11. Error Engagement

13 05 2010

[Originally published in  ELT Chat  of  http://www.Free_esl.com]



Traditionally the teacher’s role had been that of a  judge – a critical evaluator of the finished product. The legendary red pen was employed profusely before returning the corrected product. In this activity, the teacher provides a collection of erroneous sentences to provoke interesting responses. The author believes that such an approach can reduce the negative impact of the red pen and make  learners communicate effectively with a better control of appropriate vocabulary.


Learner motivation can be created, generated and maintained using the following type of   sentences as resources. It’s a feasible solution for teachers who have a frustrating experience in terms of waning student motivation  during  writing  or  reading tasks.


Read the erroneous  sentences given below. Students in pairs, with the help of a good dictionary  should identify the exact meaning of the sentences:


* The  Germans surreptitiously dug a tunnel through a mole hill.

*The King fisher  collided with an aero plane.

*A swine swam  the English Channel

*The minister presented him with a Siamese swine.

*He is a great cook and fried flies are his specialty.

*Some simpletons believe that a steady diet of calf’s milk  increases virility.

* Henry loves eggs , so he ordered his cat to lay eggs.

*He hates cold bath so licks himself clean everyday.

*He is very courageous he is afraid of daylight.

A note on evaluation

* Obviously the kind of answers tend to vary depending on the way the learners comprehend the sentences. Credit should however be given for those who can justify why  a particular sentence is incorrect.

10. They Can’t … They Shan’t

13 05 2010

 [Originally published in ELT Chat of http://www.Free_esl.com on 15th August 2007, the day India celebrated its sixtieth year of Independence] ]

Half a century ago an Indian scholar of repute, C. Rajagopalachari, made the following statement. : “We in our anger and the hatred against the British people should not throw away the baby (English) with the bath water (English People) Years have passed and ELT in India received several jolts . The following composition attempts to capture the essence of the impact.

Neither Can’t nor Shan’t

We shouldn’t ….we cannot Speak like the Britisher

 Said the Raja to the Praja

And the Raja sprayed an Indian flavour

And the Praja preferred the Indian savour

Shun RP….Shun King’s English

Shun BBC accent….Shun Daniel Jones

Are slogans that echoes and re-echoes.

And shun and spun they did indeed …

Spun Hinglish , Spun Manglish

 And other inglishes to ones ease

 What Shakespeare ….What Joyce

What choice for ‘em without poise

They shan’t teach …they won’t teach

But they’ll teach… who can’t teach!


 Glossary Raja: The renowned Indian writer whose writing smacked of an Indian idiom Praja: The word in most Indian languages means the public/ the citizens.

9. In the Smithy of Learning

13 05 2010

        [Originally published in  ELT Chat of  http://www.Free_esl.com on  Teacher’s Day 05 September 2007 ]

 Greetings on Teacher’s Day

 There  are three immediate factors that concerns  the teacher:

 1. The Learner

 2. The Classroom

 3. The Subject / language  being taught.

 * Teaching is essentially finding a way to deal with 1,2 & 3. 

 And to do this, “ A teacher has to be like a candle who lights others in

consuming itself… and great teachers  do it!!!

The ‘smithy’ refers to classroom… and English Language

      Classroom     practices ought  to focus on the following:

* Understanding  how children construct their own knowledge

* Insisting on active engagement of learners for construction

    of knowledge

*  Giving  emphasis to experiences in learning

* Focusing on a variety of situations and multiplicity of methods

     for creating diverse experiences

*  Enabling  a better teacher-child relationship.

8. The Synectic Model For Teaching English

13 05 2010

[Originally published in  ELT Chat  of  http://www.Free_esl.com]



What are Models of Teaching?

Models of teaching were identified and described for the first time by Bruce Joyce and Marsha Weil (1980). They defined a model as: “A model of teaching is a set of inter-related components arranged in a sequence which provides guidelines to realize a specific goal.  It helps the designing instructional activities and provides an environment carrying out these activities in order to realize the stipulated objectives”. 

Models of teaching afford a lively and proactive introduction to the complexities of teaching. A teaching model is not a substitute for teaching skill. A model cannot take the place of fundamental qualities in a teacher, such as, knowledge of subject matter, creativity and sensitivity to people. But it is a good tool to help good teachers to teach more effectively by making their teaching more systematic and efficient.

 In very simple terms ‘Models of teaching’ are a pattern or plan which can be used to shape a curriculum or course to select instructional materials and to guide a teacher’s action. Models are primarily oriented towards a classroom teacher who is interested in increasing his instructional effectiveness in an interactive method of teaching. A teaching model can be considered as a type of blue print for teaching. It provides structure and direction for the teacher. In short ‘Models’ are perspective teaching-strategies designed to accomplish particular instructional goals.

Synectic Model

In 1961, William .J.Gordon and his associates designed  a very interesting and delightful experience to the development of innovations  known as Synectics. The model was originally designed to form ‘creativity groups’ in industrial and other organizations to solve problems, to develop quality products.

Characteristics of  Gordon’s Model 

* According to this model creativity is important in everyday activities. Gordon’s model is designed to increase problem solving , creative expression , empathy and insight into social relations.

*Second, the creative process is not at all mysterious . It can be described, and it is possible to train persons directly to increase their creativity. (Traditionally creativity is viewed as a mysterious innate and personal capacity)

*Third , creative invention is similar in all fields- the arts, the sciences, engineering and is characterized by the same underlying intellectual processes.

*Gordon’s fourth  assumption is that individual and group invention (creative thinking ) are very similar .Individuals and groups generate ideas and products in much the same fashion.

 In school systems the main technique used is analogy. The child is lead into an  ‘imaginary/ illogical world’ to see things never seen before to express himself in novel ways, to approach problems from a different angle which is entirely different from others as is perceived by the mind’s eye through ‘fresh ways of thinking’. He has to express his ideas clearly and also grasp ideas clearly and comprehensively.

Steps of the Model to be followed in the Classroom

  1. Describe the topic
  2. Create direct analogies
  3. Describe personal analogies
  4. Identify compressed conflicts
  5. Create new direct analogy
  6. Re-examine the original topic
  7. Evaluate

Step I : The teacher asks the students to describe a given topic. This can be done orally or the students can write down the topic. Descriptive words are then listed on the board.

 Example: The topic is ‘Feelings’

Descriptive words: love, hate, anger, sadness, guilt, happy, remorse, joy, satisfaction etc.

Step II Students examine the descriptive words and form analogies between the words and an unrelated category such as plants, animals or machines. After all students have given an analogy, the best one is voted on by the class.

Example: Think of a plant that reminds you of the listed words.

Analogies:         ‘A rose reminds me of Love’

                        ‘ Jasmine reminds me of Valentines’ Day  and happiness’

                        ‘Lily reminds me of death and sadness.’

Step III: The teacher asks students to think about how he/she would feel to be the object chosen in Step II. Students must also tell why they have that particular feeling.

Students responses are recorded.

Example: How would it feel to be a ‘Rose’?

Responses: alive, happy, safe, smelled, plucked, ignored, curdled, held on, dead, recognized, good, loved, bad, crushed.

Step IV: The students are asked to review their responses to find pairs of words which seem to ‘fight’ or are in opposition to one another.

The class votes for the pair of words that represent the best compressed-conflict.

Example: ignored- loved , good- bad, happy- sad, alive-dead,   held on- crushed

Step V: The teacher asks for another category for a direct analogy and the class must think of example of that category which are best described by the compressed category chosen in Step IV.

Example: “Animal” is the analogy, “alive- dead’ are the characteristics.

Direct Analogies: lion, dog, cat, bear, dinosaur etc.

Step VI: The class talks about the original topic by comparing the last direct analogy to the original topic New images are created.

Example “Feelings are like lions. They are alive but, sometimes appear to be dead.” “Feelings are like Roses and Lilies. Sometimes they make you happy and some times they make you sad”.

Step VII: Students evaluate the writing done before and after the model to see if more creative insight has been added. The must also analyse the thought process involved.

Tips for the Teacher:

* Create direct analogies: What words have the same or similar meaning?(try synonyms)

* Describe personal analogies: What would it feel like to have the characteristics or traits of —–?( describe emotions and physical attributes)

* Identify compressed conflicts; What words have the opposite meaning or characteristics? (Use antonyms)

* Create new direct analogy: What words have the similar or same meaning?

This repeats the prompt from the second step. The difference after going through the first three lists you will have gone deeper into the subject and this list will reflect that depth.


* Look at all the four steps and find key words or phrases, expand on those to generate more. Finally, focus on a theme that may incorporate several elements based on the final list.

7. Models of Teaching (Part II)

13 05 2010

[Originally published in  ELT Chat  of  http://www.Free_esl.com]


Families of Models

Bruce Joyce and Marsha Weil have identified four main families of models

  1. Information Processing Family


Main Focus: Help students  in the mastery  of methods of  inquiry; mastery of academic concepts and facts; development of general  intellectual skills such as the ability to think more logically .

Eg:   Concept Attainment Model

        Advance Organizer   Model

        Biological Science Inquiry Training Model

        Cognitive Development Model

        Synectics Model ( to develop  creativity)

  1. Behaviour Systems Family


Main Focus:  To change the behaviour of the learner; to transmit culture by teaching skills and knowledge

Eg.  Direct   Instruction   Model

       Contingency Management Model

       Mastery Learning

       Learning from Simulations

       Model to develop the six varieties of performances identified

          by  Gagne

  1. Social Family

Main Focus :  To help  students work together to identify and solve problems; to develop skills in human relations,: to become aware of personal and social values

Eg:  Jurisprudential Inquiry Model (learning to think about  social policy)

       Cooperative learning

       Group Investigation

       Role Playing

4. Personal Family

Main Focus: To  increase the students’ sense of self-worth; to help students understand  themselves more fully; to help students recognize their emotions and become more aware of the way emotions affect other aspects of their behaviour; to help them develop goals for learning; to help students develop plans for increasing their competence ; to increase the students’ creativity and playfulness and to increase the students’ openness to new experience.

Eg: Awareness  Training    Model

     Classroom Meeting       Model

     Non-directive Teaching Model

Tips for classroom transaction

  1. However difficult you may find it , read Bruce Joyce and Marsha Weil’s Models of Teaching atleast  once


  1. Identify the Focus, Syntax, Principles of reaction, Social system , Support system, Application and Instructional and Nurturant effect of the model prescribed.


  1. . Identify  a suitable topic/theme and develop a lesson plan  following Step 2 mentioned  above


  1. Acquaint  your learners with the purpose of using a specific model.


  1. Practice the model in relatively short teaching episodes until it becomes familiar.


  1.  Patience should be your watch word.


  1. With optimism, time , practice, and support from one’s peers teaching using models will  become easy.


Wishing you a delightful and richer pattern of interaction through models of teaching!

Good Luck


6. Teaching Notes : Models of Teaching (Part I)

13 05 2010

[Originally published in ELT Chat of http://www.Free_esl.com]


• For decades teachers , the world over have experimented with several methods and strategies to develop different abilities in students.

 What are Models of Teaching?

• Bruce Joyce and Marsha Weil identified, collected, edited, structured and published the efforts of teachers in several parts of the world under the title Models of Teaching

• The models are not teaching theories

 • They are instructional designs

• They describe the process of specifying and producing particular environmental situations which cause the students to interact in such a way that specific changes occur in their behaviour.

Characteristics of Models

• All models are effect oriented

• All models have a specific strategy

• All models are process oriented

Sources of Models

Studies in Psychology , Sociology, Medical Science Engineering Science etc

How are models different from methods ?

In education we have ‘goals’….. but models provide us ‘effects’ Use Models of teaching can be used to

1. Shape the curriculum

 2. Design instructional material

 3. Guide instructional process

4. Formulate teaching theories

Tips for Classroom transaction

* The duration of a lesson based on a model can vary from 15 minutes to 45minutes or even up to 90 minutes. Eg: Gagne has identified six performances viz; Specific responding , Chaining, Multiple discrimination, Classifying , Rule using and Problem Solving. So, a lesson to cover all the six performances will require more than 45 minutes!

 *The lesson plans based on models of teaching need not have ‘columns’ . What is important is that the steps/ Phases in each model should be followed.

* As the models have a psychological theory of learning to support it , the learner/ user of a model of teaching should be familiar with the theory of learning, related to that model.

(Please see Part II for more details)

5.ICT for ELT

13 05 2010

[Originally published in  ELT Chat  of  http://www.Free_esl.com] 

A wide range of research shows that the quality of learning [e.g. Davis et al. (1997)] can be significantly enhanced when ICT is approached and utilised as an intellectual ‘multi-tool’, adaptable to learners’ needs. Research [e.g. Bransford et al, 1994] also shows that ICT can enhance:

– critical thinking;
– information handling skills;
– higher level conceptualisation
– and problem solving.

ELT Tasks Using ICT Tools

ELT Tasks  ICT Tools that help
Composing Texts Word processing; E-mail, Computer Conferencing; Digitaldf Digital cameras; voice recording software
Focusing on Audience/ Purpose;Presenting Texts E-mail; Computer and Video Conferencing, Desk top Publishing; Web authoring; Databases and Spreadsheets; Multimedia software; Presentation software
Transforming Texts Word processing; Desk Top Publishing; Hypermedia
Exploring Information CD ROM; Internet; video conferencing; electronic mail
Reading Texts Internet; CD ROM; Talking Books
Asking ‘What If’? Questions Simulation; Data bases; Internet text debates; video conferencing
Identifying features of text Word processors; Text Disclosure Programme
Developing knowledge about language Text Disclosure Programme; Internet; CD-ROM



 Bransford, J.D; Brown, A.L.and Cocking, R.C.(Eds.) 1999, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School , Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning , National Research Council, National Academic Press.

Davis, N., Desforges, C. et al. (1997) ‘Can Quality in Learning be Enhanced through the use of IT?’ in Somekh, B. and Davis, N. Using Information Technology Effectively in Teaching and Learning, London, Routledge.