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.  

Continue reading

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

5 ways you can harness your students’ holiday experiences in class

Ideas for English class for your Secondary students

It’s always a good time for your students to tell you about their summer holidays.

Many of us will probably be covering the Past Simple at some stage in the first term before Christmas, so why not combine this with something your students really want to talk about. You’ll always get a response from teenagers when they have the chance to express their own personal experiences and feelings and what better opportunity than to talk about their own holidays. Of course a discussion about one’s summer holiday can be over in a flash, so it is important to harness this personal experience and turn it into a learning opportunity by creating a product which can be shared with the rest of the class.

Here are 5 ways you can harness your students’ holiday experiences in class: Continue reading

Teaching skills for working with teens

Teaching skills for working with teens - Image by Mansour BethoneyTeaching English to teenagers can be frustrating and fulfilling in equal measure. They can be full of energy and ideas that add a real buzz to the class, but they can also be sullen, self-conscious, reluctant to work together and difficult to engage. However, if you approach lessons with teenagers with the right ideas, materials and tricks of the trade, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be a great success.

Here’s our list of indispensable teaching skills for working with teens:

***Do group project work***

Group projects come in all shapes and sizes and work well with teenagers. They increase motivation, promote learner autonomy, have clear, achievable objectives, involve all four language skills, and can be managed in a way that lets everyone in the group take on a role that’s best suited to them. They also make a welcome break from routine and can be run over several classes, with a section of each lesson allocated to them. You’ll find plenty of examples of project work here and here. Continue reading

4 great EFL role plays

English classes - Role playsGrammar exercises, vocabulary tests and pronunciation drills are all very well, but at some stage our learners are going to be out in the real world, calling upon the knowledge and skills they have learned in class to navigate a host of everyday situations, using English to explain, persuade, justify, cajole, describe, discuss and even argue. One of the most engaging ways to give learners the opportunity to practice such English is, of course, to have them act out real-life situations. Why not get your students really working with the language with these 4 great EFL role plays? Continue reading

Collaborative learning in EFL class with teens and adults

Collaborative LearningForget the traditional classroom scenario that sees the teacher at the board imparting facts or explaining ideas while students sit passively at their desks. If you really want your learners not only to acquire knowledge but also the skills necessary to make good use of that knowledge in the outside world, then collaborative learning is the way forward.

Collaborative learning builds on two keys premises; firstly, that we learn by doing; secondly, that we learn best when we learn together, with peer-instruction allowing students to check each other’s understanding and address any misconceptions. This of course is central to acquiring good language skills, not only because language is an inherently social act but also because misunderstandings only make themselves known in actual use of language. Continue reading

6 easy word games for the English language classroom

6 easy word games for the English language classroomWord games are an engaging way not only to practice vocabulary and spelling in class but also to hone important language skills such as defining and describing. They’re fun, too, make ideal warmers and fillers, and generally don’t require much preparation – especially if you get the students involved in setting them up. Plus, many work well as competitions and can easily be adapted to suit different ages and levels. Here are 6 easy word games for the English language classroom. Why not give them a try?

Continue reading

5 great activities for using movies in the EFL class

5 great activities for using movies in the EFL classPersuading students of the usefulness of watching English-language movies at home isn’t hard, but there are many things you can do to bring films into the classroom as well.

Here are 5 great activities for using movies in the EFL class.

  1. Half in half out

Choose a scene from a movie that you’d like to work on, preferably one with lots of movement and lots of dialogue. Divide the class into two groups, A and B. Send group A out while you show group B the scene with the volume muted. Then, bring group A back and send group B out. Play the scene again, but this time only let group A listen to the dialogue – don’t let them see the screen (if you have an IWB you can simply turn the screen off, if not just have the students face away). So you now have one group that have heard the scene and one that have seen it. Bring group B back, put students into A/B pairs and have them reconstruct as well as they can what they think was going on. Then show the full scene so they can see how close they were. Continue reading

7 tips for teaching writing in the EFL classroom

teaching writingMany students shy away from writing in English as they feel it is either difficult or boring. At the same time, it can be tempting for the teacher to tackle the skill by setting simple compositions with little structure or purpose. However, writing is not only a necessary language skill, especially for students hoping to use English in their work or studies, but also a great way to improve their level overall, and it need not be boring. We look at 7 tips for teaching writing in the EFL classroom.

Tips for teaching writing in the EFL classroom:

1. Know the aim of text and the target reader

Perhaps the two most important things to bear in mind when teaching writing (and when writing oneself) are the aim of the text and the target reader, as these will dictate the type of language used and the organisation of the text itself. Writing an informal email to a friend to let them know your news requires a very different approach to writing a report for your boss about the progress of a project you’re running. Equally, it would be just as odd to give titles to the sections of a letter of complaintMy Shock on Discovering the Item Didn’t Work, How This Has Inconvenienced Me, Here’s What I Want You to Do About It! – as it would to open a love letter with ‘To whom it may concern…’ Continue reading

7 easy warmers and fillers for the English language classroom

nice and nasty - 7 easy warmers and fillers for the English language classroomEvery lesson needs a warmer and there are few that go by that don’t have an odd five or ten minutes that need filling with something to keep your students on their toes or to give the class a change of pace.

We look at 7 easy warmers and fillers for the English language classroom.

Nice and nasty

This super-simple warmer is guaranteed to get your students chatting and is a great first day activity. Have students divide a sheet of paper into two columns, one they label ‘nice’, the other they label ‘nasty’. Tell them you’re going to read out a list of words, each of which they have to write in the column that expresses how they feel about it. Your list should include of a variety of people, places and things that are likely to divide opinion (for example, hip hop, spicy food, winter, Sunday evening, ironing, tattoos, English grammar, Michael Jackson, department stores). Once you have finished reading out the list and students have written the items down, they compare their answers in pairs to see how similar or how different their tastes are. Continue reading