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Reflection on my learning from WATESOL Expo presentations

Hi everyone

We have reached the middle of the year and I am wondering how you are all surviving? It is around this time of year that I would reflect on my teaching and my students' learning progress compared to where I thought we would be. It usually resulted in a sense of increased urgency in my teaching as many events intrude on the teaching time we have available. Therefore my focus would need sharpening.  Is it time to become more purposeful in your teaching?

For the next two weeks thought I would reflect on my learning from the WATESOL Expo on Saturday. I am always surprised by what I learn at these days which are only held once a year. Although nothing was particularly aimed at primary level teachers this year I still came away with a few gems and challenges. You are welcome to attend even if you are not a member of TESOLANZ and the cost is kept minimal. Remember that the Auckland event is this coming weekend.  I would love those who attend to share their learning with us.

Reflections from WATESOL EXPO  part 1

1.       432/321 fluency strategy

For an overview of the ‘432/321’ teaching strategy if you are not already familiar with it see our website. In primary schools ‘321’ is commonly used as a tool to help students speak more fluently.

Frank Boers and his students have undertaken further research on this strategy to see whether they could improve on it and whether it led to improved language accuracy and complexity. One of the aspects they looked at was whether repeating the talk three times without the reducing time pressure would yield the same gains in fluency? Therefore his research compared ‘333’ with ‘432’.  The results show that both techniques increased fluency but ‘432’ was better at doing so with the largest gain during the second retelling.  Neither method resulted in an increase in use of a more sophisticated vocabulary. However the ‘333’ techniques resulted in a greater rate of accuracy used in the 2nd and 3rd retelling and a small gain in syntactic complexity in contrast to the  ‘432’ techniques which led to a decrease in  accuracy.Frank was concerned that repeated use of incorrect language chunks could lead to fossilisation. 

Teachers therefore need to select which technique to use dependent upon the student learning outcome that you want to achieve.

Frank made some recommendations for changing the technique in order to make it more effective for your students and to reduce the chance of fossilisation occurring.

o   Allow for feedback between each repetition of the talk. This feedback can either be provided by the student listening or from the teacher.

o   Provide preparation and planning time so the students can seek help on language issues they may have before they give the talk.

o   Scaffold the students to help them build a repertoire of multi-word language chunks that are the stepping stones for fluent speech. These are likely to be transferred to the real world use.

o   The topic should be focused on the type of communication that will be used outside the classroom.

o   There needs to be a genuine exchange of information and ideas, an information gap is required.

o   Include opportunities for repetition on a similar type of activity, or on a similar topic or on the same topic.

Question: How will you use 432 in the future in your ESOL classes? Do you find it a useful techniques with primary aged students?


NOTE: One person recommended 1,2, 3 with beginning students. In this version each students talks for 1 minute, followed by 2 minutes for the second retelling and then 3 minutes. It is the reverse of the usual technique and allows new students time to think and build their ideas and language across repeated retellings on the same topic.


I wonder if this 1,2 3 techniques would work better with young learners?   A research project anyone? I would love to hear your thoughts especially as most of the research seems to be on adult and secondary level students.

2.       Intercultural Competence

Juliet Kennedy from Wellington girls shared her master’s project that she has been implementing at her school. She developed a learning project across two classes at her school a Chinese as a foreign language class and an ESOL class. The idea was to foster intercultural competence and to build cross cultural relationships.

Juliet based her work upon Newton, Yates, Shearn, Nowiitski, (2010) An introduction to the concept of intercultural communicative language teaching and learning: A summary for teachers, and the 6 principles that they developed and Newton’s (2014) revised principles. These form the basis of the NZC languages curriculum.

 The six principles are that intercultural communicative language teaching (iCLT):

1.       integrates language and culture from the beginning

2.       engages learners in genuine social interaction

3.       encourages and develops an exploratory and reflective approach to culture and culture-in-language

4.       fosters explicit comparisons and connections between languages and cultures

5.       acknowledges and responds appropriately to diverse learners and learning contexts

6.       emphasises intercultural communicative competence rather than native-speaker competence.

 Juliet had 4 questions for us to reflect upon:

o   What intercultural practices do you already use in the classroom?

o   Do ESL classes in your school work with foreign language classes within the same establishment? If yes, in what ways? If not might there be an opportunity to do so?

o   Do your ESL students have opportunities in class to reflect and discuss their own cultural backgrounds and languages in relation to learning English in New Zealand?

o   Are there opportunities for ESL classes to work across curriculum areas (not just foreign languages)?

 I think primary schools are fortunate that our ESOL students tend to be more connected to regular students as they are integrated into regular classrooms. However I found her work challenged my thinking as I hadn’t considered ESOL teaching from a languages framework before. Although the principles are similar to what we would preach I thought they raised a few aspects that I want to reflect upon and reconsider in my teaching practice. Principles 2 and 3 particular challenged me. I hadn’t really allowed space in my ESOL class for students to reflect on their own culture and what they are learning about other people’s cultures and what that means for them.


o   Is there room in my ESOL programme to increase the number opportunities for intercultural sharing and learning with non ESOL students?

o   How can I develop an inter-cultural approach which helps my ESOL students and the other students in the school tolearn more about each other’s cultures and to reflect upon their learning and experiences?

3       Pronunciation – Natalia Peterson

Natalia shared how she uses choral readings of vocabulary dictation exercises for pronunciation practice. This was similar to how I used weekly choral poetry reading using children poems written by Kiwis to help my students’ pronunciation of English.  I would incorporate explicit instruction as required on the speed, stress, pitch, intonation and the sounds of English in order to help them become more fluent and more easily understood. I would model first and then they would repeat the lines chorally altogether until we could read it right through with success. We would also speak some lines individually to provide more individualised feedback. Initially this was stressful for some students but with practice and encouragement they soon all valued these lessons as they became more easily understood by others.  Many went on to represent their class in the school poetry reading competition.  

Natalia also shared some pronunciation resources that others had found helpful although most are more suitable for older students. These included the following:

o   “Cool Speech’ app by Richard Cauldwell

o   Gimson’s Pronunciation of English, text book.

o   Ship or sheep minimal pairs exercises BBC

o   One Stop English with Adrian Underhill

o   Rachel’s English

o   Speaking Pal app

o   Breaking News English – did you know you can change the speed of the speech you are listening to

o   Sounds of Speech University of Iowa app

What pronunciation resources to you find useful at the primary school level? Do you deliberately teach pronunciation?

I hope you found something to reflect upon or to introduce into your teaching practice. Next week I will share part two on what I learnt at the Expo day. 

Last week on our community:

·         Pt Chev Bookshop and Resource Room sale now on 10-70% off all our in-stock ESOL titles including games and dictionaries. Or go tohttps://resourceroom.circlesoft.net/catalog/39185-EnglishLanguageESOL

Other news

·         New Reading warrior resource Samoan Heroes

·         Matariki crowd sourced resources

Take care