The Four Types of Classroom Context

The Four Types of Classroom Context

Don’t fall into the trap of always choosing a realistic context.

Yes, it’s easier to pick (you just think about a situation from real life), but it gets boring for you and your students.

 I have a friend who describes this as the ‘tyranny of context’, and he’s not wrong.

 I would argue that there are four kinds of context. Imaginary, implied, realistic and real.

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Teaching is an Act of Persuasion

Teaching is an Act of Persuasion

In ‘Why Students Don’t Like School’, cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham says that just as an author has to persuade the reader not to wander off and do something more interesting, so a teacher has to persuade students to continue the learning journey.

When I read this, I was reminded of a few of my lessons where it took all my powers of persuasion to get my students to stay with me, as we heroically battled through a particularly boring coursebook chapter.

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Do Students Learn What We Teach?

Do Students Learn What We Teach?

How do we know that what we teach is what our students are learning?

In his book, ‘Why Students Don’t Like School’, cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham makes the point that what we think about is what we remember – so we have to do our best to ensure our learners actually think deeply about what we want them to learn.

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Differentiate Mixed Abilities

Differentiate Mixed Abilities

Differentiation is the means of teaching one concept and meeting the different learning needs in a group.

Differentiation lies on a scale. At one end is 1-to-1 teaching, where everything is 100% personalised for one student. At the other is where I was when I first started teaching – treating everyone in the class the same, and moving together (regardless of how well they did or didn’t do). Your job as teacher is to move as close to the 1-to-1 end as possible whilst keeping your sanity.

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Lesson Methodology

Lesson Methodology

There is no one ‘best’ lesson methodology for teaching English.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any methodology at all. If you leap out from behind the photocopier, grab a teacher and demand they explain their activity selection and sequencing, they usually can’t (but they do sometimes question your sanity for hiding behind photocopiers).

They claim to use an ‘eclectic’ or a ‘post-methods approach’. What rubbish (mostly).

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Using Supplementary Materials Effectively

Using Supplementary Materials Effectively

Most of us suck at using supplementary materials effectively. From the teacher that staggers into class with a mountain of handouts, to the teacher that wanders in with nothing at all, I’ve seen (and done!) it all.

What I mostly see now is teachers using materials reactively, rather than proactively. What do I mean?

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Successful Language Teaching is about Connection

Successful Language Teaching is about Connection

What is language, if not a means to connect with other people? We all have an innate need to communicate, to connect with other people.

In education, this is especially important. Too many teachers communicate without connecting. They just ‘don’t care anymore’.

So why does connection matter in language teaching?

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3 Ways to Get Parents to Teach For You

3 Ways to Get Parents to Teach For You

Students’ parents are not your enemy. They can actually be one of your most powerful allies. No, I don’t mean the “If you do that again I’ll call your parents!” threat of the overwhelmed teacher. I’m talking about getting parents on your side and using them as a force for good.

What if you could get parents actively involved? Motivating students at home, acting as a guide and participant when you’re not there, and making sure homework gets done?

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4 Reasons to Value Silence in the TEFL Classroom

4 Reasons to Value Silence in the TEFL Classroom

In the TEFL classroom, silence can be golden. We tend to think that silence is worthless. That if a class (especially a language learning class) isn’t busy listening or speaking, it’s a waste of time.

Even I’ve said that if you can do it at home, don’t do it in the classroom, and we tend to think that silent activities fit this category. They don’t.

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5 Reasons Why Edutainment Classes Suck

5 Reasons Why Edutainment Classes Suck

'Edutainment' is a dirty word. Edutainment (education + entertainment) in the TEFL world is what happens when a teacher can’t be bothered to deliver a good lesson, and instead just plays games that barely meet the criteria of being educational. Entertaining, but ultimately worthless once you've factored in the time that they waste.

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How to Always Have the Best ESL Activities

How to Always Have the Best ESL Activities

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut using the same activities every lesson. The activities you’re using are familiar to you (you know that they work) and familiar to the students (less explaining to do).

However, you’re bored, the students are bored, but you’re too busy to create or find new activities.

What can you do?

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