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Canadian teacher trainer and coach, specializing in helping people to become independent learners and achieve their personal best. Celta trainer, Oxford University Press freelance trainer, Cambridge Delta qualified.
Common misconceptions about writing for proficiency (and advanced) I’ve seen a few unsavoury myths floating around about the CPE & CAE… ▪️ You need to use lots of really fancy structures. Sure, but before that, you need to 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞. Lots of candidates think more about the grammar than the meaning. Then what happens? It’s so difficult to read that the examiner can’t make sense of your position! ▪️ You won’t be graded for complex ideas. There seems to be a misunderstanding of what “complex ideas” means. In Western culture, we value thinking beyond the task. This means considering the broad implications, consequences, and the overall effect on society. ▪️ The examiner knows your grade after reading the introduction. Nonsense. Cambridge spend so much time standardizing their examiners that this is impossible. They might have an 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧, but they definitely don’t know the grade until they read the entire text… multiple times. ▪️The word count needs to be precise. This is actually a guideline. While you definitely shouldn’t write less at risk of not fulfilling the task, it’s not a big deal if you write more. However, 𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 is more important than quantity, so make sure that your argument is tight and reasons are logical before filling 5 pages! Those are some of the worst, but I’m sure there are others. Are there any questions you’d like cleared up? Would you like me to elaborate on one of these points in another post? . . . . . . . . . ______________________________________________ #proficiencyexam #c2proficiency #englishproficiency #cambridgeproficiency #proficiencytest #advancedenglish #c1advanced #cambridgeadvanced #cambridgeadvancedenglish #sharpenglish #tylerscharf
You know that you can make change happen, but if you don’t know where you are going Next week it’s going to increase! Or, join the “Teacher Accelerator” version for $79. A lesson observation followed by 1:1 oral feedback, and a written report (from a Celta tutor 😉). Want to join? If you've been going strong for years, this will help you understand things in your practice that you might previously have been unaware of.
The most intense 30 days of my life… altMBA, a course with no teachers. It was a sprint, they said. 13 prompts, 30 days, over 200 participants from around the world. We spent 10 hours per week on Zoom calls with our learning groups in deep discussion about business models, making decisions, irrationality, change, leverage, constraints, opportunity costs, existentialism… Then we shipped our work fearlessly out to the global cohort for generous feedback, encouragement and coaching. Halfway through the sprint I tripped and fell, ending up in the hospital for a few days. But that didn’t stop me. I got back up and crushed the Resistance! It’s no wonder this course has a 99% completion rate! This is student-centred learning at the deep-end. Tasks came from the prompts, but learning happened with the other students. The coaches were there to nudge us, but we were the ones with the expertise. I’ve gained so many insights throughout this journey about how learning really happens and why it really matters, and I’m very excited to start implementing this in my own courses. Now that we’ve all levelled up, we’re ready to roam out there in the big bold world and make a ruckus! Thanks to the @altmba tribe & @sethgodin . . . . . . . . . ________________________________________ #altmba #selfimprovement #efficientlearning #learnmore #learnfaster #professionaldevelopment #selfdevelopment #englishtutor #eslteachers #learningenglish #coaching #tylerscharf #scharpenglish
, all those hours you spent trying to make your grammar perfect haven’t been as useful as you thought they were… Grammar is not a total waste of time, but if you want people to understand you better, pronunciation is the most important skill to work on. I’ve seen English learners with Australian accents who’ve never been to Australia, Russians who speak like Brits, Turks who speak like Americans, and on and on. You will also noticed that the “ou” sounds like /ə/ (like “away”). That’s because no one learns how to speak like a native speaker in one day.
Why it’s a struggle… “I’m taking this course because I want to improve my language in order to teach advanced levels” or “I’m taking this course because I don’t want to make mistakes in front of my colleagues” It all comes down to this. There are two ways that we look at our work: 🔹as something we want to develop 🔹as something we want to fix Now if we are looking at it from a development perspective, we see potential for expansion. All of our focus is going into making it better ☄️ But if we are looking at our work in terms of what to fix, we are trying to plug a leaky bucket 💦 Think about it: how can you speak while trying not to make mistakes? It takes twice as much energy because you’re focusing on two things: 🔹trying to prevent yourself from something 🔹trying to accomplish something It’s easier if you focus just on the second one, right? But the difficult part is noticing that in yourself. While we can easily notice this behaviour in others, it’s difficult to catch yourself doing it 🧐 Have you noticed any thoughts like this? How do you deal with these situations?
Many learners of English read books or articles regularly and think that they are actively studying English–that is, they study vocabulary while reading. The most useful way to study vocabulary while reading: The Lexical Tutor If you are a pre-intermediate learner and you’ve been studying at the University of Victoria’s Study Zone, then you have lots of good reading texts to use. You can use anything you want: online newspapers, academic articles, blogs, fiction books, even IELTS reading passages.
It is necessary to write only with C1 / C2 level words and structures📝 This is one of the most common misconceptions about Advanced / Proficiency exams. Many students get paralyzed because they think that they must use only high level words—nothing else! Well I’ll give you news—even native speakers have difficulties doing this. Consistently producing less common lexis can actually have negative effects on your communicative achievement because meaning easily becomes compromised… instead of prioritizing clarity and brevity, a spew of complex phrases will only leave the reader bewildered. So what should you do? ✔️Study language of course, equip yourself with an arsenal of collocations, but make sure you understand the appropriacy before throwing around these phrases. To set your heart on, have an ambition to, or feel inclined to? Depends on your context. ✔️Maintain control over your language: ensure that every sentence makes sense and is not overly complicated. So before taking a shot at writing the next Iliad, learn how to write sensibly first. ✔️Use a range of different words, collocations, phrases, and structures, and try not to repeat the same word (but repetition of key ideas is good for cohesion—see my previous post). However, there are certain formulaic expressions that are multipurpose and can be applied in most situations. I’ll give you a few examples: ▪️A more viable solution would be (to impose taxes on disposable products) ▪️(A throwaway society) is becoming increasingly prevalent with (technological evolution) ◾️The implications of (not implementing a recycling program) are too severe to ignore What other multipurpose phrases do you like to use in your writing?
In a writing task, it helps to read the question after you finish each paragraph to see if you are addressing the task appropriately. When you answer questions like this, you should think of it like an academic debate, even if you’re not doing an academic test. It might seem like a good idea to just jump in and get started as quickly as possible, but you should use approximately 10% of your time to warm up and get your ideas organized. Begin a speaking task by planning (if you have time) or by using some empty phrases to full the time.
Students don’t remember what they’re taught… Attention spans are dropping these days, and we all can see the consequences. Because of our busy lives, students are having difficulty seeing the point in learning. Why can’t students just sit down and memorize like they used to? Because that’s an old model of learning. It’s the “do-good, obedient, factory-worker” model of the past. Now we are in the “why am I learning this, and what’s it for” era. Students want to 𝐛𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐯𝐨𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐝, they want to experiment and figure it out for themselves. So how can we involve them more in the classroom? Let them uncover the grammar, discover the language. Design tasks and adapt the course book in a way that serves them best. Learn how to do this and more in my new course, Student-centred Methodology. If you are interested, DM me for details. . . . . . . . . . ______________________________________________________ #tylerscharf #sharpenglish #englishonline #teachersofinstagram #onlineteachers #weareonlineteachers #teachonline #onlineteacher #teachersofinsta #igteacher #learninghowtolearn #guideddiscovery #studentcentered
How to make your writing stick together 🍚 The next in a series about the Cambridge criteria — “Organization” in writing The second criteria that is the most difficult to comprehend (Communicative Achievement was in the previous post) exactly what is expected of you is Organization: ▪️𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬 These are quite obvious—words that connect sentences (𝘢𝘯𝘥, 𝘣𝘶𝘵, 𝘴𝘰, 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦) or sequence them (𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘺, 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵, 𝘦𝘵𝘤.). They are quite basic and generally should be 𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐝 in advanced / proficiency writing. ▪️𝐂𝐨𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐝𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐜𝐞𝐬 - this is what you need😉 ✔️One type is adverbial linkers and phrases (𝘢𝘭𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩, 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵, 𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴), which should replace linking words wherever possible. ✔️Another is pronoun reference and substitution (Becoming famous is 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘮𝘣𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 that is shared by a significant number of the youth. Whether it is 𝘰𝘯𝘦 that is a cause for concern is worth discussing). ✔️Ellipsis is a type of cohesive device that involves omitting information that does not need to be repeated because it is obvious from the context (𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘪𝘴𝘴𝘶𝘦 is the lack of time, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘥 is the lack of money). ✔️Repetition is a very valuable cohesive device that helps to keep your overall text organization (There are several 𝘰𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 worth considering . . . The first 𝘰𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 is . . . the second 𝘰𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 is…). This helps the reader to see how your point is being developed. ▪️𝐎𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐳𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐬 These ones are even better. This is the flow of ideas that helps the reader to glide from one paragraph to the next, that leads to a logical conclusion. It’s what leaves the reader satisfied that everything was built up coherently, and then tied together neatly at the end. This involves sequencing of ideas to finalize with the most relevant one for the issue, organizing options to finish with the best solution, and providing transitions between paragraphs. Parallelism is another organizational pattern. Can you find an example of it in my writing above?😉