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Showing posts from 2007

Leaving Russia

In a few days, I will be leaving Russia. I have accepted a teaching position in the United States, so I will not be returning to Russia as a Fellow next year. However, I plan on returning to Russia to continue my work.

Unfortunately, this blog has not been well developed. I was hoping to answer more questions on this blog, but either I was away from the Internet during my many outreach programs in the last few months or I was busy preparing for these programs and the Samara programs while I was at home.

If I can find time, I will try to address 3 more topics or concerns that were raised since March 2007: #1) Survey jigsaws, #2) Content-Based Instruction for Young Learners, and #3) Reflective Learning with emphasis on dialog journals.

I plan to continue blogging once I begin my new job. Sometime in August or September 2007, I will post one more time to redirect you to my new blog--that is, if you are at all interested.

Goodbye Russia and all the English language teachers and students…

Why Role-Plays Fail

After conducting several workshops entitled, "Successfully Conducting Role-Plays in the English Language Classroom," the most common concern I get is about a teacher trying but unsuccessfully implementing role-plays in her classroom. To paraphrase her, "Why can't I get my students to do a role-play?"

My first response was that she needs to prepare her students for the role-play. Some teachers who are inspired by my workshop rush to their classes and implement this new activity without warning. I believe the students first reaction is shock and then resistance.

Students resist because they don't know the teacher's reason for a sudden change in the curriculum. If the change comes in the middle or at the end of a course, there's little chance that the students will be willing to try something new. They have already planned their own learning strategies for the course, and a new activity such as a role-play threatens their well-established learnin…

Asking Questions

One of the most basic functions in communication is asking questions. Language teachers ask students questions all the time. This turns their students into clever responders. However I have seen evidence that students do not get enough practice asking questions. In my opinion, asking a question is the most important speaking function to teach.

Questions are essential to survival. For example, "Where is the bathroom?" or "Is this train going to New York City?"Questions demonstrate curiosity and a willingness to learn and understand the language and content of the course.
Questions are essential in the negotiation of meaning.Questions are useful when one cannot answer. For example, "Could you say that it again more slowly?" or "Are you asking my opinion?"
Students who need and want to understand ask questions.Students with inquisitive minds ask questions.Students get more answers when they ask more questions.How can I get my students to ask…

From Passive to Active Learning

Almost all of my workshops and seminars promote active learning in the EFL classroom. And the feedback I get is usually positive. Some of the bolder participants will tell me that, even though they enjoyed my seminars, they believe that it won't work in their classes. The bottom line of this belief is that their students are "too passive."

This posting is about what I tell the skeptics of active language learning. Not only does active learning require more work from the students, but it also requires more work from the teacher. The first thing the teacher must do is desire an active class. Once that desire is in place, then the teacher must transform that desire into action.

CAUTION: It is difficult to change a passive classroom into an active classroom in the middle of a course or program. Students have already been "programmed" into passive learning. From my observations and experience, the passive students will resist changing into an active class.



On Monday, February 26th, I will be going to Ulyanovsk, which is relatively close to Samara compared to the previous two cities I've visited--Orenburg and Saratov.

For those not familiar with Russia, Ulyanovsk is most famous for being the birthplace of Lenin. When he was born, the city was known as Simbirsk. I found a website with some pictures of the city at Ulyanovsk has roughly the same number of people as the city of Baltimore, and is located in a region roughly the same size as Maryland. Other than that, I don't expect to many similarities with the city where I once lived.

What will I do there? I will be conducting teacher training seminars the first day to teacher trainers, who will hopefully disseminate the information to teachers through the Ulyanovsk region. On the second day, I will be conducting a teacher training workshop for pre-service teachers about cooperative learning activities. In recognition of the 200th anniv…

Venn Diagrams

I have recently discovered that many English teachers here in Russia have never heard of a Venn diagram. I make reference to Venn diagrams, assuming that teachers already know about them, during my seminars about critical thinking and cooperative learning activities. It was my mistake to assume "everybody" knows about Venn diagrams.

Here is an image of a Venn diagram I got from Wikipedia. As you can see there are 2 circles: circle A and circle B. For a compare and contrast exercise, circle A can represent one item and circle B another. The overlapping section represents the similarities between A and B have in common. The separate sections represent the differences between A and B.

For reading and listening exercises, students can create a Venn diagram as their central task to compare and contrast items in the text. For example, if Russian students are listening to someone lecture about life in the United States, they can compare and contrast their Russian life to Ameri…


Let me introduce this blog by answering the 6 WH questions:

is writing this blog? Me (Jeremy Slagoski). You can see my profile in the margin.
is this blog for? Take a look at the list below, which is prioritized from primary audience to secondary audiences.
Russian teachers of EnglishThose involved in the English Language Fellowship ProgramNon-native speaking EFL teachers around the worldAll ESL and EFL teachers around the worldEFL and ESL teacher trainersThose conducting research in curriculum & instruction, teaching & learning, intercultural communication, and related academic fields.Anyone interested in teaching EFL or ESLEnglish language learnersInstructors in generalAnyone else who has interest in my profession, my interests, and myself.
is a blog? Click here at
is this blog about? See below for another list.
My observations on teaching English in RussiaMy insight into ESL & EFL teaching methods and approachesMy reflections on…