On-lion 2018 - Information for teachers


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Aim

 

The aim of the competition isn’t to find the best English learners, but to give the students tasks that they will enjoy doing. This is why the competition consists of puzzles and research exercises.

 

The exercises aren’t very difficult, so most of the exercises can be done by all students. Hopefully, this will give them a sense of achievement and motivate them, even if they don’t win one of the prizes.

 

We combine the competition with a reader. This reader isn’t part of the competition, but we would like every student to end up with something from the competition. It is a good idea to hand out the readers at the end of the competition as a reward for the students’ work. If a whole group gets a reader, they could be used during the English lessons as well.

 

Levels

 

The students have many different backgrounds in English learning (bilingual schools, 3 lessons a week, 5 lessons a week, special English groups, private lessons, as a second foreign language, …). It would be impossible to create a separate category for everybody, so we decided to have only 4 categories, based on the students’ level (A0, A1, A2 and B1). Although it doesn’t seem fair that younger students have to compete against older students, we haven’t really seen better scores for the older students in previous competitions.

 

Since the main aim of the competition is enjoyment, rather than finding the best students, we suggest teachers to enter students for the most appropriate category.

 

With the choice of grammar structures and vocabulary, the categories are based on the following books:

 

A0: Smart Junior 3 & Young Stars 3

 

A1: Smart Junior 4, Young Stars 4 & Get to the Top 1 (including Past Simple)

 

A2: Get to the Top 3

 

B1: Pioneer & Traveller: Pre-intermediate and the first half of Intermediate B1

 

It isn’t important that students actually learn from these books, since other series offer the same structures at the same levels (according to the CEFR).

 

The competition can contain items that the students haven’t learnt yet, but since they are allowed to use the internet, they should be able to find the necessary information and answer the questions.

 

Exercises

 

The competitions from previous years, which can be found on our website, are a good indication of what can be expected, but we often try to add new types of exercises.

 

In order to find the correct answers, the students need to spend some time on the tasks, but also to work carefully since we sometimes try to trick the students into choosing the wrong answer.

 

Grammar

 

The problem with English grammar is that there are no official rules but a linguistic agreement on how we use the English language. This means that different sets of rules and grammar explanations can be found. In the competition, we mainly use sentences that are the same or similar to those that can be found in the coursebooks.

 

We will no longer ask the students to decide whether a sentence is grammatically correct or not, since they can lead to linguistic discussions which go way above the level of the students.

 

Culture

 

Each year, we choose a cultural topic (usually a country) and there will be several questions about this topic in the competition. We don’t expect the students to know this information, so they should use the internet to find the answers. They should be careful, because some websites might give wrong answers.

 

Vocabulary

 

These exercises mainly feature vocabulary that can be found in the coursebook, but since students can use on-line dictionaries and Google translate, there can also be words that are new to the students. Please note that we always look at the English meaning of the word, and not the Hungarian translation (since this could have a slightly different meaning).

 

With the odd-one-out exercises, there can be many different reasons why a word is the odd-one-out. We are looking for the most logical reason.

 

How to prepare the students for the competition

 

Since the students can use the internet when answering the questions, it isn’t very important to prepare the students for the competition. However, you could do the following:

 

  • Do the exercises from previous years, which are available on our website. They can see the different types of exercises and this will help them understand what to do and what to be careful about.
  • Introduce the cultural topic (usually a country) during the English lessons or as a project. This could include history, geography, culture, sport, famous people, … Although it’s unlikely you will cover all the questions of the competition, the students will learn more about the culture of the country and have a better idea of what the questions are about.

 

What to do on the competition days

 

This depends on how the competition is organised within the school.

 

If the students do the competition at home, it’s important to remind them when the competition is open.

 

If the competition is done at school (during a lesson or in the afternoon), make sure that the students have access to computers. Remember that this is an individual competition, so the exercises shouldn’t be done together in a group and the teacher should never provide the correct answers.

 

The exercises will be available in a downloadable PDF file, so you could print paper copies for your students.

 

We will try to remind all the teachers the day before the competition opens, but it is possible that some teachers do not receive this information in time. The competition dates are clearly advertised, so keep them in mind.

 

Why teachers shouldn’t provide the correct answers

 

  • Because it isn’t allowed. The answers should reflect the students’ own work. It might sound surprising, but it’s quite obvious when the students didn’t do the work on their own. When we see that a class has identical answers, this is highly suspicious.
  • It’s cheating, and you are setting an example of what behaviour is acceptable. If you show the students it’s OK to cheat, what can you say when they cheat at the next test?
  • It’s easy to make a mistake, even for a teacher. What will your students think if it turns out that the answer you gave them was wrong?

 

Correction

 

At the end of each round, we will immediately start correcting the questions. This correction is partly done automatically and partly by hand. Each and every alternative answer (not all correct answers are provided in the key) will be evaluated by an English teacher. For partially correct answers, we can still give points (1-9) depending on how close it was to the correct answer.

 

We can deduct 1-2 points for small spelling mistakes, when it’s obvious that the correct answer was given. For the younger students, we are more lenient and we will accept some spelling mistakes without deducting any points. We never deduct points for misspelt proper nouns (people, organisations, towns, …), as long as the correct answer is clearly visible.

 

Complaints

 

The competition is carefully written and checked by experienced English teachers. However, it is possible that the final version contains mistakes (usually last-minute changes, or editing mistakes) or that the instructions aren’t clear. In these cases, the competition jury will decide what to do, and this could result in several answers being correct or even award all the students maximum points.

 

Although we take great care to make sure everything is corrected and evaluated properly, this is a creative competition and we receive a lot of different answers. It is possible that we don’t realise that a different answer should also be considered correct, which is why we allow teachers to ask for an answer to be reconsidered.

 

Since we do need to publish the final results in a timely manner, we have a few conditions:

 

- We only allow complaints from teachers, not by the students, parents or other people. If a teacher doesn’t believe that an alternative answer is correct, it probably isn’t and we don’t need our competition jury to spend time on this question.

 

- We need to receive the complaint within 2 days of publishing the results. This is usually more than a week after the competition round, so that gives everybody plenty of time to realise if something isn’t correct.

 

When you have a complaint about a question or would like an alternative answer to be accepted, please add your reasoning. The competition jury will evaluate each request and (sometimes after some additional research) decide whether to award points or not. If an alternative answer is accepted, we will recheck the answers of all students, which is why the published scores/results can still change.

 

Final task

 

If students are tied on points, it may be necessary to do a final task in order to choose the prize-winners. As requested by many teachers, we won’t organise a central final, but create a task that can be done at school or home. We will contact the teachers of these students to inform them what needs to be done and when.

 

Words of wisdom

 

With this competition, we hope to motivate the students and encourage them to learn more English. However, this depends a lot on the teacher. We would like every student to win, but this is not how a competition works. Be realistic about the students’ chances of winning any of the prizes, so they won’t be disappointed when they don’t. When done correctly, this competition will help to motivate the students, and this is how everybody really wins.