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Showing posts from May, 2023

Personality traits and language aptitude

Language learning aptitude and motivation are said to be the two most telling factors in language learning success. In researching the second edition of The Language Teacher Toolkit, we looked into any possible correlation between aptitude and personality types. As you might imagine, this is a complex area. One or two findings from research might surprise you. This is what we have written. **************************************************************** It should be noted that the evidence on how different personality types affect language learning is tentative, since personality type classifications used in research vary and because not enough studies have been carried out. Several findings are worth being aware of, however, some of which are counter intuitive. The personality types referred to below are taken from Costa and McCrae’s (1992) ‘Big Five’ model. They generate the acronym OCEAN .  1. Openness to experience . People with high levels of this trait are intellectually cu

An easy web search task

Here is a nice reading-focused lesson which could be done in a computer room or on laptops/iPads. It's what used to be called a "web quest" activity. Essentially the students go to the Gites de France site and search for a gite of their choice, completing a vocab list along the way. That might be enough for you, but if you want to give it a communicative twist, a few possibilities spring to mind. 1.  Students find five gites, rank order them by different categories, e.g. price, facilities, area, size. 2.  When students have chosen a gite they work in pairs, with one person describing their gite to their partner, who must note down the description. 3. Pairs choose a gite together, then draw up a luggage list for the trip and plan five activities to do in the area (as if they were planning a short holiday break). 4. In pairs, students look at each other's choice and discuss the pros and cons of their partner's choice. They agree which of their choices is better. 5.

Encouraging fluent, spontaneous talk

 As we get closer to the publication day for the second edition of The Language Teacher Toolkit , here is another short extract, this one on developing spontaneity. In this much revised chapter, we have combined information and research on two connected areas. First, fluency  (not just spoken fluency, but 'cognitive fluency' - broadly speaking the ability to quickly retrieve and use language) and second,  spontaneity (being able to produce language creatively, 'on the hoof'). We have taken the research and made suggestions about practice.   In addition, in this second edition we have delineated more clearly the research sections from the classroom practice sections, signalling them at the beginning of each chapter. The extract below is from the classroom practice half of the chapter. **************************************************************** Spontaneous talk is when a student takes part in a conversation while ‘thinking on their feet’, without any pre-planning a


This is another in my series of short blog posts based on sections of our forthcoming second edition of The Language Teacher Toolkit (Smith and Conti, 2023). One area we have developed further in this heavily revised book is how knowledge of cognitive science and memory can be helpful when thinking about the language learning experience in the classroom. This section is about forgetting . ****************************************************************************** A first point to make is that we tend to forget things very quickly in general. Think for a moment about how quickly we forget someone’s name at a party, or how we must rehearse in our head or out loud a phone number we have been given. German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus investigated forgetting and produced his famous forgetting curve . In 1885 he did experiments with short nonsense words of three letters, then tried to remember them at various time intervals after the initial learning. The results of his experiments