6 great ways to use dictation in your English class

Dictation is a tried and tested activity in the language classroom. It’s a multi-skilled activity, testing listening and writing skills: it’s quick to correct too, and it’s diagnostic: we get valuable feedback for where our learners need to improve. Dictation draws our students attention to many features of speech: it helps them get to grips with elision:  the omission of sounds ( /kamra/ for camera). The same can be said for assimilation: a sound becoming more like a nearby sounds (we often say ‘hambag’ for handbag). Indeed, dictation is particularly suited to English because of it’s complicated sound/spelling relationship.

Dictation is also used in certification exams. Take this example from the B1 level of the Pearson English International Certificate. At the top are the instructions the candidate sees, and the transcript of what they hear below:

Candidates hear the recording twice and the second time they hear it there are pauses to give them time to write (represented by the slashes above).

Read on to look at six great dictation activities to use in class with your students:

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Developing the LOMLOE Key Competence of Citizenship at Primary

The new Education Law outlines eight key competences to be developed across subject areas as part of its ‘perfil de salida’ (leaver profile). These are general competences that school leavers will need to get on in life and be effective members of society. One of these key competences is Citizenship and in this blog post we are going to look at how it is defined according to the LOMLOE and consider some activities we can do with our primary pupils to develop the competence.
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Supporting International Women’s Day: #breakthebias

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. Celebrate women’s achievements. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

I took this introduction from the International Women’s Day website as I couldn’t improve upon it. I think we can agree that it’s a world we’d like to live in and one that’s worth fighting for. To create it, we’ll need to educate our children and indeed ourselves in the values above. In this blog post, I’d like to look at some of the things we can do as educators, parents and as people to try to make it a reality.

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Developing self management in English class: part 2

Persistence, confidence, optimism and emotional intelligence. Useful qualities to have? They’re all outlined as part of the competencia personal, social y de aprender a aprender, one of the key competences in the new LOMLOE.

In part 1 of this two part series we broke down the key competence (I called it self management) and considered how to develop skills like planning, goal setting and reflection, which are all part of ‘learning to learn‘. Today we’re going to look at the four areas mentioned in the first sentence of this post. Let’s begin!

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LOMLOE: developing the self management competence in English class

Happy New Year one and all! It’s a New year, with New Year’s Resolutions and a New Education Law: the LOMLOE!

Back in our first blog post on the new law, we considered how the LOMLOE sets out a ‘leaver profile’ which establishes the eight key competences that young people will need to make their way in life in personal, social and academic domains. The competences are to be developed across subject areas.

One of these eight competences is referred to as the competencia personal, social y de aprender a aprenderwhich I’m referring to as self management, as most of the descriptors outlined for this competence in the perfil de salida fall under the umbrella of self management, as we will see.

In this blog post, the first in a two part series, I’m going to:

  1. Have a look at the description of the competence in the law
  2. Consider what we can do in English class to develop the competence.

In post 2, I will continue with the second practical section, as there’s a lot we can do with our students.

Let’s begin!
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Building leadership qualities in teens: part 2

“A leader is someone who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”

Remember the difference between a boss and a leader; a boss says “Go!”, a leader says “Let’s Go!”

Welcome to part two of our blog post on developing leadership qualities in teens. In part 1 we looked at what in means to be a good leader and how our understanding of a good leader has changed over time. We considered how to examine the concept with our students such as by discussing, categorising or ranking desirable characteristics for leaders or by reading texts by people discussing their leadership experiences.

To this we could add a quick google of leadership quotes with our students: what do they mean, what qualities do they allude to and do we agree with them? The quotes at the start of this blog could be: has domain knowledge, leads by example, provides the tools to get the job done, gets involved / gets their hands dirty, doesn’t just sit back and order.

But of course teaching about a skill isn’t enough to develop it, and in our first post we moved onto practical ways to develop leadership, namely monitoring debates and giving and receiving feedback. In part 2, let’s continue with measures, strategies and activities we can use at both a school and class level to develop our students’ leadership.

Onwards!

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Christmas presents with a difference: a video lesson plan

Merry Christmas teachers! After what’s been another challenging term we’re entering the home straight and will soon be sending our students on their merry way for the holidays. Once end-of-term exams and report cards are out of the way, thoughts sometimes turn to a festive lesson or two. With that in mind I’ve prepared a video-based Christmas lesson as an ‘off the shelf’ option. A students’ worksheet is available here (Word format for editing) and there are some teacher’s notes and answers here.

The lesson is based on a 2020 Commercial from the American telecommunications company Xfinity and features Steve Carrell as Santa Claus. The video combines the themes of Christmas and the pandemic, both still relevant in 2021!

The video is humorous and vocabulary rich, both in terms of its Christmas vocabulary and the phrasal verbs and other idiomatic language in the script. There’s plenty to exploit and I think the topic also offers plenty of opportunities for the students to talk about their own experiences. This lesson plan is designed for students of a B2 level and above: why not give it a go?

 

Building leadership qualities in teens

Follow me, I know the way! 

In this two-part blog series, we’re going to talk about leadership.

But first, a bit of context. Giving centre stage to real world competencies (like leadership) is at the heart of Spain’s new educational law, the LOMLOE. However, the conversation around competence-based teaching and learning has been developing for quite some time. Pearson’s employability framework developed in 2019 is a useful resource for teachers looking for both research and practical guidance on teaching and assessing key competencies..

One of the competencies outlined by the framework is leadership: check out the full report if you’re feeling studious or the executive summary for an overview. And of course, keep reading this blog post in which we’ll look at how we can develop leadership in our teens. Let’s begin!

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LOMLOE: Making our classroom an inclusive place to be

We all like to feel included. To feel that we belong, and that people care about us. To feel that we’re listened to and to feel that we’re represented. To feel that we have the same opportunities open to us that others have, regardless of our circumstances. And our students have a right to all these things.

Inclusion has been on the agenda in education for many years. Consider the names given to Educational laws and acts: The ‘No Child left behind Act’ (2001) and its successor the ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ (2015) in the USA, or ‘Every Child Matters’ (2003) in the UK. The right to education of every child in accordance with the UN Convention was set out back in 1989 and Quality Education is the fourth of the 17 UN sustainable development goals.    

Inclusion in education is already well embedded here in Spain and is one of the five pillars of the new education law, the LOMLOE, which is coming into force.

In this blog post we’re going to look at what inclusion means and provide resources that will help us be inclusive in our teaching practice.

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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.

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