I have found Embedded Readings, as developed by Laurie Clarq and Michele Whaley, an excellent way to encourage students to read. The idea, like all great ideas, is quite simple. You make three or more versions of the same text which increase in difficulty.
Ben Slavik recently observed a teacher in Denver who kept her students active and engaged for an entire hour without any use of English (her students’ native language) or any blurting by students. He was impressed and wrote an article about it. One of his suggestions was that we make “No English” a rule for our students.
Younger teachers often tell me they envy my “experience.” Yet, what does the word really mean? Does it just mean that I’m getting old? What is experience? It has to be more than a mere accumulation of years. It seems to imply a certain wisdom that I have no claim to.
This question was asked recently by a French person who came to the Agen Workshop in July, 2014. She is perfectly bilingual and a creative, hard-working and conscientious teacher of English. She admitted that she didn’t feel comfortable teaching pronunciation.
Some days, if I want to have some fun, I ask my francophone students how many verb tenses there are in English. Their guesses are all over the place, usually somewhere between ten and twenty. And they are guesses; no one is really sure that they know the answer to my question.
In Besançon Teri and I were hosted by Rachel, a lively English girl who gives private English lessons and teaches in a business school. She has given her company the very appropriate name of Smile, since it’s difficult to think of Rachel without seeing her radiant smile.
I recently saw a comment on Twitter by someone who wanted to know why they had heard “communicative” used as a derogatory term by TPRS teachers. I remember when I first came across a book of communicative activities and I thought it was wonderful.
Some of my students have reached excellence in their spoken English. They are basically autonomous, able to read novels in English, able to follow dialog in a movie, able to carry on a conversation and express their ideas coherently. Yet they feel frustrated about their ability and insist that they still make mistakes.