Cambridge YLE S・M・F Course Guide for Teachers and Managers

Other course guides : Cambridge YLE S・M・F Course Guide for Teachers and Managers,


Welcome to part one of this seven-part YLE Procedure video series, as part of your training at English-Please! By the end of this video series you should:

  • Have a good idea of how to prepare for and set-up a YLE lesson
  • Have a strong grasp of the different components and their structure of a YLE Lesson at English-Please!
  • Have some experience of the level of english you will be working with in YLE
  • Be well prepared for your team teaching
  • Know some useful tips and tricks to help make your YLE lessons a success

Watch the series in order. Grab a pen and paper to take notes. It is recommended to watch in full-screen.

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Course Breakdown

YLE-SMF Course Components

A Weeks
ESL Weeks
B Weeks
Learning through English
Every Week
Structured Conversation and Composition
Pronunciation and Grammar CLIL Content-Based Learning Productive Skills Development
Kids Hatsuon Kyousei (KHK)
Documentary Planet
Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking
Kids Express
Grammar Gambits
YLE Diary
Creative Writing and Grammar


A Weeks B Weeks
Students do Kids Express Quizlet Students do Kids Express Quizlet
Students do Documentary Quizlet Students do Phonology Fun listening activity
Students watch Documentary Students read Grammar Gambits guide
Students do the Documentary MTouch Quiz ——
Students do Kids Express Linker Students do Kids Express Linker
Students read Kids Express Students read Kids Express
Students do exponents for diary Students do exponents for diary
Students do Documentary Linker Students do Phonology Fun listening activity
Students watch Documentary Students do Grammar Gambits – Category Chaos activity
Students answer Documentary questions Students do Grammar Gambits – Gap Fill activity
Students do Lexis (OPD) – Unrelated to any other part of the curriculum ——
Students make sentences in their diaries using the diary exponents as a model or creating sentences of their own
Reading Tree
Students are encouraged to read books from the Oxford Reading Tree books or the adults Graded Readers program (though the latter will likely be too difficult)

Lesson Flow

Running Time A Weeks Running Time B Weeks
0:55-1:00 Classroom Preparation 0:55-1:00 Classroom Preparation
1:00-1:10 Students check homework and do Sentence Scramble while teacher marks diaries 1:00-1:10 Students check homework and do Sentence Scramble while teacher marks diaries
1:10-1:20 Students review Kids Express Quizlet then ask and answer Kids Express questions 1:10-1:20 Students review Kids Express Quizlet then ask and answer Kids Express questions
1:20-1:30 Students do Hatsuon Kyousei activities 1:20-1:30 Students review Documentary Quizlet and do Dictation activity
1:30-1:50 Students do Grammar Gambits activities 1:30-1:35 Students watch Documentary and take the Documentary MTouch Quiz
—— —— 1:35-1:50 Students do the Documentary Planet activity

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Sentence Scramble and Homework

  • Hand out a small whiteboard, a marker, and an eraser to each student.
  • If they haven’t done this exercise before, you will need to demonstrate on the big whiteboard how to do a scramble. Write a short simple sentence with the words out of order on the board (eg. “name My Jim is”). Give the students a moment to try to read it and decide for themselves that it doesn’t make sense as written. Show them that by moving the words around that you can create a logical sentence (eg. “My name is Jim”).
  • Mark homework whilst the students are working out the scrambles. You can mark them in any order so depending on how many students are in the class, and how quickly they work, devise an efficient system.
  • In this video, Emma uses a small whiteboard to cover mistakes made in the homework. This is an excellent way to address problems that multiple students are having.
  • The answers for the sentence scramble are revealed on the following slide. You can assign points to add an element of competition to the lesson.
  • It is worth highlighting the parts of speech during the first semester of YLE-S. These are colour coded on the Sentence Scramble. By YLE-M and YLE-F, students will be used to this hint system.
  • There is a separate section dedicated to making diaries (at the bottom).

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Reviewing the Quizlet

  • Always show the English side first, and elicit the Japanese translation.
  • Turn on your audio and check the levels before the start of the class. If there is no audio, check the settings tab on the Quizlet embed.
  • You can nominate students any way you choose. Popular methods include the ‘invisible ball’ and ‘fastest-first’ with buzzers.
  • After the cards have been reviewed, you can play a round of ‘Match Mode’ on the Quizlet website. Play around with this and find something that works for each particular group of students. You will find some classes relish the competition. Others prefer to work as a team against the teacher.
  • For private YLE students, where time is not as tight, you can explore the other Quizlet activities to further solidify the lesson vocabulary.

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Kids Express

  • Ask each student in turn questions from the Kids Express using the invisible ball technique.
  • Always model the answer first. Ask to a strong student to ask you the question.
  • Kids have a tendency to switch off if it’s not their turn so keep an eye on it.
  • You can ask follow up questions by the time you get to YLE-F.
  • You should also be working towards students asking and answering each other as they progress through the course series.
  • For private YLE students, where time is not as tight, you can ask a lot of follow questions or variations on the questions presented.

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Grammar Gambits and KHK

  • These activities are different every week, be sure to check them before you teach the class.
  • Check the office for YLE activity packs. Some YLE-S lessons have one; they occur less frequently in YLE-M and YLE-F.
  • You can award points to make it competitive, play games, or use your imagination to bring the slides to life. Mixing up the formula will be key to keeping their attention.
  • For private YLE students, where time is not as tight, you will really have think of some extra activities based around the same target grammar to fill the 50 minutes.

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Reviewing the Documentary and Conducting the MTouch Quiz

  • Hand out a small whiteboard, a marker, and an eraser to each student.
  • For the Dictation activity, give hints on the big whiteboard about smart ways to do multiple choice gap-fills e.g. only writing the first letter of the word when you hear then going back later to fill it in.
  • Play the audio two or three times, allowing time in between for students to write their answers.
  • Once kids get used to this activity, you’ll find many can do it in one try and don’t need to listen a second time. Even so, be sure to play to the weakest student in the class and make sure they have every advantage.
  • Watch the documentary in full-screen. Check your audio levels. If you want you can turn out the lights for a clearer picture.
  • The MTouch Quiz can be done a number of ways but awarding points is always a good idea.
  • You can have kids gamble points they have earned up until that point to make things exciting. This really encourages students to practice at home first.

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Documentary Planet

  • This is the same premise as Animal Planet in Pre-Phonics and Phonics classes – the teacher asks rapid-fire questions while the students listen and answer to the best of their ability. This is the best chance for students to practice producing output.
  • Use the documentary slides to form Y/N and WH questions. Questions don’t need to be just about the content of the documentary. You should start by asking about something on a given slide as it will be easier for the students to answer. After that, keep asking questions, each related to the previous, and let the line of questioning go where it will.
  • The focus here is NOT on remembering the contents of the documentary but on practicing those question forms, subject pronouns, etc.
  • You can use squeakers to make it competitive and give points for perfect answers.

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Marking Diaries

  • Try to be as consistent as possible.
  • 5 stars for accuracy requires zero mistakes.
  • Originality and Interest should be based on previous diary entires. If students are writing the same thing every week, give a lower score for this section.
  • 5 stars for length requires a full page to be filled in, written in a reasonable size.
  • Don’t be shy to write questions, comments, and extras in there. Some kids will ask you questions in their diaries. Answer them and encourage them, responding both verbally in the moment and in writing in the diary.

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Introduction to YLE Diaries

The three approaches / course components of YLE are:

  1. ESL (Phonology and Grammar);
  2. CLIL (Discovery Planet Documentaries); and
  3. Writing Composition (YLE Diary)

Each serves a different purpose but all ultimately re-enforce each other. By keeping a broad spectrum of tasks and challenges, the student’s proficiency doesn’t become askew to certain skills or sub-skills (Japanese education tends to over-emphasize grammar and writing) and most students, despite their diverse learner needs and personalities, should find something they like or can get into.

The YLE diaries were introduced in 2010. The diaries are a way for students to develop their writing skills, as well as learn to spell better, create sentences and improve penmanship and punctuation. Composition is also a great way (probably the perfect way) for the teacher to learn more about what the students are and are not capable of producing, so that they can structure future lessons better.

Components of YLE Diaries

Students have their own diary booklets. Every week they have to produce sentences or paragraphs that pertain to 2 days of the week. They are meant to put the date and then write something that happened on that day. For beginner YLE students there is also a diary component as part of the main booklet homework. This teaches a set of exponents that they can use to create sentences simply by substituting keywords. An example might be “I ate ~ for dinner” or “Today I studied ~ at school.”

Teachers are to correct the Diaries when you receive it along with the students’ regular homework. Points are awarded out of five in the following three categories:

  1. Accuracy: How many errors are there? Are they spelling errors? Are they minor slips, the kind of grammatical mistakes native speakers are prone to make from time to time? Or are they large structural and grammatical errors, evidence of a fundamental misunderstanding of how a particular structure is used?
  2. Length How much has the student written? How much of the page is filled? Is the writing overly large for their age group? Are there an unnecessary number of blank or half-filled lines? Did the student draw any pictures? Did they write more than a single page?
  3. Interest & Originality Are the sentences copied from the homework exponents? Is there any evidence of an attempt to form original sentences? Is there a narrative? Is the writing creative and engaging? Did the student use their diary to create a dialogue with the teacher?

Marking Strategies

How does one score fairly and objectively? For example, if a student has filled the page with set exponents from the homework, of course they will score highly on Length and Accuracy. However, because they have not made many sentences from scratch, the score for Interest should be low. The instructor must find ways to be objective and also, where possible, explain to the students why the sentence they wrote was wrong. Try to think of scoring diaries in percentages. For example, if more than 50% of sentences have serious errors, “Accuracy” should only receive 1 or 2 stars.

Students who start exploring composition by telling stories and writing many things about themselves should be highly encouraged and congratulated on their efforts. Where students have felt inspired and written a lot, the contrast between their first entries at the start of the year, and their last entries towards the end of the year have been, at times, astonishing.

The instructor must strongly encourage children to use the system as well as they can. The students who write a lot tend to write a lot do so because they strongly believe that you are interested in what they’re trying to tell you. Some of the comments can be very amusing, insightful and sweet, but it is up to the instructor to create that atmosphere. If the instructor gets lazy about good diary marking, the students soon get lazy, too.

As for the actual marking, this generally happens during class. In YLE-Documentary Lesson Weeks (Even), it’s easy to get this and the homework booklet done during Kids Sentence Scramble and Documentary Review activities. In Odd lesson weeks, however, there is less “quiet” time, so the teacher needs to be a bit quicker. The more you mark diaries the quicker you will become, but in the beginning, if you think you need some extra time, try to plan/take notice of “quiet” tasks that are not teacher-focused, so that you can finish marking.

Diary Examples

Take a look at the sets of images below; click for full screen. The left-hand image in each set is from a student’s diary near the beginning of the year; the right-hand image is from the same student, many months later.

Compare the content and detail of each diary entry, as well as the types of mistakes the student makes early on compared to later in the school year. Also take note to the differences between diaries written in YLE-S, M, and F levels.


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Making YLE More Fun

Whiteboard Photos

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