Posts Tagged ‘teaching diary’

What I want to share in this post happened quite a while ago. It wasn’t anything new in terms of teaching methodology and I’m sure a lot of people reading this post will recognize what they do in the classroom. But nevertheless, the experience keeps popping up in my head and I wanted to share it, because it was one of the most positive experiences in my early years of teaching.

This happened when I was teaching in a secondary school. At some point, when my first ever group reached strong B1 level, I bought lots of graded readers, brought the better half of my personal library of English books to the school and launched an extensive reading programme, asking the students to read graded readers and unabridged books three or four times a year. As a follow-up to each round of reading, we did various activities, ranging from book fairs to informal chats, but one thing that stayed the same was that I asked the students to give the book they’d read a rating and write a short review. Another thing that stayed the same was that the majority of students hated writing those reviews.

I was taking British Council Learning Technologies for the Classroom course at the time, and so we started experimenting with some (pretty basic) technology and ended up with an approach to writing which was a whole lot more enjoyable and productive.


1. Creating the sense of audience
The first step was to migrate all writing to the class group on a social network. Instead of asking the students to hand in the reviews in handwritten form, I started creating a dedicated thread where all reviews were to be posted before the deadline (the evening before a lesson). This gave the students a sense of audience and made the activity a lot more authentic. We used a social media site (a Russian analogue of Facebook) because all students had accounts there, but as far as I know, many teachers use other free alternatives, e.g.

2. Immediate feedback
Since I now got all the reviews before the lesson, I could print them out, mark them in the morning, and then in class the students worked in pairs to edit their contributions on the group page. Apart from the satisfaction of getting feedback immediately after submitting their piece of writing, there were a number of added benefits:

  • This gave the students a good reason to submit their work on time, and in general the proportion of students who did writing assignments increased as a result. Also, in my experience with teens, the very fact that everyone in the group can see who has submitted homework encourages students to do it.
  • Since I was working with a print-out, I felt at liberty to mark the students’ work more extensively without the fear of ruining it – I now not only used error correction codes to hint at mistakes, but also highlighted all nice turns of phrase that I liked in the students’ writing – so the feedback they received looked a lot more positive.
  • Editing itself became a lot easier – no need to rewrite anything and there were no teacher’s comments in the final draft.

3. Autonomous vocabulary learning

One more important tweak was using amazon reviews as a source of language. We did this using scrible – a wonderful tool that allows the user to save any html page to an online library and then annotate it, changing font sizes, highlighting and adding notes:

A typical assignment looked like this:

_) read a book and give it a rating
a) find a book in a similar genre (google ‘top detective novels’, for instance)
b) read reviews on amazon that give that book the same rating
c) highlight relevant expressions with scrible, _save the page_ and create a permalink to share it
d) write your review using these expressions and _underscoring_ them. Post the review along with the permalink here.

In general, amazon reviews are very well written and are a pleasure to read, and the whole group ended up hunting down some great expressions. Those students who chose to use those expressions (around 75%) were able to use them very aptly in their writing. Here are a couple of samples of my students’ work (big thanks to Ivan Syrovoiskii and Danila Borovkov for allowing me to share them here):

The annotated page:
The review:

On the prowl for something interesting, I happened on Bram Stocker’s Dracula. And when I took an abridged book I actually expected that it wouldl be shortened and generally quite tame in comparison to the original. But what struck me was how they’d oversimplified the whole plot.
I guess almost everyone basicly knows the story – it starts with Jonathan Harker’s arrival to the castle of Count Dracula, the very powerful vampire who’s intimidating the whole of Transylvania. But this edition was so shortened that the whole story of how Jonathan, Arthur and Professor Van Helsing struggled to locate and destroy their nemesis turned just in several pages and the life of vampires which original plot concerns – into several plotlines written in simple English.
In general, I want to say that while I was reading this book I was imbued with the notion that I’m reading just a summary of the original Dracula. On reflection, I reckon I need to add that it might be good as a book for studying English, and it should be treated just as a textbook, without looking at plot.
My overall impression is that if you want to read something interesting – read the original book or don’t read Dracula at all – but don’t bother with abridged books, especially with intermediate level.

The annotated page:
The review:

First of all I have to thank Graham Poll for sharing “Seeing Red” with us. It’s very interesting and a times funny read for people who know something about football and you just can’t put it down.
Every day there are some news about players and managers in the media, but nothing about referees. “Seeing Red” allows you to look behind the scenes of refereeing and to look inside the game.This book shows how young boy, linesman in his father’s match, became the best, world popular referee. I’m sure you will find out something new about referees’ regime, training and how refereeing affects privacy. It also includes many details about famous football players and managers, such as John Terry or David Beckhem or David Moyes. With this book you can participate in famous football matches in many tournaments like World Cup, Premier League or Champions League. After reading I understand how much pressure referees are under, how difficult this thankless but absolutely necessary job is and I have gained a whole bunch of respect for them.

Later on we used all the scrible pages produced by the students to analyze the overall structure of a typical review and put together a google document with useful expressions for talking about characters, plot, the author and so on (a great thing about google documents is that a lot of people can edit the same document simultaneously, so the students worked in pairs, each pair researching a particular aspect of essay writing across everybody’s scribble pages).

While I’m at it, here are some ideas what other genres this approach could be used for:

Closing remarks 

As I said at the beginning of this post, a lot of what we ended up doing is standard practice in many language teaching classrooms. However, I still really wanted to share the experience, because for me and my class those tweaks made a lot of difference at the time. They transformed writing assignments from a frustrating chore that the students used to moan about to something that felt good and was a lot more authentic and enjoyable.

And on that note, I must ask: What were some rewarding, happy experiences in your early years of teaching? 

Thanks for reading!

This is a ‘year in review’ post and I mainly want to write not so much about my own year as about the teaching ideas that I learnt in 2014 that struck a deep cord with me and really helped me in my work. There have been a lot of insightful, illuminating posts and lesson plans in the blogs I follow, not to mention Teaching English British Council facebook page which have been an incredible source of inspiration, but there also were a few ideas that I’ve been returning to almost on a daily basis, and I want to stop and gather them in one place. So basically this post is a long-winded rehash of ideas you might have already read/heard either elsewhere or on this blog – and it’s also the opportunity for me to ask you:

What were the most important ideas you learnt in 2014? How did they change your teaching?

Actually I almost discarded the idea of this post as it seemed inappropriate to retell other people’s ideas, but I just can’t get this ‘list’ out of my head (and also I find myself retelling those ideas anyway to anyone who’ll listen), so I’ll probably have to get it written after all. So, here goes.

1. Lesson planning from the heart. I remember very well how in my first year of teaching I was teaching a lot of grammar points in a PPP fashion and was really struggling to come up with engaging communicative tasks that would allow the students to use the grammar point that had been introduced earlier during the lesson: time and again, the group ended up using anything but the target language. Back during my Delta Mod 2 course, our course tutor Anne Timson, in one striking sentence, summarized the entire solution to this problem: you don’t plan to teach the language and then throw in a task that will fit your lesson; instead, you pick the task and then teach the language that will support the students in carrying out the task. With this approach, the language that you feed is a lot more likely to be inherently needed to the task; what’s more, you are likely to go far beyond simply teaching a grammar point (e.g. for asking for and giving suggestions one needs not only a range of expressions for giving suggestions (e.g. modals – you should/you might want to and functional exponents, e.g. why don’t you / try +ing), but also spoken discourse (expressions for broaching the subject; for sympathizing; the ways to react to a suggestion – either positively or negatively, explaining why it wouldn’t work; possibly some collocations, e.g. ‘I’ve run into a bit of a problem with..‘, and so on and so forth).

Back in August as I was preparing to teach my first ever teacher training course, I stumbled upon an article called Lesson planning right from the heart by Duncan Foord (English Teaching Professional, 93, July 2014 – the article is available here if you’re a subscriber), and the idea suggested there struck a deep cord with me; we discussed the article with the trainees on the very first day of the course, and I think it sent a very important message and made a lot of difference to the outcome of the whole course.

In his article, Foord suggests planning the lesson in a way that reflects the approach outlined above, by stepping away from a ‘linear’ lesson plan (in which the task comes at the end and might easily get sacrificed for time reasons) and instead thinking of the plan as a heart (the task, which is the lesson aim) – supported by activities, all of which are valuable, and yet ‘droppable’:


I think this is a very powerful idea, one I wish I’d been aware of from day one of teaching, and it’s probably my favorite idea of 2014.

2. In her workshop on writing effective classroom materials, Rachael Roberts suggested a way to phrase tasks to encourage the students to talk more and to really engage with the task. Ever since watching that talk, I’ve been formulating tasks differently in almost every single lesson. (A handout f the workshop, as well as a full recording, is available here; do check it out if you’ve missed it.)

Here are some of the notes I made during the webinar:

Making tasks more concrete: list/rank/sequence/categorize/similarities and differences; give reasons and justify
Examples of how tasks can be reformulated:
What countries would you like to emigrate to? Why? -> Make a list of three countries you would like to emigrate to. Think about why. Then compare with your partner and agree on three countries together if possible.
What would you miss about your home country? -> Work in small groups. Make a list of 5 things you would miss about your home country. Put them in order.
Do you think most people emigrate because hey want to or because they have to? -> Work in pairs. Make a list of 6 reasons why people emigrate. Looking at your list, do you think most people emigrate because hey want to or because they have to.

3.  Horizontal alternative to vertical list, a blog post by Leo Selivan, in which he suggests adapting lists of semantically related words presented in coursebook (e.g. colours, transport or anything else) so that each item is presented in an associated (preferably, high frequency) chunk. I remember reading this post one morning in March and immediately scrapping the material I’d created for a class I was going to teach that day (a list of useful vocabulary from a chapter we were about to read with a group of teens) and rewriting it ‘horizontally’. I haven’t managed to take this idea on board as fully and consistently as the previous two, so ‘consistently (pre-)teaching and recording vocabulary in expressions, as opposed to individual items’ seems like a good New Year resolution.

4. Positive feedback.


Feedback was one of the main recurrent topics of the talks I went to at Summer BESIG Symposium in Graz. It was a bit surprising for me to hear it mentioned so frequently, and one thought that was particularly surprising was Marjorie Rosenberg’s remark that negative feedback to a presentation was often worse than no feedback at all (because e.g. if you tell a person they were fiddling with their hands during a presentation, next time they won’t know what to do about this and might end up with even more inappropriate body language). Her point was that what was really valuable was positive feedback that reinforced successful behaviour/language.

Later on, as I was preparing to do my first ever ‘proper’ teacher observations, I dug up teaching practice feedback that our tutors gave us during CELTA and here it was again – a wealth of positive reinforcement, dozens of ticks and smiley faces for every single successful classroom decision I’d made.

CELTA feedback by Simon Brown (British Study Centres Oxford)

A snippet from CELTA feedback by Simon Brown (British Study Centres Oxford, 2010)

I adopted the same approach to giving teacher practice feedback during the teacher training course I taught (I actually had a smiley face and a tick copied to the buffer, inserting them into the feedback form every few minutes.)

I believe this worked really well, making input tangibly more digestible, so the list of take-aways the trainees wrote after the 5-day course was really impressive.

One of the teachers who participated in the course has recently also started collecting post-it notes from the students with things they liked/disliked about the lesson after every lesson, and she’s been finding this feedback loop very motivating and helpful.

Having tried giving lots of positive feedback to teachers, I’ve also changed the way I provide feedback to my students’ writing: now I type a sentence-by-sentence commentary (with ticks and smiley faces of course), painstakingly praising all good lexical / grammatical / discoursal choices (but also prompting the students to improve what was wrong), and again I think it’s been working very well.

On the flip side, I haven’t been giving any more positive feedback to speaking, so another New Year resolution for me will be thinking more about feedback and perhaps finding more ways to give positive reinforcement in class.


As for the other tweaks I adopted this year, I think the most important one was asking the students to organize target language in a ‘brain-friendly’ way and then reproduce it from memory in writing, and then reproduce the model before actually trying the language out in their own production (I wrote a blog post outlining the lesson shape outlining this approach back in spring). This has worked quite well with functional language (with coursebook listening passages working as a model), but my favourite use of this technique has been teaching linkers to lower level students (as in the sample lesson plan here). I also can’t wait to get the chance to teach an exam student or group again, as I think this approach will work with teaching Speaking for exams quite well too (structuring extended monologues and using functional language to maintain a discussion).

So, these were some of the ideas that made a difference to my year – I now want to go back to the question I asked at the beginning of the post: what were the ideas that were important to you?

Happy teaching in 2015, everyone.


Two days ago I attempted to teach my Elementary Business English students to produce extended monologues listing advantages and disadvantages, using linking devices that are considered to be ‘B1’ or even higher in typical Speaking exam marking criteria.

This is my first attempt to write a lesson from scratch at this level and it would be great if someone had a look at this – any suggestions/criticism is highly welcome. It worked well with my group, but that group was quite small and I was able to address any problems straight away, so I’m not sure what pitfalls I might still be overlooking. Also, there are some ‘nagging questions’ at the end of this post concerning adapting the course to an individual company setting – I hope to hear what other people think.

Level: elementary (my students are more like ‘low elementary’ although, as they read technical documentation, their vocabulary, especially passive vocabulary, is better than their control of grammar and their skills.)
Context: Business English (in-company, an IT company)
Time: 90 minutes
Materials:  or worksheet.pdf; it’s nice, although not essential, to have a projector connected to a laptop for the text analysis task (stage G)
Procedure: the essential stages are stages E, F, I, J, K and M, in which the students familiarize themselves with the model, look for the target language in the text, organize it, practice using it under fully controlled conditions, revise it again and then use it to produce their own monologues. Stages B, C and D pre-teach vocabulary. Stages G, H and L focus on accuracy.

A Which opinion do you agree with?
just ‘a show of hands’?

I prefer working from home.

I prefer working from home.

I prefer working in the office.

I prefer working in the office.

B Some of these sentences are about working from home and some are about working in the office. Fill the gaps.

Procedure: in a mixed ability group, allow weaker students to look at C straight away; stronger students should cover the verbs

  1. When you work from home, you _________ all the time, even at night.
  2. You _________ in social and professional isolation.
  3. You _________ money on transport.
  4. You _________ less time commuting.
  5. When something _________ wrong, you can’t ask other people to help.
  6. You _________ more time for your family.
  7. If your computer _________ down, your company doesn’t give you a new one.
  8. You _________ learn from your team.
  9. You can _________ what to do.
  10. Offices _________ extremely noisy and I just can’t _________  there.
  11. My family _________ that I’m working and _________ me all the time.

C Did you use some of these verbs?

are x2
not understand

D Look at the sentences from B again. What happens when you work from home? What happens when you work in the office? Sort them. 


E Does Olya prefer working from home or working in the office?
How many pluses of working from home does she give? How many minuses? Underline them.

meI’m a teacher I prefer teaching face-to-face for three reasons.

First of all, I work better in the company of other people. Another upside, for me, is that I actually enjoy going to and from work because I come up with a lot of ideas on my way to work. Besides, I don’t really enjoy giving lessons online because it’s very difficult to share materials on the Internet.

Of course, working ‘offline’ has its disadvantages. The main minus is that getting to and from work takes a lot of time. Also, I have to carry lots of books around.

But as I said, I think that the pluses outweigh the minuses.

F Which of these words can you see in the text? Underline them. Some of them mean ‘plus’ and some of them mean ‘minus’. Sort them:

upside                               downside                               advantage                               disadvantage

Plus: _______________, _______________
Minus:  _______________, _______________

G English sentences have a subject and a verb.
For example:
subjects verbs

Find subjects and verbs in the text.
Then complete the rule:

When we use a verbs as a subject, we use verb+ing /the dictionary form of the verb
Example from the text #1: ________________________________
Example from the text #2: ________________________________
After prefer and enjoy, we use verb+ing/the dictionary form of the verb
Example from the text #1: ________________________________
Example from the text #2: ________________________________

Procedure: during the feedback stage, I projected the text and highlighted the subjects and verbs. The result looked like this:


Also, this table was added to the document shared via dropbox where I write up everything we study with this group, and part of the homework was to repeat this task at home.

H Find mistakes in these sentences.

  1. I think that working from home it’s more efficient.
  2. For me, the main disadvantage of travelling abroad you don’t know the language.
  3. First of all, go to and from work takes time. Besides, it’s expensive.
  4. Another plus, I like talking with my team.
  5. Another plus – is that I feel more comfortable at home because it less noisy than the office.
  6. I enjoy work with other people because we share our ideas.

Procedure: again, I used a word document during the feedback stage and the students will be repeating this task at home.

I What expressions in the text make it logical?  Find them and put them on this mind map:
Talking about advantages and disadvantages_2

Procedure: students should come up with this; model on the second paragraph first; after the students have finished, elicit the map, board it and model pronunciation.

Talking about advantages and disadvantages

J Look at the mind map and retell the text.

Procedure:  first model with a stronger student, then pair the students up.

K Write the expressions again from memory:

Talking about advantages and disadvantages_2Procedure:  allow the students who are stuck to look the expressions up again in the text (not in their mind maps). 

L Find mistakes in these sentences.
a. I think the pluses of working from home outweight the minuses.
b. At first, working with new technologies is more risky. Also, it’s a lot more difficult.
c. I think that working from home is better than working in the office from the following reasons.

M Over to you: do you prefer working in the office or working from home? Plan your monologue. Tell the class.

Procedure: I did this as a whole class activity but my group is quite small.

Reflection. This lesson was quite different from the lessons I’d had before with this group. There was a lot more language analysis and a lot less ‘talking’ (even the monologues at the end didn’t serve any communicative purpose, really!) However, after they produced their own monologues at the end (they used both the reasons given in exercises B and their own reasons), I told the students that, apart from their speech speed, they sounded intermediate – and I meant it. I do think that this experience of talking at length will be quite motivating for them.

I think this was the first time I showed the students complex sentences (although we did a short focus on relative clauses in the previous lesson). Analyzing that text to find subjects and verbs had possibly been the most cognitively challenging task in that course so far. I think that this task might have contributed to their appreciation of English sentence structure (Russian doesn’t have catenative ‘be’ and they still drop it a lot when left to their own devices).

The motivation behind teaching this sort of monologue came from my own experience as a language learner. I wrote about this already in this post  (scroll down to the wordle if you’d like to have a look), but basically what happened was I just tried to speak to my teacher in German, switching to English whenever I was lacking an expression and she wrote the German equivalents of the expressions I needed in a shared file. A while ago I analyzed the language that came up during my first ever attempt to have a proper conversation in German (my receptive skills were around B1 at that point) and I noticed that some types of language featured prominently: there were a lot of sentence adverbs (unfortunately/ luckily/mostly / also / at least) and language for evaluation (it was ok/worst of all was that../it was terrible/ it was challenging). So now I want to come up with ways to teach such language as early as possible in the course to enable the student to string basic vocabulary into complex ideas.

The questions I’ll have to think about:

  • Would this procedure work with a bigger group where I wouldn’t be able to provide as much on-the-spot correction?
  • Should I have chosen a different set of linking expressions here, e.g. should I have picked a longer but more versatile ‘another reason why I prefer sth’ instead of ‘another upside’?
  • What other ‘frameworks’/speaking subskills to teach/prioritize? How to choose the potential mistakes to focus on? (the ones I used in stage H came from another group’s writing on a similar topic) How to predict what language needs to be pre-taught, especially in a Business English course targeted to a specific line of business? (right now I simply assign a task to a higher level group working in the same company, note down what language comes up, then feed that language to the ‘starters’)
  • Should I actually ask my students to brainstorm reasons between classes in Russian and then preteach that vocabulary? If yes, how to scaffold that – I tried once, they just ignored the task.
  • Am I re-inventing the wheel here? It took lots of time to come up with this material – doest the fact that I need to write that myself mean that I am misusing BE coursebooks?
  • My students need to take part meetings reporting on their progress, stoppers and future plans, write emails along the same lines etc for work. Should we really be discussing the relative benefits and disadvantages of working from home?
  • If not, how do I manage to produce materials without spending 5 hours preparing for each individual lesson, if they need that much scaffolding and language input?


Probably, to be continued. 🙂

Here’s a way to ‘patch up’ listening skills by ‘brute force’ that I’ve been trying out over the past few days. The idea is to create an ‘audio concordancer’ based on video files with transcripts, and use it to drill decoding of top 100 words in English, along with some of their high-frequency combinations. These top 100 account for a staggering >50% of  a typical English text (probably even more in speech), and my research(ish) shows that they are the ones that most consistently fail to be decoded. What is more, many of these high-frequency expressions seem to respond very well to drilling – recognizing just ~20+/30 instances in a row, with immediate feedback, seems to do the trick. This would mean that drilling them is likely to make a difference, and just a few episodes of a series will provide a student with more than enough material for drills. 

I had to come up with this because my current students live in a monolingual environment but need to understand native speakers speaking [with a range of accents] to each other, over skype, so they are begging for an efficient approach that would produce some ‘here and now’ results. As a non-native speaker who’s still struggling with some accents (although not with C2-level listening exams, oddly enough), I make an excellent guinea pig here. I’ve recently watched a few series with which I had this unpleasant feeling that I’m missing a lot (The Thick of It, BrE; Numb3rs, AmE) so I decided to try out some of the ground-breaking ideas of John Field and Richard Cauldwell and other researchers and see whether they’d help me with these particular TV shows and accents.

I found a program that, given a video file and a transcript, produces a collection of audiofiles, one audiofile for each line of the transcript.


Along with the audiofiles, the program creates a .tsv file with information what text corresponds to each audiofile. This .tsv file can be opened in notepad and copied to Excel, and then you can filter it to find just those lines that contain a specific word or expression:


I also wrote a simple script that copies all files listed in a text document to a sub-folder, so now I could listen only to those lines that contained the word/expression. The ‘task’ I set myself was to catch the word/expression in question in the line, without relying on the context. If I couldn’t, replayed the line a few times and then checked the transcript.

(By the way, if you want to try this, here’s how to use the script:

  • put the .mp3s produced by srt2srs into C:\Listening\media
  • put a file named filenames.txt into C:\Listening; copy the list of filenames from your .xslx document
  • create a folder C:\Listening\training and a subfolder called ‘currentsearch’
  • Copy the following text into a text document and change its extension to .bat
    /f “delims=” %%i in (C:\Listening\filelist.txt) do echo D|xcopy “C:\Listening\media\%%i” “C:\Listening\training\currentsearch”
  • double-click the .bat file; wait until the files are copied – you’ll find them in the ‘currentsearch’

I’ve been experimenting for 10 days and here are some surprising facts I’ve learnt and noticed.

First, having analyzed a few lines that I’d failed to catch, I noticed that very often I actually failed to catch not a whole stretch of speech, but just one word/expression which is highly frequent and whose pronunciation turns out to be completely at odds with my expectations. The pronunciation of ‘can’ (which is the top 53rd word in English, occurring in ~2% of all sentences) – an almost inaudible /kn/ – was a bit of a shock. Also, ‘do you’, ‘he’ and ‘him’ were challenging. However, having practiced with just 20 to 30 lines (using the transcript for feedback), I learnt to catch the expression over 90% of times. The same results seemed to be reproduced with my students and friends who I’ve tried this with so far:  after about 20+/30 samples they were already consistently catching the weak words (‘that’, ‘there’s’, ‘can’) that they couldn’t hear at all in the first ~5 lines. The only word with which this hasn’t worked so far has been ‘will’ – this one is really hellishly difficult to catch.

Having practiced listening to just the lines  that contained ‘can’, ‘do you’ and ‘he / him’ (3 separate drills), I tried to watch an episode. There were two things that struck me: first, I ‘homed in’ on all occurrences of ‘can’, and second, there were quite a few instances of ‘lagged’ decoding – it felt like I had a bit more processing capacity/confidence and could use this to decipher a few things I’d missed. Amazingly, I understood almost the entire episode, with the exception of just a few (~ 5) utterances.

Later I examined a line I’d failed to catch from an American series called ‘Numb3rs – also quite challenging for me – and there the breakdown turned out to be caused by the chunk ‘there’s’ (top 100th in my home-grown corpus, occurs in >1% of all sentences). As it turned out, this one is often reduced to /ðz/ – again, something that my 10+ years of post-CPE exposure to authentic speech hadn’t taught me. I listened to more lines with ‘there’s’ and my intuition tells me previously I wouldn’t have caught ‘there’s’ in over one half of them.

I’ve tried this task with my upper-intermediate students and they too mostly failed to hear ‘can’, and also ‘that’ (top 8th, occurring in ~9% of lines), but, as I mentioned above, seemed to respond well to drills.

We haven’t started on the rest of 100 most common English words yet but by now I’m expecting to see  similar results for all words that tend to be pronounced with a glottal stop or which lose a weak vowel (which is, most of them, given that ‘k’/’g’ and ‘p’/’b’ tend to be ‘produced’ silently, with no air let out, just as ‘t’ and ‘d’, and that the weak /ɪ/ tends to disappear at the beginning/end of a chunk, as well as from diphthongs).

Rank Word
1 th-
2 be/are
3 t-
4 [-]f (also, /v/
might be
5 [a]n[d]
6 a
7 [i]n
8 th-[t]
9 [h]a[ve]
10 I /a/
11 [i][t]
12 f[or]
13 n-[t]
14 on
15 w[i][th]
16 [h]e
17 as
18 y[ou]
19 do
20 a[t]
Rank Word
21 th-s
22 b[-][t]
23 [h]is
24 by
25 fr-m
26 the[y]
27 w[e]
28 say
29 [h]er
30 she
31 or
32 [a]n
33 [w]-ll
34 my /ma/
35 one
36 all
37 w[oul][d]
38 th[ere]
39 th[eir]
40 wha[t]
Rank Word
41 so /s-/
42 u[p]
43 ou[t] /at/
44 [i]f
45 [a]bou[t] /ba/
46 wh-
47 get
48 which
49 go
50 me
51 wh-n
52 ma[ke]
53 c-n
54 li[ke]
55 time
56 no
57 j-s[t]
58 [h]im
59 know
60 ta[ke]
Rank Word
61 p[eo]ple
62 [i]nt[o]
63 ye[ar]
64 y[our]
65 g[-][d]
66 s-me
67 c-ld
68 th-m
69 see
70 oth[er]
71 th[a]n
72 th[e]n
73 now /na/
74 l-[k]
75 onl[y]
76 c-me
77 [i]ts
78 over
79 th-n[k]
80 also
Rank Word
81 ba[ck]
82 aft[er]
83 use
84 tw[o]
85 how /ha/
86 our /a/
87 wor[k]
88 firs[t]
89 well
90 way[i]
91 even
92 n[j]ew
93 wan[t]
94 [be]cause
95 [a]ny
96 these
97 gi[ve]
98 day
99 mos[t]
100 əs [us]

One controversial potential implication here is that maybe lower-level students should be provided with practice in decoding weak words in challenging contexts with lots of unknown lexis, so that they’d learn to catch these words as opposed to reconstruct them from the surrounding text. Of course, this can’t work 100% of the time, as quite a few of the weak forms are homophones (‘of’ and ‘have’, for instance), but still, choosing one of the homophonous forms seems to constitute less of a processing burden than missing the word altogether and reconstructing it based solely on the context. However, this could be quite a dispiriting exercise, so I’ll first try it out with more ‘prominent’ words and will work extra hard to explain why we’re doing this and why just catching one word is actually a great achievement here.