ABCDelt

The ABC of ELT

DELTA Diary weeks 4 and 5

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last DELTA diary and there is a reason for this. Unit 4 takes up two week (4 and 5) as it fell over the Easter holiday.
This was fortunate for me as I was away in first England and then Barcelona (hence the photo above) during Easter and it left me with enough time to still do my course in other weeks.
This Unit I had a few topics of Written Discourse, Writing and Listening. All of which were really interesting.

Discourse

One of the main themes introduced in this unit was Discourse and “Genre”.
The idea of a Genre is it is a specific type of recognised text with its own conventions in

  • content,
  • organisation,
  • style
  • language (Grammar and Lexis)
  • and Layout.

Yes that is a guideline is something I’ve remembered as I know that it will be very useful for different tasks in the Exam. [although I have recently discovered that CLOGS is the suggested mnemonic] 

Writing

Grr writing! As a student this has always been my weakest skill and I’m sure it’s the same for many other students. In this unit we looked at some of the issues that come up from writing and why it is difficult for students to write. For example, generally speaking is a skill that naturally comes to people (in L1) but Writing needs instructions to learn.

This also fit (A side note, I would love to launch a campaign for “Fat” to be the irregular form of fit) in with Discourse and Genre that we looked at this unit as well. Especially as in our L1 we generally only do a few writings in set genres but in General English courses we have to cover a wide variety of writing styles.

We also looked at the three types of writing tasks (thanks to the PLN and International House courses for introducing me to these concepts before).

  • Product
  • Process
  • Genre

The difference between product and process is pretty clear and straight cut but Genre and Product can cause more confusion. Generally Genre is more about the effect on the reader rather than the style of the text. It also tends to focus more on authentic text, the cultural and social context of the text rather than just the features of the Context, Layout, Organisation, Grammar (and lexis) and Style [those clogs again!].

Listening

My main revelation from this session was that the main way we “teach” listening is just by testing over and over again. Whilst, as it says in my notes, “Practice makes perfect” it certainly isn’t the quickest way to improve and an approach of teaching and testing would be better.
Looking at the other ways to teach listening was interesting and brought up some interesting questions.
The first was looking at the idea of focusing on subskills within the three skills of

  • Schemeta
  • Contextual
  • Systematic knowledge

It also made me wonder a lot about questions like the effectiveness of listening for gist, and guessing meaning from context.

I remembered a presentation I attended at the last International House teaching conference (the 60th anniversary one) where there was a session on preparing students for listening by focusing on Bottom up skills that aren’t pre-teaching vocab (shock horror I know!) It makes sense to focus on a skill such as stress in speech to help understanding of the text as a whole.

Unfortunately there has been far too much testing and not enough teaching in my listening teaching but this is a great chance to improve. Benefit of DELTA one.

A bad work system

My current timetable and system just isn’t working. As I have freedom on Friday’s it has become my main “DELTA day” where I try to work through as much reading as I can but this just isn’t working. As I try to work through the timetable on Friday’s and Saturdays tasks come up where I need to investigate my teaching this week, do a survey with some students or just discuss something on the Forum. But with only two days to do all this work and most of the discussions having taken place I NEVER really get to talk about it.

I’ve tried getting ahead of my schedule by reading ahead during the week but it hasn’t been working and with my time away last week I didn’t make the most of the chance to catch up.

I was complaining that the timetable for work in the DELTA seemed wrong but frankly I find that sort of reaction a bit pathetic. Blaming other people when there is something I can do about it is just lame. [Having said that I believe this system would be much better than the current one]  The idea was that it would be much better if I could finish the reading before the weekend (getting the new readings on the Friday rather than the Sunday) then I would have the week to do the application tasks, discuss on the forum and then finish the week with an exam practice based on the work. In theory I already have this but basically it means I have to do readings every evening when I arrive home after a long day of teaching (tough stuff).

What I realised is that I can actually explore the later units online, I can see the later readings in advance on the Friday before the week beginnings (though I can get my exam practice tasks) This means that as long as I catch up on my reading this week I can actually do what I want next week!

Certainly trying to stay ahead of the reading and tasks is getting harder.

Motivation

I’ve notice that I have lost some of my initial enthusiasm as it has started to impinge on the way I spend my time more. It reminded me about motivation and how important finding the task enjoyable is (rather than just seeking the end goal) I’ve spent some time reminding myself about why I want this qualification, what I wanted to learn and some of the cool ideas I’ve come across during my studies. I just wish I had a bit more time to indulge on each one, it feels like we are scratching the surface of some…but maybe that’s my time management.

Anyway that’s all for this time.

About Chris Wilson

I’m an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

2 Replies

  1. Paul Read

    Hi Chris!
    I remember from my dip the uncomfortable feeling that I hadn’t been teaching listening at all well up to then. I’m really not sure that I do now, but at least I know enough to feel uncomfortable about it 🙂
    Having said that, raising my awareness of discourse and how to use it has probably been the biggest single gain I made from doing the diploma. “Beyond the Sentence” ftw!
    Good luck on it… don’t let it get you down!

    1. Thanks Paul, I think it was a bit uncomfortable but also very cool to realise there was more I could do for students.
      Great to hear that these were so useful for you. I hope I can transfer the head knowledge into action now.

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