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TEFL Masterclass – Using Cuisenaire Rods in the Language Classroom

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Exclusive Contents

Anna Cuccia – CELTA & DELTA Trainer School Governor @United Learning Trust.

Anna started teaching English as a foreign language at university, and this led to many professional development opportunities: CELTYL Young Learner Endorsement, LCCI/Arels Teaching English for Business Certificate, preparing students for all Cambridge main suite exams, as well as training up to be a CELTA and DELTA tutor. She has worked with most nationalities and have taught in the private and state sector, she developed and delivered countless training courses to students, teachers, and trainees at all levels. She has also written papers and speak at conferences, including delivering EAL training to NQTs.

What you will learn

I have been training for over 20 years and this is one of the most popular sessions I deliver. I am excited to get to share it with more people and for you to be able to add some more exciting ideas to your own teaching repertoire. Rods can be a revelation – an amazing resource that can illustrate so much more than just sentence structure. Make your modelling clearer and more interactive, provide stress-free opportunities for guided practice and have fun using these simple tools to bring the classroom to life. Everything covered is fully transferable to the teaching of any language, not just ESOL.

So the question is, not what will we cover, but what won’t we?! In the first session we will see how rods can be used for, among other things: breaking the ice; describing places; comparing things – colour, size; assessing level, with examples for IELTS; working on error; helping with grammar – patterns, modality, question formation; telling the time and talking about habits, past events, future plans; functional English practice – requests, deductions; exam practice First Certificate and IELTS suggestions for writing and speaking.

Using rods is like learning to ride a bike, you may wobble a few times and start with stabilisers, but once you have had a few goes you’ll be off. If you’re in a school, go in the resources cupboard, find those weird coloured sticks and dust off the box and then guard them jealousy, you won’t want to share! And if you do find a box, great, bring them to the webinar, if not, don’t worry a box of coloured pens or pencils will do and/or some lego!

This webinar is underpinned with a tiny bit of theory, but basically brims with practical tips. I  really can’t wait to convert you to the power of rods!

Workshop Summary

Introduction to Cuisenaire Rods and Their Educational Value

Anna Cuccia introduces the webinar on Cuisenaire Rods, emphasising the significance of Cuisenaire rods in education.Cuccia invites participants to explore the potential of these rods in both traditional and innovative teaching methods. The rods, invented by Georges Cuisenaire and popularised by Caleb Gatenu, have long been used for teaching fundamental mathematical concepts and have recently been applied in language teaching, offering a tactile and visual approach to learning.

Historical Background and Educational Philosophy

The webinar delves into the history and origins of Cuisenaire rods, highlighting their invention in the early 1960s and their role in revolutionising teaching methodologies. Cuccia discusses Caleb Gatenu’s educational philosophy, which prioritises learning over teaching, and explores how the rods’ tactile nature aids in teaching size, colour, and comparison concepts. This section underlines the importance of familiarising students with the rods to maximise their educational benefits, touching upon their versatility in teaching both mathematics and language.

Enhancing Language Skills Through Cuisenaire Rods

Cuccia presents activities that utilise Cuisenaire rods for developing language skills, incorporating modal verbs and other linguistic structures. These activities, designed for engaging students in making deductions and comparisons, showcase the rods’ applicability beyond mathematics, supporting language acquisition and exam preparation. This approach fosters a dynamic learning environment that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and linguistic proficiency, demonstrating the rods’ value in enhancing the teaching and learning experience.

Practical Applications and Interactive Learning

The webinar explores practical applications of Cuisenaire rods in classroom settings, including storytelling, place descriptions, and simulating real-life scenarios. Cuccia explains how these activities serve as effective icebreakers and aid in teaching descriptive language skills and functional language for transactions. The session also covers how to use rods for teaching time-telling and discussing routines, emphasising the importance of hands-on learning and active student participation in making abstract concepts accessible and engaging.

Conclusion: The Versatility of Cuisenaire Rods in Education

In conclusion, Cuisenaire rods are portrayed as a versatile teaching aid that enriches learning across various subjects. Cuccia outlines the potential for further exploring complex applications of the rods, such as developing spatial awareness and descriptive skills crucial for exams. The webinar aims to provide attendees with innovative ideas for incorporating Cuisenaire Rods into their teaching repertoire, highlighting the significance of hands-on learning and student engagement in both physical and online educational environments.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. Can physical aids be used successfully with all levels?
  2. Don’t coursebooks provide enough variety without gimmicks like Cuisenaire rods?

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