EFL Compass: Reflection and planning in difficult times

I’m a huge fan of reflection and planning. Every year I sit down with my partner or a friend (or sometimes even alone) and go through the YearCompass questions. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a little booklet designed by a group of Hungarian university students, which went viral in 2012. You can download it in 61 languages (to print out or fill in in the digital version) and only last year around 1,500,000 people downloaded it. 

On January 2nd 2021, I sat down to do it again, and frankly, just couldn’t. 2020 was such a difficult year for everyone and it really has turned our whole world upside down. What’s the point in reflecting on such a year? So I put it aside but for some reason couldn’t let go of the idea completely. What’s there to reflect on? Until I realised: my professional life! I’m sure many of you working in ELT can say that although 2020 was an extremely challenging year, it was a year in which we learnt A LOT about teaching (whether it was socially distanced, online, hybrid or a combination of these), and since I keep telling my students that revision and reflection are key to learning, that’s what I should do, too!

So in this blog post I’m going to select a few of the YearCompass questions and answer them about my professional life in 2020/2021. My hope is that it will motivate you to reflect, too!

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Breaking the Boredom with Properly Planned Projects

Teachers and students are living through trying times. With the constant change in regulations resulting in students going online, then back into class, then into a hybrid class and back online, it’s no wonder teachers and students alike don’t know if they’re coming or going and motivation can wane. All I know is we teachers are doing the best we can.

The Spark

One thing I have found to be a huge help has been the use of projects in class. Using projects is  is a great way to help students make real-life connections with the material, as well as increase motivation, participation and collaboration – all while working on all four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking), having fun and learning at the same time. There are clear learning outcomes. The students have a tangible end product which they can be proud of. And can we keep using projects if our lessons are moved online? You bet we can!

In this blog post we’ll look at how to get the most out of projects with our teens.

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Shortcut to Success. Eight hotkeys making Zoom classes a breeze

Are you a victim of cumbersome cutting and slow screen switches in your online lessons? Perhaps you’re doing lots more clicking than you need to. And I’ve got some simple solutions to mute the madness.

There are a vast number of hotkeys in Zoom, each with its own very particular function. I’ve picked out the eight hotkeys that have made my online lessons a great deal smoother and more efficient, enabling me to move seamlessly around an activity and from one part of the lesson to another.

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