18/100: Reflecting on Penny Ur’s Teaching Tips – 11. Listening & Vocab.

Do they communicate? Naomi's photos
Do they communicate?
Naomi’s photos

This is part eleven of my blogging challenge.

As a veteran teacher it is easy to fall into the trap of doing things a certain way just because I’ve done them that way for years, without remembering the reason why. 

I’ve decided to set myself a blogging challenge – reflect on one tip from each of the 18 sections that compose Penny Ur’s latest book: “100 Teaching Tips”, so as to dust off old practices that may have remained unexamined for too long.

Tip Number 57: “Don’t always pre-teach vocabulary


(Pretend you are listening, not reading).

Listen up, I have two major comments here and I will only say them once (no second chance to hear it with a different voice / accent!):

  1. Really? Pre-teaching vocabulary before students encounter a spoken or written text doesn’t help comprehension very much? So most of the benefits I do see when I decide to pre-teach vocabulary  before a reading comprehension task have to do with the fact that the vocabulary items provide information about the content? Would I get the same results if I just gave the students information about the content in mother tongue? Especially since many of my students are so woefully lacking in the “general-knowledge-department”. I wonder. The explanations given are very convincing yet it would be fascinating to read more research about this (one reference is given in the book). How does a veteran teacher not affiliated with any university get access to such articles?

2. No, it’s not a typing error. The word “listening” does appear in the title yet I am focusing on the reading comprehension aspect. I’m a teacher of the Deaf, what do I know about teaching listening?!

Nonetheless, I read the entire section devoted to listening. And it’s good that I did. This proves the point I try to make before every teachers’ conference – don’t walk out on a lecture you think isn’t relevant for you or a skip a chapter in a book like this book. You never know when the information might come in handy, or spark off a completely fresh chain of thoughts!


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