Monday 26 January 2015

Spelling and Arabic learners

I read this excellent article last week on helping Arabic students who have particular difficulty with spelling. The author, Emina Tuzovic, offers some wonderful insights and lots of practical suggestions. For instance, she highlights vowels as one of the most common problems and advocates gapping exercises (e.g. _ntr_d_ct_ _n --- introduction). She also linked to this piece by Johanna Stirling which also covers a lot of interesting ground, particularly the challenge for teachers.

With that in mind, I thought I would have a bash at covering two aspects in this lesson. First of all, the lesson gives some focus to the vowels (using a variation of Scattergories that a colleague taught me - instead of using letters, you use vowel sounds). However, for my students (as Stirling noted), apart from spelling, they have a good level of English. Focussing solely on spelling, though useful, can seem like a bit of a step backward. As well, they are often in classes with students who don't have a major problem with spelling. So the second thing I tried to do with this lesson was make it challenging - to put something in there to keep everyone in the class happy (engaged?). So it covers spelling, but also reading, discussion and proposal writing. In that sense, it is probably a bit overloaded - I suppose I was trying to sneak spelling in rather than announcing it.

The topic is a bit of a chestnut - mobile phones and stress, and uses this article from the Guardian. I made the gapped exercise by using find/replace on Word. To avoid it all looking scrunched together, I found that Footlight MT Light font leaves a decent gap between words. I also doubled spaced and then double spaced between words (again using find/replace) - hopefully it is clear enough.

I should also mention that part of the lesson uses an idea I nicked from Gavin Dudeney which gets students to interact using their phones as a topic for discussion.

If you use the lesson and have any thoughts/comments/suggestions, I'd be delighted to hear them.

Click here for the Lesson PDF

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