About Elena Merino

Teacher Trainer for Pearson. I lived 1 year in Ireland and 3 years in the USA, where I fell in love with the English language. I've worked as a teacher for twelve years in different contexts and with different age groups. PhD in Communication and Multilingual Education, I'm concerned about meaningful real-world tasks that get students to communicate, in other words, how can teachers facilitate learning and engage students in the English classroom?

Mark your calendar for the Pearson Webinar series for Primary and Secondary Teachers

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Are you a primary teacher interested in assessment for learning?

Do you teach secondary students and struggle to find the balance in mixed ability classes? Are you juggling preparing your secondary students for external exams whilst still following the curriculum?

Are you preparing your students for Selectividad and would like to keep your classes meaningful and communicative?

If you are interested in these key issues for teaching English in Spanish schools, you can join us in this series of four 45-minute Pearson professional development webinarsThese webinars will take place over two weeks in February and March and are presented by our teacher trainers Brian Engquist, Elena Merino and Michael Brand, who will share with you new ideas, activities, tips, tools and tasks to liven up your lessons!

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Practical ideas to get cooperative at primary

Cooperative learning is one of those buzz words we teachers should be familiar with nowadays. We might have already received some training on it in our school, read something about it or even put it into practice. There is no doubt cooperative learning is a successful teaching approach that helps our students improve their understanding of a subject as well as their interpersonal skills within the group and the class. Coop learning_pic

So in this article I’d like to contribute to the ongoing discussion around this cooperative learning.  I’d also like to  share a few teaching ideas into the bargain that I think your primary students should like!

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Ideas for Christmas Classes!

‘Twas the class before Christmas and all through the school all the teachers were searching for something to do!  Xmas Pearson

Sound like a familiar situation?  Your students have their work completed and exams taken.  Holidays are just around the corner and you need one more lesson to send them off on a positive note.  Well look no further.

In the true spirit of giving and the holiday season the Pearson Teacher Training Team for Spain and Portugal have come up with a few ideas that will put a smile on your students’ faces and save you some time so you can maybe get in a just a little more holiday shopping to boot.

These varied and enjoyable Christmas activities designed for adult and teen learners of English are the focus of our Christmas Webinars (slides available herewhich are taking place this week.  They can be easily adapted for different levels or mixed, matched and changed to your liking or particular needs.  So have a look at the menu below, click on each title, download what you like and go into class ready to get your students into the holiday spirit!

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“Describe the pictures”: phenomenal teaching ideas for the B2 test and beyond

“In this part of the test, I am going to show you two photographs. I would like you to talk about them for about a minute and also answer a question about your partner’s photographs”. No matter which official B2 exam your students are taking, they are likely going to come across a task like this.
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If we refer to the GSE, students at this stage “can describe objects, possessions and products in detail, including their characteristics and special features” (59) and “justify and sustain views clearly by providing relevant explanations and arguments” (60). So if they are at the right level there is no need to press the panic button: your students are ready to do this.
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Halloween: great teaching ideas for teens

Halloween: great teaching ideas for teensGhosts, witches, black cats, haunted houses… Despite the creepy flavour of these terms, I’ve always liked Halloween: 31st of October, the spookiest day of the year, as it is said to be. As teachers, many of us celebrate this autumn festivity by decorating our classrooms with spider-webs, skeletons, bats, etc., and by asking our students to dress up as ghosts, witches or werewolves.

We have already talked about some Halloween activities that your primary students will love, but there is also a wealth of activities out there for teenagers. Just type “Halloween activities for teens” in your internet browser and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Is this just another blog post with a compilation of links? No, it isn’t. Here you will find practical teaching ideas, which require little preparation time. Continue reading

Using your coursebook creatively: Ideas to liven up your lesson

Using your coursebook creatively Ideas to liven up your lessonLast weekend Pearson was at the British Council ‘Learning to Learn’ Conferences with Michael Brand in Bilbao, Brian Engquist in Madrid and Elena Merino in Barcelona. We would like to thank all the teachers who attended our sessions, where we had the opportunity to share teaching ideas and get the most out of our coursebooks.

As promised, we are sharing our presentation and we hope you find it useful for your lessons. Continue reading

Using ESL videos: Hit play and get ready to learn!

ESL videosWhen we watch a film, we are looking at a story which interprets places, people and events. That’s why films and series are a great classroom tool to understand another culture. If the student can identify with a character in the story, follow the fictional narrative, a life story, conflicts, and events, then they will be able to humanize the film, make it more personal, and, therefore, learn from it. With film we do not only learn content–which can lead us to thought-provoking discussions, stimulating critical thinking, etc.,– but we also improve listening, speaking, writing, reading, grammar and vocabulary skills. Any sort of ESL videos can be used for the learning purpose: commercials, news bulletins, political speeches, movies, and so on. Continue reading

Speaking and Secondary Students

nextmove_teensHow can we get our teenage students to communicate in English? Is there any way in which we can motivate them to speak?

 

This week I will be presenting a talk for our Pearson Events for English teachers called “Secondary Students can communicate in English” which aims to present practical examples, including ICT and other traditional interactive tasks that teachers will be able to put into practice right away. Based on Next Move 3rd Edition for secondary education, a course ready for the 21st century students, I will look into different ways of exploiting speaking exercises in a fun and creative way. Continue reading

Meaningful speaking activities and blended learning for adult learners

blended-learningWhat constitutes a meaningful speaking activity for an adult and can blended learning help them improve in a task-based setting? At the end of this weekend I will be participating in the IX Congreso Estatal de escuelas oficiales de idiomas with a couple of sessions which will deal with these questions.

Speaking activities and blended learning for adult learners

In my first session “Speak Out Challenge: How to get our learners to produce meaningful oral language”, we will look at practical examples taken from SpeakOut (Intermediate), that can foster out students’ communicative interactions in English. Putting words together in order to utter a meaningful message is not an easy task. So in order to build fresh, motivating and significant speaking exercises, we need to consider quite a few things: 1) relating the activities to our students’ own reality; 2) using authentic material; and 3) engaging the learners. That is why, we will not only explore what prevents our students from speaking but we will also show effective ways of getting our students to really communicate, in other words, to say more than a few words, by combining both traditional interactive tasks with other handy technological tools. Continue reading

Making Writing Meaningful

A practical workshop about "Making Writing Meaningful", by Elena MerinoThis month I have been sharing perspectives, comments and knowledge about ESL Writing with teachers in Catalunya. The Department of Education of the Generalitat invited us to participate in their regular formative sessions.

This session aimed at providing primary, secondary and adult teachers with strategies to Make Writing Meaningful.The practical examples provided the teachers with diverse techniques and activities that they could use later in their classrooms, but we also had a reflective approach towards writing and its importance as a productive skill in second language development. Continue reading