The challenge of developing mediation tasks for our students

For our second post on mediation we spoke to Ángel Briones, a teacher at EOI Embajadores in Madrid.  Over the past year Ángel has been writing materials to both teach and assess his students around mediation.  He is currently working for Pearson to design extension mediation activities to accompany our new general adult course book, Roadmap.  Here’s what he had to tell us about some of the things that need to be taken into account when writing mediation tasks.

Question: Angel, you have been involved in writing teaching and assessment activities around mediation for your students.  What are the biggest challenges in your view?

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A crash course on mediation

The buzz word around the Escuelas Oficiales de Idiomas (EOIs) in Spain this year is mediation and the importance of teachers at these centres getting to grips with the concept cannot be stressed enough.  In a series of three blog posts we will be taking a look at some of the key issues surrounding this topic.

For our first article we reached out to Manuel del Rio and Francisco J. Pose, two of the teachers who provide teacher training at the EOI in Santiago de Compostela.  Among the courses the EOI will be offering as part of their summer training programme for teachers is one led by Manuel and Francisco on linguistic mediation.  We had a few questions on mediation and we figured getting in touch with them would be a good place to start to get some clear answers.   Here’s what they had to tell us:

Question: Let’s start with the elephant in the room: What is the big deal with mediation?  Is it really all that important in our daily lives?

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Cyberbullying: a video-based lesson

The teens and tweens we teach are too young to remember a world without the internet. They take for granted the benefits it brings, such as access to all kinds of information at the click of a finger or the ability do a video call with someone on the other side of the world. However, admiring the skills these ‘digital natives’ possess has given way to the realisation that they need guidance on how to properly use the internet in general and social media in particular. For example, 50% of boys and 26% of girls don’t consider it to be dangerous to meet someone they have met online in person. In this two-part blog series, we’ll look at video-based ELT lessons to raise awareness of two key issues: cyberbullying and protecting your identity.  

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Grammar Guessing Games: 3 activities to practice grammar orally

Grammar lessons sometimes get a bad press. Perhaps that’s because they might typically have involved long, drawn-out explanations and activity upon activity of mechanical form-based practice. Explanations and closed practice are necessary of course, but in this blog post, let’s look at three activities that allow the students the chance to personalise the grammar and use it more creatively. All the activities include the game element of guessing.

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To Translate or Not to Translate: That is the Question

Guest post by: Karen McGhie

Karen McGhie is Head of Teacher Training and Development at London School in San Sebastian. She will be speaking on Embracing Translation in the Classroom with her colleague Iñigo Casis at the 3rd Annual ELT Conference in San Sebastian on March 30th.

‘Teacher, he’s molesting me!’ Imagine my reaction when, as a newly qualified English teacher in Spain with very little knowledge of Spanish, I was confronted by this comment from a 10-year-old student. Little did I realise back then what an important false friend this was in English and how many times I would have to remind students of this mis-translation in my subsequent years of teaching (and will have to for many years to come).

Ok, so after that trip down memory lane, let’s kick things off with a little quiz. Are you ready?

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Addressing racism in your ELT class: 3 ideas.

What’s the most challenging thing about teaching teens? Getting them to behave? Getting them up to standard to pass exams? One of my greatest challenges was addressing prejudice in class, which often manifested itself in the shape of racial prejudice. Not all students of course, but some. At the start of my teaching career I foolishly attempted to use my authority to ‘stamp it out’: how dare the students utter such reprehensible ideas? It wasn’t effective. Predictably, a subtler approach, talking about the issues raised, worked better. Taking into account phenomena such as a spike in hate crime after the Brexit referendum and given that the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is coming up on 21 March, in this blog post we look at 3 ways to address racial discrimination with our students

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5 fun activities to build interactional skills

It takes two to tango, goes the saying. It also takes at least two to interact. Interaction requires both speaking and listening skills – by listening carefully and understanding we’ll be in a position to reply directly to our interlocutor. Interaction requires our students to have mastered certain language functions. In the case of a discussion for example, our students will need to be able to agree, disagree, ask for their interlocutor’s opinion etc. In this blog post, let’s look at five fun activities to build our students’ interactional language and skills.    

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Training and Development in Language Assessment for ELT professionals

New Year resolutions – testing … our resolve to learn more about language assessment!

In our first post in this series, we introduced (or re-introduced) the concept of “language assessment literacy” and invited readers to briefly reflect on their current assessment practices and tools and think about the importance of analysing the different types of assessment available and the appropriacy, advantages and overall validity of each, depending on different scenarios, and on just what we want to measure… and why. We offered some initial pointers as to how and where teachers might find opportunities, both individually and collectively, to further their training and development in this area.

At the start of this new calendar year and mirroring the New Year´s resolutions many of us may have undertaken now in our personal lives, the month of January seems like an appropriate time to re-visit and expand on the brief overview we provided back in the Autumn and showcase some more resources and training and development opportunities now available to us. But beyond that, this post lays down a challenge or, if you prefer, an invitation, to commit to 3 professional resolutions this year – on a term-by-term basis.

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Making an Escape Room for your ELT classroom

Over the Christmas holidays I experienced my first Escape Room (in Ávila, successfully breaking out in 54 minutes: see photographic proof!) and last week I held my first Escape Room for teachers on a gamification course (they broke out in 59, living dangerously!). I enjoyed both immensely. Participants work together and are extremely focused on their goal so work hard – behaviours we like to see in our students. In this blog post I’d like to look at ways to set up activities to make your own ELT Escape Room.

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