Teflpedia:Teachers' room/Archive/2009

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Technical warning[edit source]

The management would like to apologise for any erratic behaviour or turbulence which may be experienced during the present flight. We are confident that normal service will be restored in short order. In the meantime we encourage all our passengers to partake of the complementary tea, biscuits and gin which will be served by our charming hostesses shortly.--Admin 16:58, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Shortly is an unusual name for a woman. Genghis Khant 04:47, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

RW invasion[edit source]

We are presently playing host to some friends of mine from another which which is experiencing technical problems. Some strange things may appear until the end of August. Users are welcome to ignore them or join in as they see fit.--Bob M 06:26, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

This wiki needs goat. There's only one mention of the lovely beast on the whole site. Totnesmartin 09:56, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
No, it needs Long-Eared Jerboa. Theemperor 16:16, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
That would be an abuse of Bob's hospitality. Begone with your corrupt Jerboan ways! Totnesmartin 16:25, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Limits[edit source]

Ok, we already have WIGO ASK and a couple of non-education-related pictures up. What are the limits? userboxen? WIGOs? I assume this page stands in for the saloon bar. Totnesmartin 11:08, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Personally I think we should minimise impact as much as possible - keep it clean, maybe add a general category of 'RationalWiki' to mark anything we add so that Bob can go through once we get back up and running and clean everything up? The more we add, the more cleaning up will be required at the end. IMHO. Worm 11:17, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
If we keep all the RW/lulzy stuff to specific pages then yes, it'll be easier for Bob to tidy up after, and also won't confuse anyone coming here for its intended purpose - so, no snark/parody in education-related articles, everyone. Likewise, I don't know what age group reads this site, but let's keep it clean anyway. Totnesmartin 11:51, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Concur - I think the RatWiki category is a splendid idea. And also we should follow Martin's good example and pay the rent when we can. SuperJosh 11:58, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
How bout we just delete all the crap we put on the wiki after RW is back? It would save Bob the trouble of cleaning up after us. Web 22:10, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
He'd still have to delete the actual pages. We can, though get rid of stuff like this thread because it's on an established page. Totnesmartin 22:15, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Student Bar[edit source]

I see someone made an impromptu student bar for the displaced mob. Perhaps we should decamp to there rather than impose ourselves on the Teachers'room. And BYO! There's some celebrating to be done. Congrats to SuperJosh! Genghis Khant 15:59, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Cheers Genghis!!! SuperJosh 16:27, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
I would like to add my support for RW editors using the student' bar.--Bob M 22:36, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that was brilliant. Human 00:42, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Sooo...[edit source]

Where's that hot teacher that every school has? o.O Kektklik 11:03, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

15 Seconds[edit source]

How soon before I can edit more than once every 15 seconds? I'm quite fed up! Proxima Centauri 12:52, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

Learn to use the preview button? Nx 15:34, 31 August 2009 (UTC)
Couple of days I think.--Bob M 07:16, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
Autoconfirmation requirements are 5 edits and account age of 1 day. Nx 13:52, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
It also makes one think before you post; which can't be bad. Ⓖⓔⓝⓖⓗⓘⓢ 16:45, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
It made me think "b****y computers" I'm afraid. Totnesmartin 16:52, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

Other debates[edit source]

Greetings All! There is currently a heated debate going on here as to how much communication is non-verbal, urban legends, etc. It's a free-for-all and your input is welcome. Cheers! --Technopat 14:00, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Another debate open is whether testing is a different enough concept to warrant its own article as opposed to being a part of the assessment article. Feedback? --Technopat 18:20, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

The pound[edit source]

On a more general point, the pound seems to picking up.--Bob M 20:57, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

How times change. Ⓖⓔⓝⓖⓗⓘⓢ 08:30, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Ah - but now it's getting better again.--Bob M 19:35, 16 November 2010 (UTC)

101+ 121 Conversation questions[edit source]

Greetings, Folks! Just thought you might be interested in checking out some of the great Conversation questions available here at Teflpedia, as well as a newish sister page of Quick conversation questions. Additions welcome! Cheers! --Technopat 18:37, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Polarisin' the conversation... Sorry! Couldn't resist that one! :)[edit source]

Greetings Bob M. I know that you like to de-polar as much as possible, and in the broad, general whatchamallit, I agree with you. However, my criteria is that if the normal question I would ask a native speaker is a polar question, then that's the question I ask me students.

That often means that the initial question requires a simple yes/no answer (although I do insist on the need for the aux.) - which must be immediately followed up with a wh-question.

In other words, rather than construct some grammatically-intriguing-but-artificial question to obtain a grammatically-satisfying response, I encourage that first yes/no answer (+ do/does/am/is/would etc.) in order to engage 'em in the conversation - they usually have much more to say on the matter, and I find the problem isn't so much getting 'em to talk, but getting 'em to stop... Topic for the Teachers' room? --Technopat 10:37, 6 July 2009 (UTC) Yes, so I've cut it here. Bob

Hi TP. Well, it depends. If the teacher is managing the conversation process from the front of the class with a small group who are communicating with him/her then the questions can really be totally polar, as the teacher can follow up each one with, "Really? Why do you think that?" But in a situation where the class has been split up into pairs or groups which are talking to themselves it's not so easy. Even if you tell students that the objective is to turn each question into a short conversation there are still some who are capable of treating the yes/no ones as just that and fly through them. (This is usually the case where there are two young males together for some reason, girls seem to be a bit more prepared to be chatty.)
Also I'm not actually trying to generate any particular grammatical response. Just trying to avoid a yes/no response. Obviously if the teacher has the questions as a crib sheet in from of him/her then they can re-word the questions of the fly - but if they're going to distribute them to groups then it would seem to be best to cover all the odds.
Having said all that, if there's a case where I've created something which seems really horribly artificial then please bring it up so that we can make it more natural if necessary.--Bob M 10:56, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Point taken. If the aim is pairwork, I guess you're right. But that brings us onto the aims and mechanics of pairwork. I take for granted that pairwork is controlled practice and I would have the students work from their own crib sheets. So I would get them to write down their own wh-questions developing on from the initial polar questions when/wherever possible.
By the way, I've used some of the conversation questions as dictation items and students have had to expand on 'em with additional questions off their own bats such as "How often...?", "When did you last...?"
In any case, my underlying whatever-it-is is to avoid teacher talk at all times and to avoid artificial sentences (as in Postilion sentences and the ones they use for drills). --Technopat 11:36, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
OK, well I suppose we all do things differently. The site has various suggestions for using them here. TESl suggests they be used by pairs; ESL partyland suggests they be used as conversation material between students; and that is how I have used them in the past. My objective is to get students talking as naturally as possible and then go round and monitor as far as I can - well it used to be, now all my groups are sufficiently small that I can talk to them all at once. But not everyone is in the same privileged position and you and me and I think it would be best to create something which works well in all situations - and I think that means avoiding polar questions.
However, as I said in my previous post, if any have any horribly artificial constructions then let's talk about them.--Bob M 14:49, 6

Edit-warring[edit source]

Greetings All, Have been away for a while enjoying a well-earned rest and just popped in to try and catch up with latest edits at this 'ere great teflpedia. Haven't yet had time to check the exact state of things, but am slightly dismayed to see that there has been some edit warring going on.

We are a small community of editors here and it would be great if we could keep things on a friendly level. One basic thing we need to observe is that when editing other users' contributions, we use the edit summary to explain what changes we've made & why, except when undoing/deleting obvious vandalism. Further rationale can be given on the corresponding talk page. I realise that time is usually a problem & we may want to avoid giving long-winded explanations to seemingly obvious modifications, but edit warring is more time-consuming in the long run & just leads to bad vibes all round. I don't mean everything should be lovey-dovey and smiles all around, but observing some common courtesy guidelines goes a long way. Cheers! --Technopat 12:02, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

If I may: I made two of the reverts in question; in cases like that I tend to keep comment to a bare minimum, usually letting the auto-summary of the rollback function suffice. The edits I reverted were insertions of politically loaded language which I believe has no place in the context of this wiki. If a teacher wishes to allow potentially divisive discussions of e.g. politics or religion in the class, that is one thing.
Stirring up an open wiki whose primary purpose is not the discussion of such matters is another thing entirely. I believe in giving that only the minimum necessary attention, since anything more rewards attention-seeking disruptive misbehaviour. best, Will 12:40, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
I think it's in the past isn't it? Or have I missed something?--Bob M 12:47, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
You may wish to check the contribs of la mosca-culo or a troll bearing his name. Will 13:10, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Ah. Now I understand. Perhaps we could have kept the edit without necessarily maintaining the political content.--Bob M 13:33, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Exactly what totnesmartin did in one or two instances [1] Will 13:44, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Greetings Will - Thanks for your explanation. I now see what you were at and agree with your rationale. Problem is when an editor comes to the article cold (as was my case) and has no idea of where it's coming from nor time to spend checking earlier versions or googling the background of previous editors. The edit summary does help in such cases. Cheers! --Technopat 22:00, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Those who have gotten to know me realise that I am a harmless geezer who means well. As I've said elsewhere, I intend to be a wiki-gnome here for a while, mostly fixing the odd typo and such as I read random articles. I do not earn my daily gruel by teaching English to folks with another mother tongue, but in my workplace I try to use clear correct spoken English around my Latin American co-workers, making an effort to use Spanish or Portuguese when that makes them more comfortable. Carry on, :-) Will 14:11, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

Coursebooks[edit source]

Dare we start articles on individual coursebooks, both current & past, i.e. Headway, Streamline, etc. (and open up a new category) or do we risk opening up Pandora's whatchamallit by providing an escape valve for frustrated teachers to vent their wrath, rather than offering useful and constructive criticism to would-be teachers? As a teacher who for many years has been fortunate not to have to rely on/teach from a coursebook (but owes part of my experience to ideas first presented in such books) I realise that for anyone starting out, such info would be very useful. Feedback, folks? --Technopat 11:31, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

I think it's a very good idea. Though, like you, I'm not up to speed on any of them at the moment. But something which talks about their individual strengths, weakness, target audience, ease of use by teachers, student reaction/opinion, quality of the authentic texts/listening (if there are any) etc, etc would be great to have. The problem is getting teachers (and ideally students) who have used them to contribute. Actually I've got a few "Headways" from a few years back, but as they update them every year - for obvious reasons - they are out of date.--Bob M 14:10, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Trial run/layout/format (based on yours above) on its way...
As I said it's a great idea. What would be fantastic would be to have a resource which an inexperienced teacher with 25 shy pre-intermediate engineering students could turn to and quickly get an idea for a good coursebook. The trick is going to be filling in the blanks.--Bob M 15:54, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Sorry for not signing off above - hyper-active kids coming home form first day at school and urgently wanting the messenger the same classmates they've been with all day. My fault for using their superscreen PC while they were out...
Re. yours, trouble is that most general coursebooks don't cater for engineering students. I still have some excellent books (somewhere?) based on study skills and which were ideally suited to the mindset of engineering students. Panorama, by Longman, was one and English for Study Purposes (developed by the SEAMO Regional Language Centre in Singapore), by MacMillan, was another. But they ain't sexy enough for yuppie publishers' marketing departments and probably get dropped from the catalogue sharpish.
They also required teachers to have the necessary language and teaching skills to be able to explain things to their students, unlike Headway, which just went through Exercise 1 to 4 and fill in the gaps in teachers' knowledge with the grammary summary at the back, which meant that language schools could hire native English teachers with degrees in History or Biology and... Well, you know what I mean. --Technopat 16:34, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
OK, I'm sure you're right. But my shy engineering students were just an example pulled from thin air - they're not an actual example. (After living so long in Spain do you sometimes doubt yourself when writing "actual" in English--Bob M 16:48, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
I was just about to add a bit here about how there doesn't seem to be much point reviewing books such as the above redlinks 'cos they're probably long out-of-print. But it's just occurred to me thayt maybe a novice teacher has come across a tattered copy in the school "library" and not even bothered to flick through it. So maybe it is useful to include 'em after all, as there might be some ideas that could be re-hashed. --Technopat 23:53, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

New Members[edit source]

Just like to say "Hi" again to our new editors - who I guess signed up after a mention on the Dogme forum and a couple of tweets which have been going round. I'm afraid that I'm not too active at the moment becauise an activity called "Work 1.0" seems to be taking up a lot of my time. Interestingly, I have found that "Work 1.0" can be used to generate something complicated but useful called "Money 1.0" which can be exchanged for goods or services.--Bob M 11:29, 20 November 2009 (UTC)