there are some sources that are certainly affected by teacher action. For example, success is the most important feature in raising extrinsic motivation. Learners who have succeeded in past language-learning tasks will be more willing to engage with the next one, more confident in their chances of succeeding and more likely to persevere in their efforts. Success in this context is not necessarily the same as getting the answer right. Further criteria may be the amount of language produced or understood, the investment of effort, the degree of progress since a previous performance. All these may be recognized by the teacher as successes for which the learners should take credit. Through the use of games, progress is obvious not only when it comes to using the right grammatical structure or to formulating the most appropriate sentence, but also when referring to the amount of language used, produced, understood or read, to the degree of involvement in the tasks, to positive attitude towards learning, to attention when other students perform, to learning from others.
Failure, too, is not just a matter of wrong answers. Learners should be aware that they are failing if they have done significantly less than they could have. Failure in any sense is generally regarded as something to be avoided, but this must not be taken too far. Success loses its sweetness if it is too easily attained and if there is no real possibility or experience of failure. Also, it is inevitable that there will be occasional failures in any normal learning experience and they are nothing to be ashamed of. However, there is certainly a danger that constant awareness of shortcomings may lower learners’ motivation and demoralize them, particularly those whose self-image and confidence are shaky. With games it is easier to ignore or play down a failure and success can be made more likely by judicious selection of the right game to bring out the best in the weaker students and by setting the standard of success at a clearly achievable level.
Moreover, learners are often motivated by teacher pressure. They may be willing to make effort to solve tasks because the teacher has told them to and because they recognize the teacher’s authority to make this demand. Young learners need the exercise of such authority more and trust the teacher’s judgment, but even adult learners prefer to be faced with a clear task, such as “Please do this assignment by Friday” rather than face a low-key request like “Give it to me whenever you can”. However, if learners only do things because they are asked to do so by the teacher, without any awareness of objectives and results, they are unlikely to develop personal responsibility for their own learning or long-term motivation.
Competitive games will often motivate the students to do their best, not for the sake of the learning itself but in order to beat the opponents. Individual competition can be stressful for people who find losing humiliating, or who are not very good at the language and are therefore likely to lose in contests based on linguistic knowledge. If overused, individual competition affects negatively the learners’ willingness to cooperate and help each other, which is essential in language-learning. However, if the competition is part of a game, then it is not taken as seriously, particularly if scores are at least partly the result of chance, so that anyone might win. In such a case, positive motivation aspects are enhanced and stress is lowered. Group contests organized as games tend to get better results than individual ones, therefore they are more enjoyable, less tense and equally motivating.
A third distinction which has been made is that between global, situational and task motivation. Global motivation is the overall orientation of the learner towards the learning of the foreign language. Situational motivation has to do with the context of learning (classroom, school environment). Task motivation has to do with the way the learner approaches the specific task in hand. Global motivation is mainly determined by previous education and a multitude of social factors, but it is also affected by the teacher’s attitude conveyed either unconsciously or through explicit information and persuasion. Situational motivation depends on the teacher to a large extent because the classroom environment and atmosphere are a result of the teacher’s organization and activities. Task motivation is where the teacher’s effort is invested in practice, in making the task as attractive as possible, and in encouraging students to engage in the task, to invest effort and to succeed.
Global motivation is important in the early stages of the language-learning process and as general underlying orientation throughout . However, for real-time classroom learning a more significant factor is whether the task in hand is seen as interesting. Games and game-like activities are the easiest and most at hand method of arousing interest in tasks. Games make goals very visible to the learners, and an awareness of the objectives of the task, both in terms of language-learning and in term of content, will facilitate learning. For example, a guessing game may have the language-learning goal of practising questions and the content goal of guessing the answers. Games may be used with varied topics and tasks so as to be as interesting as possible for every learner. Furthermore, games use a lot of visuals easily. Learners usually have something to look at that is eye-catching and relevant to the task. Therefore, games can produce some form of entertainment and entertainment produces enjoyment, which in turn adds motivation. Role-play and simulations that use the imagination and take learners out of themselves can be excellent motivators. A particularly interesting game-like activity is information gap, based on the need to understand or transmit information, a variation on this is the opinion gap, where participants exchange views on a given issue.
Teachers need to be aware of the different types of motivational orientation(Skehan, 1999) and of the importance of high-quality feedback in helping to boost or maintain motivation. Games can encourage students to participate and, as we have seen, they stimulate almost every type of motivation, both extrinsic and intrinsic, global and task motivation.
Horwitz(Horwitz and Cope, 1989:128) states that “probably no other field of study implicates self-concept and self-expression to the degree that language study does”. Research has focused on a type of anxiety termed “language anxiety” that is related specifically to language situations and is not connected with general anxiety. Its effects are described as pervasive and subtle and also associated with “deficits in listening comprehension, impaired vocabulary learning, reduced word production, low scores on standardized tests, low grades in language courses or a combination of these factors” (Gardner, Tremblay and Masgoret, 1997:345).
Anxiety is said to be strongly associated with low self-confidence (Cheng, Horwitz andSchallert, 1999) and with introversion. Introverts tend to have higher anxiety levels than extroverts and take longer to retrieve information. However, they are more accurate and show greater cognitive control. While extrovert students worry less about accuracy and have a tendency to take risks with their language, both of which are assets when it comes to communicative oral competence, the ability of introverts to be autonomous in their learning through their capacity to self-regulate may be a distinct advantage in independent contexts.
Many experienced textbook and methodology-manual writers have argued that games are not just time-filling activities but have great educational value. Most language games make learners use the language instead of thinking about learning the correct forms. Games lower anxiety, thus making the acquisition of input more likely. They are highly motivating and entertaining, and they can give shy students more opportunity to express their opinions and feelings. They also enable learners to acquire new experiences within a foreign language, which are not always possible during a typical lesson. Furthermore, to quote Patricia Richard-Amato, they add diversion to the regular classroom activities, “break the ice, but also they are used to introduce new ideas” (1988: 147).
In the easy, relaxed atmosphere (as opposed to an anxiety-causing atmosphere) created by using games, students remember things faster and better. In a relaxed atmosphere, real learning takes place, and students use the language they have been exposed to and have practised earlier. Games are also a good way of practising language because they provide a model of what learners will use the language for in real life in the future.
The most successful learners are not necessarily those to whom language comes very easily. They are those who display certain typical characteristics, most of them clearly associated with motivation. Such features are positive task orientation (the learner is willing to tackle tasks and challenges, and has confidence in his/her success), ego involvement (the learner finds it important to succeed in learning in order to maintain and promote his/her own positive self-image), need for achievement (the learner has a need to achieve, to overcome difficulties and to succeed in what she/he sets out to do), high aspirations (the learner is ambitious, goes for demanding challenges, high proficiency and top grades), goal orientation (the learner is aware of the goals of learning, or for specific learning activities, and directs his/her efforts towards achieving them), perseverence (the learner consistently invests a high level of effort in learning and is not discouraged by setbacks or apparent lack of progress), tolerance of ambiguity (the learner is not disturbed or frustrated by situations involving a temporary lack of understanding or confusion. She/he can live with these patiently, in the confidence that understanding will come later. Games can help develop these features in learners, as was seen in the examples discussed with different types of motivation.
Some of the problems many teachers may have when trying to encourage students to become motivated learners are that some of the children may not enjoy being in class, some may find it hard to pay attention in class, get restless during class time and lose their focus, the class may not repeat things back to the teacher enthusiastically, some students may not get much chance to practise speaking English during class. Moreover, we need repetition to learn and to make things stick, but repetition is not motivating, but boring and tiring. Lack of time to revise all vocabulary and grammar structures may also put pressure on teachers and cause them to stress students rather than motivate them.
Teaching English through games addresses some of these problems in various ways. Firstly, games make learning fun so the class and children are willing participants and do not feel that they have to be there. Students pay more attention because they are enjoying themselves, so they do better, they feel better about themselves, and do even better. It is a vicious circle working in the teacher’s and the students’ favour.
Secondly, playing a game has a purpose to it, an outcome, and in order to play students have to say things in the foreign language. They have a reason to communicate rather than just repeat things back mindlessly. Therefore they want to know and learn more.
Thirdly, games stimulate and motivate children to new levels. If they do not pay attention during the presentation of new language, and make a mental effort to memorise it, they will not be able to play the games well, and they will let their team and themselves down, so they make more effort to join in and learn as much as possible.
Fourthly, students get to use the language all the time during the games. Games involve a lot of repetition, and repetition is the mother of skill, it can be boring, but thanks to the game it is fun. Therefore, games lend themselves perfectly to quick bursts of revision. Using some games a teacher can revise a massive amount of vocabulary and grammar in a few minutes. If games are used to revise two or three topics every lesson, as well as to teach the new language, children will do so much better at exam time, and they will feel proud about their learning.
Finally, the physical movement involved in some of the games also helps keep everyone stimulated and focused. Children naturally have a lot of energy and are not good at sitting for long periods, so if the teacher throws in a game with movement from time to time she/he will prevent them from getting restless and bored. Children have a short attention span (even more so these days with the style and pace of the media, and computer games), so injecting lively varied games into the classes to practise the language that is taught will keep the children alert and enjoying themselves.
The philosophy of encouragement incorporated into games allows all students, including the less good ones, to gain in confidence. Usually this means that they get better not just at speaking the language, but in all subjects . This makes everybody more motivated and optimistic, and teachers can really make a difference by helping their pupils have more self-esteem so they succeed in all areas of life. There are numerous ways of adapting the games so teachers can cater for a broad age-range. This gives the teacher an incredible battery of learning tools and ultimate flexibility.
Teachers can practise almost any language they wish with the vast majority of games. Games may also be adapted at will to the curriculum and to the textbooks the teacher is using. Teachers will be able to deliver fun, unpredictable lively classes that the students will love. Not many materials are needed to play these games (in some cases only the regular blackboard or classroom props are necessary). The class can be easily controlled by switching to calming games or by resorting to an exciting game when the teacher wants to pick up the pace. Variety is the key and games can provide variety.

Bibliography
1. Cheng, Y. S. , E. K. Horwitz and D. L. Schallert. 1999. Language Anxiety: Differentiating Writing and Speaking Components , Language Learning 49: 417-446
2. Dornyei, Z. 2001. Teaching and Researching Motivation. England: Pearson Education Limited.
3. Gardner, Tremblay, and Masgoret. 1997. Towards a full Model of Second Language Learning: An Empirical Investigation. The Modern Language Journal, 344-362.
4. Masgoret and Gardner. 2003. Attitudes Motivation, and Second Language Learning: A Meta-Analysis of Studies Conducted by Gardner and Associates, Language Learning. 167-21
5. Richard-Amato, Patricia A. 1988. Making it happen: interaction in the second language classroom : from theory to practice. New York: Longman
6. Skehan,P. 1989. Individual Differences in Second Language Learning. London:Edward Arnold.
7. Ushioda E. 1996. Learner Autonomy 5: the Role of Motivation , Dublin: Authentik
 

Biodata
Oana Andone holds a BA from The Faculty of Letters, "Alexandru Ioan Cuza" University of Iasi, an MA in American Cultural Studies and one in Translation studies. She has been a teacher for 15 years and a teacher trainer for six.

 

Embrace Change. How to Change by Visiting Britain with Your Students

by Adriana Foia, EFP Courses, Guildford, UK

Keywords: change, embrace, British culture, travel, study English, efpcourses

Abstract: Immersion of language learners in the actual environment of the target language entails benefits ranging from the effectiveness of the learning process to the inevitably intimate grasp of the cultural background of that language. The present article showcases English language courses in Guildford, UK.

 

Unlike our daily routines or habits, which we do, as their definition goes, in a habitual manner, without putting too much thought into them, change happens with our consciousness switched on to maximum levels. Well, I agree, some change is imposed on us, and we haven’t got a say in it. But should we have to look change in the face, we question its need for existence, we look at all pros and cons that come with it, we almost get to the point of wanting to prod it and test it like in a science lab.
It may be that disliking change is part of our human nature. Perhaps we’re programmed from birth to enjoy our familiar surroundings so much that when change comes along we get to such levels of discomfort that we wish change never existed. We much more prefer to revel about in our comfort zone, in its secure surroundings where nothing new disturbs our way of being. However, time given, we discover the benefits of change. For starters, it makes us stronger, then it cajoles us into trying new changes and funnily enough, in the end it turns into one of our habits or routines.
I’m challenging you to consider taking on a new change, that by the time it becomes a habit, you’ll be so happy to carry on doing it for the sake of instilling the love of change in your students. The change comes in the shape of travelling. Out of Romania and for a short period of time. Short enough to give you and your students a taste of the British culture at home. It may be enough to hook your students into a passion for English for life. It may be that incentive your students need to embark on a conscious act of studying English that’ll benefit their future. It may be the trip in which your students, taken out of their comfort zone, embrace change, and this makes them stronger, more confident as individuals and more confident when speaking English. It may be the trip when you discover you are really good at organising, persuading, supervising, advising, having fun with your students and welcoming change. It may be the trip that reignites your passionate love for English, which refuels your enthusiasm levels when teaching English in class, which brings sense to what you’ve been doing for a lifetime.
I believe in change, and I’ve learnt to trust it like a blind his guide dog. I embrace it, perhaps not always one hundred per cent open-heartedly, but once I’ve introduced a change in my life I wait, like a small child in the few seconds before he retrieves the toy from its well-wrapped paper, to discover the joy it brings with it. And more often than not, change has brought me a lot of good in the shape of confidence and restoration of capabilities, it has unlatched my creativity, made me look at things differently, and generally nudged me to try more change.
I took part with great pleasure in the latest RATE conference in Iasi on 31 October and 1 November this year, and I got such mixed feelings from teachers of English I spoke to informally. I could see some sort of insecurity glazing their eyes, even a high amount of disbelief that any trip to the UK with a group of students would ever be possible due to financial difficulties. I don’t dare dismissing the importance of the financial aspect of such extra-curricular courses. But the good news is that there are ways of finding the extra funding needed to pay for an educational trip to England.
I’d like to provoke you even further to look into writing a project within the Erasmus plus programme in order to find funding to carry out this trip. And choose EFP Courses Ltd as partner (details of PIC number on www.efpcourse.co.uk). Your students would be benefitting enormously from being immersed in the British culture and from attending classes of English specifically designed for them so to increase their confidence in speaking the language. They’d be experiencing life in a different culture, which they can only get in school in a sterilised and stereotyped environment. They’d be absorbing so much information both actively and passively by having their lessons in a British school, exploring Guildford, a typically British historic town, joining in the many sporting activities offered by the local sports centre, travelling to London by train and underground, being accommodated in British host families.
Your role in all this, other than being their group leader, would be to further explore the British culture and its people, to gather new ideas for your classes, to share your experience with others and persuade them to take the plunge and organise the trip by offering them snippets of your own experience, covered in the fresh smell of change.
I feel it’s worth mentioning that Guildford, which is heavily unfolded in images on the efpcourses website, is a lively, historic and cultural town 40 minutes away from London by train. Guildford is located within the renowned Surrey hills, and offers spectacular views from pretty much anywhere you are. It’s home to three theatres, in which your students could get to view a play, should you wish to choose this for them. Our TESOL qualified, native speaker teachers, would be teaching lessons specifically designed for your group’s level and interests, whereas the drama teachers would be using various techniques and games to engage each and every one of your students in speaking English with confidence.
Search www.efpcourses.co.uk to find out how you can bring change to you and your students. Talk to them about going on a trip to Guildford, in the UK, where they can have up to 25 hours of English a week, taught by native speaker teachers and drama teachers, sporting activities and sightseeing trips to London and Oxford. Have a meeting with their parents and explain the benefits an educational trip to the United Kingdom can bring their children. And then get in touch with us, at English in Future Perfect Courses, to help you start planning. We’re here to help you every step of the way.
EFP Courses’ message to all our participants is:
Change your perspective of looking at a new language as a new language, speak it!
Change your perspective of looking at a culture as a new culture, give yourself the chance to live within that culture! EFP Courses wish you all Merry Christmas and a Happy, and Immersed in Changes, New Year!

 

Web bibliography

www.efpcourses.co.uk

Biodata

Adriana Foia has graduated from the Faculty of Letters within the AL I Cuza University of Iasi in 1998, with a degree in English and French. She put in practice her then freshly gained knowledge by teaching English for one year in a secondary school in Targu Frumos. Since life is unstoppable in many ways, and drags us round as it pleases, she ended up in the UK for most of the last 15 years. Returning to teaching English was possible only after both her children started school, and having had the freedom she then enrolled on a TESOL course which she finished with a fine A.
She is now the director of EFP Courses Ltd, and so she organises courses of English language and British culture for students aged between 12 and 17, who are at a pre-intermediate level in English or above. Her inner wish is to get many of her fellow teachers and their students to visit and live, even if for a short period of time, in the country which this intriguing language originates from.

 


 



 

 

 

 Twenty Years of Romance

by Petrina Frunză, Colegiul Național "Emil Racoviță", Iași

Keywords: ELT journal, founder, British Council, Nick Fletcher, legacy.


It all started such a long time ago that I cannot even remember the exact date when Romance was first issued. I can still recall the 1994 Resita course reunion that some of us – the now “experienced” teachers - attended in Sinaia. There was Nick Fletcher and many young teachers willing to share their experiences related to putting in practice what they had learnt during the in-service course. It was a great opportunity for both trainers and trainees to speak about the trials and tribulations of implementing new teaching methods in the then educational environment and try to ease their application for the next generation of teachers.
It was then that Nick thought of setting up a magazine for the teachers of English in Romania. It was meant to have the teachers trained by the British Council share experiences , impart knowledge to other teachers and kindle enthusiasm. His leaving Romania was drawing near and he wanted to make sure that his trainees would continue his endeavour.
The magazine, called Romance , was first issued in Sinaia and the printed version lasted for a few years. Starting with the second issue, it gave all the teachers of English in Romania the chance to make known their experiences of good practice and accomplishments in teaching.
Now, the old Romance comes out as a biannual publication in electronic form under the name of RATE Issues. It offers teachers the same opportunities and is quite popular, especially with RATE members.
As one of its ” founders”, I urge the need for preserving the legacy of Romance. Sparing a little time out of your busy schedule to share whatever you think is useful and inspiring may mean encouraging a young teacher to stay in the job and enjoy it to the fullest.
Thank you, Nick. Thank you for proving that nothing comes easy and that every good outcome involves self-respect, perseverance, perpetual learning, a will to improve and striving for excellence.
”Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”. Aristotle


Biodata

Petrina Frunză is a co-author of curricula for English - grades 9-12 (Waldorf School) - 2000, Smart 6 (Institutul European Publishing House), Activity Book, Smart 6 (Institutul European Publishing House), Ghidul absolventului (Leris Publishing House).
She was a member of MATE board (1995 – 2006), has been a mentor since 2001 (ASMER), a methodologist - Iaşi School Inspectorate since 1993, a member of the Advisory Board for English , Iaşi School Inspectorate since 1996 and a teacher trainer - Young Learners since 2004.
She was also on the editorial board of Romance between 2004 and 2007.
 


 

The Brontė Sisters — Something Old, Something New in English Literature

by Anca Luminița Dulgheru, “Dimitrie Negreanu” Secondary School, Botoșani


Keywords: Victorian novel, Brontė sisters, love, women’s emancipation

Abstract: The Brontė sisters are three remarkable female writers who overcame their own condition and the principles of a patriarchal society, and brought the English novel on the first steps to modernism. Through a remarkable knit of feeling and wit, of sentimentalism and irony, of “sense and sensibility”, inherited from the Romantic poets, but also through a deep psychological concern, the Brontė sisters’ novels have a great impact on their readers, touching even the most insensitive hearts.

Motto: “Calm your expectations, reader…. Something real, cool and solid lies before you; something as unromantic as Monday morning.”
Charlotte Brontė - Shirley


The Brontė sisters started to express their literary talent in early childhood through a series of tiny home-made booklets, describing a highly imaginary world. Living isolated in the moors of the Haworth Parsonage, lacking any other playmates, the Brontė sisters started to create stories inspired from their own lives, from the major events of the era (the Napoleonian wars, for example), yet, stories reflecting their own feelings and conceptualisation of reality.
Later on, at the initiative of Charlotte Brontė, in May 1846 the volume Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell appeared — a collection of poems written by the three sisters out of a need to express their own dreams and torments, their vision on life and death, on liberty, love and deity. In this very volume, Emily proved herself different from her sisters, both through vision and style, showing a deeper concern on the universe, seen as a whole, as a communion between Man, God and Nature, and also on human psychology. All these features are to be detected later in her only novel Wuthering Heights in which Reality and Myth perfectly interweave, creating one of the most confusing and controversial love-stories in English literature.
Actually, the theme of love, against the background of the social and political reality of the age, is to be found in all the Brontė sisters’ novels. For example in Ch. Brontė’s Shirley the social conflicts between the authorities and workers of Yorkshire, the latter’s suffering and rebellion increase the inner struggle of the main heroine—Shirley Keeldar—who understands the poor class and becomes involved in charity works, but who loves Mr. Robert Moore, a middle class enterpriser, involved in the industrialisation process, bringing misery and poverty among his employees. Actually, he himself is a victim, prey to the technological progress of England.
Villette and Jane Eyre focus mainly on the influence of religion in people’s lives, on its impact upon the sexual desires of the heroines. And, while Charlotte and Emily are more profound in their writings, searching deep into the consciousness and psychology of the human being, Anne Brontė’s style is simpler, closer to the common reader’s understanding. Yet, all of them express through their works the struggle between their sincere, moral beliefs and the eagerness to write about illicit love-affairs.
Although their novels might seem to be written in a traditional style, illustrating the ever-existing fight between morals and desire, between individual and society, t the Brontė sisters have the great merit of bringing into the novel the psychological analysis through a deep, sincere, even severe peering into the inner life of the characters, anticipating the modernist novel. At the same time, with their female characters they promote the idea of women’s emancipation, fighting for a free life, equal to that of men, released from all the principles and morals of her contemporary society, free to express their feelings, thoughts and aspirations.
In fact, the authors themselves had to face the conventions of the Victorian society which encouraged education amongst women, but which could not accept women writers. Charlotte herself, when trying to publish some of her pieces of verse and prose was advised by the poet Southey to give up, arguing that “literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life and ought not to be” (Phillis Bentley). But she never ceased writing, as she confessed to her friend Ellen Nussey, about “my thoughts; the dreams that absorb me; and the fiery imaginations that at times eat me up and make me feel Society as it is, wretchedly insipid…”.
In fact, this kind of discourses on women’s need to express themselves literally could be detected in all of the Brontė sisters’ novels, illustrated in a more or less direct way. The heroines of the novels write letters, diaries or even essays that, sooner or later, get to be read by men. In Anne Brontė’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Mrs Helen Graham (Huntingdon) gives her diary to Gilbert Markham, who understands her better and feels more attracted to her after reading it; Catherine’s letters, read by Nelly Dean to Mr. Lockwood, give truthfulness to the whole story in Wuthering Heights, while Lucy Snowe’s essays in Villette shatter the traditional view of women as unable to write profound pieces of literature, inspired from their own experience.
Even the rural settings of the novels indicate the position of women as isolated from culture and modern industry. In fact, in the Victorian age education had a double effect on women: on the one hand, the uneducated women were disregarded, while in front of the educated ones men seemed to lose power- including the sexual one.
Through the critical realism of their works, through a superior analysis of life and of the human psychology and emotional intensity, the Brontė sisters earned their high position in English literature, next to other great novelists such as Charles Dickens, W.M.Thackeray, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and others.
There have been other critical approaches to the Brontės’ novels: structuralist, psychoanalytical or colonialist, each of them trying to highlight different aspects of the heroes’ love-affairs. Yet, no matter how we read their novels, the message remains the same: LOVE—as the purest feeling in the human being, springing deep from the inner-self—will always rise above all external laws and labelling. Neither society, with all its morals, nor even God can prevent or stop this feeling. On the contrary, any crisis, dictated either by exterior forces or by the inner ones, cannot but strengthen the human heart in this wonderful, yet mysterious feeling which is LOVE.

Bibiography

ARDHOLM, Helena M., The Emblem and the Emblematic Habit of Mind in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, Göteborg Sweden, 1999.
BAILIN, Miriam, The Sickroom in Victorian Fiction (The Art of Being Ill),CUP, 1995.
BARRY, Peter, Beginning Theory: An introduction to literary and cultural theory, Manchester University Press, 1995.
BENTLEY, Phyllis, The Brontės and their world, Book Club Associates, London, 1999.
BRONTĖ, Anne, Agnes Grey, Penguin Popular Classics, London, 1994.
BRONTĖ, Anne, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Penguin Popular Classics, London, 1994.
BRONTĖ, Charlotte, Jane Eyre, Penguin Popular Classics, London, 1994.
BRONTĖ, Charlotte, Jane Eyre, ed. by Karen Sayer, Longman & York Press, 2000.
BRONTĖ, Charlotte, Shirley, Penguin Popular Classics, London, 1994.
BRONTĖ, Charlotte, Villette, Penguin Popular Classics, London, 1994.
BRONTĖ, Emily, Wuthering Heights, Penguin Popular Classics, London, 1994.
BRONTĖ, Emily, Wuthering Heights, ed. by Claire Jones, Longman & York Press, 2000.
BRONTĖ, Emily, Wuthering Heights, ed. by Rod Mengham, Penguin Critical Studies,Suffolk, 1988.
DOODY, Margaret Anne, The True Story of the Novel, Harper Collins Publishers, 1997.
EAGLETON, Terry, Myths of Power: A Marxist Study of the Brontės, Harper & Row, New York, 1975.
FLINT, Kate (ed.), Victorian Love Stories—An Oxford Anthology, OUP, 1997 (pages VII-XIV).
FORD, Boris (ed.), The New Pelican Guide to English Literature—Form Dickens to Hardy, 1982.
GALEA, Ileana, Victorianism and Literature, Ed. Dacia, Cluj Napoca, 2000.
GILBERT, Sandra & GUBAR, Susan, The Madwoman in the Attic: the Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination, Yale University Press, 1979.
LEIGHTON, Angela & REYNOLDS Margaret, Victorian Women Poetry, Blackwell, Oxford UK & Cambridge USA, 1995.
MAYNARD, John, Victorian Discourses on Sexuality and Religion, CUP, 1993.
MILLER, Lucasta, The Brontė Myth, Vintage, London, 2002.
OLARU,Victor, Victorian Literature, Reprografia Universitatii din Craiova, Craiova, 1999.
SÉJOURNÉ, Philippe, The Feminine Tradition in English Fiction, Institutul European, 1999.
SUTHERLAND, John, Can Jane Eyre be happy?, OUP, 2000.
THORMAHLEN, Marianne, The Brontės and Religion, CUP, 1999.
TURCU, Luminita Elena, The Spell of Darkness, Ed. Didactica si Pedagogica,
Suceava, 2002.


Biodata


Anca Lumini
ța Dulgheru has been teaching English for about 10 years, and, for 2 years I worked as a Geography assistant teacher at Framlingham College, UK. At present, she working as an English teacher at "Dimitrie Negreanu" Secondary School. She has also attended several courses and seminars for teachers, as a permanent concern in improving her teaching skills and helping students develop a passion for English.

Lessons from the Circus. Suggestions for TEFL

by Cătălina Cocan, Alexandru Vaida-Voevod Secondary School, Cluj-Napoca
 

Keywords: motivation, collaboration, lessons with laughter, games, CPD.
 

Abstract: This paper focuses on the ways in which teachers can gather creative ideas from anywhere. The author is not only a teacher, but also mother of two; since her spare time cannot be fully devoted to her job, she has been trying to find alternative means of Continuous Professional Development (CPD). The author feels that going to the circus with her family is an unusual, yet fruitful, way of enriching her teaching experience and finding ideas for improving the motivation of her students.
 

You, too, can deliver a sparkling performance!

Have you noticed that the same children who tearfully beg to go to the circus are not so crazy about coming to school? Can the sparkle of the circus hold the key to the success of your lessons? I definitely think so, and I would like to share with you the lessons that I learned from going to the circus.

Lesson 1

A circus performance is well-timed; every part of the show is supposed to fit into a well-defined amount of time (otherwise, circus people would be unable to give you an estimate of the duration of the show).

My lessons, too, should be well-timed, and this does not only apply to every stage of the lesson. From my experience, students tend to respect those teachers who do not waste their time by coming to class late or forgetting about the break.

Lesson 2

There are moments in a circus performance when the collaboration of the crowd is needed (the clown talks to the audience, asks for their opinion and always plays deaf, so that children can get a chance to yell under the loving eyes of the same parents who constantly interdict such behaviour at home). While I do not necessarily think that noise is the watermark of a good English class, I am implying that you should allow your students to help you with the flow of your lessons.

One of the activities that I treasure most was coined with the help of my students who tried to predict the topic of the lesson without any other support than the capital letters of the words which made up the title. This activity has proven to be great fun (especially if I wrote down all the words that my students came up with and then used them – or as many of them as possible - in an off-the-cuff speech leading to the real title). After a while I happily noticed that my students had become less reluctant to speaking without much preparation on a given topic (probably because they had already seen their teacher faltering and sometimes unable to word her ideas properly).

Lesson 3

Could you imagine the circus without adrenaline and laughter? Well, then, you should not be able to imagine your classes without games. Creating a pleasant classroom atmosphere is clearly a way of increasing the motivation of your students towards learning. (Guilloteaux and Dornyei, 2007)

Since my own language learning had been marked by the grammar translation method, after becoming a teacher I felt that playing games in my classes would be a waste of time at the expense of the more important grammar activities. Nevertheless, as time went by, I found games to be an enjoyable way of real learning; they were not even as time-consuming as I had originally thought. My students were great teacher trainers in this respect; alongside with traditional games for English learners such as Simon Says or House/Hangman (Watkins, 2014) they really enjoyed playing adapted games (i.e. games they had already known in their mother tongue). I tend to think that a repertoire of 5-7 games was all I needed in order to enter a more playful era of my teaching.

Lesson 4

Have you ever noticed how cheerfully children show you pictures of themselves in various situations? Those pictures are sometimes proof of praiseworthy behaviour (such as courageously riding a big elephant or unblinkingly holding that dangerous snake at the end of the circus performance).

I realised that my students should also have the chance to show their family and friends a tangible proof of their praiseworthy behaviour at school, other than a good grade (Dornyei and Csizer, 1998): colourful paper cut-outs, stickers or stamps - labels of hard work (in the short run) and motivation boosters (in the long run).

Lesson 5

Turning to circus performers, what did I learn from them? More than you think!

Smiling is a must!

To begin with, no one working in a circus can be caught non-smiling at the end of the performance. While acrobats need to be really committed to doing their job properly (since their own life is at stake), they always smile at the end of an act. I have always wondered how circus artists are able to overcome personal bereavement in their lives (it is likely that, at some point in their life, they lose a family member and in a few days' time still need to perform for a living). My conclusion is that smile comes with the trade of entertaining children.

In my own teaching I have noticed that some students tend to replicate my behaviour; i.e. if I smile, they will smile. Is it hypocritical of me to smile when I am not exactly happy? Well, I am no expert, but I feel that smiling probably comes with the trade of teaching students.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a must!

Can acrobats perform their dangerous moves without proper preparation? Is it an option for circus artists to restrict their performance to one or two acrobatic acts that they can do perfectly? As a matter of fact, circus performers use their free time to perfect their moves and learn new tricks.

Need I say more about my need for CPD?

Finding happiness is a must!

Circus performers and teachers in some parts of the world are blood brothers in overwork and underpayment. At the end of the day, why do we do it?

I believe that the answer lies in the little happy moments that our jobs can offer: circus artists rejoice in the standing ovation at the end of their performance, while I treasure little moments such as my 6-year-old's kind offer of a damp biscuit at break time or my disruptive graduate student's gift for me – of all his teachers – of a flower at the end of our joint two-year performance.

In conclusion, teaching can be a rewarding experience if you turn it into one of your favourite pastimes. Gathering teaching ideas from virtually anywhere (even from such a non-teaching event as a circus performance) is definitely challenging. However, the courage to trespass well-established borders (such as the idea that CPD is bound to be time-consuming) might lead you to unexpected, yet sparkling, moments in your teaching career.

References:

1. Dornyei, Z. and Csizer, K. 1998 Ten Commandments for Motivating Language Learners: Results of an Empirical Study. Language Teaching Research 2,3, pp. 203-229. Available from http://www.zoltandornyei.co.uk/uploads/1998-dornyei-csizer-ltr.pdf [Accessed 18 August 2014]

2. Guilloteaux, M. J. and Dornyei, Z. 2008 Motivating Language Learners: A Classroom Oriented Investigation of the Effects of Motivational Strategies on Student Motivation. TESOL QUARTERLY, volume 42, no.1. Available from http://www.zoltandornyei.co.uk/uploads/2007-guilloteaux-dornyei-tq.pdf [Accessed 18 August 2014]

3. Watkins, P. 2014 Teaching Vocabulary: Practice and Theory (webinar) Available from http://www.cambridgeenglishteacher.org/eventdetail/1641 [Accessed 30July 2014]

Biodata

Cătălina Cocan has been working as a teacher in state and private schools in/around Cluj-Napoca, Romania since 2004. She is currently working at Alexandru Vaida-Voevod Secondary School in Cluj-Napoca (tenured teacher) and at Colourful English (freelancer). In 2013 she won Dr. Peter Hargreaves' Scholarship offered by Cambridge English Language Assessment, which enabled her to attend the annual IATEFL conference in Harrogate, England. Her personal best is the Overall Band 9 in Academic IELTS (2012).
 

 

Motivating “Screenagers”. A Technological Guide to ELT

by Constanța Bordea, Colegiul Național "Andrei Șaguna", Brașov

Keywords: digital tools, interactive whiteboard, podcast, webquest.

Abstract: Smart phones, i-phones, i-pads, tablets, notebooks, laptops, and who knows what other gadget, connected to the Internet! How can we fight that much technology? My answer to that question is “why fight it when you’d better use it”. Digital tools should not be a substitute for direct interaction between teacher and student; rather, where available and well-used, they could be a means of enriching it and making it more efficient. How many times have you said in class: “Please put your phones inside your bag. Stop using the phone and pay attention.”? Well, next time, surprise your students and say: “All of you, please take out your digital equipment and ...” The focus of this workshop is to provide some ideas on what you can use all that technology for.

In a classroom where you can find smart phones, i-phones, i-pads, tablets, notebooks, laptops, and who knows what other gadget, connected to the Internet, which the teenager is glued to, the teacher might become obsolete. How can we fight that much technology? My answer to that question is “why fight it when you’d better use it”. Digital tools should not be a substitute for direct interaction between teacher and student; rather, where available and well-used, they could be a means of enriching it and making it more efficient.
How many times have you said in class: “Please put your phones inside your bag. Stop using the phone and pay attention.”? Well, next time, surprise your students and say: “All of you, please take out your digital equipment and ...” The focus of this workshop is what you can use all that technology for. Or at least to give you some ideas.
One suggestion would be to use the Internet as a resource for task-based learning. If your topic is travelling, for example, ask the students to choose an exotic destination for their future holiday and in groups to decide on: the best accommodation there, based on travellers’ reviews on TripAdvisor, the best way to get there and the most interesting attractions in the area.
Other suggestions would be the following:
1) using the interactive whiteboard (IWBs) and data projectors for displaying texts, pictures, pages from the textbook, presentations and video
2) Internet websites:
 www.learnenglish.britishcouncil.org (podcasts, fun and games, UK culture, grammar and vocabulary, exams, writing)
 www.discoveryeducation.com (puzzlemaker, learning adventures, worksheets)
 www.ted.com (talks on a multitude of topics)
 www.teachitelt.com (language games, interactive resources)
 www.surveymonkey.com (surveys)
3) Interactive digital tools:
E-mail: communicating, HW, sending and receiving assignments
Mobile phones: writing messages in English, recording new vocabulary, learning useful vocabulary by setting English as preferred language, audio and video recording
Devices with an internet connection: checking new words in on-line dictionaries, finding data on a certain topic (on the spot projects)
4) WebQuests - an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web, developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February, 1995; a way to make good use of the internet while engaging the students in the kind of thinking that the 21st century requires.
Here follows one example of such an activity.



WEBQUEST
Is modern life making us lonely?

INTRODUCTION

You have friends whom you like and spend time with. You also have another friend, a more understanding one, who never gets upset, it is not moody, it does not answer back, it is always available – the computer (Internet). Is it an easy choice who to spend time with? Real friends or virtual ones? By doing this WebQuest, you will be able to gather real data about what the situation is in the UK and to write an essay on this topic, comparing the situation with the one in our country.
Whenever you do not know a word, feel free to look it up in the English Dictionary
TASK
Your class team is going to help you find out more about the topic above. Your task involves researching the topic and reaching a few well-founded conclusions. Then you will have to write an opinion essay, outlining the results of your search and your personal opinion.
To complete the WebQuest assignment, you will need to produce the following pieces of work:
1. A list of sources you found on the internet on this topic.
2. A list of five things you found surprising about this theme.
3. Presentation of your findings to your friends.
4. An opinion essay
5. A self-evaluation (individual).

PROCESS & RESOURCES
There are several steps in this WebQuest, and you should follow them in the order they are presented below:
1. find arguments for and against the topic presented in the internet article whose link you have in the photo on the first page of the webquest
2. decide which arguments / examples you agree with
3. find other relevant arguments or examples on the internet to support your view
4. make the lists outlined above (on the task page)
5. discuss your findings in your group and decide upon which ones you are going to keep as being the most relevant
6. make a plan of the essay by carefully respecting the structure of the opinion essay
7. write the final version of the essay
Resources:
V. Evans – “Successful writing”
Internet: BBC and other related sites
Language:
Here are some useful expressions you could use to write your essay:
• Personally, I have always thought that ….
• I was surprised to find out that...
• In my view, …
• As far as I am concerned, …
• To my mind, …
• To start with, …
• Moreover, …
• Furthermore, …
• However, …
• On the other hand, …
• To sum up, …
• Consequently, …
EVALUATION AND CONCLUSION
EVALUATION
Assessment criteria:
Content: has the students brought relevant arguments supported by examples?
Organisation: - has the student respected the structure of the opinion essay?
- has the student constructed well-rounded paragraphs (topic sentence + supporting sentences)?
Register: has the register been consistently neutral throughout?
Language (grammar and vocabulary): has the student used a wide range of structures and vocabulary?
SELF-EVALUATION
It is now time to evaluate your work on this project. You should (individually) write a composition in English of about 150 - 200 words, answering these questions:
1. How effective was my contribution to the group work?
2. What did I learn about the topics we researched?
3. How did my English improve doing this project?
4. What did I learn about using the internet?

When it is ready, give your self-evaluation to your teacher.

5) Google tools:
o Google forms (feedback forms, feed-forward forms, test papers)
o Google presentations
o Google documents
6) Song contests (involving two classes in a contest with each other, in which they are supposed to listen to the songs prepared by the opposing class and write down as many lyrics as they can)
7) Video based lessons (Oral presentations)

Tasks and activities
1. Ss will have to watch a video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQmz6Rbpnu0
in order to notice the way of organizing an oral presentation
2. Ss will work in groups of 4 outlining the features of a good presentation
3. The teacher will ask a spokesperson to present the result of their work and will write on the board the summary of what all the groups have decided
4. In their groups they will have to decide upon a topic of general interest, such as the one in the initial video (the state of the environment), to come up with their own oral presentation.
5. All the students in the group will be assigned a role (researcher, editor, camera man, speaker) and they will have to come up with a video of their own on the topics chosen
6. The videos of each group will be presented to the class and analysed against the features which have been put on the blackboard by the teacher, being given feedback on what could be improved.
7. As homework they will have to make another video with the improved video presentation, as a group, and to make an individual oral presentation each.
Tools: computers (connected to the internet), video cameras, white board

8) Grammar lessons using audio or video materials (Second conditional – Nickleback – If today was your last day)

Tasks and activities
1. Ss will have to watch a video: Nickleback – “If today was your last day” in order to fill in the text of the song with the missing verb forms
2. Ss will decide in pairs what the rules of using tenses in second conditionals are
3. Based on the rules they completed they will have to answer the following question: How would you improve your school if you were the principal? (3 suggestions at least)
4. In groups of 3 they will have to decide which of them would take the best decisions. The chosen ones in each group will present their suggestions to the class in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.
5. All the Ss will vote for the best principal.
Tools: computers (video, PowerPoint), handouts with the song

Biodata: Constanța Bordea has been a teacher of English at “Andrei Saguna” National College, Brasov since 2000, a teacher trainer since 2002, a Cambridge speaking examiner for the British Council since 2008, an assessor for the national olympiad since 2011  ans a member of the English National Committee since 2013.

Making Reading Fun. Using Literature in the Classroom

by Claudia-Alexandra Boerescu, Colegiul Tehnic de Industrie Alimentară, Suceava

Keywords: literature, text, excerpt, activity, skills, creativity.

Abstract: Literature doesn’t mean spending long hours reading texts and checking words in the dictionary. Lessons which make use of literature can be fun and can engage students in ways other texts can’t – emotionally and creatively, while at the same time allowing students to gain an insight into a variety of cultural aspects. They can also enable them to publicly display what they have gained through products of their own creativity such as pieces of writing, posters and performances. This article presents ways in which literature can be used in class, with a collection of reading games that have proved quite efficient during my lessons.
 

The idea for this article came to me while I was preparing for one of the most difficult exams that I had to take as a teacher this summer – my Second Level Certificate in Teaching. As I was searching for creative ways to teach literature, I started wondering if it is possible to use unaltered, original stories, novels or poems in class even with weaker students who are not quite fluent in English. The answer to this had been given to me long time before that, on a rainy morning, in London, while I was attending a training course at Oxford House College. “Everything can be done, no matter what kind of students you have”, my trainer told me as I was trying to contradict him. And I believed him, even if I had spent long hours in my first two years as a teacher trying to figure out why the most interesting activities seemed to be designed for those ideal students who were not only eager to speak and learn, but they were also open to whatever lied in store for them in their teacher’s mind (and portfolio!).
Armed with these thoughts, I decided to start putting in practice what I had learned from my reading experience for so many years. Therefore, I started using many stories, excerpts from novels and novellas, plays and poems in their original form. And they worked. I actually managed to make my students want to read more. Starting from short paragraphs, any teacher can build up many types of vocabulary and even grammar lessons or cultural activities. It is most helpful to use literature just to take a step back from the traditional boring lessons that make students yawn while the teacher constantly looks at his/her watch to see when it’s time to end the lesson.
Among the texts I used to teach physical descriptions was an original excerpt from Roald Dahl’s “Matilda”. One of the reasons for using this particular piece was that it was one of my favorite novels as a child and I remembered being quite impressed with Miss. Trunchbull’s character and her detailed physical description, which made it very easy to visualize the character. That was exactly what I asked my students to do – visualize. They had to identify the character’s main features after having discussed the author’s attitude towards her. Younger children could be asked to draw the character as she is depicted in the text. Roald Dahl is quite a master in creating a certain mood while revealing a character. “The Big Friendly Monster” is another example of character that can help students work on their skills when it comes to descriptions.
Children’s literature usually proves very effective and prolific in terms of activities that can be done in the classroom. First of all, the language is not too metaphoric. Thus, it is usually easy for students to identify the message, even for longer texts. Secondly, there is a lot of dialogue that students can either act out in class or start from to create longer conversations between characters.
It is always a good idea to personalize the text in any way possible. This can be done either by leaving out the title and asking the students to come up with a creative one in groups, or by not revealing the ending and having students write it together. A good piece that I worked on with my students was “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. It is a great Christmas story that is usually a great springboard for many activities. While the most obvious one is to ask students to write a sequel to the story, many others came to my mind, from organizing a debate to writing an additional dialogue that may fit in the narrative. Grammar activities can also be designed, to some students’ disappointment. However, they can become fun if, instead of organizing something related to reported speech, you ask students to rewrite/retell the story or parts of it from a character’s point of view. “The gift of the Magi” can be retold from Jim’s point of view, for example. A nice activity would also be to have students write a diary page that may belong to one of the characters. With diaries, it is easier to express one’s feelings and there is usually more freedom regarding techniques than with other types of compositions.
A novel I used, as I was trying to give an example of very formal English, was Kazuo Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day”. I used parts of dialogues between Stevens and his father or between Stevens and Miss Kenton and told my students to turn this dialogue from formal to informal. This proved a fun task in the end because the final product for some students was a mixture of formal and informal speech.
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell is another good example of book that students can relate to very well. Excerpts of political speeches delivered by Snowball or Squealer and the way they are reacted to are great examples of texts that can be starting points for various activities. The students can create a new character in the story and act out dialogues between him/her and the other characters (with this particular novel, they can choose their favorite animal, write its characteristics and personality traits etc.). Students can be organized into groups and imagine they represent political parties, find a good name for the group and come up with policies that best represent their own ideology. They could then choose a leader who has to deliver a speech in front of the class and try to convince the audience. The one who receives the most votes gets to be elected. This activity is not only fun because it creates a real-life situation but it also gives students a chance to work on their oratorical skills. At the same time, it encourages them to reflect on various issues that today’s society deals with and try to find solutions for them. They may refer to environmental, economic, social issues etc.
Original fairy tales can be great for students, not only because they are already familiar with most of them, which makes it easier to understand the plot, but also because they can be used in many creative ways for various types of lessons – from grammar and vocabulary to a wide range of speaking and writing activity. An idea for a grammar lesson is the use of comparative and superlative adjectives. They can compare characters or make a “MOST” list: the saddest, the funniest, best part, the most surprising characteristic, moment etc. The use of interrogative can be worked on – students could be asked to write questions based on the story for other students to answer, or write questions to interview the author/one of the characters etc. Speaking activities can be designed to discuss moral issues or controversial themes/topics, argue for or against an idea/statement, building free associations around a word/sentence in the text to predict future events (especially in the pre-reading part)etc. Furthermore, several writing activities can be designed when dealing with stories. Some of these allow students to use their creativity in a most effective way. They can rewrite the ending, write the story from the villain’s point of view, rewrite parts of the story using a different register, write a modern version of the story (set in the digital era), write letters to or from one of the secondary characters, come up with a script and act out the story in front of the class.
For younger students, a poster or a brochure advertising the book (which includes characters, the title, the author, themes etc) can be assigned as a mini-project after having read parts of the original book/story. They can even design the cover of the book or the costumes for characters in the story.
Poems are highly effective as well, not only because they are shorter but also because they usually have that internal rhythm that makes them appealing to learners. Apart from acting out poems, students can work on various language problems such as error correction, word order (the teacher could mix up the lines and have students rearrange them in their original form), give the poem a title (of course, the teacher must remove the original one), write five words related to their feelings while reading the poem or even come up with a song that fits the lines of the poem.
My personal belief is that almost any type of text can be used in class, as long as it is appropriate in terms of language (for example, no excessive violence). I once designed a lesson on environmental issues starting from two excerpts – one was taken from “Tess D’urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy and the other one from “Women in Love” by D.H. Lawrence. The former depicted rural England – the almost mystical landscape, unaltered by industry and the latter was Gerald Crich’s description of the mechanical, distorted scenery of modern England in a society that was already suppressed by industrialization and suffocated by pollution. Rural versus urban life was the starting point for discussion, with examples from the texts and students’ own ideas. Then we moved forward to finding solutions to various environmental problems. There was a lot of group work, students made posters and they even organized debates. I never referred to the novels – themes, plot, details about the authors. My point is that even complex novels offer wonderful excerpts that can be used in class in their original form and can lead to memorable lessons for the students.
As a person who likes to read, I strongly believe that I should be able to share my hobby during the classes I teach and come up with creative solutions to attract students to appreciate literature and develop their skills and command of the English language. Moreover, the stylistic particularities of literary texts offer better opportunities to enhance the linguistic input the learners face during the class. At the same time, literature offers a chance for teachers to expand their students’ cultural awareness, engage them emotionally in dealing with a variety of topics such as tolerance, empathy for others, love, loss, nature, humanity etc. , while constantly resorting to their creativity. The direct result is students’ cultural and personal growth and the development of their own motivation to read English texts and learn while doing it.
 

Bibliography:
McRae, J Literature with a small 'l', Macmillan Education, 1994
Lazar, Gillian, Literature and Language Teaching, Cambridge University Press, 1993
Pulverness, A ‘Literature' in English Teaching Professional, October, Issue 29, Modern English Publishing, 2003
http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/using-literature-introduction

 


Biodata: Claudia Boerescu is an English Teacher at Colegiul Tehnic de Industrie Alimentara, Suceava. She has graduated from Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iasi (Spanish-English) and she has a M.A. in translations (“Stefan cel Mare” University Suceava). She has attended various training courses in England, Ireland, Turkey and Germany and has a teaching experience of 6 years. She is passionate about literature and creative teaching.
 

 

 Adapt, Adopt, Adventure. Creativity and Diversity in ELT

by Anabella Enachi, Colegiul Tehnic ‘Ion Holban’ Iași

Keywords: multiple intelligences, gifted children, arts, dramatisation, collage

Abstract: ’Creativity and Diversity in ELT’ is used in the English class constantly. Therefore, the article, presents both a combination of theories and teaching strategies seasoned with some practical examples hinting at gifted education concepts, Gardner’s MI’s, creative writing, teaching literature, using films, comic books, fiction and all sorts of activities generally related to arts that can channel our students’ general and specific abilities, their creativity and commitment into improving their language skills and personal evolution for the best.

In hindsight after the 15th RATE National Conference in Iasi, I realized that all of us are on the same page in our endeavor for professional development and success in ELT. Since the Conference was all about ’Creativity and Diversity in ELT’, I simply resorted to and pointed out the importance of arts, diversity and creativity in the English class. Thus, I combined some gifted education concepts, creative writing, particularly, writing plays and playlets, teaching literature and connecting it with films and books, drama techniques and all sorts of activities generally related arts such as: books/literature, films, drama, music, theater, creative writing, drama techniques, painting in order to support all those who constantly integrate them in their daily practice. Arts are ‘In deed’ related to teaching by using formal and non-formal educational means in order to allow our students to grow as human beings while also acquiring language skills. The trick is how to integrate them into the curriculum and in our daily practice in class. Flexibility, open-mindedness, balance, creativity and diversity are the key to success, adapting, adopting and naturally including these teaching-learning strategies into our daily routine so as to improve and diversify the educational process.

The benefits of arts in the curriculum are worth mentioning as they stimulate creativity and diversity, the discipline of the mind, self-confidence skills. Arts educate the imagination, develop problem solving skills, the ability to apply the information and awaken passion for Life Long Learning and learning how to learn. Arts develop expressive skills along with academic abilities, the application of information, self-assessment, striving for excellence, hardwork, flexibility and dedication. Arts offer opportunities for risk-taking without failure, stimulate memory and retention, insight, intuition, networking and intelligence.
We are constantly improving our teaching techniques and approaches to the whole process of education that is nowadays going swiftly through a technological boom! How to assist our Screenagers learn better? We must constantly devise combinations and personalized applications of various teaching strategies, teaching-learning styles, adapting the learning requirements in the equation: motivation, concentration, attainable learning tasks, positive environment and feedback. Add to this melting-pot, Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory: verbal- linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic , logical-mathematical , visual-spatial , musical, inter-personal and intra-personal , naturalist, existential and add the detection of the visible or less visible gifted students characteristics in order to make use of various combinations of stimuli to help our students improve their personal skills and analytic, introspective and interactive intelligences and there you go, you have got a possible, fluid, creative recipe for success.
If we analyze the list of ‘Gifted Learner ’ and ‘The Bright Child’ traits below, [see Table below] we can use the characteristics in order to stimulate the student’s strong points and strengthen the weak ones in the learning process creatively. Do you as a teacher recognize yourself or most of your students in these characteristics? It is useful to highlight that this ‘gifted learner’ approach does not include the idea of restrictive excellence programs for the selected few but rather a hint towards our talent at spotting and including these gifted student traits into out tactics in order to help our students learn and evolve. This could be helpful if and when included into learning programs, strategies and classroom activities that are best suited for the pupils, using the right approach to allow them to reach their potential, to give them opportunities to activate their inner resources and use their gifts.
 


In case you come across such ‘gifted students’ you will observe that they are interlocking clusters of mixed general and specific abilities, creativity with focus on task commitment, as shown bellow:
a)General Ability can be detected in students who present high levels of abstract thinking, memory, word fluency, verbal -numerical reasoning, spatial relations, adaptability to the environment, fast information retrieval and processing.
b)Specific Ability is seen in children who can perform applications of various combinations of the general abilities to specialized areas of knowledge or of human performance like: the arts, leadership, administration. They have the capacity for acquiring and applying advanced amounts of formal and informal knowledge, have high levels of technique and strategy in solving particular problems in specialized areas and sort out relevant or irrelevant information.
c)Task Commitment is obvious in students who display high interest, enthusiasm and involvement in a particular problem, area of study or form of human expression, perseverance, determination, self-confidence, communicativeness, a strong ego, perfectionism, the ability to identify significant problems within specialized fields, openness to criticism, an aesthetic sense of taste, quality, and excellence about one’s work and the work of others.
d)Creativity is found in students who excel in originality, fluency, flexibility, willingness to take risks, curiosity, openness to experience, sensitiveness, receptiveness to new and different views, thoughts, actions and products of oneself and others. We should not equate high IQ with creativity because average people can be creative, whereas high IQ people non creative. Creativity does not only appear in art, music or literature but throughout the sciences and social studies fields.
How do we measure, channel or use creativity in class, in ELT? We can simply allow our children to explore new things and play through problem solving games and lifelong learning activities that extend from the classroom toward the world outside and the other way around. Creative thinking is fostered when children are given opportunities to explore new materials and ideas, play with them and construct new knowledge and skills. Unusual ideas, solutions and inventions should not be dismissed rather be explained to the class from the point of view of the student.
Activities such as:
a) Revolutionary Inventions may surprise you, some students came up with most wonderful ideas, such as: the ‘Get well machine’ where one enters one side ill, old, unhappy and exits on the other side, young, happy and healthy again.
b) Ogooglebar : asking students to Google something that cannot be found on a search engine, a neat trick that allows students to use computers in class while also doing something new. The term is a Swedish word for new phenomena and they officially add these new words to their language constantly.
c) Creative writing – asking our students to write playlets, dramatize classics or modern writers and act them out is not that far-fetched an idea, provided we do not do in every class and we train our students beforehand.
Needless to say that before asking our students to write anything we must teach them how, we must teach literary skills. We could apply the theoretical ideas to a specific target such as fantasy literature, gothic horror or SF fiction that is very much in demand nowadays. Books turned into movies are very appealing to screenagers! Our students are reading again! Now, that is an advantage that we cannot overlook.
Literary skills are a set of recognizable recurrent conventions that enable students to acquire the ability to decode and interpret a text as effective readers. We should teach and allow students to use conventions based on a set of expectations to decode text structure, to recognize the distinctive features of the work in prose: plot, characters, setting, themes, narrator’s point of view, language and themes.
Literary skills applied to fantasy fiction would mean students acquired the ability to recognize cross-cultural themes, images, motifs, mythic characters, story patterns, archetypal conflicts, structural features, recognizable formulas that occur throughout all cultures and literary works in the world. These are the useful tools that our students need to know before any attempt is made at creative writing:
- the specific atmosphere: magic Eden, peaceful utopia, agrarian, pre-industrial societies.
- the plot: fight between good and evil; a myth of creation of the world, saving it or a people from evil/extinction.
- the time: mythical period of creation; linear narrative, chronological order.
- the location: ‘secondary magic world’ characters travel through a ‘portal or ‘gateway’ to ‘the other world’ from the ‘primary or real world’ or the action takes place only in this ‘secondary world’.
- the typical characters: fairies, elves, trolls, banshees, brownies, hobgoblins, genies; good, wizards, witches, dwarves, dragons, magic.
- the quest, the journey, the magic portal through which characters travel into a secondary world
- the themes: battle between good and evil and the quest; the prophecy in which the predestined, unaware hero
saves the world; loss of blissful utopian world as a result of sin or evil forces and human weakness or saving
a people or the world from extinction; restoring justice and order, removing evil usurpers from positions of
power restoring the balance into the world.

Suggested Class activities:
- Collage is a good type of re-writing.
- -Dramatization: re-writing the original text into a playlet.
- Updating “The Hobbit’ into new vernacular or ‘The Lord of the Rings’ turned into a soap opera format.
- Alternative endings, changed titles - Preludes, interludes, postludes or text extension.
- Non-literary authentic formats to use in class: Guide to a TV or radio serial . Film or book reviews: compare & contrast. Newspaper articles Missing person format or Agony column.
- Writing parodies to films, books, and comic books, graphic novels – use laughter, irony on traditional high fantasy or SF traditional conventions.
- re-writing or re-locating stories and characters! Allow students to dramatize the work, to make it funny and accessible! Always remember that our students visualize! See examples bellow: ’Twilight’ and ‘The Avengers’
Allow students to use the existing models of modern authors or film-makers who turn the genres into a melting pot, using parodies of other works, puns, borrowing shifting perspectives and styles, imitating or debunking old traditions. See the modern ante-hero in movies such as: Han Solo in ‘Starwars’, or the major character in ‘The Mask’. The XXth century boom of comic books, graphic novels, computer games generated a whole range of heroes and ante-heroes that we can use in ELT in and out of the classroom.
When you use the classic format activities: pre reading, while reading and post reading activities focus on the students’ personal response to the literary work. It will stir their aesthetic sense and stimulate their educational growth, awareness and initiative, ultimately improving their English skills.



Relocating the ‘Twilight’ characters to Pandora or using comic books and bringing favourite heroes together in one personal narrative, like in ‘The Avengers’ where mythical Thor, Hawkeye a modern version of Robin Hood, a genius scientist Iron man, Captain America are all well and acting in the same story. Comic books and graphic novels are an endless source of inspiration for film-makers why not use them with our students especially those who are interested in these stories.
Give your students time to read and watch stories, then dramatize using a simple recipe and act out the playlets in class. Here are two versions of ‘How to write a play recipe’

How to write a play recipe
Phase 1:
Read and watch plays then develop your own story.
Start with characters and consider the location, setting, timing.
Set up the events, the conflict, the inner story,
Match the inner story with the outer story-find a dramatic situation to place your characters in,
Point out the psychological conflict.
Remember the limitations of the stage. The focus on the tension between the characters,
the dialogues/language, developing your characters into believable people.
Be careful with the use of experimental means - incorporated audience participation.

Phase 2:
Write Drafts as many as you can and Revise!
Keep the play as short as possible. Devise acts and scenes.
Always move forward - quick-paced action/events, character arc and plot evolution.
Revise – Edit – Improve!
Phase 3:
Formatting Your Play. Break the plot into acts and scenes.
Include stage and character directions, describe the set up of the stage.
Tag each character's dialog, marked with their name in capital letters.
Center the dialogue, include the character's name every time they speak.
Include Prologue: details about the play, a list & short description of characters, notes,
clarifications about the set up of the stage, directing guidelines, a brief outline of the play
Don't make characters before you write the play. Don't worry about names.
Specify the time in between scenes for scene changes & for actors to get to their places.
Try not overuse the funny lines: not too many racist, sexist, religious jokes …
Do not overdo audience interaction! Experimental drama is not easy to warm up to!



Apply the recipe to a specific work or scene, episode from: ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or some famous story like ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘Twilight’, Superman’ etc.
See Handout 1 bellow and 2


 



HANDOUT 1




STORY TITLE




SETTING




CHARACTERS                                        PLOT



How to write a 10-minue play

1) No Exposition! Jump into your story- a puzzle for the audience to unravel!
2) Every detail must relate to the action of the play.
3) Select a conflict, a plot know what your play is about and write it.
4) Define driven characters, well –spoken protagonists.
5) Include dramatic struggle – a character should be off-balance in some way.
6) Less talking! just show the audience - Images, mimicry, gestures, symbols are powerful. Use every detail in a fruitful way.
7) Build the plot to the Climax. Include unpredictable events, characters, surprises.
8) Do not force the happy ending!
9) Include the Journey – character ark, the quest, the trials and reversal of catastrophe, experience and wisdom.
10) Relatable play, use universal elements, generic characters . People want to relate!
11) Self-discovery – character enlightenment - the climax.
12.Be as original as creative as possible!
13. Make it as funny and witty as possible, include emotional impact.
14. Circular structure, all conflicts solved at the end! Happy endings more relatable to the public!



HANDOUT 2

STORY PYRAMID ‘TWILIGHT’

1________________________________
Name the main character
2 _______________________________________________________

Two words describing the main character
3________________________________________________________________________

Three words describing setting
4_________________________________________________________________________________________
Four words stating conflict/problem
5_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Five words describing one major event
6___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Six words describing second event
7___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Seven words describing third event
8___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Eight words describing solution!

 

Biodata:

Anabella Enachi has been an English teacher for 18 years and also has the benefit of previous work experience as a librarian, reporter, secretary, translator, interpreter, tutor and care-taker. She published a book in 2011, ‘PIM’ Publishing House: Fantasy Literature: A Journey Worth Taking - ISBN 978-606-13-0228-4. She also wrote a script ‘My True North’ Copyrighted at the Library of Congress Washington D.C. USA.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 
Copyright © Romanian Association of Teachers of English             ISSN 1844 – 6159             Edited by Ovidiu Leonte