Presented at the 48th annual meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL), Aston University, Birmingham, UK on September 4th, 2015

Abstract

In order to make sense of abstract thought, humans have developed a rich facility for metaphor. These metaphors are loaded with meanings to be unpacked and interpreted. Research into education has a strong tradition of metaphor analysis, utilising metaphors for education to categorise differing attitudes towards the learning process. This work suggests the potential of metaphors as a shorthand for attitude systems. If this promise can be realised then researchers will have a powerful tool at hand.

This study seeks to test the hypothesis that learners’ metaphors for learning may reveal something about their perspectives and attitudes, with a particular focus on learner autonomy. In this study, the researcher assessed the propensity of Japanese university students for autonomous language learning using a survey developed by Shimo (2008), in addition to classroom observation. The same students were asked to complete short sentence fragments ‘A teacher is …’, ‘A student is…’, and ‘A classroom is…’ using metaphors, in writing. The complete sentences were subject to content analysis and followed up with one-to-one interviews.

Literature

The analysis of the metaphors employed by teachers and / or learners is a well-established technique. Herron (1982) and later Nattinger (1984) attempted to put language teaching methodologies into metaphorical contexts. Herron suggested that the grammar translation method was equivalent to gymnastic training – both require exertion and practice in order to attain proficiency. Nattinger’s disquiet in attempting to apply a computational metaphor to the relatively new methodology (at that time) of communicative language teaching perhaps reflects the computer’s place in society at that time; as computer technology has become entangled with human life, the human brain as computer metaphor has become dominant.

The relationships between metaphor, thought and society are fluid. As some work to express complex systems or ideas with metaphors, others analyse the metaphors we use to find out what lies beneath. Oxford et al. (1998) undertook an extensive survey of teacher and researcher narratives, and organised teachers’ conceptions into four major philosophical viewpoints on education; social order, cultural transmission, leaner-centred growth and social reform. Education as social order, for example, contains metaphors in the teacher as manufacturer subset suggesting a focus on efficiency, uniformity and end product.

de Guerrero & Villamil (2002) categorised the teacher’s role by metaphor into nine groupings as follows.

(category) (example) (counterpoint)
teacher as co-operative leader movie director learner as active participant
teacher as provider of knowledge TV set learner as recipient of knowledge
teacher as challenger or agent of change lion tamer learner as object of change
teacher as nurturer gardener learner as developing organism
teacher as innovator explorer learner as resistor
teacher as provider of tools tool carrier learner as constructor
teacher as artist potter learner as raw material
teacher as repairer mechanic learner as defective individual
teacher as gym instructor aerobics trainer learner as gymnast

Research has shown that the favoured metaphors people use reflect their attitudes and perceptions. For this study, I wanted to test the connection between metaphor and learner autonomy. The challenge was to measure autonomy. Learner autonomy is multidimensional and dynamic (Benson, 2013) and thus very hard to measure effectively. I drew on two previous studies, both of which took place in higher education in Japan.

Shimo (2008) attempted to discover if the level of self-perceived learner autonomy was linked to language proficiency. From a working definition of learner autonomy as the capacity to take responsibility for one’s own learning, she created a survey which assessed three domains; orientation for reflecting on learning processes, orientation for enhancing learning opportunities and orientation for reflecting on language abilities. The resulting eighteen question tool was a useful starting point for my study.

Murase (2015) developed a far more imposing questionnaire of 113 points, in an attempt to measure autonomy across four dimensions; technical, psychological, political-philosophical and socio-cultural.

dimension definition example statement
technical the ability to set goals, plan learning and study independently I set achievable goals in learning English.
psychological motivational and affective factors If I worry about learning English, I know how I can cope with it.
political-philosophical attitudes towards authority and hierarchy Students should always follow their teacher’s instructions.
socio-cultural orientation towards other learners and cultural differences in learning If I am doing something different from other students, I feel worried.

Methodology

For this study, I melded elements from both questionnaires to focus on the learners orientation to others (other learners and teachers), self-awareness, and the technical capacity to practice independent learning. Students were asked to mark their level of agreement with a series of statements on a five point scale. The questionnaire was administered in Japanese to five classes of second year English majors at a Japanese women’s university. A translation of the final 26 point questionnaire is attached here.

Next, the same students were asked to complete four sentences with metaphors; A teacher is like____, A language learner is like___,A classroom is like___,Language learning is like____. They were also asked to give reasons for their metaphor selection.

Finally, the students were invited to semi-structured interviews. The first part of each interview related to their language learning experience and attitudes, and in the second part they were asked to select pictures which best matched their metaphors for learning, These pictures were generated from the learners’ questionnaires.

Discussion

The larger data set (the first two questionnaires) is still under analysis, so here I would like to focus on just one of the students who agreed to be interviewed; ‘Melanie’.

Metaphors and Autonomy BAAL Extract.001

 

Melanie has a very strong orientation to learning with others, but she still expresses a level of dependance on the teacher. These are some of the comments she makes at the beginning of our interview.

Metaphors and Autonomy BAAL Extract.002

Next we look at a selection of pictures, generated from the student questionnaires. The first picture she selects is an image of god, taken from Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’. Metaphors and Autonomy BAAL Extract.003

This metaphor is in line with her learner autonomy measurement, although there is a certain level of self-awareness that wasn’t previously apparent.

Talking of the class, she shows how important the social aspect of learning is for her.

Metaphors and Autonomy BAAL Extract.004

Her metaphors for learning are intriguing. She comes across as very optimistic, which reflects her strong ‘affective’ score on the measurement. But it seems that she sees positive and negative situations as something to be borne or muddled through, out of her control. This bears out the lower score she received for technical autonomy on the measurement.

Metaphors and Autonomy BAAL Extract.005

Metaphors and Autonomy BAAL Extract.006

Metaphors and Autonomy BAAL Extract.007

In the slide show below you can see more.

My Teacher is a Watering Can: Metaphors and Autonomous Learning by Darren Elliott

References

Benson, P. (2013). Teaching and researching: Autonomy in language learning. Oxford: Routledge.

de Guerrero, M. C., & Villamil, O. S. (2002). Metaphorical conceptualizations of ESL teaching and learning. Language teaching research, 6 (2), 95-120.

Herron, C. (1982). Foreign‐Language Learning Approaches as Metaphor. The Modern Language Journal, 66 (3), p. 235-242.

Mahlios, M., Massengill‐Shaw, D., & Barry, A. (2010). Making sense of teaching through metaphors: A review across three studies. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 16 (1), 49-71.

Murase, F. (2015). Measuring Language Learner Autonomy: Problems and Possibilities. In Everhard, C. J., & Murphy, L. (Eds.). Assessment and Autonomy in Language Learning. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Nattinger, J. R. (1984). Communicative language teaching: A new metaphor. Tesol Quarterly, 18 (3), 391-407.

Oxford, R. L., Tomlinson, S., Barcelos, A., Harrington, C., Lavine, R. Z., Saleh, A., & Longhini, A. (1998). Clashing metaphors about classroom teachers: Toward a systematic typology for the language teaching field. System, 26 (1), 3-50.

Shimo, E. (2008). Learner autonomy and English language proficiency: An exploration among Non-English majors at a Japanese university. 近畿大学語学教育部紀要 (Kinki University Department of Language Education bulletin). Vol.8, No.2, p.153- 178

Presented at EUROCALL 2015, University of Padua, August 27th, 2015

The Background

When the university I was working at bought a set of small video cameras, I was intrigued. I started playing around with them in class, first I had the learners record and transcribe conversations, then I guided them to make skits and instructional videos. You can see some of the projects I have worked on previously here.

Over the last few years since I first began using student video, there have been two major developments. The first is the ubiquity of smartphone technology. We have now reached the point (in my context, at least) at which almost every student has a video recording and editing suite in his or her pocket. The next development, obviously connected to the first, is the rise of online video. YouTube, Vine, Facebook, Instagram, LINE; this is what our students are watching. Instead of television? Perhaps.

I had these ideas in mind when I was presented with the opportunity to teach an advanced and an intermediate communication class at a local university. I had carte blanche, and I decided to make this a video project class. I set up a website to deliver the content, and chose a number of different video genres (some traditional, some more modern) to analyse and replicate with the learners.

I decided from the start to allow the students a lot of freedom in how they produced the videos. I suggested different methods, but gave very little technical instruction unless asked. My goal was to allow them to use the tools with which they were most comfortable, to take responsibility for their own learning, and to support each other. I wanted very much to avoid ‘technological determinism’ – the tools were secondary to the learners and their products.

To begin, it was necessary to find out what they had, what they could already do, and what they thought.
Fortunately, every single student had a smartphone.

Eurocall Extract.001

Recording is always easy. The main challenges in student produced video are editing and sharing the completed file. Unfortunately, my favoured tools were unfamiliar.

Eurocall Extract 2.001

The students were mixed in their willingness to share online. Some were quite keen.

Eurocall Extract.001

Others were more conservative, and actually quite naive.

Eurocall Extract.002

Eurocall Extract.003

There were also some differences in their familiarity with editing software.

Eurocall Extract.004

But for pretty much everyone, the smartphone would be the tool of choice.

Eurocall Extract 2.001

The learners’ first task was to create a self-introduction video and deliver it to me. This example took me a few minutes, using the apps Splice and Vimo on an iPhone 6.

An Introduction to Darren Elliott from darren elliott on Vimeo.

The students fared quite well, and were able to teach each other the techniques they had used to broaden the knowledge base of the whole class.

At this point, we started the project work. Please visit the individual pages at the website to see how each project developed.

News Report

YouTube Movie Review

Directors Commentary

Subtitling

Vlogging

TED Talk

Soap Opera

For each of the projects, we analysed quintessential examples and tried to replicate them. For example, the YouTube movie review is delivered straight to camera with jump cuts and onscreen text and pictures. Soap operas tend to cut between the actors and dwell on reaction shots in close up. TED Talks begin with a personal story and lead in to the message.

What I found was that, although learners had technical trouble with hardware and software, they were generally very adept at replicating style accurately. For example, the background music may have been too loud, but the actual song fit perfectly with the style of video the learner was making.

To conclude the semester, the students interviewed one another (on video, of course) using this list of suggested questions.

broadcasting-final-questions

I’d like to highlight a few common responses.

Firstly, the students almost all referred to technical skills when asked what they had learnt. Editing skills, adding audio commentary and subtitling, these were the things they took home from the course. Some of them had used their new skills in other classes, others in their personal lives.

The most popular project across both classes was the subtitling project. This was quite challenging technically, but it allowed the students to express their creativity and also to talk about issues which affected them directly. This also came out in the TED talks and the news reports – students tended to choose local issues and topics important to them as university students.

Finally, there was a shift in attitudes towards their smartphones. Most of the learners had initially seen their phones as communication tools. Actually, I believe that if they had assessed their use more carefully they may have found they were using their devices to consume, create and share media too. However, the general perception of the smartphone was that its main function was text messaging. By the end of the course, many of the students reported a broader view of their phones and of their own relationship with their devices.

If you attended my presentation in Padova, thank you! If you didn’t, thank you for reading. Either way, I’d be happy to hear your questions or comments below.

Bibliography
Goodwyn, A. (2003). English teaching and the moving image. Routledge.

Marshall, J., & Werndly, A. (2002). The language of television. Routledge.

Potter, J. (2012). Digital media and learner identity: The new curatorship. Palgrave Macmillan.

An Interview with Richard Smith from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I was very happy to speak to Richard Smith at the recent Learner Development SIG 20th anniversary conference in Tokyo. Richard was one of the founder members of the special interest group when he was based in Japan, and we discuss the motivation behind the formation of the group. We also talk a little about his subsequent and current work with the Warwick ELT Archive and as coordinator of the IATEFL Research SIG.

I met with Phil Benson at the JALT national conference in Tokyo, Japan at the end of November 2011. He had just given an excellent plenary entitled Autonomy in Language Teaching and Learning: How to Do it “Here”, ‘Here’ being wherever you are….acknowledging the commonly heard complaint levelled at promoters of Learner Autonomy – “Yes that sounds lovely, but it wouldn’t work here”

If you want to know more, I am currently working of a review of Phil’s second edition of Teaching and Researching: Autonomy, and it tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

About a week ago I wrote about an experiment in silence with a class, and promised to come back with a report on the students’ reactions. It really was quite enlightening. This is what we all learnt.

1. A particular result may not mean what you think it means
Looking back through the many comments on my previous post (which was one of the most commented upon I have posted) it is interesting to see that we, as teachers, slightly misread the whole situation. As professionals, committed to our students, caring about them deeply, we all assumed that the end result (constant discussion in L1) springs from the joy of freedom, the taking up of responsibility and other positive emotions. Actually, according to the students, they were terrified.

“We actually thought that you were angry at us and abandoned us because we use too much Japanese in class.”

“I took it for granted that you were angry and you didn’t want to give our class.”

I don’t know where this leaves Krashen. Despite the cause being the negative emotion of fear, the result was very positive.

“To do task without your help was difficult for me. However, I were able to hear much English. And I could speak more in English than usual!”

“…if we have no teachers, we must think how we should study. However,this situation is very important to us too I think. Actually we try to look for the answer more harder than usual. I spoke in English more ,moreover I heared more opinions of them than usual. Though we had much difficulties, it was very interesting to me.”

Of course, anyone who has met me in real life will find this fear highly amusing. Teaching teenagers we do sometimes need to wield a big stick. However, I don’t want this to be the dominant motivating force in my classroom, which leads us onto our next point.

2. Although mystery can be effective, we must ultimately provide transparency

When the students realised what I was trying to do, they were very happy. This was a vital step in the experiment – revealing the mystery.

“But I read your comment , you tried to see our class from all kinds of directions.”

“After reading this article, I noticed you care about us more than I expected. So I’m happy that you are our teacher!”

“We were so puzzled! Me, K., M.,and M. were discussing about ゙what’s happening!?゙ through out the whole class.
K. and I were even talking about it the rest of the day!”

So had I left the class cold, with no feedback or no discussion of what had happened, the positives of confusion may have caused longer-term damage to the rapport we have been building. I kept the next class very light, and the students kept up their good habits from the previous class.

3. Perceived teacher beliefs do not always reflect actual classroom practice

If you had asked me before this class if I believed in learner autonomy and a hands-off teaching approach, I would have given you an emphatic yes. But what I was actually doing in the class belied this. It was only by removing myself completely from the lesson that I could see how students had been relying on me to prompt them, feed them and cajole them into using the language. In the last week, I have given many of my classes similar opportunities and they have all surprised me by speaking fluently in English for as longer than I expected.  Had I been unwittingly restricting learner autonomy by doing too much, by jumping in too soon, by shutting down an activity simply because I was ready to go on to the next one?

This is why I think reflective practice has never been done properly in mainstream ELT literature. The questions we are prompted to ask ourselves are always the same, and we end up giving the answers we think we should. What was good and bad about that lesson? Why did that activity succeed or fail? We will never really know unless we break the mirror and try to rearrange the pieces.

An invitation to experiment, then. This weekends homework – choose a class and do something you never usually do. Then report back and tell us how it went and what it revealed.

Download Here

This is the audio version of my video interview with Hayo earlier this year.

I’m by no means a gamer*, but I was fascinated to hear Hayo address the question ‘Do computer games really contribute to language learning?’ as keynote speaker at the 4th International Wireless Ready Symposium in Nagoya, Japan. The answer? They can, but…..

I meant to ask a little more about the institutional obstacles to success in incorporating technology into language learning. One thing Hayo alluded to in his talk was the difficulty in controlling who and what learners come into contact with in the online world. Here in Japan the age of majority is twenty, so technically many of my students are still children! My personal preference would be to give them a little training in online ’smarts’ and let them free, but I realise life is not so simple and that we have a duty of care. How should we approach this problem, then? Do you think fears about security / ‘bad’ language / inappropriate content are justified? Or that firewalls and filters just end up shackling us?

It was great to finally meet Dr. Reinders and he gives a great interview here, despite being on a nine-hour time difference from his home in London. I first came across his work when I started looking into self-access learning and learner autonomy, and we discussed these topics too. For all things ‘Reinders’ I recommend his website “Innovation in Teaching”. As well as many, many fine articles you can find a clip of Hayo on Pakistani breakfast television…..

*apart from ‘Urban Dead’, but that’s more about my love for zombies than my love for computer games

An Interview With Hayo Reinders from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I’m by no means a gamer*, but I was fascinated to hear Hayo address the question ‘Do computer games really contribute to language learning?’ as keynote speaker at the 4th International Wireless Ready Symposium in Nagoya, Japan. The answer? They can, but…..

I meant to ask a little more about the institutional obstacles to success in incorporating technology into language learning. One thing Hayo alluded to in his talk was the difficulty in controlling who and what learners come into contact with in the online world. Here in Japan the age of majority is twenty, so technically many of my students are still children! My personal preference would be to give them a little training in online ‘smarts’ and let them free, but I realise life is not so simple and that we have a duty of care. How should we approach this problem, then? Do you think fears about security / ‘bad’ language / inappropriate content are justified? Or that firewalls and filters just end up shackling us?

It was great to finally meet Dr. Reinders and he gives a great interview here, despite being on a nine-hour time difference from his home in London. I first came across his work when I started looking into self-access learning and learner autonomy, and we discussed these topics too. For all things ‘Reinders’ I recommend his website “Innovation in Teaching”. As well as many, many fine articles you can find a clip of Hayo on Pakistani breakfast television…..

*apart from ‘Urban Dead’, but that’s more about my love for zombies than my love for computer games

*extra points if you can place the title

I am a sucker for an analogy. Only this week I got contorted in a lengthy comparison of the plight of Southampton Football Club, starting the season on minus ten points but now powering up the third division, to a student who had missed the first few lessons and homeworks but had buckled down and caught up. I sense it went somewhere north of the head of my American colleague but no matter… I’m with George Lakoff when he claims that pretty much all human thought is expressed through metaphor.

It’s time for the mid semester reflections, to look back on what we have learnt, to reassess goals from the beginning of the semester and to galvanise for the final push, and I’ve been organising my materials ready for class. One of my favourite questions, and most enlightening, is the simple metaphor tester I open with. “A teacher is…. “, a “A learner is….” and “Language learning is…”. Unlike Dede Wilson (whose excellent article just dropped through my letter box wrapped up with a bunch of other good stuff in English Teaching Professional) I give the students no options, nor guidance. Nevertheless, regardless of level, the students have no problem grasping the concept and running with it … metaphor is a universal, after all.

Oxford et al. came up with a detailed taxonomy for these metaphors, but I’ll place them into just three categories. These are all common examples from previous classes.

1. Nuturing. Teacher as gardener, parent etc. Student as flower, child….

2. Controlling. Teacher as dog trainer, god etc. Student as dog, disciple…

3. Utility. Teacher as map, encyclopedia etc. Student as traveller, researcher…

There are a few things we can do with this. The first is to see which students match with our own metaphors as teachers, and which don’t. How are the students who see things differently performing? Are there discipline issues? Can we adjust our teaching to meet the needs of those students, or offer them support which fits with their beliefs about the learning process? I speculate that there is a strong correlation between metaphor choice and learner autonomy, for example.

But deeper than that, I wonder if the beliefs or the metaphor are the driving force. Can we, simply by reframing a metaphor, adjust the learners whole approach? If nothing else, it is the most immediate and direct method of raising the learners’ awareness of their own inner feelings about what they are doing.

Further Reading

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Oxford, R., Tomlinson, S., Barcelos, A., Harrington, C., Lavine, R.Z., & Saleh, A. (1998). Clashing metaphors about classroom teachers: Toward a systematic typology for the language teaching field. System 26(1), 3–50.

Wilson, D. (2009). Learning language is like… English Teaching Professional 65 (November), 18-19.

(and if you still want to know what a gift from a flower to a garden is, meditate on this)

A vocabulary test in which the students merely have to vomit the words onto the page, and once purged walk away fresh with no memory of the incident, is no good to anyone. How can we ensure our students LEARN words, rather than just REMEMBER them.

  • Learner Autonomy – Are students more likely to learn words if they are relevant, personal and useful?
  • Learner Training – Is it better to teach students how to study vocabulary, rather than teach them vocabulary?
  • Language – What does it actually mean to learn a word? When can you truly say “Yes, I KNOW this word”?

I’ll point you in the direction of two excellent resources, and bear in mind that quite a few academics offer pdf downloads of scholarly articles on their websites these days. Both names will be familiar if you know a little about vocabulary. The first is Norbert Schmitt ‘s staff page at the University of Nottingham, the second is Paul Nation‘s page at the University of Wellington. Both are chock full of reading, but if you wander about halfway down each I’d recommend two particular articles (citations after the jump). Nation suggests self-selection of vocabulary, and Schmitt recommends a system of whole-word study.

I decided to try an experiment with a couple of reading classes I teach. As the students are focussing mainly on their extensive reading, and thus encountering completely different vocabulary, it seemed a good fit. Each student would compile a list of new words encountered in their reading (or anywhere else), and check for synonyms, definitions, antonyms, translations, word family and collocations. I also pointed out that they should check how useful a word is before studying it – most modern dictionaries (certainly the electronic ones my students use) will tell you if a word is amongst the top 1000, 2000 or 3000 words in spoken or written English. I encouraged them to choose words they liked for whatever reason.

Every couple of weeks, I’d take in the list of words and write a code beside each. For example, (C) means collocation, (ES) stands for example sentence and so on. In the second semester, I am dropping in words from their previous lists to recycle. This pdf is the handout I gave to the learners to explain the task

How to learn vocabulary

..and this pdf is the template for the tests

Vocabulary Test Template

Both are specific to Japanese learners, so if you want a word document you can play with, email me ; D

So far, it has been fairly successful. There are a couple of question marks.

  • There is some evidence that antonyms and synonyms cause interference, if BOTH words are new. For example, it may well be wrong to teach left and right together – fix one concept first, then introduce the next.
  • Some students will choose words which are too ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’ for their needs or current language level.

Working on these, but it’s an interesting experiment nonetheless.

Moir, J. and Nation, I.S.P. (2002) Learners’ use of strategies for effective vocabulary learning Prospect 17, 1: 15-35.

Schmitt, N. and Schmitt, D. (1995). Vocabulary notebooks: Theoretical underpinnings and practical suggestions. English Language Teaching Journal, 49, 2: 133-143.

ibuki, reading for pleasure

Extensive reading –  reading for pleasure, reading widely, reading what one wants to read, reading at one’s current level of attainment. Does it actually work? You’ll be waiting a long time if you want conclusive proof of anything to do with learning languages, but the general consensus seems to be that it is a pretty good thing (another good article here).

The publishers are certainly getting behind it. If I were wearing my cynical hat I would suggest that they might make more money shifting millions of little books that take less effort to develop. But I don’t really have a head that suits hats, and a lot of the graded readers being produced these days are, in fairness, very nice indeed and thoughtfully put together.

The trouble is how to use them. True extensive reading is autonomous; the very second a teacher puts a hand to it it loses that quality. However, some choices are better than others when choosing how to proceed.

  • Keeping track of student reading.

Some would question whether this is necessary at all. Realistically, for most of us it is a requirement in an academic programme. A paper reading record (pdf here) can be sufficient, but this semester I am using librarything.com (a very handy guide to which can be found here). On balance, it is probably better not to give a reading requirement. If you do, although some students might choose to exercise their right to read nothing, even the most keen will probably just stop at the minimum asked of them. With no clear guidance, though, I find that most students tend to read as much as they can to be safe.

  • Choosing what the students read.

Basically, you shouldn’t, although this may depend on what is available. I am currently fortunate enough to work in a school with an extensive library, so the only limit I put on students is that they try and read at their level. I’m not especially dogmatic about this, either – I also ask the learners to find news articles of interest to them to bring in for discussion. Strictly speaking, news articles (being short and complex) constitute intensive reading, but the freedom to choose from the entire internet is very “extensive”.

Some teachers like to use class sets, and have everyone read together. Although this removes freedom of choice, it can be less intimidating in the early stages of a project as students can discuss shared readings from a position of mutual understanding.

  • Reacting to reading.

Almost all graded readers have comprehension questions at the back, and (as is the trend these days), a raft of supporting test books, activity worksheets and teachers guides. I understand that the market probably demands it, that it is a great selling point for the busy / lazy teacher, but it is somewhat contrary to what extensive reading ought to be.  A graded reader can very easily become a very long intensive reading. One notable exception is the Oxford Bookworms Club, which introduces learners to reading circles for discussion. Largely, though, most published materials appear to place greater emphasis on checking comprehension than interperating or responding to reading in a personal way.

I ask students to summarise what they are reading for one another, and to create their own discussion questions based on the themes or ideas in their books. Plundered partly from Maley and Duff’s “Literature”, partly from Bamford and Day’s “Extensive Reading Activities for Language Teaching” , I’ve set my students a choice of two assignments from a possible eleven (pdf here) this semester. It’s not huge, but it does give them a variety of ways to respond to what they have read.

There is a great deal of joy in finishing a whole book in a foreign language, more so if it’s one you chose yourself, and you understood it. If you are lucky enough to have access to graded readers, make the most of them. ( All books mentioned available in the bookstore, folks!)