ACEIA 2017 is here!

ACEIA 2017

Pearson is once again honored to be participating in ACEIA’s annual conference in Seville this coming Saturday, November 11.  This year’s event, titled People First, promises to be yet another great opportunity for teachers and other professionals in the English language teaching environment to come together and share ideas, observations and best practices.  More information on the conference, as well as the programme, can be found here on their website.

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The Extended Classroom: towards the practical and the real

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Despite having been around for a while mobile devices are still rather slowly finding their niche in most of our classes.  There are the rather obvious applications that many of us teachers have finally seen the usefulness of, like allowing students to use them to look up a word or research a language point or topic area.  Many of us have started to add some fun and competition to our classes with the popular quiz tool Kahoot.  And at long last language teachers are beginning to see the value of getting students to record their spoken output to share and analyze with the class.  But using a mobile device does not necessarily translate to implementing mobile learning.  So how can we use mobile tools to actually extend learning beyond the school and into the community at large?

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Why we should develop Emotional Intelligence in our students

Creativity

With all of the demands on us as teachers to help our students improve their English we can sometimes lose sight of the fact that language is not the only thing going on in our classrooms.  As important as improving students’ linguistic competences is, we know we are also getting them ready for using that language in the real world.  And take a look around – the world is a pretty chaotic place (VUCA if you will) which can put a strain on the most resilient of us.  Though no one is asking us to be professional psychologists, taking into account some of the principles of the Emotional Intelligence movement is a good idea if we want to help our students become happy, productive and resilient in addition to linguistically proficient members of society.

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Ten expressions (with talk) to get your students talking

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Stuck for something to talk about in class?  Well here are ten useful expressions in English to stretch your students’ vocabulary plus a quick activity to get them chatting as well.

Teach the expressions anyway you see fit.  You might start out by putting the word “talk” on the board and ask students to think of different ways of talking, or as many expressions with “talk” as they know.  You can then include the expressions you want them to learn and have them guess at the meaning and use a dictionary to check, or have them match expressions to their meanings.

Here are my ten (but you can use others if you like):

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Integrating pronunciation into your classes

As we get back into the swing of things this new school year we look back at our three part series on an area which can be problematic for teachers and students alike.

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Part One: The Basics

Pronunciation.  It’s often the area most avoided by new teachers for lack of confidence, and also the first thing experienced teachers leave out due to lack of time and a desire to get on with the “meatier” issues of vocabulary, grammar and skills work.  But like it or not our students are aware of the importance of pronunciation and will expect us to work on it with them, so getting comfortable with it and finding the time should be one of our priorities as teachers.

The following is the first part in a three-part series outlining some basic tips for successfully integrating pronunciation in your classes.

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Ask a Stupid Question Day

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When you saw the title of this post you probably thought that this is just the latest example of a world gone crazy with yet another apparently random silly holiday.  Better think again.

Ask a Stupid Question day, far from being a pointless unofficial holiday, was created in the 1980’s by a group of teachers with a very specific purpose in mind: encouraging their students to participate more in class by asking questions. They knew that most of them had lots of questions but believed they kept many to themselves for fear of being laughed at.

It takes place on the 28th of September, but it’s commonly celebrated on the last day of class this month. Since its creation, this has been an annual tradition in American schools, and has recently become popular in Britain and India.

So how might we English teachers take advantage of this date at the beginning of the year to foster a more participative classroom which focuses on the needs of our learners? Continue reading

School’s out for summer!

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It’s that time of year again: School’s out for summer!  It’s time to say goodbye (albeit temporarily) to lesson planning, marking and exams.  And it’s time to say hello to sun, sea, and, because you’ve earned it, a glass of sangria.

Teaching can be a hugely rewarding job, but also challenging and tiring, and the chance to recharge our batteries is most welcome.

Here at Pearson we’d like to wish you a fantastic summer and we look forward to seeing you all back again in September.

5 ways for students to watch video more effectively at home

Video in ESL classroom

One of the most common pieces of advice a teacher will give to a student wanting to improve their listening (and quite possibly their vocabulary) is to “watch films in English.”  It seems like a sensible enough suggestion on the surface.  After all, it couldn’t do any harm could it?  But perhaps the question is: Does simply watching films in English translate into any real improvement in listening and vocabulary, or does it perhaps require a bit more effort than that?

My own experience of learning Spanish tells me that watching films or television is indeed extremely helpful, but I also remember that most of the time I spent in front of the TV in my first months in Spain was spent in the company of the family I lived with.  I could easily ask them questions to check the meaning of words or concepts and instantly check their reactions to what was happening on the screen to see if I was following the thread.  In short, I had something very similar to teachers on hand.

So, what tips can we give our students to get the most out of their viewing?  How can they make time often spent alone in front of the TV less passive, and actively take control of their learning on their own?  Here are a few tips:

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Five things to love about teaching English

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No two people have quite the same experience of teaching English.  My own history includes mostly private sector teaching to adults and teens (so this post might not reflect your situation exactly).  But regardless of the context you teach in, many of us, and this is undoubtedly true of any profession, might get to a time when we question why it is that we are doing it, or maybe we forget why we got into it in the first place.

For native speakers there is the added “I’m JUST an English teacher” issue to face as well, as in: I’m JUST teaching something that I didn’t have to put any real effort into learning myself, or Am I JUST taking the easiest option?  Shouldn’t I be more of a go-getter in world of increasing “go-getting.”  I would bet that this thought has crossed the minds of a fair number of you out there.  Perhaps if you are a NNS (non-native speaker) of English you haven’t had this same feeling, and the things listed below are somewhat more obvious to you.  If so, scream and shout about them!  Kick up a fuss about your profession!  And get your colleagues stoked about their job!  Because there are a great many things to love about being “just” an English teacher.

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Integrating pronunciation into your classes: Part 3

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Part Three: A top-down approach

There are many ingredients to good pronunciation in English.  In my last post on the subject I focused on individual, discrete sounds and their importance for our learners, but the thing that strikes me most when I hear a non-native speaker of English with good pronunciation is the rhythm and overall delivery of the chunks of language they use, not individual words per se.  As a native speaker, if I hear a familiar pattern my ear can naturally pick out information which is being packaged in a way that makes sense to me.  If some of the individual sounds are difficult to discern this is unlikely to affect my understanding to any great degree.

The importance of stress-timing

And I’m being quite literal when I talk about packaging language into meaningful chunks.  Let’s see why this is and why one of the most important things we can do to help our students with pronunciation is to draw their attention to the phenomenon of stress-timing.  Here’s a nice activity someone showed me years ago to introduce this at the beginning of a course.  I don’t remember who exactly (my apologies) but I’ve never forgotten it.

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