Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

November 29, 2011

What should you do if you don’t get the IELTS score you need?

 Sometimes it happens, you study hard, you know you have ”all your ducks in a row’, you are really prepared, motivated and ready for the exam but somehow, for some reason you don’t get the result you need and it’s a BIG BLOW.

Some of my own students have experienced this and I shared the disappointment with them, especially as I really knew that they had everything they needed at their fingertips to pass with the band they wanted. Something had gone wrong on the day and the task in hand now would be to do a post-mortem and then decide on a way forward.

So here’s my plan of action that you can put in place when your exam doesn’t give you the score you want.

1. Firstly, be assured that you HAVE NOT FAILED, you haven’t quite got your target score but if you have scored 6.5 instead of 7 then that is a VERY good score! Allow yourself to feel disappointed, angry, despairing, whatever emotion you feel – go through this – you have to get over the disappointment before you can move on. Talk to whoever you feel you need to talk to or hide in your room for 3 days if that’s what you need to do – get it out of your system!

2.  After the initial hurt has passed you should feel more inclined to think about the exam – what happened? I think this stage is important as unless you address where you made the mistakes it’s very difficult to move on in a positive way. Ask yourself these questions:

  • was I really ready for the exam (did my teacher advise me against taking it, for example?), be honest
  • what happened in each paper; did you finish, did you say enough in the speaking, did you do something new or different, how much guessing did you do, were you too anxious, or even too confident – try to get an overview of the day
  • how did you feel about the questions were they straightforward, were they difficult,
  • how were you on the day – did you feel rushed, were you confident, too nervous, petrified etc..
  • try to get a picture

3. Now it’s time to ‘get back on your bike’ and try again – but with the knowledge and experience you have gained from this last experience.

4. From your analysis of your exam you should have an idea where you might have performed less than your best and this is what you must address while not allowing the other areas to drop.

  • work on these ‘problem’ areas in more detail
  • put a study plan in place
  • if you need only revise one area and the score was close, set a provisional (or actual) date for your next exam
  • if you had more than one lower score then you may need to go back to the drawing board and find out what is going wrong – perhaps get some professional help
  • if this keeps happening then you will have to change the way you are approaching your preparation – it could be that you are becoming an expert at a particular score and you need to ‘up your game’ to move away from this

5. Maybe you can’t work out what went wrong and you came away from the exam feeling very confident that it had all gone really well. It can be dangerous to be over-confident and it might be worth checking with a teacher that you really have the skills at the level you want. If this is confirmed then it was probably a fluke and you should keep up the practise but go back and take it as soon as possible (this is especially the case if all scores were very high except one e.g. if you got 3x band 8 and a 6.5 which was unexpected). If, on the other hand, your teacher thinks that your English level is below your desired band score then you need to get more English language practice and you MUST address this first.

6. Finally ‘don’t give up’. This is a setback and if you are on-track for the score you need you WILL get it. Keep focused, keep improving your skills and keep motivated. Every day you will be improving and IELTS is only the starting point for your future so none of the preparation you do will be wasted, it will all help you when you need to use the language day in, day out on your course or in your job.

Here are some other posts that might help you when you are feeling fed up and want to give up your IELTS dream:

 How to keep motivated in language learning

 Setting SMART goals for your English language learning

 Is learning English becoming overwhelming?

Check out the IELTS category (on right of this page) for more posts on IELTS 

Do you need help with your IELTS exam?

As a former IELTS examiner and with over 15 years of experience preparing and coaching people for the exam especially at Bands 7 and 8 I know what it takes to achieve these scores.

I work a lot with professionals (especially doctors) who need high band scores to move on with their careers.

Using my own Advanced English training site, Gapfillers and my own expertise in IELTS I can help you to get the score you are looking for.

Join my free IELTS Group in Gapfillers and get regular updates about preparing for the exam and also the chance to join in my teleseminars and seminars and all the other IELTS training opportunities I offer.

Joining is easy;  follow this link, register (it’s absolutely free), (don’t forget to tick the IELTS group button) and that’s it!

As soon as you register you will have access to my free 1-hour presentation THE TROUBLE WITH IELTS – the link is on the welcome page. Watch or download it, it’s your choice.

I hope to see you there 🙂




November 24, 2011

What’s with all the sexism?

Filed under: Education,English language courses — rliberni @ 1:55 pm

I am feeling rather angry today and so probably not the best time to write a blog post but I can’t ignore this any longer!

This week I have come across two blog posts which to me are blatantly sexist and I can’t for the life of me understand why the writers concerned had to write like this. This, coupled with the appointment earlier this year of all-male board at IATEFL, has led me to wonder exactly where we are heading with regard to gender in ELT.

OK, so I grew up in the seventies, women’s lib and all that and I wholeheartedly believe in equality, not just in gender, but for all, and this is no feminist rant, what I feel really is a very deep sense of disappointment and yes, hurt. I also have one burning question – why?

Male teacher - logical, task-driven

The first post is on the Busy teacher blog  10 Reasons Why Men are Better at Teaching Than Women I couldn’t find the name of the writer (but from the picture I think male). He balances the point here with a sister post (no pun intended!) called 10 Reasons Why Women Are Better At Teaching Than Men’ I simply don’t understand why this has to be discussed along gender lines at all!  How many male/female teachers has he observed to draw these conclusions? If we look at the 10 points then he basically seems to be saying that male teachers are good disciplinarians and logicians so their students get better results and female teachers are more empathetic and sensitive and are somehow more approachable for students. This could have walked out of  an education article from the 1950s or 60s have we learned nothing in the intervening years?

Where is the evidence? Are all women colleagues you know warm and fluffy and all male colleagues strict and task-driven? As for men being better at grammar – I’ve been a teacher trainer and I can say on my very small sample of trainees that this is very debatable.

The second post was written by Jonathan on his blog Teaching Plugged-in and entitled  ELT and the infantilisation of

Female teacher - empathetic, sensitive

the adult learner . I know that Jonathan can be controversial (though I felt his attack on Mario Rinvolucri was a little harsh) and I admire his ability to throw out ideas that might cause debate, I really feel we need much more of this in ELT. But, this post just seemed to dismiss female teachers as unfit for purpose (fortunately the comments acceded as much) and the picture I got as I read was one of the ‘little housewife doing a bit of teaching for pin money’ surely we’ve moved beyond this in the 21st century. More importantly – how does he know? – where’s the evidence? His attack on this female teacher is based, it seems, on one student’s ‘experience’ (and one-sided) – gossip and hearsay.

Just as there are many different types of student, there are also many different types of teacher, we are not just male teachers and female teachers and this kind of generalisation on what seems to be very flimsy evidence is not appropriate. Certainly, we can argue the merits of different approaches, methodologies and start a real debate about these but please lets not do any more female (or male for that matter) bashing!

As for the decision of IATEFL to appoint an all-male board I have only one word to say – SHOCKING!

November 18, 2011

What is it that educators are supposed to be preparing kids for?

#Edchat 11 – 15 – 2011 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Thanks again to John @TestSoup for this week’s summary.

The topic is one that is very near to our hearts at #edchat and there was great excitement in the chat with lots of ideas, opinions and also resources shared. You can find all of these in John’s summary together with his own take on the chat!


Here’s a link to the whole summary

6 things to remember when writing IELTS tasks

1. The purpose of the IELTS writing is to demonstrate YOUR ability to write coherently in ENGLISH on a given topic

It is very important to bear this in mind when preparing for the exam. This is one of your chances in the IELTS exam to take control (the other being in the speaking) and demonstrate your great ability in English and to write good English so don’t waste it! 

Make sure that you give a lot of preparation time to this and, if possible, get a teacher to help you especially if you are looking at bands 7 and 8. The teacher will not only mark your essays but will also help you to improve it by showing you how to develop your writing to ensure that you get the band you want.

2. The key to IELTS writing is effective preparation and practice.

I know that many IELTS students work VERY hard on their IELTS but I have also met many who, despite this hard work have not been able to achieve their goal. Your practice has to be effective to work for YOU.

If you need to get band 7 you HAVE to understand what a band 7 essay looks like, what it contains and how it feels to write one. You need to know this in your muscle!  To do this you need to produce one and this may take 2 or 3 hours but it doesn’t matter, once you have it then you will not go back to your old way of writing again.

Less is more with writing – quantity does NOT necessarily produce quality. It is better to work for a long time on ONE essay than produce 4 at once. If you have an IELTS teacher or coach then they will tell you when you have managed to get your band 7 essay down. If not then you will have to rely on models. Model essays are YOUR key to great writing and don’t rely simply on the good essays of your friends, they will have mistakes. Look at what you are reading for the IELTS reading – here are great models! You can find model essays for IELTS everywhere;  study them and really go deep and find out what a band 7 truly is!

Don’t try to second-guess what the examiner is looking for.

Your job in the writing is to say “Look at my great writing ability at band 7. See how I have managed to express this topic really well and given you lots of good language to assess” it isn’t to think “I wonder what the examiner would like to see in this paragraph”.

The exam is not about the examiner, it’s about you. I can tell you that all examiners want you to do well. I know this because I have been an examiner myself and I really wanted every essay to be good and to get whatever band the candidate required. It’s sad when you see essays that have lots of silly mistakes, or weren’t planned properly or are too short or aren’t finished. Sometimes you can see that the person really has ability but they haven’t demonstrated it.

See the exam as an opportunity to demonstrate your great English rather than a ‘test’ and you’ll be much more confident.

3. Please Plan, don’t just dive in!

“There isn’t enough time to plan” I hear this all the time, yet planning well actually ‘saves’ you time! With a good plan the essay almost writes itself  leaving you to concentrate on the language you are using. Without a plan you are trying not only to make sure you use good English, the right vocabulary, great structure and not too many mistakes, but also the ideas you want to express as well, all as you go along and all in about 20 or 30 minutes – that’s a lot to ask!!

A good plan will give direction to your essay and state the points you want to make  leaving you to concentrate on the language you are using to express these ideas on paper.

4. Think in English

When I was learning French at school a teacher told me “If you don’t know it don’t use it!” This is very good advice – translating from your own language most often fails and you will end up with English which can at best sound ‘odd’ and at worst be gibberish thus losing you many marks in the process.

If  the idea in your head is only in your own language and you don’t know the word or expression in English then either come up with another idea or think of words you DO know that you can use to express this. I understand that you can express things in a very erudite and confident way in your own language and that you want to come across in your writing as an educated and knowledgable person BUT look at point 1 here – it’s your ability in English that is the most important thing in this exam NOT your knowledge!

In fact, if you can train yourself to think in English then your chances of producing great writing are better.

The way to do this is to immerse yourself as much as possible in English as you prepare for the exam. Read newspapers, journals, books. Listen to radio programmes, watch films and documentaries. Develop a deep and meaningful relationship with English and great things will start to happen. Firstly you will learn a lot of things using English as a vehicle and secondly you will begin to absorb the language naturally as your exposure to it increases and soon you will be thinking about ideas and topics straight into English and NOT via your own language.

Wow, this sounds like a lot of work and IELTS preparation on top too! Well, yes it is a lot of work but isn’t it worth it to get what you need? Why are you taking the IELTS anyway? Isn’t it to get you somewhere where you will be working or studying in ENGLISH every day? IELTS is simply your gateway, once you arrive at your destination you are going to need FAR MORE English than the IELTS needs so get started in this way and ‘kill two birds with one stone’.

( see my post  – Thinking in English – How to make it happen)

5. Try things out during your preparation period

In order to produce a wonderful piece of writing you need to experiment a little. All writers create several drafts of their work before they publish. This blog post has taken me quite a long time to produce as I have been revising and adding things. Obviously in the exam you have only one chance but if your preparation has really prepared you for that one chance then you’ll have no problem. On the day of your test you should know how you are going to tackle the questions, whatever they are – there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises!

The time for experimenting is in your preparation time and to get a good band you really should,try and do this. From your reading and studying of model essays and other texts you will find a host of new vocabulary and sentence types. You should choose the ones that you like or the ones that impress you and use them in your own writing. Be creative, test things see how they fit, see what the result is and then ask someone to check and see if they have worked.

Questions I always ask my students when they give me writing to check is ‘Are you writing in the same way as you did before?’ and ‘Has the way you approach your writing changed?’ I always expect the answer ‘yes’. There wouldn’t be any point in working with me and then doing the same old things. I am always pleased with the ‘yes’ answer because it shows me that their work is growing and developing and getting better and that’s what should happen. I also love it when students try things new, even if they don’t work – you have to fail to grow and when better to do this than with a supportive and experienced person to help you to use these words and phrases in the correct way.

6. Timing comes towards the exam date

Many IELTS students I meet are worried about getting their writing tasks done in the time allowed (1 hour) and spend much of their preparation time racing against the clock, doing essay after essay as fast as possible. This is putting the cart before the horse! My daughter learns the piano and her teacher keeps telling her to get it right first and then speed up. This is my advice for you also. Once you know exactly what you are doing you can easily get this done in the time and even faster leaving you extra time to check. This is what you are aiming for. So make sure you start with the content and quality of your writing and don’t worry about the time – that will come when you are ready with your perfect band 7 essay every time!

Writing is the part of the exam that most people struggle with but with some disciplined and effective practice it will soon become a joy to you to write these tasks and when you are looking forward to it then you have achieved what you need.

Here are some other posts that might help with writing:

10 Ways to increase your vocabulary

Warning! Mistakes cost marks

7  Deadly sins to avoid in your writing

7  Great virtues to help you write well in English

Do you need help with your IELTS exam?

As a former IELTS examiner and with over 15 years of experience preparing and coaching people for the exam especially at Bands 7 and 8 I know what it takes to achieve these scores.

I work a lot with professionals (especially doctors) who need high band scores to move on with their careers.

Using my own Advanced English training site, Gapfillers and my own expertise in IELTS I can help you to get the score you are looking for.

Join my free IELTS Group in Gapfillers and get regular updates about preparing for the exam and also the chance to join in my teleseminars and seminars and all the other IELTS training opportunities I offer.

Joining is easy;  follow this link, register (it’s absolutely free), (don’t forget to tick the IELTS group button) and that’s it!

As soon as you register you will have access to my free 1-hour presentation THE TROUBLE WITH IELTS – the link is on the welcome page. Watch or download it, it’s your choice.

I hope to see you there 🙂




November 14, 2011

More and more Edcamps are springing up nationally. What are the advantages/disadvantages of edcamps/TeachMeets vs traditional PD?

#Edchat 11 – 01 – 2011 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Last Tuesday’s #edchat summary has not only been written by (John Walters) @TestSoup but has also been hosted on the Test Soup blog! This chat introduced these new forms of PD to the very interested and motivated group of educators present at the discussion. Many people wanted to get started and organise their own and there were suggestions of collaborations afoot. This could be the beginning of an explosion of such events. It’s a great summary and captures the mood of the chat as well as the valuable content. Thank you John.

Head over to the Test Soup website to read the summary:


Here’s a video of our #edchat moderator @cybraryman introducing an Edcamp and below a few links to help you find out more or start up your own.

@cybraryman1: The #edcamp Wiki http://t.co/A22HQPps  TeachMeet schedule: http://t.co/eM87KlGv  #edchat

 @cybraryman1: My #edcamp/TeachMeet page: http://t.co/lz5tdqN1  #edchat

 @Navicomm: Edcamps or traditional prof dev, should k-12 and higher ed collaborate more? http://t.co/K8pLHWiE  #edchat

@tomwhitby:  Anyone can Join the Teachmeet/Edcamp Organizer Group They will help you with questions on edcamps. http://t.co/Wt9wQYVR  #Edchat

@CTuckerEnglish: After attending EdCampSFBay, I was energized, excited & ready to share what I learned. http://t.co/7pf99aiN  #edchat

@EdTechHawkeye about his first #edcamp experience this past Saturday at #edcampkc http://t.co/rxbd83vM  #edchat

 Be inspired!

November 11, 2011

What are some specific things we can do to involve parents in the education of their children?

#Edchat 10 – 25 – 2011 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Thanks go to Jeffery Heil for this #edchat summary. I like the easy manner of his prose. This is a topic that we address frequently in #edchat and I think you will agree that Jeffery has produced an excellent resume of the chat. Thank you Jeffery! See Jeffery’s bio at the end of the post

Overview (and my three cents):

This was a very interesting and informative #edchat.  The main themes are listed below.  The discussion was to a great extent, non-techie, which I think hints at the necessity to establish authentic relationships with our students’ parents.  I imagine many teachers would not be surprised by most of the themes that surfaced.  Of course it is important to make the parents feel valued and that communication is a major component of successful parent engagement.  One of the themes I want to highlight is the importance of understanding the relationship between culture and parent engagement.  In the United States, a country where the dominant cultural value is one of equality, I believe many of our parents of non-dominant cultures are often misunderstood at best, and marginalized at worst.  Rare is the parent who truly doesn’t want her child to receive a quality education; however, many parents from these cultures had negative school experiences themselves. In many of their minds, a school is a not an inviting place where they feel welcome.  As such, it often takes more effort from the school/teacher to truly reach these parents.  This is where the dominant cultural value of equality can interfere.  “I gave all my parents the opportunity to meet with me in their allotted time.,” says the well-meaning teacher who believes in equality over equity. First, this concept can be foreign to a parent who doesn’t see time as such a valuable commodity.  They may not make it to their student’s class precisely at their 3:46pm – 4:06 pm time slot. Such constraints, coupled with past experience, may make a face-to-face meeting difficult.  Second, the imbalance of power, either perceived or real, often scares away these parents, especially if we are talking about parents who do not speak English.  Teachers need to understand that there is a sociopolitical nature to the parent/teacher dynamic that is often either neglected or simply not understood. In addition, the socioeconomic issue can often cloud the cultural one.  This is where community involvement can go a long way to bridge this cultural gap. If a teacher can have a presence in the community, if member of the community can feel valued, if we can change the perception of schools as a place that perpetuates societal inequality, then we might start to see the type of change necessary to truly engage all of our parents.

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion:

  • Using technology to increase transparency of what is going on at school (blogs, wikis, FB, Twitter, etc.)
  • importance of making parents feel like their input matters
  • Having teachers involved in the communities where their students live
  • Communicate with parents often, especially to relay positive news- avoid negative communication (communicating with parents only when student does something wrong)
  • Teachers need to be mindful that some parents had negative school experiences and may require more effort to achieve engagement
  • Schools should consider creating spaces within schools for parents to use technology, to learn/communicate, etc.
  • school should be inviting for parents– conferences/workshops should have food, space for siblings
  • teachers/schools need to be aware of the challenge of involving parents who both work
  • teacher/schools should take a close look at current model for parent engagement – what is working, what is not?

Short, but Tweet:  Highlights from the #edchat participants:

This was a very lively discussion.  I have chosen to highlight what I believe to be both the positive aspects of how we might increase teacher engagement and some of the key obstacles of which teachers/schools may not be aware.

@cnesbitt1811: make use of online resources such as FB and possibly dedicated website areas were parents can receive support #edchat

@hadleyjf: Teach parents about the tech tools that their kids are learning, get them to respond to sts. blog posts #edchat

@CTuckerEnglish: Parents who can “see” what is happening in the classroom get more involved = increased communication & transparency are needed #edchat

@K_shelton: I make it a class policy, when possible, student must CC parents on all email, invite to all google docs, and to e-portfolio #edchat

@tomwhitby: I would replace those worthless back to school nights w/workshops for parents on topics to help their kids. Hmwk/Study/Tech/Bullying.#Edchat

@csteenst: #edchat- Help parents help kids by making an online presence with your stuff and links to help explain classwork- make them learners too!

@ShellTerrell: Parent engagement means parents get to be part of the decision process when it comes to their children’s learning #Edchat

@Joe_Mazza: Now matter how cool, convenient and efficient using technology for communicating is, it will never replace face to face dialogue #edchat

@TestSoup: @FinEdChat Keyword: “weekly” — a parent shouldn’t only hear about their kid’s progress once every quarter. Info is key. #edchat JJW

@ShellTerrell: Just like we dont give up on kids who dont seem engaged, we shouldnt give up on their parents #Edchat

@Caplee62: Our parent conference day was not a day but a week and more. & tchrs went 2 their jobs/homes if necessary to make positive contact. #edchat

@chrismayoh: Allow parents to attend ‘drop in’ mornings/afternoons where they can come and see what happens in your classroom day to day #edchat

@EmmanuelleEN: Some parents are terrified to get involved in schools : feel inadequate, or schools bring bad memories to them. #Edchat

@jogyouon: We ask parents about key issues in school, publish overall findings and change if necessary – so important to listen! #edchat

@drdouggreen: @ShellTerrell Obstacles: Bad memories of their school days, Time, distance, interest, intimidation by school staff, #Edchat

@chrismayoh: Go OUTSIDE in the mornings to greet students AND families. Anything you don’t NEED to do as part of your job is always appreciated #edchat

@kelrjen: What if teachers became more visible in the community OUTSIDE of school #edchat

@doc_crawford: Transparency re: info, pedagogy,& expectations are also key to parent involvement #Edchat

@wmchamberlain: I have a lot of parents that had bad experiences at school when they attended. School is not their favorite place. #edchat

@cybraryman1: Plan hands-on workshops for parents (provide refreshments, child care) on how their children use tech in school #edchat

 To follow the complete discussion see here

As ever, there were some great links shared:
@lindayollis: Great way to involve parents in their child’s education: Family Blogging Month! http://t.co/R6AAfAIW   #Edchat #elemchat
@shellterrell: In this post, @Larryferlazzo talks about schls distinguishing btwn parent engagemt & involvemt. Let’s engage http://t.co/XISW7uQn  #Edchat
@WatchKnowLearn: I video my centers weekly and post to my online classroom.Parents are excited to see what’s going on in class. http://t.co/SOMnfag0  #edchat
@ShellTerrell parents ought to be wild (in GOOD way 🙂 about student #PORTFOLIOS #EDCHAT http://t.co/hduCVKRG  #education #domoreedu…
@cybraryman1: @TestSoup Yes, must start with best way to communicate. My Parent Communication page: http://t.co/zvwQ21nJ  #edchat
I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:How can educators learn more about the deeper cultural elements of their non-dominant students?@jheil65
I have been a teacher with the San Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) for over 13 years.  For eight years, I taught high school in a self-contained shelter for homeless teens in downtown San Diego. Currently, I am a technology resource teacher where I work with JCCS students and teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum.  I am deeply committed to issues of educational equity and social justice in schools.  In 2005, I was selected as a Distinguished Teacher in Residence at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), where I taught full-time in the School of Education during the two years I was “on loan” from JCCS. I still teach at CSUSM as an adjunct professor, where I teach courses on diversity and inclusion as well as educational technology.   

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November 8, 2011

What forms of formative assessment do you use, and do you grade them for the overall average?

#Edchat 10 – 18 – 2011 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Thanks again to Sarah Fudin for this  #edchat summary.  I’m sorry that we have got a bit behind with these but should be caught up by the end of the week.

Thank you again Sarah for yet another insightful piece! See Sarah’s bio at the end of the post.

Not being a teacher at this current time in my life, it’s hard for me to give the most validated response to this question, but I’ll try.  From my short time teaching in the past and my current time building a community of teachers, I’ve found that the learner is in charge of the learning.  Formative assessment that keeps the learner involved the whole way through seems like the best type of assessment — self-assessment, highly involved feedback and many chances to measure improvement seem to me to be of top importance.  As far as grading formative assessment for the overall average, I’m not sure I agree — different types of assessment for different learners will most likely yield drastically different results, some weighing in more important than others.

These were some of the main points discussed

  1. What exactly is formative assessment? — Feedback given to students to improve their understanding.
  2. Explore many types of formative assessments: stop lights, targets, short answers, hands-up, interactive whiteboards, written assessments, self assessments, wikis, and polling.
  3. Monitoring learning throughout a lesson is important — modify if students are not understanding.
  4. Formative assessment is ongoing not just something you do at the end of a term or year.
  5. Keep in mind that not all students learn the same way or react the same way to certain assessment.
  6. Poll anywhere AKA polls via mobile devices are a great way to bring learning outside the classroom as well as get some immediate feedback.
  7. Getting your students to think about the feedback and not the grade can be challenging, but it’s important.
  8. Schools can help teachers use formative assessment to meet student needs — a schools outlook, flexibility, and culture can encourage an atmosphere where effective and variable formative assessment are possible.
  9. Allowing students to set goals and then talking with them, not at them, about your feedback and theirs may be an effective form of formative assessment.

These were a few tweets that caught my eye:   

  1. @jessievaz12: ongoing, observational, exploratory, student focused, bite-sized (in response to adjectives to describe formative assessment)
  2. @weisburghm: assessment of learning, for learning, and as learning. Formative is the last two, right?
  3. @FinEdChat: What about using ‘poll everywhere’ so the students can be engaged using
  4. their phones? A great method for student collaboration
  5. @west4me: I think it is fine to grade formative assessments, but do you use the grade for you or them?
  6. @mingchri Yes, assessments are not just for students, but for teachers to see if concepts were achieved by students
  7. @rliberni: polls on mobiles are gr8 for this, finding out quickly what stds have grasped & what needs reviewing
  8. @CoachCreach: I use twtpoll.com for FA. It allows me to gain a better understanding of the studts learning process and grades me on my teaching.
  9. @CTuckerEnglish: Building in time to reflect is key to growth & dev. Most kids don’t slow down to think about feedback.
  10. @delta_dc: We need to find ways to support learners’ ability to take responsibility for their own formative assessment.
  11. @TestSoup: Formative helps you get there. Summative analyzes performance there.
  12. @CTuckerEnglish: I love showing students the self-editing I do on my own writing-red pen explosion-so they see all writers need to edit
  13. @chiyanlam: Grading is about applying a value judgement; not the same thing as providing feedback and “marking” an assignment.
  14. @tomwhitby: If Formative assessment is for the tchr to see how much kids get it in order to adjust the lesson,why assign a grade to the student?
  15. @cybraryman1: No grades for #edchat but thanks for your outstanding participation & my wonderful co-moderators @rliberni @ShellTerrell & @tomwhitby

These were useful links shared:   

  1. @DrThomasHo: http://drthomasho.visibli.com/share/Ws5oVH — getting students to reflect on their work vs their grade.
  2. @weisburghm: http://www.thewritingteacher.org/writing-blog-home/2009/1/15/how-to-introduce-the-6-traits.html — Suggestions on how to give feedback on writing.
  3. @FractusLearning: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=179866995428249&set=a.178156932265922.44868.165101000238182&type=1 — Cartoon: Calvin’s thoughts on homework.
  4. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/04/11/edutopia_projectbased.html — Project-based learning via edutopia.
  5. @keelygriffiths: http://keelygriffiths.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/dont-let-formative-assessment-become-summative/ — not letting formative assessment become summative.

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:    

What makes someone a great teacher candidate? —  is it their schooling, their background, or their experiences?

Sarah Fudin is a Community Manager for the University of Southern California’s Master of Arts in Teaching program, which provides aspiring teachers the opportunity to earn an online teaching degree.  USC also partners with Teacher Certification Map to offer information on teacher salary by state.  Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.




New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!

November 1, 2011

25th Edition of EFL/ESL/ELL Blog Carnival – November 2011.

I am thrilled to be holding the 25th EFL/ESL/ELL Blog Carnival here this month (November 2011).

The theme for this carnival is:

The Most Popular Posts on your Blog


I have received so many fantastic entries that it really is an amazing feast of  great, great posts!


I asked people to search through their archives, dust off the post that got  the most visitors, comments, retweets and show us what EFL/ESL/ELL blog readers are most looking for!

As teachers we don’t often get a chance to ‘show off’ or ‘brag’ about our achievements so here is your opportunity to take out your most celebrated piece of  writing and showcase it again for us all to admire!


This carnival is simply the best of the best!

Enjoy the feast!!

I’ll begin with my own top post:

 10 Top Tips for Improving IELTS Scores

It is not a particularly momentous post but it keeps getting visitors and comments!

Everybody can paint! 

Sabrina’s Weblog – by Sabrina  De Vita

I will start this post by thanking my students for having inspired me to write it, and I would like especially to thank Gisela for being so generous as to share pieces of her life with us every class.

10 Most Common Questions From English Language Learners

English and Culture | Notes on Life and Language in the United States – Lindsay McMahon

This article covers the 10 most common questions that I have received from English language learners including grammar points and strategies for learning English.

It’s not onlyabout errors

4C – Tyson Seburn

I admit it. I’m a slacker with regards to actively participating in Shelly Terrell’ #30goals.  It’s certainly not because I think they aren’t worth my time or not applicable to my teaching, but for one reason or another, they’ve been put on the sidelines this February, along with active blogging and commenting on others’ blogs. 

Tools for the 21st-Century Teacher

Sandy Millin – Sandy Millin

This is far and away the most popular post on my blog, largely thanks to Ann Foreman and the British Council Teaching English facebook group. thanks Ann!

Post-it notes 

(Almost) Infinite ELT Ideas – Sandy Millin

My second blog is designed to crowdsource ideas for how to use different ‘prompts’ in class. Post-it notes have proved the most popular. Can you add any other ideas?

INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY: “Strange Animals” class project

The machine goes onDaniela Tomatis

We’ve just finished a class project which involved 12-year-old Middle School students.


The machine goes on – Daniela Tomatis

I love words.

What about your concept questions? The famous CCQ’s

TEFL Matters – Marisa Constantinides

I thought my most popular post was going to be the one on Word Clouds, but, no, it looks like teachers have searched for and read different posts most.

According to google analytics, the most visited post in the past year has been is “What about your Concept Questions? The famous CCQ’s”

But according to Edublogs stats in my dashboard ,

The Power of Play for Education and Language Development  is the one.
The wandrous whiteboard challenge

English Raven – Jason Renshaw

Here’s a new challenge for teachers out there interested in trying things out and sharing the results!

Opening your classroom door to the world

My Integrating Technology journey – Jennifer Verschoor

If you would like to heighten your students’ cultural awareness, consider Opening your classroom door to the world.

Songs in EFL Classroom

A Journey in TEFL – Eva Buyuksimkesyan

I have written many times that I really enjoy using songs in the classroom. I know how effective these real songs can be.

The Best Websites To Help Beginning Readers

Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

I thought it was time for another list of Websites Of The Year.  This series of “The Best of…” posts will be continuing off-and-on until I run out of useful topics.

For English Teachers – Angoltanároknak: ELT Rap

 For English Teachers – Angoltanároknak  – Erika Osváth

Although this is a post I’ve put up fairly recently, it has become very popular in a very short period. I’m guessing, because apart from it being fun, it gives teachers – and maybe teacher trainers too – ideas about exploiting rap songs in teaching EFL.

Building your own PLN with Twitter

Te@ch Me – Hakan Senturk

A practical guide to build your own personal learning network (PLN).

Teaching English through songs in the digital age (part 1 of 4): Background readings and resources

Educational Technology in ELT – Vicky Saumell

In case you didn´t know, I´m an avid tweeter, especially for Professional Development and networking with colleagues all over the world.

Visualising Ideas – Notes for teachers on “How To Steal Like An Artist” By Austin Kleon

Visualising Ideas – Naomi Epstein

A visual and humorous look at why and how teachers should collaborate

Prezi vs Powerpoint « Classroom201X

Classroom201X – Pil Bird

I do quite like this post… but I’ve never quite got why it gets so many more hits than the rest of my posts, but it does and there’s a good stream of comments there as well…

Very Funny Ads

TeflTecher : Tasks, Videos and Opinions for Tefl Teachers – Ian James

I love using adverts in my teaching. If you ignore the fact that they’re trying to flog you something and focus on their narrative structure, they can provide you with an endless supply of mini-stories for “retelling” activities.

A close up on translation | close up

close up – Ceri Jones

what a great choice for a blog carnival -so easy to choose – just let the stats do it for you 😉 and nice to look back at an old forgotten post and all its comments too.

Love Them Before You Know Them

About a Teacher  – Greta Sandler

I can still remember that day as if it were yesterday. It was my first day at a new school and my first year as an elementary teacher. My lifetime dream was coming true. So special was this day that everything around me was inspiring.

Teachers and Learners – Roles That Complement Each Other

Vicky Loras’s Blog – Vicky Loras

Teachers should share their enthusiasm with students. In the process of learning, there are numerous things that play a significant role towards making it a smooth, pleasurable and constructive process.

10 Tech Tools for Teacher Training Courses

Nik’s Learning Technology Blog – Nik Peachey

….this course took place in a computer room with 1 Internet connected computer per teacher.

What follows below is a brief outline of the tools I used to achieve this and how I used each tool.

Introduction for free #edtech20 project gateway to knowledge in #education20 in the New Age of #Curation #leadershipday11

#edtech20 #socialmedia #curation project gateway to knowledge central.ly/web20education/  – DUMA CORNEL LUCIAN

I present this project in #mmvc11 because 2011 is the beginning of New Age of Curation

Chiew Pang Interviews Shelly Terrell

iAskU  – Chiew Pang

Shelly Terrell’s interview just managed to edge Chia Suan Chong’s by a few visits.

Daily Routines Tagging Game

a cLiL to cLiMB – Chiew Pang

Not an article as such, but it’s proven to be rather popular.

C1 Lesson Plan – Reading: Facebook, more harm than good « A Muse Amuses

A Muse Amuses – Neil McMahon

I’m on a roll today – another tweet (can’t remember who from I’n afraid – if you know, let me know) tipped me off to this article on facebook so I’n gonna use it as a springboard

Restaurant | English Advantage

English Advantage – Walton

My most popular post is actually a lesson plan for a restaurant role play. I guess it’s so popular because I tried to include a lot of materials like specific role cards and even notes for the waiter to make the role play as realistic and also as adaptable as possible. I’m also fairly proud of my restaurant discussion questions which focus on problems at restaurants, something fairly common that isn’t always covered in textbooks.

Should teachers be encouraging the use of ?English? names in our classrooms?

Teaching the Teacher – Stephanie

Because using ‘English’ names as a replacement to a child’s name really, really bothers me.

Focusing Curriculum Around Skills « Core4All

 Core4All – Alan Matan

This is a blog focusing on the Common Core State Standards as a way to drive ELL curriculum.

12 Angry Men: A Dramatic Activity Plan

So Where Did It Go Wrong?  – Gordon Scruton

One of my more popular posts on my teachers’ blog, based on my love of old movies.

What is Cohesion & Coherence? (Cambridge Testing Explained)

Understanding How We Learn  – Gordon Scruton

Reverse reading comprehension – lesson activity

www.mikejharrison.comMike Harrison

This lesson idea proved a hit, with 1,300 views! Still amazed it struck a chord with so many!

10 contemporary motivation theories and how they explain why your students just aren’t ‘into it’ « one year

one year – Adam Simpson

My most successful post in terms of comments, hits, retweets, you name it!

Don’t Make These 7 Mistakes Teaching English Abroad

TripbaseKatie Sorene

7 most commonly made mistakes made by English teachers working overseas such as over-emphasizing pronunciation rather than communication, overdoing the grammar and missing home too much! Helpful tips to prevent English teachers who venture abroad from falling into these traps.

Blog challenge: compare and contrast photo

A journée in languageBrad Patterson

Anne Hodgson posted a quick pic post yesterday and its humor got the ball rolling on a fun idea.  We sent a few tweets back and forth and decided to challenge you to choose two photos to “compare and contrast” something similar but different.

Seven Teaching Strategies for Classroom Teachers of ELLs

everythingESL.net – Judie Haynes 

In Teaching English Language Learners Across the Content Areas (ASCD, 2010), Debbie Zacarian and I listed seven teaching strategies for mainstream teachers of ELLs.

The giant is no longer asleep

ELT Bakery –  Eduardo Santos

This post is about the current economic situation of Brazil, part of the BRIC, and a very interesting ad done by Johnnie Walker. This post let to great discussions about the current economic situation in some countries from my PLN.

Educators’ News – August 22-26, 2011

Educators’ News – Steve Wood

Let Sleeping “Cat” Lie

Janet’s Abruzzo EdublogJanet Bianchini

This post has been one of the most popular ones I have ever written and it is also one of my favourites. 

Looking forward to the next carnival?

The 26th edition of EFL/ESL/ELL Blog Carnival will be held on January 1st 2012 and hosted by David Deubelbeiss  – use the submission form to submit your entries. 

The Carnival welcomes any blog posts, including examples of student work, that are related to teaching or learning English. You can contribute a post to it by using this easy submission form. If the form does not work for some reason, you can send the link to Larry Ferlazzo via his Contact Form. Let Larry Ferlazzo know if you might be interested in hosting future editions.

You can see all the previous editions of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival here.

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