Showing posts from July, 2009

48. CBI - Content based instruction

Concerning the magazine, Joe wanted to also say that, and this is paramount, the students wrote or could write about the culture of the town - namely Jaén. It's essential. History, traditions, reconquest by Saint Ferdinando III, muslim traces, architecture, resources of olive trees, Semana Santa, cuisine, idiosincracy of the inhabitants, typical expressions, the archeological museum, Gran Eje, Christian roots of Jaén -within the ones of Europe ... Well, I've added here points which would be interesting to write about. - Poster from directdownloadheaven blogspot com

47. Why not making a magazine?

Dwight asked Joe, "What could I do to boost up my students' English high?" Joe answered, "I knew a school in a town south of Spain where the department of languages hit the nail on the head, by starting a school magazine in English. All was valid. All the students could contribute with. The teachers published the articles as they were written, not changing any error - or did they do sometimes? The articles were so varied as you can think of: criticism about movies, the school soccer-league, science, jokes, just-for-fun, stories, space observation, video-games, some articles in German, some articles about lately events, drawings by the youngest... The students gave the teachers nearly one hundred diskets, and this staff had to view one by one, opening and closing the disk-bay, and so on. One father of the school, a representative of Citröen, contributed with an advertisement to help with the costs, one family with an ad about their shop of clothes for babies... The students w…

46. New vocabulary into creative texts

Dwight asked Joe,
"What should I do with my advanced students, for them to acquire, to interiorize the words they are learning lately, in the current unit?"
And Joe replied,
"Set them as a task in the class to utilize those words - a given number of them, into an essay, a composition, about a specific kind of text: fiction texts about what happened to the girl on her first day she started to work in that company; just to give you a precise theme.
And encourage them to spill out imagination: some of your adult students have a talent for writing, for creation!"

45. How to make compound sentences

Joe said, "Some posts before I told you how to make sentences. Now teach how to make adversative clauses, with On the contrary, However, Nevertheless. Sentences like The lion was hungry. However it didn't eat the explorer on the tree. Sentences with some significance, with humor." Picture from www hearingdogs org uk

44. A strategy of learning: trying to let out opinions

Joe said, "Your students have to attain learning in the class itself, not simply at homework. For example, ask Mogan what she thinks about pro-life, because yesterday she said something about this. Ask her furtherly about this point. Let her say statements, yes, in her broken English. Let her more seconds to express herself. You, wait, stay calm, listen to her statements. Help her to clarify her view. Nod as backing her up with her conversation with you all. Rephrase what she has just said. Jaimito too, will show to be willing to say something else, either pro or con." The photograph shows a lady around 1860 at http:// z about com

43. Vocabulary? A workweb

Dwight said, "Joe, you are shrewd and experienced - How on earth can I do for my students to learn the vocabulary of Unit 3, about The Street?" Joe replied, "Set as homework to read throughout the new unit, picking up as many words as possible, about this topic. Next day all of you make a workweb with words about The Street, typical things or jobs one can find on the street, and you write them on the blackboard. In the center of the web you write the topic, and the words linked with arrows to the center." Mortadelo and Filemón, www lasindone iespana es

42. They don't know how to make sentences

Dwight said,
"Joe, definitely my students cannot make sentences, they just say words."
Joe replied,
"Have you tried the Hangman game with words instead of letters? Write the sentence, scrambled, as a column. They try relishly to put the pieces into the right place."
Photo at www images jupiterimages com

41. Each student demands the best of you

Dwight, "You know what? The two first classes of the current summer program I'm running were a disaster with my class. I got disappointed. One high-level student told me the class had been too simple - He expected more. And I noticed Luis absolutely lost among a chitchat in English, unable to respond any question. Juan - I saw this kid with a disgusting face, because I scolded him in public, for he had been tardy, after the recess. The second class was also a failure: I did not get the point of something significant for them. I felt miserable. All my marvelous schemes on teaching dropped deep." Joe said, "Don't think your career is over, and you should do something different. Address each student. Look at each one. Learn their names. Get concerned with each one. It's not just a technique to touch the target. You work with persons. Flick apart your selfish objectives. Make them be the owners of their learning. Get them aware of their short steps upward. Prais…

40. In English from the first minute

Dwight, "You know what? I'm excited with the idea. Tomorrow Friday 24 I start a course as the director of studies and a teacher myself. It's for kids aged 14 to 17 approximately. Initially I had thought to give them some starting announcements, in order to start the program, to direct the students to their classrooms, how to dress, the schedule, the placement test..., those points in Spanish. But I've changed my mind: I will address them in English, from the very beginning, though they might not understand me. Gently, good humor, resolution, attention, politeness, all expressed in English." Joe, "Well, so, I shouldn't add anything else - You said all, you have the response yourself, you beat it." Pau Gassol, a Spanish player of Los Angeles Lakers

39. Teaching = Education


"Know what? I was thinking of how force-draining is teaching..."


"Yep, you are right. Ponder something when some spare time you may have.

Teaching is education.

The point is that whatever you do in the classroom, either educates your youngsters, or miseducates them. Nothing is justhere, in between.

What's more, the education you give depends on your life.

Even when in the remains of the day, when you are not before your students, if you struggle yourself to better your life, you will help them up;

otherwise you will influence negatively on them.

You cannot give them what you do not have.

So, try to improve as a father, a spouse, a worker, a citizen, a driver in a hectic gray day...

And you, you told me you were a Christian, right?

Well, so, you count on God's grace.

Namely it's the Holy Spirit who makes you into a saint. You can see this in the Bible. You are called not just to be merely bulkily good, but to become a Christian, a follower of Chr…

38. Fun but real learning

"Joe, a few hours ago I again came to hear about a way of conducting the class, very profitable, and suitable for some types of schools.
Briefly speaking, the core point is that the students learn by means of games, which foster speaking and fun, and the teacher shows true affection and concerning about each kid.
However, this teacher does not struggle to actually show that affection - just the students see it somewhere."
"Well, don't get amazed, it's natural, a rather natural way of teaching-learning.
Yes, I also heard about that.
And what's more, they have a close relationship with the teacher, but this one doesn't get like their buddy."
A place in North Carolina, a photo from www spruance com

37. Fun and skill with vocabulary

"Joe, my students at the end of the academic year cannot remember many words. They have really learned few!"
"I'm suggesting you a game, very fun, that you can do in the class.
And your students will do an operative effort to get them stuck on their heads, without realizing of the mental process.
I recommend you to do this from time to time.
It turns out good with my students."
Dwight, "Well, let me know, I appreciate."
"Do a brainstorm about letters with your students, and you write them on the blackboard or the digital board.
They have got to make up as many words as possible, with those letters.
It's really amazing the number of words they can make, more than you can think of.
They can repeat the letters written on the blackboard.
Get a try, and tell me tomorrow."
Thanks to www 11 septiembre 2001 biz, for the picture.

36. The learner really learns with strategies

We all use various strategies of learning when we learn a language.
Many times we don't realize of some of these strategies.
The adult often has more strategies than young learnes. Beside the fact that this person has a need of learning for a specific purpose.
Better to talk about strategies if available individual tutorials with your students. However, you can talk with your class all together, and let them suggest strategies.
In tutorials ask him how he does to learn.
Now I give an example.
The young learner quite often, in some of our schools, practice a grammar pattern by means of translation, and conversion.
Conversion from affirmative into negative and interrogative.
Yet he does not use this pattern in real life!
He does not interiorize the pattern.
Ok, let him learn the theoretical-pattern mode, but practice it in varied situations in the class, with a significance for him.
And in the future he will utilize this pattern in his real life when speaking with people from other …

35. They learn words with fun!

This is a game every student wants to participate as a player.
Brainstorm a set of vocabulary your class is learning lately.
Write the words on the BB. Then, you give them one minute to memorize those so many words.
When the minute is over, ask for a volunteer...
She has got to turn around and say as many words as she can remember - All her classmates are expectant, wide open eyes as she tries to spin out her time.
A variation is that a student comes to the blackboard and erases whichever word he wants to.
His classmate, having turned around before this erasing, gets back so as to see the blackboard again, desperately trying to find out the missing word.
Just fantastic. Thanks to www wozamark blogspot com for the picture

34. The why of communication

I have just read this, and I believe it suits our goal as teachers of languages: communication.
It is quoted from the last Encyclica of Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate. It was published on June 29 this year.
I make the indentations, so as to avoid so a bulky text.
"Puesto que está llena de verdad, la caridad puede ser comprendida por el hombre en toda su riqueza de valores, compartida y comunicada.
En efecto, la verdad es "logos" que crea "dia-logos" y, por tanto, comunicación y comunión.
La verdad, rescatando a los hombres de las opiniones y de las sensaciones subjetivas, les permite llegar más allá de las determinaciones culturales e históricas, y apreciar el valor y la sustancia de las cosas.
La verdad abre y une el intelecto de los seres humanos en el logos del amor: éste es el anuncio y el testimonio cristiano de la caridad.
En el contexto social y cultural actual, en el que está difundida la tendencia a relativizar lo verdadero, vivir la caridad en la verd…

33. A job interview

Within a few years our students who enter university in Spain will have to pass an aural (oral) exam of English, as a part of the examination of Selectividad.

A highly helpful activity. For an advanced class, or just one activity (project) you want to carry out with your students, for them to leap high.

To maintain a job interview with them.

She, for example, a student in your class, wishes to be hired as a secretary for the President of a local company near your town. Or for the National Manager of General Motors, Inc.

Let her prepare the interview, on her own, predicting likely inquiries and questions. Possible vocabulary. Good answers and responses.

She eagerly wants to enter! For her career, and for her family. Let her make up her résumé (CV), maybe with your help. Also help her with possible questions, defending and briefing furtherly about the résumé too. Brainstorm useful vocabulary, make lists of helpful lexis, practice suitable verbal tenses.

I mean, the point is to make up ou…

32. From my book

This blog takes the core messages from a book I wrote - not published nonetheless. And the book is a conversion from my doctoral thesis - neither am I a doctor at Philolgy, at TEFL, a doctor in the Spanish university system. Neither did I write the thesis proper: I have the main ideas, besides the conclusion, some conclusion.

31. I'm done with these pupils!

Yes, I think I see what you mean.

Troubles with disruptive students.

When I started my career, I was assigned 2º Primaria plus another group. In 2º, aged 7 - 8, there were some 30 pupils. With Pepe Asensio, their tutor, smoothness and neatness and tranquility permeated the group; no shouting by him, low-voice talking, no problems at all, each student did the right thing, or he was gently headed to personal responsibility...

OK, now, the time arrived to swift subject for me in charge.

Pepe just upped and went away, and... a battle broke out among them, pencilcases flying from one side to the rear row, mess, crazy mess... and me shouting out to calm them down; not getting peace and order, hookieng, and what's more, I had to teach them English!

Think that I had not long before finished my graduation of Philology of English, with its linguistics, phonetics and phonology, history of English from the Angles and Saxons: where are you going with that stuff, bro?

Well, I think, let's see, r…

30. Single-sex education in Spain?

Today I have copied and pasted a comment I made to , just in case it'd be interesting.

"Creo que ya me aclaro con la identificación de persona para escribirte un comentario.

Yo esto de la educación mixta o diferenciada lo tengo bastante pensado y trabajado y vivido y escrito.

Siempre digo que es una opción más, el que sea, por ejemplo, diferenciada, y que si en España se dice tal, que si en Estados Unidos, etc., etc.

Mi caso. En 6º de EGB empezamos a ser mixtos. Una cosa que me pasaba a mí, y supongo, vamos, es seguro, a mis compañeros, era que yo estaba pendiente de si Laura (nominalmente) estaría mirándome al participar yo, y cómo pensaría de mí, etc.

Y a mí me distraía lo que decían Nati u Olga (nominalmente), entre ellas, en otros momentos, más otras distracciones, etc.

También es verdad que luego, en la Evaluación final de 8º, en junio de... vamos a ver, que calcule, 1983, saqué todo sobresaliente (he estado a punto de escribir "m…

29. Spelling is paramount

Writing English words sheer well.
You know this is so important.
Start revising--or teaching! the alphabet, written on the BB or WB.
They reply chorus-like the sequencing of the letters.
Then, at random, point at such and such letter, and they say it.
At some of them there will arise a confusion: it's the right time to set the sound clear. It is somehow fun.
G, J, K, Q, B, V, X, Y are some combative letters.
Next activity you can do. One student comes to the blackboard and copies two words you spell to him.
Oh, also A, I, E, are other easily confused sounds.
Also an extra student can spell the words the first student has written.
Or play Hangman. About a topic you are concerned with.
Or one student acts out as though he was the teacher.
Or... rollercoaster photo from

28. My students do not know how to study English

These posts summarize or otherwise present what written in my-not-yet published book (any when?). I also want to say that all these suggestions might be applied to adult learners, as your discernment will tell you.

Usually some students that come to my classes at Alayos just don't know how to study their coursebooks and workbooks. They don't know how to use the book, how to prepare next test, how to even relish the study, how to interiorize the grammar and vocabulary into everyday practice.

They lack study strategies, or these ones are too poor or useless.

On the other hand there once was a student who faced up the challenge of making the book something helpful.

For example, he found the stem of certain exercise, extracted the grammar, revised it for some days afterwards, mentally made up extra sentences, invented stories with those new words, re-read texts, photographed the spelling of the words, consulted the dictionary - always close to him when at his desk at home.

Well, it…

27. The tests... also communicative

Tests or exams. Some days ago... today it's Saturday, and this was last Wedenesday, say. I was in El Corte Inglés, and I passed by a display stand with those summer vacation books for our kids.

The test, the final test, was made up of conversion (from affirmative into negative, etc.), filling out a blank with the correct tense, translation, etc.

My opinion, it's just my opinion, is I prefer to invent tests that would be communicative, mainly communicative.

Without forgetting that grammar is a necessary skeleton for communication.

My questions or activities are about topics they are concerned with, and my students communicate with me, also with essays, compositions, comps, with which I push them up to write about something interesting for them. Or stories, or yarns - Here I refer only to written exams, not to the speaking assessment, etc.

26. The best discipline: self-discipline

We struggle to make Pierre aware that the subject of foreign-language is practical, not only theoretical.

History (I love history) is worth to study, but is "useless". Yet we need to learn history, to be critical with present and build up present.

Pierre is aware that he is the main engine, the protagonist of the process of learning/acquiring. He looks for ways to learn more and more and more. Help him get firm these principles, and have him working in the class: he'll be less disruptive and more active. Help him at the individual tutorial. I have mainly taught at single-sex institutions. I personally prefer so. I also think that a male teacher suits talking with a male kid.

Class of '69,

25. A fantastic game

They everyday ask me to play "Simon says", a well-known game, very fun, and funny.

They have fun, and me as well: we get more team-like, and laugh together.

It suits kids up to 12 years.

Try to confuse them, to take them on. It's so simple: if you say "Simon says" plus an instruction, they have got to do it. If you get to say an insrtruction, when a bit of confusion is raised, and someone does the action "required", he or she is eliminated... because you didn't say "Simon says".

Pretty soon, they themselves are the ones that get snap and tell John he is eliminated, for they try to stay on, to win, to get their classmates eliminated.

Several interesting topics of vocabulary may be practiced: parts of the body, actions, chains of actions, one student acts out as if she was the teacher herself.

Even sometimes I myself am one more player.

24. Do I have to love my students?

Once, a long time ago, one teacher was asked, "Pedro, ¿¡cómo soportas a los niños!?" - "Porque les quiero", whatsoever way they behaved... or misbehaved.

Yes, for sure, on the other hand, you must teach them how to behave well, to become thorough women and men, mature persons.
You know what? Sometimes I leave a class thinking it was kind of a bit of a mess, somewhat troublesome. Then I have a streak of failure.
Let's be objective, go to the specific real point: it was not so bad as you thought then. Think of that tomorrow, not right after the class.
Something else. Look at their faces, at each one, and notice that Jaime looks a little sad, always... I think to remember that his parents are separated - I'm not sure, anyway.
Give him a tactful detail today, appreciate his wee contribution today. He expects that from you.

23. Learning how to use the dictionary

One game they love is dictionary-looking-up.

You write a new word on the blackboard.
Before doing the activity proper, let them know they have to use their dictionariesgently.
The first student who finds the word is the winner.
In this way they get faster at finding one word they need to understand a text or an exercise.
"Pastor alemán" on

22. I knew an autonomous learner...

The authentic learner, the real and realistic one, the one who achieves the goal, does the way of actions I'm going to tell you right now.

I met a learner who used to read texts that had been worked out in the class, just for revision sake, for a more focusing revision at home. He focused on the lines, scanned the lines, extracted new words, wrote them on a list, memorized those words, used them to make up written sentences.

Today he is somewhat fluent at speaking with a native speaker. - Renault 5 on

21. A Competition: It's really fun!

How to learn and use new vocabulary. First, we need two players. Everybody will want to play. So, toss a coin, face you win, tails you lose. Then, both of them, taking turns, say names of foods and drinks. The last student who said one name, he or she wins. If, say, Anne, stops too long, trying to find the treasure of a further name, let her know, "Ten seconds, Anne!" I assure you, the rest of their classmates will be staring closely at the competitors. Do it, just for fun, maybe.

20. How to fill out an exercise

Tell your student that it's him who has to solve the exercise on his own. Let's say, for example, an exercise on his coursebook. Ok, he may not know how to fulfill the exercise. Give him hints, but do not tell him the full "how" to solve it. Speak in English beginning through the end of the class.
Make him realize that using the dictionary is a great help to understand what to do, etc. If he keeps this way of doing exercises, you will help him become an autonomous learner.
And also, in the class, practice the grammar of that exercise, in an authentic communicative mode.

19. Oh, I forgot it: communication!

So, a few days ago we arrived at the point that we knew that truth is in God. So what?We have to descend to everyday teaching, Fernando.
Ok, ok, ok, let's see. We have to live, to be coherent, with that thruth. Everybody is called by God to become... saints. Not less.
However, this seems so idealistic. It's impossible for me. Me, a saint? No way, man.
We can, with God's grace, with his help... and our loving him and struggling to be a bit better on and on.
And when we fall, let's go to the sacrament of penance, of joy, of peace.
Go to a church. Speak to Him. He is in the eucharist, in the tabernacle. Be honest with him: open your heart to him, tell him about you. Silently. He is awaiting for you.
And there will arise communication. I assure you. Ask Alec Guinness.
A scene on

18. Depends on the idea of "person"

Follow the way along with me. Yesterday, after writing about the idea-of-person thing, then, I realized something more toward the root. A person, either she or he, is a child of God: that's the basic truth we have to always bear in mind. Hence, we should live as that. Should treat your student as that. God is my father, Dad, Daddy, if you fancy that way. And that's the thread of my life, which I have to live with. Only then, all changes in the class. Albeit everything remains same. You teach your class, the students are the protagonists of their process of acquiring/learning English or Thai... plus they, and you yourself, live as children of God. That's my dignity. Everything else hangs from that truth. /Pic downloaded from

17. All depends on your concept of "person"

First of all. Man, all his life through, tries to find Truth. Though he might not be aware of this search. And there can be just but one Truth. Either black or white. My cat is on the trunk. Ok. If my cat is on the trunk, he cannot be under the wheels, which is a relief for me... I can tell you that truth, truth, truth, what is truth, is at the end of the way in God Himself. Why do I take this thread? Well, carry on reading the next post. You'll catch it.

16. In a world of success

I copied for you the following words that will help you up in your daily labor. Copied from an article published onJuly 4's (!) issue of La Gaceta de los Negocios. The words are by Enrique Quemada, Manager Deputy of One to One company. The words are all worth to consider. Translate them to your classes and your students. "Ten siempre presente que el poder situacional está basado en percepciones, no en hechos. Si el otro piensa que tienes una posición fuerte, entonces la tienes. Cuida mucho los signos que transmites. Descubre cuáles son los aspectos que la otra parte más valora. Solucionar los problemas de la otra parte puede ser la mejor manera de solucionar los tuyos. Debes entender sus necesidades en lugar de sus deseos."

15. The successful learner utilizes learning strategies

That's the point. We'll talk about this, later on. By now, let me remind you of this principle, which sometimes we forget it, or put it on a secondary level. Just an example, by now. The real learner is eager and earnest to grasp any new word she encounters on his path to fluency. She focuses on a new word she has seen on a website about futuristic design. She makes a mental photograph of the word, and uses it in an email to her American friend Magan.

14. Michael Jackson

13. Tools for the communication

The trends at learning/teaching any language is communication. Ok. Now, we have to think of the tools we have to provide the kids with, in order to raise that beloved communication. Well, now is the moment of talking about both the vocab and the grammar that are presented on their text-books. Bear this in mind, my dear colleague: those items of grammar and the rest of the stuff have to be helpful for our students and we, teachers, to create that communication. Just, one example: they learn vocabulary about jobs. They learn that stuff to be capable to participate into a competition between two students to find out who can say most professions. / Photo: britain-trooping-colour

12. More about Discipline

Firstly it's the teacher herself who has to solve any problem with her students. Better said: the problem is the disruptive student. Take him apart, at another time out of the schedule of classes. Talk to him. Make him realize his misbehavior: the students are the protagonists of the class. Talk with him combining both severity with being tactful: let him find the exit way to the upright behavior and learning. When back to the classroom another day, gently praise his bit of trying to improve.