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Teaching Tips 39

Looking ahead
Management Gurus
Imaginative links

Looking ahead

The good listener & reader is constantly making predictions. An example of this is when we sometimes can't keep it to ourselves & have to finish off the other person's sentence.

A: So I was going along Main Street & turned left into

B: Yes, Church Lane.

There are various levels of prediction. Here are some of them:

• Prediction at the cultural level - give the theme of the tape eg. about a member of the Royal Family & the students predict his/her daily life. They then listen/read to confirm.

• Prediction at the discourse-type level - get them to think about what kind of discourse they are going to listen to. eg. a TV political debate - will it be short or long, formal or informal. What kind of language will the expect to hear.

• Prediction at the content level - show the headline or pictures related to the conversation & students predict what it might be about.

• Prediction at the discourse level - play the first part of the tape & the students predict the rest. Or play sections & they predict the next - good for short stories.

• Prediction at the sentence level - play half a sentence/ clause & the students predict the rest.

• Prediction at the grammar level - play a part & predict the grammar that will follow - 'If you keep on doing that, __________'.

• Prediction at the word level - play an utterance& & the students predict the following word - 'the film was in black & _____'.

You might argue that our students are going to do this naturally. Maybe, but awareness does no harm. It is one of the steps that gets them away from tunnelling & gets over the idea that they know quite a lot of what is said or written before they read & listen, & they can save time by becoming more efficient & effective listeners & readers.

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Management Gurus
Management gurus

This week the Tip is in the form of a link & if you are in any way remotely connected to the teaching of professional people then this is of interest. The BBC World Service Learning English site has several excellent sections, one devoted to the theme of work.

There's a ten day interactive business English course, for free, a section on business words in the news & a whole series of programmes about management gurus. All are useful but the last one can easily be turned into a very popular twelve part course. The Management Gurus series has been designed by Charles Handy, a management guru himself. Here's what he says in the introduction:

'These days practically every city in the world has a School or Institute of Management and if you want a good start to an executive career, then get yourself and MBA degree and become a Master of Business Administration.

Management has always been the invisible ingredient of success. The pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China could not have been built without good management systems. Good ideas are wasted unless someone turns them into a workable activity or business, by management.

But the art of management still seems very elusive. Unlike the physical sciences, in management there seem to be no absolute laws. As new technologies arrive and people find new needs, managers have to adapt and experiment to stay in business.

That's where the gurus come in. Their role is to interpret and spread around what seems to be working, helping managers to cope in a world that changes fast.

The twelve significant gurus we'll be looking at often use common sense, but they see the sense before it becomes common and that's what can give companies and their managers the competitive edge. The insights and methods of the gurus can make a big difference to the way we manage our organisations.'

The gurus that are interviewed:

C. Handy
P. Drucker
Tom Peters
Warren Bennis
Sumantra Ghoshal
Kenichi Ohmae
Gary Hamel
Rosabeth M. Kanter
Bill Gates
Ricardo Semler
Michael Porter

Each module has an interview with the guru, a text of the interview in pdf format, a short text with the 'highlights' of the interview & also some useful business vocabulary from the interview.

All you need to do is download it all & you have a course. But you say, 'I don't know anything about business management!' OK, but with the right group, your students will certainly know something of it & anyway, why not learn from the interviews together? You're the language teacher not the business teacher so let your students get on with the ideas & you help them sort out the language. They will come away with both!

If you can't download & save the oral interviews, you could tape the interviews with a colleague & if they want to hear it from the horse's mouth they can go to the web site themselves.

There are obviously many things you could do with the material. You could ask the students to take notes while listening, prepare special tasks or give the script for them to follow while they listen. After some language work, get the students to collate the ideas & discuss them in relation to the interviews they have already heard.

Still sceptical? It does work. I've seen the course work with a group of middle managers. Beforehand there was a waiting list to get on the course & during & after the course the participants enthused about it.

Here's the link again

And if you want to find out more about Charles Handy & his ideas, a recommended read is:

'The Empty Raincoat' - Charles Handy (Arrow)

Even if you're not teaching professional people this material can still be used with the general adult class. Apart from the general interest value of the series!

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Imaginative links

We looked at an awareness activity on memory in a past Tip.

Here we'll look at one memory technique in more detail. Tony Buzan, in his excellent book 'Use Your Memory' (BBC Publications), says 'Quite simply, if you want to remember anything, all you have to do is to associate (link) it with some known or fixed item ...calling upon your imagination throughout.'

He then goes on to give the following Memory Principles:

order and/or sequence
positive images

One of the simple memory systems is the Link System. As well as the above principles, or elements, you will also use the following:


With the Link System he says 'using these Principles you will be exercising the dynamic relationship between you left & right brain cortex & thereby increasing the overall power of your brain.'

The Link System is a way of remembering lists through creating an imaginative story, combining the Principles.

Here is part of the example Buzan gives:

'Imagine, for example, that you have been asked to shop for the following items:

a silver serving spoon
six drinking glasses
pure soap
biological washing powder
dental floss
wholewheat bread

Instead of scrambling around for little bits of paper (everyone has either done it himself or seen others desperately fumbling through their pockets for the missing slip) or trying to remember all the items by simple repetition and consequently forgetting at least two or three, you would simply apply the Memory Principles in the following way.

Imagine yourself walking out of your front door perfecting the most amazing balancing trick: in your mouth is the most enormous silver-coloured serving spoon, the handle-end of which you are holding between your teeth, as you taste and feel the metal in your mouth.
Carefully balanced in the ladle-end of the spoon are six exaggeratedly beautiful crystal glasses, through which the sunlight reflects brilliantly into your bedazzled eyes. As you look with delighted amazement at the glasses, you can also hear them deliberately tinkling on the silver spoon. Going outside into the street, you step on the most gigantic yellow and brown coloured banana, which skids with a swish from under you. Being a fantastic balancer, you barely manage not to fall and confidently place your other foot groundward only to find that you have stepped on a shimmering white bar of pure soap. This being too much for even a master, you fall backward and land seat down on a mound of eggs. As you sink into them, you can hear the cracking of the shells, see the yellow of the yolk and the white of the albumen, and feel the dampness soaking into your clothes..........'

This is obviously for the native speaker, helping them to remember lists. I very much doubt any of us would ask our students to memorise the above list!

So could this help our students? Very much so. Clearly if we present vocabulary in lexical sets in the first place it helps this Link System enormously - we're starting the process off for the students. Talk to your students about this, giving them the Principles & get them to work out examples of their own for a given set of vocabulary, discussing the scenarios with each other - not only memory but language practice here. Then they will be better prepared to use this technique outside of the classroom not only with their language learning but with any aspect of their lives.

To see 'Use Your Memory' at Amazon

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