Saturday, 30 January 2010

Way with Wordle

Teachers looking to invent games and activities for vocab could do a lot worse than visit this site.
Wordle is a site that randomises the key words in a text and changes the size of the word to reflect the frequency it's used. It can also be used for enliving phrasal verbs or specific collocations, all the things we need to be good at to pass the Cambridge exams!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Keep Talking

I'm booked in to be an Oral examiner for the FCE and CAE exams in a city near here in March - we can't examine in our own cities as we may be examining our own students as all examiners are teachers - and I'm looking forward to it. It gives me the chance to see a handful of students in another town and see if they are falling into the same traps as my own. Inevitably some do, both groups of students having the same mother tongue with very similar accents as is to be expected of cities close to each other. But occasionally their teacher shines through them. I've come across a whole group of students who all used a double comparative in their speech (more harder), which I think must have been a favourite error of their teacher... and I'll never forget the incongruity of seeing tiny Greek students speaking English in a thick, scouse (Liverpudlian) accent. You don't expect to hear a mini-Yosser Hughes in Karditsa.
But one thing my students don't stress about, and perhaps they should, is what they say (rather than how they say it). They forget they are examined only on those 12 or 13 minutes and that it is their opportunity to show themselves in their best light.
So, keep talking, use all that vocab you have to describe those pictures, to colour the discussion, keep expressing opinions, and keep talking. Don't worry about sounding an idiot. The examiner doesn't care. If you're a fluent idiot you'll still get an 'A'. Better that than a silent genius with a 'D'.
Keep talking, say what you see, and answer any questions like 'Do you agree?' with an 'It depends!' and then say why it depends. If your examiner thinks you're talking to much they will bring your partner in and let them have a go...