Elizabeth Claire's E-News

April 2014 E-News from Elizabeth Claire

Click here if you no longer want to receive our free E-News. unsubscribe.

Contents of this April E-NEWS

Competition in the classroom

Contents of Easy English NEWS for April 2014

Available at website

Competition in the classroom

Having just watched the Olympic Games, we periodically get to rethink the idea of competition in the classroom as well as in the sports arena.

Is it good for kids when some always come out on top and others are always on the short end of the stick? I don't think so. It's the "always" that is the problem.

If it's true that students who feel smart learn faster, how can we make our students all feel smart when they are different ages, different levels of English?

I'm convinced that there is a competitive instinct in us all...We create and internalize standards of excellence that we try to reach up to. Or have heros we want to emulate.

How can we harness it to get all students to learn a lot more than when everyone is treated equally? And have them stimulated by failure, not become resigned and give up?

Compete against one's own yesterday. Compete in teams. Compete against the clock. Compete in a wide variety of areas of knowledge and abilities. Compete in different categories. Compete in ways that call for cooperation among team members, or a class against another class, or a school vs another school.

Teach encouragement skills. How to speak to others and yourself to give encouragement. Develop a class spirit, where everyone feels special and appreciated.

Repeat competitions so all improve.

Competition is fun for the winners. It's motivating for many of the runners up to do better.

But how do we make competition fun for those at a lower level of English, grade level, or ability?

Coaching, partners, practice.

And choices. In a competition for example, between two teams, create questions of varying difficulty and assign points to them. Have a stack of very easy questions suitable for entry level students, worth one point, a stack of middle difficulty questions for two points, a stack of hard questions for three points, and a stack of extra hard questions for four points, etc. Students get to choose the number of points they want to try for.

When students choose a question with a lower value, that they are more likely to get correct, they can manage their own tolerance for anxiety.

A secure, more advanced student might choose a question with a high point value and risk not getting any points for the team at all.

A contestant might be allowed to request help from someone on the team, if she or he doesn't know the answer.

Students love competition when there are opportunities for leveling the playing field.

But the "affective filter" rises up when they feel that they let their team down, or are laughed at or humiliated. When that filter of anxiety comes up, the learning rate goes down or becomes an unlearning. It's important to first create a culture of cooperation and encouragement among the students. They are all "up against" the same challenge...learning to understand and speak English.

The game Just-A-Minute! can be played in ways that level the playing field. A student can choose whether he or she wants just a minute to get team mates to guess the eight words on his card, or 45 seconds, or up to two minutes. They quickly see their own progress.

My resource book, ESL Teacher's Activities Kit, has a segment for quiz games. There are 300 questions in six difficulty levels suitable for team competition.

Contents of Easy English NEWS for April 2014

Front page: Earth and its Energy (Our Earth Month issue) . Advantages and disadvantages of nine different energy sources.

Life in the U.S. A. Cleaning up: Cleanaring products, Directions and Warnings, Poison Control Center

Events in April covered in Easy English NEWS:
    • April Fool's Day
    • Easter
    • Passover
    • Income Tax Deadline
    • Patriots' Day
    • Earth Day
    • Administrative Professionals' Day
    • Arbor Day
    • National Poetry Month
America the Beautiful; Heroes and History: not this month, as the Earth Month article, Earth and its energies,continues from from page to the two-page spread, pages 6 and 7.

Ask a Speech Coach: /l/ and /r/ These are so troublesome for many Asian students.

Plus our regular features: This Is Your Page (readers' stories), Funny Stuff, Idioms, the Crossword Puzzle, Let's Talk About It, and Word Help.

PLUS PLUS: free at my website: 16 pages of self-correcting tests for the current issue of Easy English NEWS. If you didn't get your Teacher's Guide for April, its available at my website.

FREE 24-page generic "How To Use Easy English NEWS in Your ESL Classroom" with 9 reproducible graphic organizers. .

Order form for Spring 2014 for Easy English NEWS.

Available at website

Books by Elizabeth Claire:

ESL Phonics for All Ages, Books 1 through 5 with CDs

ESL Teacher's Activities Kit

ESL Teacher's Holiday Activities Kit

Easy English Crossword Puzzles

Classroom Teacher's ESL Survival Kit # 1 and Kit # 2

Kristina, 1904, the Greenhorn Girl

Just-A-Minute! Speaking Game

Help Your Buddy Learn English


The Constitution in Simple English

Hurricane Safety in Simple English

Other free materials

Your Health by Dr. Majid Ali An E-Book of 31 reproducible easy English articles with word help from past columns of Your Health by Dr. Ali, $10.

Treasure Chest 1, a potpourri of reproducible games, songs, and useful stuff is also $10. Check them out.

Got a Kindle reader? Elizabeth Claire's books on Kindle are available at, which you can access through my website.

Don't have a kindle? No problem. Amazon will let you download a free Kindle Reader for your computer or other device.

Prices range from free to 99 cents to $4.99.

Click here to go to the Amazon Kindle Store at my website

Carry on your good work!

© Elizabeth Claire 2014.
Sent to <<Email Address>>. Unsubscribe | Update Profile | Forward to a Friend