Thursday, June 30, 2011

652. They may look equal, but focus, please




One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I think it’s sound to find out your students’ level of English at the beginning of next academic year.



By means of a placement test, for example. A written one, including reading, writing, maybe listening too. A placement test if you have a mixed-ability group with students of very varied origins and backgrounds, and coming from different schools. Most likely, like you know, any group-class is mixed-ability. A simple but helpful test, I mean. So you could assess with a rather quick reading and make out their levels of English. As well including a question with a few words to measure their vocab. You can compose a box with both very simple terms and as well advanced-English vocabulary; they could have to translate from L1 to English. Simple questions and questions too where the student for example has to write about him or herself, in 50 or 80 words maximum, or whatever number. I would recommend you to compose that test also thinking of high-achievers, so as these ones can’t think the test was so easy and simple. And that they lost their time. Let them kind of ‘show off’ in the exam. In the case of low-achiever students they might write according to their capability, on the essay question – even one single sentence and with broken English.



Tell them this exam will not be graded: it’s just to find out their level.” / Photo from: alumni caltech edu

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

651. What about you, teacher?




One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “You demand hard-working from your students, you told me, all right. And you also said the teacher him or herself should be demanding with themselves. This is like the teacher’s self-discipline. I would point out would-be useful specific points about your hard work, if you let me tell you. As comes to mind: self-evaluation and assessment of your work; programming the academic year; the goals of the academic year; personal struggle to better yourself as a person, your own relationships with your colleagues, your students; even within your family and friends; your effort to teach efficiently; your not lowering the level of the serious work you planned at the beginning of the academic year – what is more: find what is going wrong, what going good, what can be improved, how to learn from your colleagues and the department head; studying and researching stuff about your classes; recycling the methods within the methodology you’re applying...” / Photo from: pacificu edu. Pacific University of Oregon.

Friday, June 24, 2011

650. The reward after climbing high




One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “The student has the necessity of success. Success brings more success. If the teacher – if it’s the case – suspends most of his or her students, these students’ tendency might keep failing more and more. Success, real learning, passing the exams, motivate more than failing. It depends on each specific case, but when a student got close to pass but his or her grade actually was fail, I'd tell you to revise his or her exam: if possible, try pass the student: the student might deserve a pass because you could find something else positive which you didn't see before in the first grading the exam. When the effort invested by the student is increasing, I think you the teacher ought to value this struggle and striving. The student, most likely, will keep on bettering: he'll see he's rewarded because of his effort; and he’ll see it's worth to carry on investing time and effort. Think of this, and do as you think better.” / Photo from: planesparahoy com

Thursday, June 23, 2011

649. She likes something to read




One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I’ve noted that some students, because of their learning styles, like to have in their hands a coursebook or worksheets as something material, and thus, not only listening and speaking with you in the class. Games may be useful but these learners also prefer to read and write some stuff sorted into a systematic order, and not only written words on the blackboard randomly. You can compose one worksheet on one single page, according to their expectations and needs. The kids would appreciate this. In adult learners’ case I’ve seen they definitely like worksheets, or a coursebook, and not only conversation in English. You can compose a worksheet in not long time, because these sheets must be something also practical for you: don’t compose a worksheet by taking one hour.” / Photo from: learningcentre com au

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

648. Please, stop and listen to me!


One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I do know you’re a busy teacher and want to do things right. However, and this is very positive, I’ve seen you that despite you’re hectic, you stop to talk with a student when he wants to tell you something, in the middle of the halls of your school. Great. It seems as though you were at their disposal, and concerned about their small things and big problems alike. It’s as if you had all the time for this student, within some reasonable time. At that moment you’re also educating him. And this kid appreciates and values your being at his disposal. Moreover you’re gaining prestige and a moral authority. You listen and keep whatever this kids told you. You didn’t put him aside whilst walking fast along the halls.” / Photo from: deportes info

Monday, June 20, 2011

647. Communication in the class connects people






One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Look, one practical tip for your classes, concerning communication in English.




When you don’t know a word in English – you’re not a native speaker of this language, but really need to say that word, what to do? I try to explain the word, in English; I try to explain the meaning, because I want to carry on communicating in English and not translate into L1. So, I say the concept, the meaning, the notion of the word; maybe examples of the word whose concept I want to describe; also, if convenient, the use for, the material, shape, color, even by means of a drawing, by means of gestures.




This is also an activity you can make your students practice: they explain the meaning of a word they don’t know. I think this is sensible, because communication is held totally in English. I learned this technique from a colleague of ours. Give it a try, and let me know.” / Photo from: centrodenegociosretiro com

Saturday, June 18, 2011

646. Look, they're doing better and better!




One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “One teacher used to praise their students for their struggling and effort to improve their studying and learning. He was quite demanding with the students.



However he knew how to reckon the students’ work. Passing the exams was crucial, but at the same time he praised his students’ striving to better their study and their coursebook exercises: he gave importance to this increasing struggle to improve. Grades were not the only important thing: he tried to teach his students to become better persons and become more and more autonomous learners: in this way the students just wished to study, to learn new things, to practice communication in English - at least he accomplished this with quite a nice number of the students in their class-groups.



If some student failed an exam, all right: this teacher let him analyze his errors and face up with his next exam.” / Photo from: autokton-world blogspot com. These people are skiing in Sierra Nevada, here in Granada, where I live.

Friday, June 17, 2011

645. Helping their families






One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “One veteran teacher told me I could do a big good to the boys who I have personal tutorials with.




One point was to learn how to listen to each student, whatever he wants or doesn’t want to say. You tutor, listen patiently, despite you might think what he’s telling you is trifle or childish stuff. Students appreciate the adult person who listens to them with a thorough and authentic interest!




If you also nod in the conversation, and paraphrase what he’s telling, and keep all that information in your mind, much better. These techniques aren’t acting out like in a drama play. You’re really concerned about his things, his joys, his vents. Always you should respect his parents’ (or parent’s) idea of education – you can keep silent at the tutorial and when you date a tutorial with his parents, quite often you all will find yourselves to coincide in many points. Respect as well the students’ freedom – just show what it’s right but you should not impose truth. Truth and good aren’t something to be imposed but something that the human person adheres to, by his or her own, when he or she discovers them.




You can give him the big scheme of the person’s dignity at a tutorial, but you also may suggest short and enthusiastic goals, for example, concerning his studies. Each student, both boys and girls of course, has a great dignity, also because they were created as God’s own image and likeness - which is something I believe in. Respect their beliefs and conscience.




Just one more thing: I know teacher tutors who have helped their students resist sex pressure and crack-smoking pressure [sorry for the latter expression]. Oh, and call their parents to a tutorial to talk with them too.” / Photo from: kids nationalgeographic com

Thursday, June 16, 2011

644. Using English for communication. More games




One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “On post #259 I gave you a lot of activities and games that may help our students play with English, and construct sentences or texts in English.



With passing months and years I’ve invented more games/activities and as well learned from the reactions and ways of doing things by the students themselves.



On label ‘more games’ in this blog you can find some more. Now I offer some new games, briefly:



1. The teacher invents and tells a simple story, by speaking, with 3 or 4 words the students provide; young students are very imaginative.



2. One student says a sentence with one word he or she has learned lately in the classes.



3. Elicit and give terms related with computers and the Internet.



4. They say, by turns, words that include one letter, but which words don’t begin with that letter. You can write them on the board; students like to see filling with columns of words by themselves; it’s like a competition.



5. They, with your assistance, plan a trip or an excursion, by telling as many points as possible: where, date, means of transportation, scheduled plan, accomodation, visits, leadership, games, working on Internet maps and touristic leaflets and pictures, etc.



Thus they work with real language, and you all communicate in English. Don’t be too concerned with grammar accuracy – now the point is communication.” / Photo from: epotential education vic gov au

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

643. Me a firefighter!?




One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I’m grateful to many teachers who offer online resources for teachers of English, free lesson plans, experiences in the classroom...



I see they’re enthused, enthusiastic with their profession. You can see it. Thousands of teachers from all the world round. And I see it’s not only to make money with the ads.



About these professionals, in Spain we say something which could be translated as Professional vocation: these teachers do have a professional vocation, a clear one quite often. Teachers do like treating people, teaching people knowledge and also practical conducting with that knowledge. They have that attitude, and a big tendency to help people. They’re professionals with a deep commitment (very commonly). They work for something else than money.



With passing time that original vocation or attitude develops and is loved more and more, with the everyday experience, by the teacher. The young are in their, in our hands... although firstly education is in their parents’ hands, which is not something the teacher can replace or substitute. And in teachers’ hands is as well the education of adult learners, if the case.



These professionals have this kind of attitude, like many firefighters have another different attitude, or professional vocation.” / Photo from: things4myspace com

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

642. It's like growing up




One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “At the beginning of my doctorate studies and research I draw some conclusions, which I’ve held all these years, with further enriching insights, also from my reading scholars, reading teachers’ contributions to forums in the Internet, and my daily experience in the classroom.



To achieve to learn English – and carry on learning more and more – the learner must actually wish to learn, to have or gain motivation, and a good methodology. Here I think I shouldn’t say further. Just one more point: the learner should have a real necessity of using English, or sort of creating that necessity on his or her own. It’s like the process of growing up.



I forgot it, I didn’t finish my doctorate – I felt I should say it here.” / Photo from: discreame blogspot com

Monday, June 13, 2011

641. Relax before the class




One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Do you feel nervous before the class starts? I can tell you some techniques that are useful to me, in case they would also be of any help to you. First thing to say is that a novice teacher can feel to be nervous more than a veteran one perhaps.



So, let me tell you. Combine these things before you head for the classroom. Not necessarily in the following sequence. Slow down the rhythm of your thoughts, lowering their ‘spinning’ in your head. Relax the tension of the muscles of your face. Breathe in a regular and normal rhythm. Relax all the tension of your body, better if you’re sitting. Let your body lose tension, like your body weighted and then relax in the chair, relax your back, arms and legs. Lower again the spinning of your thoughts that are coming to mind. You’ll feel better. Sometimes I try and do these things in the very class, at the beginning, for I might have no time before.” / Photo from: fotocommunity es. The bus stop is in Porto, Portugal.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

640. They need lights to learn









Here you have some more learning strategies that you teacher of English (or English teacher, if you prefer so) and your students can implement in the class. They have been invented or outfitted from the everyday classes plus trying to adapt activities useful for my students’ needs. Hope some might be useful to you. / Photo from: lighthouse jpcbcn buenblog com






1. Translating sentences by all the students. In their school tests they have translation, both directions.






2. The student makes up a test as though he was the teacher. Just 4 questions.






3. All the class suggest questions of a possible test, which questions the teacher writes on the board. The teacher proposes one question.






4. What do you have to do to study for a test like the ones we do in the school, in an efficient way The teacher helps them.






5. The teacher asks them questions to elicit vocabulary. The words are appearing on the board like a network.






6. Every student writes one sentence with a new word. Better: 2 sentences.






7. The student adds one more sentence similar to the ones of a given exercise, like a drill exercise.






8. The students read a specific text, their choice, and the teacher asks them questions in the next class. The teacher tries to convince them of the importance of personal study.






9. The teacher tells the students to study something specific. Later the teacher asks them practical questions to use the verbal tense (if the case). Don’t worry if this activity doesn’t work. Give it a try.






10. The teacher tells them that preparing a test of English is not like History, Biology, Math. So, what seems the best and most efficient way to study for the test of English?






11. Revision.






12. The teacher teaches all he would do to get good grades in a test. All he would do with the unit.






13. Study and write examples. Of a grammar pattern.






14. If not as homework, the student could have a look at the next unit, not begun yet. Or could have a look at what has not studied yet in the unit we are studying in the class.






15. The teacher writes sentences with errors. The students have to correct them. Errors with regard to the grammar they are learning.






16. One student presents the grammar point to the class, in L1.






17. The asks them How they could notice possible errors or mistakes in a given exercise from the textbook. Maybe only the teacher can notice the errors. Anyway, carry on, ask the students if they can find them. The teacher asks Can you learn from the error? How can you do it? How can you avoid it? Let them think and ponder. All these games do have or at least I try to give them aslo a communicative approach.






18. Ask the students how many times we have used one pattern along the class.






19. The students read all the unit, up to the point where we have stopped in the last class. The point is to make them become aware of the unit as a whole, as a whole structured and ordered syllabus of material, within a specific outline. The students may discover the unit and its goals.






20. A person who actually wants to learn a language, and he or she has the firm resolution to do it, will achieve to learn for sure. It’s a mixture of a realistic and firm willing plus affective aspects. You love what you know. You know more and more, and this fact makes you love learning further. You are continuously learning, from there, from here. All the time. Every day. You pick up one word here, one other word there. That’s the person who actually learns.






Friday, June 10, 2011

639. Just like everyday routines

Julia Cates, I would appreciate you would again send me the link yesterday you attached to your comment.




One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Wise teachers put passion when teaching. And also new enthusiasm in spite of the passing years and passing dire straits. You in some or another way can notice it. A teacher that kind thinks of the way he or she teaches, and removes what doesn’t work and learns new things, on this lifelong learning to be a teacher.




That teacher doesn’t confine to a dry way of teaching, and makes their students learn English in an efficient way. His or her teaching is not fosilized. That teacher doesn’t forget he or she treats people. He or she thinks of each and every student and their needs, their building personalities and biographies. That teacher fully commits to his or her intellectual work. That professional recycles his or her ways of teaching, and fosters his or her students to engage their brain and their creativity.” / Photo from: puppylovepreschool blogspot com





Thursday, June 9, 2011

638. He had to practice many times to learn






Thank you, Julia Cates, for your comment. One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Some months ago I was teaching private classes to a boy that had to pass his school subject of English. what I’m going to say is also ok for group classes.




We were studying an exercise from his text book about phrasal verbs, and the student had to match each phrasal verb with a synonym on another column, you know. We did the exercise once. The point is that repetition – plus practicing naturalistically are essential.




We repeated the same exercise a second time. My student thought it was enough, for he had understood the meanings of the phrasal verbs. However, we did the exercise a third time, a fourth time, and I don’t remember if any more. My student grasped the idea that one thing is to understand and another different thing is to learn, to interiorize those phrasal verbs. Some weeks afterward he was able to remember those phrasal verbs.” / Photo from: fondosgratis com mx. Theme: soccer (or football) player.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

637. Young people aim high




One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “In the summer of 2008 I worked as a teacher in a summer camp, in Spain. I was in charge of adolescent boys. I had previously for long taught classes to younger students, namely Primary. I went to assist the course with a set of many games, ranging from vocabulary to oral presentations – however, the games were mostly so simple games. Oh, man, the games didn’t work.



My students didn’t like to be treated like little children at all. I was writing puzzles or whatever on the blackboard, whilst their faces looked upset. So, I had to replan the program. The result was not brilliant but I tried hard to encounter their interests and even more important to provide them with activities that could be useful for their future, like composing a resume (Curriculum Vitae), presenting a speech with a topic of their favorite school subject, and a job interview.” / Photo from: student in library. martinatc com

Monday, June 6, 2011

636. Writing with a reader in mind




Today I publish a comment I wrote to an article about Teaching writing: Making writing communicative . Both were published in British Council – BBC site. Hope it would be any useful. The article was composed by TE Editor. The link to this useful web site is www.teachingenglish.org.uk / Photo from: student writing scsssd blogspot com.


Fernando M Díez


Submitted on 19 May, 2011 - 08:12


Hi TE Editor and everyone,


Thank you, TE Editor, for the interesting article about writing. It will help me improve and brush up my implementing this skill activity with my students.


I'm now pointing out one useful idea - among the many others which are also helpful: writing with a reader in mind. In the tests I set I could ask them to write the usual short story I include as one question, bearing in mind they're writing that short story to be published in Facebook and that hundreds of teens their age could read the tales. All of this, of course, as something imaginary: they're writing to me.


Or even I could try to encourage them to write the story by trying to write something really interesting and entertaining for me when I've got to correct the pile of test papers, so as to alleviate that charge of correcting and marking: 'And remember to write a beautiful stroy or a thriller which might provide a bit of relaxing to me when correcting your exams, your tests.' All of this with some nuance of humour or a smile.


Best wishes for all TE team


Fernando M D G


Granada, Spain


http://fernandoexperiences.blogspot.com