Dec 4, 2009

Use TV as an English learning tool

Early English learning through TV entertainment can also help ease the worsening social gap stemming from English competence.

A 13-year-old Korean girl recently made news for getting a perfect score on the Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language. Reports headlined the fact that Kim Hyun-soo, a seventh grader at Daewon International Middle School, studied English at home and has never been to English-teaching institutes. Her case is mystifying to other students who spend long hours in English institutes almost daily, wrangling with what often seems to be an inaccessible language. Sure, she probably has a natural talent for languages. But that alone cannot explain her mastery of English. She says she had easy access to English for years. She read English books and watched Disney movies. She had been fortunate to converse with her mother in English at home. Such a casual accessibility to English augmented her natural gift. Linguists agree language is best learned at an early age

http://joongangdail article/view. asp?aid=2913104

Nov 2, 2009

Applying Noam Chomsky's Surface Structure and Deep Structure on some verses of the Qur'an

We have come across the Chomskian dichotomy of Surface Structure and Deep Structure while studying linguistics and in particular while dealing with ambiguous structures. Yet, rarely do students look for or talk about good illustrations of this case in the Holy Qur'an.

While reading the Holy Book, I came across several sentences which can be taken as good cases illustrative of the different meaning(s) understood from the surface and deep structures. Some of the very discursive phrases (with their semantic translations) are the following:

1) فتلقى أدمُ من ربهِ كلماتٍ فتاب عليهِ إنه هو التواب الرحيمُ" الآية 37، البقرة "

"Then Adam received from his Lord [some] words, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed, it is He who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful. Sūrah 2 – al Baqarah 37.

2) الآية 28، فاطر " ...إِنما يخشىَ اللهَ من عبادِهِ العلماءُ إنََّ اللهَ عزيزٌ غفورٌُ"

"Only those fear Allah, from among His servants, who have knowledge. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Forgiving." Sūrah 35 – Fatir 28.

The first reading of the first sentence shows that Adam is the doer of the action and the sign of him doing the action is very clear and shown in the nominative case –dhammah- (( الضمة " ُ" on the letter "م" of the word " أدمُ "/?a:damu/. So, Adam is the doer of the verb "receive", "تلقى". And the object to/of his action of receiving is the feminine plural noun (WORDS) "كلماتٍ" and the prepositional phrase (from his Lord) " من ربهِ" is the source from which the plural noun (WORDS) "كلماتٍ " have come.

Yet, a deep reading or a profound look into the structure of the sentence reveals that Adam is not the "agent" that is doing the action in the sentence; he is rather "the patient" or the "receiver of the action". In other words, Adam is not acting in the sentence; he is rather an object to the verb receive. Besides, we can deduce two objects to the verb "receive". Thus, Adam is the first object (O1 ) and the WORDS or REVELATIONS "كلماتٍ" is the second object (O2). In addition, the doer of the action or the agent is (His Lord) "ربهِ".

Our understanding of the second phrase when reading it for the first time, is that God or Allah الله" fears from the scholars or does worry " يخشىَ" from them " العلماءُ ". So, God or Allah is concerned that scholars might jeopardize His position or otherwise doubt His existence. In other words HE is the recipient of the worry and object to the main verb (worry), " يخشىَ". And the sign of HIM being the object in this sentence is the accusative case (nasb) ( َ ) on the letter " هَ" at the end of the word Allah "َاللهَ". Whereas the agent or the doer of the action in this sentence is the Scholars " العلماءُ" and the proof of their being doer(s) is the nominative case –dhammah- (( الضمة " ُ" on the last letter "ء". Yet, by relying on our religious background and knowledge and thanks to a deep reading of the same sentence we come to realize that it is the Scholars who fear God or Allah. In other words, they are the ones who are God-fearing. And this fear and worry are mainly due to the level of knowledge they have attained, which leads them to fearing Allah.
We can clearly see that the Qur'an can serve as a source for analyzing current grammatical issues since it is well known among Muslims and even for other communities as a source of so-called verbal miracles.

Last but not least, as we may all know that Chomsky tried to generalize most of his theories of the Universal Grammar so that it can be applied to every Speaker-Hearer throughout our universe when he coined the Universal Generative Grammar or the UGG. His theories of language may turn out again to the surface of truth when we know that The Qur'an had already come as a discourse or speech for all Mankind in this universe regardless of their tongues or languages.

Oct 3, 2009

Using songs to teach English language in the Classroom

For so many years, we have heard much about using songs and stories to teach English as a second (ESL) or foreign (EFL) language. I am going to provide a song in a video section and the lyrics for you and it's up to you to think of suitable activities to motivate (your) students and to overcome the artificiality of the classroom environment.

You need to think of the following points while planning your lesson:
1- The unit ( in the student's book) where you will include this song.
2- The type of activities.
3- The purpose of the activities.
4- You can even make a whole lesson plan and include the song for a whole classroom session or even more.

What a Wonderful World ( by Louis Armstrong)

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
I see skies of blue, and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces, of people going by
I see friends shaking hands, sayin' "how do you do?"
They're really sayin' "I love you"
I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow
They'll learn much more, than I'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Sorry, I couldn't download the song: you can see it by clicking on one of the following links:

Jul 15, 2009


After watching the Hard Talk programme on BBC and the discussion with the Director Sir Peter Hall, several questions came to my mind. These questions may raise other questions related to our culture, civilization, way of thinking and education. I sincerely want to share these questions with you and I would like to know/ see your answers.
The questions are the following:
1) What does theater mean to you?
2) Is theater part of your culture?
3) How often do you go to theater?
4) Do you enjoy plays presented/ played there?
5) What kind of plays do you like most?
6) Is theater playing any role in shaping the social conduct and behaviour in your town or country?
7) Should theater be included in the teaching curricular?

Jun 12, 2009


Greetings Mr. Tahri Ali!

First of all, I would like to introduce myself, in brief. I am Noamen Amara, a Tunisian teacher of English working in the Kingdom of Bahrain. I have taught primary, elementary, secondary and even ESP to trainees working at several companies here in Bahrain. Secondly, I would like to say that this research is very original and would have important effects on our way(s) of teaching once the findings and outcomes come and are later published.

What makes this topic of research very authentic is that it comes at a time where curriculum / syllabus designers in many countries where English is taught either as a second (ESL) or as a foreign (EFL) language are caught into a dilemma related to the suitable approach to adopt in order to teach English.

From my own experience in both Tunisia and Bahrain I can say that in the same way the Audio-lingual/Grammar Method in teaching English as a second language proved to be short and unsuccessful, the "natural-communicative" Method, defended strongly by Pit Corder and Stephen Krashen has proven to be "not the best alternative" to the classical approach of teaching. In fact, believing that once students engage in communication in a "stress free" environment," grammar will come by itself" has revealed to be a failure.

Indeed, by following the teacher's guidebook and the student's class book and theories of language acquisition and development that strongly oppose the idea of teaching grammar to L2 learners, students have come to be very "poor writers". So, Students here in the Arabian Gulf in general and in Bahrain as an example manage to get high marks in speaking and listening, while they fail to have the same marks or at least a little lower marks in reading and especially in writing.

Thus, I can say that by adopting Krashen's approach we end up having students who, at all levels, are able to understand spoken language, but unable to produce in the language. Finally, in order to cope with this issue teachers often resort to give multiple-choice questions or short answers in reading activities and short guided writings in the writing tasks because students are not able to form long answers or long sentences. (In writing activities, students are often given tasks where they look at a picture and write one sentence about it or they have a set of ill-organized words to reorder.)

Last but not least, I would like to say that we can not teach English without focusing in some stages on grammar, that is on the form or structure of language and at the same time we should not focus on the form too much and neglect fluency. Instead, we should try to create a balance in which accuracy and fluency can work together.

Comment by Noamen Amara:


Hi. This is Tahri Ali, an MA student at the faculty of Sfax and a teacher of English at one of the secondary schools in Sfax. In this research proposal, I'm trying to tackle one of the fundamental handicaps that has hampered the teaching-learning process since the implementation of 'the communicative independent- learning approach'- namely the inability to reconcile the demands of acquiring a native-like fluency with the needs of a full mastery of L2 grammatical structures.

  • For 17 years – as a teacher- I’ve come across several hardships in trying to implement the communicative approach in class. Having a strong belief that this approach would be a complete failure unless it were adapted to its specific environmental factors, I will try in my present research to make some contributions to the teaching domain so as to reach a compromise between conflicting concepts. L2 teachers have been bombarded for decades with so many 'NEW' methods, from the Direct Method, Grammar-Translation Method, Audiolingual Method and Cognitivism to the more recent Suggestopedia, Delayed Oral Response, Silent Way and the Communicative Independent-learning Approach. To make it worse for teachers, the literature is always full of contradictories such as integrative vs. instrumental motivation, deductive vs. inductive grammar, teacher-centered vs. learner-centered class, etc. Why is it so confusing? Who is right? Are linguists and teachers really just repeating themselves year after year, perhaps under a different name? Or is what they are doing really 'New' and different?
    Shifting from one 'Method' to another, teaching English as a second language has encountered various ups and downs. Over the past two decades, the most unresolved controversial issue has been whether to shift radically from the classical audio-lingual/ grammar methods in teaching English as a second language towards the idea of students' independence. Proponents of the 'learner-centered' approaches, such as Pit Corder and Stephen Krashen, claim that the old regime is totally teacher-centered and that students are no more than empty vessels filled with the magic 'competence' of their teachers. To make it clear, let's quote Pit Corder: "efficient language learning must work with rather than against natural processes, facilitate and expedite rather than impede learning." The idea of the 'learner-centered' approach seemed so great during the last two decades of the 20th century that classrooms almost all over the world turned into research labs for linguists, teaching pedagogues and syllabus designers.
    2/ The Dilemma
    I wonder whether it was for my best luck or a handicap to my career as a teacher that my first days in class co-existed with the launching of the modern 'Communicative Approach' in Tunisia. It was really amazing to monitor students via real-life activities, pair work and group work. All I needed to proceed my lessons was just motivation. So, it seemed easy to foster the principles of independent learning. Yet, the outcome has always been so confusing that all L2 teachers have been trapped in an extremely inevitable and 'incurable' dilemma. On one side, students could reach not only a native-level comprehension both in listening and reading but also an excellent accent. But, "this 'Independent Learning' did not seem to give them the firm grasp of grammatical structures that were necessary for the production of well-formed utterances and of texts at native-speaker level," (David Nunan). It was clear then that independent learning should have its restrictions and limits. Nunan, when asked about such borders, claimed that teaching-learning activities are very much context-dependent- "This really depends on the context. In some contexts, the degree to which we can foster independent learning is restricted by either cultural factors or the prior learning experiences of the students." Nunan has been well aware of the discrepancies of the new approach, that's why he has insisted in his studies on dealing with 'Learner-centeredness' as an aspect of teaching situation which can be applicable in class if and only if certain circumstances were available. Communicative approach proponents, however, have always objected to any kind of reconciliation. Stephen Krashen strongly claims that "Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill." He also puts forward that "The best methods are therefore those that supply 'comprehensible input' in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are 'ready', recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production." Such a theory has been criticized, sometimes harshly, by the New Chomskian Grammar school advocates such as Wilga Rivers, who blames Krashen for minimizing the value of accuracy in the learning process. In a particularly rich metaphor, she compares a language programme without teaching grammar to a chicken walking around without bones.
    As a teacher of English, I feel ensnared in such a tricky maze that no solution seems possible other than being 'eclectic' even though the idea of 'eclecticism' seems to be a double-edged weapon. Within this confusing atmosphere, L2 teachers have several questions in mind.

3/ Research Questions

3.1- General Question
To what extent can we reconcile 'grammar' with 'natural communication' in an integrative model of teaching?
3.2- Sub-Questions
How can we evaluate the existing teaching methodologies?
Is it possible to integrate these methodologies in a systematic way?
To what extent is the teacher 'free' to make use of these methods without contradicting himself / herself?
What techniques and strategies are to be applied to carry out the 'New' model?
Does shifting from one model to another expedite or impede learning?

4/ Research Rationale

The main objective of my present research is to find out the best ways to implement a 'flexible melting pot theory'. Such a theory would always be tolerant enough to borrow any necessary element from all previous as well as existing teaching-learning methodologies. I wouldn't say that the target theory is primarily based on the common principles of Eclecticism, though the majority of L2 teachers today resort to eclecticism whenever they feel unable to cope with their lesson strategies according to the imposed approach. What I'm looking for is simply an approach in which all the participants in the teaching-learning process take part not to impose restrictions but to 'facilitate and expedite … learning'. It is undeniable that all teaching-learning methods have contributed in a way or in another to the modern perspectives vis-à-vis TEFL. Yet, the dogma of each method to regard its findings as absolute creeds to be followed blindly by L2 teachers and to consider opponent methodologies as real taboos- such dogma has certainly impeded the development of a free, independent and natural L2 learning class in which neither the teacher nor the learner feels obstructed by methodological constraints.
In fact, 'I HAVE A DREAM' - as a teacher and I'm absolutely sure it's the same case with all L2 teachers not only in Tunisia but all over the world – that one day:

  • Teachers set their own rules, proceed their own strategies, resort to any method they see appropriate to each lesson situation and above all these teachers would be able to rule out any Unitarian approach.
  • My students achieve a native-like proficiency in both 'competence' and 'performance' regardless of the methods followed.
  • NO ONE would say 'don't overload the students with lots of new vocabulary and grammar', 'don't teach grammar deductively' 'let students alone and give them more room to talk' etc.
  • Eclecticism is no longer an escape but rather an approach.

    5/ Definition of concepts

5.1- Grammar: According to Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia, grammar is 'the study of the formal properties of words and sentences. Traditionally, it includes morphology, which describes the ways in which words are formed from smaller units or other words, and syntax, which describes how words combine into sentences.' The Concise Oxford Dictionary puts it in other words saying that grammar is 'the art and science dealing with a language's inflexions or other means of showing relation between words as used in speech or writing.' A central branch of modern linguistics is generative grammar, settled by Noam Chomsky in his early publication of Syntactic Structures in 1957, 'which seeks to provide precise and explicit descriptions of the grammatical systems of languages'- (Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia). Being the backbone of any language, Pro-Grammar methodologies have always insisted on the necessity of teaching the rules and structures deductively in L2 classes to enable students to build up a perfect knowledge of the language system they are learning. In an interview with Wilga Rivers, a Professor at Harvard University, she partially agrees with Pienemann who 'has emphasized the importance of formal instruction to avoid fossilization of errors and pidginized versions of language' (Jane Arnold- 1989) and totally disagrees with Krashen and others who de-emphasize accuracy. She claims that 'grammar is there. It is the framework within which the language is operating. It is like saying that you can have a chicken walking around without bones.'
5.2- Natural Communication: Communication in language means the 'mutual exchange of information between individuals (Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia). The study of communication involves many disciplines, including linguistics. It is the focus on the message conveyed in an interpersonal and natural conversation. Stephen Krashen (an expert in the field of linguistics, specializing in theories of language acquisition and development) strongly opposes the idea of teaching grammar to L2 learners. Instead, he advocates the principles of L2 learning / acquisition on the basis of natural communication – "Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language - natural communication - in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding." "In the real world, conversations with sympathetic native speakers who are willing to help the acquirer understand are very helpful." (Stephen Krashen)- According to this view, language is acquired just by understanding messages or by receiving comprehensible input in a 'natural order'. Learners are able to understand language containing unacquired grammar via context, extra-linguistic information, knowledge of the world, previously acquired linguistic competence, visual aids and discussion of familiar topics in class. In his Input Hypothesis, Krashen says that natural communication can't be taught but emerges on its own and that grammar is automatically understood via interaction.

6/ Literature Review
Apparently, there's no contrast between the two concepts of 'Grammar' and 'Natural Communication'. Moreover, they seem to intermingle and be mutually subordinate to each other while dealing with the language-teaching process. Yet, these notions have always been the crux matter of any 'New' methodology in teaching a second language. For many years there has been controversy in language-teaching literature on whether grammar should be deductively or inductively taught and whether speaking activities in L2 classrooms should have direct or indirect roles. A brief synopsis of the history of teaching methodologies during the twentieth century might pave the way to a new perspective towards building up our wished-for free teaching approach.
6.1- Grammar-Translation: The lessons consist of an explanation of grammar via some reading sections exemplifying the new grammatical rules and exercises to practice using the grammar and vocabulary. However, most of these classes are taught in the student's first language.
6.2- Audio-lingualism: An audio-lingual lesson usually begins with a dialogue which contains the grammar and vocabulary to be focused on in the lesson. The students mimic the dialogue and eventually memorize it. After the dialogue comes pattern drills, in which the grammatical structure introduced in the dialogue is reinforced, with these drills focusing on simple repetition, substitution, transformation, and translation.
6.3- Cognitive Code: Cognitive-code focuses on developing all four skills of language: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. In lessons, the main focus is on the communicative competence and learning the rules of grammar in its new Halliday's terms (phonology/ morphology/ semantics/ syntax) is overemphasized.
6.4- Direct Method: This method has been adopted by different approaches. The teacher, applying this method in class, uses examples of language through discussions in the target language so as to teach grammar inductively. Much space is provided by this method to Teacher-Student interaction. The teacher's role has shifted from the dominant participant to the monitor who interacts with his/her students a lot, asking them questions about familiar topics and trying to use the grammatical structure of the day in the conversation. Accuracy is sought and errors are corrected. This method is the pioneer to enhance speaking activities, though not in a natural way but rather previously planned by the teacher. But it still focuses too much on grammar.
6.5- Natural Approach: In the Natural Approach the teacher speaks only the target language. Students may use either the language being taught or their first language. The main objective of the approach is to provide a natural-like environment where students are encouraged to use the language, to talk about ideas, to perform tasks, and to solve problems. Errors in speech are not corrected; however homework may include grammar exercises that will be corrected. Its main weakness is that grammar is de-emphasized in class and dealt with as a marginal sub-task.
6.6- Total Physical Response: It involves the students listening and responding to commands given by the teacher such as "sit down" and "walk," with the complexity of the commands growing over time as the class acquires more language. Student speech is delayed, and once students indicate a willingness to talk, they initially give commands to other students. So the focus is neither on language content (vocabulary and grammar) nor on the immediate speech acts. Its content may not be always interesting for the students, but its results would come later in perfect ways though after a long time.
6.7- Suggestopedia: Focus here is on providing a very attractive environment with music and meditation in which acquisition can occur. Some of the students' first language is used at the beginning, but most in the target language. The role of the teacher is very important in creating the right atmosphere and in acting out the dialogues that form the core of the content. Suggestopedia doesn't give too much emphasis to grammar.
According to these different methods, L2 teaching concepts, strategies and techniques converge and diverge in different areas. Taking bits or chunks from each method at random has given rise to the notion of 'eclecticism' and 'eclectic language teachers'. Yet, this non-canonized approach is often utilized by language teachers to create an atmosphere full of anarchy, lawlessness and chaos. Such disorder is encountered by an absolute antagonism on the side of teachers' supervisors, applied linguists and pedagogues.

7/ Methodology

The research process and methodology are described as composed of "stages" (Ary et al. 1979). The timing of the research has two dimensions: short-term and long-term. But we can carry out this action research in ten-week time. Participants, as well, should be identified from the outset.
7.1- Participants
7.1.1- Teachers: Being an empirical research, it's necessary to ensure the co-operation of more than one teacher. As a responsible for this project, I will assume the responsibility of almost all the stages except the fifth one which necessitates the collaboration of other colleagues.
7.1.2- Students: As students represent the target of this research, I think it's undoubtedly essential to involve them in the proceedings of the project. N.B. It's not necessary to make them aware of what's going on to guarantee the truthfulness of results.

7.2- Stages

7.2.1- Defining the Problem: Defining the research problem depends to a large extent on our professional competence. As it is mentioned above (Section 2), the dilemma lies in the inability to reconcile Krashen's Model of natural communication in class with Rivers' concept of the inevitability of teaching grammar.
7.2.2- Analyzing Previous studies: This stage has already been done in Section 6 above (Literature Review). The rationale behind this analysis is to decide how to develop language teaching methods and materials. We can make use of all the theories mentioned previously in Section 6, second language acquisition theories, applied linguistics researches, as well as our professional experience in teaching. These resources should in fact support each other and lead to common conclusions. This research incorporates all theories, with a hope of reintroducing an emergent theory to language teachers.
7.2.3- Selecting Research Strategies: As a researcher, I have to select an adequate strategy to work towards the solution of the problem. The selected strategy should not be arbitrary because it represents the skeleton that supports and frames the study. Thus, it should take into account the participants involved, the quality and degree of the problem, the instruments to be used and of course the rationale behind such a study. There are many different research methodologies. In the educational field, we deal with human beings and events. So the research should not exclusively mean experimentation and apart from the experimental research we can employ data analysis, quantitative and qualitative research methods. Quantitative Method: This method includes the following two stages, namely selecting instruments and collecting data. The approach is purely experimental and statistical as it relies on numerical data to diagnose, describe and test a given hypothesis. Different techniques can be employed here:
A questionnaire to be filled out by teachers of 2nd grades in different schools concerning their attitudes towards the problem of our research and their insights of how to cope with that.
Diagnostic analysis of students' tests (comparing results/ detecting common errors and weaknesses).
Assigning experimental groups (following different teaching methodologies) in different classes and comparing results.
Remedial tasks based on the obtained results. It's possible to resort now to the blending theory and use the required strategies form different approaches. Qualitative Method: This method includes the last two stages, namely interpreting data and reporting research. It is conceptual rather than empirical and my own reflection on the problem will be necessary to interpret the collected data and to report the results of the research. I think that both methods can be carried out in tandem since observation would automatically follow each experimental stage. Observing students' reactions to the research techniques, the degree of their willingness to co-operate, their preferences to adopt any of the methodologies would all lead to get a thorough conclusion or decision concerning the final outcome. Qualitative method is necessary before, during and after achieving this research and it should eventually result in an approximate verdict telling whether the research has attained its goals or not.

Jun 11, 2009


Reading Week

Dear colleagues,
On April, my school celebrated love of reading as the students had the chance to be part of a comprehensive Reading Week which also included a visit to children’s author and illustrator Una Rawlinson who is currently based in Dubai.

This opportunity provided more than 90 students with the opportunity to participate in a short-term English language immersion experience where educational workshops were combined with hands-on activities. I wanted to share with you this long time ago, but didn’t have the time to upload the pictures. I created a short movie about it which I posted on youtube so feel free to visit the link and let me know what you think ^_^

I would like to know what you do in your country to celebrate reading.

11 June 2009

May 27, 2009

This is a picture of Al Fatah Mosque drawn by one of my first year secondary students. I think we should motivate our students to draw, paint or write and show their skills in the best way(s) they can. Am I right?

Jan 16, 2009

Teaching Multilevel Classes

Workshop programme

•What is a multilevel class?
•What problems do teachers face?
•Why does the problem exist?
•What are the benefits of teaching multilevel classes?
•How can we deal with multilevel classes?

1/ What is a multilevel class?

•In a sense, every class is multilevel
•Classes are made up of people, and everyone is different
•Language classes tend to be highly heterogeneous
•Every teaching context is different
•Multilevel / Mixed ability normally used to refer to a group where differences are very pronounced
•Very clear difference in language levels: skills abilities, vocabulary range, grammatical knowledge, pronunciation, …
•Differences in learning styles, speed and aptitudes, as well as motivation
•Differences in background and world knowledge

2/ What problems do teachers face?

•Look at the comments and tick the ones you personally have experienced
•Grade the problems: 1 -5, with 1 = very important for you, 5 = not such a problem for me

3/ Why does the problem exist?

•Some people are more successful at learning than others
•Different learning backgrounds
•Different progress rates
•Learning aptitude & strategies
•Positive & negative attitudes
•External influences

4/ How can we deal with multilevel classes?

•Classroom management
•Motivating students
•Catering for different learning styles
•Learner training
•Grading tasks
•Content teaching
•Activities with different responses

5/ Classroom management

•Good classroom management maximises opportunities for all students to learn
•Teachers are often key influences

Think of characteristics attributed to ‘good’ teachers: authoritative, bright, cheerful, …
•Students’ names
•Praise & encouragement
•Teacher talk
•Instruction giving
•Using pair and groupwork
•Setting time limits
•Tasks for fast finishers
•Whole class feedback
•Using whiteboard
•Classroom layout

6/ Motivating students

•Create an English environment – how?
•Create good atmosphere – how?
•Personalise wherever possible – how?

7/ Catering for different learning styles

•What different types of learners are there?

Find nine in the wordsearch, and then match each type with its description

8/ Learner training

•Some learners automatically adopt effective learning habits

Make a list of what you consider these to be, eg, keeping neat written records

9/ Grading tasks

text level of challenge
task level of support
student success

•Long, complex text, use simple task/s to make reading and/or listening more achievable
•Shorter, simpler text, use more demanding task/s
•Look at the text and the three sets of graded tasks.

In what way/s do the different tasks support different learners?

•Look at the second text and design three sets of graded tasks for different learners.
•What are the benefits and drawbacks of graded tasks?

Discuss and make notes of your ideas.

10/ Graded vocabulary task

•Read the ‘crazy’ text. The most difficult task you could give students is to find the wrong words and replace them with the correct ones.
•How could you adjust this task to varying degrees to make it easier for less able learners?

Think of as many ways as you can.

11/ Self-access

•Caters for wide mix of ability
•Teaching can be tailored
•Learners work on something interesting and useful
•Increases learner autonomy, sense of responsibility
•More time available to spend with weaker learners
•Adds variety
•Grammar & vocabulary exercises
•Readers + cassettes/CDs
•Audio cassettes
•Reference books

12/ Content teaching

•One of biggest differences among learners is their knowledge of world, talents, interests, general knowledge, knowledge of other school subjects
•An unsuccessful language learner does not mean they have no knowledge or skills in other areas
•By providing opportunities to use other knowledge we:
•encourage self-esteem
•encourage respect, create bonds
•ensure everyone has something to contribute
•motivate weaker students
•increase value of English as means of communicationFurthermore, we …
•give English lessons educational purpose
•make lessons relevant to learners’ interests
•take learners’ minds off ‘language’ and get them to focus on communication
•allow learners to ‘show off’ and ‘teach the teacher’
•Quizzes – pictionary, noughts & crosses, What P …?, 3,2,1, snakes and ladders
•Maths tricks
•Number puzzles
•Logic puzzles

Try the two examples on your handout

13/ Activities with different responses

•Some activities allow for different responses from different students
•Projects – multiple tasks, eg, writing, researching, reading, interviewing, graphics, oral presentation – see handout
•Roleplays – variety of roles demanding more / less input

Imagine an interview with a pop group – howcould roles be designed for multilevellearners?

•Bilingual roleplays

– L1 only, L2 only, L1 & L2
– very communicative and very real-life, caters well for multilevel

A) You are an English person on holiday and you need to see a doctor.

You don’t speak her language, doctor doesn’t speak English

B) You are a doctor. You don’t speak English. Maybe another patient can help.

C) You are a patient waiting to see the doctor. You can speak English

•Drama – sketches and plays require different responses from learners, big & small parts, speaking & non-speaking, script writers, props maker, director, music department etc


•Multilevel = rich variety of human resources
•Stronger students can become teaching assistants
•Most tasks can be adapted to suit multilevel teaching
•Effective classroom management is critical
•Collaborative work is what real life is all about

Jan 15, 2009

Ways of Motivating EFL/ ESL Students in the Classroom.


  • The word "motivation" is typically defined as the forces that account for the arousal, selection, direction, and continuation of behaviour. Actually, it is often used to describe certain sorts of behaviour. A student who studies hard and tries for top grades may be described as being "highly motivated", while his/her friend may say that he is "finding it hard to get motivated". Such statements imply that motivation has a major influence on our behaviour.

  • Motivation can be defined as a concept used to describe the factors within an individual which arouse, maintain and channel behaviour towards a goal. Another way to say this is that motivation is goal-directed behaviour.

B/ Motivation in the ESL/EFL Classroom

  • Motivation has long been a major problem for most teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) or as a foreign language not only in the Arab World but also elsewhere.

  • Motivation in the ESL/EFL classroom is easily one of the most important factors as I'm sure most teachers would agree with me. The main reason I'm coming to this point of view is that most of our students have low motivation to learn English. In addition to that, while most of them have a vague sense that whether "English will be useful for my future" or not, they don't have a clear idea of what that means, nor is that a very strong motivator; it's too vague and too far off.

  • The first step in tackling the problem of motivation is that the teachers need to understand and appreciate the role and importance of motivation in any learning. In the context of second language learning, William Littlewood (1987: 53) observes:

  • In second language learning as in every other field of human learning, motivation is the critical force which determines whether a learner embarks on a task at all, how much energy he devotes to it, and how long he perseveres. It is a complex phenomenon and includes many components: the individual’s drive, need for achievement and success, curiosity, desire for stimulation and new experience, and so on. These factors play a role in every kind of learning situation.

  • “Student motivation is influenced by both internal and external factors that can start, sustain, intensify, or discourage behaviour” (Reeve, 1996).
    The teacher has to activate these motivational components in the students but that is the precise problem. How can it be done in every class everyday?

C/ Ways of motivating students in the classroom

1) - “Pair work” or “Group work”

  • One of the successful ways, if the teacher is resourceful and skilful enough, to motivate his/her students to participate in the lesson is to use “pair work” or “Group work” appropriately.
    Language is best learned through the close collaboration and communication among students. This type of collaboration results in benefits for all or both learners. In fact, learners can help each other while working on different types of tasks such as writing dialogues, interviews, drawing pictures and making comments about them, play roles, etc…

  • Researches on Second Language Acquisition have shown that learners have differences in mastering skills. While one student is good in drawing, another can be good in expressing ideas verbally; a third other student can be good at role play and imitation. Besides, some students find it less stressful, if not much comfortable to learn certain rules or usages of language from their pears and comrades than from their teacher.
    Finally, communicative language teaching requires a sense of community and anenvironment of trust and mutual confidence which “pair work” or “Group work” can provide.

2) The seating of the students

  • The way the students are seated in the classroom will often determine the dynamics of the lesson. Indeed, a simple change in the seating pattern can make an incredible difference to group coherence and student satisfaction, and I’ve seen many other cases where seating has been a crucial element in the success or failure of the lesson.
    The seating pattern you use may, in some cases, not be fully under your control – if for example the desks are fixed to the ground or the school has strict rules about not moving the furniture. Student numbers are also going to be an issue.

  • I’ll talk about average size classes – anything from 6 to 25. Teachers have different preferences for seating arrangements – groups seated round small tables is often one choice. This is probably the best option for the larger classes in this range, but for smaller numbers and with adult or teenage students I think the horseshoe shape, which I find has all of the advantages of groups, and none of the disadvantages. A horseshoe may be desks in a U-shape with a hollow centre, students in a semicircle on chairs with arm-rests and no desks, or students seated around three sides of a large table, with the teacher at one end.
    nIn any case, whatever seating pattern you choose or is imposed on you, the class is likely to be more successful if you keep the following principles in mind:

a) Try and maximise eye contact.

  • Both teacher to student and student to student. In full class phases of the lesson, if the person who is speaking does not have eye contact with the others, then attention is likely to drop. This is the main reason I personally think the horseshoe shape to groups is better.

b) Make sure students are seated at a comfortable distance from each other.

  • Make sure you don’t have one student sitting alone or outside the groups. Besides, try to leave a fair empty, but not so much a space because large distances between the students will tend to lead to a “muted” atmosphere, low pace, and less active student participation in the lesson.

c) Think in advance about how you will organise changing partners or changing groups.

  • This is a stage of the lesson which can potentially descend into chaos if it’s not tightly controlled, with students wandering aimlessly around not knowing where to go or confidently moving to the wrong place.

3) The Error Correction

  • It is always asked whether we should correct all students’ errors, whenever they occur. The reasonable answer is that if we stop at every single error and treat it with no room for errors to take place, this will lead to a gap of communication and students will be too much afraid of making mistakes. Hence, due to being too much obsessed with making errors, students will be too much reluctant to participate.
    Thus, Teachers should be aware of when to correct errors and how to do that without any hurt and humiliation. In a learner- centered classroom, it should be better to correct errors, which students make unconsciously, whenever there is a gap of communication or when not treating the error will result in a misunderstanding of the idea expressed.

  • Concerning the ways of how to correct errors, there are several techniques which the teacher, who is seen as the monitor, should choose from them according to the type of the error and task where the incorrect form of language occurs. Among these ways of correction we can state: self correction, peer correction and teacher correction.

4) Role play

  • This is another technique to vary the pace the lesson and to respond to the fundamental notion of variety in teaching. Teachers are advised to use the role- play activity in order to motivate their students and to help the less motivated learners take part in the lesson. Besides, certain tasks in the student’s book are followed by a role- play activity where it becomes a necessity to undergo such an activity. As good examples of that we can state: the hide (item) and guessing game, dramatizing an interview of customer and shop assistant, doctor and patient conversation, etc…

5) Using realia, flash cards, Stories and songs in teaching

  • Realia and flash cards are considered as important tools in teaching especially a foreign language, since they play the role of a facilitator in teaching new vocabularies such as fruits, vegetables, clothes items, etc…
    Besides, they are very helpful in drawing especially beginners’ attention to follow and match new words to items. In addition, realia is an authentic material that helps the teacher to overcome classroom artificiality.
    Creating stories with the students is another way of developing speaking and writing skills. Actually, creating stories is grounded in the students’ ability to create a story from their personal experience. In creating stories some issues are revealed such as: a) fluency, b) whether the students have enough language to create the story, and c) accuracy.

  • Teachers are able to demonstrate techniques of using songs in different ways to teach grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and community building because the students like songs and they motivate the students to learn the English language in an interesting way. Teachers can elicit students’ ideas about the song through activities such as prediction, mind maps, word splashes, etc. Students discuss questions such as the feelings in the song, what will happen next, etc. and write their responses in an interesting manner. Students may write and present how the song makes them feel and then draw a picture of their feelings while listening to the song. Teachers respond to this presentation and ask questions. Then, feedback is provided from the group.

6) Using audio visual material: cassette player, video, computer…

  • Since our schools are equipped with various audio visual materials such as cassette recorders, videos, computers, projectors, magic boards and many others, teachers should use these materials when teaching. Indeed, they should include the appropriate material to use while planning their lessons. For instance, we should include a cassette player in a lesson based on listening, while we need to include a computer in any e-lesson or a lesson about designing a website or an internet page about your school. Whereas, we can use an overhead projector in presenting writing drafts for classroom correction or to read.

7) Using the L1 in the EFL/ ESL classroom

  • Should we or shouldn’t we use the students’ first language (L1) in the classroom? This is one of the questions which most divides EFL/ESL teachers, whether they are for it or against it.
    The main argument against the use of the L1 in language teaching is that students will become dependent on it, and not even try to understand meaning from context and explanation, or express what they want to say within their limited command of the target language (L2).But there are other, historical reasons why the use of the students’ mother tongue went out of favour. Initially it was part of a reaction against the Grammar-Translation method, which had dominated late 19th and early 20th century teaching, and which saw language learning as a means towards intellectual development rather than as being for utilitarian, communicative purposes.

  • But, we can say that there are a few cases when we can resort to the student’s mother tongue such as
    - When there is a gap of communication or total misunderstanding, since it can prevent time being wasted on fruitless explanations and instructions, when it could be better spent on language practice.
    - It can be used contrastively to point out problem areas of grammar. For example, various course books, like Headway, now encourage students to translate model sentences into their own language in order to compare and contrast the grammar.

  • - It can be used with beginners, when students are trying to say something but having difficulty, they can say it in their own language and the teacher can reformulate it for them.
    - When students need to combine the two languages, for example in those lessons whose focus evolve around translation and interpreting.

Presented by Noamen Amara

Jan 11, 2009


For My Darling

Overwhelmed by love,
I do whisper your name in the sleep.
I am no longer melancholy, since
You decided to be with me.
If you were not,
I wouldn’t surely be.
But, you were and I was
And this is, in fact, our destiny.

Noamen Amara


I am sorry to say,
But this is true.
I don’t mean
To make you cry.
But, I’ve never loved you.

Noamen Amara

A Short Message to an Old Friend

I wish I could speak.
I wish I could tell,
Exactly how I felt,
The day you left.

Noamen Amara

Jan 10, 2009

Noamen Mahfoudh Amara Curriculum Vitae

Full name: Noamen Mahfoudh Amara
Sex: Masculine
Date and place of birth: 06 / 10 / 1973 (Gafsa) Tunisia
Address: Flat 21, Building 1242, Road 836, Manama center 308, Bahrain.
Mobile number: (00973) Once you email me, I can give you my number
E-mail addresses: 1)
Social status: Married
Nationality: Tunisian
Degrees and Certificates:

  • Certificate of achievement of a 30-hour training course entitled "Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL/Cycle 2)" from 9th March to June 30th 2011 under the supervision of the Directorate of Curricula, the Ministry of Education, Bahrain.
  • Certificate of participation in a professional development workshop entitled "Questioning the Questioner" on 9th June 2011 at the British Council in Bahrain.
  • Certificate of appreciation in recognition of valuable contributions in the "Telling a Story Competition (year four)" held on 15 May 2011 at Omar Ben A. Aziz Boys School.

  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled "Adapting Course Book Materials to Challenge Low Level Learners" on 21st October 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.
  • Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of a remarkable participation in delivering a workshop for the ELT Professionals Network members entitled "Classroom Management for Young Learners" on 9th December 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.
  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled "Ways in, Ways out: Tasks for Reading" on 7th October 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.

  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled "Classroom Observation: An Opportunity or a Threat" on 8th July 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.

  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled " Submitting Articles for Publication in ELT Journals" on 24th June 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.

  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled "Using Google Images in Introducing Idioms & Proverbs in ESL Classes"on 17th June 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.

  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled "Educational Pod-casting" on 25th April 2010 at Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance.

  • Certificate of completion of an E-Teacher course program entitled "Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL)" from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, U.S.A

  • Certificate of attendance of a one day mini-conference entitled "Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers: Best Practice", organised by the British Council, held on March 3rd 2010 at The Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance, Juffair, Manama.

  • Certificate of attendance of a "professional development workshop", organised by Cambridge University Press, held on October 4th 2009 at Bahrain Polytechnic.

  • Certificate of attendance of "The First English Professional Development Program", held from 5th to 8th June 2009 at Salman Cultural Center, Manama, Bahrain.

  • Certificate of attendance of a workshop entitled " From Good Questions to Good Language" conducted by Dr. Jacqueline Grennon Brooks, organised by The American Regional English Language Office, on April 16th 2009.

  • Certificate of attendance of a workshop entitled " Story telling: ways of encouraging children to read at home and school through story telling", organised by The ELT Professional Network in conjunction with the British Council, on 23rd February 2009.

  • Certificate of attendance of the "BACKPACK 2" familiarisation training, held on June 22nd 2008.

  • Certificate of attendance of the "Cycle 1 Training", held in June 2008.

  • Certificate of participation in a workshop about " Creative Thinking In and About English " at the Bahrain Training Institute Auditorium on 09/ 04/ 2008.

  • Certificate of participation in a workshop about " Using Games in The Classroom " at the British Council, Bahrain on 21/ 02/ 2008.

  • Certificate of attendance of the "Literacy Day", held on March 10th 2008.

  • Certificate of participation in a workshop about "Say It With A Song" at The Regional English Language Office, American Embassy, Manama on 14/ 02/ 2008.

  • Certificate of participation in a training about " Guided reading Program" at the Ministry of Education from 22/ 10/ 2007 to 06/ 11/ 2007.

  • Certificate of participation in a training about " Teaching English for Young Learners" at the Directorate of Training & Professional Development from 20/ 09/ 2007 to 31/ 12/ 2007.

  • Certificate of participation in a workshop about " Planning An Electronic Lesson" at Al- Ma'amun Boys' primary School on 19/ 06/ 2007.

  • Certificate of participation in a workshop about "Critical Thinking" on 09/ 11/ 2006 at Al- Ta'awon Boys' Secondary School.

  • Certificate of Achievement of a summer course training from Tamworth & Lichfield College in Tamworth, England in summer 2000.

  • Bachelor degree in English language and literature from Kairouan University (June 2001).

  • Experience and career:

  • Conducting a workshop for the teachers of English in Bahrain entitled "Classroom Management for Young Learners" at the British Council Office in Bahrain on 9th December 2010.

  • Participation in a webinar course program ( set of ten online seminars) entitled "Shaping the Way We Teach English" from November 10th 2010 to March 16th 2011 with the collaboration of the Office of English Language Programs at the American Embassy.

  • State Alumni Fellow.

  • Participation in an E-Teacher Scholarship Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA, entitled "Teaching English to Young Learners," from January the 14th to March 24th 2010.

  • Teaching ESP (English for Specific Purposes) and general English to trainees at the Capital Institute & the AIT CENTRE in Bahrain in the academic year 2008-2009.

  • Member of the Board of the Primary Religious Institute in the school year 2008-2009.

  • Teaching at the Primary Religious Institute in Bahrain since September 2007.

  • Teaching at the Religious Institute in Bahrain in the school year 2006-2007.

  • Enrolling and attending the Agregation (post graduate course) programme at Sfax University in the academic year 2005-2006.

  • Teacher trainer for the CAPES trainees in the school years 2004-2005 /2005-2006

  • Teaching at Al Amel private school in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia in the school year 2004-2005

  • Participating in two conferences at the High Institute of Applied Studies on Humanities in Gafsa, Tunisia: -1) "Metaphors of Marginality" in the school year 2003-2004 -2) "Times and Spaces" in the school year 2004-2005

  • Teaching at Abu El Kassem Echebbi intermediate public school from October 2001 to June 2006

  • Recruited and started teaching in October 2001

  • Interests:

  • Get a Master degree in English language or literature

  • Using modern technologies in teaching EFL/ ESL



  • Good drive and use of the computer:
    v Microsoft Word
    v Microsoft Excel
    v Microsoft PowerPoint
    v Internet browsing

  • Monitor the "English Club" at the public Intermediate School Abu El Kassem AL-Chebbi in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia in the academic years 2001-2002 & 2005-2006

Teaching English

This Blog is designed for the purpose of exchanging ideas and attitudes related to teaching English either as a second or a foreign language.
All contributions and suggestions are welcome.