Showing posts from August, 2011

696. Who's the best rider, you think?

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A ,”Normally boys can begin to understand Subject, Verb, etc., when they are about 10 years, according to my experience. I don’t know in girls’ case: also at that age?

Some years ago I taught private classes to a boy of 10, half hour each. After helping do his homework, I started to speak in English. One day we were working on the comparative of adjectives. I put a blank sheet onto the table. And I drew objects or puppets, while having him answer to my questions, ‘What is bigger, House 1 or House 2?’ Also I wrote the adjective in its comparative form, with double ‘g’. We repeated some more comparisons. I used other adjectives, as well a few he hadn’t learned yet. I asked him about real objects of the room, then things out of the center, RealMadrid and Barcelona soccer teams, people, sometimes with a slight stroke of humor. We did the same with the superlative.

Sense of humor - but don’t use it too much - is a good booster for lea…

695. A new game. Are you ready?

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Within a few days we’ll start a new academic year, with the students. With some new students too. I enthuse over beginning.

I’ll have people in front of me. With their characters, families, so different levels of English...

I’m fortunate: I have in mind my colleagues that will have some sort of little terrorists in the class, prone to boycott the class. I’ve got friends, teachers in Institutos, [secondary education in Spain, like the licée in France, I think] who love their job anyway. I like my job.

The main point is, first: teach them English, teach them to carry out their profession as students. But more important is that I’ll have people to educate, to have them frimly tight the reins of their lives and help out others.

Their parents have entrusted their kids to me (!). I’ll do my best. Nothing will be lost. I know that if I do things well, nothing will be lost, relating to my classes and treatment with my students. I bel…

694. Training as essential

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I told you some suggestions to train a student to give a presentation in a small conference. It was on post # 691. Short ago I found out that it’d be also useful if I said to the learner not to start ‘now’ his speech, counting the minutes.

I sometimes began to talk with him about his issue, recalling something he had said in other sessions, asking him questions, paraphrasing what he’d said, letting him say further about one specific point. In this latter way of conducting he discovered brilliant points he hadn’t thought of previously, and now they came to mind. These points could be more relevant for the audience than some of the ones he had planned to say. So, it was like a more naturalistic way of talking about the issue, a complementary one.

It helped him think aloud about the topic. He could reach the actual-presentation day more trained. In other words, in these sessions I approached the issue like getting closer and clo…

693. Pulling the rope as a team

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “One teacher told me once she had been the coordinator of a two-teacher team of English in a short summer camp.
Scheduled were two classes of English in the morning. The two teachers came from a school of English, one with a nice reputation in the nearby city. So, they were professionals, different from previous summers. The coordinator let and fostered those teachers to take the initiative. An ample one.
The point was that the pair of teachers should feel on their own field, teaching according to the methodology they commonly utilized. The coordinator had a clear idea: practicing speaking was the most important thing to do. The girls lacked some or a big capability of speaking/listening. The course would be short. They had few classes in total. Before the course, the coordinator was in contact with those teachers, via email, to specify objectives, the schedule of classes, the stuff about emphasizing speaking, the material the…

692. She achieves her students to follow her

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “It’s very important to look in your students’ faces in the class, I’d say. It’s important to view and learn their reactions and attitudes to what you’re saying.
How do they feel in the class, you think? Do you take advantage of the feedback you can receive from them? They’re the protagonists of the class, and you too, evidently. Are they learning...? If you pay attention to this feedback from them, you can think of trying another way for implementing the activity. For example you may see the need to give examples from real life when presenting the four types of conditional sentences.
Many students are looking at you, most of them seem to follow you, you think. While you’re looking at such and such students you’re involving them into the conditional sentences. That other student is yawning, those two beyond are chattering, this boy at the second row seems lost. Why are those two girls giggling? All this is essential for your c…

691. Me, a university presentation in English!?

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Yesterday a teacher told me her experience at training another girl, a novice university lecturer, to give a presentation in English.
The main lines relating the final conducting on the stage were as follow. This trainer told her she ought to utter a brief presentation [I’ve changed some details of this real story].
The trainer told her friend: Be yourself. You might begin your speech by just saying something like ‘Sorry, I am very nervous, because it’s the first time I speak in English to an audience like you, my colleagues. Sorry for my mistakes’, while smiling. ‘I’m grateful to be here in Saskatchewan, at the State University of… [This State is one of Canada], invited by Professor R.L. Smith, to honor him for his lifelong career and commitment, up to the point of becoming a world authority in the research on… I also thank the administration… and also you my colleagues, present here today...’ Or whatever could came to her m…

690. Leading a new way this year

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “As you know, a new academic year is starting in the US. I suppose also in other countries. You may see many teachers’ enthusiasm and doubts on these days: actually I see there are many blog posts in TeacherLingo, for example, about this issue.

The site’s link is Getting to know other teachers’ ideas is great.

You told me you’re thinking and planning things for the coming academic year too: classes proper begin in the second or third week of September (in Spain).

Today I just wanted to summarize some points about teaching English, if useful. The point is not to miss the wood for the tree. The teacher teaches and presents the grammar and vocab – all this is rather simplistic but might serve the purpose; this is just as I see the game. The learner learns because he or she wishes to. The student is a motor of his, her own learning and practicing. The teacher too is a motor of that process of teaching/lear…

689. Pushing forward together

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “You can foster solidarity and comradeship among your students. I’ve seen the good results of a boy who was sitting next to another boy, pulling their desks together: one helped the other with an exercise from the coursebook. This latter student was not able to understand and carry it out, for example a drill.

The teacher said to the monitors not to say right the answers to their assigned classmates. The goal was that the monitor would help his classmate to find out what to do with that activity. The monitor explained the exercise, with his own words, which can be clearer than yours sometimes... I’d tell you that the monitors should explain in English, without shifting to their mother language.

However, reality is different: they explain in L1, anyway, from my experience. In the case I’m presenting now, I’d let the monitors talk in L1. Otherwise, and so far, the monitor may not have the necessary competence to talk in L2 now. …

688. Learning names and words in English

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Once I found out that my young students liked one game a lot, and it was fun for them, and for me - you have plenty of games on ‘Labels’ on the right column in this blog. I then thought that if that game was so fun for them maybe I shouldn’t exploit it too long – we could play it again on a few days; it was useful to learn and revise vocabulary. Perhaps the game was ‘hangman’ or something like one student had to repeat the written words on the whiteboard.

This latter game was: I elicited professions, said by them, and I was writing those words like a network, with lines around pointing at the center of the board, where I had written ‘jobs’ in a circle. Then I gave them one minute to memorize the words, and one volunteer – many raised their hands – had to repeat as many words as possible, turning around so as not to see the board. His classmates were getting totally focused on the board.” / Photo from: canada - mapfnetravel co…

687. A virgin island

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Activities which our students have to speak in can constitute good preparation for their future careers.
One example from my experience: In one of the academic years at Centro de Lenguas Modernas, of Universidad de Granada, we the students had to discuss about possible projects to be set up in a virgin island in the middle of the ocean. It’s an exercise where the students have to talk fluently and with versatility.
It’s interesting because of this versatility: the learners are able to present their proposals and discuss about their reasons. It can be fun. One can suggest some environmental friendship resource to conserve and study the island’s species, one can propose to make money out of the leisure resources the island can offer, another student proposes to set up something suitable for the elderly. That discussion can provide fun and joking when talking about someone’s original project.
The students have got to use appropr…

686. She'll become an expert, no doubt

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A,”The advanced or proficient learner of English can feel he or she is not advancing much, though they keep studying and speaking English and doing other things. Those people may think – perhaps – they’re not learning new grammar, further vocab, etc., or this learning is so small, not worthy to note.

The point is that beginners are learning from zero or nearly that, and any word they learn seems – and are – steps forward.

One teacher of English, from Australia, had stayed here in Spain for a summer course of English, three years ago. A few weekends ago he and his familiy came back to Spain, to visit some cities and a natural park. He told me I had advanced in my English. Every word you learn, or an idiom, or a phrasal verb are steps forward too. I’d tell you to carry on learning, and speaking English whenever the chance appears. Even it might be the case that you’re learning more than a starter student, in some way or another.


685. Some advice, if useful, for a job interview

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “One thing your students will have to do is to hold a job interview, think that within not many years. Also the activity I propose to you today is very good practice in the class.

On post # 391 I showed you nice points to prepare oneself for a job interview – I took them from some place. Now I would add some advice a couple days ago one college lecturer told me. Here you are. I liked them. He said: Be natural, smile, sincere and honest, what I know is what I know, and what I don’t I’ll study it. You wish to work. Be just yourself. As well, ponder what they offer you, to make up a clear idea if that offering is fair.” / Photo from: como presentarse y convencer entrevista de trabajobuscartrabajo com

684. They form a team of workers

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Well, this is evident but worth to remember: you’re not the single teacher of English in the school. Also there’re teachers of math, arts... Bear in mind that you can consult other colleague teachers of English, and listen and learn from their points of view, for example about how to present the usage of past perfect.

Share your experiences when convenient; suggest how you’d do to teach the process of writing, to students of 3º ESO [I think this is equivalent to K-12 in the US system]. I’ve learned a lot at the meetings of the department of English, and at the interviews with the coordinator of English of the school company where I used to work. Count on your colleagues, both to learn and to suggest nice ways to do things; the latter one if convenient I repeat, and always considering the other teacher is like me – one more teacher: I’m not his boss.

Look, now I’m remembering something interesting. One young director of a team…

683. The game depends on the first minutes

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Regarding the beginning of the class, its management is essential, for a smooth work during the class.

You can enter the classroom, after the previous teacher left it. Well, you should combine the following stuff with letting the students relax, for the first minutes, even more if they’re little children that do need to move around. Like I said, you enter the classroom, and so they notice your entrance. You remain still and silent at the entrance to the classroom, while they’re talking aloud. You can gaze at some of them, who are unruly kids, or anyone else. Wait The atmosphere may be slowing and calming down. You head for your desk, looking from time to time in their faces, firm, but also relaxing and kind, and not in a naive way.

Wait for everyone to get focused on the subject of English and on you. When they’re quiet, you can then start the class, for example with some warm-up, questions, a short game, some prompts to prov…

682. I'm nervous when talking to an audience

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Family meetings to talk about their children’s issues are important, so as to hold the necessary communication between the school and the families, and the other way round.

Now, about what you told me a few days ago, and which gets you worried. You told me that you’re scared of speaking to a group of parents. They’re critical of what you’re saying; they’re more demanding about the success at learning English than their kids. You said you have stage fright. So what?

Plan your brief report. Answer their questions, as better as you can. ‘Yes,’ you could tell me, ‘but they’ll notice I’m trembling or my voice is close to faltering’. So what? The key thing here is that your report or speech should be as clear as possible, and realistic. Present how things are going on. The parents are on your side, tentatively: they want their kids should learn, and make good use of the invested registration money.

As well it’s so important to resp…

681. Getting to comprehend youngsters

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I see you’re a committed teacher who strives to do things well, or you’re trying to do things so, all right. And you have a clean and authentic affection and interest in your students. I’d tell you, regarding what I’ve just said, that we have conscience – this has to do with our everyday teaching, scheduled activities, with daily treating those youngsters. It tells you what is good to do and what’s bad. Conscience is an integral part of a teacher like you. Well, of any person. It helps you for example find out that this film you want to watch with your students is not adecuate for them, and in plain words, for anybody else; or the contrary, the film is brilliant: the argument is ok, the actors and actresses play awesome, it has some sane action: your students will like it, definitely (you guess).

Something else: your students are comprehending, along their growing up, what freedom is, and also responsibility. Foster both: your…

680. The program of classes yes, but be flexible

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Don’t just plan classes according to the program of the teacher’s book. Write your class-plan with your students in mind. As many students as possible, or some of them that come up to mind: the way they are.

Even - don’t get me wrong - follow the head of the department’s objectives and the way of doing things, but those demanding goals should always be implemented according to your specific students. The point is not to follow the index of the coursebook as a static monolith, or a scheduled pathway with no chance to go off the course of the ‘vehicle’ (the classes).

The person and his or her needs, and what we can expect from him or her is the first premise to take into account. What’s more: in this way your students won’t see you as the teacher that enters the classroom, good morning, presents the reported speech, sets activities, plays the DVD player, and... bye see you tomorrow. Reported speech is what was scheduled in unit…

679. What was he doing while walking to school?

Today I’d like to offer you some words by expert in learning languages H.D. Brown.

They were useful and clarifying for me. I’d like also for you, if the case. The reference of the book can be found in the Search box. Take from the text below whatever you like, a non-native teacher of English.

Other examples of similar techniques: think in English when you’re planning the next class, use your computer and diary-organizer all in English, develop your thought in English for half hour while you’re thinking of what’s better for your students lately, speak in English with native speakers as the chance appear, use your computer by writing, and searching in the Web only in English… / Photo from: Going To Schoolpjpress com

One learner who became very proficient in English, largely through a technique that required an extremely uninhibited attitude, was Hans Durbeek. Durbeek, from Holland, reported that as a young boy of 14 he made a regular practice of rehearsing make-believe conversations in E…

678. Teaching to different ages

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I naturally use miming in the classroom, with both adult students and youngsters. Also I use varied kinds of gestures, acting out too, smiling or making faces, all within a discreet way (I try so; acting out, I think, should take into account different cultures). Eye-contact is essential: I sweep the class by looking in their faces. In this way I’ve noticed that the atmosphere in the class helps make the learners more focused and the class itself more human, or the like.

One example to make them understand me – I’m referring now to my older students, from fifty-something up to seventy or like that – is: I address all of them with my hand and then I tap on my ear, saying ‘Listen, just listen, listen... to me’, then I tap on my chest,a few times.

Now, realia, look. In the classroom where I was teaching a few years ago – actually it was the library of the center – there was a suitcase, in a corner. The students: older ones. I ha…

677. They're not doing anything wierd, just working

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Have you ever realized that your students need you setting an example of your thorough fulfillment of your duties? Try and try again to do your work well.

Your colleague teachers as well expect, or lean on your work. Also your school will become a nicer place where working can be carried out smoothly, so to speak, despite the regular problems that always will come out, for sure. Your school will become more efficient.

And the students’ families can learn from you – this does not imply arrogance but just your regular-day teaching and living in harmony together with the faculty of teachers.

And we could go ahead: you in this way are helping your country, society, and the world... I don’t think I’m sort of magnifying. Think of the thousands of people that do their work, as a service to others. In this way so far presented, you’re helping Japan, Somalia, the European Union, also contributing to solve the international economic cr…

676. The key to win the game... of teaching

A few weeks ago I came across the following sentence. I think no word is spare, and it is round. Read it carefully: it can help you in your everyday teaching. Taken from TEFL Lab London

The Art of Teaching English is a delicate balance of skill, intuition, careful planning and empathy. We don't want you to be okay, we want you to be brilliant.

/ Photo from: sportpark – ice hockeykitzbuehel com

675. Will I reach the peak of that mountain?

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Think of a person, a learner of English, with an advanced level of competence and proficiency in that language. That person – I know quite many in Spain and in other countries – has achieved something that I call sense of the language.

That learner, through many years of learning, is able to speak in English about any topic, with more or less ability, but with enough competence, as I said, to talk about anything. That man or woman wishes to speak in the target language at any time he or she has the chance. Furthermore, you (I mean, that learner) can be caught using expressions and idioms that some day you learned or saw somewhere.

Language is becoming something there very inside you. You then take some prudent risks when speaking, with expressions you would suppose are okay. You’ve gained a large tank of words to utter anything, any message, or to respond to any question or statement said by a native speaker. You think in Eng…

674. Is she a native teacher of English? I think yes

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “If you’re a non-native teacher of English you should carry on learning this language; it’s a lifelong learning. It makes your teaching efficient, more likely; also because then you’re a learner yourself, and know what learning a language brings about.

For example you can read a novel, or a non-fiction essay, history, etc. It makes you learn new expressions and terms. Dedicate a few minutes every day, at a specific time, or whenever possible, when traveling by the subway,etc. Otherwise you can dedicate half hour a week: you know your circumstances better, of course.

Moreover you’ll feel satisfied when actually learning further expressions and idioms that you can use with your native colleagues. As well you have the capability to better remember new words more easily than your students. You’ll have fun too and less fear to plunge into talking in English all time with other teachers and students. You’ll gain new language to comm…

673. Is my coursebook any real aid?

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Something helpful you can do with your students is to get the most from their textbooks. The students at a first moment could see the pages of the English coursebook as something full of pictures and mixed activities, one activity similar in format to the next one.

Teach them the meaning of the icons and subtitles: grammar, listening, etc. They should get a clear view of the contents of the unit.

You can help them understand, read and re-read the instructions of a given exercise, on their own. Some words or phrasal verbs can be practiced more naturalistically later on. You, provide a real life context to the sentences of the activity, and give one more example of a sentence about news they’re interested, or a context really close to their real life and city. Or make them imagine the situation that reflects each sentence: the characters, the place, who’s talking with who, etc.

Each exercise is like a short story where your stu…