Monday, March 31, 2008

Part 4 - 20 Critical Problems that Keep Colombia in the Third World


Living in Colombia
While living in Colombia is almost always a challenge, there are pleasantries associated with the country too. Nevertheless, the country must seriously address a number of major concerns in order to substantially progress to new economic and social levels. China, India, Pakistan and North Korea are poised, at varying stages, to move from “third world” status to join European and “super-power” countries at higher socio-economic strata. Colombia ultimately could do so too upon reversing, minimizing or eliminating these and aforementioned critical problem areas.

16. Con artists and scammers of all types abound.
There are so many cons, scams and swindles that you can hardly keep up with the techniques being used. It’s unsafe now to go to an ATM machine after dark anywhere you may live. In most of many big cities, it’s not even safe to do so during the day without precautions. The “Paseo Millionario”, Paquete Chileno”, “Latin Fantasy” and others are well-known scams locally as is the “Pesca MIlagrosa”. With the knowledge of poor or non-existent law enforcement, law-breakers at all levels are bolder than ever before. You MUST be careful at all times. Even then the odds are stacked against you.

17. Drug trafficking is considered a “way of life” in many areas.
If you think drug traffickers are low-life, slum-bred types who prey on the unwary from dark alleys, murky street corners or smoke-filled bar bathrooms, you’ve been watching too much TV. Perhaps you need to get out and get a life. How about “the Narco-Trafficker who lives next door”? Economic viability is now such an integral part of many societies, including Colombia’s, that you almost can’t tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys” without a scorecard. Having money is everything here. If you have, you can get almost anything you want. If you don’t, you can’t. It’s as simple as that. The more you have, the more you can get. The less you have, the less you can get. The drug trade in Colombia is an “easy”, though dangerous, source of some big bucks.

18. Essential goods and services are increasingly difficult to get and are expensive when available.
Inflation is the scourge of everyone. You pay more and more for less and less. Many prices fluctuate on the dollar. When the dollar goes up, things get pricey. When the dollar goes down, families often can splurge. Credit card rates are 30% to 40% annually. Consumer loans, when you can get them are equally hideous. With quality assurance of many locally-produced goods at an all time low, consumers value higher quality imported items. The trade deficit is staggering. Prices are low in comparison to those of higher-level economies, but are rising against low-yield salaries. Minimum wage is less than $2.00 per hour, less than $250 per month. The standard work week is six days long. Almost everyone works Monday through Friday all day and at least a half day or more on Saturday. So much for the weekend. Colombians drink far less of their world-famous Colombian coffee than, say for example, Americans do. Not because they or Juan Valdez like their coffee any less, but because most of the “good stuff” is exported. So what do Colombians drink? Coffee imported from south east Asian countries like Vietnam which has a distinctly lower price!

Certainly there are notable benefits to living in many areas of Colombia, year-round tropical weather, unspoiled natural beauty and nature abound, hordes of beautiful women, adventure, and exotic foods being some. There is good news out of Colombia. It just isn’t as publicized as the more graphic variety is. I for one, receive a continuous stream of requests from potential expatriates from the USA, Canada, the UK and other countries for information on living and working or retiring to Colombia. As I mentioned earlier, I still live here too. But I reserve the right to my opinions, good or bad, positive or negative, along with the right to express them. This is what I think.

What do YOU think?


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then e-mail me for further information.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Part 3 – 20 Critical Problems that Keep Colombia in the Third World


For Foreign Nationals and Expatriates with Children

For foreign nationals and expatriates with children you’ll have some of the following concerns in addition to a few others of your own in these critical areas. Here in part three, we continue to consider critical problems of Colombian society including the educational system, consumer protection laws, crime, minorities and the impact of unemployment that reaches as high as 80% - no, that’s not a misprint. Read on …

11. The education system promotes "vagabond" attitudes.
There currently exists a policy in public schools NOT to “fail” learners. You can miss classes (Did YOU ever play “Hookey”?). You can fail even an endless string of “makeup” exams. You can neglect study, class participation, homework or virtually productive activity in class and the learner will still “pass” to the next grade level at the end of the school year. Now in many schools, there is no homework. Slothful, slow, uncaring and unmotivated learners pass from one grade to the next with practically no effort at all knowing that they almost can’t fail. This means that barring all else the learners don’t get their rude “wake-up” call until they enter the university level or the workforce and find out, that in life, you can fail. The quality of Colombian education can vary widely depending on location, cost and administration from primary through the university level.

12. There is little or NO consumer protection.
Talk about a bone to pick, this one’s a biggie for me. Never before has the phrase “Caveat emptor” – “Let the buyer beware” been more appropriate. From buying a house or condo, to a car, major appliances, furniture or goods and services (maids, plumbers, electricians, contractors) of all types, there is practically no recourse for an unwary consumer. Sellers disappear moments after a major sale, consumer cases rarely make it to a court docket and enforcement of contracts or legal agreements can be laughable. Workers, when hired for in-house jobs in any occupation, trade or service must be constantly be “watched” to avoid theft, taking excessive “breaks” or simply “goofing off” on the job. There is no “overall system” for certifying workers or professionals, so finding competent service personnel can be a bit of a challenge most of the time.

13. Cities and regions of the country inhabited primarily by minorities are highly under-developed.
The first few times I went into black-populated regions of the Pacific coast, I nearly cried at the absolutely primitive conditions people live in – this is the 21st century, I reminded myself. Men have landed on the moon, orbited the earth for weeks at time, plumbed the ocean’s frigid depths and constructed buildings that stand up through the clouds. Yet people are obliged to live without even the most basic of amenities. No running water or toilets. No electricity. Forget even the hint of a telephone. Unpaved streets and roads where there are even roads at all. Constant flooding. No sewage facilities. Flies and mosquitoes infest everything bringing the predictable diseases with them. Poor diets consisting of but a few fruits, vegetables and whatever they can hunt. In 2001 though, Colombia crowned Vanessa Alexandra Mendoza Bustos, originally from one of Colombia’s poorest most undeveloped regions – the Choco, its first black Miss Colombia. Even a more recent black Miss Colombia finalist also stated that she had “never seen a car until she was nearly 20 years old”!

14. Unemployment is often at sky-high rates and is continually rising.
The stark contrast of the “Haves” and the “Have Nots” has almost never been more pronounced than it is here. The city of Cartagena, the so-called “crown jewel” of Colombia is but one example. While millions of dollars are spent to fund the pageantry of the Miss Colombia Beauty Pageant, just a few blocks away local residents endure flooding, open sewers, rotting buildings and other basic amenities – even while the pageant is in progress. The unemployment rate among blacks in the area is reputed to be in excess of 80%. Is it any wonder that crime is a major problem there and in other locales as well? But this of course, is not the face of Cartagena that gets publicized outside of Colombia.

15. Violent crimes are considered passé.
It used to be that violent, heinous crimes shocked, staled and amazed even the staunchest of us. Not here, not anymore. When Luis Alfredo Garavito, one of Colombia’s most notorious convicted serial child murderers (who has now confessed to more than 200 child murders over a multi-year period) was released from prison, not once, but TWICE, families and residents were finally up in arms. Each time he was released, more children died. He almost got released again a couple of years ago, but fortunately, hasn’t been so far. Violent murders on the streets of Cali, Bogota and Medellin, Colombia’s three largest cities, hardly rate the news anymore with only the most bizarre, tragic or heinous of these ever being reported. How would you feel if you’d personally witnessed 11 violent murders in the streets as I have over the past twelve years?


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com Need a blog or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Part 2 – 20 Critical Problems that Keep Colombia in the Third World


Living and Working in Colombia














Living and working in Colombia can have some advantages despite its well-deserved reputation for violence, kidnapping, human rights violations, corruption and drug trafficking. Here we’ll continue to comment briefly on five more of what I feel are the 20 most critical problems that keep Colombia in the “Third World”.

6. Travel, especially between cities at night, can be hazardous.
There’s an expression in common use here in Spanish that goes, “No dar papaya”. It’s not referring to Papaya, the fruit, but rather to not giving opportunity to crimes of chance (or opportunity). That is to say, that many crimes aren’t planned, they happen because the wrong people see – and seize – the opportunity to “benefit” form a misadventure. Such can be the case when traveling long distances at night. Roads and highways are poorly policed, if at all, with highwaymen, guerrilla and “Para-Militares”, delinquent gangs of robbers, thieves, muggers and kidnappers plying their trade among the unsuspecting travelers unfortunate enough to get caught on board.

7. There is little or no enforcement of laws.
Laws? Oh yes, there are plenty of laws presumably for the protection of all. The problem is though, they are typically NOT enforced. From running through red traffic lights, driving the wrong way on a one-way street to hit-and-run-drivers, people do essentially anything knowing they won’t be pursued, investigated, caught or punished for anything. Jails and prisons are often horrendously over-crowded or controlled by the inmates themselves. Even murder often gets a quickie, one-over pass by over-worked, under-staffed police stations. This results in part to a vigilante-style type of “justice” where common people may take the law into their own hands. Solutions to unpaid debts, major thefts or robbery, “deals” gone bad and other consumer-oriented complaints can be to murder the “offender”.


8. Criminals regularly receive impunity from prosecution or punishment.
When law-breakers are apprehended for some violation, penalties can take years to be administered, if at all. Car theft is “punishable by as little as a few hours or one day in jail. Non-violent crimes frequently carry no jail time at all with the country’s horrendously over-crowded jails and prisons. Some popular penal code theories not withstanding, this offers little incentive to prospective or career law-breakers.

9. Human rights violations are rampant.
Crimes and human rights violations against women, children and minorities are rampant. These most vulnerable groups, when part of the poorest elements of society, are virtually defenseless before authorities or any who might wish to exploit them. There are millions of refugees throughout Colombia, displaced from their homes and lands by wars and violent conflicts, land speculation or simply by those whose goal is to obtain extended fields and land from which to operate.

10. The legal system is loop-hole-riddled and corrupt.
Colombia certainly isn’t the only country where those with enough money can “buy” justice – or lack thereof. Legal proceedings can take years to get on the docket, then drag on for years more when they do - all for the right price, of course. Almost everyone wants to be a lawyer. There are so many in fact, that there are more “lawyers” driving taxis and working other positions than there are actually practicing law. Finding a lawyer is easy. Finding a competent one though, can be another matter entirely.

In the next, part 3 of this series, we’ll continue with five more of what I feel are the 20 most critical problems with Colombia that keep it a “third world” country. Your constructive comments, opinions and feedback are welcomed. See you then.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com Need a blog or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business? Please e-mail me for further information.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

20 Critical Problems that Keep Colombia in the Third World


Move to Colombia?
If you watch commercials on any of the local TV stations, listen to sports radio, see the Travel & Living channel spots on cable TV, you can easily get primed to move to Colombia despite its well-deserved reputation for violence, kidnapping, and drug trafficking. This is not to mention the on-going civil war raging between Colombia’s government, Para-military forces like the AUC and Guerilla military forces like the FARC. Let’s not forget the ghastly murder and crime rates.


Nonetheless, after considering the post “20 Reasons Not to Move to Dubai” in an ELT forum online, I thought I’d take a shot at a similarly-themed post dealing with diverse aspects of Colombia. Now don’t get me wrong, I have lived in Colombia for the past 12 years teaching English as a foreign language with my Colombian wife. I pay taxes, health insurance and retirement through the Colombian systems. I still live here and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, but it is exactly this familiarity bred from many years living and working here that empower me to write about this country.


Here’s the first five of my 20-item list and brief commentary:

1. In many areas there are NO or very few government services.
Streets are pot-hole-riddled and what there are of highways are often a mess, but drivable.
During peak periods of travel, multiple delays, massive traffic jams and over-burdened transportation systems and facilities are common place.

2. The climate, while tropical in most areas, can vary to extremes.
Summer months from June through August can be brutally hot in some areas and unseasonably cool in others. You’ll need a sweater or jacket in Bogotá and air-conditioning in Cali, Cartagena and other cities.

3. There is the constant threat of earthquakes.
Most of Colombia from the Pacific coast to the central highlands and beyond has experienced devastating earthquakes which can occur during any time of the day or night. I have lived through serious early morning tremors that cracked walls and tumbled ceilings to night time quakes the rendered buildings uninhabitable and caused the seemingly super-natural glow of earthquake lights to appear around the city of Cali.

4. There is the constant threat of volcanic eruptions.
Several of Colombia’s many volcanoes are in active or semi-active status. The most news-worthy of these being Galeras Volcano, located beside the city of Pasto populated by more than 400,000 people, in the southern part of the country. Warnings and evacuation “threats” have become so common that residents hardly pay them any attention until ash and gas spew forth from the blackened summit. Colombia’s worst catastrophe was the destruction of Armero, an entire town of more than 23,000 inhabitants virtually all killed in one night – buried under a volcanic eruption-caused mudslide more than forty feet deep. Other Colombian volcanoes include snow-capped Nevada Ruiz, also with recent eruptions, and Purace.

Photo above: Galeras volcano seen from central Pasto

5. There are sometimes frequent outages of water or power services.
We’ve gone to collecting and storing rain water. That way, when the water supply “fails” or goes out for any reason, we still have some water available for washing, bathing, cleaning and cooking. Sometimes the outages are announced. Sometimes they’re not – catching the unwary unprepared. These “waterless” periods can last for hours or days – sometimes you just never know.

In part two of this multiple-part series, we’ll continue to examine what I feel are the 20 most critical problems with Colombia that keep it a “third world” country. Your comments, opinions and feedback are welcomed. See you next installment.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Monday, March 24, 2008

Teaching Verb Tenses and Grammar in the English Language


Grammar in English
There are number of ways grammar in English or the grammars of other foreign languages can be taught. Should you teach learners rules and grammar, translations of speech and meanings or just go with teaching communicative forms and discourse? This will depend, of course, on exactly who the learners are and the purpose of their course of language study. But often, as is the case with the following example, foreign language learners can become confused – as on occasion, so can English or other foreign language teachers.

Consider the following:

A teacher said, “I tutor Spanish. I find that much of a student's confusion in learning Spanish often stems from a lack of understanding of English grammar and language constructs, in general.”

First, you are correct in saying that a foreign language learner’s confusion can stem from a lack of understanding of the grammar in their first language (L1). This is but one of the many reasons the English or foreign language teachers should be trained. If you don’t know the grammatical formation of your own language, then understanding the grammatical structure of another language will be that much more difficult. In fact, this very theme causes many would-be foreign language learners to “throw in the towel” after becoming hopelessly lost or confused. It doesn’t help either when profit-crazed language institutes and unskilled teachers make astonishing claims for “instant” foreign language learning like “Learn a Foreign Language in 48 Hours”.

Another query area came up with, “I was trying to explain to a student that the present tense in Spanish (for example, "yo voy") can translate both to "I go" and "I do go." It then struck me that, while I know that the first explanation is obviously the present tense ("I go"), I was not entirely sure what name, if any, is given to the English construct of "to do + infinitive" (e.g., I do go, I did go, etc.).”

Second, I for one am not in favor of teaching technical terms to English or foreign language learners at all. But rather, I strongly feel that taking a much more communicative approach is more effective. It’s also more easily and quickly absorbed by learners especially when you use fun activities and authentic language. For example, while on vacation if someone asked you “How long have you been here?” you’d hardly respond by asking what’s the present perfect continuous form of saying two weeks? Hopefully, you’d just respond by saying, “Oh, I’ve been visiting here for three weeks now.”

Instead of burdening a learner with trying to “translate or conjugate” in their head I prefer teaching communicative response without the need for thinking about grammar rules or translation. When I study languages, I do the same thing with myself, not asking for a “translation”, but rather what is "real language” that could be used, an effective spoken discourse or response in the situation.

Some expressions, idioms and normal speech elements do not translate correctly from one language to another. Saying, “That’s cool!” in Spanish would translate, “Esto es fresco.” But that hardly means the same thing at all. If however, you wanted to express the same thought in Spanish and said, “¡Que chevere!” you’d certainly come across a whole lot better and definitely be well understood.

Third, in your example, “I do go …” the “do” is being used for emphasis of the main verb “go”. Consider:

“Do you study Spanish?”

“Yes I do.”

“You’d learn faster if you went to school.”

“But I DO go to school.”

Finally, we as English or foreign language teaching professionals, need to continually bear in mind the foreign languages are not translations of each other. Languages were created with another purpose in mind according to the Bible book of Genesis, from verses 1 to 9. Check it out for yourself sometime and you’ll see just what I mean.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Friday, March 21, 2008

Home Schooling: Too Much of a Challenge?


Why Home School?
Why do some parents consider switching from traditional school attendance to home schooling their children? For the most obvious reasons you need to keep up with the national news. In one place after another, there is increasing crime and violence in both public and private schools. Institutions of higher education don’t exactly escape the bad rap either. It seems almost every year there are more and more problems in colleges and universities with abuse of drugs and alcohol, rapes and other types of sexual misconduct and excessive acts of violence at rallies, sporting events and even seemingly for no particular cause during the normal scholastic year.

The “Problems”
Many “problems” are commonly associated with home schooling. Some of these may include:

• Quality of education
• Availability of high-level teachers and tutors for areas where parents may lack knowledge and skills
• Reduced interaction of home-schooled children with their peers
• Boredom
• Lack of motivation
• Parental fears over the home schooling process
• Difficulties with local, state and national laws and requisites
• Financial concerns
• Availability of adequate texts, resources and other materials
• Bilingual or multi-lingual education concerns

But for each of these concerns, although initially valid, has several viable solutions within the means of virtually every household. One increasingly difficult aspect of home schooling, however, deals with providing children with a bilingual or multi-lingual education.

Bilingual or Multi-Lingual Education
While in many parts of the world a bilingual or multi-lingual education is desirable or even an essential in many cases, it is quite possible to provide a quality bilingual education for home schooled children. Speaking a foreign language can be a tremendous asset in many walks or life and career paths. The same can be said concerning knowledge of a foreign culture. In a number of locations, education which includes elements of foreign languages is easily incorporated in the child’s everyday educational life, providing them with a solid basis for foreign language acquisition and practical use. A broad spectrum of foreign languages can be included incorporating languages such as:

• English (varieties from regional America, Britain, Australia, Jamaica, etc.)
• Spanish (spoken and written forms of Castellano can vary widely between the 21 countries where Spanish is spoken as a first or official language)
• French
• Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, or other forms)
Arabic
• German
• Italian
• Portuguese
• Russian
• Greek
• Turkish
• And a host of indigenous or local dialects, Creoles and patois

Help, Resources and Assistance are Available
In most countries which allow home schooling of underage children there are programs available to inform and provide parents with information, curricular requirements and other types of assistance to help make the home schooling process a much smoother, effective and rewarding one for both the parents and the children. With home schooling too, parents are able to provide focus and direction in areas of which the child may have special interest, talents and abilities. It is possible to insert an increased number of field trips or attendance at inter-cultural or related events, seminars, conferences, workshops and special activities which may be unavailable to children and learners at traditional institutions. Home schooling parents likewise have the option of integrating learning alternates into their home schooling program.

Consider the Children Too
Rather than allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by the challenge of home schooling, parents should embrace the concept. The first step is to seek out those government agencies, resources and organizations which can provide the quantity of information and guidance needed to effect an intelligent decision on whether or not to home school, why and how. Home schooling is not too much of a challenge to be considered once proper investigation has been conducted on the part of the parents in consideration of the wishes, desires and attitude of the children. Parents could also use teaching and learning techniques not only with their children but also with themselves to make themselves smarter. Now wouldn’t that be nice?



Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Use an English Only Language Immersion Environment to Develop Your Language Skills in a Hurry


English Language Immersion









One of the best ways to stimulate improvement in English language learning is to immerse yourself in an “English-Only” environment. However, many English or foreign language learners might think, “I live in a country where this simply isn’t possible”. This though, is not necessarily true. Let’s have a brief look at some strategies that might be used to help in “simulating” an effective English or other foreign language immersion environment. Some language institutes and universities like the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz try to accomplish this in their foreign language learning programs by employing several “artificial” means to do so.

Some of these means include:

• Sequestering learners in a physical language immersion location for a weekend, week or longer sustainable period
• English or target foreign language movies and videos only

• For a unique change of pace try watching cartoons in English or the target language

• Not allowing learners to speak in their first language (LI) for the entire immersion period
• Supplying English only newspapers, magazines and other daily reading materials
• Allowing English only music to be played in the immersion location
• English or target language only news, music or sports radio stations are allowed
• Learners eat only foods and drinks typical of the culture where the target language is spoken
• Use games and fun didactic activities in English or the target language
• All speech must be in English at restaurants, cafeterias and other target language-related locations

Some Practical Language Immersion Suggestions
Providing an "English-Only" environment can actually be much easier than you might imagine. With the radio or CD player, have music and songs in English only. Post signs, notes and written material on walls and objects around the room, etc. Play videos, movies and other audio-visual materials in English only - with NO L1 subtitles if that's possible. English or other target language subtitles ARE allowed, however. Read newspapers, magazines and websites that are in English. Get your news from CNN in English if available. Try to talk on the phone with friends, classmates and others in English only whenever possible. Then of course, only surf sites on the internet in English.

For Starters Only
These suggestions are only for starters, brainstorm and you'll come up with many more if you just put your mind to it - and, Voila! an English-Only (or other foreign language) environment will soon surround you. Using this technique, people have developed speaking fluency in as little as a weekend – from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. The techniques are not limited to English either. Fluency in any target foreign language can be developed in this way as well. I personally did this in learning Spanish, French, Twi and Kpelle. You’ll be absolutely amazed at how well this can truly work. Just try it for yourself and see.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How to Get Your EFL Learners to LOVE English Class


How Do Your EFL Learners Feel?
How do your English as a foreign language learners feel about coming to English class? Do they look forward to it because they know, “We’re going to do all kinds of interesting things in English class” or do they arrive late, and then want to leave English classes early?
You can snap them out of their “dread” of foreign language learning with a few simple adjustments to your English or other foreign language classes.

Here are five easily-implemented suggestions to approach doing so.

Use Drama
In any of its many forms, drama can enrich and enliven an English as a foreign language class like almost nothing else. There are a generous number of choices available to accomplish this from skits demonstrating monologues and soliloquy to pair dialogues and beyond. The dramatic forms do not have to be elaborate or lengthy to serve multiple purposes.

Incorporate the Use of Music and Songs
Always a favorite with my learners, using music in a broad spectrum of ways in the English language learning classroom is never a wasted effort. Music, in fact, is highly effective in stimulation of learning and intelligence in several proven ways. You can use music in the background, before a shift in lesson stages, to “time” exercises and activities, among a score of others. Don’t forget to include at least two or three popular songs during the course of a semester with you EFL groups as well.

Play Games
If you’re waiting for your learners to say, “We don’t want to play a game in English class, teacher” you’re in for a very long wait. Language learners of all levels, ages and ability just love to play games. What kinds of games? You name it. From the simplest form of TIC-TAC-TOE to a vast array of puzzles, vocabulary and TPR dynamic activities, your EFL learners will likely respond very well to strategically-placed games during the course of class sessions.

Show Videos and Movie Clips
Now if your English language learners are anything at all like mine, they have quite a visual type of learning style. Great! Because this means that you can use videos and short clips from popular movies to illustrate language, vocabulary and grammar in context. This is not only “painless” for the language learners, but they actually encourage and receive “lessons” from watching a video or movie clip better than a straight forward lecture. There are numerous films and film clusters that you’ll find useful no matter where you teach.

Tell a Story
To garner the rapt attention of virtually any group of English language learners, try telling them a good story. What? You say you don’t know or have any good stories? Are you kidding me? They’re all around you in the form of fables, fairy tales, literature and even the news. Try twisting a commonly-know tale with a different surprise ending. Let your learners shift and shape a familiar fable or folk tale. Use stories to illustrate grammar and vocabulary in context. The possibilities are limited only by the limits of your (and the EFL or other foreign language learners) imagination.

Snap Them Out of Their “Dread”
Snap your EFL learners out of their “dread” of foreign language learning by trying out some of these suggested activities. Include two or three in your English classes during the course of a semester, period or school year and watch as their interest and participation start to mount steadily. Soon your EFL learners will be saying, “We’re doing all kinds of interesting things in English class”. They’ll start arriving in classes early and you’ll have to boot them out the door at the end of classes. Now won’t that be a pleasant change?


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Monday, March 17, 2008

Can UFOs Be Explained By Natural Phenomena?


It Was Aliens

“It was aliens, I seen’em.”

Testimonials and allure surrounding the sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects and other strange phenomena have been with us for at least decades.

Debates and ideas as to the source or cause of UFOs and UFO sightings continues to rage on as ferociously today as it did back in the 1960s. Is there really a government “Area 51”? Does extra-terrestrial life truly exist? Is mankind the only higher intelligence life form? Are spirits, ghosts, angels, demons and super-human life forms real? These are but a scant few of the questions asked by millions of people earth wide.

More Recently
But more recently, astronomers and scientists from multiple fields have given attention to other, more plausible explanations for UFOs and sighting events, like those that often take place in Tepoztlan, Mexico, beyond the casual “weather balloon”, satellite, small aircraft, reflections of moonlight or other “weather phenomenon” basic explanations for these so-called events.

To generate a visual phenomenon over such a widespread area as a city or extensive country-side area would require tremendous amounts of radiant energy within the visible spectrum. There are natural phenomena which indeed could generate, not only the necessary quantities of energy, but also do so within the needed frequencies for visibility by the naked human eye.

Natural Phenomena
The following five conditions are considered to be natural phenomena capable of accounting for unexplained “sightings” and other “UFO-related” events:

St. Elmo’s fire
Not an uncommon sight aboard ships at sea, this unique phenomenon appears as an eerie greenish glow or flame-like form of energy that crawls along masts, railings flagpoles and other wooden or metallic surfaces. St. Elmo's Fire has also been called by the names St. Nicholas and St. Hermes.

The Aurora Borealis
Most commonly called the “Northern Lights” this atmospheric phenomenon is visible in the northernmost latitudes of the earth. Russia, Canada, Chile, Argentina and the Scandinavian countries all regularly report visibility of the Northern Lights or Southern lights.

The Aurora Australis
Near the southernmost latitudes of the earth the Aurora Australis, like its northern hemisphere equivalent, the Aurora Australis is visible in the late evening skies of southern Australia and the Antarctic continent as reported by scientific crews stationed in the region.

Earthquake Lights
A more recently identified phenomenon called earthquake lights result from the sudden massive release of energy during an earthquake or tremor. These dull reddish waves of light, brilliant sparkling balls or dimly lit flashes are more likely to be visible during quakes in very late evening hours or when the earthquake occurs at night as they have in Lima, Peru and Cali, Colombia.

Volcanic Eruption-related Phenomena
Another more recently identified phenomenon is the visible occurrence of lightning flashes or other visible phenomenon immediately before, during or after a volcanic eruption. Lately, during eruptions of fairly active volcanoes such as Tungurahua in Ecuador or Galeras Volcano in Pasto, Colombia (pictured above), visible phenomena have been witnessed by hundreds of people from many different walks of life.

Since many, if not most, of these phenomena occur frequently in South America and make for interesting, locally-observed events, in upcoming installments on this topic we will delve a bit further into these phenomena, their causes, explanations, results and some eye-witness accounts and quotes related to these events.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Has Anyone Ever Eaten ...These?


Teaching English Abroad: Has Anyone Ever Eaten ...These?

Has Anyone Ever Tried ...

When I asked, “Has anyone ever tried Saino?”; having tasted this species of wild pig called Peccary in English and native to many of the jungles of South America, I did regain a little respect for my “adventuresome” eating. But what brought the house down was my tale of breakfasts in America’s rural south with fried pork brains scrambled with eggs along with fried slices of pig testicles, known as “mountain oysters” in states like South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Mouths dropped open and glazed-over eyes seemed to double in size. Then they started talking.

Conversation Practice
One of the language aspects of most interest to your students will be conversation practice. As a native speaker, you represent the best that English has to offer in pronunciation, grammar usage, idioms and expressions, vocabulary, fluency and communicative ability. You are the ultimate example of English in use. But how can you regularly stimulate your students to speak spontaneously without timidity or fear of making mistakes?

The Use of Controversial Questions and Topics
The use of controversial questions and topics can help. In class ask something like: “What’s the most unusual or strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?”

You can then give the answer for yourself first as an example. When I said the strangest thing I’d ever eaten was toasted or fried ants (called “Hormigas Culonas” here in Colombia) the students weren’t impressed. In areas of Mexico, insects like Agave worms (used in tequila), shiny, blue and green iridescent Humiles beetles, and leaf cutter ants and their eggs, are eaten as a matter of course. “I ate flowers once”, I piped up trying to regain some ground. Still no good. Flor de Calabaza, the bright orange flowers of a pumpkin plant, is passé in the areas around Tepoztlan, south of Mexico City. As a matter of fact, they’re delicious sautéed and wrapped in a hot, blue corn tortilla. Did I mention that I frequently dine on the deadly, fear-inspiring, razor-toothed Piranha? But that’s no big deal here.

The Students' Turn
It was the students’ turn and each had stories to tell. And tell them they did. “My aunt likes iguana”, one student blurted out. “Have you tried iguana eggs?, another asked. “Yes, I have”, I smirked. Stories began to flow. Slowly at first, then faster as memories and emotions mounted. Tales of iguana, turtles, caimans (a species of alligator), donkey meat, reptile eggs, armadillo, a Guinea Pig relative called “Cuy” and Dagger fish emerged enthusiastically - bursting with anecdotes, humor and sometimes a bit of disgust. It not only got them speaking fluently, but was quite informative too.

“You can always tell a dagger fisherman”, one Mexican student explained, “because of the strange scars they get from the fish.” “Oh, so how do they get the scars? I meekly asked. The answer made me gasp. Trust me, you don’t want to know. Shark is popular in many Latin and Caribbean countries too.

I wanted to know more and they obliged. They spoke not only of things they’d tried, but of meats and meals they’d heard of others eating. Opinions of what, where and why added richness, depth and flow to the conversation. In the end I had to halt the session which ran well overtime with no indication of ending anytime soon.

They're Cute, Cuddly and Delicious
Oh yeah, I still haven’t tried the “Cow’s Eye soup” in Colombia or the steamy, animal-blood-sprinkled “Yaguarlocro” of Ecuador. But the chicken feet often found in “Sancocho”, Colombia’s national dish, don’t get even the smaller rise out of me anymore. And early last year, I sampled a hearty stew of Three-toed Sloth. They’re cute. They’re cuddly. They’re delicious.

By the way, what’s the strangest, most unique food that YOU have ever eaten?



Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books, “If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Friday, March 14, 2008

They Speak Spanish as a First or Official Language WHERE?


English Language Teaching:
They Speak Spanish as a First or Official Language WHERE?


Spanish as a First or Official Language
Often, when I teach or speak before of group of English language teachers in Latin America, I like to ask the question, “How many countries are there which have Spanish as a FIRST or OFFICIAL language?” “You ARE all native Spanish speakers, aren’t you? I say, teasing them a bit. A few minutes then pass as I wait for the group to “sweat it out”.

By the way, how many of these countries can YOU name?


Then, mercifully, I offer a response after taking an assortment of guesses ranging from half a dozen or so to fifteen or fifty. The following countries each have Spanish either as an official or first language.

In North America
The North American continent, home to only three countries, has two of them with Spanish as a first or official language.

• United States (oh yes, it is!)
• Mexico

In Europe
In Europe, one of the world’s great melting pots, several countries claim English as a first or official language.

• Spain
• Portugal (by the way, Portuguese is in the same language family as Spanish)

In the West Indies
In the West Indies or Caribbean, formerly a virtual hotbed of colonization, several island nations have a form of spoken English.

• Cuba
• Puerto Rico
• Dominican Republic

In Central America
If you though only Spanish is spoken “south of the border”, you’d be wrong. There are three countries which use English as a first or official language. There are fifteen countries with Spanish as a first or official language. They are:

• Guatemala
• Honduras
• El Salvador
• Nicaragua
• Costa Rica
• Panama

In South America
Passing from Central America into South America as you head south from Panama, these countries have Spanish as a first or official language.

• Colombia
• Venezuela
• Ecuador
• Peru
• Bolivia
• Chile
• Argentina
• Uruguay
• Paraguay

In Africa
I know what you’re thinking. Africa? There are no Spanish-speaking countries in Africa! Oh yes there are – there’s one! Surprised? So was I. Most people are. The officially Spanish-speaking country in Africa is (drum roll, please):



Equatorial New Guinea


Why Learn Spanish?
Spanish has been a widespread and useful “Lingua Franca” for centuries. It still is. So when your Spanish as a foreign language learners ask, “Why learn Spanish?” you’ll have some new ammunition with which to respond to them as a foreign language teaching professional.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Teaching English as a Foreign Language: Speaking of Hamburgers

Teaching English as a Foreign Language:
Speaking of Hamburgers



Insight into a Foreign Culture
One excellent insight into a foreign culture is through its foods. For example, ask almost any English as a foreign language learner, “What do Americans eat?” and their response is very likely to be, “hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries”. Certainly there’s far more to American food than that. (They left out the beer and soft pretzels.) Such sweeping generalizations are generally way wrong by a landslide.

It would most definitely be grossly incorrect to say that they eat only arepas, coffee and sancocho in Colombia or that Mexicans eat beans and tortillas or even that Germans drink beer, eat sausages and sauerkraut. How about saying that the Japanese consume mostly fish, rice and tea or that Jamaicans scarf down mostly Red Stripe beer, ackee, jerked pork and salt fish? While these and other typical food examples may be true to some small extent, they’re hardly gospel.

Speaking of Hamburgers …
But speaking of hamburgers, when John Chow posted on his blog that “Wally’s was Closing Its Doors” it flashed me back to the availability of hamburgers here in Cali, Colombia. Many major American fast food chains maintain a presence in Bogotá, Colombia’s capitol city. However, here in the south of the country, Cali has but a bare few.

Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin Donuts and Pizza Hut yet remain. When the three McDonald’s locations that were in Cali suddenly closed about three years ago, the Caleños were left without the benefit of that bastion of American fast food. You can still get a decent burger here and there at selected fast food locations with onions, tomato, lettuce, sauces and “the works”, but nothing like a Big Mac or its brethren. It was a blow to English language teaching Expats here in Cali, Colombia.

Losing an Institution
Although I have never tried a “Super Burger” at Top’s Restaurant or been to Wally’s (or Vancouver for that matter), I know how it feels to lose an institution you grew up with. For me it’s Nick’s foot-long submarines on Washington Boulevard in south Baltimore.

So while you or your English language learners are studying English, don’t forget to closely consider the food as part of the language and culture. The same holds true for other foreign languages as well. Just as with movies, songs and music, the study of its foods can surely be an excellent insight into English or another foreign language and its related culture.

What do people like to eat where YOU live?


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books, “If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

English Language Teaching: They Speak English as a First or Official Language WHERE?


English as a First or Official Language
Often, when I teach or speak before of group of English language teachers, I like to ask the question, “How many countries are there which have English as a FIRST or OFFICIAL language?” A few minutes then pass as I wait for the group to “sweat it out”.

By the way, how many of these countries can YOU name?


Then, mercifully, I offer a response after taking an assortment of guesses ranging from half a dozen or so to fifteen or fifty. The following countries each have English either as an official or first language.

In North America
The North American continent, home to only three countries, has two of them with English as a first or official language.

• United States
• Canada (for the record, French is also an official language in Canada)

In Europe
In Europe, one of the world’s great melting pots, several countries claim English as a first or official language.

• Ireland
• Scotland
• England

In the West Indies
In the West Indies or Caribbean, formerly a virtual hotbed of colonization, several island nations different dialects, patois and varieties of spoken English.

• St. Lucia
• Cayman Islands
• St. Vincent
• Grenadines
• Bahamas
• Bermuda
• Grenada,
• St. Nevis / St. Kitts
Jamaica
• Trinidad & Tobago
• Barbados
• U.S. Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands

In Central & South America
If you though only Spanish is spoken “south of the border”, you’d be wrong. These countries use English as a first or official language.

• Guyana
• Belize
• Curacao

In Asia
Another great polyglot melting pot of the world with hundreds upon hundreds of languages dotting the nations that comprise the majority of the earth’s population, English is claimed as an official or first language in these locations:

• Singapore
• Hong Kong
• India
• Philippines
• Malaysia

In Africa
With more than a thousand languages covering the African continent, it seems nearly impossible to have any language emerge as a dominant one. English has however, broken through as a “Lingua Franca” in several populous nations across the continent. Here are some to date:

• Sierra Leone
• Liberia
• Ghana
• Zimbabwe
• South Africa
• Seychelles
• Nigeria
• Kenya

In the South Pacific
Itself a continent, Australia heads up a short though impressive list of English-speaking countries in the South Pacific. G’day, mate!

• Australia
• Falkland Islands
• New Zealand
• Samoa

Why Learn English?
So when your English as a foreign language learners ask, “Why should I learn English?” you’ll have some new ammunition with which to respond to them as an English language teaching professional.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Monday, March 10, 2008

Part 2 - Why Do English and Foreign Language Teachers Really Give Tests?


In the first part of this two-part article series we asked, “Why do English and other foreign language teachers really give tests?” We then considered some concrete academic and personal reasons for doing so. We explored the two assessment types and five key Assessment categories. Here, we’ll continue with a more detailed look at the five key assessment categories as well as identifying the two contrasting categories of EFL and ESL tests. Finally, whether teachers and language institutions should adopt, develop or adapt tests, assessments and evaluations they use with comments from a leading authority on testing, evaluation and assessment.

The Five Key Assessment Categories
1. Placement assessment
… is concerned with the identification of a learner’s entry level for class enrollment and selection.

2. Formative assessment (*Progress tests i.e., semester partial exams) … is used to provide ongoing monitoring of student progress used by the teacher to gather feedback in order to adjust the educational process to insure that learning is occurring and to correct learning errors (per King and Rowe, 1997)

3. Diagnostic assessment begins where formative assessment leaves off. It is concerned with the “identification of persistent or recurring learning difficulties that are left unresolved by the standard correction perspective of formative evaluation.” (Gronlund, 1985)

4. Summative evaluation (*Achievement tests, i.e., final exams) comes at the end of units or courses and / or aims to assign grades to certify the learner’s global level of knowledge on the topics taught.

5. Self- assessment is a mix of formative and diagnostic assessment that may be used
by the learner to monitor the level of acquired knowledge in order to decide how and when to face summative evaluation.

*Proficiency Tests are also needed and are used to certify the learner’s global level of knowledge on a topic, i.e., TOEFL, IELTS, PET, etc. (*Spratt, Pulverness, Williams, 2005)

Contrasting Categories of EFL and ESL TESTS:
Tests are also prepared in two contrasting categories based on general purpose. These are knowledge tests designed to determine what a language learner knows about the language, and skill or performance tests designed to determine what a language learner can do (referred to as competencies). The Common European Framework purports an extensive catalogue of “Can Do” statements of English and other foreign language learner competencies at:

http://www.alte.org/can_do/general.cfm

Types of tests generally included in each category are:

Knowledge tests

Subjective tests
• Productive tests
• Language sub-skills tests
• Norm-referenced tests
• Discrete point tests
• Proficiency tests


Skills (performance) tests

Objective tests
• Receptive tests
• Communication skills tests
• Criterion-referenced tests
• Integrative tests
• Achievement tests


Adopt, Develop or Adapt?
Another point to consider is, “where should tests come from?” Should English or other foreign language teachers adopt “standard” tests, develop their own classroom or institutional tests, or adapt existing evaluation models to suit their current needs?”

According to testing, assessments and evaluations researcher J.D. Brown (1984), “language tests are, or should be, situation specific. That is to say, a test can be very effective in one situation with one particular group of students and be virtually useless in another situation or with another group of students.”

Brown also cautions, “Teachers cannot simply go out and buy (or worse yet, illegally photocopy) a test and automatically expect it to work with their students. It may have been developed for completely different types of students (different in background, level of proficiency, gender, and so forth) and for entirely different purposes (that is, based on differing approaches, syllabuses, techniques or exercises)”.

Finally J. D. Brown concludes with, “… remember that in most language programs, any rational approach to testing will be a vast improvement over the existing conditions.”

Now, what do YOU think, English or other foreign language teachers?

• Would YOU change anything about the language evaluation system you now have?

• Should language teachers prepare their OWN exams?

• What areas or topics related to English or other foreign language testing, evaluation and assessment would you like to know MORE about?

Your personal insights, observations, questions and comments on this topic will be greatly appreciated.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Why Do English and Foreign Language Teachers Really Give Tests?


Why Test?

You know how your learners dread to hear, “Next class we have a test on …” Why, you can practically hear their groans of displeasure even now. Even teachers hate tests to some degree. There’s preparing the test, administering it and then the meager efforts to try to prevent the almost inevitable cheating. It’s a cat-and-mouse game of “catch-me-if-you-can”. Who’s “smarter”, the teacher or the learners? So considering the fear and dread that both the learners and teachers have of testing, what is really the role of testing, evaluation and assessment in English Language Teaching? The following are key points in consideration of English and other foreign language tests.

Did you know that:

• Students learn more in classes that use tests

• The connection between testing and increased learning is well-proven in research

• Students are more motivated in classes that use tests …

• The classes in which students learn most and for which they study hardest are ones in which they are frequently and thoroughly tested… (Eggan - Kauchak, 1994)

• Students expect to be tested – adult students expect and respect formal testing and are challenged by it… (M. Thompson, 2001)

ASSESSMENT means judging learner’s performance by collecting information about it.
There are basically two types of assessment, informal and formal.

INFORMAL ASSESSMENT is when we observe learners to see how well they are doing and then comment on their performance.

FORMAL ASSESSMENT is when we assess learners through tests or exams and give them a grade.

In addition, testing, evaluation and assessment in English and other foreign language teaching can also serve the interests of four distinctive groups; teachers, learners, the administration and parents in the case of young language learners.

FOR TEACHERS:
Testing, evaluation and assessment in English and other foreign language teaching can serve the interests of teachers in at least three major aspects:

- Evaluation of teaching and didactic methods
- Evaluation of learner language competencies
- Teacher accountability to the administration and parents: i.e., are objectives being met?

FOR LEARNERS:
Testing, evaluation and assessment in English and other foreign language teaching can serve the interests of learners in three principal aspects:

- Demonstrate knowledge
- Diagnostic to point out areas of weakness or inability
- Promote study

There are five key Assessment categories (ref. Cucchiarelli, Panti, Valenti, 2000):

Placement assessment
Formative assessment
Diagnostic assessment
Summative evaluation
Self- assessment


In the next part of this article series we’ll continue and consider each of these assessment categories in more detail. English and other foreign language teachers, your personal insights, observations, questions and comments on this topic will be greatly appreciated.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


Friday, March 07, 2008

Part 2 - Dramatically Improve Your Article Writing Almost Immediately Using These Five Easy Ways


When the Preliminaries Are Completed
After the preliminaries had been completed; choosing a topic, narrowing the article focus and outlining the format of the article, we looked at our first two writing improvement target areas. These were using English language spell check and grammar check to aid in avoiding the kinds of errors that tick editors off and send readers scurrying for the delete button – or worse. We’ll continue our how to listing of five easy ways to dramatically improve your article writing with number three.

3. Add Relevant Quotes
There are examples of quotes everywhere. Whenever you watch the news on TV, hear it on the radio or read an article in a newspaper or magazine, they’re all conspicuous for their use of relevant quotes. He said, she said, they said – all lend authority and substance to virtually any prose. So, who’s an “authority”? Anybody can be: your family, your friends, witnesses, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, even your learners. “Am I really an authority?” asked sixth grade teacher, Sonia Ruby Cortez. Absolutely, when it comes to what goes on in her class room she’s an absolute authority, and can express her personal opinions as such as well. Don’t forget, you’re an authority too. Be sure to brush up on the “Reported Speech” elements of English grammar.

4. Add Related Facts and Statistics
Almost nothing else lends an air of authority and depth to a written or spoken piece like the judicious use of relevant facts and statistics. This holds true for oral and written discourse in almost all of the world’s 6912 languages including English. You can easily scoop up relevant facts and statistics from newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs and of course, online from literally camel-loads of websites. You really should maintain a generous set of ready references near your writing place or computer. There are numerous excellent available online references which are free and easy to use as well.

5. Compile Re-Useable References
Whenever you reference an article, statistic, fact, quote or other “fair and best use” of other works, you must always copy and save the source of the information. Not only will this aid you in compiling a list of bibliographical references, but provide you with a starting point for delving into additional work at a later time when researching similar or related topics in the future. This source listing includes images, photos and other graphics too. Some editors will ask for them outright, but whether they do or not, you should be professional enough and organized enough to maintain your references listings as you research, draft and write your article.

So Finally
If you’ll make a concerted effort to have and use the above mentioned references and writing aids, your articles and other writing, whether professional, academic, personal or casual can improve most dramatically by eliminating the most common causes of English errors and mistakes that occur in most forms of writing. The only other problem now is the writing or article content, and that my friend, is still solely up to only “you-know-who”.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com