Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Friday, September 30, 2005

Effortless Curriculum (Intermediate) 2.0

OK, after much brainstorming, Ive come up with a newer version of the "Effortless English Curriculum". This one is for intermediate students... Ill have a Beginners version coming shortly.

I plan to test this prototype with all my classes next semester (starts beginning of November here in Thailand).

Ive even got some goofy initials for this system... seemingly a requirement for any educational system! CCC

Confidence (Build confidence, eliminate anxiety and worry)

1. Weekly speeches (3 minutes)

Students will give a 3 minute speech every week. They will learn the Dale Carnegie "magic speech formula" (~2:40 Talk about a specific experience, :10 Tell what lesson you learned, :10 give a suggestion to the audience). The teacher will NEVER criticize or correct. Instead, the teacher will give genuine praise to every speaker... identifying what was best and encouraging the student (good pronunciation, interesting experience, great improvement, good energy, whatever). The goal of this exercise is not perfect speech... it is to build confidence... to make the students more confident about using the English they already know.

Every week, students will vote for class awards in the following categories: Best Speech, Most Improved, Most Enthusiastic. Ribbons, certificates, whatever will be given to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in each category (thus 9 students should get awards each week). Again, the purpose of this is to increase confidence... so lots of applause and congratulations and encouragement.

2. Book/Film Club

About once per month, students will make a presentation about a book or movie they have seen. This will be about 5 minutes long, and will be made in small groups (sitting down). The student will talk about their book for about 5 minutes, then the group will ask questions and have a discussion.

After everyone has presented, each group will vote for the most interesting presentation in their group (not the best speaker.. the most interesting book/movie/story). The vote winners in each group will then give their presentations to the entire class. Again, no criticism... but lots of applause, praise, awards, and enthusiasm.

The purpose of this activity is, again, to build students confidence in using English to discuss a topic. Another purpose is for students to share information about fun and interesting books and movies in English.. and hopefully inspire each other to read/watch them.

Comprehensible Input (Build vocabulary and grammar acquisition)

1. Individual C.I. (Learning) Plan (done mostly outside class)

The teacher will meet with each student individually to help them develop a learning plan. Each student will establish reading and listening goals... very specific (exact amounts to read/watch/listen to each week.... and semester). Students will be encouraged to choose a mix of understandable books, articles, comics, TV shows, magazines, movies, soap operas, songs, newscasts, audiobooks, etc.... depending on their interests.

The purpose of this is for students to naturally acquire vocabulary and grammar by reading and listening for pleasure... this also encourages student independence.

2. Teacher Chosen Articles (in class)

The teacher will read an article out loud while students read silently with him/her. After reading it the first time, the teacher will read it again, this time stopping to explain unknown vocabulary or grammar.... to be sure the students reach 100% understanding.

After this, the teacher will lead a short discussion about the issues in the article...

The purpose of this is for students to acquire new vocabulary and grammar. Also, this allows the teacher to present and explain more difficult language than students will likely encounter in their free reading and listening.

Communication (Encourage use of the language in real communicative activities)

1. Blogs

Every student will create a blog and will post 1+ pages to it every week. They will be encouraged to write about personal information, their daily life, their hobbies & interests,... and also to post learning plan updates and project updates (see below).

Students who want to improve their formal writing will be encouraged to write one formal essay a week and put it on their blog (using the "magic essay formula"). Students who want to focus on speaking will be encouraged to post MP3 podcasts on their blogs (audioblogger). And, to encourage communication, all students will be required to comment on two other blogs every week.

2. Projects (Preferably International)

Students will form teams, preferably with students in other countries, and will collaborate with them to create a project. Possible projects include: a team blog on a particular topic (with info links), a Wiki page on an interesting topic (full of links), podcasts by each team member, interviews via Skype or email, online Powerpoint presentations,... or (probably) a mix of several of these media. All projects must have a way for people to make comments about it.

All projects will be due a few weeks before the end of the semester... as students will be required to comment on the projects of other teams. Everyone will then vote for the projects: Craziest Project, Best Presentation, Best Project, Most Informative... and awards will be given.. with plenty of applause, praise, and excitement.


1. Food and Drink

Food and drink (especially caffeine!) will be encouraged. Im aiming for a "book club vibe".

2. Volunteers, Mentors, Open Classes

Ill be launching a volunteer & mentor recruiting drive as soon as I get back from vacation... hope to bring in fluent English speakers-- to join projects, provide internship/observation opportunities, drop in on classes, etc. Students will also be encouraged to bring friends and family... and all "alumni" from my classes last semester will be welcome to drop in on any of my classes.

3. Off Site Meetings

Ill try to schedule several off-site classes... probably outdoors on the Ta-Prachan campus (as it will be the cool season..!!).

4. Fun and Freaky

Ive got a number of strange and interesting surprises planned, but will not give them away here.