As we get back into the swing of things this new school year we look back at our three part series on an area which can be problematic for teachers and students alike.
Part One: The Basics
Pronunciation. It’s often the area most avoided by new teachers for lack of confidence, and also the first thing experienced teachers leave out due to lack of time and a desire to get on with the “meatier” issues of vocabulary, grammar and skills work. But like it or not our students are aware of the importance of pronunciation and will expect us to work on it with them, so getting comfortable with it and finding the time should be one of our priorities as teachers.
The following is the first part in a three-part series outlining some basic tips for successfully integrating pronunciation in your classes.
When you saw the title of this post you probably thought that this is just the latest example of a world gone crazy with yet another apparently random silly holiday. Better think again.
Ask a Stupid Question day, far from being a pointless unofficial holiday, was created in the 1980’s by a group of teachers with a very specific purpose in mind: encouraging their students to participate more in class by asking questions. They knew that most of them had lots of questions but believed they kept many to themselves for fear of being laughed at.
It takes place on the 28th of September, but it’s commonly celebrated on the last day of class this month. Since its creation, this has been an annual tradition in American schools, and has recently become popular in Britain and India.
So how might we English teachers take advantage of this date at the beginning of the year to foster a more participative classroom which focuses on the needs of our learners? Continue reading →
In a previous post, we pointed out 5 common errors Spanish speakers make in English. We also stated that errors could be ignored if they are not impeding communication. However, there are times when error correction exercises are needed for the students to make progress in the language. Here are five top tips for dealing with common errors that will help your students to 1) become aware of their own mistakes and 2) make them responsible for their own learning. Continue reading →
Masked carnival-goers in Venice (Frank Kovalchek – Creative Commons)
Do on your costumes, revellers and partygoers, if you haven’t donned already, and don’t do them off until it’s over – carnival season is upon us! Traditionally, these boisterous festivities were the time for Catholics to indulge before Lent, the time to eat up all the rich food in the house before the long pre-Easter weeks of fasting, piety and prayer. The roots of the revelry go back even further, however, to pre-Christian pagan festivals. These days, of course, it’s more the costumes, masks and music that come merrily to mind. Here’s a little quiz for you and your students about the various carnival celebrations in full swing around the world. Answers on a sequin or in drumbeat, please!
Two weeks ago I had the privilege of collaborating with La Rioja region.
The Department of Educational Innovation has included a blended course of CLIL methodology addressed to all the teachers interested in implementing bilingualism in their classes (or already implementing it!). Continue reading →
For the last ten years or so, delicate birds in English-speaking countries the world over have been complaining about social networking – or to be more precise, about one site in particular. It’s not Facebook that has upset them, or LinkedIn, nor is it Instagram or Tumblr. It’s Twitter that has ruffled their feathers. The reason is simple; they can no longer do one of the things that delicate birds in English-speaking countries most like to do, at least not without everyone expecting them to keep it short and simple and add a couple of hashtags to the message. They can no longer twitter or tweet.
‘Why they had to go with our particular sound is beyond me,’ tweeted Warner Bros. veteran Tweety Bird, in an exclusive interview for Pearson ELT Learning Journeys. ‘Why couldn’t they have called it Oinker or Mooster? The pigs and the cows wouldn’t have minded. They could’ve done with the publicity.’ Meanwhile, groups of birds from other countries have expressed their relief that the site chose to go with Englishonomatopoeia rather than sound-words from their own languages. ‘Chu-u chu-u!’ chirped a Japanese spokes-bird, visibly relieved, while a Spanish owl in Madrid hooted in to say, ‘It’s bad enough that the pedestrian lights here go pío pío. Frankly, I’m relieved you’re not all pío-ing.’ Continue reading →
A while ago I visited a school in the community of Madrid, a public bilingual school called CEIP Cantosaltos, and while I was there talking with Maria, a wonderful and professional teacher, a girl approached us and said so excitedly: “Teacher Maria!! Tomorrow It’s my turn to show and tell!”
I asked Maria, what that was about and she told me that since she wanted to improve her students oral skills she had implemented this simple but powerful activity at the beginning of every Monday session. Show and tell is a very typical American game. And it goes like this:
A student brings a secret possession to school and they keep it covered up inside of a bag or inside of a box so the other students can’t see. The other students have to guess what’s inside the bag. The student who has the secret possession stands in front of the class and give clues about their hidden object, so they can say “it’s very big” or “it’s small” or they can describe what colour it is, or they can talk about why it is special for them, and then the students in the classroom get to ask that boy or girl questions like: “Is it round? Is it square? Is it blue?” The game ends when they figure out what it is.
It’s great for the children because it gives them the opportunity to practice questions and answers and to play with the language as well as share with their friends what is important for them turning this into a really meaningful learning experience.
Maria’s language assistant explains it in this video.
Sometimes I feel like a treasure hunter when I travel. There are amazing educational jewels hidden in schools, and I love to find them.
It goes something like this: You visit a school and start to talk to a teacher or a headteacher. Nothing out of the ordinary so far. A normal school in a normal town. But suddenly you hear them say something that catches your attention, like the glimmer of a shiny jewel. Just follow it, ask the appropiate questions and…there it is!
A while ago I found one of these gems in a school called Betania-Patmos located in Barcelona. They had been asked by the regional governtment what kind of profile a teacher needs in this global era, but they didn’t rush to write down hasty conclusions as teachers. They did something smarter. They turned this into a task for their last year high school pupils. This is what they told them:
“Imagine you work in human resources and you have to hire a teacher. What profile would you be looking for?”
And those teenagers (you know, the ones everyone describes as being “lost”) worked in teams for a week, and then presented 11 ideas that demonstrate they might not be the ones who are lost after all, but the ones looking for someone who isn’t.
11 ideas about the Teacher profile required for a global era.
Recruiters: Last year High school students.
This first set of requirements had complete consensus amongst the group.
1.- Teachers commited to helping their pupils, who care for them, are close to them, and instill confidence through respect and generosity.
2.- Teachers with a deep, broad and up-to-date knowledge of their subject area.
3.- Teachers that can express themselves clearly and make themselves understood using structured methods.. Good communicators balanced and mentally organized
4.- Teachers that exude emotion about what they are explaining, and are enthusiastic and passionate about their subject and respectful of other disciplines.
Requirements with a very high level of consensus
5.- Teachers who have mastered different types of learning – from paper to the latest generation of technologies (drawing, writing, sound, image, and mixed media), following the idea of introduction not substitution.
6.- Teachers who have mastered different languages, with English being considered absolutely necessary.
7.- Teachers that teach critical thinking and promote alternative ways of doing things.
8.- Teachers with patience, modesty, energy and coherence.
9.- Teachers that promote participation, interactivity and practice.
10- Fun teachers, with a sense of humour that can make teaching and learning a pleasure.
Requirements sine qua non:
11.- Teachers that are punctual and don’t miss classes.
The first time that I read this I was struck by two things:
– When a teenager says that he is looking for someone stable and mentally organized…it makes you think about what he has seen
– Technology appears in a discreet second place. First people, then gadgets.
So, as you can see here, our youth are just looking for a stable reference in a confusing world. They are looking for educators that can teach their mind and their soul, someone who can maintain the essence of the educational experience even when all the elements keep changing. Because essencially our young generation is alone and we are letting them grow up alone with no tribe to guide them.
As usual Mafalda said it first and better: “Educating is harder than teaching. To teach you need to know, to educate you need to be” .
I have realised that after being away from the class for quite a long time, you start to talk and think too theoretically and idealistically.
Children bring us back down to earth, back to class, a place where you need to find the perfect balance between theory, trends and reality, where emotions and relationships are as important as the latest trends in education.
Why am I saying this? Because we have created what we call “A class with your class”. The principal aim of this activity is to offer teachers a “live teacher training” . We conduct a class for the students, (we request the presence of the English teacher) and a meeting with the teachers afterwards to talk and reflect about what we have done as well as to complement the session with resources and more ideas.
Let’s have an example. We did this in A Coruña, in the International School Eiris, a great school that is now facing the challenge of implementing the use of tablets in their classes, so, we decided to deliver a QR code workshop for students and a training session to the teachers focused on digital competence in the English class.
Why QR codes? When we talk about literacy, we have to be aware that in a technological society, this concept is expanding to include the media and electronic text, in addition to the alphabet and number systems. Our students need to learn how to read images, how to read multimedia, how to read the web, and how to read anything that can give them information. QR codes are just another way to get or to offer information.
In this session we explained to the children the QR code concept, we practiced with QR codes, we created QR codes and we reflected afterwards about how we can apply it to our daily activities.
20-2-GO, is a collaborative contest that measures children’s reading comprehension in a fun way. Here you have the presentation where the rules are explained. You can use it for so many different purposes in your daily routines just by changing the questions. The counter works only in presentation mode and its durationcan be adjusted to your necessities.
Hereyou can read a review of the activity written by a teacher after one of the workshops, thank you Salva!