Puzzle Parts & Pieces G, H, I, J = Coordinate Language Skills, Cover Content in Context, Refer to Resources, Enjoy Extras
Media broadcasts concerned with the day-to-day have become largely positive by urging listeners to “Turn Off the News & Build a Garden” (new song title). As anticipated, disease/death statistics are scary. So are reports of price gouging, scams touting miracle cures, lawsuits barring gun store closures, equipment shortages, and crises in caretaking.
But on the humanity-will-prevail side, numerous airwaves, video, audio, digital, and onscreen stories feature medical professionals, artists, writers, journalists, musicians, comics/comedians, entertainers, educators, students/scholars, and other inventive or adaptable producers of “content” that is poignant, compelling, constructive, or comforting.
Like you and me, many thoughtful, kind folks are fighting the no-longer-novel virus with original (accessible, enlightening, lively, fun, offbeat) ways & means likely to help out in this crisis.
Now we know: the pandemic is no joke! But noting that the words “human” and “humor” start the same, we figure we can hum ( = “move around busily”) to both the “humanistic” and the “humoristic” to aid humanity. Attention to word-play, like puns or quips, eases tension.
Articles like “People Aren’t Losing Their Sense of Humor During the Coronapocalypse,” from which come many of the images below, point out how our physical and mental health are linked. And strengths developed from having a sense of humor are related to those that foster teaching / learning abilities, especially when enhanced by (verbal) creativity, clear-thinking, discovery, and progress.
So before we get to the task of downloading “Parts & Pieces” proffering language/content instruction, let’s laugh a little—and relax / relate a lot. Be sure to take deep breaths while viewing these “eloquent” items. If you want background info or vocabulary hints to help in appreciating them, consult the notes in the captioning below. Do you agree with our interpretations? Which expressive thoughts can you add?
Are You Still Laughing? (We Hope You Are.)
So while we (both? all?) have the impetus to do something, here are the last of our fittingly connected Parts & Pieces contributions to the common good in troubled times. The explanations and links that follow correspond to Puzzle Pieces G-J: G. Coordinate Language Skills, H. Cover Content in Context, I. Refer to Resources, J. Enjoy Extras all accessible from the Work/Life English.com home page.
G. Coordinate Language Skills
In most (class) sessions or curricula, the four linguistic abilities (listening, speaking, reading, writing)—along with grammar & vocabulary—tend to complement one another randomly.
When the focus shifts from content to language, however, the targeted pedagogy tends to be skill-specific. For instance, an exercise on pronunciation of speech sounds in contrast will probably rely on examples unrelated to lesson context. So will a review of a phrase or sentence structure, a grammar rule, a listening strategy like reduced forms, a spelling principle, or any specific learning points involved in skills–or competency-based language instruction. That’s because it’s nearly impossible for instructors or students to spontaneously “write in their heads” material that contains only features related to the main points or goals in play.
There are, however, multi-skills (and perhaps multi-leveled) lessons, chapters, units, texts, or elements of series designed to “agree with one another” in the four language skills, syntax, and lexicon. So if the targeted content/context of a unit of instruction is “Work,” for instance, the grammatical structures and vocabulary presented and practiced are likely to be work verbs—in past tenses when referring to experience, in present or infinitive forms when naming job duties, and so on. Listening segments may be interviews, training talks, or work directives; speaking sections may ask learners to describe what they can do, are expected to do, or should do at their jobs. Reading may be (“simulated realia” from) employment manuals, meeting agendas, or forms—while writing could be memos, office communication, reports, and the like.
So where are there materials that “harmonize” (i.e. fit together in theme, style, melody, tone) in aspects of linguistic instruction and content (topics & subjects)? One of the best-known collections of printed/audio matter that accomplishes this objective is the 17 texts + ancillaries of the six-leveled WorkLife English Competency-Based Language Skills Program.
Formerly called the ETC Series, these 17 separate books (+ Instructor’s Editions) are not only coordinated within each stage of instruction but are also carefully sequenced between levels. They combine proven approaches to language teaching/learning: a grammatical syllabus, notional-functional categorization, and skills-acquisition strategies.
At each of 6 levels, there are (2 or) 3 texts with an Intro & 10 Chapters: a Competency-Based Grammar, a Listening/Speaking Book (with or without Audio), and a Reading/Writing Book.
Each of these 187 segments of presentation, practice, & expression in the 17 volumes is carefully coordinated with (1 or) 2 other sections, designated and numbered as Parts & Pieces. This means that at every stage, Chapters with the same numbers have the same titles, as in (at Level 5) 1. “Meeting People,” 2. “Getting an Education,” 3. “Money, Money, Money,” 4. “Earning a Living,” 5. “Getting Help,” 6. “Going Places,” 7. “Getting Along with People,” 8. “Having Fun,” 9. “The Media,” 10. “A Lifetime of Learning.”
Grammar focuses each Chapter on a general area like “The Present Time Frame,” “Questions & Answers,” “Nouns & Noun Markers,” “Infinitives & Gerunds,” “Modals,” “the Perfect Tenses,” “Adjectives & Adverbs,” “the Passive,” “Clauses,” and the like: all of its material (pedagogy, exercises, activities) is contextualized, which means that all examples / items address the theme named by the Chapter Title.
Comparably, the four Parts of each Listening/Speaking Chapter offer oral-skills activities like comprehending connected speech, articulating through role-play, practical listening to “aural realia,” or collaborative problem-solving—all on topics integral to the across-the-books subject matter. So do the corresponding four Parts of Reading/Writing, which target competencies like reading for meaning, vocabulary building, scanning for information, and expressing yourself in writing.
Ready to experience how it works (at a high-intermediate level of language proficiency)? In Work/Life English Level 5: Language & Culture in Depth, Chapter 8 of all 3 books has content that is built around “Having Fun.” Since that’s what we/you probably need in this article, here is a three-chapter set of integrated Parts & Pieces that are coordinated as described. Just click on each segment to experience how this works:
In Chapter 8: Having Fun—Work/Life English Grammar 5: Language & Culture in Depth, you can teach/learn rules and patterns of Uses of Gerunds (-ing verbs) after certain Verbs/Adjectives + Prepositions; with certain Verbs + Objects. In an amusing story on “The Rules of Football,” you’ll begin understanding the attraction of team sports while correcting grammar errors that sound funny in connected discourse. After Grammatical Explanation with Vocabulary, there are fill-in, element- arranging, and sentence-completion exercises. Other stories to repair are for “Understanding the Social Rules at Parties” and “Explaining & Following Game Instructions.” Part Four is a “Summary of Forms After Main Verbs.”
The same and/or related grammatical phrasing and vocabulary fills Work/Life English Listening/Speaking Level 5 Language & Culture in Depth. Chapter 8—Having Fun. After perusing lists of “Competencies,” “Pronunciation Features,” and “Grammar Focuses,” you/your students can use word & phrase cues to get main ideas and supporting details of a conversation between a mother and her teenage sons about their recreational pursuits. Then comes “Telling Your Own Story,” which references specific areas of interest and includes a (class) “survey.” “Recognizing & Using Stress & Pitch Patterns in Phrases,” y’all can listen to a couple “Expressing, Accepting, & Turning Down Invitations.” There’s sample phrasing to repeat and compare, followed by Roleplay to practice and complete, ending with an actual (real) invitation activity. Part Three, “Practical Listening,” involves simulated, excited game commentary; a description of a baseball field to label + the rules of the game; and practice in understanding specialized vocabulary in context. The Chapter ends with sports diagrams (to create and) to describe—and “How-to Mini-Speeches” to give on topics related to sports or games.
Here are 13 pages of the WLE L/S Level 5 Chapter 8 “Having Fun” file, followed by a 3-page audio“Tapescript”for the entire chapter from WLE L/S 5 Instructors’ Manual. There is also an Answer Key available in the Instructors Manual.
Still centered around enjoyment, the correlations among grammatical patterns, vocabulary, and subject matter continue in Work/Life English Reading/Writing Level 5: Language & Culture in Depth, Chapter 8: Having Fun. Part One has reading-skills & strategies sections called “Previewing the Reading,” “Getting the Main Ideas,” “Understanding Details,” “Putting Steps of Instructions in Order,” and “Expressing Your Own Ideas,” all based on a selection about planning a neighborhood “Potluck Picnic with a Scavenger Hunt.” (Remember those?). Part Two “Vocabulary Building” concerns reading-related idioms, with a sample dictionary entry to practice on before going beyond the text. In Part Three, readers can “Scan for Information,” in Game Rules & Instructions. And finally, in Part Four, the goal is “Expressing Yourself in Writing.” Participants get to design and create invitations in fliers. write steps for planned activities, and put down recipes for party dishes.
Learning/Teaching from any or all three of the above coordinated Chapters ought to adequately cover, embed, review, and/or recycle one or more general areas of Grammar, Oral-Skills, & Written-Skills Instruction—with plenty of relevant, expandable Vocabulary. Because it’s not only comprehensive but also flexible, improving English skills and knowledge in coordinated ways should also be relaxing, satisfying, and fun. Any of the Parts & Pieces derived and combined from Work/Life English Competency-Based Language Skills Program: G. Coordinate Language Skills—or other ingeniously designed integrated English-language series—could work in the same ways.
H. Cover Content in Context
Content or Subject Matter is everywhere—on real, tangible objects, in printed matter of all kinds, in the visual/aural media, and—especially—onscreen on our computers + handheld devices. Even so, for English-language teaching/learning purposes, it may be more effective and efficient to utilize specially designed, created, and edited materials.
Some of the Work/Life English / Authors & Editors products that put informational content before control of grammatical phrasing, vocabulary, and skills-instruction are English Through Citizenship / A Journey Through America (which includes a Board Game & Question & Answer Cards); Holiday Happenings: Halloween & Thanksgiving; Biographies: Short, Short Stories Based on Messages of People Lives. There are others.
Today’s special crowning (“corona-ed”?) gifts are much shortened versions of several of the above: whole books that are more easily digested than the comprehensive products they’re derived from.
First donation is About the U.S.A, a 135-page U.S. State Department re-publication of the Intermediate-Level Journey Through America book mentioned above. Lower-proficiency versions of similar material, all levels enhanced by Teacher’s Guides with Instructional Notes, Answer Keys, Progress Tests, & more—plus the English Through Citizenship Board & Question-Card Game—are accessible through the Work/Life English Website, Puzzle Piece H: Cover Content in Context.
Another bonus is the 56-page half-sized book, Holiday Happenings: Using Special-Occasion Cultural Materials in Language-Skills Activities: Halloween & Related Occasions. This updated starter resource is an abridged summation of the concepts, readings, activities, games, stories, and ideas of the 108-page full-sized volume titled Halloween (with its two Word-&-Picture Halloween-Vocabulary 52-Card Decks). Accessible at worklifeenglish.com, of course, the latter product expands the intents and purposes of the former text into all—and probably much more than—you could possibly want to know about its spooky, unnerving topics for our even scarier times.
And not to be outdone by ourselves, here’s yet another half-sized, updated “Starter Book” that originally appeared as a precursor to a much fuller (never-ending) volume available online. It’s on a topic that could hardly be more relevant to today’s devolving—and hopefully evolving—world: Biographies: Short, Short Stories Based on “Messages” of People’s Lives. In accordance with its subtitle “Creative, Motivating, Multi-Leveled, Multi-Skills, Language Skills,” it begins to tell it all: how to prepare material (on nearly any topic) for language education by simplifying or otherwise adapting it; how to use your (and others’) creations to teach & test reading skills & comprehension. In addition to 30 (Sample) Biographical Selections with Exercises, there are “Oral Informational Activities,” “Quiz Games,” “Research Picture Cues,” and “Class Biography Writing.”
I. Refer to Resources
Materials considered primarily (Self-) Teaching Resources are:
Annotated Editions, Teachers’ Guides, & Instructor’s Manuals that accompany student texts—such as those corresponding to Everyday Spelling Workbooks; the Original & New Scenarios: English Grammar in Context, Books One, Two, Three; WorkLife English Competency-Based Grammars, Listening/Speaking Books, & Reading/Writing Books, Levels 1-6; English Through Citizenship / A Journey Through America.
Typically, these volumes contain Introductions to (the scope and rationale) of matching texts or series; Instructions for Use; Teacher’s Notes (pedagogy); Answer Keys, and perhaps Follow-Up Worksheets or Assessment Tests.
Answer Keys included in worktexts (or their inbound editions)—as in Picture This! Picture This Too! and Ways with Words (Vocabulary-Puzzle Books); What’s the Word? Using New Vocabulary in the Real World; Beginners’ Before Speaking with Pronunciation Principles—& More; Before Speaking: Activities for Practice & Preparation in Oral Language Skills / Pronunciation Practice Before Speaking; Accent Activities for Speaking.
These sections not only give correct answers for text exercises + test items. Many also offer (lengthy) examples of possible responses to activity items (without “right” vs. “wrong” answers) that elicit learners’ own info, thoughts, or ideas. Their suggested content, phrasing, or wording make them ideal for self-teachers or self-improvement buffs who want to improve their linguistic style at advancing learning levels.
(How-to) Activity & Idea Books that accompany materials like 5 Versions of Alphabet LetterCards AaAa to ZzZz; 3 or 4 Levels of Initial Consonants, Rhyming Words, & Vowel-Sounds & Spellings Card Packs; 4 Levels of Phonics & Spelling Bingo Games 1-32; Symbols Card Decks A-Z; 3 Levels of Using Homophones Card Decks; 4 Levels of Verb Forms Card Packs; Kinds-of- Nouns Picture Card Pack; 6 Domino-Card Decks of Transitive Verbs with Noun Objects; Meanings of Body Language Card Decks A-Z; 72 Open-Ended Questions for Social Conversation Cards; 54 Talking About Anything Picture Cards.
Most often, these unusually thorough training manuals contain introductory explanation of rationale/principles behind their related product(s); colorful, reduced-sized images of cards, boards, or other visuals; instructions for their use with (multi-leveled, adaptable) variations; pedagogical notes; reproducible, additional Worksheets, Mastery Checks, & Vocabulary-Reference Lists; Game Procedures & Rules. And—fulfilling the language-instruction goals of the materials, there are many ideas for lessons, exercises, and games that serve as templates for teaching/learning not only the given information—but also related or quite different content.
Doing without the Photocopier: From A to Z: 26 Creative Generic Ideas for Reusable Language Materials & Activities
Still Doing without the Photocopier: From AA to ZZ: 26 More Generic Ideas for Reusable Language Materials & Activities
Compiled in latter stages of a long, stand-up language-teaching routine, these two 78– and 130-page How-to-Resource Books have (finally) brought it all together. Their 26 x 2 = 52 Ideas A to ZZ describe—and give specific examples of—(versions of) nearly all generic concepts used as bases for language-education materials & activities that nearly always work.
With illustrations, these innovative volumes tell how to collect and/or create just about all types of successful, reusable materials. With (Self-)Teaching Tips inserted, there are step-by-step Instructions on how to proceed in large classes, in small groups, in pairs, or individually—with suggestions for level-of-challenge modifications if desired. (We leave it to users to come up with optimal ways of operating online). Sections labeled “Variations & Other Areas of Application” not only mention alternative approaches for achieving the same aims. They also list a few to many Content Areas (other than the one presented as a specific example) to which the same or comparable concepts would apply.
In keeping with the “Having Fun” motif of this unprecedented time keeping in touch while staying separate, here are two of these “(Still) Doing without . . .” Ideas that deal with competitive/cooperative educational game design: Idea X: Game-Board Knowledge, from Doing without the Photocopier, and Idea MM: Quick—What’s the Question, from Still Doing without the Photocopier.
Of course, many of the 52 concepts in the “Doing Without ...” sequence encompass or include instructional game design, procedures, rules, and adaptations. Some of these Ideas are so broad that their principles appear not only in some of the smaller resources mentioned above but also in separate books. The 52-page Creating Creative Card Decks & Games for Effective Language Teaching & Learning is the most comprehensive of these resources. Matching them to the most likely kinds of language-ed (symbol-, word-, & sentence-level) content, the book tells “How to Create, Produce, & Make Effective Use of Language Cards with 6 Different Designs (Flash, Domino, One- & Two-Sided Matching, Quartets, & Traditional Cards). Use its info and advice to your heart’s, brain’s, and spirit’s content.
J. Enjoy Extras
So what’s left in this outside-of-ordinary attempt to deliver benefits related to all Puzzle Pieces A-J displayed at the Work/Life English website? Not yet filled with offerings, Piece J: Enjoy Some Extras is intended for what’s miscellaneous, probably Parts & Pieces not primarily designed for language instruction.
Here’s an item developed in a past era of emotional care-taking that isn't altogether different from the present: The Game of Knowledge: Agreeable Aging: Creative, Motivating Ways to Teach & Learn the Basics of the Science of Aging. Its package consists of  a 40-page Activity Book, a Board Game, and a Quiz Book. Clicking on its title above or its cover below will get you an immediate free download of the first of these elements.
If you’re genuinely interested in the other two files, just send us a request for:  The 68 page Agreeable-Aging “Quiz Handouts” containing three versions (True/False / Multiple Choice / Short Answer) of all 324 items involved in the Game of Knowledge, or  The 18 page x 6 (= 54 back-to-back printouts of 108 pages) of Question & Answer Cards.
After donating what we can in these extraordinary times, we hope to go back to our “regular programming.” We’ll still be offering (free) materials in context, but they’ll be part of our “How to Teach English” blog posts and our extensive Puzzle Parts & Pieces A-J Collections. Whether you’re still staying home by then or not, we know you’ll still be staying safe, healthy, and happy.
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