jueves, 10 de agosto de 2017

This is pure grammar! How do I teach it?


By Enrique Rojas R.



What English teacher hasn’t had problems presenting the combination of one verb following another, particularly to speakers of Spanish? You have to tell your students that some verbs are necessarily followed by an infinitive while others are ineludibly tailed by a gerund. The trouble is if you have analytical learners within your pupils who ask what the criterion is to decide which verbs take one or the other, you have to confess that you have no idea. In fact, nobody in the world seems to know that. There is a list and you just have to learn it and use it. Not an answer full of logic.

But the conumdrum doesn’t end there. It turns out that certain magnanimous verbs allow you to take your pick of infinitive or gerund without changing their meaning, while others, quite more sternly, provide different meanings when followed by an infinitive or a gerund.

And to make matters even worse, some verbs are followed by infinitive with to, some others without to, some others by a gerund but with an object pronoun in between the verb and the gerund, then the gerund becomes infinitive (required writing / require her to write)

Not in vain our colleague blogger from Spain, Cristina Cabal has said about it: “I always claim that English grammar is easy, especially when compared to the Spanish or French grammar, but it gets a bit messy when it comes to verbs followed by infinitive or gerund.” (Cabal).

The use of the gerund has some basic differences in English and Spanish. In cases in which in English you can use an infinitive or a gerund interchangeably, in Spanish only an infinitive is possible. In the language of Shakespeare both, the infinitive and the subject take the function of a noun although they retain their verb meaning and so, they can be subjects of sentences (Exercising / To exercise is healthy) or direct objects (My mother wanted me to call her / I enjoy driving). In the language of Shakespeare only the infinitives (or subjunctives) are appropriate for that purpose. And that is the reason why your students tend to overuse the infinitives in English.

Then the only solution appears to be giving your pupils the wearisome lists of verbs followed by infinitives / gerunds, etc. to be memorized by them on their own, that it constitutes for them a huge, lifeless and humdrum job. But we figure that is the textbooks’ fault that this is a topic that teachers have to deal as one whole big chunk. As a rule of thumb, the natural way is usually the best way. And the manner in which native speakers learn this is not memorizing lists, but as collocations. They listen to it, they learn it and then they use it. For this purpose they don’t even have to know what a gerund or infinitive is.


We think that if we don’t focus on teaching the grammatical process but just in associating the use of certain verbs with gerunds or infinitives, we don’t have to wait until the intermediate level. They can start as basics with verbs such as like, enjoy, adore, hate, can’t stand to learn activities, sports, foods and others, and work their way up with more complex verbs maybe to express opinions, for instance. The important thing would be to make the collocations memorable and you achieve this through extensive practice of these structures. For that you can use fill the blank exercises, complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning as the first, etc. Although we prefer oral practice, like, for example you ask the first student: “What do you like doing in the evenings?” He/she answers and then asks the next student: “What do you like doing on weekends?” and so on.

Some may think that this is drilling and dream negative reminiscences of audio-lingual practices, but put your mind at rest! Not all drilling has to be bad, especially if students are communicating what they really do or like, etc. Remember that two factors spur the memory: interest and repetition. Just try to do the reiteration as enjoyable as possible. For this very purpose you can use stories, bingo, dominoes, hobbies cards, multiple answers with flashcards and other resources that have been specially designed to teach this and you can find in the internet free of charge

REFERENCES

Cabal C. Grammar for Intermediate Level: Gerunds and Infinitives

Cabal, C. Some Activities to Teach Gerunds and Infinitives. C. Blog de Cristina

Gerunds and Infinitives

Gerund and infinitive Dominoes. TEACHTHIS. EFL/ESL Resources https://es.scribd.com/document/340843349/Gerund-and-Infinitive-Dominoes

Gerund and infinitive Master. TEACHTHIS. EFL/ESL Resources

Gerunds and Infinitives Worksheet

 

How to Teach Gerunds and Infinitives to ESL Students Without Confusing Them. FluentU English Educator Blog.


Infinitives and Gerunds. Grammar and Beyond Communicative Activities © Cambridge University Press 2012  http://www.cambridge.org/grammarandbeyond/wp-

Joyce B. I Like Swimming. 3 Tremendous Techniques for Teaching Gerunds and Infinitiveshttp://busyteacher.org/10729-teaching-gerunds-infinitives-3-tremendous.html

Some Activities to Teach Gerunds and Infinitives

Song Worksheet: Gerunds or Infinitives?

Trusler, T. Gerunds and Infinitives: Helpful Teaching Tips http://blog.esllibrary.com/2013/02/21/gerunds-and-infinitives-helpful-teaching-tips/

Use of gerunds in Spanish

BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
Graduated in Journalism at the PUCP, Peru, Enrique Rojas R. holds a MA in Journalism and MA in Inter American History from Southern Illinois University, USA; an MA in Literature from University of the Americas, Puebla, Mexico, all the coursework for a MA in TEFL at Universidad de Piura, Peru and BA in Education from Universidad Federico Villarreal. He has also obtained Certificates of Proficiency in English both from Cambridge University and the University of Michigan and the Diploma for EFL Teachers from Universidad del Pacifico. He is an Oral Examiner for the Cambridge University exams and has been awarded the title Expert in E-Learning from Asociacion Educativa del Mediterraneo and Universidad Marcelino Champagnat. He has worked as a professor in universities in Peru, Mexico and the United States; as a newscaster and a producer in radio and television stations in the United States and Mexico, and as a writer and editor in daily newspapers of the same countries. He has been in the staff of CIDUP for 18 years teaching English and Spanish specializing in International Exams, English for Business, ESP and Teacher Training. He has been a speaker in every Congress of English for Special Purposes organized by Centro de Idiomas de la U.P. He is also a member of its Research Area.

.

miércoles, 2 de agosto de 2017

Speaking Naturally: Idioms and Collocations

                                                                                                                                                                                                                By Zarela Cruz


Don’t you feel good when your students use idioms and collocations in class? Isn’t it worth to see them making such an effort to find the most accurate expression they are capable of? The big question is: How can students learn them? The answer is easy: by reading and listening to the most language resources they can. Once students start using them, we can be sure that they have grasped cultural aspects and underlying principles of the language since these idioms are usually metaphoric; needless to say, they have a figurative meaning as well. The key is to learn them by chunks, as units of the language, not as separate words.




Let’s start with some collocations:

Why did she burst into tears?

Are you fully aware of the implications of your action?

The Titanic sank on her maiden voyage.




There are many kinds of collocations; among them:

  • verb + adjective:  seems different
  • adjective + noun: excruciating pain
  • noun + noun: a surge of anger
  • noun + verb: lions’ roar
  • verb + noun: commit suicide
  • verb + expression with preposition: burst into tears
  • verb + adverb: wave frantically 

And what about idioms? You can classify them by topics. For instance: idioms about weather, idioms with parts of the body, food idioms….the list is endless.

At the tip of my tongue
Have your head on the clouds
To be full of beans
A piece of cake

Ready for a mini-test?

Which one is correct:

Fast train or quick train?
A round of applause or
a round of claps?
It is raning dogs and cats or It is raining cats and dogs?
Gentlement and ladies or ladies and
gentlemen?
Flesh and blood or Blood and flesh?
Butter and bread or Bread and butter?

Have fun while learning! And most importantly: show your students that some combinations of words convey the precise meaning in a given situation. Encourage them to give it a try!

Are you up to it?
Try this quiz:



Too easy? Too difficult? Or was it just right? Let us know your strategies to get the right answers!


References

Biodata
Zarela Cruz graduated from Ricardo Palma University as a translator.  She also finished her master’s studies in Linguistics and took some specialization diplomas in English and Spanish. She has also completed a number of online certificates:  Teaching the Working Adult, Online, Hybrid and Blended Education, among other self-study courses. She has taught different courses, programs and levels and has been a teacher trainer, a lecturer and online instructor. This article aims to reflect on the teaching of idioms and collocations to sound more natural when speaking in English.




viernes, 28 de julio de 2017

¡FELICES FIESTAS PATRIAS!



¡Que la educación sea siempre un motivo de unión entre todos los peruanos!

Reseach Centre Cidup

jueves, 20 de julio de 2017

A Handful of Contrast Linkers in a Nutshell

By Mayra Yaranga



In this new series of articles, we’d like to address some of the problems our students find in the process of learning English. Let us start with one apparently simple, but tricky point. In my experience, students have some problems when choosing some of the famous linking words, particularly those with similar meanings but different grammar.
What happens, for example, when our students want to express contrast between two ideas? The word they will most often use is but.

  •  I was very eager to learn Japanese, but I gave up quickly after starting.        
  • The team trained very little, but they won their matches easily.


Of course, this is not the only way to mark contrast, and, in order to show students’ English has gone beyond a basic level, they should be able to use some other linking words which essentially mean the same, but are grammatically quite different , such as however, although and in spite of.

1.      However is a sentence adverb. That means it should start a new sentence.
I was very eager to learn Japanese. However, I gave up quickly after starting.

2.      Although is a conjunction. That means it will join two clauses (two sentences within a sentence) creating a contrast relationship.

Although the team trained very little, they won their matches easily.
Students can also use the shorter though in exactly the same way. Only that it has an additional use at the end of a short sentence, very common in speech:

I was very eager to learn Japanese. I gave up quickly after starting, though.

3.      The most difficult phrase is in spite of. It is a phrase that works as a preposition. That means it doesn’t take sentences or clauses, but noun phrases (phrases with a noun or gerund as the most important word, not a verb)

In spite of my eagerness to learn Japanese, I gave up quickly after starting. (eagerness is the noun that replaces “I was eager”)
In spite of training very little, the team won their matches easily. (training is the gerund that replaces “the team trained”)

In more formal English, your students can use despite, which is a slightly more formal word:

Despite training very little, the team won their matches easily. (NOT despite of)

NOT Despite the team trained very little,

We sincerely hope you find our advice useful and helps you consolidate what your students have been doing in class. See you next time!

Now it’s YOUR turn:

Do your students show problems when using these linkers?
What do you do to address those problems?

Biodata
Mayra Yaranga (1985) has completed Doctorate studies in Education at UNIFÉ;Master’s Degree in Media, Culture and Identity from Roehampton University (London)  revalidated by PUCP, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education - UPCH and the Professional Title of Licenciada - IPNM. Currently she works as IELTS trainer, Cambridge Oral Examiner and Member of the Research Area for Universidad del Pacifico Language Centre. She is also ESP coordinator and Pre-University Centre Director at UNIFÉ. 



viernes, 7 de julio de 2017

Wishing you the very best!
Research Center Cidup

How Can Non-native EFL Teachers Cope With the High Demand for Good Quality English Courses?



By  María de la Lama

Both public as well as private educational institutions are looking for top quality English teachers who, besides being first-rate educators, can become transformation and leadership agents in the national EFL arena.  It’s true that many mentors complain about low rates but usually they do not realize that institutions are willing to pay good salaries to professionals that fulfill specific requirements. So, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts: to get a good job, one that enables professional development above all, a teacher must meet the following traits:

·         To begin with, having a good command of the language is a must, at least a C1 level in an international certification. We need to bear in mind that nowadays a growing number of high school students finish their schooling with an international certification of B2, if not a C1 themselves.

·         Updated methodological knowledge. Even if you are a qualified teacher you ought to make an effort to learn new techniques to apply in your lessons.  This will not only develop your creativity but will keep your teaching style fresh enough not to become predictable. I’ve seen instructors who used to captivate their students but who have eventually lost their touch because their resistance to update their teaching style. Teachers without creativity won’t be flexible enough to adapt to the different learning styles proper of new generations.

·         Technology is your best allied. Virtual platforms, on line courses, digital books, on-line international exams, are just some examples of how technology is changing the way we learn and the manner we teach.   Even though many schools do not have the economic resources to incorporate technology in their classrooms, teachers need to be skilful in the use of educational technology not to be left behind in their career.

·         Teaching English through content. It would be convenient to prepare yourself to teach a course in English: Science, literature, history courses taught in this language are in high demand, so teachers that are well prepared to teach courses in this foreign tongue increase their possibility of finding excellent jobs.


BIODATA:

DE LA LAMA, MARIA, Bachelor in Education, has a master's degree in Applied Linguistics and a Bachelor's in Linguistics, both obtained at the University of California, Davis. She also holds an MBA from Universidad del Pacífico. She currently serves as the Director of the Language Center at Universidad del Pacífico.

domingo, 2 de julio de 2017

Can Circumstantial Burdens Hinder Teachers’ Professional Development?

 By Flor de María Vila 


Sometimes when we stop to think about our professional life, we feel as if our career has grown unruly and probably it has reached its peak. Suddenly, we may feel as if nothing about it could be changed since we have already tried everything there was to be tried. This fatalistic way of thinking comes together with other ideas that support or excuse the fact that our professional life cannot become any better, so we do not even think of changing anything because the die is cast.
One of the reasons why we take no further action is that we have faced situations that have blinded us and instead of having taken them as challenges, we have considered them as impediments.
Which are these obstacles?
1.  Lack of time: We spend many hours preparing and conducting classes, creating materials, writing lesson plans and other documents, and even commuting to our workplace. Furthermore, probably we have more than one job in order to make ends meet. Consequently, we can rightfully exclaim that there is no time to develop our professional life.
2.   Lack of money: We have just remarked that we work hard and likely in more than one place to earn enough money so that we can support our family. Hence, we may not have enough income to afford any other expenses such as the ones required to pursue further studies, leave alone expenses on books or online material.
3.    Lack of opportunities to improve the level of the target language: This could be true for us who teach the same course, level, etc. every month, cycle, or year. We may even employ the same books we used years ago which will not defy us to learn even new vocabulary.
It is true that our profession is no longer wholly valued and very likely fits among the most scantily salaried. However, it is also real that when one really wants to advance, there are no barriers but challenges.

It is a matter of changing the perspective:
1.    Lack of time: The ones who feel that their effort will have a reward do walk the extra mile while the rest of them sleep. They know that spending more time on their improvement will mean a better pay and thus the need of working so many hours will be reduced because a higher payment will allow them to work fewer hours and earn the same or more than before. Their improvement in teaching or level of language will enable them to apply for better positions.
2.   Lack of money: I remember that when I began teaching many, many years ago, I did not earn much money but I still managed to save a little money to buy books that would help me learn more about teaching. I already had children, but instead of spending money on treats I would put that money in an envelope and save it until I could have enough to buy that special book. (Probably, you remember the book The Practice of English Language Teaching by Jeremy Hammer (1991) or maybe Grammar Practice Activities by Penny Ur (1988). I found them the other day when I was moving to a new home. I realized that they were two of the best investments I had ever made).
Do not consider these disbursements as expenses but rather as investments which will pay back and bring you a better professional and personal life.
3.   Lack of opportunities: Even if you do not have the chance to ask for another course or level, do not give up so easily. Fight! Try to see it as a new beginning and reinvent yourself. Look for other ways of giving the lessons. Find other sources, activities, exercises and avoid the routine. If you fall into a rut, you will lose interest. And if you get bored, you will start working wrongly. If that happens, you will hate yourself because you will know that you have become dull. In addition, if you get bored and your students get jaded, your boss will most likely get fed up too and get rid of you. Thus, take chances. If you do not do that, you will not ever win and, even worse, you will miss the opportunity of learning and improving.


Do you agree with these ideas?
Are there any other impediments? Do they stop you from advancing?


Biographical Data
M.A. in Cognition, Learning and Development from PUCP, B.A. in Education with a major in English Teaching. Ms. Vila is currently Pedagogic Advisor and Member of the Research Team at Centro de Idiomas de la Universidad del Pacífico and Academic Director of International Contacts (test training & foreign applications advisory). She is official Examiner for several University of Cambridge tests, freelance consultant with Universidad ESAN, experienced speaker on diverse English teaching issues for prestigious institutions, and senior international examinations trainer (GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS)

jueves, 22 de junio de 2017

Why are International Exams Important?


.

                                                                        By Enrique Rojas R

The international English standardized exams have gained notorious importance in Peru, as well as the other countries in Latin America, and all over the world. What is the real reason for this? None other than the need to have a valid method of appraising the extent at which learners are able to understand and speak the language of Chaucer and Whitman.

First of all, a fairly accurate unit of measurement was required. The old classification of beginner, intermediate and advance wasn’t holding the water. There were no precise boundaries between these, and other intermediate subcategories like pre-intermediate and upper-intermediate, for example. Each educational institution would set its own requirements for upgrading to the next subcategory or category and establish their own labels as to what an individual in each of the brackets should know. The ensuing problem sprang, not surprisingly, when a student went from a school to another and their knowledge did not reach their expectations for the tag they bore or surpassed them widely. There was no way to know how much a student knew short of sitting them to an English exam.

BABEL’S EUROPE
Multilingualism is common for the countries of Europe, particularly in nations such as Switzerland, the Netherlands or Belgium. So it is no surprise that the Swiss Federal Authorities, in the Swiss municipality of Rüschlikon, were pioneers in organizing an intergovernmental symposium to look for the objectives, evaluation and certification of language learning in Europe. This meeting, held in 1991, found the need to develop a common European framework for languages to improve the recognition of language qualifications and help teachers to operate under the same basic parameters.  A project to develop language-level classifications for certification to be recognized across Europe ensued.

They were certainly not alone. The Council of Europe had been working since 1989, and continued until 1996, in their project "Language Learning for European Citizenship" with the purpose of providing a method of learning, teaching and assessing that could be applied to all the languages in Europe. Continued deliberation and labor eventually led to the development of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language Learning, Teaching and Assessment which is the result of the collaboration of many members of the teaching profession across Europe and other places. It was in 2001 that the European Union Council recommended using the CEFR to set up systems of validation of language ability, an initiative that it is becoming widely accepted as the European standard for rating an individual's language proficiency. The system endeavours to put forward a clear, coherent and complete basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses and curriculum guidelines, the drawing of teaching materials, and the evaluation of language aptitude.

The English University of Cambridge established UCLES (University of Cambridge Local Examinations Board) as early as 1858 (a similar organization had been set up by the University of Oxford one year before) to set school leaving examinations for non-members of the university and began the first overseas examinations in 1864. They started to develop different tests for diverse levels of speakers. By 1955 they were conducting over 100,000 examinations.
 
With the advent of the 21st century and the establishment of the CEFR, the British exams turned to reflect English speaking abilities expressed in their six categories. There are no passing or failing grades, just a description of what the exam takers are capable of doing.


THE AMERICAN VERSION
Across the Atlantic there is another huge organization dedicated to administer a variety of English proficiency exams. It’s the Educational Testing Service that claims to score more than 50 million tests annually in over 180 countries. They’ve been delivering tests since 1947. Among them are TOEFL, TOEIC, GRE, SAT. The popular and well known TOEFL was designed to establish whether the candidate is able to conduct undergraduate or graduate universities studies in English. It went from a hand written version to a computerized one and now an internet based variety. Although it wasn’t put together around the CEFR, its results can be measured in terms of it.



REFERENCES

Cambridge Assessment, Our Heritage.                       http://www.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/about-   us/who-we-are/our-heritage/ Retrieved June 20, 2017.

Educational Testing Service History. http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/educational-testing-service-history/ Retrieved June 20, 2017.

International English Language Testing System. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_English_Language_Testing_System#frb-inline. Retrieved June 20, 2017.

BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
Graduated in Journalism at the PUCP, Peru, Enrique Rojas R. holds a MA in Journalism and MA in Inter American History from Southern Illinois University, USA; an MA in Literature from University of the Americas, Puebla, Mexico, all the coursework for a MA in TEFL at Universidad de Piura, Peru and BA in Education from Universidad Federico Villarreal. He has also obtained Certificates of Proficiency in English both from Cambridge University and the University of Michigan and the Diploma for EFL Teachers from Universidad del Pacifico. He is an Oral Examiner for the Cambridge University exams and has been awarded the title Expert in E-Learning from Asociacion Educativa del Mediterraneo and Universidad Marcelino Champagnat. He has worked as a professor in universities in Peru, Mexico and the United States; as a newscaster and a producer in radio and television stations in the United States and Mexico, and as a writer and editor in daily newspapers of the same countries. He has been in the staff of CIDUP for 18 years teaching English and Spanish specializing in International Exams, English for Business, ESP and Teacher Training. He has been a speaker in every Congress of English for Special Purposes organized by Centro de Idiomas de la U.P. He is also a member of its Research Area.