Hard but not impossible

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Learning a new language is not easy. It is hard for adults and busy people to learn a new language that sounds differently from their mother tongue and that they don’t use outside the classroom.

It is really hard, but not impossible. Recent studies suggest that you can get better at a foreign language simply by listening to it, without speaking it yourself.

In other words, if you listen regularly to podcasts in the language you’re trying to learn, you will learn it at the end.

One hour listening practice a day following with some simple tasks is a good start to improve your listening comprehension and increase your ability to distinguish sounds.

Also, it is recommended to watch TV shows or short video clips and read material written in the language you are learning.

The goal is to be surrounded by the target language at all times and immerse yourself in it. Still, you should be both passive and active when you learn a foreign language, that is to listen and speak, read and write. In other words you should receive and produce something in the language you are learning EVERY DAY.

 

Best MOOCs for EFL teachers

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There are so many MOOCs for EFL teachers. I selected the following courses as I think they’re the best ones for EFL teachers to get the basic professional development. If EFL teachers take these courses, they will acquire the theoretical background of language teaching approaches and they will develop their teaching practices in the classroom as well.

* Teaching for Success: Practices for English Language Teaching

https://www.futurelearn.com/programs/english-language-teaching

1. Lessons and Teaching.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/english-language-teaching

2. Learning and Learners

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/english-language-teaching-learning

3. The Classroom and the World.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/english-language-teaching-classroom

* Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/understanding-language

* Teach English Now! Second Language Listening, Speaking, and Pronunciation

https://www.coursera.org/learn/tesol-speaking

* Teach English Now! Second Language Reading, Writing, and Grammar

https://www.coursera.org/learn/tesol-writing

* Teach English Now! Lesson Design and Assessment

https://www.coursera.org/learn/lesson-design

* Introduction to Teaching English as a Second Language

https://alison.com/courses/Teaching-English-as-a-Second-Language

Invitation to a Free Online Session

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I am inviting you to join my 3rd  Online SESSION.

Creating a Good Language Test.

On 22 / 12 / 2016, at 4.00 PM, Egypt Standard Time ( GMT + 2 ) .

It’s a 40-minute FREE Session Online !!!

I’m going to tackle the following points during it:

* Reasons for Testing During English Language Course.

* What Should be Tested in the Language Test?

* Characteristics of a Good Language Test.

* The Cycle of Creating a Good Language Test.

* General Tips for Creating Good Test Items.

* Tips for Constructing MCQs.

* Tips for Constructing True/False items.

* Tips for Constructing Matching items.

* Tips for Constructing Completion items.

* Tips for Constructing Short-Answer Questions.

 Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android on: https://zoom.us/j/614196310

A checklist for a good language test

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If you have already prepared a language test, don’t print it unless you check the following points. Then, you may go ahead to print it or improve it before printing. You should ensure that your test:

  • Follows the specifications assigned for preparing the language tests.
  • Measures the achievement of the desired objectives.
  • Tests what it ought to test and measures what it is supposed to measure.
  • Covers all items that have been taught or studied and includes items from different areas of the syllabus.
  • Tests vocabulary as well as grammar.
  • Includes everyday and communicative language.
  • Is neither too difficult nor too easy but progressive in difficulty.
  • Is appropriate in length for the allocated time.
  • Tells students what to do exactly and in a clear way.
  • Is easy to be conducted and scored without wasting too much time or effort.
  • Produces the same results if it is given twice to same students under the same conditions.

The Cycle of Creating a Good Language Test

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  1. The decision of providing and making the test:

It is usually made by the head teacher, administration, or the supervisor to select a teacher to construct the test. Or the teacher himself decides to make and provide the test as a formative kind of assessment of students’ learning.

  1. Considering the specifications:

It is related to have and get a look at the specifications of the test that should be followed to produce the test in its final version.

  1. Collecting information for the test:

In this stage the test provider collects information about the students (the test takers), their levels, abilities, points of weakness and points of strength as well and about the content on which the test is based, its objectives and outcomes, the items that have been taught and the teacher focused on and the items that have not been taught or have less focus in teaching.

  1. Assembling the materials for the test:

Here the test provider should write sample questions for the test following the specifications. As many questions as possible should be written down on a separate paper in this stage.

  1. Making the test:

According to the information collected in stage 3, the test provider should select from the questions written in stage 4 those questions which are suitable and use them to construct the test according to stage 2. Marks should be provided besides each question in the test as well.

  1. Marking and grading the test:

After conducting the test, it should be marked and graded. Marking means providing accurate marks for each students while grading means putting the marks into a meaningful category so that the test results can be understood.

  1. Reporting and communicating the test results:

In the final stage, test takers and others who concern should be provided with the test results and any other information needed for an appropriate interpretation.

Eight Practical Steps to Teach Grammar Rules

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  1. Start with questions that lead to model sentences in which the grammatical rule is included.

E.g. How long have you been learning English?

How long have they been playing football?

How long has she been cooking pizza? Etc.

  1. Encouraging students to answer the questions in complete sentences using the grammatical rule and write the model sentences on the board.
  2. Read the sentences focusing on the main features of the rule (highlight the form with different colour or by underlining them).
  3. Tell students the function and the meaning of the grammatical rule, when to use it and how to apply it in communication.
  4. Encourage students to do some different and various exercises on the rule to familiarize them with it. Check understanding and involve as many students as possible.
  5. Elicit the form of the rule from students and write it on the board.
  6. Ask students to give more meaningful examples of the rule.
  7. Give more practice of the rule creating real-life situations for students to use the rule in.

Ten Simple Assessment Ideas for Everyday Use

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We always rely on written tests to assess our students. written tests cover little amount of  the learning material, so we should search for more ideas to show us that we are moving on, and whether our students have understood our explanation or they need more practice. I think the following ideas are useful to assess to what extent the students have learnt and what their weaknesses are:

  1. Ask open-ended questions starting with why and how.
  2. Ask for a summary of the lesson at the end.
  3. Use short tests/quizzes regularly and test one thing every time.
  4. Encourage role-play activities especially for conversations.
  5. Ask for comments from students on teaching procedures.
  6. Use mind map tools to encourage students to talk.
  7. Ask students to prepare something and talk about it.
  8. Encourage exchanging books among students to mark.
  9. Use rubrics and ask students to assess themselves.
  10. Exploit games and puzzles to assess language usage.

What else can you add? Write what you already do to assess your students daily.