Friday, December 31, 2010

530. A relaxing picture

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Some techniques for relaxing before a class can be helpful. Slow down your stream of thoughts and ideas per second. Relax your facial muscles, release all the face tension out, relax the body, relax the extremities, let them weigh down, smooth your breathing into a regular rhythm, either think of something neutral or slow and calm down your speedy running ideas, relax your forehead and face, breath regularly, and so on. I mean, repeat this sequence. The idea of God being close to me, and me being in his presence relaxes me a lot as well: he and me are in the classroom, with my students.” / Photo from: leonardhillphotography com

529. Know - knew - known

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “The irregular verbs? Like you know, they keep being irregular because their use is daily. In early Medieval English most of the verbs were irregular in this sense. A few words about their learning and usage: One teacher I know told me once that the student has to learn them by studying them, for example, in triplets: ‘do-did-done’, ‘bring-brought-brought’, as any of us has learned them. Nonetheless the student must use them in the naturalistic atmosphere of the classroom. No use, not retaining in memory. As well and very helpful at early steps of studying the irregular verbs we can set drills, as for example, leaving blanks to be filled out. Study plus practice.” / Photo from: Asian_Indian_Family pmec org uk

Thursday, December 30, 2010

528. Serving the others. "What's up, Mr. Meyer?"

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “When you talk with him, in scheduled tutorials or in the very midst of a hall of the school, you both can deal with concentration in the class, also about how to better follow the class - the thread of the class, how to come back to the thread of the class when he was in the clouds, how to be more active in the class, how to accomplish an exercise from the coursebook, how to take out the most of the class – each class is a step forward, how to utter his ideas with the help of the vocab you are studying in the unit or in past units. Oh, fellow, yesterday I thought to remind you of keeping in mind that you have to pass your students on the idea that they are learning English to serve humankind, starting with the people closer to them.” / Photo from: milkman raisethehammer org

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

527. A lab for thinking

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Yes, you’re referring to metacognitive strategies. One example of activity to utilize this strategy. Look. In the class, your students, with your help, plan a written test of the unit you’ve just finished this week. Your students already know what your tests are like. Now they are the teacher and have to plan the exam. They propose the questions. This forces them to think about what thy have already studied. Maybe nobody decides to say the first question. Now it’s the moment you’ve got to intervene, by giving hints to them. For example, one grammar point you have studied is present perfect. I believe they shouldn’t say, ‘Write one sentence with present perfect.’ No. I’d rather say they ought to suggest a question which the examinee has to use present perfect to convey her message for; this way is kind of more naturalistic.” / Photo from: loseditorialesdesiempre blogspot com

Monday, December 27, 2010

526. How shall I do today?

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Yesterday I started a course for old people, a new situation for me! They are some ten learners, sitting around a large table, with me, all of them like piercing me and ears clung to any word from me. The learners are close to no idea of English. I had a few clear ideas beforehand. Like: what are their expectations?; the aim of this organization (this school) is to engage the elderly’s time with something their choice; the principal told me they must keep on with the classes in a relaxing mood; I’ve got to teach them things useful for traveling to England, for example. In a few words: I must adjust my teaching to both relaxing and exacting to put in effort and perseverance in attending the classes.” / Photo from: lady_cleaner_z_r2tr thecaringassistant com

Saturday, December 25, 2010

525. Applying a firm authority

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of Englsh A, “Adolescents have big ideals. It’s the age of great ideals. They discover themselves and the world around them. They feel rebellious, together with a truest sense of justice; even, up to some extent they wish to break up with their so far adults’ authority. They wish to change the established system; some of them dress eccentric, because of a like of authenticity.

It’s their parents who have to direct these great sentiments, respecting their sons and daughters’ freedom and responsibility. And we teachers, could help their parents’ role. We can translate big abstract, non-defined ideals into feasible ones. But do not suffocate their huge capacity to carry out big things, to dream high. In the tutorials we can help our students’ ideals come true in ordinary life. One example is helping one another in the class.

Do not impose ideas to them, let them think of ways to specify those ideals. Do not impose – instead, show ideas. You can orient them with your advice, affection, experience, grace of state, their parents’ views of life – don’t do anything contrary to their parents. If you don’t agree with their parents’ view of life, maybe all you can do is to stay quiet. Something else, male teachers’ tutorials with boys, female teachers’ tutorials with girls: that works neat.” / Photo from: loqu com

Friday, December 24, 2010

524. I need them concentrated

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “One trick to keep your students calm when the class is making a mess and you can’t control it, although you’ve tried hard? Quite often reading and writing exercises and activities force them to be quiet and focused. Oh think of an example. Make a dictation. I can assure you they’ll get quiet and focused on your phrases. Moreover in this way the students are practicing, say, grammar, listening, vocabulary, spelling, neat writing, engaging their mind...” / Photo from: topic2 choir northchristian org - Thank you, hdmiklos, and welcome to our blog.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

523. A great vehicle

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “The English language is a vehicle. A vehicle to connect pople. Teaching and learning English is not the ultimate goal. We can use this language as a vehicle to study other school subjects. Or topics which are actually interesting to our students. Human topics. Engineering, history, history of philosophy, football, current news, art, new technologies... However if we teach a subject in English, there may rise a possible problem: our students could learn, for example, biology, and biological terms, in English. I have not a definite solution, do you? Anyway more and more in Spain the students in institutes and schools are becoming bilingualists. So, fill your classes with contents. This is Content-Based Instruction.” / Photo from: netherlands-landscape-601-2 deshow net

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

522. Also taking notes makes progressing

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “In my opinion we teachers of English should present a grammar point, systematically, with the aid of the board, whilst our students are writing down notes and examples. Other times we can facilitate our students to infer the grammar rules from what we are saying, and asking our students.
One teacher told me one day that her students liked her method of teaching grammar. She presented the grammar and the students were writing notes. The kids said they liked that way of teaching because the layout of such and such grammar point became clear to them, that point entered through their eyes.
One more thing you asked me about, a couple of days ago. Yes, I’m optimistic with teaching English because that’s the way I’m done, but on top of that, I believe my optimism has a firm foundation: I hope in God, our loving father, with also an affection of a mom.” / Photo from: kupper edu

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

521. Tracking our students' prints

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Assessing our students provides a necessary feedback about their progress and achievements, and their flaws. On top of that, it will tell me whether my methodology is really efficient. Are they actually learning? Have they improved? What new things hve they learned? Has their communicative competence bettered? I believe that external assessment helps out. Think of official examinations, as Cambridge, Trinity, TOEFL. Could my students pass, for example, First Certificate...? Unless you cannot count on these external ways of measure, ask a colleague your department to read two tests you’ve already corrected. What does she think? Ponder about what she said.” / Photo from: TinTinMyfavorite

Monday, December 20, 2010

520. Immersion, now!

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of Englsh A, “Immersion, yes. Let’s make our students relate, mentally link any of us with English, in the halls and offices of the school alike. Albeit both them and us are the same nationality, in our case, Spanish, this way of conducting may be useful. Try this conducting at the school, even when leaving the school after a regular day, and walking down the stairs, toward the school bus. Try this, Alonso, and let me know next week, right?” Photo from: underwater_mailbox coolthingsinrandomplaces com

Saturday, December 18, 2010

519. What did I do you ask? Study a lot

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of Englsh B, “Present, explain the grammar point of the unit you are studying lately in the classes. Break down that grammar pattern, let them comprehend it, write down notes, examples, the pattern or structure of that verbal tense, study it at home. Our students expect and need this real presentation in the class. Make them listen to you. The grammar point you are pesenting must get clearly set in their minds, how? Understanding plus practice (drills and later something more naturalistic, albeit they will make mistakes).

One more thing: often at home it’s when the students have the most scope for interiorizing the grammar.” Eugenio M. O. M. wrote a comment. Thank you, Eugenio. His blog is on the right column of my blog. Read nore about his writing. In his comment he said he had studied in that very hall of the British Library, in 1996.

Photo of the British Library, below, post # 517.

Photo of this post from: student-studying rockford medicine uic edu

Friday, December 17, 2010

518. Like a private teacher

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I tell my students to play with the dictionary; that the dictionary is like a private teacher, at disposal at any time. Also I’m referring now to online dictionaries. To play with the dictionary I said. To read and memorize words and their meanings, expressions within the entrance of a word, to find interesting meanings, also to use those words in fanciful sentences, alike as when writing an essay I set as homework. My students so build up a useful stock of words, which come up when writing, sometimes being unaware that they have learned those words. No words, no communication in English.” / Photo from: westchesterlibraries org

Thursday, December 16, 2010

517. Do you teacher like reading?

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “We teachers need to train continuously. I’m now referring to reading: books, websites, teacher forums on the Internet, reading journals, watching videos on YouTube, reading other teachers’ blogs... Reading and studying form a storage, which you may not realize of, yet it helps you become more competent.

We need to recycle our methodology. We can also write down notes, keep a diary to have feedback. We can ask us ourselves: How do I teach my classes? Are my students progressing? Do I think of everyone? Of the class as a whole? Wise teachers teach with passion. When a teacher does his or her labor, that teacher transmits what he or she has deeply in.” / Photo from: old british library room thegogglesdonothing com

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

516. She is great

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “If we correct some mistake we make at certain moment within the class, if we strive to work well and repeat what we mean instead of the wrong thing, we are helping our students a lot. Because they note this bettering, they see that you care about accuracy of grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. I’d even tell you not to succumb to using L1.

This way of working transmits every of them a fine struggle to learn sooner, more and better. As well I have seen some good teachers that look up one word (for example) a student asked him or her, and this teacher didn’t know at that moment. The next day the teacher reminds the class of the question and the found answer. This sets a nice example to them.” / Photo from: serc carleton edu

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

515. They scored high and here they are

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “We need fortitude to teach classes of English. It’s simpler you decide what to do and how to carry it out, say for example an exercise or activity. It’s harder to make them engage their brains and move their will and creativity. But if no creativity, no process of learning and education. Don’t recoil your responsibility. Do not tell them every step.” / Photo from: flyingcolours org uk. Egyptian students.

Monday, December 13, 2010

514. Deploying all their forces

“Adolescence has its own peculiar value, which entails a way of living. Its function in everyone’s life is: self-discovering and discovering the others (Me and You); widening his or her horizon at the uppermost, deploying all his or her capacities before the ultimate choice which will show the approaching maturity; planning the essential attitudes to face life.” By pedagogue Maurice Debesse. / Translated by me into English. / Photo from: arcobosque com

Sunday, December 12, 2010

513. Some students may be left behind

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “A few students in our large classes may have serious problems and flaws to catch up their classmates and they may be left behind. And with the passing weeks they will be more and more left behind. I knew a teacher trainer, Mrs. N, who taught me something. She was in my class, watching me teaching the class. At certain moment I assigned my students to do an exercise from their coursebooks. And she was sitting close to Luis, and helping him mold the responses to the exercise, mold the way he had to face the activity. I hadn’t at all realized of this way of helping him.” / Photo from: a scene of Le petit Nicolas (2009).

Friday, December 10, 2010

512. Arranging S.O.S. problems

This is a reply to a teacher of English who published a post to ask for help to teach private classes. I don’t remember his specific problems. Now I post my reply to him, if it could provide anything useful. His post and mine appeared on, British Council - BBC’s website for teachers of English, at the end of September 2010. (I have corrected small things and left some mistake).

Hello jack and cmftrier,

I'm writing some things in case any of them could help you out, jack. Here I'm referring to private classes, to help a male student to learn mainly grammar and vocab for an exam within some days! And we started a few days ago! It's like a S.O.S. situation.

1. Listen to the student at a first short interview. We both are Spanish. Find out what he is in need of, to pass the exam.

2. Approve any small target he hits, for example when doing an exercise from the text book. This action by you will boost him up. Make him think whenever he fails by writing or saying the correct answer. Say nothing to him for a short while, make him think.

3. Assign, by negotiating, the amount of time he's going to spend studying on his own. The classes are not enough.

4. If he did not reach the assigned time, for example he didn't reach the set span of time just for 5 minutes... tell him he has to study 5 more minutes today, adding to the assigned time. But sort of a cordial accomplicing or cooperating, sort of something challenging. Recognize when he reached the time alloted to his personal study.

5. Make him clear the date of his exam at school is approaching!

6. Help him how to fill the assigned study time with stuff of his opinion plus some help from you - he might not know what to do in 45 minutes.

7. Believe what he tells you about his study at home. Trust is essential. All in all, and this not lack of trust, you be realistic whether he is proggressing or not.

8. Send him emails, not many!, to show him you are concerned and thinking hard how to help him.

9. Plan every class: 'I had thought for today to do this and that, but, N, what do you think about what we should do today?' He will be somehow amazed and happy you are really after his passing his exam.

10. With all this treatment it is more likely you both will reach a nice rapport: you two are in the same team, though he is the protagonist of this 'game'.

11. Positive motivation. Let him see his progress. But also, and in a realistic way, let him see what he lacks to learn and practise yet.

12. Tell him about your remembrances when learning yourself, in a slight funny way.

Sorry for the long list. You could pick up a few points, or whatever you think.


Fernando M Díez Gallego

Teacher of English and teacher trainer. Granada, Spain.

/ Photo from: Le petit Nicolas (2009). The mom of the family is starred by Valérie Lemencier, the dad by comedian Kad Merad, the sweet and 60’s-typical teacher of the school by Sandrine Kibertain.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

511. Things clear, please

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “A student of mine has told me a trick he utilizes to learn new phrasal verbs and verbs with following prepositions and adverbs. He says each preposition or adverb which follow a verb have common meanings: up and down refer to directions. However this can be dangerous, but it helps some way. Can be too risky because you can say something you really don’t mean, in some cases! Yet he thinks that the meaning of each word - away, off, up, down, out, in, into, on – helps. Some examples of clear-meaning phrasal verbs, and others not that obvious: take off, put away, put on, get up, look down, check out, break in, break into, put on, get on, get off, check in, break up, break down, look up, kick off, fill in.” / Photo from: vagabundeoresplandeciente wordpress com

Saturday, December 4, 2010

510. Classics never die away

Here is a comment by Eugenio M. O., whose interesting blog is at the right column links. Thank you, Eugenio. I did know you would like this post about Beowulf. Also thanks for the information you give us about this jewel of early English literature. If you don’t mind, I publish your comment as a new entry, as well because I receive hardly any comments... - this blog is followed though.

Well, Fernando, you might very well expect my comment on this lovely entry. Oh yes, Beowulf is one of the very first text from the Old English period, and probably the jewell of Anglo-Saxon literature. But did you know that it was about to be lost, devoured by fire? You can see the borders of the manuscript are charred. It was kept at Sir Robert Cotton's library, which was almost destroyed by fire on 23 October 1731. Many of the manuscripts were lost; fortunately, other were thrown out through the windows to be saved. This reminds me of an episode in El Quijote in which many text also jumped through the windows, this time to be burnt in a huge bonfire. Greetings from Utopia.

/ Photo from: North by Northwest (1959). Interesting thing that the tiltle of this film was translated as Con la muerte en los talones in Spanish. Stars: Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. Director: great Alfred Hitchcock; source web-site: html rincondelvago com

Friday, December 3, 2010

509. Sister tongues

HWÆT, WE GAR-DEna in geardagum,
þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas, syððanærest wearð
feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum weorðmyndum þah,
oð þæt him æghwylc ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan; þæt wæs god cyning!


Sorry German people, for I published a picture frm Casablanca on post # 505, and I’ve realized the bad guys in the movie are German. It might had bothered someone.

English is a sister tongue within the Germanic family, in which we have German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian – do I forget any?

The text above is from the beginning of Beowulf, one of the first texts in Old English.

/ Photo from: engl2220 wordpress com

Thursday, December 2, 2010

508. Humans speak naturally

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “For your speaking classes you say? You told me your student already has some near to fluency or ability to speak about something, right? Bear in mind that he’s got to listen to you speaking in English, but more important than that is he should speak. Let him speak. Don’t interrupt him, do not butt in his discourse, while he’s trying say something. Bear with your trend to correct every mistake or error! Listen with an honest interest in every statement he says. Ask him so as to clarify some point, or to deep into the matter. Show your interest: praise his effort, the thread of communication with you.” / Photo from: Northern Kentucky University aelp nku edu

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

507. Hey you, where are my kiddies?

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I’ve been thinking lately that movies and literature show men and women’s yearning for happiness. You can think of the matters of the movies: love, personal redemption, forgiveness, big adventures. Even if a movie shows a gray and sordid future, it’s showing something concerning human nature. So, I’d recommend you to assign novels and watch some movie in the class. Be prudent, anyway, when choosing the movie: your students are making the biographies of their lives, and, evidently, you want to help them preserve and foster their human dignity. Will I say it? We all are children of God, to be honest: that hits the target of our dignity.” / Photo from: japanese school news bbc co uk