Beyond ‘testing’ receptive skills: upcoming #AusELT Twitter chat

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The pedagogical framework for teaching receptive skills that is taught on pre-service teacher training courses such as CELTA and reflected in the majority of popular EFL coursebooks is often something like this:

  • talk about context – check vocab – predict content (activate schemata)
  • read/listen to check predictions or some other gist task (global comprehension)
  • read/listen to perform a more detailed or specific task (more detailed or specific comprehension)
  • some sort of follow-on task (‘using’ or responding to the text in a new or personalised way)

So in essence, typical receptive skills lessons give students the chance to test/practise their comprehension but not to actually understand, build upon and develop the whole range of sub-skills that will make them truly effective readers/listeners.

We’re going to be discussing this issue on Sunday 7th Feb at 8.30 pm Sydney-time (click here to see the time where you are).

Some things to think about before the chat:

  • Is it ‘wrong’ to use the skills framework described above? why?
  • What ARE the other sub-skills we should/could be focusing on?
  • CAN we teach receptive sub-skills – or simply practise?
  • What activities/lessons have you used that can help develop these other sub-skills?
  • What can we do to adapt/vary our strategies while still using the same coursebook material?

A few bite-size posts for background reading:

See you on Sunday!

This post by @sophiakhan4

#AusELT Twitter chats in 2016


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NEWS ALERT! In 2016 #AusELT‘s monthly Twitter chats will be moving to Sundays instead of Thursdays, in an effort to work around everyone’s busy schedules, though the time (8.30pm Sydney-time) remains the same. And that means the first chat of the year is coming up on Sunday 7th February! (Click here to see the time where you are.)

If you are new to #AusELT, here are some facts about our Twitter chats:

  • they began in 2012
  • they happen on the 1st Sunday of every month between February and November
  • they focus on issues around ELT especially in our region/context
  • they take place at an accessible time for people in this hemisphere
  • they are a great way to personally connect with other ELT professionals
  • they might be 1-hour live chats (great for fast-paced discussion)
  • they might be 24-hour ‘slowburn’ format (great for sharing links and tips)
  • they are led (‘moderated’) by the #AusELT admin team, #AusELT members with a special interest in a particular ELT area, or even guests who are experts in the field
  • previous special guests have included: Mark Pegrum, Scott Thornbury and Jim Scrivener
  • topics are selected by the community or set by guest moderators
  • recent topics have included: effective group work, LGBT issues, and MALL
  • you can read summaries of most of our chats via our blog contents page

In the past we have had regular shout-outs for topics and then voted on these, which had definite benefits but was also quite time-consuming to manage. So this year we’d like to experiment with doing one big shout out for topics at the start of the year, and then using these to help us schedule and set up chats throughout the year. And we promise: there will still be plenty of room for changing the schedule if something new and interesting comes up, if an #AusELT member puts their hands up to run a special-interest chat, or if a guest moderator unexpectedly gets nabbed!

So let’s start by brainstorming some topics we could discuss in 2016! Leave your ideas in the comments, on the #AusELT Facebook page or on Twitter using the #AusELT hashtag.

If you would like some help getting started with Twitter, click here. You can also follow me (@sophiakhan4), Lesley Cioccarelli (@cioccas), Nicki Blake (@Penultimate_K) and a number of other #AusELT members – tweet to us for help and we’ll look after you!

And if you would like to volunteer to lead a special interest chat, please also let us know – we’d be happy to schedule you in, provide guidance and support you ‘on the night’ :)

Twitter can be a brilliant place for sharing and developing ideas, gaining perspectives, and connecting with others. Hope to see you out there in 2016!

This post by @sophiakhan4

Writers wanted!


Ok, so you know you had that New Year’s Resolution to do something different with PD in 2016? (Of course you do!) How about writing for the #AusELT blog?

This could be a good way to spread your wings a little bit if:

  • you have done something great in your classroom/school lately and want to share it
  • you have had something not go so well that you’d like to reflect on and discuss
  • you simply have thoughts on an issue related to English language teaching and learning that you’d like to start a discussion on
  • you have done a presentation or workshop recently that you’d like to share more widely
  • you are thinking of setting up a professional blog of your own
  • you are thinking of writing for the English Australia Journal or another ELT publication

Blog posts are generally around 500-1000 words, and can be written as if you were speaking to a friend or colleague. You can include ideas for further reading if you like, and/or end by adding a question to readers.

Here are some examples of things #AusELT members have written about previously:

You can see that it is pretty varied! Write what you know – or don’t know but would like to explore – it’s all food for thought for the rest of us :)

If you are interested, leave a comment below, or contact any of the admin team on Facebook, contact me on Twitter or send an email here. Thanks for reading – now start writing!

This post by @sophiakhan4

AusELT/English Australia Journal presents: Article Discussion Group for November, 2015

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Burri, M. (2015). ‘My perspective changed dramatically’: A case for preparing L2 instructors to teach pronunciation. English Australia Journal, vol 32.1, pp. 19-37.

Access the article to read online here, or download the pdf from here.

Update: Download thread of discussion in pdf


Michael Burri’s articles focuses on the challenging area of preparing teachers to teach pronunciation. For a multitude of reasons (some understandable, and others due to misunderstandings), many language teachers are reluctant to teach pronunciation. This is possibly due to being ill-prepared in their initial or in-service teacher education and training. Michael’s research demonstrates that an increased awareness of English varieties and accents can be beneficial in helping teachers understand more about the goal of pronunciation instruction. This is an important step in improving the way pronunciation is taught in English language programs, however the relationship between teacher cognition and their classroom practices is anything but straightforward.

Michael’s paper gives us an opportunity to understand more about research into teacher cognition, as well as to consider ways that we, as an English  language teaching community with quite a bit in common, can support each other in improving pronunciation teaching practices. Michael offers a convincing case for understanding more about varieties of English and non-native speakers’ accents. It is certainly my own experience that some of my students have said that they do not wish to have a native-like accent in English, but they want to be understood when they speak.

Michael’s research methodology involved a group of 15 mixed-nationality participants taking a postgraduate TESOL subject in pronunciation. As well as covering the usual aspects, this subject included a focus on helping the student teachers develop an appreciation of English varieties and accents. Michael designed the research based on case studies, using questionnaires, focus group discussions, and classroom observations. This is important in teacher cognition research, for what teachers say and what they do do not always match up, for many reasons.

So, we have a study of teacher cognition (beliefs, thoughts, attitudes and knowledge) related to teaching pronunciation, with a case study design involving a variety of data sources, using a class of postgraduate students taking a pronunciation subject in a postgraduate TESOL course.

Opening questions:

1) How confident and effective are you at teaching pronunciation?

2) To what degree are you confident that you understand enough about English varieties and accents to adequately teach pronunciation to your students?

We’re fortunate to have Michael available to comment when required, and I’ll do the moderation of the discussion, though I’m hoping it will flow without need ing too much input from me.

Phil Chappell, Executive Editor, English Australia Journal

Please post your comments on the AusELT Facebook page.

(Image accessed from

Vote for the last #AusELT Twitter chat of the year!!

It’s the last chat of the yeeeeeeeeaaaaarrrrrr!!

Here are some of the 2015 topics that snuck in under the radar but which plenty of people wanted to talk about:

Please vote and the most popular will be the subject for discussion at the last Twitter chat of the yeeeeeeeeaaaaaarrrr, Thurs 5th Nov, 8.30pm Sydney time (click here to see the time where you are).

Hope to see you there!

This post by @sophiakhan4 and @Penultimate_K

AusELT/English Australia Journal Article Discussion Group: Voting page



The article chosen for discussion is “‘My perspective changed dramatically’: A case for preparing L2 instructors to teach pronunciation”, authored by Michael Burri.

The remainder of this week (3/11/15 to 8/11/15) is for reading the article. Discussion questions will be posted next Monday (9/11/15) and the discussion will begin.

Access the article to read online here, or download the pdf from here.

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Welcome to the voting page of the third 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. The discussion will take place on the #AusELT Facebook page and is scheduled for 2-8 November (Reading time) and 9-15 November (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 (article 31.1) 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.

Code switching in ESL classrooms: A study of adult Arabic learners

Manar Larbah and Rhonda Oliver, Curtin University

Code switching (CS) between the first language (L1) and the target language (TL) in the second language classroom has been the focus of recent second language acquisition research. This paper reports on a study that investigated adult Arabic students’ use of CS in four university classrooms in Western Australia.

An analysis of the data found that the use of CS was present in second language classrooms. Further, regardless of Arabic students’ proficiency level, CS fulfils important functions. Overall, access to the L1 through CS assisted the learners to develop linguistic competence in the TL and worked to benefit their language learning. Therefore, it is important that teachers understand that switching between L1 and the TL can enhance language acquisition.

‘My perspective changed dramatically’: A case for preparing L2 instructors to teach pronunciation

Michael Burri, University of Wollongong

Over the past two decades, pronunciation has slowly regained some of its former prominence in the second language (L2) classroom. Yet, despite this renewed interest, L2 instructors often perceive it to be one of the most challenging areas to teach. Specialists, therefore, suggest that preparing pronunciation teachers is a much needed area in the field of language teaching, but little is known about the education of pronunciation instructors and its potential impact on prospective teachers. This article reports on a qualitative case study in which questionnaires, focus groups, classroom observations and semi- structured interviews were employed to obtain insights on the impact of a postgraduate pronunciation subject on 15 student teachers’ cognition (beliefs, thoughts, attitudes and knowledge) about pronunciation pedagogy. Findings revealed that the subject had a notable effect on the development of participants’ cognition about pronunciation instruction and its goal. Group work/discussions and comparisons of accents increased student teachers’ awareness about the value of non-native English varieties and accents, which in turn facilitated a change in participants’ beliefs that the objective of pronunciation instruction should not be accent elimination. The article concludes with a discussion about implications for L2 teacher educators and language instructors teaching English pronunciation in their classrooms.

Uncovering and Understanding International Students’ Prior Learning

Tracey Gibbs and David Feith, Monash College

Prior learning experiences impact on how international students adjust to the educational environment in Australia. International students in pre-university Foundation Year programs are in a transition period, moving from the educational environments in their home countries to universities in Australia. In this transition they have to successfully adapt to the demands of university systems in Australia. This action research project explored students’ perspectives of their prior learning through focus groups, in order to assist teaching staff to better understand the background and needs of the students. It found there is a wide variety of challenging factors that students need to adjust to. The main factors are: academic writing with referencing; time management, including having multiple assignments at the same time; independent research; and class discussions.

So, without any more fanfare, please cast your vote! Closes Sunday November 1, 2015 at 5 pm DST [VOTING IS NOW CLOSED] Your moderator, Phil Chappell (@TESOLatMQ, Executive Editor of the English Australia Journal)

October’s #AusELT chat: advance warning

Now, usually we are due for an #AusELT chat on the first Thursday of the month – but for October we have made a decision to postpone by one week, for the following reasons:

  • the English Australia Conference 2015 just wrapped up in Brisbane a few days ago;
  • many of our regulars are still travelling/recovering/hungover; and
  • 1st October has sneakily managed to also be the 1st Thursday of the month, thus taking us all by surprise.

So, the next #AusELT Twitter chat will take place on Thurs 8th October at 8.30 Sydney time (check here to see the time where you are).

The topic will be “Conference wrap-up and other interesting ideas”, and will basically be a 1-hour swap shop.

Come and share what you saw, what you loved, what you found interesting or controversial about the 2015 English Australia Conference.

Don’t worry if you didn’t go. You can still share new/interesting ideas that have come your way lately. Things that spring to mind from the #AusELT Facebook page recently include haptic pronunciation teaching; heutagogy; mentorship programmes; Periscope…I’m sure you can think of more.

Looking forward to e-seeing you all then!

NB: New members/New to Twitter? Please see the Twitter page on the blog for help and ‘how-to’. Come along and try it out!

This post by @sophiakhan4