Learning how to use phonology seems to be a low priority for many teachers... but teaching spoken language without it is like trying to drive with the handbrake on... lots of wasted energy and getting anywhere takes ages.Read More
What will happen to private language schools as English becomes taught more as a universal skill in schools around the world? The simple answer is that no-one can tell you for certain – but we can make some logical predictions, based on industry trends.Read More
...and what you can do about it.
All of our students want to sound natural and have a ‘native-like’ accent. As a teacher it’s important to understand the reasons why our students struggle to produce the right sounds, so we can help them improve.Read More
In one sentence, behaviour management is avoiding or managing bad behaviour through using classroom routines.
The art and science of behaviour management is to not have any cracks in your lessons for weeds (bad behaviour) to grow through, and having a system for any that do.
There are some major benefits of having a rock-solid system in place…Read More
Classroom routines keep you and the students sane.
Contrary to popular opinion, they don’t make the class boring, they actually free up energy and time for the fun stuff.
Routines are your best friend because they…Read More
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.Read More
First of all, don’t worry if your students keep making errors. It shows that they’re learning (however slowly ), and trying things out with the language. All of which puts them on the road to success.
It’s your job, however, to make sure that the errors don’t ‘fossilize’ or get stuck into place.Read More
Giving instructions is crucial to running a successful activity in the classroom. If you don’t get your instructions spot on, your classroom may well degenerate into something into chaos - or even worse … polite silence.
To make giving instructions easy every time, I like to use a simple, four-step process.Read More
Building rapport is THE most important thing you’ll ever do in a classroom.
Establishing rapport with students motivates, inspires, and leads to creativity, learning and enjoyment in the classroom. Job done.
Without it, no matter how good your teaching skills, you’ll only be a mediocre teacher.Read More
So why lesson plan? Well, there’s a theory in the stock market that says everything known about a stock is reflected in its current price.
I believe that it’s the same for your teaching knowledge – everything you know is reflected in your lesson plans (or at least the thinking that goes into them).Read More
‘How to set a context’ – it’s the one main ingredient that is missing from most coursebook based lessons. Which is a shame, as it’s absolutely necessary for an effective lesson.
Every time we use language, it’s in a clearly set situation. The speakers know where they are, and why the interaction is taking place.Read More
Without lesson aims you might as well give up and go home, because you suck.
Yet for an embarrassingly long time, I didn’t write any aims for my lesson plans. Sure, I learned all about them on my TEFL course. Yeah, they made sense. But I was busy, and had been told to follow the course book (“two pages of the class book every lesson in class, and one page from the student’s book for homework!”). Surely my aims had just been set for me, for every class?
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).Read More
Balancing lesson plans makes classes run more smoothly, and provides more value to students.
To balance your plan, you need to choose activities based not just on their content (vocabulary, grammar, etc), but also three other factors.
Skills (listening, reading, speaking, writing)
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?Read More
So you’ve decided your lesson plan aims, chosen a methodology and selected your activities, all the while keeping your students in mind. You’ve balanced your plan between practicing the different skills, interaction patterns, and relationships in the classroom.
What next?Read More
What if we could make learning a language as addictive as chocolate, computer games or TV? What if we could make learning English so enjoyable that it became something that students did when they procrastinate, rather than something they procrastinate from doing?Read More
Some would say it’s already changed. It used to be that if you were a language student, you had to come to us, the experts. Language schools, teachers, and course books were the gatekeepers that controlled access to knowledge. It used to be that you had to come through us if you wanted to learn a language.Read More