Saturday, May 9, 2015


A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to attend the Pearson event for English teachers in Valencia. Such event took place at the hotel Barceló, near the City of Arts and Sciences and it was a great success in terms of organization and the content of the seminars. Today I am going to write about the talk by Elena Merino, Pearson's most recent addition to their team of teacher trainers. She has a degree in English language and literaure plus she has studied a Masters in TESOL in the United States.

The topic of her talk was about communicative activities for secondary school students. How to engage your students in speaking activities that they find motivating enough, which is probably what teachers and learners most struggle with. You can have a look at her presentation below.

To make young learners speak in English, first of all we need to realise how they actually communicate in their day-to-day basis (face-to-face, but also using whatsapp and chats). She defined speaking as a cooking process where the ingredients would be the vocabulary, the kitchen tools would be the grammar, the chef is the speaker and the recipe is the speaking activity.

The first example of activity that was explained was for students of 2nd ESO. The class was divided in groups of three and three texts were presented. The purpose of the activity was to read the text for 30 seconds and then summarize your text to the people in your group. Then, using the online tool Kahoot you do a quiz based on the information of the three texts. Kahoot is a tool that allows you to create a quiz with multiple-choice questions which students can answer using their mobile phones. Here, we are using the technology students carry with them for learning purposes.

The second example is also for 2nd ESO. We take a picture and students must look at it for 30 seconds trying to remember as many details as possible; then we cover the picture and they must describe it in detail. We can make a competition out of this (young learners love competition) and see who remembers more details. Also, you can have a list of words and students must define those words without naming them; this is a speed competition and the pair that is quicker to get all the words right wins.

The third example is for 3rd ESO. The class is divided in groups of three and you provide them with a dialogue among three people. They read out loud the dialogue several times but some words are erased little by little and they must remember what was written. Another activity could be taking a video and turning the volume off, the students must act out what the people on the video are saying.

Elena mentioned the link schooltube where you can find some projects that are being done in schools around the world. I recommend watching ESL Raps.

Extra Extra! Secondary students can communicate in English by Elena Merino (Pearson Educación)

When assessing speaking several possibilities were mentioned, for example peer assessment, assessing the speaking activities themselves rather than waiting for the exam, and also having some rubrics to assess this skill.

So the conclusions of the talk could be summarised as follows:
        - Use L2 with your students.
        - Use real examples.
        - Use technology.
        - Student-centred learning.
        - Find a balance between accuracy and fluency.
        - Use different types of tasks.
        - Let them share what they've done with the world.

And this is my view of the first of the seminars. Next week I'll write about the second talk by the head of the teacher training department at Pearson Education, Brian Engquist.

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