Friday, January 21, 2011


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination encircles the earth ( Einstein). So all you creative people out there, contribute a tip! Write in now.
The teaching of grammar:
1.       To contextualize the past tenses: I happened upon a wonderful little text with the following title on on one of my regular fishing expeditions: “Your Good Samaritan Stories”. The text contains 10 little stories of roughly 150 words each containing, wait for it, all three of the past tenses and even a few adverbial clauses of time. I cried Eureka and made a mental note to incorporate it in my program next year.
The teaching of writing:
1.       Listening into writing: To spice up your writing lessons, try basing your writing tasks on the “Watch and Listen” section of I am kicking myself for taking so long to realize this – considering how long I spend reading on the internet – but better late than never. I have prepared one based on the following news feed: “Patriarchal Serbia Faces up to Domestic Violence”. There are lots more though; both here and on Since writing this, I happened upon the multimedia section on scientific; there is a lot there that can be used as a basis for writing or reading or a discussion for that matter.
2.    Listening into writing (or reading, or discussions): Various colleagues have suggested some wonderful websites for this purpose. Thanks mates. Here goes: (Ahu; rivetting talks by remarkable people free to the world) ( Ahu; the world's largest community for sharing presentations) ( Ebru) (Füsun; for process essays) (Ebru and Füsun in unison!; got to be good)
3.     Let us write together:  My colleague Yeşim Erdoğru once described to me how she would write a sample essay with the class, on the board. The same could be done with a laptop and a screen too. Let me tell you, it works very well. The students like it, which means they learn, and it’s a good bonding exercise too. So a thumbs up to that! Hamide Koz has also written in to say this is something she used to do and says it went well.
4.   Focus on errors: Another thing Yeşim does is to write tailor made essays full of all those standard errors students always make as a problem page. I have tried this too and it really works. Both are good ideas...
5. Writing correction: A colleague, Sami, has been successfuly using a gadget called a docucam (or optic camera) for a while to get students to focus on their errors. Basically it is very similar to an overhead projector but A LOT more practical as you just shove in the student's essay and arm yourself with the infamous red pen and scribble away while your, hopefully, facinated students watch on a screen. Thanks Sami for introducing this gadget to our uni.

The teaching of listening:
1.       Exploiting “a listening text” painlessly: My colleague Suzan Arditi explained to me recently how she has been viewing the popular, award winning series “The Big Bang Theory” with her two classes and exploiting the episode for vocabulary. The series is a roaring success I am told and the vocabulary just slips in painlessly. After all, if you want your kids to eat their greens, smother them in mashed potato why not. Nice one Suzan.
2.       Spice up your listening texts: This is also one of Suzan’s brainwaves. Apparently, she prepares PowerPoint presentations concerning the topics covered in the listening texts she is going to cover in class and starts with those. Knowing my lot, I can see this working like a dream.  One I remember was about chocolate; can you imagine watching that on the laptop? You would then glide blissfully through the listening that followed in a state of euphoria. Clever idea…
3.     Ahu Ersözlü sent in the following: One way I've found useful to spice up a lecture is asking students to prepare their oral presentations on the same topic as the lecture. These presentations will either serve as pre or post listening activities. At the same time, they will be linked to another component of the syllabus. Brilliant Ahu; thanks for sharing!Here is how: Study the lectures beforehand to pick points to elaborate on and assign each student a topic.
Here is an example:
Lecture: Graffiti
Presentation topics:
* cave drawings- earliest examples of gr.
* gr. as a way of political expression
* gr. that creates humor
* gr. as a form of violence (vandalism)
* gr. as an art form

  1. Getting creative: What Füsun Savcı did this term was to send her students to The Arceological Museum and ask them to view and sudy the exhibits with a view to making an oral presentation. It went swimmingly I am told. An alternative could be to break the class up into groups and send each group to a different museum and have each group make a presentation. A real brainwave Füsun...

Sample lesson plans( all in this blog)
Tripple text reading and writing practice: Cover "The Future of Man", "Can You live Forever? No but You Can Have Fun Trying" and "Too Clever, Too Happy Too Fast" in that order and then have students write a longish essay (500-750 words) on "The Future of Man as a Species". Goes like a bomb. I have just tried it. Suggested time: three days
Double text related reading / writing practice: Cover "Finding Flow" and "The Secrets of Happiness" ( and do the related writing task.Suggested time: three periods of 75 minutes each.
Text related writing task: Cover my reading text on AIDS," A Global Disaster" and then do the related  writing task. It is good to precede all this with an informative text on AIDS. If you are working at our institution, we already have one: the search reading on AIDS. Suggested time: three periods of 75 minutes each.
Internet related viewing,talking and writing task
       Füsun Savcı has sent in this wonderful websight:
      She suggests viewing the wonderful photos on the sight and discussing or writing about the circumstances under which they were taken and then reading the artist's own explanation. It can be used in the same way as J. Crispin's notebook. Brilliant mood changing and novel activity! Keep them coming in.
Internet related listening, reading, speaking and viewing task: Füsun Savcı has sent in the following website: for which she suggests the following activity: Have sudents select a year and play news reader. Have them study the news for a given date, find appropriate pictures to display on the screen and use the laptop as a prompt box if necessary to report news from a given day back in time. The other students could listen and comment. This is an individual  or a group activity. Students in the group could share out the news and take turns reporting. We don't have very many creative speaking activities so this is wonderful. Thanks Füsun.
Listening activity to accompany Finding Flow on this blog: Ebru has sent in the following link to a talk by the writer of Finding Flow posted on this blog. It is fab. I would use it as a pre reading activity. csikszentmihalyi on flow.html.
Reading Practice: Ebru K. has sent in the following superb website: There is lots of lovely stuff; enjoy
Website for writing topics:

Website for reading texts: