3 ways to bring assessment for learning into your classroom

rocketWe all want our students to become more independent and responsible for their learning, but this won’t happen without the right support. Enter assessment for learning! As opposed to assessment of learning (think end of term exams, categorisation of students, awarding a number), assessment for learning sees learning as a journey: what does my student know, where are they going, what do they need to get there? Let’s look at three simple ways that good teachers employ assessment for learning.  

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Help your students hit a home run with sports idioms

sports idiomsIdioms! Perhaps they are one of the most colourful aspects of language to teach, conjuring up amusing imagery or teaching our students about culture. I had a lot of fun with them in my advanced classes, though found I had to guard against overuse! But a question here for teachers is: which ones to teach? One tends to come across many a student of English who knows the expression “It’s raining cats and dogs,” but I am racking my brains to think of a single time in my life I have heard that idiom in natural conversation.

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Harnessing the power of video in ELT

 video2Video’s a powerful tool: choose the right one and we’re sure to motivate and engage our learners. But video in class can take many forms and be used in many ways. Let’s take, for example, the ‘Friday afternoon video’ or the ‘end of term video’ or ‘the treat because you worked well video’. Probably a long video, perhaps a feature-length film, where our students (and, why not, ourselves!) can kick back and relax, perhaps learning a little English into the bargain to boot. But that’s definitely not the type of video we’re interested in for this blog post: in this post we’re going to be looking at short video and at how to exploit it.

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Effective classroom management part 3: be fun!

Welcome to the third and final instalclassroom managementlment in our series on classroom management for teachers of teens. In previous posts, we established that a teacher should be the boss, while at the same time showing a human side. Ladies and gentlemen, the final ingredient in the recipe to effective classroom management is (drum roll…): be fun! But what do we mean by ‘be fun’? A clown? A performing monkey?

Let’s start with a common gripe from students: “Lessons are boring.” What they usually mean by this is that they are tired of doing the same things over and over again. Variety is the spice of life as the saying goes, and it applies to our lessons too.

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Effective classroom management part 2: be human!

Welcome to the second installment of our three-part series on effective classroom management for teachers of teens. In part one I argued that the teacher needs to be the boss, but that on its own isn’t enough of course. In this post let’s look at our second ingredient in the recipe for classroom management success: being human.  Being the boss and being human are by no means mutually exclusive, I’ve seen countless teachers who’ve been able to combine these two traits very effectively. Get the balance right and we’ll get our students on board.

So, what do we mean by ‘be human?’  Ben-Wiseman_brain_thumprint_arrows_RGB

Back in the day, teachers were encouraged to keep maximum distance between themselves and their ‘charges.’ The teacher was a lofty, far-removed figure who existed in the classroom, but anything outside of this was none of the students’ business. But showing your students that you are in fact a real person just like them is a step on the way to forging a relationship. We are not aiming to become their best friend, but revealing something of ourselves to them is not going to do any harm.

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ACEIA 2016, Seville: a resounding success!

Over 700 enthusiastic teachers from all over Europe attended the ACEIA 2016 conference in Seville on Saturday 12 November.

Antonia plenary

Under the banner ‘Creative Minds Inspire,’ the event was headlined by Pearson’s Antonia Clare, one of the award-winning authors of Speakout 2nd edition, with her inspirational plenary session ‘Language, Learning and the Creative Mind.’ Antonia examined the ways in which learning a language is in itself such an inherently creative task and looked at how to engender creativity, both on the part of the learner but also on the part of the teacher.

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Effective classroom management part 1: be the boss!

Socrates quote - Effective classroom management part 1: be the boss!Some of you may have noticed that I am sharing part of a quote attributed to Socrates from 400 BC. I have seen it used as a starting point for many a classroom management seminar, with the speaker aiming to show that teachers have been dealing with naughty students for millennia. However, the contents of training workshops on classroom management can of course vary wildly: it’s such a broad area. In many ways ‘How to be a good classroom manager’ is the same as ‘How to be a good teacher.’ With this in mind, I’ll be splitting this post into a series of three blog posts, each looking at a different ingredient in the recipe for good classroom management.

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Taking word clouds to the next level with Wordsift

word cloud 1Not only do word clouds look pretty, there are also a number of ways they can be used in the ELT classroom to help our students learn. In this post we’re going to be looking at how.

Now, there are lots of word cloud generators out there such as wordle and tagxedo. However, not all these tools were created equal: there are word clouds and then there are word clouds! One which really caught my eye recently is Wordsift, created by Kenji Hakuta of Stanford University.

What’s the basic premise of a word cloud? Well, it’s an image made up of the words used in a text with the size of each word indicating its frequency in the text it was drawn from. A quick glance at the word cloud on the right reveals that ‘freedom’ is the most common word in the text and you can probably guess which famous speech these words come from. Word clouds are quick to make: copy the text, paste it into the generator and let the program do the rest. Continue reading

Check out our teacher training sessions at the British Council

It’s been a busy few weeks for Pearson’s teacher trainers who have been giving talks at the British Council ‘Teaching for Success’ events across Spain. As promised, here are the links to the presentations we gave:

Valencia, Barcelona & Madrid with Brian Engquist, Marta Cervera & Michael Brand

Saturday 1st October 

Exploiting video to the max

From the Classroom to the Wider World

Bilbao with Elena Merino  

Saturday 24th September

Embracing Authenticity

Ten Top Tips for Terrific Teachers

Thanks for attending the talks and we hope you found them useful!

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More info at Pearson ELT Spain & Portugal

Looking for a lesson idea? Try Cockney Rhyming Slang!

Bus London - Cockney Rhyming Slang

Would you Adam and Eve it? The trouble and strife’s on the custard and jelly!

To the uninitiated, and almost certainly to most Americans, such a phrase sounds like gibberish, but your average Brit would understand the expression of disbelief (Adam and Eve: believe) that his wife (trouble and strife) was on the telly (custard and jelly), slang in itself for TV. Welcome to the world of Cockney Rhyming Slang!

Where is Cockney Rhyming Slang from and how does it work? Continue reading