In a talk we gave at IATEFL last week, we unveiled three coaching contraptions to help teachers encourage successful learners, not just successful classes. You can see an interview about the talk we gave here. The tools illustrate aspects of the job which require a coaching twist. I’ll be showing you them over the next couple of weeks. Here’s the first:
One problem that learners have is a lack of a sense of progress because their goals are vague, undefined or too ambitious. This machine evaluates your linguistic goals and helps you make sure that they are:
S.M.A.R.T for short
Let’s imagine my goal is to improve my pronunciation. Great, but that’s an extremely vague goal to aim for. First of all, what exactly do I want to achieve? OK, so I’m going to tighten up, i.e. make it more specific. How about ‘Improve my pronunciation of –ed words’? Ding! Green light for that one! Next, how am I going to measure it? Well, why don’t I record myself telling an anecdote now, then practise my –ed words, then record myself again, and compare the two? Ding! My teacher has corrected me many times for my incorrect pronunciation of past verbs, so I can say she would agree that the goal is appropriate for me. Ding! Also, I need to be realistic so I’m going for an improvement in getting the right number of syllables, but I’m not too worried if I don’t pronounce the ‘d’ clearly /t/ or /d/ – that’s not a priority and is very hard for me. Ding! Finally, I need a time frame (or I could still be working on it this time next year!) I’ll set myself until next Thursday to reach my goal – this will help me focus. Ding!
This is a well- known coaching tool that we’ve adapted for the language classroom. With well-defined goals such as this, your learners will have a clearer sense of progress and a much better chance of success.
If you like this idea, you can read about it in the new book we announced a couple of weeks ago.
Next week we’ll look at another ingenious contraption from our labs deep in the LearnerCoachingELT dungeons that zaps your learners’ lives and converts them into English – the Language Life Convertinator!
Mwaa – ha – ha!