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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Task Design for TEFL

Task Design for TEFL

One area that often gets left out of planning is task design. With everything else that we need to focus on when we plan, designing a task is almost an afterthought. Often we look for any activity or game that’s loosely related to the lesson aim, and go with that.

Tasks are often overlooked when planning, but creating effective tasks is essential.

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What is 'Presentation, Practice, Production' (PPP)?

What is 'Presentation, Practice, Production' (PPP)?

Presentation - Practice - Production (PPP) is a lesson structure, a way to order activities in your lessons.

Whilst pretty old, and heavily criticised over the years, PPP is the probably the most commonly used lesson structure in TEFL today. It’s also still taught on initial teacher training courses like the CELTA and CertTESOL.

Most course books that you’re likely to use will structure their chapters in ways similar or the same as PPP, meaning that you’ll get a lot of exposure to this method.

As the name suggests, there are three stages to this lesson structure, which we’ll look at now.

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TEFL Activity: Instant Interpreter

TEFL Activity: Instant Interpreter

This one is a personal favourite. One student is a two way interpreter, and two other students have a conversation via the interpreter. Below are example instructions to set up and run the activity, and some scenarios to use.

This activity is great for accuracy of language and meaning, and I also love that it brings the learners’ first language (their ‘L1’) into the classroom.

I’d suggest giving the ‘interpreter’ role to stronger or more confident students to begin with, before rotating later.

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Scaffolding and the Zone of Proximal Development

Scaffolding and the Zone of Proximal Development

‘Scaffolding’ is help that we give learners by breaking down the task into manageable chunks.

The term itself is a metaphor for support - just as scaffolding is put around a building that’s being constructed, we provide support to learners while they work on learning.

By providing support, then gradually handing over more and more of the task to the learner, they will move from dependency to independence.

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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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Ethics in TEFL Teaching

Ethics in TEFL Teaching

I’ve never attended a training session that helped me develop my character.

Teaching skills? Sure. Technical, training and interpersonal skills? Also yes. But in 15 years I’ve never seen a workshop on improving as a person, or ethical considerations within the TEFL industry.

At first, it appears unnecessary – most teachers genuinely care about their students, and their work. That’s why they’re teachers.

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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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