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Topics - Sergei

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Feedback--Teacher / ESL Teacher Feedback Forms
« on: March 20, 2014, 01:08:53 PM »
Here is a website providing good templates for ESL teacher's feedback, including Writing Assessment Forms. I hope you will find it useful!

General Reading Links / Hans Christian Andersen/Grimm's Fairy Tales
« on: February 27, 2014, 01:03:07 PM »
Hans Christian Andersen's Stories
Grimm's Fairy Tales

Instructions / Correspondence Writing Lesson
« on: February 18, 2014, 08:37:05 PM »
Correspondence Writing Lesson (For ESL Business Students) 
Prepared by Dongyao Tan (Kathy) and Sergei Zalesov   
Duration: 25 min
Topic Focus: Responding to crazy e-mails from clients and customers

Objectives of the Lesson:

Students will be able to:
practice answering potential clients e-mails; practice dealing with crazy, strange, obnoxious e-mails from customers, complaining about and requesting different weird things;   

Concise Lesson Plan:
Step 1: Introduction of Objectives/Explanation of the lesson purpose (2 min);
Step 2: Distribution and reading of a crazy e-mail from a hotel customer (3 min);
Step 3: The students get into groups of four and pretend to be business colleagues (hotel managers in this case). They have to discuss how to respond to the letter politely. They also have to decide what tone and attitude they will adopt while answering the letter. (5 min)
Step 4: Once they are done with step 4, each group start drafting the actual response. One of the group members will have to type the response, and present it to the whole class. (5 min)
Step 5: Then we randomly pick a group to present their response. (5 min)
Step 6: Distribution and reading of the real response that the author of Letters from a nut actually got. (5 min)

We think that this is an interesting, funny and--at the same time--useful lesson. It teaches the students how to respond to similar crazy e-mails, providing them with a good example of how it was actually done in real life.
At the same time, it is not a classical boring writing lesson. Good humor motivates the students to try harder and to do more in class, and we are convinced that this lesson is a good example of how serious and funny things can go together in language teaching.     

When teaching PLEASE MAKE SURE to distribute handouts separately. DO NOT distribute the second letter (the response) before the students have finished writing their own responses.        

Harry Potter Lessons! / Harry Potter Lesson Ideas
« on: February 06, 2014, 07:59:16 PM »
These are the Harry Potter Lesson topics that we came up with in our group after reading the Chapter 1 "The Bot Who Lived" of the book. The chapter can be used:

--to organize a "cultural" discussion on how in the British culture people appear to have "a stiff upper lip" (i. e. to be cold and reserved) even with their dear family members;

--a number of words created by J. K Rowling (e.g. "muggles") can be used to teach language students how to predict from the context the meaning of words that they don't know;

--Also, this chapter, according to our opinion, can lead to an interesting discussion about witchcraft and superstitions, and students' attitude towards these these things, based on the country and culture they are from; 
--Finally, the chapter is full of various stylistic devices (Hyperbole, metaphors etc.). Organizing a discussion about these devices and asking students to locate them in the text, may be a good and useful thing to do in class.       ;) ;)

Extensive Reading / Extensive Reading Website
« on: February 04, 2014, 01:51:24 PM »
This looks like a good website with good extensive reading resources for both teachers and students.  :) :)  And this website "continue to grow" as they mention there.
I would also like to suggest using Agatha Christie books for your extensive reading lessons, for instance "Five Little Pigs", "Endless Night", "A Murder is Announce" etc. According to my opinion they can solve the problem of students not getting ready for extensive reading lessons because most of the time students simply can't put these books down and keep them reading even when the course is over, based on my own experience teaching and learning experience.  :) :)   

General Writing Resources / UN Editorial Manual
« on: February 01, 2014, 02:43:50 PM »
There are so many Englishes in the world, and often times even native speakers have to adjust their spelling according to the norms of a specific variant of English they are teaching at the moment!!!

Are you still not sure whether you are supposed to write program or programme? Email or e-mail? Color or colour? Are you a native speaker of American English who has to tech the British variant and is still hesitant about the spelling norms of a number of tricky words and abbreviations? 

Follow this link to have a look at the UN Editorial Manual that is very helpful for those who teach various writing courses in British English and/or would like to review the spelling of certain English words.       

There is a funny book called "Letters from a Nut" written by Ted L. Nancy:

The author of this book presents an interesting and unique collection of the craziest and funniest letters he wrote to innumerable hotel, restaurant managers and other business people, complaining about the most unusual things, and suggesting to them the most obnoxious ideas to implement. After each "crazy" letter the author presents a copy of the polite, business-like responses he got from those people.

This book can be used as a tool to teach business students taking writing courses how to write pragmatically appropriate and polite e-mails or letters to "crazy", demanding customers if they come across any of them.

Click here to read a couple of letters from the book with the responses he got.   


Since we discussed different teaching methods today, I decided to post the following video.

This Russian video called "English Lesson" (no worries, there is almost no Russian, so it's understandable) is mocking everybody's obsession with the Audio-Lingual Method of teaching English that was so popular in the USSR.

The point is that audio-lingual students were forced to repeat long sentences and phrases in English, very often having no clue about what exactly they were learning, and/or how they could apply that knowledge.

This boy keeps repeating "I'm traveling down the river" while his mind is being occupied by a way more fascinating things like playing hockey and having fun with his class-mates. At the end of the video even his bird has learned how to say that phrase, being exposed to it again and again--another Utopian idea of the proponents of Audiolingualism. He calls his friend to boast about his clever bird, but his friend is not impressed. In fact, he tells the boy that his dog has learned a number of English phrases too, listening to the recording again and again.

Enjoy, I hope you'll like it!!  :) ;)

Ералаш - Урок английского

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