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Language Fuel Podcast

Joanna Smith

This show discusses language teaching and learning. We interview inspiring language teachers. We discuss best practice ideas. We review resources, and we enjoy crazy linguistic facts.



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Language Fuel Podcast
Mar 24, 2019 Joanna Smith
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We all want to make progress in life. Recently, I learned a great nugget of truth from one of my mentors, which summarises the key to making progress in any area. In this episode, I share that nugget of truth with you, and apply it to language learning. Leslie Foster has also just published two  courses on setting SMART goals for language learning, and for language teaching. The nugget of truth is embedded as a principle in both of these courses, and I outline for you how those courses are...
Language Fuel Podcast
Mar 18, 2019 Joanna Smith
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The recent events in Christchurch are devastating, to say the least.  But let's remember that as language learners and teachers, we are helping to build bridges between cultures and between different people.  Let this event remind us of that. Let this be our "Why".
Language Fuel Podcast
Mar 6, 2019 Joanna Smith
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In this episode, we share with you the latest course we have just published! It’s a course on understanding different types of sentence structure. That might sound boring, but listen in to see how we make this stuff interesting!
Language Fuel Podcast
Feb 27, 2019 Joanna Smith
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In this episode, we’re finishing off our interview with Jill Hadfield, an enormously successful English Language Teacher and materials writer, who has been working in the field all over the world for many years. This final part of the interview touches on her charity work that she started in Madagascar, and then walks us through some of the books she’s written. We also hear about some of the research she has worked on in the last decade of her career. (Catch up on parts one and two of the...
Language Fuel Podcast
Feb 26, 2019 Joanna Smith
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In this episode, we continue our interview with Jill Hadfield, the new ELT Content Editor at Language Fuel. Jill tells us all about the time she and her husband Charlie spent in Madagascar, where they encouraged and trained teachers who had very little resources. It’s hard for Western teachers today to even imagine that. Don’t forget to enter the draw at www.languagefuel.com/celebratejill We’re so excited to welcome Jill to the team, that we’re giving away one year-long membership to...
Language Fuel Podcast
Feb 18, 2019 Joanna Smith
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We’re kicking off this season with a mini-series of interviews with our brand new ELT Content Editor, Jill Hadfield. Jill has been working in the English Language Teaching industry for many years, and brings with her a wealth of experience. In this mini-series, we get to know Jill a little better. In this episode, part one, we learn about how many books she’s written, what her recent research topics have been, and we start to learn about her time spent in different countries. We pause this...
Language Fuel Podcast
Dec 18, 2018 Joanna Smith
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It’s the end of the year, and we’re taking the time out to look back at 2018 and look forward to 2019. Joanna takes us through what has happened at Language Fuel in the last 12 months. We’ve re-designed our online training courses, and re-named them. We no longer have the Language Fuel Academy. Instead, we now have our two Language Fuel Training Libraries. We’ve also continued to serve the New Zealand community with language teaching and learning resources. And we’ve been doing a lot...
Language Fuel Podcast
Oct 28, 2018 Joanna Smith
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Have you ever thought of teaching a community language class? The good news is, you don’t have to be perfect to make an impact. In this episode, I reflect on my latest steps in learning Te Reo. I have started attending a local community class for beginners, and it was inspiring to be a part of the class. Tune in to hear what the teacher did right, and be encouraged in your own learning or teaching journey.
Language Fuel Podcast
Oct 18, 2018 Joanna Smith
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I’ve recently come back from the CLESOL 2018 conference, and absolutely loved it. In this episode, I summarise some of the interesting talks I attended, and what general threads came out of the conference.
Language Fuel Podcast
Sep 19, 2018 Joanna Smith
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Do you have students with varying abilities in your class? Tune in to this episode, where Joanna summaries best practice around managing multi-level classes. Learn about becoming more learner centric, working with groups, having a range of self-directed activities, what it means to ‘flip the classroom’ and more. This episode is a brief overview. More in-depth and information about this topic will soon be available as part of our online training library. 
Language Fuel Podcast
Sep 12, 2018 Joanna Smith
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This week, we are reviewing a range of dictionaries! It’s a bit of a hot topic here in New Zealand at the moment, with our qualifications authority suggesting that language learners are allowed paper-based dictionaries, but not electronic ones, in exams. So language schools around the country are now forced to make sure they have some good quality paper-based dictionaries on hand for students to use. We look at three different types of dictionaries – bilingual dictionaries, English-English...
Language Fuel Podcast
Sep 5, 2018 Joanna Smith
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This episode, I’m exploring the final 4 steps in Gagne’s famous instructional design model: The 9 events of instruction. We looked at steps four and five last episode, and we look at steps six to nine this episode. You can read about Gagne’s 9 events, plus other key concepts in instructional design in the following book: Gagné, R. M., Wager, W. W., Golas, K. C. and J. M. Keller (2005) Principles of Instructional Design (5th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage. You can download the...
Language Fuel Podcast
Aug 30, 2018 Joanna Smith
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This episode, I’m exploring further steps in Gagne’s famous instructional design model: The 9 events of instruction. We looked at steps two and three last episode, and we look at steps four and five this episode. Tune in to the next episode to hear about further steps, and how they apply to the language classroom. You can read about Gagne’s 9 events, plus other key concepts in instructional design in the following book: Gagné, R. M., Wager, W. W., Golas, K. C. and J. M. Keller...
Language Fuel Podcast
Aug 22, 2018 Joanna Smith
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This episode, I’m exploring further steps in Gagne’s famous instructional design model: The 9 events of instruction. We looked at step one last episode, and we look at steps 2 and 3 this episode. Tune in to the next episode to hear about further steps, and how they apply to the language classroom. You can read about Gagne’s 9 events, plus other key concepts in instructional design in the following book: Gagné, R. M., Wager, W. W., Golas, K. C. and J. M. Keller (2005) Principles of...
Language Fuel Podcast
Jul 25, 2018 Joanna Smith
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This episode, I respond to an article by Sarah Priestly. See it here https://eltjam.com/author/sarah-priestley/ I explore why English teachers love fun, and suggest the underlying motivation is essentially student engagement. This brings me to start a series of instructional videos on Gagne’s 9 events of instruction. Read about Gagne’s 9 events here: Gagné, R. M., Wager, W. W., Golas, K. C. and J. M. Keller (2005) Principles of Instructional Design (5th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage.
Language Fuel Podcast
May 11, 2018 Joanna Smith
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​Te Reo Is one of New Zealand’s linguistic and cultural treasures, but everyone’s divided about how much it should be promoted. ​Hear what I have to say below, and stay tuned for an offer for any current or future Maori language teachers! ​If you are a teacher of Maori (or are training to be), then get in touch - we want to hear from you, and we'll be giving away a free Premium Membership to the Language Fuel Academy!  ​Sign up to enter that draw at www.languagefuel.com/tereo
Language Fuel Podcast
Dec 7, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Swearing. Cursing. Profanity. Is it appropriate to teach swear words to language learners? We discuss this issue today, and hear about a new book by Dr. Sarah Byrne called Swearing is Good For You. The Amazing Science of Bad Language. https://emmabyrne.net/welcome/sigfy/
Language Fuel Podcast
Nov 30, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Have you seen the video about the man who claims to be fluent in 24 different languages? Could this be true? ​In this episode, I define fluency, and talk about the differences between fluency and competency and therefore how we might go about understanding these perhaps incredible claims.  ​Learn also how becoming fluent at every competency level can improve your overall language skills. Check out what resources you can find at the Language Fuel Academy to improve your fluency today!
Language Fuel Podcast
Nov 23, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Language Fuel is celebrating the launch of the Premium Membership! We are now inviting people to become foundational members of the Language Fuel Academy. Membership includes access to all of our courses, as well as access to our exclusive Facebook group. This podcast episode, Leslie and Joanna discuss what the Premium Membership is all about, and invite listeners to sign up. We discuss what some of the course content is, in our published courses, and we explain why we are including a Facebook...
Language Fuel Podcast
Nov 16, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Jo Bell explains to us what Teaching Unplugged is all about. (In English teaching, it also goes by the name of Dogme ELT). There are three main parts to it: 1. It’s conversation driven, 2. It’s materials light, and 3. It focuses on emergent language. One of the key publications in this area is: Meddings, L. & Thornbury, S. (2009). Teaching Unplugged. Delta Publishing. Dig deeper into this area by following some of the following links below:...
Language Fuel Podcast
Nov 9, 2017 Joanna Smith
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This week, we conclude our three-part mini-series on classroom management, which I have framed as a leadership issue. I propose that with great leadership skills, you can engage students in your lessons, and see results. We have been looking at classroom leadership through the lens of John C. Maxwell’s “5 Levels of Leadership”, as you can read about here: http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/5-levels-of-leadership As part of your leadership journey, why not consider becoming a premium member...
Language Fuel Podcast
Nov 2, 2017 Joanna Smith
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This week, we continue our three-part mini series on classroom management, which I am framing as a leadership issue. I propose that with great leadership skills, you can engage students in your lessons, and see results. We are looking at classroom leadership through the lens of John C. Maxwell’s “5 Levels of Leadership”, as you can read about here: http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/5-levels-of-leadership Last time, we looked at levels 1 and 2 (Position and Permission) and discussed what...
Language Fuel Podcast
Oct 26, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Classroom management is an issue that I have seen many teachers ask about in various online communities I’m part of. Given how frequently this comes up, I have decided to record a mini 3-part podcast series on it. I’d like to suggest that rather than focusing their attention on how to “manage” a class, teachers should think about how to engage students, and I propose this is a leadership issue. So our mini series will look at classroom leadership through the lens of John C. Maxwell’s...
Language Fuel Podcast
Oct 12, 2017 Joanna Smith
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If you want to be a better language teacher, be a language learner. In this episode, I first share some reflections on a teacher training day I recently attended. It’s always great to have input with fresh ideas, and to be able to discuss things with other teachers. While pursuing ongoing professional development is important, my number one tip for language teachers is actually: Practice language LEARNING. Through language learning, we are reminded first hand, and get to know deeply, what...
Language Fuel Podcast
Sep 28, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Most teachers teach new words in every single lesson, so it pays to have a really great system in place. In this episode, I outline a great 6-step process for teaching new words, and list a couple common pitfalls to avoid. This is actually part of a series of mini courses we’ve developing in our ELT Training Library, so feel free to go check them out! Download the process summary here, so you can prepare your next lesson with confidence!
Language Fuel Podcast
Sep 22, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Pete is somewhat of an expert in preparing students for the International English Language Testing System Exam, also known as the IELTS exam. He is the author of a free IELTS course online, located at http://www.freeieltscourse.com/ and he also has a YouTube Channel where he gives feedback on students’ IELTS speaking activities, which is an excellent resource for both English learners and teachers alike. This work has gained him a nomination in the ELTons awards, the only international awards...
Language Fuel Podcast
Sep 14, 2017 Joanna Smith
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This week for our podcast, we’ve got something a little different. My youngest daughter, Tessa, has recently been working on a speech to give at her primary school. Of her own accord, she chose the topic of “why everyone should learn a new or second language”. I thought you might enjoy hearing a 10-year-old’s perspective on a few language learning ideas, including what it has been like learning Spanish via Duo Lingo at home. (You may recall in one of our earlier episodes I mentioned...
Language Fuel Podcast
Sep 7, 2017 Joanna Smith
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It’s the beginning of the school year for folks in the northern hemisphere. Amidst all the angst and excitement, we bring to you 8 key classroom management tips for teachers to remember as you get started with new groups of students. These tips are written by teachers, for teachers, so if you’re just starting out, learn from those who have gone before! In one tip, a teacher mentions body language for confidence. Find out more at:...
Language Fuel Podcast
Aug 31, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Do you ever get stuck planning your lessons? In this episode, we present a lesson planning process which can apply to all different kinds of lessons; whether skills based (reading, writing, listening or speaking) or vocabulary or grammar based. The lesson planning process involves 6 steps. While it can be a lot of work to start off with, over time, it will become very easy. Click here to download a summary of the lesson planning process. There are two versions for you. You can use one to stick...
Language Fuel Podcast
Aug 24, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Using your teacher talk wisely is an important skill for language teachers to develop. Teachers use language for giving instructions as well as for providing a model of the target language. When giving instructions, it’s very important to make good choices around which language you will use, how many words you will use, and what gestures you will use to accompany your instructions. By being consistent with your teacher talk and body language, you can very successfully teach a language without...
Language Fuel Podcast
Aug 17, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Are you thinking of becoming a language teacher? Or are you a language teacher thinking of changing jobs? Today, we talk about transferable skills that language teachers have, which can be used in any profession. It’s worth giving language teaching a try, to develop these skills, and if you chose to leave the profession at any time, you can be confident that you have a bunch of skills to take with you in your next career move. The skills you develop as a language teacher include organization...
Language Fuel Podcast
Jul 31, 2017 Joanna Smith
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While I love the app, there are some things Duolingo can’t do, and I go into these by looking at a variety of lenses through which one can view language, from phonetics right through to historical linguistics and seeing what aspects of language Duolingo is teaching, and recognize what it is not teaching.
Language Fuel Podcast
Jul 11, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Have you ever tried Duolingo? Over 100 million people have, including my whole immediate family. I have been surprised at how good this app is, after initially dismissing it. In this episode, I share with you a bunch of great features of the app, including software design features, e-learning features, and second language acquisition features which all combine to make this a winning product. I recommend learners use it to supplement other language practice activities, and teachers should check...
Language Fuel Podcast
Jul 5, 2017 Joanna Smith
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What criteria should you use to choose a new textbook for your language class? We talk through a list, and explain why each criterion is important. We look at pedagogical issues around listening, speaking, reading and writing, and we look at practical issues, such as online components, price and availability. Download the criteria checklist today, and make sure you put it to good use next time you are responsible for selecting new textbook to use in your language class.
Language Fuel Podcast
Jun 28, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Ever wanted to teach English overseas? Meet Jackie Bolen. Jackie is from Canada, and spent over 10 years teaching English in South Korea. Although she originally went to Korea without any formal teaching qualification, during her time, she went ahead and qualified with a CELTA and a DELTA, both internationally recognized qualifications for teaching English to Adults. Now she spends her time, among other things, supporting English teachers with great resources online, and also providing...
Language Fuel Podcast
Jun 21, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Matariki is here! Matariki is the Maori new year, the season of the winter solstice, or summer solstice, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere. In line with this solar occasion, we reflect on rhythms, both macro and micro rhythms, and we look at ways that we as language teachers can make use of these rhythms, so they work for us, not against us. Take time out today to reflect on how you can become more in tune with your own personal rhythms, at both the macro and micro levels.
Language Fuel Podcast
Jun 11, 2017 Joanna Smith
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What different networks do you belong to? Networking can be a powerful tool for your professional and personal life. We discuss the different types of networks, different social roles that people play in networks, and some tips for networking. Why not connect with us on social media, too, as a first step towards increasing your own professional network? We're on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Language Fuel Podcast
May 29, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Should you allow your language learners to use dictionaries in their assessments? Does it matter whether students use electronic dictionaries or apps, or a printed one, in book format? How much should a student rely on dictionaries? What dictionary skills should teachers teach their students? We discuss these questions today, and also let you know about some cool courses we’ve just finished at the Language Fuel Academy. Check them out at www.languagefuelacademy.com and if you are looking for...
Language Fuel Podcast
Apr 1, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Today we talk about conflict – in particular, understanding causes of conflict, and 5 styles of conflict resolution. All teachers at some point have to manage conflict both within their classes, and with colleagues and managers. We look at a very quick overview of ‘Face Negotiation Theory’ which talks about 6 core identities that can be threatened, which leads to conflict. Then, when looking at 5 styles of confict resolution, we look at some examples of when each style is called for, and...
Language Fuel Podcast
Mar 14, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Immersion experiences can be hugely instrumental for language learners, providing a big boost to their language capability, and they are often described as life changing. But what if immersion experiences are simply unrealistic, due to distance and expense? I suggest that all language learning experiences can be put on an ‘immersion continuum’, and I encourage teachers to think about how they can push their activities one notch further along that continuum, in order to create more authentic...
Language Fuel Podcast
Feb 13, 2017 Joanna Smith
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In this episode, I attempt to clarify the meaning of a few key pronunciation terms which are often misunderstood, or used incorrectly. These are: phones, phonetics, phonology, phonemes, allophones, phonics, the phonetic alphabet and the phonemic alphabet.  I also discuss why understanding these concepts is important for language teachers.  Teaching mature language learners in particular has its challenges when it comes to pronunciation, so the more you understand these issues, the better you...
Language Fuel Podcast
Jan 31, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Meet Rosaria Campbell. Rosaria now has the role of French Advisor at ILEP, taking over the work that was recently done by Morgan Patterson. Rosaria speaks and has taught French, German and Maori. Listen to the interview to hear Rosaria’s passion about: learning a culture alongside the language, helping students develop a new identity, understanding strengths that go with different cultures, linking in with the community of language speakers, constant upskilling, and how the use of technology...
Language Fuel Podcast
Jan 26, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Are your students using devices in the classroom? How confident do you feel choosing the right technology to employ these devices? In this episode, I discuss ways to approach BYOD, whether true BYOD, with multiple device types, or institution-issued devices. We look at the two main types of technology in the classroom (communication technology and language learning technology) and what to consider when using each type. We finish with 8 question to ask before choosing to use technology for...
Language Fuel Podcast
Jan 15, 2017 Joanna Smith
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Are you struggling to manage classroom behaviour? In this episode, I discuss three main causes of unwanted classroom behavior, and share tips for addressing those. We look at issues relating to unclear expectations, materials which may not be appropriate, and social dynamics in the classroom. I share an experience I had early in my language teaching career, where a negative relationship between two students surprisingly reared its head. It taught me to appreciate the internal emotional...
Language Fuel Podcast
Jan 4, 2017 Joanna Smith
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This episode is particularly relevant to you if you have decided you’d like to learn a language, but you’re not sure how to go about doing so. Hiring a coach might be the way to go. Meet Leslie Foster, our resident Language Learning Coach. Leslie describes her role as assisting self-directed language learners understand the how, the why and the what of language learning. Tune in to hear her advice about learning to crawl before you attempt to run, benchmarking your language learning...
Language Fuel Podcast
Dec 19, 2016 Joanna Smith
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Meet Heike Papenthin, Language Advisor for German at ILEP in New Zealand. Heike has learned many languages, and has made a career of her passion, first lecturing in Japan on the German language, now advising on the teaching and learning of German in New Zealand. Heike talks about the value of immersion experiences, the on-going, lifelong nature of language learning, and shares her standpoint that language learning should be compulsory and should start as early as possible, in order to prepare...
Language Fuel Podcast
Dec 13, 2016 Joanna Smith
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We’re talking about games and why they are so good in the language learning classroom. They encourage lots of repetition, helping to cement the target language. The rule-based nature of the interaction also levels the social playing field, encouraging more even participation among students. The teachers also gets a chance to step back, and pay attention to student language production. And of course it’s quite simply a lot of fun energy. I suggest a best practice method to incorporating...
Language Fuel Podcast
Dec 5, 2016 Joanna Smith
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In this episode, we interview Michael MacKinven, author of Kanji Pro: The easy way to remember kanji. During the interview we hear how Michael’s first interest in language learning was ignited by another language learner – a friend who was learning Italian. He also mentions some of the things which keep language teachers going, and he tells us of his classic exemplification of the “spiky profile” learner – high level skills in one area, and lower level skills in another area. This...
Language Fuel Podcast
Nov 29, 2016 Joanna Smith
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This week, I provide an update on my Te Reo language learning journey, and what it’s teaching me about language learning and teaching. I discuss the awesome app that I found for my ipad, the importance of having lots of relevant listening materials, the amazing help that one piece of paper can be, and also what’s been helpful in my social media feeds. Language learning in this digital age is certainly a different kettle of fish from what it was before the internet! The Facebook page I found...
Language Fuel Podcast
Nov 21, 2016 Joanna Smith
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Today we’re talking with Chee En, or Timothy Febey, or Larry Chinese, about his program, Chinese Buddy, and his journey through music, international travels, language teaching and now Chinese Buddy. Timothy is a musician, linguist and teacher, and has combined his talents to create a syllabus suitable for teaching kids Mandarin, in a fun and memorable way. I’m particularly impressed with Timothy’s dedication to find great teaching practice. As well as including (good quality) music, he...
Language Fuel Podcast
Nov 14, 2016 Joanna Smith
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In this episode, we interview Leon Butchers, creator of AGO card games, for use in ESL/EFL classrooms for young learners. The games, in the form of packs of cards, encourage interaction in the classroom and assist with early literacy in English.  Leon talks about the start to his (originally unplanned) English teaching career, how he kept learning by networking with other teachers, and how he found a need and met it. To learn more about the games, visit www.agocardgame.com. There is also an...
Language Fuel Podcast
Nov 7, 2016 Joanna Smith
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In this episode, we explore the concepts behind vocabulary frequency lists, and why they are so important. (Hint: It's the "Goldilocks Principle"). We look at learners getting bang for their buck in terms of investing time in learning the right vocabulary. We also discuss how important context is for deciding frequency lists, and how choosing appropriate contexts is one way to avoid frustration at the intermediate level 'plateau' many language learners experience. I also mention a few...
Language Fuel Podcast
Oct 30, 2016 Joanna Smith
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I've decided to learn Maori! In this episode I outline the reasons behind this decision,  and then I look at what I already know. Maori is one of New Zealand's three official languages, and is a treasure (taonga) that I have not tapped into before. I'm also keen to keep my own language learning experiences new and vital, and to demonstrate self-directed learning. To kick start my language learning journey, I take the time in this episode to recap what I already know about the language:...
Language Fuel Podcast
Oct 24, 2016 Joanna Smith
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In this episode, I discuss how to use graded readers in the language classroom. The issues to think about when choosing graded readers and how to use them include the following: Age appropriateness Level appropriateness Scaffolding required What skills you are encouraging You can actually practice many language skills with graded reader texts, especially those which come with an audio text. Don't assume that a graded reader text is only for teaching reading.  I mentioned also briefly the...
Language Fuel Podcast
Oct 17, 2016 Joanna Smith
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In this episode, we hear from Adon Kumar. Adon teaches English (ESOL) in Auckland, New Zealand, predominantly to migrants who are wanting to find jobs. Adon tells us about how he got into teaching, his experience as a migrant himself 30 years ago, and how this has influenced his passion for what he does. He also shares a couple of stories about students he's worked with over the decades. Listen for his 3 pieces of advice for new teachers at the end of the episode. You can listen to Adon's...
Language Fuel Podcast
Oct 17, 2016 Joanna Smith
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Meet Morgan Patterson, who is the newly appointed (and very enthusiastic) French National Adviser for ILEP in New Zealand. Morgan taught French at high school for 7 years before taking on this position. She tells us a little about what her role as French National Adviser entails, including providing professional development opportunities for French teachers, and advising on great resources. She also shares a bit about her background - why she learned French, what she enjoys about teaching, and...
Language Fuel Podcast
Oct 17, 2016 Joanna Smith
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In this episode, I share with you some of my key tips and tricks for using movies to teach pronunciation. This episode was promted by comments on twitter about our recent blogpost on using movies in the language classroom. Themes of this episode include accent and identity, different varieties of English, role models, both native speaker and non-native speaker models, different features of pronunciation, and how to get learners to really engage with practising their pronunciation skills. In...
Language Fuel Podcast
Oct 12, 2016 Joanna Smith
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As this is the very first Language Fuel Podcast episode, I'm simply introducing Language Fuel, explaining what it's about, and providing an introduction to myself (host), Joanna Smith. Why am I so passionate about supporting the teaching and learning of languages? In this episode, you'll hear about my own early experiences with learning languages. Some memories of language classes have nothing to do with learning the target language, but some great teaching principles were followed, such...