Helping Learners Understand Spoken English

Virtual Online Textbook

Welcome to your Virtual Online Textbook.

VOT is here to help you preview and review class material. Apoven is a global website for anyone who wants to understand English and improve their listening and communication skills.

The Virtual Online Textbook posts provide a way for students in my face-to-face courses to find course material more easily.

First, let me tell you about our class. It might be VERY different from other classes you have taken. How so?

It is not a lecture style class. To do well, you’ll need to speak English and be an active participant. Most of you have studied English for many years, but you have not had much opportunity to speak English. Now is your opportunity to start practicing all that you have studied in the past. What you might need most is bravery. It’s time to stop worrying about making mistakes. It’s time to stop worrying about being judged. Mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process. Being judged is a part of life that you should not let hold you back (limit you/obstruct your progress).

Our class is a 21st century student-centered classroom.

If you are not familiar with student-centered learning, our class will be very different for you!

It might be a little uncomfortable at first. If you are used to teacher-centered classrooms, where the focus is on the teacher who stands in front of a podium lecturing and giving you an hour or more of information while you listen quietly (or sleep ??) our class will be a very new and different experience.

What’s the difference between student-centered classrooms and teacher-centered classrooms?

In teacher-centered classes:

  • teachers do most of the talking
  • the focus is on teachers
  • learning is passive
  • teachers are the main source of knowledge

In student-centered classrooms:

  • students do most of the talking
  • the focus is on students
  • learning is active
  • students and teachers are both sources of knowledge
  • students are given more responsibility for their learning
  • student knowledge, interests, and opinions are valued and incorporated into the learning process as much as possible.

Science supports student-centered classrooms. Here is a short optional video that explains these and more differences between the two education styles.

Because our class is a conversation class, it is really important that students do most of the talking!

Our goal is for students to be speaking 80% of the time. The focus is on students, not the teacher.

If this is hard for you, the first thing you need to learn is practical classroom English.

*If you are not my student and do not have the password to access practical classroom English, you can find five of the practical expressions in this practical English post.

What you can expect the first week:

Our semester begins with you writing to me and telling me anything you want me to know about yourself. You might tell me about your vacation, your English speaking experience, your best memory, your interests, your goals, or anything else.

Next, we will have a 1-on-1 conversation. For some, this will be your first time speaking to a foreign professor. It’s good to have this experience at the beginning of class, so you feel a little more comfortable in our class. Don’t worry! I don’t expect you to speak well or perfectly. I’ll be asking you questions about yourself and your interests. For example, I may ask any of these questions:

  1. What are your interests?
  2. What did you do over the vacation?
  3. What do you want to do after you graduate?
  4. What is your experience with English?
  5. How was your weekend? What did you do?

Or I may ask a question about what you wrote. For example, if you went to Japan over the vacation, I might ask you, “What were some differences between Japan and Korea?” or “Tell me about the best or worst thing about your trip.”

During our conversation, please answer my questions in as much detail as you can. If you can only give me basic details, don’t worry! This is an opportunity for me to learn about your English ability so that I can help you improve.

I look forward to talking with you!

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.
– John F. Kennedy