Do you need your IELTS Speaking Score? Take the A Mark IELTS Speaking Course and move forward toward your goal. In my opinion, in order to prepare well for the test, you need three things.
- You need a way to organize your study before you get to your class.
- You need a teacher who understands your speaking goals in each class and helps you by giving you feedback so that you can move forward.
- You need to watch IELTS Speaking exercise videos and study a range of sample IELTS questions from all three parts.
VI. Construct your Gap Fill
Here is the gap fill that I have constructed for my PFT Activity:
A very long time ago, I used to work for a tree planting company. I must say, the camp director was one of the most _________ individuals I have ever met and had the privilege of working for. He was an expert not only at giving directions but also motivating people to follow. He also always spoke in a respectful manner to everyone in the camp. He made his requests polite yet firm, and he never talked about anything besides work during the work day. He was always on time for meetings, and he made sure not to waste the time of others.
Do you notice the following?
- The gap fill is set in a context different from the one in the video presentation.
- The gap fill contains enough context to contain key concepts.
- The core concepts of the meaning of only the aspect of my target language are conveyed (i.e. I did not suddenly ask the students to think about all of the other meanings of "professional").
- The gap fill is restricted in nature (i.e. I tried to make it so that "professional" is the most probable lexical item to fit in the gap.
- There is only one gap because this lexical item contains only one word.
- The gap is already grammaticalized (i.e. I have constructed it so that the student does not have to transform the target into the correct word form).
There is an explanation video that the PFT website has planned for you the teacher to make to fit into this slot. This video will provide the answer to this contextual gap fill activity. But you must show your student as well as tell them and let them process before advancing through your lesson plan.
Guidelines are glossed over in the next post on this A Mark website.
V. Finalize your Context
I have completed my research on the key concepts contained within my target language. The target language sentence in my Watch Me Teach video is:
"She was very professional"
First, I know that it is an adjective, so I will attempt to elicit this in the mind of the student. I have chosen to use the following question at the end of my short video presentation:
What adjective can I use to describe this person?
Second, I have chosen to make my PFT Activity a speaking task in which the student is providing a description of a former colleague. As a result, I should make my video reflect both the time reference and the genre. I will choose to say something like this in my video presentation:
I would like to tell you about some people that I used to work with.
Third, I know that I need to convey within a clear context the core concepts of my target language. Here are my list of concept statements:
- She was skilled at her job. (Perhaps I can mention something about her knowledge of language in my video presentation)
- She was well trained as an ESL teacher. (I can mention her level of expertise or qualification)
- She was effective and organized in her job. (I can use the word organized perhaps with a reference to how her meetings were always organized).
- She was serious at work. (I might decide to give the example that she talked about only work at the job place)
- She behaved and presented appropriately at work. (Perhaps I can mention something about how she dressed and how her language was appropriate in the staff room)
- She did everything her job expected her to do. (I could just say this directly during my presentation)
I don't need to write out my entire video context transcript at this time for the record (contrary to the A Mark NINE CONSTRUCTION published on the PFT website). The best way to do it is to think about what you want to say to the camera before you say it. Now that I have worked out my concept statements and translated them on paper, I can easily write out the coherent narrative or anecdote later.
Finally, I need to figure out how to grade my language so that the students will actually comprehend the context and core concepts of "professional".
Before sitting down in front of the video camera, I need to look carefully at this context and extend on it in my contextual gap fill activity, which is coming up at the next stage.
IV. Plan ahead to your PFT Activity
The final stage in this paradigm is the Train stage. However, I must start thinking about the training activity before executing my preparation and feedback stages. This activity could be a freer speaking or writing activity. The activity should be designed to maximize the chances of and create optimal conditions for the target language (professional) to emerge naturally. In other words, I want our students to have the option to use what we have presented to them without directly telling them to. In addition, the activity will fall within the same topic area as the Watch Me Teach video and contextual gap fill.
First, I must decide whether I would like my students to do a speaking or a writing activity. For this PFT Activity with my chosen lexical item, I have decided to go with a speaking activity. I would like my students to focus on something factual rather than contrived and hypothetical, so I will make the focus of my activity a speaking anecdote rather than a conversation or an imaginary situation.
Here is the activity I have constructed:
Think about someone you have worked with and that you want to describe. Write some qualities down with examples before you come to class.
Send me a message with your preparation for your response. I will provide a short reply for you to read and study before your class.
Tell me about a person that you used to work with. Give me as many details about the situation as possible including a list of their qualities.
I first ask my students to consider the task before coming to the training session in the live class. This is followed by an offer to provide short feedback to their preparation. Finally, students are able to see the simple training activity. Notice that I did not explicitly tell my students to use the word "professional". However, I expect something along those lines will emerge, which will give me a chance to provide feedback to meaning, form and pronunciation after the activity.
I can now start writing and finalizing my context for my Watch Me Teach video, which will be published on the PFT website near the end of the 3rd period.
III. Analyze the meaning
The first place to look in is the dictionary. I want to be sure of some of the embedded strands of meaning or concepts contained within my bit of target language.
The first use of the word professional does not match the set of core concepts that I would like to present to my students.
The second entry seems closer to the first than to my target. I can see that Oxford suggests the same OPPOSITE as in the first entry.
The core concepts of the word that I am conveying describes the quality of an individual or something closer to that in the context of jobs and work While these additional definitions and examples may be useful to students, it is not going to help them if I include this in my context of my Watch Me Teach video or Gap Fill. Thus, I will not look carefully at definition and use #1.and #2.
The third use of the word professional does not match the set of core concepts that I would like to convey. This usage is mainly concerned with the level of education and training of an individual. Important but extraneous at this point. However, I do find the mention of the topic of jobs to be useful. I will set the main topic of my PFT Activity around this and/or People in Jobs. Or something like that.
The fifth entry seems to match up with the set of core concepts that I would like to present to my students.
In fact, one of the sentences is very similar to my target language sentence. Here are the two dictionary meanings that I write down on some scrap paper as I go along. However, I will continue right to the end of the list of entries to make sure something doesn't intersect and trigger something from my own knowledge and experience.
---showing that somebody is well trained and extremely skilled
---suitable or appropriate for somebody working in a particular profession
I will come back to these in a moment. But first, I look at the rest of the entries in the dictionary. I can imagine using some descriptive sentences about the individual's conduct that met with the standards of the school and the forestry company I worked at respectively, so I will hold these definitions together with the others.
Now I need to do some more homework. I check other dictionaries and narrow in on the entry that highlights the core set of concepts that I wish to convey to my students through my context. Here is what I gathered.
---following a line of conduct as though it were a profession (Merriam Webster)
---having the qualities that you connect with trained and skilled people, such as effectiveness, skill, organization, and seriousness of manner (Cambridge)
---conforming to the standards of a profession (Your dictionary)
I now have some dictionary entries to help me work key concepts into my video context. My target language sentence is:
She was very professional.
According to my research, this sentence really means a combination of the following in the context of her conduct and level of competence at work.
- She was skilled at what she did and well trained for the job.
- She did the job to expectation.
- She was effective, organized and serious at work.
- She presented appropriately and talked appropriately at work.
I must think about a way to work these concepts into the context that I create for my students. But I will do this after I think ahead to the final task on the Watch Me Teach page, which is the live class PFT Activity at Stage FOUR of this construction guide.
II. Put it in a Context
Now that you have a lexical item, the next step is to put it into a meaningful context for yourself. Note that this is not the final context that you will present to students but rather only the start of the planning process.
The lexical item that I have chosen to convey through my activity is:
I can immediately think of several sentences that I can easily work into a narrative or description. Here are some that come to mind.
"I would like to work with professional computer software developers in the future."
"I used to work with a very professional group of people at the church."
"He is a professional hockey player."
"It was very professional of her to ask my opinion before making the announcement. "
All of the sentences are related to my knowledge or experience. If I were talking to another proficient English speaker, I would have confidence that they would be able to understand what I meant when I use professional in each sentence above (assuming we have shared schema and context is established).
However, it seems to me that there are some small differences between the use of my target language among the sentences. Look at how I sort the sentences into the two groups:
"I would like to work with professional computer software developers in the future."
"He is a professional hockey player."
"I used to work with a very professional individual."
"It was very professional of her to ask my opinion before making the announcement."
In the first group, the adjective conveys the core concept of doing something and getting paid for it. The second group somehow has a more nuanced meaning. It implies that there were certain qualities in the two people being referred to.
It is this second set of core strands of meaning that I would like to present to my students on this occasion. And I have decided to use the following sentences to contain the target language that I wish to present.
Watch Me Teach video sentence
She was very professional.
I am referring to my former colleague. I want to either have my students listen to or read a story about some of the qualities of this person that I used to work with while employed by an ESL school.
Contextual Gap Fill Sentence:
The camp director was one of the most professional individuals I have ever met.
Here I will devise a gap fill based on my past experience working as a tree planter. Note that both target language sentences are set in the past and have different types of grammar attached to them. No problem at this stage.
Also note that I have decided to concentrate on the quality of the individual (i.e. the second group of sentences). Now I need to do some analysis of the meaning, which is coming up in the following post.
I. Choose a Lexical Item
The first step in creating your PFT Activity is to choose a lexical item. It is helpful to choose an item with the purpose in mind. The purpose of the PFT Activity is to help promote yourself and your teaching services.
Potential clients will consider not only your reputation (i.e. the quality of teachers on your Teacher Roster, the businesses that you collaborate with and other PFT Activities and PFT Modules in your PFT Binder), but they will also study your PFT Activity and use it to learn.
This interaction is an important initial step in the recruiting process. As a result, take your time when choosing the lexical item that is to be the focus of your PFT Activity.
I have chosen to demonstrate one process that the teacher may use to construct her or his own PFT Activity. The lexical item I have chosen for my Front Window Watch Me Teach video is:
[The organ player leans his coffee stained elbow patch on the organ top as he watches what is left of the Heckler fans at Junctionville trickle out of their seats and stride for the exits with a protective air of indifference. The arena is eerily quiet as the organ player grumpily looks down at the last of his coffee with both hands firmly holding on to his James Earl Jones & Sons coffee mug in an effort to woo the last remnants of the bitter sweet aroma up to his senses]
Chad: Welcome back fans to the Junctionville Fictional Screenplay Arena where the score remains one to nothing Knights over the Hecklers...Eugene the end of the 2nd period have left fans in bewilderment.
Eugene: You got that right. Everything suddenly just vanished. I mean lights out you're cut off. It was like the Iowa Baseball Confederacy coming to an end. Predictable though.
Chad: Eugene we will get to that analysis in the post game...erm...or post period analysis. Let's just recap what I would just call a bizarre scene on the ice here in this second period. With the exception of one forecheck late in the period, Eugene it looked more like an extended warm up rather than a game.
Eugene: You hit the nail on the head there, Chad. The center ice marker was the border that's for sure. Both teams performed complex training drills on either side of the ice. About half-way through the period the lights began to dim on the Junctionville side though.
Chad: That's right...But we saw a few standard practice drills performed by #21. The Adanac tip toed over the blue line and the Keeper actually managed to get in the game and throw a weak backhand excuse me for showing up shot on net.
Eugene: Well Chad gotta shoot the puck.
Chad: That's right. And we will have the Keeper come join us from the dressing room live in a few moments...but Eugene before that, let's talk about the penalties in the second period.
Eugene: That's right...there was a delay of game call there by the referee that was served by Nico the Cat...the Cat didn't come back out of the box right away but stewed there a while and the Knights erm #21 had to do their...uhhh his practice drills a player short...
Chad: And a few more players piled in the box after every one dropped the gloves on the Alderson side of center ice.
Eugene: Yeah and the funny thing was, the referee himself was right in the middle of it. And you know Chad, perhaps being all stuffed in that penalty box together was a good thing because two more players got in the game.
Chad: That's right Eugene. Got a chance to talk a bit I suppose...more on that and live interviews with the Keeper and the Adanac coming up right after this.
[The Flower struts in and walks straight over to the organ player, wrestles the empty coffee mug from out his desperate grip and defiantly shuts the lid over the color faded organ keys. The organ player wearily looks up and begrudgingly leaves his stool]
Organ Player: I will miss the bitter coffee from the coffee lady.
Eugene: Yeah well perhaps the next guy will have different tastes in music from the Stee...
Chad: And Eugene we are on the air again and Eugene let's talk about what happened after the fiasco in the Alderson end there late in the second.
Eugene: Well Chad both the Adanac and the Keeper jumped out of the box and got Cry River to hop the boards for the first time.
Chad: That's right. Cry River nonchalantly meandered into the Heckler zone and together with the Keeper put a small tiny little bit of pressure on the Junctionville captain. Joining us now live from the dressing room is Alderson Knight the Keeper. Keeper thanks for joining us.
The Keeper: Uhhh...Happy to be here.
Chad: What were you thinking about as you floated into the Heckler zone on one of the few cherry picking expeditions...erm shifts that showed the existence of a pulse for the Knights in that second period.
The Keeper: Well you know...I am happy to uhhh do my job and help my team.
Chad: And speaking of team you had a shift with Cry River.
The Keeper: Yeah uhhh...you know we don't skate that much together uhhh...not even in practice you know so uhhh...it was good doing some drills and getting the puck into the Heckler zone...but you are right you know uhhh...we need to get more players in the game and some of the guys are rallying in the dressing room to do just that.
Chad: Ok thank you very much for taking the time.
The Keeper: No problem thanks for having me...Hardly...
Chad: And Eugene...sorry what was that Keeper?
The Keeper: Hardly broke a sweat.
Chad: That was the Keeper threading carefully on the Knights coming live with us from the dressing room. Eugene what did you think of the forecheck?
Eugene: I don't know what kind of league these guys played in but when we went in to forecheck we went in hard and had to at least knock the guy off the puck. And if you didn't get him off the puck you gave him a tap with your stick across the ankles to let him know you're coming next time too. This kind of feely peely forechecking...I don't get it Chad frankly speaking.
Chad: Well Eugene, the Knights sure needed somebody to show some life and they got some from the Adanac, Cry River, Keeper line. We'll be right back with third period predictions after this.
[The Flower walks back in and sticks his chest out]
The Flower: Ok I need you guys out of here after this clip, 30 seconds you guys.
Chad: Welcome back fans of the Junctionville saga and well Eugene five means six on free pool night because the Flower never works on Monday, so why don't we recap what went on tonight followed by a third period prediction.
Eugene: Chad. Only one way Junctionville is going to tie it up and that is if the SL goes straight at the Alderson Goalie during the warm up in the 3rd.
Chad: You heard it folks. We are going to gulp up our coffees and come back for the 3rd if any fans at all show up at all...hopefully quality fans and no chickens or scared little bunny rabbits.
Appendix 1. PFT Website Graphic Design Inventory.
Homeroom, Start Here, Prepare, Feedback, Train, My Notebook, Rep, Checkpoint, Assessment, Register, Class List, Checkpoint Flag, PFT Binder, Watch Me Teach, Students, Teacher, PFCredit, Purchase PFCredit, Teacher Roster, Promote Yourself, Activate Students,Schedule, Module Computer, Lesson Computer, Play Button, Pause Button PFSchool Path Map, Nico the Cat x 9 (9 different positions) White Flag Teacher Mark, Blue Flag Teacher Mark, PFTeacher Mark, PFSchool Mark)
PFSchool Teacher Grid, PFT Assessment Sheet Big Buttons, Progress Bar in Gravity Form
Pastel Icons (white flag, register, class list, checkpoint, blue flag, pftbinder, pfcredit, teacher roster, promote students, activate, pfschool, Teacher Student Desk Image, Under Construction Image, Vertical PFT Image, Company Diagram, Teacher Orientation Equilibrium Drawings*
Banner CE Images
Prepare x 3, Homeroom x 3, Start Here x3, Watch Me Teach x 3, Feedback, Train, Request Feedback, Live Class Checklist, Student Homeroom, Teacher Homeroom, Blue Flag Teacher Homeroom*, PFTeacher Homeroom*, PFSchool Homeroom*, Teacher Notes, Teacher Notes (Just Start), Teacher Notes (Blue Flag Teachers), Teacher Notes (PFTeachers), Teacher Notes (PFSchools), PFT Binder x 4, Class List, Get on a Class List, Checkpoint, Purchase PFCredit, Become a PFStudent, Take a Class, I Need Help, Teacher Orientation
Standard Button CE Images
My Notebook, Feedback x 3, Request Feedback x2, Train x 3
Live Class Checklist x2, Start Here x3, PFSchool Path x 2, Students, Register x 3, Sequential Schedule, Get on a Class List x 2, Become a PFStudent x 3, Take a Class x 2, Rep, Checkpoint, Assessment, Checkpoint Survey, Purchase, PFCredit, Teacher Roster, Activate Students
Navigation Bar CE Images
Register, My Notebook, Teacher Homeroom, Teacher Notes, Purchase PFCredit, Homeroom, Checkpoint, Take a Class PFT Binder, Activate Students, Class List, PFSchool Path, Promote Yourself, Sequential Schedule, Get on a Class List
Top Page, Intermediate Start Page, Lesson Page Template, Interview Video, Explanation Video, Rep, Checkpoint, Assessment, Confirmation, Notification Email Page, Train Page, Teacher Notes Page
PFT Assessment Sheet x5, A Mark Orientation, A Mark Live Class, A Mark Student Teacher Agreement
The simplest way to do it is to study functionality of the Raw Concept images on the PFT website. Think about your own website on the PFT framework and contact a graphic designer who has the fortitude to work through the process listed above.
You will also need a willing and able and capable web developer to build a wire frame membership website on a timeline and a content developer with guts enough to supply preparation, feedback and training session material before graphic design work is applied to get a true gauge of how effectively the graphic designer translates the verbose verbal explanation into simple succinct visual representations. Having said that, the most important two things is for all to agree who is in charge and to work by faith.
Appendix 1 provides a rough summary of the categories of work needed to be performed by the graphic designer to go from zero to market on a website built on a PFT membership framework.
Use it as a starting point and make it better for your own project. If you are good at what you do and you need help, Jogo can help you.
8. Graphic designer and Chief agree on the direction of logo design, business card and top page development on your website.
You have to know your business name and rough structure of the company at this point.
9. Graphic designer, content developer and web developer meet to discuss design and programming of PFSchool Path. Graphic designer needs one week to design, one week to consult and revise and one week to apply. I unapologetically but with a certain level of confidence state that this is a good rule of thumb as it was arrived at after careful circumspection of seemingly countless errors of omission either willfully or unintentionally committed by me of course.
V. Logo/Social Media Mark/Business Card. The Logo and top page design must go together. The PFT website is constructed on a simple blank template theme.
The A Mark Training Website includes both logo and background image.
The company page on the PFT website shows the relationships among teachers, students and business. It also provides a model for collaboration among all three.
Once the lesson pages have been laid out and the content inserted, the following PDF's are generated.
7. Graphic Designer and Content Developer meet to plan and create the following documents.
- All PFT Assessment Sheets (Module #1-5)
- Orientation Session Checklist
- A Mark 30 Live Class Checklist
- Student Teacher Agreement