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?