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!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Day 5: Five Ways To Improve Your Board Work

Image Sourced from ELT Planning: 16 Ways To Improve Your Whiteboard
One tool which is often overlooked in the English language classroom is the whiteboard. It has been the one tool which has remained prominent in the classroom despite the many developments in technology and techniques when teaching. Today, we look at five ways to improve your board work.
  1. Use Margins: When teaching, try to use margins for your board work. For example, you can use the left-hand margin to write down the aims of your lesson, the right-hand to write down vocabulary which emerges during and the centre of the board to highlight grammar forms or brainstorm lexis.
  2. Use Black Markers: One pet hate is when teachers write down vocabulary with red or green ink. Teachers need to realise that some students have difficulty reading board work and that the use of black or even dark blue is better than a colour which causes students to strain their eyes.
  3. Get Students Up: You don't have to be the only person using the whiteboard, get students to walk up and write down vocabulary. Why not get students to nominate themselves to come up and write the next lexical item or answer?
  4. Keep It Clean: Spend at least a minute at the end of the lesson with some board cleaner and tissue to clean the whiteboard. I have spent countless hours telling teachers to keep their board clean. It doesn't take long but it does leave a lasting impression for the students if teachers keep their classroom and their whiteboard clean.
  5. Get Students To Note Down: Before wiping the board, tell students to make a note of vocabulary. It doesn't take long but it is a good habit for students to note any work in their notebooks for referring to or reviewing at a later date.
What are your best tips for using the whiteboard? Do you have any tips for other readers? What do you think is important when using the whiteboard? Don't forget to make any recommendations for a future post and make a comment below!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Day 4: How To Improve Pronunciation

One area of teaching which is usually given lower importance than other areas is the teaching and development of student pronunciation. Personally, it took me many years to develop my confidence and skills to teach or focus on pronunciation. Today, there are some tips on developing and improving your awareness of pronunciation.
  1. Learn the phonemic chart: It took a while to learn about the phonemic chart and decide to use it with my learners. I wish I had known more about it when I first started but I was more focused on other systems and skills of English. Nevertheless, I would recommend that you learn about the phonemic chart and how best to use it.
  2. Introduce the phonemic chart slowly: When introducing the phonemic chart to students, introduce it over a number of days or over the week. It is best to focus on vowel sounds, then consonants and then finally diphthongs. When introducing particular sounds from the phonemic chart, demonstrate the sound in pairs of particular words. You will soon improve phonemic spelling when you want to introduce a new word and your students will thank you for it.
  3. Buy a pronunciation book: What better to learn about pronunciation than to buy a book about the subject and decide to incorporate some of the lesson ideas into your lessons. Devote at least a mini-lesson at the end of the day on pronunciation and get students to complete some activities.
  4. Vary drilling techniques: Get students to repeat words, sentences or questions after you say them but try to vary it. You could get all the girls to repeat and then the boys, split up the drilling by area of room, nominated students or pairs of students to repeat utterances. This works well when focusing on intonation, stress or ellipsis.
  5. Mark stress or intonation on words: One area that many teachers fail to include is the marking of word/sentence stress and intonation. It doesn't take long to mark key vocabulary so don't forget, just make sure students are making a note of this in their notebooks.
I hope these small little tips and techniques for the teaching of pronunciation develop awareness and confidence. What better way to end the blog than including a wonderful teacher training session by Adrian Underhill introducing the phonemic chart. Watch this to learn which sounds are best. What are your favourite pronunciation tasks?

Friday, 19 August 2016

Day 3: How To Spice Up Listening

Original posted on Cambridge © 2016
Today we are looking at listening lessons. Most listening involves getting students prepared for the main task of completing comprehension questions. Here are some tips and tricks to spice up your listening lessons.
  1. Focus on language: If you have a listening, refer to the tape script for any key vocabulary or phrases used. Try to pre-teach this as it will assist during the listening and students will not be so flustered.
  2. Focus on pronunciation: When pre-teaching language for the listening, try to focus on pronunciation - whether it is word stress or tonic prominence (sentence stress). It is not just important to know what language means but how it is said in context.
  3. Lead in the listening: Before you go straight to the main listening comprehension task, get students to answer some very basic questions: 'How many people were talking?', 'Where are they talking?', 'Do they know each other or are they strangers?', etc. It will assist in context building.
  4. Delay the comprehension questions: Why give students the questions while they are listening to the task, give the questions to the students at the end of the listening and see if they can answer any of the comprehension questions without it being played. They can check and correct their answers when you replay the listening for a second time.
  5. Check the equipment: I have observed countless lessons where technology just seems to fail. Just check to make sure that the CD is working, that you have a CD player in your room and that it doesn't skip. Preparation is key!
Well I hope the tips and tricks help out for your next lesson. Always useful to try something new and spice up your lessons. Keeps the learners on their toes. What help do you want tomorrow? Let me know and we shall see what could be covered.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Day 2: Getting Feedback

Original Used At ELT Resourceful
So for today's tip, we are looking at feedback. If you have a writing or speaking activity set up for all students, you should consider incorporating a stage of the lesson to feedback. Most students want to know how to develop their English, so tell them! Here are five tips on how best to give feedback:
  1. Write down their spoken errors on a piece of paper: You will find it easier to refer to this at the end of the speaking activity rather than trying to remember everything that they had said from memory.
  2. Write down good use of English on a piece of paper: You don't want to be negative all the time as this will not motivate learners at all. Try to tell them what they are good at as well as telling them how best to improve.
  3. Use your notes in a competitive game: You have lots of notes of spoken English produced by the learners - both good and some containing errors. You could make a competitive game whereby groups of learners decide whether the sentence you write up, from their spoken production, has an error or not. If they are correct, 1 point, and if they can correct the error (if it is there), an extra point.
  4. Focus on pronunciation: Most teachers just think about grammatical errors during speaking but try to focus on pronunciation issues such as word stress, mispronunciation or more natural ellipsis so that learners can develop their fluency and intelligibility. Try to use the phonemic chart if you can when correcting pronunciation,
  5. Use their writing: When reviewing student writing, take it and photocopy it. You can use this for students to self-correct in a future class or in pairs. You could type it up - if you have time - as it will be easier to read and work on in a class environment rather than shadowing students.
What tips do you have for feedback? Do you like to focus on feedback after a student production stage? Do you have any interesting games or activities?

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Day 1: Giving Instructions

Image sourced from ESL Base © 2016
Do you want to improve giving instructions to students? Ever have learners staring at you once you give instructions? Then try these tips to help when you give instructions to students:
  1. Speak clearly and slowly using very simple language.
  2. When asking questions, ask closed questions so the student can only say 'yes' or 'no'. Gives you a clear idea whether students understand or not.
    • Do you work alone?
    • Do you write your answer?
    • Do you have 10 minutes?
  3. Demonstrate if you want the students to play a game. They will learn more by observing something than being told something.
  4. Hand out the worksheet after giving instructions, not the other way round. Otherwise, students will be looking at the worksheet when you give instructions.
  5. Remember to use particular phrases followed by a gesture: "Keep your worksheet secret!" (then place the worksheet against your chest), "You have 5 minutes!" (tap your watch), etc.
If you follow these three easy tips, you will find your instructions improve and students will understand your instructions better. Come back tomorrow for some more TEFL Tips!