Wednesday, July 30, 2014

FYI: E-Course available for ELTs

If you are interested by E-courses please get in touch with Billa Anassour at the American Cultural Center ASAP

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A sample of activity using PowePoint

Activity: Endangered species
Population: High intermediate EFL students
Duration: 45 minutes
Material: computer, Microsoft PowerPoint presentation tool
Prerequisites: Students are supposed to know how to use PowerPoint.
Objective: On completion of the activity, students will be able to:
·         Create a document with specific information intended to be presented by using PowerPoint.
·         Understand and use animals-related vocabulary.
·         Be informed about a global problem: the endangered species.
Instructions for the students
Endangered species are animals that are in danger of extinction (animals that may disappear from the planet earth) if actions are not taken to protect them.
Select one of the animals in the box below.
Panda, Asian elephant, Blue whale, Chimpanzee, Black rhino, Cross river gorilla, African wild dog, California tiger salamander, Goliath frog, Loggerhead sea turtle.

Use the Internet to check information related to the animal you’ve chosen. You can visit the following website: , , , . But don’t limit your search to these websites.
Create a 5 slide PowerPoint presentation document. Your slides should be titled as follows:
1st slide: Description
On this slide you should include the name of the animal, and its physical aspect, its group (is it a mammal, a bird…)
2nd slide: Place and Habitat
Where does it live, on what continent, country, does it live in forests, on mountains, in rivers?…
3rd slide: Diet
What does it eat?
4th slide: Behavior
How does it live, hunt, how does it catch its prey?
5th Population
How many of its kind are still alive?
You may include pictures and even graphs. When you finish email your document to the teacher, he will email it to one of your peer for review.
Teachers guide
-          Have students work individually but encourage them to ask for the help of their peers or the teachers when needed, especially with technical problems.
-          Tell them they have to keep track of the time; you may change the activity duration if you deem right to do so.
-          Tell them they may use dictionary in case they don’t get the meaning of some words or expression.
-          Go around the class as students are doing the activity in order to check how they are doing it, and provide help when necessary.
-          Redistribute students’ documents to their peers for review.
-          Have some of them, or all of them (if it’s a small class) present their work to the class.

Saturday, March 19, 2011



Why should we use songs in teaching English?

• Using songs is a very natural process of learning a language,
• They are valuable resources to expand students’ abilities in listening, speaking,
• Songs propose a change from habitual classroom actions,
• Songs are a real source of authentic language,
• Songs can be used to enrich vocabulary, to improve grammar, accent, good pronunciation as well as functions.
• Learning through songs is funny and stress-free for the students,
• It leads to instant comprehension,
• It helps long-term retention.
Which songs to use and what to sing?
Depending on your objectives you can use:
• Songs specially written for ESL/EFL teaching,
• Songs by popular English speaking musicians,
• Self-composed songs.
How to get songs?
English teaching songs and songs of popular English speaking singers can be found:
• In any English textbook,
• With colleagues
• On the internet
• Self-composed songs are songs composed by the teacher himself according to his objectives. The teacher should find a beautiful tune to perform his song. Popular tunes are a good source of fine melodies for your lyrics.
Effective activities with songs
A bunch of activities can be carried out using songs.
• Fill-in-the blanks.
Give (or write on the chalkboard) a new version of well known song’s lyrics. In this version you deliberately omit the words or expression you want to put emphasis on, then ask your students to fill-in the blanks with the missing words.
• Spotting the mistakes
Give to students (or write on the chalkboard) a version of a song’s lyrics stuffed with mistakes e.g. omit the ‘s’ at the end of verbs used with the third person singular in the simple present tense, and ask them to correct the mistakes. They can do this activity by listening to the song, or by singing the song.
• Changing the order of verses
Scramble the verses and have your students put them in correct order.
• Pictorial representation of songs
Have your students draw comic strips or any pictorial representation of a song is a good way of relaxation and bringing change in your activities.
• composing follow-up verses
This activity is appropriate for higher level students and it’s an effective way to test their creativity.
Choosing the best songs!
Using songs in teaching English can be very effective, provided you are quite selective with the songs.
• Choose songs that are good to listen to, with each word, each syllable being clearly articulated.
• Emphasis should be put on the theme of the song.
• Avoid songs that have slang or typically cultural references, or else you may have hard time explaining them.
• When composing your own lyrics, go for plain, simple and appropriate language.
• Your self-composed songs should be short and very explicit.
• To make the singing funnier, choose songs that involve your students both mentally and physically.
This physical aspect of the performing leads us to what is called TPR
What is TPR?
TPR stands for Total Physical Response. It was created by Dr. James Asher a Professor of Psychology and Statistics. It’s based on the way children learn their L1. Parents use Language-body conversation with their children, they talk and act and the child gives a physical response by imitating. These conversations continue for month before the child takes the sounds and patterns and is able to decode and use the language quite spontaneously. Dr Asher discovers that this technique can also be very effective in L2 acquisition.
How can I use it in class?
• In the classroom the teacher plays the role of the parents. She starts by saying a word (jump!) or a phrase (look at the board) and does the action.
• After repeating a few times, the students are expected to do the actions as they say the words.
• You can then have the students directing each other or the whole class.
• For more effective results you can have your students in a circle around you and even transform the TPR into an extra mural (out of classroom) game!
According to Dr. Asher, the key to successful application of TPR is minimum work from the instructor and maximum output from students. Think yourself as the director of a play with your students the actors in a theatrical production
What can I teach using TPR?
TPR can be used to teach and practise many things:
• Vocabulary
Words connected with actions (smile, chop, headache, wriggle…)
• Grammar
Tenses and aspects (past/present/future and continuous aspects) e.g: “every morning I clean my teeth, make my bed and eat breakfast”
• Classroom language
e.g: Open your books, do exercise 6-10 etc
• Imperative instructions
e.g: Stand up! Go out! Close your eyes!...
• And also in story-telling.
In fact this technique can be adapted to all kind of teaching situation; you just need to use your imagination!
Why should I use it?
• It is a lot of fun, students enjoy it and it can be a real stirrer in the class. It lifts the pace and the mood.
• It is very memorable. It really helps students to remember phrases or words.
• It is good for kinaesthetic learners who need to be active in the class.
• It can be used in large or small classes provided the teacher is prepared to take the lead, the students will follow.
• It works well with mixed-ability classes. The physical actions get across the meaning effectively so that all the students are able to understand and use the target language.
• It doesn’t require a lot of preparation or materials though a rehearsal beforehand can help! Anyway it won’t take enough time to get ready.
• It is very effective with teenagers and young learners.
Combining songs with TPR
Like mentioned earlier, a way to make teaching through songs more effective is to have students singing and acting at the same time. Both of the techniques are good reminders, indeed the student has only to remind the melody or the gesture to guess the meaning of utterances. Here are some ways to combine these two techniques:
• With songs used to teach numbers have your students use their fingers to count while singing.
• With songs for teaching body parts, have them touch the different parts of their body while singing.
• With songs used for teaching imperative instructions have them do the action as they sing. e.g.: clapping hands, stamping feet, clicking tongues…
In short give them the opportunity to act a bit instead of sitting always on their desks!
A few TPR games
• The Circle game:
Have students in a circle around you. Say a word and the last student to do the action is out. Eventually there is only one student left, he is the winner.
• Simon Says game:
In this game, when you give a command, students should execute only when you precede it with “Simon says!” e.g: if I say “clap your hands!” they should not do the action unless I say “Simon says clap your hand!”

Useful websites for ESL/EFL Teachers

Useful websites for ESL/EFL Teachers

Websites for teaching English through songs.

Websites for more information on TPR.

Websites for lesson planning

Websites for worksheets

Websites for teachers associations

Friday, February 4, 2011


Sponsored by the Regional English Language Office
US Embassy Dakar
January 25-26, 2010
Dakar, Senegal

A conference on regional networking for English Teachers Association took place in Dakar (Senegal) from January 25 to January 26, 2010. Nine countries including Senegal, Cameroon, Togo, Mali, Guinea, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Burkina Faso and Niger were represented at this conference.


The main theme of the conference was: Setting up and running Teachers’ Associations and Regional Chapters/Challenges and Solutions. However various sub themes have been presented and discussed through workshops. These sub themes included:

• Local Efforts: Background Information about English Language Teaching in the Country/History of Teacher Support Groups in the Region.
After the opening word by RELO Alice Murray and RELO Assistant Khalil Ndiaye,
TESOL President Mark Algren and ATES President Moussa Diouf, the representatives of the different countries were invited to briefly present background information about English Language Teaching in their respective countries and also their associations. This was a good opportunity to learn about ELT in other countries and how teachers had run their associations so far.

• Sharing Our Stories: Successfully Creating Teachers’ Associations
ATES: The Senegalese Experience (Rama Dieng and Abèse Sow)
CAMELTA: The Cameroonian Experience (Mrs. Nnam-Mbi Ndong and Mr. Eric Ngea Ntam)
The Senegalese teachers’ association ATES and the Cameroonian one CAMELTA were the most experienced and successful organizations of the conference. That’s why their representatives were asked to tell about their success stories and share their experience with other T.A the most of which are at a beginning stage. We learned from these presentations that ATES has around 700 members, while CAMELTA has 1900 members. Both of the organizations are TESOL and AITEFL affiliates. CAMELTA is particularly well organized with chapters in all the 10 regions of Cameroon each of which is running its own newsletter.

• Linking Associations with Local/National Authorities
(Ndèye Marie Guèye Fall, CAMELTA reps and others)
During this workshop co-monitored by ATES and CAMELTA members, participants learned how to cope with paperwork as to get recognition by competent authorities of their countries. We discovered that apart from CAMELTA and ATES only SNELT (Society of Niger English Language Teachers) are legally recognized.

• Guidelines for Capacity Building and Creating Regional Chapters
This part of the conference was particularly important for us because creating regional chapters of SNELT is one of the main objectives of our Association.

• Networking at Regional/National Levels
(CAMELTA reps and ATES: Ndeye Marie Gueye Fall)
Networking is vital for teachers’ association, it help them to exchange and share experience. CAMELTA and ATES have a long experience of interaction with each other and with some international teachers’ associations. They shared with the participants their experience as to show the importance of networking and what can be achieved through it.

• How to Become a TESOL Affiliate (Mark Algren)
This was one of the most important presentations of the conference. Mr Algren, President of TESOL Inc. explained fully the requirements and the procedure to follow in order to become a TESOL Affiliate.

• Action Plan: TESOL Boston African Panel Discussion
Three members including two Cameroonians and a Cape Verdian, will represent Africa at the TESOL Convention in March 2010 at Boston. The Dakar Conference participants were asked to discuss on the topic of the African Panel presentation.

General observation
Dakar Conference has been a very formative workshop for us. We learned a lot on how to better our association and how to make it more visible nationwide and even internationally. We are going to use what we learned to make SNELT achieve its objective. Hopefully the networking between associations that we set in Dakar will be a reality.

Kanda & Moudy

Thursday, February 3, 2011


A brief description of the schooling system in Niger
The present State of Niger is the emanation of the French colonial will. It is quite normal that it inherited French schooling system. In Niger, children go to school at the age of 6 to7. After six years of Primary education, they reach middle school and spend four more years before entering secondary school. After three years of secondary school, students go either to University or vocational training school.
English is a compulsory subject right from the first level of middle school (students aged 12) up to the last level of secondary school (students aged 19). Nowadays English is taught even in some private elementary schools.

English teaching materials
Up to 1992, the main manual used in middle school was English for French Speaking Africa (Mills Edition) under the supervision of the British Council. After this period, Niger has opted for the exclusive use of American English, hence the introduction of the new manual “EFTS” English for the Sahel written by a team of Nigeriens ELT professionals and American Consultants. The four levels of middle schools have their students’ books and teachers’ manuals. In High schools, teachers still use manuals like “Today’s English”, “English Africa” “go for English” and recently a manual by Nigeriens called “English for Teminale Classes”. In 2007 a team of Nigeriens and American consultants under the supervision of Peace Corps Niger and a grant from the RELO undertook the revision of EFTS 6e and 5e level books.

A few changes in English teaching!
English was taught five hours a week in 6e and 5e levels, four Hours in 4e and 3e up to 2008. But from 2009, the time allotted to this subject has been reduced in 6e and 5e level. Now it is taught 4 hours a week in all levels of middle school. In high school there has also been some modifications as far as English teaching is concerned but it is rather regarding the grading of examinations. In arts oriented classes like Seconde A, to Terminale A English is now scored over 60 points, while it used to be scored over 80. Similarly in Science oriented classes like Seconde C to Terminale C and D where English which used to be scored over 60 is now scored over 40.

Teachers of English: initial and in-service training
After independence, English was taught generally by English speaking expatriates (Ghana, Peace Corps volunteers…). Now almost all English teachers are Nigeriens graduates of the Teacher training School (Ecole Normale Superieur) or the English Department of the University of Niamey. However with the advent of Voluntary and contract based teachers, one frequently comes across unqualified English teacher who have not received any training but simply studied other subjects (Computer science, management...) in neighboring English speaking countries.
To compensate for the lack of training, English teachers are offered in-service training by the ELP of the American Cultural Center in collaboration with the English branch of the National Pedagogic Inspectorate. The ELP offers also E-Learning to some teachers through ECA with various American Universities. The in-service training is repeated during vacation to make it possible for inner country teachers who happen to be in Niamey for vacation, to take advantage of it. The training team also goes to surrounding places to deliver the same training sessions. In schools, Pedagogic Units (UPs) are regularly held by teachers in order to exchange best practices, mentor new teachers and discuss teaching strategies and schedules. UPs are group of teachers of the same subject in a school who gather to work on their subject teaching. Teachers are also visited regularly by teacher trainers (Itinerant English teachers Advisers and inspectors) who observe them and provide them with good advice as far as their job is concerned. There is also a library at the American Cultural Center where teachers go not only to check out materials, but also to use the computer internet access for their research. In the inner country, American Corners provide the same service to teachers of English.