Friday, April 29, 2011

634. All the stuff now is in Mafalda's hands

In a few days I hope I'll continue posting. Excuse me, my readers. Best as ever!

I've just told Mafalda to let you know any news from me in the meantime. Please trust her - she's so smart. She'll do her task well./ Photo from cursomochila blogspot com

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

633. His teacher is behind

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “If it’s useful to you, I can tell you about some private classes I taught a few years ago. The boy was I think 16 or 15 and he had to pass the subject of English however the way, so to speak. I tried to get a nice rapport with him, ask him some questions but not many questions about his progress; I should encourage him but not choke him; I had to put in his shoes, etc. However, one day I thought something different could turn out well – beside some of the things said above, like encouraging, listening to him, etc. Ok, I thought, I’m going to explain/make him understand the different points of the grammar, little by little, also on his own, like I said, with his effort. I would give him real-life examples of sentences with that grammar, etc., trying to talk with him in a sort of neutral (?) but kind and friendly mode, not trying to show off like, Hi, I am your buddy.

In a word, he was learning and striving because he wished, more and more, and also counting on my aid, of course.” / Photo from: golflessononline org

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

632. So many teachers of English are awesome

Yesterday I was recalling my teachers of English, since I began to learn this for-me lovely language, about 1979 or 1980. I’m writing in their honor. And, you know, yesterday I thought that none of them was mediocre, yes, sir, none of them. I owe them a lot. And I’m also referring to my teachers after my primary studies (E.G.B. in Spain) and when I proceeded to my secondary studies. And also here in the institute neither of them was mediocre or lazy. And I can say the same of my professors of my degree of philology of English and my doctorate program. Afterwards I also did some advanced studies of English at Centro de Lenguas Modernas, of Universidad de Granada. Would it be unfair not to say this? – I studied the three last years of my degree in the campus of Jaén, then a venue of Universidad de Granada. / Photo from: whatgoodisyouroldphone com

Monday, April 25, 2011

631. Each stone in the right place

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Crosswords are simple to make on your own, on the board, with little preparation out of the classroom. It’s useful to revise the vocabulary you are learning in the classes and fun too. Very simple, look. You write a rather long word from up to down, vertically. You don’t need to draw the grid. You give a clue about one word of the unit, and you point at the horizontal line where that word has to be written, including the letter of the vertical word. It focuses their attention. If not too complicate, you can give a clue in English for a vertical word containing two letters of two horizontal words. Do this game in just a few minutes, so as to make them wishing to continue... but the game is up! It works.” / Photo from: eviajando com. This is Patio de los Leones, in Alhambra palaces, in Granada, where I live. When are you coming, if possible?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

630. Pre-reading is very helpful

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “At home, when the students revise an exercise from their coursebook, something already worked on in the class, they discover and understand things better than in that class. So, what about assigning as homework to read a few exercises you’re going to do the next day? With the dictionary at hand. They’ll arrive at the class with a clearer understanding of those activities, and eventually they’ll get more profit from them. They’ll come back to the class with a pre-reading carried out. And as well they could get better grades, if you grade the work done at the class – I would advise you to do so.” / Photo from: chronicle com. The characters above the teacher are Korean, different from either Chinese or Japanese.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

629. Stick-to-itive-ness

“The three essentials to achieve anything worth while are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itive-ness; third, common sense.” Edison said the former words. Perhaps because of this way of thinking he accomplished to invent so many new and useful things. Do you think these three principles could be applied to reach success in learning English? (I fullly believe so).

Friday, April 22, 2011

628. New circumstances

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “It was the first-day class. The also-new teacher headed for the classroom, to the first class. Some students were muttering and observing the new teacher: would he be a rookie? They looked like they were thinking to put him to the test. Perhaps.

The teacher greeted them Buenos días, in a serious but kind way. For the first class his purpose was twofold: to learn their names so as to address each student by their name; and to start to work. His manners and face expression were serious but clam – anyway his legs were trembling.

Some students started to cough and make noises. The teacher stopped speaking. Stared at the few disrupting students and explained what was right in order to learn and what was wrong, and the reasons why. By being firm and as well attentive to what they said and suggested, he gained their respect and even affection, with passing months. They noticed they were someone important to him!” / Photo from: liveinthephiliippines com

Thursday, April 21, 2011

627. She's satisfied

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Students in groups, and perhaps more in the case of students in private classes appreciate their teacher to be honest, sincere, honorable, and devoted to them.

If this teacher shows -and does have- a real and true interest in their students’ learning English, things will go smooth, more likely. The teacher ought to be really interested in what the students are saying in English. The teacher shouldn’t interrupt at any error or mistake. Being a teacher means devoting to his or her students, not at all a poor showing-off and a vain flattering, or a fulfilling his or her schedule and see you tomorrow.

He or she should listen to his or her students, attentively, maybe nodding, paraphrasing... It’s not an official, cold and hole being funny and hearing. And please when grading tests let the sheet not have too much red ink, also praise the students’ correct achievements -this is very encouraging for them.” / Photo from: myamericandegree com

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

626. Freedom and creativity

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Yesterday we were talking about personal tutorials with your students. Now I want to point out something for you to bear in mind, to keep into account always. Your students are free. You try to assist them at the tutorials but always respect their freedom. I know you do so. They’re free and consequently responsible of their singular actions. Just one more thing. Look, the important thing is for your students to be happy. You can remind you of this at the tutorials. They have to be happy here in their lives, and forever in everlasting life.” / Photo from: girton cam ac uk. Girton College, Cambridge University, UK.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

625. Like the cares of a lab

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Adolescents, teenagers, tend naturally to not accept help from outside. They are now getting to know themselves, with the changes they notice both in body and mind; and they tend to feel insecure, kind of confused too.

Consequently they also tend to be arrogant, or anti-conformist, or back-answering, or depressive.

Now I can’t try to tell you the single key to success in helping them, say, like some advice right now and off.

I said they’re anti-conformist, and this is a point that can be directed to a wish for example to assist other people.

You told me that when you’re at a tutorial with a boy you two talk about him, and in that way you try to self-esteem him, in a sane way, not in a narcisist way. Sounds great. You foster the way he’s done, you say. You try to make him accept him as he is, both with his strong points and his flaws, while also struggling to better at one specific field, with short-termed aims, like for example by treating his brothers and sisters nice and help out at home.

A sane and balanced self-esteem is right and necessary. But without confining to himself and his world, yet devoting to assist others and enjoy little everyday things.” / Photo from: blogcurioso com

Monday, April 18, 2011

624. A nice atmosphere to learn

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “We are educating our students, whatsoever we teachers do or not do in the classroom. We have our students in our hands. And education has a lot to do with the everyday living inside the classroom, which one becomes like our second home.

So, little everyday things are of a paramount importance for educating, and for teaching/learning English besides.

I know a colleague of ours who decided to start to take care of little things in her classroom.

There were scraps of paper on the floor, desks with scribbled stuff on the boards. She thought this would be not educative and be of some difficulty for working.

She thought of various points to take care of: a new plastic trash, setting an example of picking up pieces of paper and then, with that gained moral authority telling someone please to pick other pieces eventually drop, giving thanks to the teacher, a tidy bookcase in the classroom – explaning and struggling each week about one specific point -, listening to who’s speaking, desks in neat rows, sitting nice, a natural greeting before and after the class, finishing the begun tasks and not giving them up before the first hardship would appear, small jobs.

The point was respect and deference with one another, those attitudes firstly with the teacher herself. The atmosphere became an easier one for working, and even with some cozy stroke among the girls and the teacher, adequate for learning.” / Photo from: trak in

Sunday, April 17, 2011

623. Not too old! No way, man!

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “So you think a person quite many years old cannot learn English? What you think may be because you don’t have the nice experience I had at the beginning of this year 2011...

You know, I’ve never had students with such a bigger effort and perseverance as the ones I taught that time. The oldest ones were around seventy years old.

I guess they had a renewed mind so as to learn English with such an eagerness. They registered that short course because they wished to learn, and might have some chance to go to the UK or someplace else.

I was rather much younger than them.

And they – a group of some ten learners each group – had a respect and deference I never thought someone could have toward me. Their eyes and ears were so open at anything I said. Sometimes it was somehow difficult to carry on the class because of the many questions they asked me!

And they were so grateful. It was one of my best experiences ever. Summing up, they had perseverance, and stick-to-it-ness, using an expression Edison once said.” / Photo from: texasescapes com. San Antonio, TX, Brown Humble gas station Aug 1938

Saturday, April 16, 2011

622. A beautiful landscape

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Problem-solving tasks is a very useful activity to practice authentic speaking in English, and also to learn new vocabulary.

I’ve done this activity with my students a few times. It’s great, look. Once a task to carry out was about what to build and what not in a beautiful natural landscape.

A few students performed different roles: I think to remember one was a realtor, one an environmental scientist, one was a big wheel of certain company... It was a brief activity. They had to discuss on their opinions of what to build, like for example something to just raise money, or setting a leisure place, or a natural park, or something to create posts of work.

In that activity, I confess, I didn’t make the students prepare something to say beforehand, previous to the actual performing in front of their classmates. I had fun when hearing their things. Evidently you can set a more basic activity like just talking about the school to a newcomer family.

The teacher can help with hints, vocabulary they don’t know. I think this type of activity is useful to practice naturalistic speaking, at different levels of English.” / Photo from: A friend of mine took this picture in Val d’Aran, north of Spain, close to the Pyrenees. (He is O.M.C.).

Friday, April 15, 2011

621. Ready for that atmosphere?

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I saw you were beat. Crystal clear. Last day’s class seemed a failure to you. You found you couldn’t manage the class. All you did in the class seemed not having a good response from your students, and the atmosphere became tense.

You did your best however. Good job, man.

Some days are ok and some others look bad. Don’t care too much. The students’ behavior, or otherwise their struggle to go into work don’t depend on you, coming to head. Their conduct last day is not your fault.

This doesn’t imply you can help and bolster their work and motivation, and you’re contributing to their education as human persons. You kow all this as well as I do.

Something proper you did that day was not to give a verdict upon the class, but wait for the next day to analyze the situation. That way you felt less like at a loss.

Your students expect coherence from you, honesty from you, struggling from you to improve as a professional, and you’re gaining their respect and prestige through this way.

Human nature, your students’ human nature looks for goodness, and like goodness.

Besides you’re gaining experience with those sometimes terrible classes. Sláinte!” [This latter word is Irish: means kind of “Cheers!”; still sometimes said]. / Photo from: elojodepst blogspot com

Thursday, April 14, 2011

620. A beer if you trust me

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “As I told you yesterday it seems sound to plan your classes, perhaps also with a basic written plan.

However, you’ve been a teacher for some many years, right? I’d tell you that one day don’t plan the class. I mean it. Don’t plan the class. You’ll likely see things go a nice class. Maybe you can then have your students as more protagonists in the class, and all you’ve gained during all these years will arise to the class.

Even you may have more fun, so also your students consequently. You’ll implement things in that class you never thought of.

Give it a try, and let me know. I’ll spot you a beer.” / Photo from: steveklotz com. Guinness-toucan-Posters

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

619. Did you plan today's class?

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I know you plan each and every class, and that’s useful to get the best of classes. Tomorrow I hope to tell you something about improvising classes when you happen you have no time.

You know, there are zillion varieties of planning the same class, ok. Depends on each ‘audience’, each day, each teacher, each period of the teacher’s career, each school rules.

Anyway, I’d tell you, as comes to mind, you might include a warmer to lead in the class of English; also combining the four skills, perhaps in the same activity: listening, speaking, reading and writing; also communication; the students’ participation; and setting and assigning homework.

Teaching a class is not a show (though a bit so anyway), but it’d be good if the class be some fun - oh, and you may touch something their real interest or something that can open their minds to new knowledge, like art, say.” / Photo from: www1 assumption edu

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

618. More stories about stories

As you well know, reading stories and books (maybe e-books more and more) is a great aid to learn English and have fun. I copied from the British Council – BBC site a piece of a post I present today (link to the site: ). It’s worth to read.

The magic of story time

Submitted by Carol Read on 16 June, 2010 - 13:53

Have you ever noticed children listening to a story so attentively that the classroom is completely quiet? Or have you ever noticed children participating in a story so actively that everyone in the class wants to contribute? If so, then you've witnessed the 'magic of story time'! Where the 'magic' lies Stories provide shared contexts for rich, natural language development from a very young age, and throughout the primary years.

The 'magic' lies in the way stories potentially engage children's hearts and minds, as people and as thinkers, with issues that are relevant, real and important to them. / Photo from: homecareworld com. A babysitter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

617. Tutorials

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Some students in the schools where I’ve taught, south of Spain, when they fail exams and get bad grades often, claim that their teacher has it in for them: that their teacher dislikes me (the student), that the teacher me tiene manía - using a colloquial expression here.

Adolescents are growing in body and mind, and they are starting to know themselves – they’re not kids any longer. They feel insecure with themselves, and can easily get some complex of insecurity, in some way or another.

As well they’ve lost their natural eagernes to learn new things, to study, as a matter of fact since they’re some thirteen years – now I’m referring to boys.

However, on the other hand, this is a great time, when the kid can consider studying and learning as something more of their own, something they are more aware of, and so they can begin a stage of more serious studying – they’re ‘really’ studying now, or at least more systematically.

They’re more sensitive about what their friends and others and their teacher may think of them, or what they think about the way their teacher might consider them.

A great help for the individual student then is verbalizing, telling these problems at the individual tutorials, for example when he says this tener manía, this disliking from his teacher.

And also it’s the time to abet them so as to acquire a sane self-esteem; also a self-esteem that will make them capable to help their classmates, family members, and ultimately to help and change the world – they wish to change many unfair things at this age. Also they’ve got a capacity of great ideals.” / Photo from: tut dailyuw com

Saturday, April 9, 2011

616. Trying to hit upon the right method

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Last year I taught private classes to a student – was he 15 years aged? Anyway, in the first classes I used to give him advice about learning strategies. Ok, that’s necessary.

I helped him also to face the coursebook: for a student that age often some textbooks are something they don’t know how to study. However, one day I applied something it might go in something more useful to pass his tests. The grammar point of next test was phrasal verbs. He had to know a set of them, and there would be exercises on them.

I made him – basically – repeat the phrasal verbs over and over, in different ways. At last he achieved to know them and I found him more motivated.”

Today I started a new label: “private classes”. If you want to find more about them from older posts you can type “private classes” in the Search app. / Photo from: petervaldivia com

Friday, April 8, 2011

615. Trying to find the correct entrance

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Do you remember what we were talking about yesterday?

Now, the first premise is that that teacher knows he or she can fall on awful actions too. This premise helps him or her understand the student.

Second, the teacher ought to get assistance from the school administration in order to mend those behavior problems, and ultimately to contribute to that student’s education.

The teacher, I’d say, should call his parents as soon as possible, to have a conversation with them. Besides the council of two or three representatives of the class-group – if any - plus the teacher’s proposals to this council can do a big good to that kid.

To sum up: that teacher tries to fulfill his or her ordinary duties: as a result it’s more likely that the student’s situation will turn out well (hopefully). And always we can count on God’s help. I know a nice number of teachers who count on this latter help for their regular-day work.

I forgot it: that student’s tutor can also help the student.” / Photo from: mazars ie. Georgian-architecture. Building entrances in Ireland.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

614. A nice sight at the end of the tunnel

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “What to do when one student is disruptive also out of the classroom? Imagine he’s setting bad example to his or her classmates.

Some posts ago I told you my experience when a student was dealing with drugs.

Or imagine that in some other way he is increasingly creating a bad atmosphere in the classes. I think the teacher ought to gain a sheer sight to notice all this behavior, quickly in his or her career - it’s like beginning to ‘smell something rotten’.

Tomorrow I hope to go on telling about this. Important: the end is positive, or at least I’d like to give a nice and realistic end to this case; I’ll tell you the how. I’d appreciate your view too.” / Photo from: ciezyrtaphy blogspot com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

613. Am I ok for next scene, guys?

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Have you ever heard yourself speaking in English, since you’re not a native speaker?

Yesterday I saw a video where I was leading the way along some rooms and facilities of my school. I recorded the sequences with a small videocam in 2009. My voice was in off, explaining the stuff, for practice of describing places, furniture, prepositions.

Oh, man, you know what? I couldn’t understand some of my words – pathetic.

Well, you know, viewing the ‘movie’ was also useful for me to bring up expressions I presently would say and didn’t remember when the actual recording. I’m thinking now of telling a student to record me teaching in a class..., and my students’ contributions and conducting too: may be helpful for them.” / Photo from: sshervias wordpress com. Citizen Kane (1941), directed by Orson Welles, like you may know.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

612. Helping think and learn

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Yesterday I was thinking of telling you today I’m so grateful to teachers of English from any place in the world. I see their work to enable people to get the competence to communicate with one another.

First I see this work in Granada and Jaén (south of Spain), but also on the Internet, where so many new and young teachers wish to learn, and other teachers offer material and experience, with generosity and liberality.

Some weeks ago I saw in the British Council – BBC online newsletter I receive that it was addressing teachers that are usually busy – that specific newsletter said sort of This invitation is for you busy teachers (sorry for these are not the literal words).” / Photo from: universeastext com

Monday, April 4, 2011

611. Life is before his eyes

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “In my turorials with each boy I try talk with him as though he was an adult. I mean, I just don’t restrict to give ‘orders’. I ask him, he answers; many times using monosyllable answers; doesn’t matter so far. I try and respect their adolescent private life.

With passing months they may come to see you, because it’s also true that students expect clear and convincing rules for life. You can think he’s not understanding your advice, but it sticks somewhere inside, I think.

We talk in a tutorial room, or in hot spring walking up and down the scarcely shade of the olive trees near the school. From time to time I call their parents, for them to tell me the way they want to educate their son.” / Photo from: braingames-online com

Saturday, April 2, 2011

610. He can follow your conducting

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I’d say you should give clear instructions to your students in the class. Be firm, with a kind mode though.

Tell them to open the coursebook to page 78. Call on their response to that instruction. Tell them they’re going to do that specific reading exercise and its aim why to do it. Now this is the time when you could explain how to carry it out. Or could implement a pre-reading. A really interesting pre-reading to them!

Speak clearly, with pauses when necessary. With examples too. With sense of humor, as I recommended you on post #608. Well, anyway, conduct yourself as you like, but don’t say confusing directions which can get your students in a muddle and mess. If they see they can follow you, they’ll for sure get satisfied.” / Photo from: waiohuli com

Friday, April 1, 2011

609. Working on textbooks: reading

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “One activity we can set as homework is simply reading a text from the course book. For example a text we’ve read today in the class.

At home the students can more likely reread the text and discover points they had not noticed during the activity in the class.

That text includes – usually – some new grammar and vocabulary.

I was thinking of setting a goal for that specific activity at home. We could however tell them to read it, perhaps suggesting them to read it the number of times they should think as appropriate to understand.

This way of facing up with a text may bolster them to become a bit more autonomous learners.” / Photo from: academicnc com