Learner generated content:how to get your students to do the work instead!

Picture by @purple_steph on ELTPics

Picture by @purple_steph on ELTPics

To start this summary of the ELTChat on Learner-generated content, which took place at 12pm on 16th January 2013, I’d like to include this extended quote from a seminal article by Adrian Underhill, writing in the late 80s. @theteacherjames found the link, and commented that it had been a huge early influence on him.

Most teachers invite students to write stories and dialogues. Well, why not take their creations one step further and use them as the basis for all the types of elaboration, consolidation and practice which at the moment is done using the coursebook material? Instead of processing material written by someone else they can create their own material based on what they want to say and what they are able to say.

This yields two over lapping phases. Creation, which roughly corresponds to what the author usually does, and Exploitation, which roughly corresponds to the things we usually do with a coursebook.

So, If we want a dialogue we write it,

If we want a text we write one,

If we want a picture we draw one,

If we want a tape we make one,

If we want questions we write them,

If we want an exercise we construct one,

If we want to work with vocabulary we put ourselves in the position of needing it,

If we want a dictation we write one, or choose it from the reader,

If we want a role play we improvise it, or else we plan and write the parts.

If we want answers, we turn to resource books, especially the monolingual learners’ dictionary,

And if we need published text or tape material, then we find it.

We take this raw material and negotiate its correctness, we hone it and refine it, practise it, record it, tell it, act it out, draw it, summarise it, extend it, transform it, improvise it, and so on. In all of this there is a workshop atmosphere. with our own everyday life events and interests as the source material.’


Working towards a definition

The chat began by sharing how we might define learner/student generated/created content (settling on the terminology was a challenge in itself!)

@teflerinha For me, LGC is about getting learners to do as much of the work as possible (not in a lazy way)

@AlexandraKouk: also involves creativity and choice of topics, content etc. To which @Marisa_C commented So ss choose topic and content?  @theteacherjames responded I suppose we could use almost anything from the students with some creativity. @AlexandraKouk replied they can vote for topics, of course, or decide what kind of materials format they’d prefer.

@efl101 Isn’t student generated content anything sts do, say, write etc.?

@pjgallantry LGC can range from sentence -level and upwards to full-blown modules – depends on lesson focus.

There was some discussion about how far the term could be stretched:

@Marisa_C For example – would showing a S’s written work and generating some language awareness work fit the bill ? or not?

@efl101 Isn’t student generated content anything sts do, say, write etc.?

@Florentina_T Anything that the student can contribute to the class as a _person_ rather than a unidimensional learner ?

@majorieRosenbe I have created worksheets based on the mistakes that come up on tests.  Does that count?

And there seemed to be some crossover with other concepts such as learner- centredness:

@OUPELTGlobal There’s something about SGC that places the student in the role of the teacher – ? I think SGC brings the learning back to the student, using the language they are learning to communicate about them to others

@AlexandraKouk replied , the roles are not so clearly delineated: everybody teaches and learns at the same time

@yitza_Sarwono also saw similarities with the Montessori context in which she teaches.

@Marisa_C also pointed out the crossover with TBL.

Benefits and drawbacks

It was generally agreed that LGC has many benefits for learners, and teachers:

@shaunwilden So benefits include motivation, learning from each other….anything else?

@teflerinha Less preparation time?!

@Florentina_T All students know something that the T and other Ss can learn (from). Sharing in the L2 builds ownership and fluency

@AlexandraKouk Developing creativity and critical thinking skills?

@yitza_Sarwono Giving learners confidence and voice?

@OUPELTGlobal  Agreat benefit for me is that sts pay more attention to the language they use as they are communicating to friends

@theteacherjames One of the benefits of LGC is that it gives an extended life to the material that students will be possibly producing anyway

@teflerinha Lessons in FE context in UK (where I teach now) are usually 3 hours- so at least element of LGC very helpful

However, there were some downsides too:

@shaunwilden A teacher needs to be at the top of their game to handle LGC, don’t they?..you don’t know where you might end up.

@teflerinha If students don’t produce much, then you don’t have much to work with #lessonplandownpan

@debzi_f have to be careful with sgc that other students don’t just focus on negatives of peers though

@jankenb2 wondered if some schools might not like SGC, though @efl101 responded would hope most schools would not object to sts creating things?

@efl101, OUPELTGlobal  and @Marisa_C agreed that LGC might work well as something to add onto a core cyllabus rather the necessarily providing the syllabus.

@shaunwilden wondered Are all sts happy to work with LGC isnt there an expectation of the teacher leading and telling them what to do?  But @teflerinha felt it’s about the content rather than the methodology isn’t it? And @theteacherjames commented The teacher will still be telling them what to do: Produce material  and then do something else with it.

Towards the end of the chat, the topic shifted towards feedback, but as this is a possible topic for next week, I won’t include it here.

Examples of Learner Generated Content Activities

The Language Experience Approach is one example of how to create and exploit learner-generated content.

@Marisa_C When I taught advanced ss in the past i used to get them to write stuff/ projects for lower levels – can done with other levels too @yitza_sarwono I usually get them to do booklet of selected topic in a month’s time

@michaelegriffin I love bringing something out the next week/class- @teflerinha Yes, shows you’ve paid attention to what they’re producing.- @michaelegriffin Exactly…and I think it tends to have a carry over for next time because Ss know that things will be re-used… And related is using something from loooong ago….and hopefully Ss can see clear progress

@kevchanwow I like to take the funniest sentence, deepest sentence, etc of the week and put them on handout for the class.

@majorie_rosenbe We created cooperative crosswords on vocab for other classes to solve. Great exercise and practice.

@teflerinha  Before students read a text, give them the comprehension questions and as them to write their own text using the questions as a guide. They can then read each others’ texts and answer the questions, before they start on the original text. Finally they can make comparisons between their texts and the original.

@kevchanwow When I have Ss summarise texts, one step in the process is generating questions for each other which I then use as comp check questions

OUPELTGlobal I have my students make wordsearch puzzles for a reading text. Then, give it to a friend to solve – student reading text 2x

@majorie_rosenbe Just gave HW to write 6 questions for others on material coming on test, then played snakes and ladders with the questions.

@theteacherjames Quick example (1:1 Bus Eng): St gives presentation, recorded, watch the video back & analyse their own performance. Self feedback

@Marisa_C On an English for Teachers course we used Pecha Kuchas – each presenter responsible for Qs to audience while listening @Majorie_Rosenbe added We are holding session on how to use Pecha Kucha in classroom at BESIG PCE in Liverpool at IATEFL.

@jankenb2 If you have access to a course page ask Ss for Youtube to preview a wk prior. Assign selected to Ss pair to generate novel lang exp. Also suggested Giving ss a rubric for a writing task, e.g. “write an invite to a party include time, place, location & welcome note” and asking them to write 3 answers: a good one, a satisfactory one, and one that needs more work.

Links and Further Reading

There are three main books that I know of with specifically learner-generated ideas, though of course Teaching Unplugged is along very similar lines.

Lessons from the Learner: Shelagh Dellar- Longman

Learner-based teaching- Campbell and Kryszewska- OUP

The Minimax Teacher- Jon  Naunton-DELTA Publishing

All three of these are written in the ‘recipe book’ format, and are useful additions to a teacher’s library.

A link to an article by @ddeubal  on student created content was offered by @michaelegriffin


Also a link to the ESL Learners Output Library, a forum for sharing work ESL students produce. http://www.esllol.org/

@AlexandraKouk suggested this article which looks at LGC taking webtools into account http://learnonline.wordpress.com/2006/03/13/learner-generated-content-or-the-best-way-to-learn-is-to-teach/


Filed under Different ways to use a coursebook, ELT Chat summaries, Teaching methodology

7 responses to “Learner generated content:how to get your students to do the work instead!

  1. Pingback: Weekly round up of ELT 18/01/2013 | ELTSquared.co.uk

  2. So many ideas here, thanks!

  3. PS: to purple_steph, are those the Esther socks? You go! Great pattern!!

  4. Pingback: drilling irregular verbs … | pains and gains of a teacher woman

  5. Pingback: #ELTchat » Learner generated content:how to get your students to do the work instead! – An #ELTchat summary (16/02/13)

  6. Pingback: Content overload? – Exploring EdTech in ELT and beyond

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