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Volunteer Teaching: My Experience Teaching English To Refugees

Leanne and her students during her volunteer teaching tripThe Project

Two Americans, Two Brits, a Spaniard, an Australian, a Swede, a Polish, a Norwegian and an Italian. The small (but mighty) team that built the new free shop known as the Szafa Dobra or Wardrobe of good in Krakow, Poland. Over just a few weeks this small team of volunteers working for Drapen I havet/A drop in the Ocean and Internationale Bund Polska rallied to set up the free shop. From finding a location to stripping and painting walls to sourcing electricity and unpacking countless cardboard boxes, it was no easy task. Not only this, but the team were also volunteer teaching in the evenings – a busy few weeks!

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the shop was ready to open. Outside a long queue of Ukrainian families eagerly waited to browse the clothes and accessories. A steady line of 200 men, women and children entered the shop, taking almost 1000 items with them. From winter coats to pyjamas and toys, it was clear there was still very much a need. According to the Polish government over 7 million refugees have entered Poland since the beginning of the year and it is clear support is still needed for many. In the evening, English lessons were running for a lovely group of Ukrainian women… but more on volunteer teaching later.

It’s a match

Indigo Volunteers connects volunteers with humanitarian projects around the world. They partner with over 50 grassroots organisations and match you with institutions that have a need on the ground at the time. I applied, adding my skills and preferences, and was immediately connected with several organisations that needed help. Indigo support you every step of the way and sends further information and resources to assist with your initial research and to give you a further understanding of the situation on the ground. Check out the organisation below to find out more.

Drapen I Havet/A drop in the Ocean is a Norwegian NGO that supports displaced persons in several locations across Europe. They provide direct and immediate support, inside and outside refugee camps, and advocate to increase attention on people forced to flee their homes. The organisation distributes items and provides non-formal education and activities to support well-being and build community and belonging. They do important work in Lesvos, Northern Greece, Athens, Poland, Norway, Bosnia and Herzegovina and run several impactful projects in each location.

The entire experience as a fieldworker was extremely smooth from start to finish. A drop in the Ocean was not only welcoming but very thorough. The team gave continuous support; from a welcome call before arriving to clear handover notes and constant communication throughout. They offered advice on accommodation and shared information about living in Krakow, and would run weekly meetings and team meals with all volunteers which really made it feel like a small community of like-minded people.

Volunteer teaching

As fellow teachers, many of you will know the feeling… a class of beginners staring back at you, their native language different to yours and looks of apprehension on their faces. Despite all of this, as we got to know each other we all became more comfortable. The class was made up of 10 women, mostly from Eastern Ukraine, each with a different story. The course was beginner level and the students had similar levels of English. We followed a curriculum developed by a team based in Greece. It covered several areas from feelings and weather to asking for clarification and basic needs and questions.

The lessons involved lots of (questionable) drawings, gestures, fun activities and games! A highlight for me was a lesson on body parts where one of the students was my ‘glamourous assistant’. The class had to guess different body parts by sticking labelled post-it notes to their peers’ bodies. We did have a giggle when they found out that an elbow was in fact a stomach! One moment that will stay with me was one of the students’ children giving me the biggest hug when I left and saying ‘goodbye’ with the biggest grin on his face.

The experience I gained was invaluable and I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to contribute in some way. If you’re an English teacher looking to participate in volunteer teaching my advice is to go for it. Here are three top tips:

1) Do your research

Make sure the placement is right for you. Take time to explore your options and consider the impact you will have during your placement.

2) Consider your skills

What can bring to the organisation? We all have different skills. Make a list of your relevant skills and consider how you can add value.

3) Commit your time

Try to commit to at least four weeks of volunteer teaching. This keeps the lessons and approach consistent for students and gives you a chance to really see the impact of the work you do.

 

Are you interested in volunteer teaching?

Apply to be matched with organisations:Find out more about Indigo Volunteers Find out more about A drop in the Ocean.

Oxford University Press has a wide range of resources to support teaching Ukrainian students. Find out more.

 


Leanne Atherton is a qualified special education teacher with experience teaching both in the UK and internationally. She completed her PGCE PCET in further education at City of Bath College and currently teaches learners with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) at a special school in Oxfordshire. Leanne holds a TEFL qualification and has ELT experience teaching young learners in Thailand and Aboriginal students in Australia. She recently completed a Master’s in Education (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) where she explored the transition from school to further education for girls with autism.  


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Using Classroom Presentation Tools to deliver engaging lessons

Primary students in a lesson using tabletsSince I started this beautiful journey as a teacher, I knew it was going to be a great challenge. We all know that we must spend a lot of time planning classes that keep our students engaged and motivated. During these twenty years teaching, I have witnessed all the changes and advances in English Language Teaching, from working with tape recorders, using only print books, and designing materials to fit the right level to all the fantastic classroom presentation tools we have today.

Classroom Presentation Tools have come to make our lives easier. We need to take advantage of all the benefits we get from them. They help us create an interactive learning experience, deliver engaging lessons and save time when planning. What are those features that make Oxford University Press’ Classroom Presentation Tools unique? Well, grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy this tour.

Let’s start with the amazing Oxford English Hub, where you can now access Classroom Presentation Tools for our best-selling international courses. Along with accessing Classroom Presentation Tools, Oxford English Hub provides one place for easy access to ALL your digital course materials, for every step of the teaching journey. With interactive content and smart tools to save your time, and integrated professional development tailored specifically to your course, to support your teaching.

Let’s take a closer look at the features of Classroom Presentation Tools. Although all of them are important and useful, we are going to highlight five of them:

1. Embedded audio and video

All audio tracks and videos are just one click away and embedded in the right place in the Student Book or Workbook. The audio player provides great listening practice! You can adjust the speed of the track to support your students when they don’t understand or challenge them to listen to it faster. With the AB loop, you can select one specific part to play on repeat.

The video player supports your teaching by showing students the use of the language they are learning. One recommended strategy is to play it without sound first to make your students guess what is happening and help activate their schemata about the topic. Some videos have the script embedded in them to use them for role plays or discussion.

2. Focus

Focus is an effective tool to help students concentrate on one task at a time and make it easier to answer in class. By opening an exercise full-screen, it allows you to project one activity and not the whole page. Within this tool, you have access to all the other necessary tools such as Draw and Highlight, Check Answers, Show Answers, and the audio and video players.

3. Show answers tool

Most of the time, the answers to all exercises are in the Teacher’s Guide. However, having them embedded in the CPT saves you a lot of time! You can show all the answers at once by clicking on the big eye or request individual answers at the small eye. It will help students to check, correct and review their answers.

4. Notes tool

One way to use the Notes tool is to write or record reminders for your classes. However, you could also use the Text Note to write instructions for specific tasks. You can substitute writing on the physical board, a platform board, or dictating. Alternating them is a way of breaking with the traditional way of teaching.

5. Switch books tool

Saving time has become a key element when planning and teaching your classes. In your planning and teaching, you may use two CPTs: one for the Student’s Book, and one for the Workbook. The Switch books tool helps you change from one book to the other in one click in your CPT. Imagine that you assign an activity in the Student Book, and you’d like to complement it with the related pages or exercises in the Workbook. Simply click the link to switch to the relevant page of your second book. You can go back to your first book using the Switch book icon in the toolbar.

These are just five of many features you have in your Classroom Presentation Tools, available on Oxford English Hub. I’m sure you’ll love them as much I do!

 

“Bring your coursebooks to life in the classroom. Simply present your learning resources on screen for highly engaging lessons either face to face or online.”


Andrea Espinach Roel is a full-time Oxford Educational Consultant for Central America. She holds a master’s degree in Educational Administration. Before entering the publishing industry, she taught English as a second language for twenty years in Costa Rica to all age groups (kids, teenagers, young adults, and adults). She’s been an Academic Coordinator in different institutions and has experience in designing English Programs for all ages in areas such as English, Science, Business, Technology, and Electromechanics.


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Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary – Now and then

OALD 10th edition bookIn 2020, the 10th edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, or OALD, was published. The origin of this dictionary can be traced back to the Idiomatic and Syntactic English Dictionary (ISED), the world’s first fully-fledged English-English dictionary for English language learners. ISED was edited by A. S. Hornby and others, who were invited from the United Kingdom to engage in English education in Japan, and was published by Kaitakusha in 1942. 2022 marked the 80th anniversary of the ISED. During that time, as English was established as the international language of communication, the rivalry between different publishers has, together with the development of (applied) linguistics and lexicography, contributed to the ongoing evolution of monolingual dictionaries for language learners.

Since the mid-1990s, the quality of information has improved, and monolingual dictionaries have become easier to use. The key concepts are “corpus basis” and “user-friendliness”. To appreciate what kinds of changes have occurred, let’s compare the entries of acknowledge in the 4th edition (1989) and the 10th edition (2020) of OALD.

Firstly, compared to the 4th edition, the 10th edition is easier to read; it is printed in two colors with each definition written on a new line. The OALD has been printed in two colors since the 6th edition (2000). Furthermore, in the 10th edition, notice these symbols next to the headword: , , and . What do these symbols represent?

The Oxford 3000 and The Oxford 5000

The key symbol ( ) indicates that the word is from the Oxford 3000 wordlist. This is a list of 3000 words that students of English should learn first, and was introduced in the 7th edition (2005) and revised for the 10th edition. The words have been selected based on frequency and relevance for the user. Frequency of use is determined by the Oxford English Corpus (which contains more than 2 billion words), and relevance by a specially created corpus of secondary and adult English courses published by Oxford University Press. Also, every definition in the OALD is written using words from the Oxford 3000, making the definitions easier to understand.
The key symbol with a plus sign ( ) refers to words from the Oxford 5000, which was introduced in the 10th edition. This introduces an extra 2000 words for higher-level students to learn. The key symbols for the Oxford 3000 and 5000 are not just added to the headwords but also to the definitions.
*Find out more about the Oxford 3000and the Oxford 5000 wordlists.
https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/wordlists/oxford3000-5000

Common European Frame of Reference (CEFR)

The Common European Frame of Reference divides foreign language competencies into six levels – A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. Words from the Oxford 3000 are labeled , and words from the Oxford 5000 are or .

The Oxford Phrasal Academic Lexicon (OPAL)

is an abbreviation for written, indicating that acknowledge is an important word in written academic English. Academic English is crucial for most users of the OALD, particularly those studying abroad or taking classes in English. Oxford University Press created The Oxford Phrasal Academic Lexicon (OPAL) from an analysis of two corpuses: Oxford Corpus of Academic English (which contains 71 million words) and British Academic Spoken English (which contains 1.2 million words). OPAL includes important words and phrases from both written and spoken academic English. In OALD10, words and phrases from the written academic English section of OPAL are signified by , and words and phrases from the spoken academic English section by . Words that are used in both written and spoken English are marked .
*Find out more about OPAL.
https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/wordlists/opal

Grammar notation

Turning our attention to the 4th edition, we can see the first meaning of acknowledge contains these codes [Tn, Tf, Tw, Ca·n, Cn·t]. They indicate verb patterns. For example, [Tn] means transitive verb. Considering that this pattern was denoted by [VP6A] in the 3rd edition (1974), this is much easier to understand. Although a list of verb types could be found on the inside back cover of the 4th edition, referring to this each time was a real hassle. Though it takes up space, the grammar code is spelled out in the 10th edition (sb stands for somebody, and sth stands for something). In OALD10, these abbreviations, called “verb frames”, are written just before the corresponding example. The verb patterns and example sentences in OALD4 and OALD10 are summarized in the comparison table below. The clarity of the 10th edition is self-explanatory.

Shortcuts

Returning to OALD10, you’ll notice that each definition is preceded by a word or short phrase capitalized in blue and marked by a dot such as . These are called “shortcuts”, and they show the context or general meaning of each definition at a glance. When using a monolingual dictionary, selecting the appropriate meaning can be a daunting task. Therefore, from the 6th edition (2000) on, “shortcuts” or “subheadings of meaning” were introduced to help users navigate polysemous entries. Instead of scrutinizing definitions and examples one by one, users can quickly scan the shortcuts, select the relevant one, and then examine the meaning.

The influence of corpuses

Since the introduction of the Collins COBUILD English Language Dictionary in 1987, the use of corpuses has become an integral part of dictionary editing. Corpuses provide vital data on the frequency of usage for each word, and this influences every stage of lexicographic editing from identification and selection of headwords, through sense division and arrangement, identification of grammatical and lexical patterns, to the presentation of examples. Let’s look at how the entries of acknowledge are structured in OALD4 and OALD10. There are differences between the two, and the latter is based on frequency from corpus analysis.

As you can see from the comparison table above, the verb types Tw and Cn·t shown in OALD4 are not included in OALD10. Based on corpus analysis, the frequency may not have been high enough. Frequent patterns such as acknowledge the fact are highlighted in bold in the examples.

The most recent editions of English-English dictionaries contain accurate information, presented in a format which is easy to understand and use. OALD10 has been edited based on large corpuses and displays the most high-frequency words. Innovations, such as the integration of the Oxford 3000 and 5000 wordlists and OPAL, make it easier for users to identify core vocabulary, the Oxford 3000 also making definitions easier to understand. In addition, shortcuts and straightforward abbreviations of verb patterns make the latest edition even more user-friendly. Whilst in the past dictionaries were only available in print, now it’s easy to find online versions. In my next article, I will explore the effects of digitalization on dictionaries, particularly on the editorial processes and how people search for words.

Reference:
Yamada, Shigeru. 2020. OALD10 Katsuyo Gaido [Usage Guide]. Tokyo: Obunsha Publishing.
https://dic.obunsha.co.jp/oald10/dl_guide_book/OALD10_dic.pdf


Shigeru Yamada is a Professor at Waseda University, Tokyo. He is on the editorial advisory board of Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America. He was a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Lexicography: Journal of ASIALEX. His specialization is EFL and bilingual lexicography. His recent publications include “Monolingual Learners’ Dictionaries – Past and Future” (The Bloomsbury Handbook of Lexicography, 2nd ed., Ch. 11, 2022).


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Effective professional development for English language teachers

effective professional development for English language teachers

We all know good quality teaching leads to better learning outcomes. It’s therefore in the interests of everyone involved in education, whether this be government authorities, schools, parents, or the students, that teachers are well prepared and practice professional development throughout their teaching careers. Effective professional development also contributes to better job satisfaction and is an important factor in teacher wellbeing. Despite this, English language teachers (EFL and ESL) are often left to navigate the professional development journey themselves and find the time to carry it out.   Continue reading


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5 Golden rules to help students read English in their free time

ATTACHMENT DETAILS TEWO-Graded-Readers-blog-5-golden-rules-to-help-students-read-English-in-their-free-timeExtensive Reading (reading whole books for information or entertainment) helps learners consolidate their English enjoyably and in a stress-free way. This is particularly important when students fall behind with their studies, for whatever reason. Free time or holidays offer an opportunity to catch up.

This blog presents five golden rules for free time reading with guidelines on encouraging young learners and teenagers to read and some suggested reading lists. Continue reading