Learning Strategy

Chunking and phrases

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(300 words)

So, what is so important of moving from vocabulary to adverbial phrases, complements, and objects such as “on the way”, “one night”, “from outer space”, or even “a monster from outer space”. Here lie examples of chunking of words and the Lexical Approach. The principles of the Lexical Approach have been around since Michael Lewis published ‘The Lexical Approach’ in 1993. The principles of the Lexical Approach have [been around] since Michael Lewis published ‘The Lexical Approach’ [20 years ago]. [It seems, however, that] many teachers and researchers do not [have a clear idea of] what the Lexical Approach actually [looks like] [in practice].

All the parts in brackets are fixed or set phrases. Different commentators use different and overlapping terms – ‘prefabricated phrases’, ‘lexical phrases’, ‘formulaic language’, ‘frozen and semi-frozen phrases’, are just some of these terms. We use just two: ‘lexical chunks’ and ‘collocations’.

‘Lexical chunk’ is an umbrella term that includes all the other terms. We define a lexical chunk as any pair or group of words that are commonly found together, or in close proximity.

‘Collocation’ is also included in the term ‘lexical chunk’, but we refer to it separately from time to time, so we define it as a pair of lexical content words commonly found together. Following this definition, ‘basic’ + ‘principles’ is a collocation, but ‘look’ + ‘at’ is not because it combines a lexical content word and a grammar function word. Identifying chunks and collocations is often a question of intuition.

Here are some examples.

Lexical Chunks (that are not collocations)

by the way
up to now
upside down
If I were you
a long way off
out of my mind

Lexical Chunks (that are collocations)

totally convinced
strong accent
terrible accident
sense of humour
sounds exciting
brings good luck

Task Analysis / Educational Objectives 

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(1062 words)

Professionals in the teaching field have two main questions concerned with their educational practices: What to teach and how to teach it. Organizing for instruction provides the information that allows the teacher to determine what to teach. It is their analysis of their instruction and tasks involved that contribute to comprehensible education. This means that there are educational objectives that outline what will be learnt and what the students should be able to do at the end of the period of study. With respect to this I will, in this essay, outline what is contributed into this discipline and reflect from what I noticed from an initial assessment of my teaching. 

To begin with, I realized that education for each student has to be more than being in just being in school. It is being an active student in life. This means that students become natural learners and recognize not only their role in the learning world, but also the world as a whole. They can gain knowledge in the classroom but how do they apply it outside the classroom. This means that through education, within my objectives, there should be provisions for each individual with opportunities to develop abilities, so that each student is able to demonstrate that he or she can do a specific task to a reasonable standard. However, I must recognize that there are different types of objectives. They can be developed into separate areas. Three such areas exist. Each of the three areas or domains are of human functioning. There is the affective domain which involves feelings, the psychomotor area includes coordination and other physical skills. The cognitive domain includes those activities directly associated with doing academically relevant work. With these three domains each objective shows prominence as observable actions that are what I want to observe after having broadly educated the students. 

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Setting out some ideas for developing and maintaining motivation in either young children or teenagers

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(409 Words)

The teacher’s skills in motivating young children should be seen as central to teaching effectiveness. This means motivating them to learn and acquire new skills. Finding what interests these learners is the way to inspire them to learn. Interest is an intrinsic motivator. These engaged children are more likely to employ a deeper level of study if the teacher can provide opportunities for likable learning. All young children are motivated by different reasons to learn to which the teacher has to recognise. It is the teacher’s attitudes to perform these tasks in learning that affect learners’ attitudes. Furthermore, while they are learning, the teacher has to maintain the learners’ interest. The learners have to feel that the teacher respects and accepts them for who they are and allows them to express themselves without the worry of criticism for honest errors. This is why young people need a lot of support and time.

The teacher’s teaching methodology should be to sustain learners’ motivation and engage in activities that lead to learning. There is no point in playing games that are fun and exciting if the learner is missing out on chances to learn new vocabulary and absorb and use new phrases. The teacher has to realize that the holistic development of the children is not only their language development but also in their social, cognitive, and emotional growth. For example, lessons that have an activity-based approach in which children engage in meaningful tasks and activities elevate learning. The children can use English genuinely, learn something new, and develop as whole individuals as well. Lessons should also be varied; drama and role play can be a good platform for motivating children, especially if costumes and props are involved. This should promote interaction among students. So, in these respects, the teacher has a broader educational role in their relationship with their learners. This entails the teacher being aware that each child is at a developmental stage and some tasks can be impossible for them. Learners all have motivation but on what level. It is the teacher’s job to put this to learning where their lesson has clarity and purpose. Moreover, the syllabus has to take in the fact of age, cultural and social background of the children to be taught. A teacher can personalize teaching if the children are allowed to talk about their own interests and families. The teacher could well have to adapt the syllabus to address particular students or groups of students.

Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.

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While observing, a student was telling me that the exercise her teacher gave her was too difficult, and she could not make a sentence with the words she had been given. She had three nouns and three verbs given to her on pieces of paper. She made a sentence, in the end, but said to me that it did not make any sense. Of course, she was right, but upon seeing the sentence I noticed that she had made a complete grammatical sentence (with added parts of speech).

This made me think of Noam Chomsky‘s classic sentence ‘colourless green ideas sleep furiously’ in his 1957 book Syntactic Structure. While this sentence as much as the sentence my student made was nonsense, they also show that sentences which could be thought impossible/nonsensical are actually still grammatical.  This being said, there are still sentences that can be easily interpreted but are not adhered to the grammatical code such as ‘the child seems sleeping’. I think recognition of students’ grammatical ability in complete sentences has to be admired.

Overall, I must say the words she had were quite random, but I still felt there was room for inventiveness as a classroom exercise that recognises students’ grammatical ability.

Reflective Essay: Skills for Life

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(831 Words)

Skills for Life, through embedded learning, have been seen to be vital these days. These skills, literacy, numeracy, and ICT are skills that are fundamental for any student to have as a minimum requirement. This fact was exacerbated many years ago by the Moser report ‘A Fresh Start’ (DfEE 1999) that highlighted 7 million adults literacy skills were below those expected of an 11-year-old.  This worrying figure emphasised the need for teachers to use any opportunity to embed these key skills in their lessons. I would like in this essay to reflect on my experiences of embedding which asserts “learn by doing”. Moreover, research has suggested if the skills are embedded the students actually feel more motivated (Roberts et al. 2005). I faced this with a research project I did involving Howard Gardeners Multiple Intelligences (1983). I studied students’ learning characteristics in an ESOL class and reflected on them using various techniques to aid their learning.

To begin, multiple intelligence suggests that students learn in different ways, so, for example, one learns more by being active (body kinesthetic) while another learns more from pictures (visual spatial). Of course, in an ESOL class language and literacy are paramount, but this had to be done in ways that were learner-centred with active learning which kept the students focused on the task, so they still used their English language. For instance, I gave each of them a picture of a famous person with some text about that person. I gave them the grammatically formed questions and answers to ask each other about their famous person (verbal linguistic). Incidentally, I had a higher level class get their information from the internet. So, they first had to read the text and write down the answers to the questions. They would then get to ask and answer each other who the famous person was, where they were from, how old, and an interesting fact.  I collected the faces, got the students into groups (interpersonal) and each group had to ask questions (logical mathematical) to find out who it was I was thinking about. It was like a game show. The winner was the one who guessed right first. Language was guided by myself, the teacher, to use complete answers and questions and the discussion in the groups was prompted by me also. The embedding here involved having a fun activity while pressing home language proficiency which is similarly shown in LLUK standard BS1, of ‘maintaining an inclusive equitable and motivating learning environment’. This class had competition, interest and a challenge which was valued as much as with English and literacy.

Still staying with learning languages, but this time related to numeracy, I had been teaching a class about nouns. I had had them in groups outside (naturalistic approach) describing objects. It was a kind of treasure hunt. They then had to write about what they found and present it. The presentation involved the characteristics of the object. The progression from objects was onto using nouns involved with shopping. I also felt for this subject the students should get used to prices. I found some newspapers, magazines, and door-to-door fliers that were filled with adverts for shops, filled with writing and numbers. So, I proposed that the students go through newspapers, magazines, and door-to-door flyers. The students needed to read them, cut out eight objects and stick them on a large sheet of paper (Bodily/Kinesthetic). However, the pictures had the prices missing. Then, they had to write about their object, ready for selling.  A few times, I actually did this part of the lesson with the computers and had the students make up a catalogue for their objects. There was certainly less clearing up. Once they were finished sticking, the challenge for the exercise was for each group to get the other groups to guess the answer to the price of the object. The students had to work in their group to guess the price. This meant they had to work in their group to come up with answers using their English. It ended up as ‘Price is Right’ competition with myself telling them they could not go over the real price. The nearest won, so, they had to work out the prices higher or lower which as embedded numeracy skills worked well.

To sum up, in this reflective essay I have shown that through my work and reflection with multiple intelligences, which was actually part of my ongoing continual professional development (CPD), as a teacher I try to embed key skills into my lesson. This I feel goes a long way to ‘discovering, respecting, and meeting individual needs’ (FENTO, 1999). My ESOL classes are full of opportunities to use not only to use literacy coherently in reading and writing but also in numeracy where for example we talk about telling the time and buying goods. Not forgetting, the use of ICT to allow the students to work on projects in groups or an individual basis.


Further Education National Training Organisation  (FENTO, 1999)

Moser, C. (1999), A Fresh Start. London: DfEE. Retrieved on 15 June 2008 from http://www.lifelonglearning.co.uk/mosergroup/

Roberts, C., Baynham, M., Shrubshall, P., Brittan, J., Cooper, B., Gidley, N., Windsor,

V., Eldred, J., Grief, S., Castillino, C. and Walsh, M. (2005), Embedded teaching and learning of adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL: Seven case studies. London: National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy.