There are several tools available for the teacher who wants to produce paper based exercises. For example,many of the online exercise types produced with Hot Potatoes also have a print option (e.g. the crosswords).
Another suite of exercises can be found at http://www.thelanguagemenu.com.Several of the tools found there can be used for free, there is also a free trial week in case you want to get a feel of the advanced facilities / tools.
Some example outputs from the Web Project
Go to the project website to download / work through the exercise types below: http://eng.teachers.thelanguagemenu.com/
Board game generator
Choose between 3 sizes, add pictures from the clipart gallery or write your own texts, questions or grammar exercises, and let your students work on their grammar or vocabulary by playing a game. You can also make up your own flash card questions for the board games with the flash-card generator, laminate them and use them together.
The Bingo maker has 3 possibilities: make your bingo boards with pictures, mix pictures and words or just use words, and choose your bingo board size according to your own needs. The clipart gallery gives you hundreds of possibilities for this tool. Choose or randomise. Just create, generate a pdf-file and print. With the refresh button you can change the pictures in seconds.
Create two types of crosswords in no time. Crossword puzzles are an easy way to practice vocabulary. Use the vocabulary from the clipart gallery to create bilingual crosswords in several categories.
Just enter the words you wish to have hidden, with or without clues. The tool creates a worksheet with answers quickly and ready to print. Use it with the multilingual clipart gallery.
Create your own worksheets. In a hurry? Use the database with hundreds of sentences to choose from.
Make your own flashcards
Just add a sentence you wish to have on the flashcard, generate a pdf document and print. For longer lasting material to be reused, laminate the cards. Use this tool to create discussion themes for your class, bilingual word drills or informative cards. You may also choose a picture from the clip-art card gallery and add your own text next to the picture, and print.
Label the pictures
This works with pictures, with or without hints and/or answers. Perfect for bilingual use as well. Just choose the native language and let the students write the vocabulary in the target language.
Matching exercise generator
Use the generator to create your own worksheets with pictures, add your own text or just a word for your students to match the picture with the text.
Make your multiple choices worksheet quickly with the worksheet generator. Write your question and give some alternatives and create a pdf document. It only takes a minute. Use for vocabulary drills, bilingual exercises, explanations, maths, questions and answers worksheets etc.
Add a text to the missing words generator, choose the interval of the words to be missing, decide on the fontsize and print your pdf file and the worksheet is ready to use. Now you have a text with missing words and a small word bank to choose the right word from.
Split the words in two, let your students put them together, with or without hints. Excellent to practice suffixes and prefixes, or just to work on vocabulary. Write the word in two parts, add a hint if you wish, and print your pdf file. Easy to make.
Choose this tool when you want your students to fill in words in the framework, pictures or words chosen from the clipart gallery. Write the words yourself. Can also be used for bilingual students to translate the "hint" words. Choose between the normal setting or black background. You may also print answers.
Write a sentence and print a pdf document. The generator scrambles the sentence and you have a ready work sheet for your students to practice word order with. Easy as one, two, three.
The word spiral works in the same way as the crossword, but the program generates the squares in a spiral. You may also create a spiral that has the first and last letter intertwined. A tool for bilingual use as well.
A tool to make written exercises for your students. Use your own words, choose words or pictures from our clipart gallery and ask your students to explain what these items are used for, how to use them, write a sentence about the word, add synonyms for the word. Quick and easy for all levels.
To try out these resources, go to: http://www.thelanguagemenu.com or http://eng.teachers.thelanguagemenu.com/
Computer Assisted Language Learning within the framework of Task Based Learning.
Why Task Based Learning?
The TBL methodology has gained many devoted supporters in the last decade. The methodology can be described as a complete change of paradigm within the world of language teaching, a change from the behaviouristic PPP paradigm (present, practice and produce) to a learner centred approach - the TBL paradigm. In the PPP method, the aim is to present a certain form or structure, make the learners practice this form and afterwards produce a number of sentences within the specific form. With this approach language teaching first of all becomes a very closed and rigid process, where the teacher is constantly in control of what the learners work with, do and say. Here, the teacher works within a framework where answers from learners are ruled incorrect or correct in relation to the taught form. For example, if the answers given by learners do not match the taught form, which was presented by the teacher, the answers will be listed as incorrect, despite the fact that the answer was a correct English sentence, only not using the right form or word.
Now you might ask yourself why it is important to know about the PPP method. By comparing the two methods, we can emphasize the many advantages of TBL. Basically, it is a question of belief and if you believe in TBL, you believe in the idea that language learning is a natural and uncontrollable process. Peter Skehan, who teaches on the MA and MPhil/PhD programmes at Thames Valley University, London, says:
“Teaching does not and cannot determine the way the learner’s language will develop. The processes by which the learner operates are “natural” processes. Teachers and learners cannot simply ‘choose’ what is to be learned. To a large extent the syllabus is ‘built in’ to the learner.”9 Many books and articles have been written about both TBL and the PPP method. Here is what Michael Lewis, author of several source books, says about the PPP method:
“A paradigm based on, or remotely resembling, Present-Practice-
Produce (PPP) is wholly unsatisfactory, failing as it does to reflect either the nature of language or the nature of learning.
The fact is the PPP paradigm is, and always was, nonsense.”10 There are many other arguments from different scholars and language teachers against the use of the PPP method. Some of the most striking are arguments like the following by Peter Skehan, who says
“the PPP method enables the teacher to orchestrate classroom behaviour, ie to use a maintaining authority, ie by using the bundled techniques to show to students exactly who is in charge.”
“a belief that learners will learn what is taught in the order in which it is taught”11PPP has served to perpetuate a comfortable position for teachers and for teacher trainers3
Another reason for keeping the PPP method in mind is that the method has probably been the most globally used language teaching methodology in the last fifty years; and it is still used by many language teachers and text book writers.
But let us have a look at some of the arguments in favour of TBL. As the name of the method indicates, the methodology is based on learning language by the use of different tasks in order to bring life, spontaneity and individuality into the classroom – in short learning by doing. The aim of the TBL method is that each learner, by working with different tasks and primarily with other learners, goes through an individual internal learning process. The most important job for the teacher is to supply the teaching material, the tasks and to help create a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom.
A TBL sequence could for example be based on creating a timetable for a week.
Introductory tasks, written and oral, could easily be conducted, introducing names of days, day times, specific expressions, etc. etc. The introductory tasks will give the learner a basis of words and expressions to use as s/he pleases before moving on to other tasks. In this case, the introductory tasks could be followed by a task where the learner must fill in the timetable according to her/his life. This personal timetable will then form the basis of an oral task, where two learners ask each other questions about their timetables. For example: “What do you do on Tuesday afternoon” and so on.
The teacher is not supposed to interfere in the communication between two learners in a task, unless they ask for assistance or unless a natural opening for teacher commentary occurs. The teacher must listen and observe and wait with language commentaries and focus points until all learners in the classroom have worked through the tasks. This is a very important phase. Here the teacher must be the catalyst for a language focus process, with the aim of making the learners aware of and conscious of their own learning abilities as well as different language complexities – a consciousness raising or clarification process based on the different observations and questions from all learners. Clearly, this leaves the teacher in a completely new role, where he or she cannot plan a language teaching sequence beforehand. Here is what Michael Lewis says about language teaching and TBL:
“Language is successfully acquired only when it is available for spontaneous, personal use with other people”.12
“The teacher helps students make explicit their perceptions of similarity and difference …………helps them to correct, clarify and deepen those perceptions”.13
“The teacher’s primary role is the selection of materials and tasks and the creation of an appropriate atmosphere”.14
It is very important not to forget or skip the consciousness raising process, a process which should come at the end of either every task or a full task sequence. It is here that the learner can ask questions or make different observations in relation to the work with the tasks. It is here that the teacher must help students to reflect on their own work with the language that individual learner used in the tasks. The teacher must monitor and correct language mistakes and direct attention towards language complexities. The most important thing to remember at this point is that the clarification process must be based on the observations and reflections of the learners.
Another important job for the teacher, if he or she wants the tasks to work well, is to properly describe how a task is meant to be conducted. If this is not done with enough focus and detail, some learners might spend more energy on figuring out how the task is meant to work, rather than on the language learning activity itself. This is especially the case with beginners or learners who are not familiar with the TBL method.
It is not difficult to use TBL with learners at a beginner level, but one must be aware that it is necessary to give beginners many examples of the new language, in different media, including text, sound and pictures, as long as the examples are always understandable. Crucially, the tasks must not be overcomplicated and they must be simple in structure. In addition, the tasks should focus on things and topics which are familiar and recognisable to the new learners. Jane Willis has made a handy list of priorities for the teacher:
establishing a relaxed, anxiety-free atmosphere in the classroom
providing a lot of exposure that learners can make approximate sense of
building on what they know, but without expecting perfection
not forcing them to speak at first if they prefer not to
reassuring them of their progress, and generally boosting their confidence.15
Jane Willis has written a book of her own about Task Based Learning where she operates with terms like “pre-task, task cycle and language focus”.16 In the chapter about Task Based Learning, the Jane Willis model is described in full detail.
In the following example we will present a learning sequence where we try to integrate the ideas of TBL with the ideas of CALL. The CALL exercises will function as introductory tasks, which aim to build up a vocabulary for the following oral and written tasks.
A task based example “The Wired Plug”
In this lesson, Computer Assisted Language Learning is used to give students a vocabulary based on technical phrases, and the students will learn about instructions. Important skills in vocational training include being able to give and receive instructions..
The materials and videos for this lesson are available in Basque, Danish, Dutch, English, Gaelic, German, Romanian, and Spanish.
The following outlined lesson plan can be used for most students irrespective of their specialities because many of the instructions can be used in different trades.
The electronic lesson materials support two levels, elementary and intermediate. By using the multimedia materials, it is possible to have different learner levels in the same class.
List of materials:
Electric plugs; it is best if British plugs are available because these are more “complicated”, but other plugs may be used.
Wire strippers (but wire cutters can be used if these are not available)
1. The students are introduced to the CALL materials, in this case a web based application with video and text, followed by exercises: http://www.languages.dk/online/en/plug.htm
2. The students work through the web based multimedia material doing the following activities:
Watch the video giving instructions on how to wire a British plug. Read the text while listening to the video. Click next when finished.
Place words next to photos of tools to learn the technical vocabulary.
Complete the crossword containing the technical vocabulary
Complete the “fill in the missing words” exercise from the video text
Complete the “jumbled words” exercise to make instructions
3. When the students have finished the work on the computers, remembering that students need not finish simultaneously, they receive a text version of the same instructions. The texts can be downloaded from http://www.languages.dk/methods/materials.html
4. The students work in pairs; student A instructs student B on how to wire a British plug. Student B may help student A with the language, but s/he must not do anything that student A does not instruct her/him to do. The text may be used as supplementary help, but the students should try to avoid this.
5. The students change roles and repeat the activity above
End of pre-task
1 Hvad venter vi på? - om it i fremmedsprogundervisningen p. 15
2 Hvad venter vi på? - om it i fremmedsprogundervisningen p. 44
3 A software which is free when used for online exercises: www.halfbaked.com tp://hotpot.uvic.ca/" http://hotpot.uvic.ca/
4 A software which is free when used for online exercises: http://hotpot.uvic.ca/
5 A software which is free when used for online exercises: www.halfbaked.com
6 A software which is free when used for online exercises: http://hotpot.uvic.ca/