Idioms! 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.
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.
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 webinars. These 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!
Video’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.
A big part of being an English teacher is gauging our students’ abilities in relation to what is expected at the level they’re in. It’s not an easy task by any means, but we do seem, after years of experience, to get a certain feel for it. But the real trick is actually being able to nail it down a bit more, to point to concrete features of their spoken output that are more reliable measurements of their proficiency. Let’s take a look at what fluency looks like for our advanced C1 learners.
Often times we might find ourselves saying things like “You know you’re fluent when you dream in English” or “You know you’re fluent when you think in English”, but what does that actually mean? I don’t know about you, but if I’m giving my advanced students feedback on their speaking I want to point to something a little more specific (and professional sounding) than their dreams.
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.
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!
Welcome to the third and final installment 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.
Like most of you teachers, ELT Learning Journeys will be taking a much deserved break for the holiday season. We hope that your time will be filled with family, friends, plenty of good cheer and a healthy dose of rest as well. And my the New Year find you refreshed and recharged. We will be back with a fresh post on the 10th of January. All the best…
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?’
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.
Getting into the zone
So, you’ve got a stack of writing assignments on your desk. You have a quick glance at the correction code you use with your students. “Gr” for grammar errors, “P” for punctuation, “V” for vocabulary, “R” for register, etc. The pressure’s on now. The sooner you get these back to your students the better. They’re anxious to see their grade and you want them to make corrections based on the code and notes you make as soon as possible. You have a quick glance at the clock and estimate that if you spend X number of minutes per assignment you might even be able to get in some lunch before your next class. So with a steaming cup of coffee at your side, and red pen in hand you dive in. You’re in full-on correction mode.
A familiar scene. We’ve all been there. And when we finish up and hand them back to our students we’re likely to feel some real professional pride at our ability to be so efficient at our job (I got them all corrected in how long?). Oftentimes though, for me at least, this is coupled by a nagging doubt that maybe I could have done just a little a bit better.
Cop or Coach?
Did my intentions to give meaningful, personal feedback take a back seat to my robo-corrector mentality as I plowed through assignment after assignment? After all, the power of the red pen does tend to bring out the authoritarian in us, transforming us from the friendly coach we like to think of ourselves as into the grammar cop pulling over our students at the slightest infraction: “Were you aware that you are using a register unacceptable for this genre? May I see your certification to operate at this level please? Put your pencil down and back away from the desk slowly.”