Wednesday, December 12, 2012

THE AUTONOMOUS LANGUAGE LEARNER AT WORK



THE FIRST SUGGESTION:
1.        Select a topic that you are interested in like slavery in the modern world, women’s rights or war for example.
2.       Access ted.com and  print your topic into the search section.
3.       When you have discovered the videos related to your chosen topic, grab a pen and paper
4.       Listen to each video at least twice. If you are intermediate and above in terms of level, listen first without the script and make notes; then listen again this time with the script and check your notes. If you are a pre intermediate student reverse the process. If you feel you need to listen three times, that is fine too.
5.       Gather your notes together and write them up in the form of an essay.
6.       Access grammarly.com and copy paste your essay on to the site. Then select academic essay and hit “check your essay”.
7.       When you have a list of your mistakes, go back to your essay and try and locate them yourself.
8.       Finally, take your essay to any of the writing centers or your teachers for a final correction.
Note to the teacher: this procedure could be used as a project as well in which case the students should be requested to hand in their notes  and the links to the videos they watched as well.
THE SECOND SUGGESTION
1.       Access imdbfree.com and select a category that interests you like war films for example
2.       Select a couple of films in your chosen category and watch them with English subtitles.
3.       Then write an essay comparing and contrasting the films and their handling of war for example.
4.       Last of all, access grammarly.com and follow the procedure outlined in steps 6, 7 8 in the first suggestion.
Note to the teacher: this procedure could used to write essays in class or as a project. In the case of the latter, students should be required to state their choice of category and specific films beforehand to prevent large groups watching the same films.
THE THIRD SUGGESTION
1.       Access theproproom.blogspot.com and select an appropriate level of reading activity. If you are an intermediate or pre intermediate student, this would be “Level of difficulty*”; if you are an advanced student, it would be “Level of difficulty**” to start with. Level one is lower intermediate in terms of level so should be manageable for pre intermediate students as well. If you are a remedial student and failed reading, you follow the same procedure advanced students do. If you passed reading start with “Level of difficulty ***”.
2.       Select a reading task that looks interesting
3.       Locate the text by googling the title and the author’s name and get a printout.
4.       Read the text carefully once, looking up key words on dictionary.com, which you need to download onto your laptops and telephones, and guessing the meanings of other words.
5.       Now try and answer the questions. While doing so, write out the answers; do not just underline.
6.       When you have completed the questions, check your answers. If there is anything you don’t understand, bring it to the writing centers or ask your teacher.
7.       Now access ted.com and search for related videos using key words in the text. For instance, if you have just completed work on “War Against Girls”, search for videos related to women’s rights; if you have just completed work on “How to Die”, search for humane end of life practices.
8.       Watch and take notes on the videos as outlined in the first suggestion.
9.       Now return to the blog and do the writing task.
10.   When you have completed your essay or paragraph, follow the procedure outlined in steps 6, 7 and 8 in the first suggestion.
Warning: it is important that all this be done at one sitting to enable flow of information from the reading to the listening and from both to the writing task. A delay would mean that a valuable learning opportunity has been wasted.
THE FOURTH SUGGESTION (INTERMEDIATE, ADVANCED AND REMEDIAL)
  1. Access the following website:  pagebypagebooks.com, classicshorts.com or americanliterature.com and select a writer. Roald Dahl or Edgar Allen Poe for example.
  2. You may select a novel, a single story, a couple of stories by the same writer or a couple of stories discussing the same theme by different writers.
  3. After reading the story or stories you have selected, write a reaction essay, a comparison or an opinion essay concerning the ideas in the story.
  4. Lastly, follow the procedure outlined in steps 6, 7 and 8 in the first suggestion.
THE FIFTH SUGGESTION (ADVANCED SECOND TERM AND ANYONE WHO PASSES THE PROFICIENCY, DURING THE SUMMER OR ALONG WITH COURSE WORK IN INDIVIDUAL DEPARTMENTS)
  1. Access coursera.org and select a field of study that interests you.
  2. Select a course and apply for it. The courses are completely free
  3. You will get all your material, tests and projects online and be expected to hold up your side of the bargain.
  4. The advantage is that you will not only practice your English but also broaden your horizons and learn subject specific vocabulary.
Note to the student: use the suggestions listed here as guidelines to discover additional ways to improve your language skills.

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