Paper or plastic?

Paper or plastic?  The very first post on  my very new lessonplans site.

It’s a lesson based on a nice video I came across on youtube, with student’s worksheets and teacher’s notes.


If I were writing a coursebook…

Red-eyed Tree Frog - Litoria chloris edit1

I keep wondering about why so many coursebooks still  work on listening in one lesson and reading in another one.

I love the many-in-one approach. Not only is it economical in terms of time spent on lesson preparation – it is also a lot more effective than  the “one task – one skill” one.

Here you can download a TOEFL essay + vocabulary + noticing/editing lesson, which is not 100% related to this post 🙂 – but is one example of multiple benefits extracted from one text.
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Polishing things up – the indispensable stage.

The common approach to listening and reading is as follows:

  • pre-teach the key vocabulary
  • set the scene
  • give a reason for listening/reading, set the task
  • listen for general gist
  • listen for detail
  • proceed to either grammar analysis or a general discussion.

While generally being  common-sensical and more or less effective, this approach lacks a very important, to my mind, stage I ALWAYS employ with VERY BENEFICIAL results –


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“peripheral listening”???


deceive their consciousness – and they will immediately hear better and undesrtand more. read on to find out how.

Listening comprehension appears to be one of the trickiest skills to teach. This is especially true about  Ukrainian and Russian natives as these languages are very different both phonologically and in terms of structure.


One reason why students often find it next to impossible to get the message even if they do hear separate words is they try to listen in a “linear” fashion just as they would read- that is, word-by-word. The problem is that they cannot think as fast as the recording goes, so while they are figuring out what the first part of a sentence means, the second part will have already gone – and they will have missed it. You may try to persuade learners to listen to the keywords ignoring the rest – and figure out the meanings based on those key words – but a lot of them will find this technique very uncomfortable. “I cannot do it”, they keep moaning, their conscious brain rebelling against the necessity to simply immerse themselves into the recording and let the unconscious mind do the decyphering for them.


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