Article discussion group: “Using wikis and forums for writing practice in ELICOS courses”

Getting started with the discussion.

Using wikis and forums for writing practice in ELICOS courses, by Jade Sleeman from La Trobe Melbourne International College. You can download the article here or access the whole issue from the English Australia website.

Introduction to the Article

In Jade’s article, she outlines how she used wikis and discussion forums in an advanced class of Academic English students to help them practice their writing. An interesting finding was the emergence of a community of practice, a term being used more and more in collaborative learning environments to represent a group who have an ongoing commitment to a shared goal. (Etienne Wenger’s book: “Communities of Practice” is an excellent introduction). So, how did Jade go about investigating the usefulness of Web 2.0 tools such as wikis and online forums? First, she posed two questions (see page 6):

  1. To what extent can Web 2.0 tools be used to create opportunities for collaborative writing beyond the classroom in an ELICOS course?
  2. Can the use of Web 2.0 tools for extra writing practice improve learning outcomes?

Then she decided upon an appropriate class to try out these ideas with over two weeks of the 5-week block (see page 6). She set the class of 15 students additional out-of-class writing activities to be completed in small groups on a Moodle wiki. These were then posted on the discussion forums and students were asked to provide each other with feedback before completing an in-class assessment task later in the week. Jade then set about analysing the students’ writing – see pages 7-17 for the findings of these analyses. A significant finding was:

“that students who began the study as modest or competent users of English (according to the IELTS band scale), and who participated actively by contributing to the wiki activities, were able to improve their results in academic writing. However, those students who on the pre-test were considered good users on the IELTS scale were not seen to improve their writing scores.” (pp. 17-18)

There were also interesting findings related to the difference between collaboration and cooperation in the learning tasks (pp. 9-11) and she also suggests that the notion of “legitimate peripheral participation … a stage of tentative participation that newcomers engage in, in relation to the more proficient members of a community of practice” (p. 12) is a useful way to think about less proficient students’ less prominent participation in activities.

Initial Discussion Questions

Jade has posed these questions to get us started.

  1. Have you or anyone you know used wikis or forums in your own classrooms? If so, what challenges or advantages do you think they offer?
  2. How do you perceive “peripheral participation”- do you think this has advantages for English language learners in online contexts?

Head on over to the AusELT Facebook page to discuss these questions!

#AusELT chat summary: Mixed feelings about Twitter? And other social media questions (5th March 2015)

This chat took place in March 2015 and started out as a very meta chat on Twitter about Twitter. You can read a complete transcript of the chat here@sophiakhan4 got the ball rolling before the chat with a post about why Twitter had been so significant for her. It contains an interesting list of things that would never have happened without Twitter (including #AusELT) as well as some reasons why you might want to bother with Twitter if haven’t gone there yet, or if Facebook is your drug of choice.

This chat sumary is divided into two parts. In Part 1, long-time #AusELTer Kylie Tyler (@thesmylers) writes about the Twitter-related part of the chat, reflecting on her own social media journey and sharing tips on how to make it work for you. In Part 2, @sophiakhan4 summarises the later stages of the chat which dealt with social media identity and curation strategies to manage the flow of information.


Part 1: Twitter journeys and how to make it work for you

 I first joined Twitter as @thesmylers in October 2010 but I wasn’t very active and only followed a couple of my friends who’d mentioned they had a Twitter account. I didn’t really know what it meant to “follow” someone and I think I might have “tweeted” maybe twice in the first 2 years. That all changed when I saw my friend @SophiaKhan4 present a talk called The Networked Teacher with @Eslkazzyb at a PD Fest in Sydney. They introduced me to #AusELT and, through the people they followed, the wider world of ELT on Twitter. I gradually built a list of people in the industry I followed and later that year I joined in on my very first #AusELT chat. I have to say it was both overwhelming and exhilarating. I barely had time to read the new tweets that kept popping up 7-at-a-time on my screen, let alone manage to respond to any questions or comments during the hour-long chat. However, afterwards I felt a real sense of achievement and connection with people who were interested in what I was interested in and that made me feel so good! Gradually, as I lurked at the next few chats, I tweeted a comment or two, and following the many conversations became easier and less frantic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fast and furious, and I still don’t understand how some people just seem to be part of all the conversations that go on during a chat. That’s why this month’s #AusELT chat was so helpful for me and hopefully in this summary you’ll find some helpful ideas too.

This month’s chat was a small one with some of the usual suspects, as well as newcomer @angelos_bollas, taking part, and some lurkers popping in every now and then. The topic was a good one: advice for those who are new to Twitter and other social media.

What can Twitter do for you and your professional development?

Just joining Twitter and following a couple of people really won’t give you a good idea of just how much benefit it can bring to your professional learning. I read somewhere that you need to follow at least 40 people for at least 6 months before making a decision for or against the usefulness of Twitter and I have to say that I agree, although when I started out I certainly didn’t. The couple of people I followed had nothing to do with ELT and I found myself wondering what all the fuss was. It wasn’t until I started following some #AusELTers, and followed who they were following, and followed who they were following, that, over time, I started seeing the (daily) potential in Twitter. Add to that the monthly #AusELT chats and I was finally sold.

The biggest thing Twitter can offer according to #AusELTers is being able to instantly connect with professionals who share the same beliefs and practices, regardless of whether they are interstate or international. @michaelegriffin referred to a post on his blog in which he exemplified the benefits of Twitter to some colleagues. He tweeted a question and within minutes had responses from around the world appear on his Twitter feed. As well as instant responses, connections like these can lead you to ELT blogs, the latest news and research in the field, lesson ideas and general support. Several #AusELTers even mentioned having formed new friendships through making professional connections on Twitter. This is something that sets Twitter apart from other social media like Facebook and LinkedIn and #AusELTers had a bit to say about this.

Most people agreed that Twitter has the advantage of being more anonymous. @aparnajacob noted that “unfollowing [on Twitter] is not as bad as unfriending [on Facebook]”, and this is true. Newcomers to Twitter can follow and unfollow people, and comment or not, without anyone being the wiser if that’s what they want. They can “just float on the Twitter tide” as @SophiaKhan4 wrote in this month’s #AusELT chat intro here. Other differences #AusELTers mentioned were @Penultimate_K: “Twitter great for chats & quick exchange. Linkedin/Facebook for more in depth discussion”, and @SophiaKhan4: “I follow ideas on Twitter & people on Facebook – Twitter offers a wider range.”

So who do you follow and how do you manage the volume of tweets?

As @Penultimate_K noted: “It takes time to adjust to the speed of the information flow. And the conventions of Twitter.” This is important to know when you first start out. If you’re used to using Facebook, Twitter can be like entering a different world; posts limited to 140 characters, using symbols like @ and #, “retweeting” and “favouriting”, can all seem a bit like a foreign language. But @michaelegriffin had some good advice for this: “one thing I think was helpful for me on Twitter was not to follow too many people at first. I added more as I got accustomed to the feed.”

Start by following some #AusELTers like @SophiaKhan4, @michaelegriffin, @cioccas, @Penultimate_K, and @forstersensei. Then, see who they’re following and from there follow who you’re interested in. Some recommendations from #AusELTers of people to follow were: @AnneHendler, @nathanghall, @TheSecretDoS, @Ashowski, @teflerinha, @HadaLitim, @michaelegriffin, @Larryfelazzo, ‪@oyajimbo, and institutions/associations like @MacmillanELT@TheConsultantsE @Edudemic @TeachingEnglish‪@English_Aus‪, @acereduau, @VocEdAustralia, @NCVER, @RITCWA and ‪@HeutagogyCoP‪ .

Once you’re following more than a few people, the volume of tweets coming through to your Twitter feed can be overwhelming. Apart from being selective about who you follow or going for periodic culling (my technique until now!), here are a few less drastic suggestions from #AusELTers – and remember, as @SophiaKhan4 said, “Twitter is a garden – you need to cultivate it to the shape you want.”

  • Favourite – @Penultimate_K recommends “using the ‘favourite’ function as a kind of bookmark.” “Favouriting” a tweet saves it in your favourites list which you can access at any time. This is a great way to save your reading for a time that suits you.
  • Mute – Muting people can unclutter your Twitter feed by stopping their tweets from showing on your feed. Muting a user doesn’t unfollow them and you can unmute them at any time. Details on how to mute can be found here.
  • Lists – These help you to filter your tweets into categories. You can create private lists of your own or join other people’s public lists. @aparnajacob said: “I enjoy sorting through a list of only lesson ideas for class or PD. You can customise your twitter feed.” @SophiaKhan4 agrees: “I follow a LOT of people – but some quite different pies (to have a finger in). Lists can help with that.” Twitter explains how to make and use lists here.

For practical info on how to use Twitter for PD and participating in #AusELT chats visit the #AusELT Twitter page. You can also access the #AusELT 1-page guide on how to get started with Twitter which includes a “starter” list of people to follow.


Part 2: Social media identity and managing the flow of information

Do you need to have different social media personas (personal and professional)?

 @sophiakhan said she felt stuck with two identities – one for family and friends and one for work purposes. “I would bore all the teachers with mummy and kids stuff and vice versa if I mixed…” @aparnajacob also felt conflicted and cited this as a reason for considering having two Facebook accounts. After all, she said, “Who wants to hear about your work life?”

Of course we all know, ahem, that having two Facebook accounts is not allowed and no one does it. But is there anther way? Echoing the earlier conversation on using lists on Twitter, @michaelegriffin said “I know some folks that use lists/groups well on FB so their non-teaching friends don’t get swamped with ELT”. A few of us were a bit in awe of that and wanted tutorials – though both @michaelegriffin and @sophiakhan4 – arguably big FB users – still hadn’t got to grips with it and @sophiakhan4 thought this might be because this feature is “not obvious or user friendly.”

Having said that, many other chat participants felt it wasn’t an issue and just having one Facebook account or one Twitter account was fine. @thesmylers felt that having multiple log ins on a single account was too difficult. @Penultimate_K also added, “I connect with people [on Facebook] who may not be actual friends through groups/pages.” @angelos_bollas also said he was happy with one Facebook account – but he later admitted “my real friends & family have unfollowed me on Facebook! They can IM me so we keep in touch … plus I post in English – they are Greek and when they post something on my wall in Greek, I tell them off so … they did what they had to!”  So it could be that using different channels for different audiences is a natural evolution that suits some people. It is true that that different platforms lend themselves to certain types of posts and so tend to appeal to different sorts of people – each has a very distinct character and audience.

14897753798_8dc6ed61b5_z

cc http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidberkowitz/14897753798

 So what about LinkedIn?

While many #AusELTers thought it was worthwhile to have a LinkedIn profile, @thesmylers will find sympathy with many when she says: “I think I’m on LinkedIn but never used it”. @aparnajacob finds it “clunky”, @sophiakhan4 said she couldn’t “weed out rubbish well” and @penultimate_K wondered if “Linkedin makes it harder to be selective in order to tempt you to a paid account.”

And Google+?

Again people often seemed to have profiles that they did not use much. @Penultimate_K said “I could never get into Google+ – not sure why. It just didn’t appeal to me as a channel” and @Angelos_bollas commented: “Google+ looks so… old, doesn’t it?”

However, several participants were intrigued by the idea of G+ hangouts, with the end result that a week later @sophiakhan4 and @angelos_bollas actually did hang out on G+, a few weeks after their initial random meeting via an #ELChat on Twitter. And it was pretty great! Easy to use, with a lot of potential for small group meetings and…hanging out.

How do you curate useful links?

@Penultimate_K said: “choose the channel where the audience would be most appreciative of the info. Cross-post with care!” @sophiakhan4 said she felt “split over several platforms” for exactly this reason. However, other chat participants kept it simple: @thesmylers said “I only use FB and Twitter – copying links to posts across those works for me” and @Penultimate_K said: “I share on Twitter/LinkedIn. I discuss on the Facebook group” She also added that “FB (whether we love it or hate it) is really great! And searchable!” – however, I would add that while a group page, such as #AusELT, is searchable, if you are curating links on your personal profile page or your business page, you cannot search, you just need to keep scrolling back, and this is a drawback for me.

Some other curation favourites within the group were:

  • Pinterest: looks great – user-friendly – but better for visual things (it save images as a link to other sites, so a post without an image cannot be “pinned”)
  • ScoopIt: useful for curating more information-based teaching-related links but not much social interaction
  • PearlTrees: used to allow for “mind-mappy” curation of links, where links in different categories could still be linked to each other. Now it has been revamped it looks and behaves more like a less user-friendly version of Pinterest.
  • Pocket: A favourite app for @angelos_bollas who says it is similar to Diigo but much simpler to use
  • Wikis: @angelos_bollas suggested curating via a wiki, and even sharing it for public use. He mentioned the ‘almost endless’ storage capacities of a wiki and the flexibility in the kind of content you can store (links, PDFs, pictures etc.) Many of us agreed as we actually do have an #AusELT wiki that we use to curate things of interest to our community. However, we have recently decided to transition the content over to our blog primarily due to the more attractive interface and to curate all content in one place.

And that was about all we had time for. We covered a lot of ground, and as usual I would say – find what works for you!


For a complete workshop on social media for teachers, including presenter’s notes, PowerPoint and other materials, please click here. It’s under a Creative Commons license so it is adaptable and free to use in your institution.

#AusELT chat summary “Getting Away from Grammar” with Daniel Midgley, 4 June 2015

7028916119_56e0544a5f

Photo credit: @sandymillin #eltpics

An extremely lively, fast-paced and interesting chat with guest moderator Daniel Midgley, @talkrtr, Lecturer in ESL and Applied Linguistics at Edith Cowan University, WA, and known to many through the Talk the Talk Podcast.

@talkrtr kicked off by stating he is a fan of the lexical approach and included this link:

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/lexical-approach-1-what-does-lexical-approach-look

@SophiaKhan4 and @McIntyreShona agreed with this approach however @McIntyreShona said her colleagues weren’t great fans. @aparnajacob’s students demand grammar everyday so she was excited to discuss a new approach.

Throughout the chat @Penultimate_K asked a series of discussion questions (taken from Daniel’s guest blog post which you can read here) which started off with;

Ever tried to get away from grammar in your teaching? Do you teach in a way that puts something else in the foreground?

@cioccas answered that getting away from grammar requires variety. @McIntyreShona suggested that manipulating text is the way for students to control their own language expression.

What’s your language learning experience? Was grammar instruction helpful or did something else work better?

@McIntyreShona and @cioccas learned languages using a variety of approaches, @Penultimate_K was expected to parse and translate, @lukeealexander had grammar-centric experiences however @aparnajacob acquired language ‘naturally’.

Is it necessary to have a grammar focus in mind & design tasks accordingly? Or play it as we go and explain things as they occur?

@lukeealexander believes focus on form and meeting students’ needs is important to consider. @McIntyreShona shared that course books are only 50% of her curriculum. @MeredithMacAul1  uses texts for grammar analysis and then asks students to use the language in their writing. @SophiaKhan4 suggested shining spotlight on grammar when it comes up in a meaningful context. @leoselivan shared that there is grammar teaching in LA however the practice is more distributed. @talkrtr encourages people to use http://wordandphrase.info/  for access to lots of examples.

What’s the difference between the way you teach (or learn) and the way you’d like to?

@cioccas said that she likes to teach the way she learns but understands that others learn in different ways so tries a variety of approaches.

Tim Doner is ‘the world’s youngest hyperpolyglot’ what can we take away from his experience? http://ideas.ted.com/why-i-learned-20-languages-and-what-i-learned-about-myself-in-the-process/

@aparnajacob suggested osmosis which @Penultimate_K also added immersion. @andrea_rivett took away that language is communication and culture and that eavesdropping was ok. @SophiaKhan4’s take-away message was songs which can be repeated and enjoyed. @cioccas added that learning the way that makes sense for you will keep you interested.

Who wants to defend the grammatical approach? Does it still have any merit? Can you change @talkrtr’s mind on this?

@MeredithMacAul1 said that students need a foundation so why not teach some structure however let students experiment and produce? @aparnajacob shared this link which she had also passed on to her colleagues:

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/michael-swan/too-much-grammar-not-enough-grammar?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=%20bc-teachingenglish .

@leoselivan shared the following on avoiding grammar: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/sep/18/teach-grammar-rules?CMP=share_btn_tw.

Throughout the chat, it was discussed why teachers teach grammar. Reasons included that students expect it and consider it serious; knowledge of grammar leads to communication; course-books include it; and it’s convenient. However, it was also pointed out that when course-books include vocabulary and collocations, they often lead to a grammatical point. @aparnajacob summed up this discussion by stating that we miss the ‘scenic route to learning’ by allowing grammar and course-books to take precedence.

In summary, a focus on grammar is still widely used and by focussing on real-life language and contexts, lexical items can, and should, also be introduced. @lukeealexander shared that there were 4 systems in English – pronunciation, vocab, grammar and discourse, so give them equal time in class.

From this Twitter-chat two ideas for future chats were put forward: @cioccas suggested ‘Getting away from course books’ and @andrea_rivett suggested ‘reflective teaching’.

Thank you to guest moderator, Daniel Midgley ( @talkrtr )for joining the chat and for providing us with this  thought-provoking discussion. For more food-for-thought, check out Daniel’s Talk the Talk Podcast.

This post by @andrea_rivett

Introducing the second English Australia Journal Article Discussion

MP900387490

Voting has now finished: the most favoured article with 43% of the votes in this issue is:

Using wikis and forums for writing practice in ELICOS courses, by Jade Sleeman from La Trobe Melbourne International College. You can download the article here or access the whole issue from the English Australia website.

Jade has kindly offered to be available to join in the discussion. In the meantime, I suggest you use the next few days to read the article, and I’ll post some guiding questions in a couple of days’ time.

It was encouraging to see a good number of votes for the other two articles, and congratulations to all four authors on their excellent contributions.

Phil Chappell

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 4.54.21 pm

Welcome to the voting page of the second Article Discussion Group. The idea is for us all to vote for our preferred article from the latest English Australia Journal, read it, and then join in a moderated discussion of the article. Authors will either join in on the discussion, or respond offline to points raised and questions asked, facilitated by the moderator. For the time being, the discussion will take place on the #AusELT Facebook page (although this may change in future) and this discussion is scheduled for 15-21 June (Reading time) and 22-28 June (Discussion time).

The articles are all relevant to many of the contexts in which AusELT folk practice. They are primary research articles, that is, the authors have devised and conducted their own research study and reported their findings. In addition, each article has been peer-reviewed, meaning that the editor has invited leading TESOL scholars to review and offer suggestions for improving earlier drafts. We have some excellent reviewers who, together with the authors, have ensured you receive the best quality research reports upon which you can make some decisions about your own teaching.

In order to assist those who are new to reading research articles, the moderator will orient you by providing a summary of the research design and the overall purpose of the research. The discussion will not only focus on how the article can inform your own teaching, but also on opportunities for further research in any form. It will hopefully spark ideas for improving the quality of life in many classrooms! Each article has an abstract for you to read; after all, just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a research article by its title. The complete articles are all open access, freely available online here and can also be downloaded in pdf here. The chosen article will be made available as a pdf and available for download on this page.


Using wikis and forums for writing practice in ELICOS courses

Jade A. Sleeman, La Trobe Melbourne International College

Utilising the collaborative affordances of Web 2.0 tools, this study examined how writing practice can be facilitated in English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) with a view to improving learning outcomes. In this study, wikis were used to practise writing with a class studying Advanced Academic English, with discussion forums used as a follow-up online activity. Though student contributions were initially tentative, their participation exhibited elements of an emerging community of practice, where there was the opportunity for more competent students to provide models of participation and practice to those students that were less confident. Though the writing skills of stronger students were not seen to improve, results from the study suggested that many of the weaker students that engaged actively in the online activities may have improved their writing abilities.


Evaluating material designed to support trainee English language teachers

Peter Watkins & Mark Wyatt, University of Portsmouth

Material used by pre-service English language teachers, such as those preparing for, or already on, courses such as the Cambridge English Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA), needs evaluating to accommodate our continually evolving understandings of learning teaching in a rapidly changing world. Materials evaluation exercises may rely too heavily, though, on the ‘armchair evaluation’ of experts who may never use the material themselves and indeed might have imperfect understandings of the needs of novice teachers. This article reports on an attempt to access CELTA-type trainees’ cognitions and practices through interviews, questionnaires, reading and reaction protocols, and the analysis of a lesson plan, with a view to this informing the materials evaluation and revision process. In our study, this combination of methods, with the research design evolving out of efforts to reduce the threat of researcher bias, generated useful insights, which then fed into the revision process. There are implications for how material used in other teacher education contexts is evaluated.


Individual feedback consultations in Japanese tertiary EFL: A systemic semiotic exploration

Thomas Amundrud, Nara University of Education, Macquarie University

Teachers often advise students on their classwork, but the discourse features of this activity have not been widely studied. Moreover, while corrective feedback (e.g., Bitchener, 2008) has been subject to extensive study in SLA, the classroom discourse in which it occurs has received little attention. This paper examines one phenomenon, called the individual student feedback consultation, that was found in data collected from two Japanese tertiary EFL courses and appears to fit the characteristics of a genre, or ‘a staged, goal-oriented, purposeful activity’ where speakers interact (Martin, 2010, p. 19). This study is situated within systemic functional linguistics and multimodal discourse analysis, and specifically the study of curriculum genres. Five samples from a larger audio-video corpus were analysed for lexicogrammatical, discourse semantic, and multimodal features. Following this analysis, four obligatory stages – Opening, Conferring, Advice, and Closing – were found in all consultations. After presenting the analyses of each stage, this paper closes by discussing possible implications of researching individual student feedback consultations for EFL/ESL teaching and teacher training, as well as for corrective feedback research.


So, without any more fanfare, please cast your vote! Closes Monday June 15, 2015 at 5 pm DST

Your moderator, Phil Chappell (@TESOLatMQ, Executive Editor of the English Australia Journal)

Getting away from grammar – Upcoming Twitter chat Thurs 4th June

Our next Twitter chat will take place on Thursday 4th June 2015 at 6.30pm Perth time [click here to check the time elsewhere in the world] and will be on the topic of ‘Getting away from grammar’. We are privileged to have this chat guest-moderated by Daniel Midgley, Lecturer in ESL and Applied Linguistics at Edith Cowan University, WA, and known to many of you through the Talk the Talk Podcast.  Daniel has put together this blog post for your pre-chat reading and has posed a few questions for us to discuss on Thursday. Enjoy!

grammar-389907_1280Getting away from grammar

Guest post by Daniel Midgley

English language teaching is notable for its variety. There are so many ways to go!

  • Our teaching can take a lexical bent, where the focus is on words and phrases
  • We can focus on the situations our students will find themselves in,
  • We can use a functional approach by working on the kinds of speech acts our students need to perform, like requests, introductions, compliments, and so on
  • Or we can work on the skills of language — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — along with the strategies that helps students acquire these skills.

And yet, despite this variety, we always seem to come back to the same thing… grammar.

Grammar is important — it helps us say things we haven’t heard yet — but sometimes it seems that as teachers we revert to a grammatical approach as some kind of default. We like teaching grammar because it makes us feel like real teachers, especially if we’re new. Our students like it because they feel like they’re getting what they should. And employers like it because grammar is what teachers are “supposed” to teach. Open an ESL textbook, and there it is — grammar. Sometimes it seems like a bit of a stuck record.

And teaching grammar might not even be the best approach. It’s so unlike the way we learn a first language. When we’re young, we learn from hearing words, phrases, and sentences in context. We repeat them over and over, we try out new things, and no one minds if we walk around talking rubbish. But when we get older, teachers say essentially, “Here, let me show you how to perform morphological and syntactic manipulations in a way that’s as unlike learning your first language as possible.” Then we wonder why learning a language is so difficult.

I noted this article with some interest. It’s hyperpolyglot Tim Doner, talking about his experience learning languages.

I began my language education at age thirteen. I became interested in the Middle East and started studying Hebrew on my own. For reasons I still don’t quite understand, I was soon hooked on the Israeli funk group Hadag Nachash, and would listen to the same album every single morning. At the end of a month, I had memorized about twenty of their songs by heart — even though I had no clue what they meant. But once I learned the translations it was almost as if I had downloaded a dictionary into my head; I now knew several hundred Hebrew words and phrases — and I’d never had to open a textbook.

I decided to experiment. I spent hours walking around my New York City neighborhood, visiting Israeli cafés to eavesdrop on people’s conversations. Sometimes, I would even get up the courage to introduce myself, rearranging all of the song lyrics in my head into new, awkward and occasionally correct sentences. As it turned out, I was on to something.

Notice how, rather than studying grammar, his approach seems to focus on input, input, and more input. Words and phrases come first, and then his brain does the work of inducing the grammar in the background.

Of course, this is one person’s anecdotal experience, but is there anything here we can use? Or is this just a guy with an unusual aptitude for language acquisition?

Here are some discussion questions, just for starters:

  • Have you managed to get away from grammar in your teaching? Do you teach in a way that puts something else in the foreground? If so, what else is taking the place of prominence?
  • What’s your language learning experience? Was the grammar instruction you received helpful, or was there something else that worked better?
  • Is it necessary to have a grammar focus in mind, and to design tasks with that in mind? Or can we play it as we go, explaining the things that come up naturally?
  • What’s the difference between the way you teach (or learn) and the way you’d like to?
  • What, if anything, can we take away from Tim Doner’s experience?
  • What research are you aware of on this topic?
  • Or can the grammatical approach be defended? Change my view!

Thanks for reading, and I’m looking forward to discussing these issues with you as part of our #AusELT Twitter chat!


Daniel Midgley teaches applied linguistics and language acquisition at Edith Cowan University and the University of Western Australia. He started teaching EAL/D back in the days when it was ESL. He is also a presenter for Talk the Talk on RTRFM 92.1 in Perth (www.talkthetalkpodcast.com).

App sharing: summary of #AusELT Twitter slow burn

Over Easter 2-6 April 2015, #AusELTers shared their favourite apps and discussed ideas for using apps with English language learners, and also some apps for teachers.

Read Sue Valdeck’s (@sujava) summary of the Twitter slow burn here on Storify: https://storify.com/sujava/app-sharing

For an introduction to the Twitter slow burn, including explanations about the concepts of app slamming and app smashing, see here: http://auselt.com/2015/03/23/april-2015/

This post by @cioccas

April 2015

April #AusELT  Twitter slow burn:

April’s Twitter chat will be a slow burn that starts on April 2 and finishes after the Easter weekend on the Monday evening. Let’s see how we’re using apps in our teaching and learning in and out of the classroom.

Topic: App swap

This is inspired by the App slam / App smash movement.  What apps are you using in your daily life and in your classroom with your learners?

Details:

App slamming

Have you ever taken part in an App slam before? Basically, a group of people (in our context: educators, students) have an allocated amount of time per person (30 secs-1min) to present an app then pass the baton to the next person to present their app. It’s fast-paced, hence the “slam” in the title. I organised an app slam via a BlackBoard collaborate webinar with my colleagues at the institute where I work and it was very successful. Each participant sent me 1-2 PowerPoint slides in advance of the webinar and when I pulled up the slides they presented their chosen app. Each had 1 minute to present and 1 minute to answer questions before the next person presented.

App smashing

This is when you use more than one app in a work flow where your students are creating using apps. Content created in one app is transferred to and enhanced by other apps. The final product is usually published online. The term app smash was coined by Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec) from EdTech Teacher.  The term also has its own hashtag #AppSmash.

How you can contribute:

For this slow burn feel free to tweet an app you’ve used in your teaching and learning. Try to include the following information if you can:

  1. Name of app / link on app store
  2. Try to categorise the app: Good for: writing / speaking / reading / listening / integrated skills / organisation / time management / photo editing etc.
  3. How you’ve used it with students.

Eg. Toggl: students track their time on different tasks for one week as prep for a class discussion on lifestyle  life stresses #AusELT

As I’m suggesting a slow burn we probably won’t be experiencing an app slam as we would in a fast-paced Twitter chat, however, if enough people are online tweeting at a particular time this could happen.

Your app smash examples may be more detailed and you could find it easier to find someone else who recommends an app smash. There are many great EdTech bloggers out there and you could provide a link to a post. You could also write your example in a blog page and then post the link into the chat. If you need three tweets to describe your app, just label them 1/3, 2/3, 3/3 so people know there is more than one tweet to your comment.

You can also participate just by asking questions. Is there a particular kind of app you are looking for? Do you want more details on an app someone else has mentioned? Etc.

This post by @sujava