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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
...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.
Some teachers swear that competition is evil, and only use cooperation in class. Others regularly use competition, get great results and wonder what on earth all the fuss is about. So which is better?
You just thought you were signing up for a year of teaching abroad. Little did you realise that you were going to get the equivalent of an iron man suit thrown in for free. Remember to use your newfound powers for good, not evil…
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?
Vocabulary acquisition is the longest challenge for language learners. This makes total sense when you think about it like this: how many grammar structures do you have to learn and practice? Now, how many words and language chunks?
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?
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.
'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.
Ask anyone that’s learned a language to a reasonably high standard, and they’ll tell you that learning vocabulary is a pain in the backside.
It’s that simple.
Learning a language is a huge task that needs time, energy, and motivation. Students are not going to be able to learn English from being in your lesson for two hours a week.
Students can be right little monkeys, can’t they?
That’s why it’s essential to have well-run classes so learners can actually learn.
Classroom and behaviour management are the two strategies we can use to do this.
Think about the best teacher you’ve ever had. Doesn’t matter if it was a language teacher or not. Picture them, remember one of their classes.
Now… why did you pick them? What did they do that earned them the prestigious ‘Your Best Teacher Award’?
So what are our two most critical skills?
Especially, as language teachers, we usually only spend two hours or less per week with our learners. This being the case. prioritising is paramount.
Every day well-intentioned language teachers go into class and sabotage their students’ learning.
They do it unconsciously, without even realizing. They do it by not monitoring the language they use when talking to students. Language that is…
Most teachers have no idea why they do what they do.
The best teachers you’ll ever meet are the ones that take the time to analyse their actions and decisions in TEFL teaching. They consider how each action affects their students and colleagues.
he best error correction has three elements.
Timeliness – it happens as close to the error occurring as possible.
Personalisation – correction is tailored to individual students’ errors (rather than giving general class feedback)
Reformulation. The student has a chance to try again until correct.
It’s a powerful precision tool, that’s why.
Teacher talking time (TTT) has a bad reputation. It’s easy to see why – too many teachers talking too much, stealing their students’ talking time, and being boring. This hurts students’ motivation and willingness to communicate in class.