Back to School: the ice-breaking, rule-making, goal-setting blog post

Doesn’t time fly? It seems only yesterday that I was putting my kids to work on the front of a pedalo while sunbathing on the back, but September is almost upon us and that means it’s time to go Back to School.

As Will Rogers said, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ Now, this isn’t a blog post advertising my latest shampoo range and we can and should make continuous improvements, but the quote does broadly hold water for our context as the first few lessons set the tone for the rest of the year.

These are some of the vibes I like to try to give off at the start: “Hello! I’m your teacher. I’m fun. I care about you as people. I’m organised. I have high expectations of work and behaviour.”

As far as I can I want to establish a climate in class in which students feel safe and at ease with me and each other and that they know where they’re going.

With the above in mind, in our first lessons back we may include 1) ‘Getting to know you’ activities 2) Rules and expectations 3) Course content and goals. This blog post will deal with these three areas.

Continue reading

LOMLOE: a look at the new Education Law

Change. It’s something teachers everywhere are well-versed in, particularly given the events of the last 18 months. Another change coming into focus for teachers in Spain is a new Education Law, the LOMLOE. The stated aim of the law is to ensure the provision of a quality education with equal opportunities for all and one all. The Law aims to help equip young people with the necessary competences to meet the demands of the global and digital world of today and tomorrow: to meet the demands of societal change 

In the blog post we’re going to look at the reasoning behind the new law and the key competences that it outlines. In future blog posts, we’ll look at what the law means for the English curriculum and look at what we can do in the classroom to develop the competences the law outlines.   

Continue reading

5 books for your students to read this summer

Summer’s (nearly) here and the time is (nearly) right, for dancing in the street! After what’s been a challenging year in so many ways, teachers and students alike are looking forward to a well-earned summer break. But before we dismiss our class, we might set them a task or two to keep up their English: summer’s long over here! Last year I wrote a post with ten top tips for summer activities. In the coming weeks, my colleague Anita Derecskei will be looking at getting our students working autonomously on their writing and speaking and then grammar and vocabulary. But today, I’d like to suggest that classic summer activity: reading a book. And I’d like to share five of my favourite stories to suit different tastes and levels. But this is just the tip of the iceberg – click here to see more!

  1. The Twits

This Roald Dahl classic is one of my son’s favourite books, I must have read it to him a dozen times, I never get bored of it and neither does he. It’s hilariously funny and The Twits are deliciously evil! Imagine putting a ‘Skillywiggler’ in your wife’s bed and telling her ‘It’s got teeth like screwdrivers!’ We repeat this line every time we see a big insect in the countryside. Give it a go with your young learners: you won’t regret it!

 

Continue reading

Structuring a grammar class…and five top practice activities

Link

Grammar lessons sometimes get a bad press. Perhaps that’s because in the past the lion’s share of the grammar class has been devoted to an explanation and mechanical practice activities. Those things are necessary, but redressing the balance with more meaningful communicative activities can lead to our students coming to our grammar lessons with more of a spring in their step…and they’ll learn the grammar better too!

In the blog post we’ll consider a procedure to teach grammar (Part 1) and move onto five top activities to practice the grammar taught (Part 2). Let’s begin!

Continue reading

Speak Out for Sustainability – Get Involved!

As English teachers we know a thing or two about preparing our students for the future. For starters, we help develop our students’ communicative competence in the language itself. We look to integrate other skills too, such as digital literacy, critical thinking or the ability to collaborate with others in a team. But as well as ‘preparing’ our students for the future, we can also give them the tools to go out and shape that future for themselves.

Speak Out for Sustainability, a project recently launched by Pearson and BBC Studios is a project with our students’ futures in mind. It’s a project which has at its heart the goal of making that future sustainable. And we aim to do that by raising awareness of sustainability issues and inspiring action and interaction among teachers and students alike.

Read on to find out more…

Continue reading

Helping our students recognise paraphrase in exams (and beyond)

I hope you enjoy this blog post and find it useful. I trust you’ll like this article and get something out of it. I’m hopeful you’ll appreciate this piece and deem it helpful.

This post is about paraphrase. Paraphrase is something our students will use in real life, for example when telling someone about something they’ve read or heard (such as in mediation), or when reformulating when they sense someone hasn’t understood what they’ve said.

And moving to receptive skills and exam questions, spotting paraphrase in a text is often a key to getting the answer right. Indeed, these GSE descriptors indicate what a learner at a B2 level should be able to do:

It is an (exam) skill that we can help our students develop and in this blog post we’ll be looking at how both by using course material and in other ways.

Continue reading

Supporting International Women’s Day in the classroom and beyond

8th March is International Women’s Day. It is a day on which we celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality, all with the aim of forging a gender equal world. Here at Pearson Spain and Portugal, we’d like to mark the day in a number of different ways.

Lesson materials

Firstly, we’ve prepared a reading lesson for your intermediate teens. The focus of the lesson is celebrating women’s achievements. Click to download the student worksheet  and the teacher’s notes. Feel free to adapt and use the material as you wish.

In the lesson, students will read about a scientist, a sports star, a billionaire business executive and an activist, all of whom are women. Unless we’ve been very careful as teachers, our students are likely to have been exposed to more male role models in these categories than female.

Continue reading

Rising to the Challenge Part 2: sign up now!

We’re living through a time of great challenges. We’re being challenged personally and professionally and are having to regularly change and adapt and find new reserves of resilience. Teachers for example, have had to incorporate distance learning, social distancing and have had to deal with the emotional upheaval many students are facing.

But as well as a time of great challenges, it’s also been a time of great learning. And we’d like to celebrate this learning in our new series of upcoming webinars: Rising to the Challenge, Part 2. Across a variety of topics we’ll identify new ways of working which are useful for our present and for the future too.

What are the topics and who are the presenters? When are the webinars? Read on

Continue reading

Squeezing the most out of songs: 10 ideas

This month we launch Pearson Music to learn to, our new Spotify account for teachers and students alike and its first playlist, Songs for St Valentine’s. To celebrate comes a blog post on using songs in the ELT classroom. Many and varied are the reasons for using songs in class and, equally, many and varied are the ways in which they can be used. Why might we use a song?

  • Songs contextualise grammar structures and vocabulary and include repetition and therefore repeated exposure to the same vocabulary and grammar structures…which can  mean remembering language!
  • Particularly If it’s a song they like, songs can be memorable for students…which can mean even more remembering of language!
  • As well as listening to songs, our students can sing them, even better if we go first (and even better with a guitar!). I think I have sung Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire to every class I’ve ever taught and can still picture a student by the name of Juan Cruz doing a cowboy lassoo gesture singing along. Another song I’ve had success singing with a class is Lemon Tree by Fool’s Garden. It inspired the name and picture of this post! And singing songs can help our students…you guessed it, remember language.
  • Many songs have a story behind them that invites interpretation and gets our students talking. A song therefore can be a springboard for discussion.

Next up, how can we squeeze the most out of songs in class? Read on for ten ideas

Continue reading

Greatest Hits 2020: our five most-viewed posts from last year

This week, we take a look back at our five most-viewed posts of 2020: most-viewed as they’ve been shared a lot, and shared a lot because teachers found them useful (I hope!). And just as we use spaced-repetition to help our learners retain vocabulary they’re learning, a quick reminder of ideas we’ve already seen can help them become a permanent piece of our teaching repertoire!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the unexpected events of 2020 – which are spilling into 2021 – influence our list, as two posts on online lessons and one post on classroom activities with masks made the cut. Teachers are still on the lookout for games to use in class, with a post on guessing games finding its way into the top five too. Our list is rounded out with a post on ways to get your students to keep up their learning in the holidays. Here we go!

Continue reading