There are many possibilities for using word clouds in language courses. I've listed around 35 of them here with a few hints on what to do.- preview a presentation or a text
- preview the current day’s lesson plan
- predict the content of a text e.g. topics, style, purpose, intended audience
- predict the content of a novel e.g. plot lines, characters, genre or themes as group work
- complete reading comprehension questions just from a word cloud, then comparing answers after reading the actual text
- summarise a presentation
- turn a text into a picture (essay, report, paragraph, article, etc.)
- identify the key words in a text based on their size in the word cloud
- expanding vocabulary (definitions, synonyms, antonyms, or brainstorm words associated with a new one, match parts of collocations)
- student-created flashcards of essential words (review, circle unknown, learn)
- discussion starter (student chooses one word from cloud to speak about)
- add to printed or online course materials
- use as a background for slides or online materials
- compare student responses (make one cloud, or separate ones to compare)
- explore a topic (students add own ideas to a question stimulus & build a cloud)
- take a quick class poll or track a poll over time (multiple clouds side-by-side)
- introduce new course, syllabus or module (provides an overview of content)
- introduce course objectives
- student ice-breaker e.g. all input hobbies, interests, future aspirations, family, pets, favourite films or books, country of origin, etc.
- highlight the main areas to focus on from rubrics to gain the best grades
- highlight examples of misspelled or overused words in student writing by inputting their own work
- illustrate contrasting ideas (show two clouds side-by-side), such as opposing arguments in essays or articles
- research texts from multiple sources then combine them into a cloud
- ‘find the words’ game (e.g. mix academic & non-academic in a cloud & identify)
- ‘guess the topic’ game, or combine two topics in one cloud and students separate them out
- ‘grammar game’ e.g. students classify words from a cloud into different parts of speech or different tenses
- ‘sentence structure’ game e.g. input a complex sentence or short series of sentences into a word cloud, and have students reconstruct them in the correct word order
- ‘memory game’ e.g. show a word cloud, take it off the screen, students write as many words as they can recall
- identify parts of speech (students highlight or underline in different colours)
- visual analysis of qualitative data (e.g. convert a table to a picture)
- curriculum mapping across multiple subjects
- checking the balance between course content and course objectives
Here is a multiple-lesson design thanks to http://tborash.posterous.com/designing-lessons-using-wordle
While not a flawless design, these six steps seemed paramount in increasing students' desire to learn:
- Students pre-assessing their own knowledge and understanding - "What does _insert topic here_ mean to me?"
- Students using Wordle to analyze the pre-assessment responses
- Students "doing stuff" to experience _insert topic here_ in real life - "What happens when I do this?" (this is the learning phase)
- Students responding to what they now know and understand - "What does _insert topic here_ mean to me today?"
- Students comparing the Wordle of their current thinking to that of their pre-assessment responses
- Students asking the question, "Given what I first thought, and what I now think, what do I think of next?"
Without the use of Wordle, we lose out on a central piece of this lesson design puzzle.
An excellent article by Simon Thomas on using word clouds in language activities can be found at: http://efl-resource.com/language-activities-with-wordle-and-word-clouds-2/
. This includes links to several other resources as well.Benefits:
- assists with motivation
- assists with thinking skills
- enlivens course content in all macro-skills
- appeals to visual learners
Places to Try: http://abcya.com/word_clouds.htm
(for young learners) http://www.literature-map.com/
(more for readers of English lit.) http://www.imagechef.com/ic/word_mosaic/
(has iOS & Android apps.) http://quintura.com/
(has iOS app.) http://tagcrowd.com/ http://taggalaxy.com/ http://tagul.com/
(each tag is linkable with a URL for navigation) http://www.tagxedo.com/ http://www.visualthesaurus.com/vocabgrabber/
(also has visual thesaurus!) http://worditout.com/ http://www.wordle.net/
(very easy to use, MOST favoured by teachers) http://wordsift.com/
(from Stanford University ELL)
The word cloud illustrated above was prepared by myself using Wordle.
I'm pleased to announce a new page on 'Teacher Greg's Education Home'.
The motivation for it came from my desire to engage the many colleagues with whom I work, in a conversation about ELICOS (English Language Intensive Course of Study) and EAP (English for Academic Purposes) programs and how they operate at my institution. Like many workplaces, the pressures of just keeping on top of the teaching have meant that opportunities for genuine discussion, sharing and reflection have become rare, formal meetings have become ineffectual, and inefficiencies have naturally arisen as a result.
'TESOL forums' will be a chance to recover lost ground, to re-ignite the discussion, and to move forward in more practical ways. It will take some effort to 'sell' the idea and overcome the hesitation of others, but I'm taking the first steps while hoping this will lead them to continue the conversation.
Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history. -Joan Wallach Scott
Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. -Maria Robinson
I posted the following comments to an excellent article entitled "Teaching Counts" which was written by David B. Cohen on the InterACT blogsite: http://accomplishedcaliforniateachers.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/experience-counts/#comment-2725
"Sadly, in Taiwan as much as the USA, experience is undervalued. It is most clearly so due to having annual contracts rather than the possibility of continuity, and in having no senior or leader teachers. English language teachers here operate at the whim of school and government administrators whose principal motives are not always educational ones.
I fear that the situation in the US is that it is easier to quantify exam results using "scientific" methods, than trying to measure more qualitative aspects of the very complex teacher-student-parent-school-community relationship, or even than by attempting to conduct longitudinal (more expensive) studies of teachers' work over several years. It is also easier to keep budgets within limits by hiring lower paid recent graduates than continuing those working higher up the pay scale.
Administrators, accountants and governments like easy, quick answers. What they do not care about is whether or not the measures used reflect the work being performed.
One aspect of all of this that is working against the vast majority of teachers is the small number of those who are stuck in a time warp, teaching the same way year by year, not reflecting on what they are doing, not listening to students, parents and colleagues, not preparing students for the future they will face, refusing to consider the place of interactive and computer-based technologies in a range of teaching tools, and incapable of being moved on due to inflexible tenure arrangements or lack of non-contact positions. While hey are certainly not doing the rest of us any favours by staying, at the same time, "the system" should have ways of ensuring this does not happen as well.
David, I congratulate you on an interesting article, and I will share it as widely as possible with other educators.
You know, as a teacher, I'm often bouyed most by the great moments between me and my students, by the compliments from supervisors, by the feeling of self-satisfaction at completing a lesson as planned, and by the 100% marks my students sometimes achieve.
However, when I pause to reflect, I realise that there's MUCH more to teaching and learning than success, regardless of how alluring and intoxicating it seems. When I'm truly honest with myself as a learner and a teacher, I have to admit that I learn far more from my mistakes and failures than from what goes right and is successful. Why?
When I succeed, I tend to be self-satisfied, to stop stretching, to stop trying new things, to stop moving forwards. ("If it ain't broke, don't fix it!") However, when I fail, or at least trip up, I have to work out why, I have to experiment with other ways of doing, I have to challenge myself, and even study, read, confer and reconstruct my knowledge in order to overcome my shortcomings. Equally, my students need to do so as well.
I understand if you say that failure hurts and mistakes are embarrassing. You are correct. But what worries me most, is when I catch myself just settling for safe ground, not ruffling any feathers (including my own), not thinking from day to day, and considering that such a state is satisfactory, even preferable to the alternatives.
So, I have made it my goal to look freshly at my patterns of behaviour, whether successful or not, and use all of them as starting points for development, rather than end-points of self-satisfaction.
Are you trying hard enough? Are you making mistakes? I hope you might at least think about it.
First posted in Amazon discussion here: http://amzn.to/GO7tZR
Are you looking for some useful resources for teaching elementary school EFL/ESL students?
Perhaps you want to know how to use Interactive Whiteboards or just need some resources for them?
Well, I have what you need - and FREE!
On the "Teach" link go to "Teaching Help" and you will find both.
Under EFL/ESL elementary resources I've listed the best 65 sites for:
video, stories, reading, e-books, music & song, activities, games, writing, lesson plans, vocabulary, spelling, dictionaries, quizzes & puzzles, speaking & pronunciation, phonics & ABCs, community sharing, rhymes, colouring, animation & cartoons, test writing, printables, flashcards, presentations, screen-casting, brainstorming, audio & sounds, collaboration, stickies, podcasts, posters, search tools and a complete LMS (learning management system). Many are also suited to interactive whiteboards.
Under IWB/Smartboard resources I've listed the best 48 sites for:
training & tutorials in mastering smartboards, games, lesson plans, presentations, activities, spelling, reading, comics, worksheets, phonics and writing. The training sites have videos that will step you through everything you need to know to use IWB's effectively in class.
Principled Possibilities - Ideas for Teaching is a unique publication representing the summation of four years of graduate study, and my own experiences, discoveries, experiments and successes over eight years of teaching throughout Asia and the Pacific. Uniquely the book includes: - a wide selection of academic papers, conference and training presentations, and curriculum and planning documents, - links to websites and other resources for exploring the topics further and contacting the author, - ideas ranging from working with absolute young beginners to adult and upper-intermediate level students, - discussions of current challenges and controversies in teaching, - approaches to online and computer-assisted learning, and - suggestions in the field of English language teaching.
Here is the full introduction to give you some more details:My transition from office work to education was a late one, and came about more by accident than design.
Having successfully trained as a classical musician, I realised that performance opportunities would be limited at my age, so it seemed that music education would be the most logical progression. Having successfully trained as a teacher, I discovered that music teaching opportunities would also be scarce, apart from those occasionally arising in outback Australia.
At the suggestion of a friend I decided to dip my toes into the field of English language teaching by working at a winter camp in Shanghai, China. It was the joy of that experience which sparked my desire to work and travel further.
Several training courses later I began my new career, at first in Australia with children and later with adults from Europe, South America and Asia. From there I have experienced life in the Sultanate of Brunei, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan, where I am presently located.
While there is much material available in the field of EFL (English as a Foreign Language), I feel that my own experiences, discoveries, experiments, successes and failures
over the last eight years in a variety of settings, with children to adults, and with absolute beginners to upper-intermediate students, are worth sharing with others.
The present book, therefore, includes academic papers, conference and training presentations, and curriculum and planning papers to assist fellow educators. Many of these were developed in the context of formal tertiary training in Queensland, Australia, and refer to issues and cases from that location. Nevertheless, they are equally relevant in other English-speaking contexts.
There are also links to my Internet-based materials and websites where electronic versions
of many resources included here may be found for the reader’s convenience and further exploration.
I don’t look on this publication as the final authority on all matters of English language teaching, but as part of the ongoing professional support and discussion so vital to our dynamically evolving and collaborative field. This is why I encourage readers to continue the conversation with me and others using the links given throughout.
I wish to conclude this introduction by expressing my appreciation to fellow teachers, colleagues, university staff, and members of my personal learning network who have either directly or indirectly assisted in formulating my ideas and refining my approaches to teaching. Their originality, contributions, and occasional criticism, are all deeply valued.
How can you get this book? Click on the Lulu link on my home page, or go directly here
It's been a tumultuous few months for me, so I apologise for not writing sooner.
As time is short, here are the highlights:
(1) After many broken promises and unreasonable treatment by my employer, I left Malaysia in disgust in April and returned home to Toowoomba in Queensland.
(2) I spent time catching up with my family - all of whom I'm very proud of - and looking for work. After a few non-events, I managed to snare an English teaching job at my local university - the same one at which I was studying. Unfortunately their positions are very short term (10 week sessions) with no guarantees of re-employment unless there are sufficient enrolments. While I enjoyed teaching there, I wanted something more secure.
(3) After spending several months looking for work, I decided to accept a teaching job back in Hsinchu with the same government school at which I'd worked the first time. At least this was a guaranteed 12 months with renewal options.
(4) The other productive (and satisfying) thing I managed to do, was to complete my Master of Applied Linguistics program, from which I've now graduated.
So now I'm comfortably back in a familiar city, making some new teaching friends and catching up with earlier ones, enjoying a lovely new apartment, riding a scooter again, and longing for some cooler weather now autumn is here.
If you go to this link Photos June to September 2011
you'll see some of the places I've been both back home and now here in Taiwan.
My next trip will be a long weekend in Toowoomba in mid-November to attend (Anthony) my son's wedding. It will pass very quickly, but I want to be there to wish him well.
The idea I got from this was that unplugged approaches work with beginners as well as with those having more language.
I also found it interesting as a potential approach with EFL beginners overseas, if only we could convince schools to give up their precious (badly written) student books & workbooks.
Where it is more difficult for you is not having a common L2 among your learners, making a co-teacher arrangement useless. Where it is simpler for you is being in an English-speaking country where students are exposed to the language outside of class.
It sounds to me that you are definitely on the right track with these students, offering them what they need and want. You've also got me thinking about how a similar approach might work here in Taiwan elementary schools. Are there more sample sheets that you have developed under the "English Trees" concept?
You don't mention many specific ways of eliciting language from students. I assume, though, you might have considered student art, gesture, facial expressions, acting out, bringing in photos or realia as other possibilities.
Please keep up the action research, as good ideas are always welcome.
Posted today at http://jasonrenshaw.typepad.com/jason_renshaws_web_log/2010/11/a-simple-approach-to-trees-in-the-beginners-section-of-the-orchard.html
Today I posted the following comment on http://kalinago.blogspot.com/2010/10/running.html which talked about why some of us become TEFL teachers overseas instead of staying in our home countries, particularly some of the common misperceptions about it.Teacher Greg
said...Some stay for the drudgery of an office life.
Some stay for their mortgages.
Some stay for fear of new things and new ideas.
Some stay to avoid challenges and growth.
Some stay because it's just easier.
Some just stay!
October 13, 2010
As someone at the "coal face" I'm really enjoying the to-and-fro debate about "dogme" or "teaching unplugged".
I must agree I don't like the name "dogme" - it reminds me too much of a dog (mongrel) or of being in church. Also, I think "unplugged" is a bit negative - like something has been removed. I'm not sure what other term would be better though. Perhaps "open teaching", "liberated teaching", "selective teaching", "responsive teaching"???
Also, as you say, trying to convince government authorities, administrators, head teachers and parents that it's not necessary to use a coursebook, or to use it selectively, is an uphill battle.
The reality is that some in the EFL world are simply happy with what they know, or feel they are too poorly paid to consider it worth their time changing, or are put off by the likely negative response from above that an "unplugged" approach would induce.
I am not one of them, by the way!
While I don't always stick to the coursebook, at elementary school level I tend to devise other activities (like TPR or skits or story telling) which, though unplugged, aren't exactly spontaneously emerging from the ebb and flow of classroom talk, since that is necessarily limited by young learners' minimal exposure to, and training in, English. So, I use the framework of the coursebook with its specified curriculum, but decide in what ways I will address the content.
I suppose what I am doing is learning about the interests and experiences of students over a period of time working with them, and the indirect feedback I receive from trying particular activities, to build into the design of future lessons. Is that "emergent"?
Finally, I agree that those who have engaged in this debate could well now start consolidating resources, and putting together ideas and practical examples which would help us in the situations in which we teach, such as young learners, and large classes. After all, that probably represents the situation of most ESL/EFL teachers.
Please keep nudging us along.
Posted today at http://jasonrenshaw.typepad.com/jason_renshaws_web_log/2010/10/a-call-to-arms-on-both-sides-of-the-unplugged-fence.html