Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Music and Language Learning

Over the past few months, I have returned to my previous passion from my younger years - music. I have now dedicated numerous hours relearning and practising my scales, going out and playing music with other musicians as well as listening to a lot more music. This got me thinking about how similar language learning and music are.

In some sense, learners of music - particularly jazz - develop a range of bite size chunks of riffs and scales to employ during a solo and improvisation. Meanwhile, for language learners, we encourage learners to acquire and use a selection of language chunks. The more you practice with your second language or music, the better you get at it. 

I suppose that we should encourage learners to enjoy their language learning experience and get out of the classroom more and use what they use what they have learnt. In the same way any jazz musician learns, the best way is just to play and enjoy what you are doing. When things go right, with both language acquisition and jazz improvisations, the greater you feel with a sense of achievement and it encourages you to develop and improve.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Why I Failed

I finally reached the end of my blogging challenge and I feel rather annoyed that I didn't even reach the daily blog post for a year. I made a good attempt but I kept worrying about quality. I am sorry that I didn't reach three months but I gave it my best shot.

I am now renaming this blog to something more suitable and I will be blogging about my things related to English language teaching, my newly found passion in jazz music - this is one reason why I have had less time to blog here - and to post up my YouTube videos. I would like to thank everyone for their support but it is not the end. I hope, should you decide to start a daily blogging challenge, do it for 30 days. It can be more challenging than you expect.

Anyhow, when I was 12 years old, I learnt how to play the alto saxophone. About 3 months ago, I had my old tenor saxophone refurbished. This gave me the reason to dust off my saxophone and get back into playing jazz music again. I now jam with other musicians quite regularly and have joined an orchestra.

If you ever have a passion which you used to do when you were young, why not retry it? It is fantastic to rediscover music. I have made some new friends and I am always happy to play with other people. However, understand that it will detract your focus on what you would normally do. In this case, blogging each day about TEFL and English language teaching.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Post 61: Train Them Well

Whenever you start you first class, you need to get them hooked right at the beginning. If you want to set any ground rules, then lead as you mean to go on. I have found setting a few basic rules integral for establishing any sort of organised classroom. For example, I have a whistle to hand if required but a few rhythmic claps to the hand and getting students to repeat the same clap organises learners straight away. If you want to get learners focused and ready for class, train them well and they will be ready for what lies ahead. 

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Day 60-67: Holiday

Apologies for the lack of updates on this blog. I have effectively been on holiday for a week and have been focusing solely on myself. I have not looked at blogging (on this blog or my main website), doing any further videos on YouTube or working. I have just had a break.

Sometimes, it is nice to just have a holiday and get away from everything.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Day 59: Teaching Lexically

If you have taught for a while, then you may have taught chunks of language rather than isolated units of vocabulary. The best approach is to teach grammar as a form of vocabulary and then look at how else you could develop this language. A suitable book covering this area of teaching is "Teaching Lexically". It is great and I review it below. Check it out!


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Day 58: Remain Positive

You may find learners could be quite demanding and recently, I have had to deal with a student who has been quite resistant to the lesson that I was delivering. He said that it wasn't because of me as a teacher but because he wanted to move up.

I was very supportive and told him that he would need to improve his reading and writing ability and complemented him on his ability to communicate well. He lightened up a bit.

Be positive and extend this positive attitude to your learners. It goes a long way.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Day 57: Speak with the students

one of my classes involves teaching beginner and elementary learners in the same classroom. Naturally, there's a large difference between the elementary learner and the beginner students. The elementary learner considers that his ability to communicate is stronger than his other peers, and he's right. However, this elementary learner's weakness is his reading and writing ability, unlike the other learners being able to read and write but unable to communicate. Unfortunately, he initially didn't see the benefit of improving his reading and writing until I explained to him why this was.

Then I realised. Sometimes, it is better to speak with students rather than telling them what is best for them. In that way, you can work with the student.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Day 56: Teacher Training


If you want to improve your teaching practice, then why not give a training session for teachers? It is the best way to improve your teaching techniques and will give you the confidence to speak in front of other professionals. It is also a great opportunity to develop new ideas and build up a range of teaching ideas. You also don't need to give a talk, I would encourage you to attend conferences and workshops as this will improve your teaching awareness.

What was the last workshop you gave or attended? What did you learn from this? Are you planning on improving your teaching awareness? How do you plan to achieve that? Some questions to consider. As ever, don't forget to leave a comment and share some of your experiences as well!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Day 55: PronSIG Event

Over the weekend, I gave a workshop on incorporating pronunciation during lessons and this is the recording of the session. This area of teaching is something that I have worked on over the past few years and it is definitely an area of teaching which could be exploited. Enjoy the video!


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Day 54: Not Much

It's a rather quiet day for me today. I spent the morning doing a bit of online teaching and then had to head to Brighton to collect my phone. It broke a few weeks ago and Apple finally replaced it with a new one. Yesterday, as you know, I spent the day at an IATEFL PronSIG event at the university of Brighton. I'm still working on the presentation slides and video - almost finished but just need a few more days to get it ready. As soon as it's available I'll let you know. Editing videos take longer than you may expect. 

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Day 53: PronSIG Workshop


Today was a productive day. I spent the morning attending the PronSIG event in Brighton and giving a workshop to fellow teachers and professionals. I really enjoyed it and my workshop was recorded so it'll be uploaded to YouTube in then next few days once I've finished the editing process.








Friday, 7 October 2016

Day 52: Quiet Day

It's been a relatively simple day today. This morning I taught a family of Swiss students and then this afternoon I've been working on my PowerPoint slides as I'm giving a workshop at Pronunciation SIG at the University of Brighton tomorrow morning. So much for a quiet weekend. Therefore, I am having a quiet time from teacher tips and blogging but I will update you tomorrow to let you know how my teacher workshop went. 

Have a great weekend and have a rest yourself. 

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Day 51: Book Review

On my main site, I've been writing book reviews for a while but I thought I would share my latest book review. It's been a great transition to record my book reviews for you and I hope you enjoy them. 


So today's focus is on teaching lexically and Joe you could develop as a teacher. What was the last technique you included in class?

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Day 50: Update From Yesterday's Class

Well I received quite a bit of unexpected support from fellow teachers following my previous blog about my difficulty in getting an Arabic learner of English to remember and spell a word correctly. However, today I decided to tackle it differently. I guess I was feeling frustrated about the fact that the learner was unable to correctly spell a word that he has seen a numerous times before. True, I have the patience of a saint but I do feel at times that learners need to really pull their own weight if they want to improve.

Today, I decided to focus more on producing more coherent passages of text. We built it up steadily; first focusing on basic introductory questions forms ("What is your name?", "Where are you from?", etc.) with the learner having to put the words in order to form the correct question. Then we focused on answer forms. I modelled suitable answers with a recommended website by a reader (ESOL Courses) and we looked at matching questions to answers. Then I asked the learner to answer the questions about himself. Again, building up to writing a passage of text introducing himself. I then wrote up my answers on the board and then put it all together to form a coherent paragraph of text. I asked the learner to do the same about himself. He then produced quite a bit of writing (which was the first time that he has done this) about himself.

The student seemed suitably impressed with his ability to introduce himself and answer introductory questions. I was also impressed at what the learner was capable of achieving. Perhaps in hindsight, I shouldn't be so hard on the learner nor myself. I very important lesson.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Day 49: Seeking Some Advice

During the afternoons, I am teaching a beginner learner English. He has very limited experience learning English and everything seems to be a steep learning curve. He is from Saudi Arabia so that presents quite a challenge. He has not encountered the English language before and has difficulty retaining how to spell. However, he is very good at conversing in English and is able to make himself understood.

The challenge that I face at the moment is trying to improve his writing and spelling ability. I have worked solidly this week so that he encounters a range of activities to develop his reading, spelling and writing ability. I have tried everything. Memorisation games, recycling vocabulary, hangman, filling in the missing vowels from words and word search puzzles. Yet, he has difficulty remembering how to spell.

I need some help from other language teachers on what other strategies this student should do to develop his English. What should I do during lesson so that this learning is constantly recycling vocabulary and developing his awareness of spelling? At the moment he is guessing the spelling and does very little to be aware of spelling.

I suppose this blog post serves as a reminder that as teachers we are constantly looking at ways to improve and develop as professional language teachers. Never forget to improve yourself and ensure that learners are getting the best out of your lessons.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Day 48: Have A Coffee!

Get that coffee after that difficult lesson! 
Some classes can really get to you. Students are unwilling to work together, your lesson falls flat or an activity finishes so much quicker than you expected. Why not take a break, have a coffee and think about what else you would do differently rather than focusing on the negatives? It is important to understand that there are certain lessons which will not work and the more experience you get as a teacher and to those situations, the more you realise that how you could teach differently. If you reflect, relax and reduce the anxiety, the greater your lessons will become.

So pick up that coffee and think about the next lesson!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Day 47: Authentic Listening

How can we get our learners tuned into English?
I love to try and get some authentic listening into my lessons with my learners. However, it can be really tough trying to find something which would engage them. Nevertheless, I missed a phone call the other day and after I listened to the message, it got me thinking about how we could use voice messages in class. And here's what I decided.

  • There is usually a short introduction; "Hey Rob. It's Steve!"
  • After the introduction, some people explain why they are calling; "I'm calling about ..."
  • Usually, there is follow-up action required; "Give me a ring when you can to ...!"
  • Voice messages would be no more than a minute and half.
This also got me thinking about how we could use messages to encourage for detailed listening. Get some questions written up on the board such as: "What is the name of the person calling?", "Why are they calling?", "What should I do next after the message?". After some brief questions and playing the voice message a few times, you could then encourage learners to share their thoughts before bringing it back eliciting from the whole class.

After this activity, you could get learners to share their messages (if they are in English) and then organise a role-play. Anyhow, it is a different way to get authentic listening into your lessons! Have a go!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Day 46: One Complete Month

Vocabulary Extension on the Whiteboard
I started this blog around a month and a half ago with sole intention to publish a post each day. I faltered after the first two weeks with some consideration to publish two to three posts each week. However, I decided to reduce the amount of writing in each post and provide a quick tip here and there for each daily post. Initially I was posting around five or six tips or tricks in each post but decided quickly that this wasn't viable and I would run out of ideas before I knew it.

Anyhow, I have now started to post one tip or trick each day and this has proved quite successful. Just over the past two days, I have now received over 6,000 hits on this blog which is amazing. I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who has decided to visit this blog and a huge thanks to the those that have shared my posts. It makes this daily challenge so worthwhile.

In a way, I feel like I have reached a milestone as I have now completed my first whole month (September) and I am pleased to have kept up with my promise to publish a post each day. I would definitely recommend other teachers to try out this blog challenge. You don't even need to do it for a year, which I am planning to do, but you could challenge yourself to write a daily post for a month or even two weeks. Please let me know if you are doing this. I would add a link to my blog to those that are doing their own little blog challenge.

Now, I shall finish this post with a little tip for teaching. When a student asks you, "Teacher. What does '...' mean?", try to think around the word in a context. Rather than explaining what the word would mean in isolation, try to write up a sentence using the word in context. For example, if the student is asking for clarification what 'train' could mean, then you could write the following sentences to better contextualise the meaning:
  • We are planning to train staff so they can help customers.
  • The train will arrive at the station in 1 minute.
As you will see from the examples above, the word 'train' can mean different things in context. Try to work with the definition in context rather than in isolation, as the coursebook will steer you towards isolated vocabulary. It is always more memorable to consider new vocabulary in context. Students will also learn related vocabulary.

How do you answer student queries regarding vocabulary? Do you focus on the meaning in the topic of the lesson or do you look at how the word could change in context? What do you think is best?

Friday, 30 September 2016

Day 45: Make Your Own Board Games

Example of Board Game
Today, I wanted to get my students to do a bit more speaking so I decided with the help of my fellow colleague to get them to create their own board games. I was going to do this earlier this week but I focused more on their immediate needs in English. Here is what we did:
  1. Show students your own self-made board game and tell them that they are going to make their own board game. If you have finished focusing on a particular grammar point, you could get learners to make questions or prompts about this grammar point.
  2. Tell students that they will be judged by the other students on how good their board game: marks out of 10 for each of the following areas such as 'enjoyment', 'rules (whether they are easy to follow)' and 'layout' - a total of 30 marks.
  3. Put students into groups of 3 or 4 learners. Get students to create their board game in groups and give them time. Monitor and assist if necessary. I like to put some background music on.
  4. Once students have finished, get students to play each others games for 10 minutes. Circulate the board games among the different groups and let them have fun.
  5. At the end of the lesson, ask students to judge each others board-games and request feedback on each board game. If you have been monitoring learners during the lesson, you could provide feedback on their speaking at the end of the lesson.
So this is a simple activity to get learners focusing on language points and working together in English. If you want to keep their board games, laminate them for future use. You could also pin them up around the classroom for students to collect and play with at a future time.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Day 44: Talk About Your Photos

Image Sourced from Wikipedia
This is one really nice activity that I like to get my students chatting away in English. Tell students to take a photo with their smartphone or tablet after class and the next day, they bring it in to class. On that day, write up some questions up on the whiteboard: Where did you take the photo? Can you tell me more about the photo? Why did you take the photo? etc. Pair up students and get them to share the photos that they took and to talk to their partner about it. They can refer to the questions to follow up their discussion. A nice simple activity which encourages discussion and focuses more on getting the students to talk about something that they like.

So what are you waiting for? Get your students sharing photos on their mobile devices!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Day 43: Silence is Golden

As teachers, we are always keen to get our students speaking but don't feel obliged to fill in the silence. Allow space for learners to speak and sometimes it is better not to say anything or force yourself to fill the silence. Learners will soon find themselves more comfortable communicating in English if they are not continuously being prompted to speak.

What do you think? Do you think that we should continuously get our students speaking? Or should we attempt to give space for learners to speak?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Day 42: Try Try Again

As teachers, we all plan a lesson for the best of times but we do notice that the lesson does not work as best as we expect. Don't give up though. I would recommend that you go back to the lesson again, reflect on what needs changing, how best to amend the lesson and/or the material and try it out again with a different class or with some other students. If you continue to try this out, you will soon start to notice that you teaching and your lessons will improve as you will soon realise what is best suited to your class. If you don't change, you will get stuck.

So what are you waiting for? Try this out and think about your lesson at the end of it.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Day 41: An Idea on the First Day

Any first day with new students is always daunting, but relax. It can be a little easier if you relax as this will relax the learners. My favourite way to get students to relax is by getting them to chat about themselves and giving a chance to my learners to learn more about me as a person. So why not start by telling students what you enjoy doing in your spare time and see if students open up as well!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Day 40: Bring in an Object

Use objects to encourage speaking! Any ideas why I use clothes pegs? Read on to find out!
If you are anything like me, I really want to try and encourage my learners to communicate as naturally as possible. One way I try to encourage discussion is by bringing in an obscure object to class and getting learners to think why this object is important for me. For example, one day I brought in a clothes peg. 

The first question they asked was what was the name of the object in English. The next thing they tried to answer was why it was important for me. Any guesses? Well, the reason it is important for me is that I use it to clamp on sheets of music to the music stand so it doesn't fall down mid-way through playing.

After bringing in an important yet obscure object, I encourage learners to bring in something the next day so that we are able to talk about it. You will be amazed at the language which emerges from such a simple but effective activity. Try it out!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Day 39: Whiteboard Wonders

My own boardwork and by no means perfect.
I don't know about you but I really dislike teachers using red or green board markers as their main colour. Why not just use black for boarding up language and the other colours for highlighting word or sentence stress, underlining or flipping between different colours to demonstrate nouns, adjectives and verbs? Keep with black board markers and you won't go far wrong! With any luck you will be a board wiz before you know it!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Day 38: Teach The Students

Image Sourced from Teachers for Teachers 
Some teachers decide to teach the material. What I mean about this is that they decide to focus more on the material rather than who they are teaching. Why not put yourself in your students' shoes? Ask yourself: "What will my students get out of this lesson"?, "Why am I teaching this?" and "What shall my students be able to do at the end of the lesson that they weren't able to previously?". This will help you focus more on delivering a lesson that will benefit your students more than benefiting you.

What do you do to focus more on the students? Is there anything that you try and avoid during lessons?

Have a great weekend as tomorrow's blog post is looks at technology in the classroom!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Day 37: Be Yourself

If you are ever observed as a teacher, it can be quite a stressful process. So much so, that the teacher is more concerned with how they being seen in the classroom rather than how the class is learning and working together. Why not just stop for a moment and just be yourself in class? It would be better for the observer to see how your class interacts and works with you in a natural and relaxed fashion.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Day 36: Ultimate Guide to Drawing on the Whiteboard

Image Sourced from Learn to Draw Animals
I am by no means artistic or be able to draw confidently but this doesn't mean that I won't give it a try. Some teachers can be a little self-conscious about their ability to draw but this shouldn't stop you. I always try to draw and if it isn't working, I rub it out and make a bit of joke of it with my students. They will laugh at my attempts but then they discover that they too can attempt to draw in class and it will not make any difference should they find their horse with a neck which is a bit long - making it look like a giraffe - or trying to draw a rabbit which looks more like a cat.

So next time you are thinking about trying to draw an object or a person, don't hesitate! You too can draw. I hope the video below can help as well.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Day 35: Getting Online Students

Image Sourced from 51Talk
If you are an English language teacher based in the UK, you may have experience of teaching face-to-face. In my previous daily post, I looked at teaching online but today I will look at how you can get new students to develop your online teaching business.

The first thing you have to do is create a blog or website yourself. This is not difficult. You can create a free blog either here on Blogger or on Wordpress. One way to encourage students to engage with your blog is to offer free daily English posts focused for language learners - such as daily language lessons. Think what learners may want to learn from a short two minute read and then you can create a short blog post. Offer students the opportunity, once you have established a number of high quality blog posts, to register and sign up for online language lessons. You may find that the initial process of getting students to sign up for lessons could be quite slow, don't give up. You will start to be recommended by your students and will get more exposure. Finally, ask students for feedback and request whether you could include their feedback on your blog/website. These will act as customer recommendations for other potential students.

So I hope that helps and gives you a strategy at pursuing an online English teaching career.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Day 34: In The Background

Image Sourced from Dovecor
Do you ever walk into the classroom and find that the general atmosphere is cold and the students are unwilling to cooperate? Then why not put on some music before the students enter the classroom? As they enter, they will hear the music and relax. With some of my more challenging classes, I put on some music in the background and the change that I have witnessed can sometimes be amazing. Try it out!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Day 33: Feedback feedback!

Always walk around with some scrap paper in your hand. You will not remember everything that a student may say. At least with a piece of paper and a pen can you start to note down some language which you can provide feedback for at the end of a student-to-student speaking exercise. Just take a step back and see how students are getting on, and don't just write down the language which needs correcting! You can also feedback to students when they produced some good language also!

Always include a feedback session and perhaps incorporate it into a game such as grammar auction. What do you like to do with student feedback at the end of the production stage?

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Day 32: Teaching Online

Image Sourced from the British Council
Every product or service has a life cycle and if you don't evolve and change, you may find yourself left behind  - or so I was told during my Business degree all those years ago. I have been teaching physically for over 10 years now but I believe that the future of English language teaching and other forms of education is to be online. Most courses now are delivered online to some extent. You don't have to physically be present in the classroom with much of the technology which is available today.

Today, I had my first day of online English teaching with a few Chinese students. This is something that I will focus on during weekends and to establish myself as an online English teacher. You don't need any sophisticated software. You just need a computer, a webcam, microphone and Skype.

So why not try out online English teaching and see how you get on? In a future daily blog post or on ELT Experiences, I will share some ideas and thoughts on how best to teach English online and what free tools are available to help you. Check out this website to see how you too can get started teaching. Let me know how you get on!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Day 31: Multilevel Classes

You may be teaching a group of learners who has differing abilities of English in the same classroom. If this is the case, then don't worry. The best you can do is to assign roles and different activities for each individual learner. If you have a student who finishes an activity early, then get that person to help the slower learners in class.

Don't worry and try to think of practical ideas which you could do to improve all learners in the class and always have some extra material for stronger learners to complete while you all wait for the lower level learners.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Day 30: Another Achievement


So today we have reached another milestone: the Daily TEFL Tips & Tricks is now 30 days old. It is amazing to think that in those 30 days, we have now had almost 5,000 visitors. I would like to thank everyone for heading on over and visiting my blog. I have not yet had much uptake from other teachers or educators on posting a daily blog post but I would like to see some other people decide on posting something they have some interest of: music, art, video, etc. You don't have to write a blog post everyday for a year, why not just do a blog post everyday for 30 days? Please share your blog and let me know about it!

I would like to share another tip for teaching. Don't worry if things don't work well in class. The most important thing to do is to review and try something slightly different and check if it works well next time. If you reflect and change, your teaching will improve.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Day 29: Spelling Game

Wooden Scrabble® Tiles
Have you difficulty trying to get your students to spell or getting them to think about spelling at all? Then don't worry, here is a quick game that I used today to get my elementary learners to review particular vocabulary.

Grab some Scrabble tiles for a group of two to four learners, place students in islands and put their vocabulary notebooks and coursebooks away. Get students to choose a team name and write it on the board. Make sure you have more than one team, at least three teams. Tell students that you will call out a word, students then have to create the word using the Scrabble tiles. The first group to finish and spell the word correctly get a point. It is a fun activity and a wonderful chance to review vocabulary and spelling at the same time!

So what are you waiting for, dust off that Scrabble game and take the tiles to your class for next time!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Day 28: How to Teach Large Classes

Image Sourced from University of Macau
If you teach English for public schools abroad, you may find yourself being asked to teach large classes of students. This can be a challenge in itself as you may find classroom management a larger issue compared to smaller classes. Here are a few ideas to help out with large classes.
  • Nominate Class Roles: Ask students to help out and act as a supervisor with other students. They will feel more responsible and willing to assist the teacher. Share the roles or pull names out of a hat to select who will be class supervisor(s).
  • Create Islands: Before starting the class, why not create islands of tables so that you can wonder round and see how groups of learners are getting on. This will make it easier to control and you could nominate a table supervisor as well. If you have thirty students, then divide the class up into six, so you will have five islands of tables. This can be useful if you have a large classroom and is best suited for primary or younger aged learners.
  • My Assistant: You could ask parents to help out with the class and dealing with management issues. Sometimes, if you get some voluntary help by parents or others wishing to become a teacher, you will be able to guide their energy into helping you deal with classroom issues.
I hope these tips help when you deal with large classes. Don't forget to ask for any help and if you want something blogged about tomorrow, then let me know! I shall respond!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Day 27: First Impressions

Image Sourced from ELT Planning
Before you start your lessons, go to your classroom 10 minutes before and see how you can prepare the lesson for students. You want students to walk in room with a positive first impression. Clean the whiteboard, put away any loose papers and arrange the desks and seating appropriately for the lesson. With the classroom arranged, it will soon settle students and they will feel a lot more relaxed.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Day 26: Preparation

To deliver a high quality and successful lesson, it is very important to prepare. Here's a little tip to help you prepare for your lessons. Put yourself in your students shoes and think about what they would benefit from. Ask yourself, "What will the students be able to do after the lesson?". If you can answer that, then you are half-way to knowing the aim of your lesson.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Day 25: Time to Relax

It's important as a teacher to relax and give time to yourself so that you are mentally refreshed as a teacher for anything the classroom can throw at you. So go and watch that TV series you've been wanting to, have a beer with friends or listen to some music. It'll all help you relax before you know it. 

Friday, 9 September 2016

Day 24: Using Dice

Image Sourced from PngAll
Do you ever find it difficult trying to get students to chat? Then why not use a boardgame or other activity to ensure that students chat! In fact, I have noticed that getting students to chat is not necessarily difficult. If you can get some dice and put six questions up on the board, then you can get students chatting!

All you need is to write up six conversational questions or prompts on the whiteboard. If a student rolls a 3, then they talk about question three. If they roll a 4, then they chat about conversation question four.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and get your students chatting right away with those dice!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Day 23: Stop Asking Questions!

Image Sourced from Deiric McCann
If you ever ask "Do you understand?" or "Anymore questions?", you may be faced with blank faces staring up at you. Stop asking these type of limited questions as it does not help either the students or yourself.

Try asking students to personalise a grammar form or sentence structure. Ask them a question using the key language or grammar so that you can prompt learners to answer themselves. You could also get students to think of synonyms or antonyms to key language presented.

I hope this helps!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Day 22: Student Answers

Image Sourced from Teaching English
We probably all do the same after students have completed a reading or listening task: check the answers with students and write these answers up on the whiteboard. But why do we have to check in the same old fashion?

We could spice up answer checking in a few quick and simple ways:
  1. Tell students to compare their answers before checking as a whole class.
  2. Get students to come up to the whiteboard and write the answer.
  3. Get students to nominate other students to answer the following question.
  4. Pick out student names from a hat to choose the next student.
If we mix it up a bit, it will add to a nice bit of variety.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Day 21: Handing Out Worksheets

Image Sourced from American Progress
It takes ages walking around the classroom and giving a worksheet or photocopy to every single student - especially if you have over 12 students. Why hand out some worksheets individually to each student?

You could get a group of students to hand out the worksheets for you, saving you a bit of time to move on with the lesson!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Day 20: Further Consideration and Completing Work

Image Sourced from the National Audit Office Blog
After having a thought, I think rather than posting two to three blog posts each week, I thought I would continue to write daily posts for Daily TEFL but only include a sentence or two for readers to consider when teaching. It could be related to anything about teaching but aimed to prompt readers to reflect on these different areas.

What do you think about short posts to read each day? Do you think that I would be able to achieve a post per day for a year? Do you have any ideas or do you want to contribute to the blog? If so, get in touch and we shall see what we can do!

To start off this new format on this blog, let us look at the following.

Do you ever ask students, "Have you finished?" and there is silence? Why not walk around the classroom and monitor how they are getting on? You could also get students to finish work by the end of a song or add a visible timer so that students are aware that they need to complete work by the provided time.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Day 19: How Best to Plan Lessons

Image Sourced from ESL Base
One undesired area of TEFL is lesson planning. However, whether a lesson is observed or not requires a plan. An unobserved lesson will usually have a plan written on a piece of paper or noted in the teacher's mind. However, today we are looking at some tips and techniques associated with lesson planning.
  1. Aims: As a teacher, put yourself in the place of the student. Think about what they will achieve at the end of the lesson and this will be your aim. Makes it easier to write.
  2. Staged: Think about the main activity of the lesson and then ask yourself how the lesson will get there. What stages will be prior and after the main task? If you can answer these, then you are one step towards understanding how best to stage your lesson.
  3. Feedback: Include an area on feedback after a production stage. For example, if you are focusing on speaking as the main activity, try to think about including a feedback which will look at examples of speaking and how best to develop the learners' language ability.
  4. Sticky Plan: Most teachers will put their aims down on the desk but I have found placing the lesson plan up on the whiteboard more suitable. You will not have your head down on your desk and you can refer to it throughout the lesson. It is just next to you so that you can check it while you are by the whiteboard.
  5. Go With The Flow: You don't need to follow your plan religiously but you can take a little detour. Sometimes the best lesson are those where a detour has happened. If you are too rigid, you will find yourself unable to accommodate any requests or questions by the learners.
Well, I hope this has helped and that you are able to plan your lessons better. What tips do you have when planning lessons? Do you have a rough plan and then see what happens or do you prefer to get everything nailed to a 'T' before starting your lessons? Don't forget to let me know what area of teaching you would like to be covered for tomorrow in the comments below.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Day 18: Checking Understanding

Image Sourced from flushmind.com
The majority of our teaching focuses on ensuring that we know learners understand what is being taught or mentioned during the lesson. There are various techniques to use to check that students understand. Today we look at some tips on checking understanding.
  1. Check: When teaching or introducing new vocabulary, it is important to check understanding of this new lexis. You can do this by getting students to match new vocabulary with their definitions. Just cut them up and you have a small ten minute activity.
  2. Question: If you give instructions, just ask closed or controlled questions to ensure that students know what is expected of them. Read more here!
  3. Opposites: If students know the word 'hot' for example, you could ask them to tell you want the opposite is. Challenge learners and if they don't know the answer, tell them and write it up on the whiteboard.
  4. Timeline: When teaching grammar to learners no matter their age, the use of timelines can really help wonders. Use them to indicate the use of grammar. It is without language and learners just need to be aware of the timeline to better understand the use of grammar in a given context.
  5. Translation: If you are teaching a monolingual class of learners, you could use translation to your advantage. You could have a selection of vocabulary and their translated equivalent. Just cut them up - similar to the first idea - and then they match both words them together.
So here are some tips on checking understanding with learners. What are your ideas? Do you have better ideas on checking understanding? Hope this helps!

Friday, 2 September 2016

Day 17: Review of the Blog

So, this blog has been going for the past 17 days now and I thought I would have a break from the Daily TEFL Tips and look back at what has been written over the course of the past 2 weeks (well just over to be honest).  I first started this blog off with the main aim to post up a blog post every single day for a year but now I have started to realise how difficult it can be.  I have tried very hard for the past two weeks to try to think of suitable and quality blog posts to write about as I don't want to write about anything plus the garden shed.

I am now in the process of wondering whether I should just commit to two days a week rather than the seven posts per week. It is incredibly tough to write posts each and every single day. Sometimes, I have to catch up with myself and realise that I have not been able to write anything for a few days so then retrospectively post up writings which are then dated backwards. Currently, I am three days behind and am having difficulty writing about different areas of TEFL but I will finish this week. After this week, I will then commit to two to three posts per week and then it will allow me to focus on my main blog, ELT Experiences and other commitments.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me so far and the challenge of writing a post every single day. It is useful but I think it is something which is just not appropriate. Sure I can write a post out in ten minutes but what is the benefit of this is the quality is mediocre?

Again, thank you to everyone who has started reading this blog. Currently, I have had over 2,000 visitors in the past two weeks. It's amazing and something that I will continue for the following year. Let's see how things go!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Day 16: Teaching One to One

Image Sourced from Teaching English
Some teachers might be asked to teach privately and the majority of these private lessons will be in a one-to-one environment. Today, we look at some ideas at how best to teach in a one-to-one setting.
  1. Knowing Me - Knowing You: It is probably one of the most important areas of teaching one-to-one than with a group of learners. You really need to get to know the student you are teaching. Also share yourself as a person. They will be happier to and more encouraged to participate.
  2. Roles: You don't need to be a teacher and they don't need to be the student in the traditional sense. Try to be the student's friend and support them during the lesson. Feel free to be more relaxed as a one-to-one teacher otherwise they will end up sourcing a different teacher.
  3. Environment: Choose a location which is relaxed and quiet for lessons. It really doesn't help if you decide to teach in a noisy coffee shop. Walk around the local area for a short while, selecting the most ideal environment which is quiet, relaxed and appropriate for both teacher and student.
  4. Provide Homework: Give the student homework to work on after lessons to supplement what was covered. I used to focus on conversation and communication during the lessons and then set writing or a grammar review as part of the homework.
  5. Review: Try to sit down with the student each month to assess what progress the learner has made. Ask what they have enjoyed throughout the month and also ask the learner to share any activities that they have found less enjoyable. Armed with this information, you will be able to deliver high-quality lessons suitable for the student.
So there we are, five ideas for teaching one-on-one. Try to get back to basics. What are your recommendations? Do you have any experience of teaching in a one-to-one setting?

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Day 15: How Best To Teach Young Learners

Teaching young learners is not without challenge. The majority of English teachers will have to teach young learners after completing a CELTA whether they wish to or not. It can be quite difficult to successfully teach young learners but here we look at 5 tips at how best to teach them. So, let's get started!
  1. Patience: This is the number one tip I can give everybody when they teach young learners. Sure young learners can be challenging but just be patient and things will fit into place.
  2. Personalise: You may have a coursebook or curriculum available for your young learner class but the best advice I can give is just personalise the lesson to suit the learners in the class.
  3. Humour Me: After observing so many teachers, humour does go a long way. This will relax learners, encourage interest and motivate them to participate in the lesson.
  4. Let Students Speak: I have observed newly certified teachers and they usually end up speaking more than their learners. Give students space to communicate or speak in English. It will develop their confidence.
  5. Project Work: Project work is a really good activity to get learners working together in a group to present something in English. If you are teaching a topic about food, then get the learners to make a presentation about food in their country. It doesn't need to be difficult and students will feel a sense of accomplishment after completing their project work.
So there we are. Five ideas for the young learner classroom. Hope that helps and don't forget to share this post and leave a question below.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Day 14: Teaching Present Perfect

Image sourced from TES
So we have looked at a variety of different ideas and tips for teaching in a variety of different scenarios but I think today we shall look at the teaching of the present perfect. If this is enjoyed, we shall look at other grammar points and how to teach them. I hope that the way that you can teach this lesson will involve as little preparation and worksheets as much as possible and you would be able to amend it to suit your teaching context. This lesson is best suited for Pre-Intermediate or above.
  1. Tell students that there are things that you did before starting the lesson. They must ask you questions to prompt an answer. If students ask you a question in the past simple form, correct them and get them to ask you using the present perfect form. Do this a couple of times until students realise that the correct form is 'Have you ...?'. Answer the questions using the present perfect form.
  2. Now get students to write down everything that they can remember from your answers and they must write using the present perfect form either in the imperative or negative form and third person.
  3. Get students partnered after the task to compare what they have written and then they must finish the writing together.
  4. On the whiteboard, get students up to write down one sentence that they had written in their notebook and then get all the students to decide whether the sentence is good or could be improved.
It is a simple activity and you don't need any material to do this lesson, so why not give it a try. Don't forget to correct the question forms that students create using the present perfect form and you could give present perfect homework as a review after the lesson.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Day 13: The Ultimate Study Skills

Sourced from Clipart Kid
Today, we are looking at developing study skills with learners. It is often an overlooked area of English language teaching but, as educators, we need to remind students the best way to remember information from the lesson.
  • Vocabulary Notebook: Successful students are those that are able to write or note down any new vocabulary or functional language. Students then review the language in their own time. It is an invaluable skill for learners to be able to write down what emerges from the lesson. Make sure students write down language.
  • Remember This: Get students to sit down at the end of the lesson and on a blank piece of paper write down everything that they have learnt. It could be new vocabulary, a particular grammar phrase, an idiom, etc. They write it all down and then compare with a partner. This will ensure that students are able to reflect on their lesson effectively.
  • Homework Request: Tell students that you are happy to give each one a different piece of homework as long as they are interested in completing it for the next lesson. Give each student their homework based upon their request and then tell them that they must complete it and then be happy to share their homework experience with another student the next day.
  • Study Centre Day: Tell students that they are going to the study centre in their school for 20 minutes at the end of the lesson and that they must choose some work that they must do in their own time. Let them browse the study centre and become familiar with what work is available. They then must choose their own work that they are happy to do for that week. Tell them that they must return to the study centre and choose some more work to complete next week. This will get students regularly going to the study centre, choosing their own work to finish and then working autonomously.
  • Easy Listening: It is so simple to download an app so that one can listen to a local or national radio station. Tell learners to download an app such as the BBC iPlayer on their smartphone. They then must listen to the radio every time that they are walking to and from the school. It will improve their listening and they will listen to more authentic English.
There we have it! Five new tips on developing a student's self-study skills as a learner of English. It is not complicated and learners can do so much by themselves. It is just giving them the helping hand that they need initially. What are your favourite study skill activities? Do your students have a study centre which they can access at any time? Hope that you are all having a wonderful time so far!

I have nearly finished my holiday in France and will be returning back to old Blighty a bit later this week. The first holiday I have had in a long time but at least I will be able to practise a bit of the old Fran├žais!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Day 12: How To Get Students Writing

Sourced from University of St Thomas
One important skill for students to be able to successfully achieve is writing. It is often an overlooked area with most teachers deciding to focus on speaking. True speaking is important but so is writing. Students need to be able to write that email in English or write to a pen friend. It is also expected that students are able to write well enough to pass that exam. Thus, today we are looking at how to get students writing.
  • Snowball writing: This is my favourite activity. You give each student a piece of paper and at the top of it they write either a question or the start of a story. They roll it up in a ball and then you play some music. The students then throw the paper around the class and pick up the ball of paper and continue to through it randomly around until the music is stopped. The students pick up a piece of paper nearest to them and continue the story or answer the question. You repeat the activity until or students have finished their story. They then find their original story/question that they started with and have to read it. Very exciting and great for teenagers.
  • Hidden typing: This was a task that I learnt during my time doing the CELTA at the British Council in Seoul. All groups of learners are given a laptop and they start MS Word or the equivalent. The screen is tilted down to the back or covered with a cloth and then they have to type a story. You could use a variety of prompts to get them started. After the groups have finished their story, you could get the students to email them to you so that you can review them and look at grammar. A useful exercise.
  • Answer the question: Tell students that they have received an email from a friend and they need to reply in English. Give all students a model email from their friend requesting some information. Tell the students that they need to reply to the email. Try to match it with a topic that they are currently studying. Again, look at their writing afterwards and grade it in relation to an examination for that level such as PET or FCE.
  • Finish the story: This is another popular examination task for students of English, especially in FCE. You give students a prompt such as: "Steve looked outside from work and couldn't believe what happened. He immediately ran outside." Then you get students to continue the story. It has to have a conclusive start, middle and end. It is great for creative writing.
  • Object of writing: This is a nice task that I have learnt from somewhere but I don't remember where exactly. You bring in several objects to class and get groups of learners to place their hand in a bag and choose one item. Then the group of learners then must write about the selected object. It could be a story and the object is related to it or just about the object.
So there you are with five new ideas for writing and getting students to write. I hope it inspires you for next time. What are your favourite activities for writing? What do you like to achieve when students write?

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Day 11: How To Relax

The whole situation of teaching or planning your lessons can be rather stressful as you are continuously giving and delivering a variety of courses. This blog post is focused solely on how best to relax and recharge your batteries so that you return to work ready to face your classes.
  • Have a hobby: This is probably the best advice that I can give anyone. Try to have a hobby or if you are lucky a number of hobbies. Personally, I play the saxophone, try to develop my Korean language skills or travel. You could do the same.
  • Do nothing: Sometimes, the best way to recharge is to do nothing. Just stay at home, have dinner and refresh your mind and soul by doing nothing. It really does help. Try to have some silence so you are only accompanied by your thoughts.
  • Go to bed early: Some teachers that I work with decide to go to bed late. This will have the unpleasant affect of keeping you tired the following day and will harm your teaching. Try to go to bed early, turn off any distractions and sleep. Sometimes, sleeping is the best medicine.
  • Read a novel: It is usually best to read a good book. Choose a book that you have been wanting to read for a long time and pick it up. Read for a short while. It will help you forget about work and you will soon be engaged in your new book.
  • Listen to music: We all have our preferences of music. I love to listen to jazz or pop music. Choose some music you enjoy listening to and just slowly unwind while listening to your favourite tunes.
So, how do you like to relax from teaching? Do you have any other advice for readers? Hope you are all well and enjoying the weekend so far!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Day 10: Using Music In The Classroom

Yesterday, we looked at using images in the classroom and I think it is fitting that we look at how teachers can use music in the classroom effectively. Music is one source which affects people in the same way as it is the international language of emotion. Read on to find out how teachers could use music in the classroom.
  • What's The Story?: A nice activity, which I was taught about many years ago, is to have a selection of songs - preferably different styles (rock, jazz, classical, etc.). Tell the students you are going to introduce two characters and they have to think about them and their story. Use the songs to prompt learners to create a story. They make notes while listening to clips of songs (20 seconds in total per song) and then when you finish get students into small groups and then have to write their story with the characters and scenes prompted from above.
  • Background Music: When the students are on a particular activity put on a little music in the background - something which is considered easy listening such as classical or smooth jazz. It will relax learners when they are working.
  • Turn Down: When you want the attention from you students, this activity is sure to help. If you have some background music playing, slowly turn it down and look at the students. They will naturally look up once you have turned down the music and you don't even need to speak.
  • Activity Timing: It is normal to tell students that they have a certain amount of time to complete an activity but why not tell them that they only have time until the song finishes. If it is a three minute song, then students have three minutes. It is a simple task and really gets learners to working within the time constraints.
  • Lyrics Correction: The musical gapfill is a really common activity but you could change it by amending the lyrics. Tell students that you have been working on the lyrics but you think you have made a mistake. Ask them to listen to the song first without any lyrics and tell them about the musician, etc. Give them the worksheet and play the song a number of times for them to correct and then check in small groups before checking as a class. Choose a song which helps students focus on a particular grammar point.
Well I hope you are inspired to use music in the classroom next time. Good luck and don't forget to leave a comment or let us know what you want blogged about tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Day 9: Using Images in the Classroom

Image from Cambridge English
As technology has developed so has the use of images, video and digital audio. Learners now have instant access to a range of media after a few quick clicks on their smartphones. Therefore, it seems fitting to look at how best to exploit this area of teaching.
  • Explain The Image: The easiest approach to using images, whether online or not, is to get students describing the image to another person who is unable to see it. The student who cannot see the image should ask various different questions to discover as much as possible. This develops question forms and descriptive language. Monitor and feedback on any language that has emerged during this activity.
  • What Is The Picture?: This activity is a classic which has been around for a long time yet is very simple. You hold a picture facing your chest and you quickly flick it over to reveal it for a few seconds. Students then have to explain what they thought that they saw. Repeat the process a number of times before revealing the picture.
  • Picture Match: If you want to pair or group learners up, then this activity is really useful. Get a number of pictures, cut them up randomly and then place them in a bag or envelope. Get students pick one part of the picture and then they have to match it with a fellow student. It is a simple yet engaging activity to put students randomly into pairs or groups.
  • Every Picture Has A Story: Select an image which could have a story related to it, for example people at a coffee shop or people queuing up at a bus stop. Then prompt learners by getting them to think about the people in the image: Who are they? What are they doing? What did they do before they were there? Then use the learners' ideas and their images to get them to create a short story. Then students share their stories.
  • What's The Connection?: Have a large selection of photos, preferably of objects and people. Get students to choose two objects and one person, then they have to create a story using all the pictures in their possession. It is a simple activity but a very useful one and you never know what story the learners will create but it is important that all objects and people are included in the story.
So there we have it for today. Some ideas you can use for your next lesson! How do you like to use images in the classroom? Do you have any favourite activities? Please don't forget to share and leave a question. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Day 8: The Ultimate Way To Use Coursebook CDs

Are teachers still using CDs for their listening lessons?
So yesterday, we looked at the use of coursebooks. Therefore, it seems natural to focus today on using coursebook CDs. All coursebooks published these days either have CDs or MP3 files which can be used for listening tasks during a lesson. We shall look at five tips and tricks to spice up listening-based lessons.
  • Close Your Eyes: Following the usual listening lesson can get a bit stale, so you could get students to close their eyes when listening to a CD. Get them to think about where the conversation is taking place, who the people are, how many people there, etc. This will get learners to think more about the context of the listening.
  • Student Created Questions: During a listening activity, why use the coursebook worksheet? You could learners, placed into groups, to create their own questions for a listening task. They could listen to the CD a number of times, perhaps have access to the tapescript, while they create the questions. Once questions have been created, swap them with the other group(s) and then get them to fill in with answers.
  • Missing Questions: A variety of the student questions above could be where you provide the learners with answers from a worksheet and they have to think about what the questions might be. Place learners into small groups and then get them thinking about how best to write questions. A great focus on question forms as a grammar point!
  • Record The Students: Some of the listening books that we have in our school are wonderful but the disadvantage is that the older variety of books no longer have CDs with them, let alone tapes! So one ingenious activity is to photocopy the tapescript for learners and then they have to record themselves speaking. It could then be recycled at a future date for new students when you decide to use this listening activity again.
  • Complete The Conversation: If you have a tapescript, you could type it up and leave the final half of each utterance missing. So you will have the following script below and students have to work together to complete the conversation halves of each speaker. You could finally get students to create questions based upon the student-created script below.
    • Maria: Hi Steve, how's it going? I thought I ..........
    • Steve: Hi Maria. Yeah not too bad. I was at .........
    • Maria: How interesting? Well you know what they say, ".......
Well, there we have it! Five fantastic tips and tricks for using the coursebook CD in class for next time. Why stop there? Tell us some of your ideas for using the coursebook CD in class! Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Day 7: Using A Coursebook

Image from: C is for Coursebook writing
For the majority of lessons, teachers will tend to be teaching from a coursebook. It has somewhat become a necessity for teachers to learn how best to use the selected coursebook. It today's TEFL tips, we look at five tips and tricks to improve the way you use a coursebook in class.
  • Teach The Learners: When teaching from a coursebook, don't forget about the learners. Most teachers will focus on the coursebook. Try to personalise the lesson according to the learners rather than focusing on the delivery of the lesson or going through the coursebook.
  • Go With The Flow: You don't need to follow the coursebook religiously. You can delve into other areas of English as they emerge during the lesson. You could also review any emergent language in the next lesson. Enjoy the journey of teaching rather than the destination of where you would like to be at the end of the lesson.
  • Supplement The Coursebook: Most coursebooks have a wealth of suitable supplementary which can be used to help deliver a quality language or grammar point or enhance a skill in English. Use these supplementary materials and create your own material to make it original for the students.
  • Read The Teacher's Book: The Teacher's Book which accompany's any coursebook is there to help you. Read the Teacher's Book to familiarise yourself with the coursebook. It will contain some wonderful ideas for lead-in or warm up activities for the unit. If you delve in to a coursebook with no prior preparation, you will not be able to envisage how the lesson will develop or the stages required to reach the aim/objective of the lesson.
  • Worksheet Practice: One thing that I now do on a daily basis is for me to complete a student worksheet. Whether this is a vocabulary or a listening task (listen to the audio when preparing), I always try to complete the activity alone to see what students are being asked to do. I may amend the worksheet or disregard it totally but it is very important to know what the answers are for the worksheet and see if this is different to the Teacher's Book (occasionally it is). You can then keep these answers to hand when reviewing answers with the students.
What are your favourite tips for using a coursebook during a lesson? What would you recommend for newly certified teachers? As ever, don't forget to share this blog post and leave a comment below. We are always seeking contributions to the Daily TEFL and if you have any ideas for a blog post, let us know.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Day 6: How To Improve Games In Class

Image Sourced from the ESL Lounge: Fun Classroom Games
A regular activity in the classroom is a game to promote the use of English during a lesson. However, are there any tips for a successful game while teaching? Today we look at some tips and tricks for improving games in the English language classroom.
  1. Make It Fun: It is important that all students during the lesson have fun. This is often overlooked and some teachers focus on getting the game set up rather than the running of the task itself.
  2. Keep It Simple: When using a game in class, it is important to keep it simple. If it is too complicated, students will soon lose interest and the game will lose its momentum.
  3. Ask Students: When deciding to play a game at the end of the lesson, why not ask students what sort of game they wish to play. They will feel more satisfied at the end of the lesson if they played a game that they wanted to.
  4. Relate The Lesson: If you are teaching an area of vocabulary or a grammar point, keep the game related to this area of teaching. If the game is unrelated, some students may find that you are just playing a game for no particular reason.
  5. Share Your Games: When you are preparing a lesson, speak to another teacher and share the game that you would like to play in the class. Perhaps ask another teacher whether they know of any good games. Everyone knows 'hangman' or 'twenty questions', but there are plenty of other games which could be used by teachers just ask other teachers for some ideas!
What are your favourite games in class? Do you have any favourite last-minute activities? What would you like a future blog blog post to focus on? If you would like to contribute to the blog post, get in touch with us!