Not Learning But Drowning

After spending the last few years ‘unplugging’ my EFL writing classrooms, I’ve finally gotten around to chronicling the journey. Continue reading

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Howdy Folks, I Need Your Help

Sorry, I haven’t been able to post lately. I’ve been extremely busy with various projects and preparing for the upcoming semester which is why I need your help.

I need your help gathering authentic texts for an introductory academic/practical writing course. We will be studying descriptive, narrative, and compare and contrast writing on the academic side. For practical writing, we will be composing emails in various registers and writing letters of intent/request (you could even send me your interesting email exchanges or past cover letters: of course I’d remove/change the names).

I’ve scoured the internet as well as my bookshelves and found quite a bit of good stuff but still need a greater variety. So, if y’all have any good resources that could point me in the right direction, I’d surely appreciate it. An extra bonus for online resources that are easy enough for the students to navigate, so they can choose their own texts to bring to class.

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Excellent collaborative writing ideas from Rachael Roberts.



Collaborative writing

Some teachers tend to avoid writing in class, perhaps feeling that as it is something which learners do individually and in silence, it is better done for homework.

However, when writing is done as a collaborative activity, it can have many of the same benefits of a group speaking activity:

Discussing the writing process obviously provides more opportunities for learners to interact in English, a benefit in itself.

It can also help learners to develop their communicative competence by forcing the negotiation of meaning. As learners try to express their ideas to each other, they will have to clarify, rephrase and so on. The process should also help them to actually develop their ideas.

According to Vygostsky’s theory of ZPD (zone of proximal development),  working with others  can provide the opportunity for learners to work at a level slightly above their usual capacity, as co-operating with others who…

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“We Real Cool” in the Classroom

“We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks

We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.

Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool” is a fantastic poem for the language classroom. The poem’s conciseness and simple language is what first prompted me to use it in the classroom, but its universal theme of rebellion, of thumbing the nose at the establishment, is the real gem of this poem. I’ve never encountered a class of learners where there wasn’t at least a bit of a fire burning inside. I’ve used it in several contexts and I’m sure you can think of a heck of a lot more.

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A Better Place for Womyn

 This is a conversation lesson adapted from “The Perfect School” on page 46 in Meddings’ and Thornbury’s book Teaching Unplugged: Dogme in English language teaching. Earlier in the semester we adapted “The Perfect School” to our English department. The learners actually held a meeting with the department head and proposed five changes they felt would benefit the department. The department head agreed with three of the five proposals and implemented the learners’ requests during the semester.

When it came time to discuss feminism, I wanted the learners to engage critically with the issue. We went back to “The Perfect School” and asked ourselves these two questions: “What are some problems women face in Korean society?” and “How can we make Korean society a better place for women?” Continue reading

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Sexy or Cutie? A Matter of Opinion

This lesson comes from the world of K Pop but don’t worry. There will be absolutely no horsey dances and I am the only chubby guy involved in this post. If your fears are assuaged, please…

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A Gentlemanly Definition

Learning to define a term is necessary in academic writing and an important skill for EFL learners especially when it comes to speaking strategies like circumlocution or ‘talking around the word.’ I have mixed feelings about having students write an entire definition essay.  I think many of the examples found in textbooks and the internet are quite trite and melodramatic. On the other hand, writing a definition essay requires learners to reflect deeply on language and at times personalize the term being defined. Thus, once I decided to go ahead with the definition essay, the question remained, “Where do I find decent texts for us to analyze?” The answer was to be found on Continue reading

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Oldie but a Goodie From a Friend

This is an oldie but a goodie my friend posted on her blog. I suggest leaving the box at home and doing a pecha kucha. See page 53 in Medding’s and Thornbury’s book Teaching Unplugged. Have the students use their smartphone photo album for objects. Here is the link to Amanda Auchter’s lesson plan.

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