teacher input that facilitates successful student output

Sirle Kivihall, MA
Topic- and task-based lessons
• Teachers aim is not just fill up the students with knowledge,
but encourage them to learn by doing;
• Help them personalise what they learn and appreciate its
• Task-based approach is seen as the most effective and
appropriate to use:
 Learner-centred;
 Provides target language exposure rather than rote learning;
 Requires classroom dynamics which involve the students in a
socialising process.
Key criteria of task-based approach
1. Classroom management
 classroom organisation is student-focused,
 students engage actively in the lessons (groups, pairs or
 content is task-based.
This encourages the students to become self-directed and
responsible decision-makers, participating actively in their
own learning.
Key criteria of task-based approach
• Staging cohesion in classroom management is very important.
• Developing a well-structured lesson plan, focused on a
unifying theme, topic and aims.
• In a well-staged lesson, language is seen as a process rather
than a product.
• Much emphasis is put on vocabulary, grammar and
pronunciation through practice.
• Both receptive and productive skills are dealt with.
Key criteria of task-based approach
• Teachers need to identify activities which will lead to
communicative, authentic use of language.
• The think-pair-share approach, i.e. students first think of ideas
individually, then discuss them in pairs before sharing with the
Involves students more actively with the lesson content.
Key criteria of task-based approach
2. Teaching materials
• Authentic sources, textbooks or reference materials.
• Teaching materials should be suitable for the purpose.
• Engage the students’ interests.
Key criteria of task-based approach
3. Motivation and responsiveness to students’ needs and
• Presenting materials with media-intensive support.
• Ensuring students’ engagement in a meaningful learning
• Taking into account the students’ needs and interests.
Students feel encouraged to pursue their own enquiries and
express themselves in a supportive and productive learning
Key criteria of task-based approach
4. Topic-oriented lesson plans
• List the topic, the aims of the lesson, the method, and
• Take into account the teacher-produced materials and a
selection of appropriate published materials.
• Outline ways in which meaning can be made accessible
(visual/aural support, editing and simplifying texts, allowing
groupwork, outlining plans for getting the students involved).
Key criteria of task-based approach
5. Classroom dynamics
Whole-class interaction.
Small group interaction.
Interaction in pairs.
Student-teacher interaction.
Individual work.
Teachers should exploit any opportunities to get their students
to socialise in the classroom as this can be a very motivating
Key criteria of task-based approach
6. Critical reflection
• Examining your own particular context.
• Interpreting what takes place in a lesson.
• Evaluating your decisions.
It brings about a deeper awareness of what you are doing and
may, eventually, lead you to decide to make changes to your
teaching practice.
Topic- and task-based lessons
o Research suggests that blocked practice leads to better shortterm performance, interleaved practice to better learning.
• Blocked practice is easy to use when following coursebooks
that use step-by-step building blocks’ approach.
• Basing your approach around topics, texts or tasks rather than
language points, you can focus on whatever language happens
to come out of them.
• Many items will come up again and again in later lessons,
allowing you to focus on them again, leading to naturally
distributed or interleaved practice.
Topic- and task-based lessons
o Presentation-Practice-Production is a widespread structure of
a lesson.
• It would be more effective to present one language point,
practice another and produce the third.
The students encounter new language items distributed over
parts of three lessons rather than the whole of one lesson.
Topic- and task-based lessons
o Valuable activities
• Use whole, complete texts that present interesting content
(e.g. stories of scientific inventions, biographies of interesting
people and articles on controversial issues).
• Presenting information about other cultures – not only the
cultures of those countries where English is spoken as a first
Add to the student’s knowledge of the world.
Topic- and task-based lessons
o An example – a text about a boy called Lorenzo and his house
which is about to be pulled down.
• This article contains a boy called Lorenzo, a swamp and a
bulldozer. What do you think it will be about?
Students speculate and predict.
They use their imagination.
Topic- and task-based lessons
• Find three arguments for pulling down the house and two
Students seek evidence and present it within a logical
framework, creating connections between cause and effect.
• Would Lorenzo’s family be better moving out or staying? Tell
your partners your decision.
Students are asked to evaluate, weigh up evidence, come to a
conclusion and be ready to present and defend it.
Cognitive skills are being developed.
Promotion of students' oral performance and
• The ultimate aim is to help the students interact successfully.
Provides students with a large amount of speaking and
listening practice.
Resembles real-world communication.
Fosters a cooperative, more relaxed environment that
supports learning.
Creates more autonomous learners.
Promotion of students' oral performance and
o Techniques to invite interaction:
1. Small talk - a conversation about common topics that helps
build rapport between people.
When students are able to interact using small talk in the
classroom, they will gain confidence in practising the same
language outside the classroom.
It is important for language learners to gain sociolinguistic
competence in appropriate topics for small talk.
• A classroom discussion on appropriate and inappropriate
topics is critical.
Promotion of students' oral performance and
• Small talk can be practised using a ladder drawn on the board.
• On each rung of the ladder there is a small talk topic (e.g.
weather, family, sports or current events).
• The students move up and down the ladder using a dice.
• Each student in turn must lead a small talk discussion on the
topic they land on.
• After 3 to 5 minutes, the next person rolls the dice and
continues the activity with a new topic.
Promotion of students' oral performance and
2. Classroom chat – moves into substantive topics derived from
a lesson-based content area, using relevant vocabulary.
Conversation card activities - each student gets a card with a
question or topic which must be discussed with a specified
number of classmates.
Corner chats - students move to specific corners of the
classroom, in each of which several questions are posted.
They spend a predetermined amount of time in each corner
discussing the questions, and then move to another corner to
begin a new discussion.
Promotion of students' oral performance and
Circle talks - students form an inner circle and an outer circle.
Students in the outer circle talk for one minute on a given
topic to the person facing them in the inner circle. The outer
circle then rotates and students talk about the same topic
with new partners.
Because of the repetition, the activity provides thinking time
and recycling opportunities for the students.
These activities involve a great deal of interaction, focusing on
fluency lowering the students’ affective filter, while
simultaneously developing a sense of community in the
Promotion of students' oral performance and
3. Problem-solving assignments – to encourage interaction and
authentic use of language in the classroom.
• E.g. creating advertisement for a new school café, developing
a flier for a language course, listing instructions for a special
recipe, drawing a poster for a movie, etc.
• The overall goal is authentic language practice, not the
resulting product.
Students gain positive recognition, also the ones who are
struggling with language, but have artistic, creative or
organisational talents.
Promotion of students' oral performance and
4. Strip stories – provide practice in negotiating meaning and
encouraging fluency development.
Effective because there is a correct answer, and this facilitates
more negotiating and discussion.
• A pair or a small group is given a picture story, which has been
cut into pieces. Each picture shows a clear step in a story or
process. The pictures must be put in the correct order.
• A follow-up activity encouraging conversation is to have the
students prepare to narrate the picture story or process to the
whole class.
Promotion of students' oral performance and
5. Dialogues – starts with controlled practice and moves
towards more authentic and fluent interaction.
• A cards and B cards.
• The Bs find a partner from the As and practice the dialogue
several times together, then find a new A partner.
• After several rotations, the partners switch cards, allowing the
students to practise both parts of the dialogue.
• Finally, the students practise the dialogue without looking at
their cards.
• At this point, the focus should be on being able to
communicate clearly the main message of the dialogue.
Students move to automaticity of the language.
Teacher behaviour that enhances student
• Why do teachers often struggle when it comes to engaging
students and promoting interest in the English language
• Teachers should first look at their own motivation and
perceptions of learning before attempting to encourage
important learning values in their students.
• If teachers themselves can justify the purpose of the lesson
and the value of the content, then this could provide the
students with a stronger reason to come to class.
Teacher behaviour that enhances student
• English language teaching has changed radically over the last
• Significant methodological changes (emphasis on deciding on
communicative objectives rather than “talking about” the
target language; helping students achieve).
• The enormous technological changes.
• One aspect of language teaching that remains as important as
ever, i.e. patience.
Teacher behaviour that enhances student
1. Try to imagine what it is like to be your student
• Impatience derives from a compulsive preoccupation with our
own thoughts, feelings and intentions, i.e. we detest operating
at a speed that is different from our own.
• Instead we should engage in a more empathic style of
• Empathic listening should help us rid us of our impatience and
allow us to teach much better.
Teacher behaviour that enhances student
2. Don’t move your body around nervously
• If you are constantly pacing up and down the classroom, you
will cease to be able to enter into the individual worlds of your
3. Be prepared not to meet the learning objectives
• Sometimes students are not in the psychological state of
readiness to learn what you want them to learn.
• This does not signal defeat for the teacher; it’s just the way
people learn.
Teacher behaviour that enhances student
4. Don’t intervene before a “learning opportunity” has definitely
• Sometimes a teacher’s anxieties make it very difficult to listen
to a student struggling over a word, phrase, or a longer
utterance. Silences are often considered to be the enemy.
• Students need time to begin, self-correct, reformulate and
finally produce a piece of English which reflects their best
• To jump in before this process is realised is to rob them of a
valuable learning opportunity.
Teacher behaviour that enhances student
• Many teachers find that at times during their lessons they
tend to echo their students.
• It is not considered beneficial to enhancing student output.
Because students stop listening to each other;
Students make no effort to speak;
Interaction patterns become teacher-centred;
Teacher Talking Time increases;
There is less time for other activities.
Web tools that have potential for the language
• PowerPoint is one of the most frequently used technologies in
education for giving presentations and talks.
• A visually more appealing alternative for PowerPoint is Prezi.
• It is being based on the idea of brainstorming and connecting
the ideas to each other.
• You create an “animation path” which gets you from one idea
to another, forming a kind of network.
Web tools that have potential for the language
• You create an account online (the basic one is free) and then
all your Prezis are accessible from your account.
• Here are some help videos for using Prezi:
• For novice users
• For more advanced users
Web tools that have potential for the language
• Another tool, which has great potential for the ELT classroom,
is Present.Me.
• It allows teachers or students to upload Word documents, PDF
files or a set of PowerPoint slides and add their voice or video
to them.
• The document will appear on the left-hand side of the screen
and the video on the right.
• It is ideal for teachers who want to produce content that
students can access outside the classroom, e.g. lectures, minipresentations, vocabulary or grammar practice etc.
Web tools that have potential for the language
• Here is a training video:
• And an example video:
• Present.Me requires a good Internet connection, but if you are
lucky to have one, it is an excellent tool.
Teacher as the material/task-designer
• The contemporary educational setting has considerably
widened the spectrum of roles the teachers have.
• There is no such thing as an ideal course book, which would
satisfy all our students’ and our needs.
• In order to offer students the kind of practice that they
actually require is to compile practice materials for them.
• The Internet offers us limitless sources of materials that we
can exploit as basis for our tailor-made tasks.
Teacher as the material/task-designer
• An example of a set of extra practice tasks triggered by the
New Headway Upper-Intermediate book and the topic treated
in the twelve units of this coursebook.
Thank You!
o Smack the Pony
• English as a foreign language
• Translator
• Noor sportlane Toomas Peterson inglise keelt rääkimas.
Sources used
• Saltanat Meiramova “From observation to practice” / English
Teaching Professional, Issue 87 July 2013 / p. 58-59
• Eric Atkinson “What exactly are we doing here?” / English teaching
Professional, Issue 88 September 2013 / p. 4-6
• Mary Cerutti, Lydia Guill, Cheri Pierson, Moriah Sharp “Invitation to
interaction” / English teaching Professional, Issue 87 July 2013 / p.
• Paul Bress “Patience is a virtue” / English teaching Professional,
Issue 87 July 2013 / p. 11
• Nicholas Northall “Echo, echo, echo …” / English teaching
Professional, Issue 88 September 2013 / p. 24
• Russell Stannard “Webwatcher” / English teaching Professional,
Issue 87 July 2013 / p. 63
• Russell Stannard “Webwatcher” / English teaching Professional,
Issue 88 September 2013 / p. 63

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