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
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?