Wednesday, November 30, 2011

756. Amid sere everyday beauty

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “With regard to what we were talking last week in the cafeteria, I would tell you something. Let me think.

You know, your daily work, which one you love, is part of the work God entrusted us to carry out - in ample lenses. All right. Each person is inherently someone that communicates and lives together with other people, right? As well you told me that in this way you serve and help out others.

So your work is trascendent, not only something for yourself, somewhere in your innerhood. Also it’d be trascendent because it connects you with the Other, God. You said we also live and work together with God, so He is right there, among the persons you live with.

My conclusion? We would work not only for this world here but for this world here plus taking into account our father God is here, not only, so to speak, ‘in the stars’. Every day I think we, many of us, people from Western world need solid and firm values to build our lives; upon that firm basement. Today I needed this discourse of ideas.” / Photo from: wirednewyork com. brooklyn bridge manhattan 4july03

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

755. How is it going these days, teacher?

Hi teachers, these days are being great, because of my treating people, parents, teachers and kids. Besides I’m keeping and collecting so many possible posts – I hope relevant ones, some of them –, which I might love they were of any use for you. Best wishes, guys. Keep on doing your best. It’s worthy. / Photo from: blog reddrivingschool com. car covered in snow Mark and Andrea Busse

Saturday, November 26, 2011

754. My student's 'cooking' next test

Today I’ve translated the email I sent to Javi’s mom, about this kid’s progress in learning English and in studying for a test he once had within a couple of days. The original Spanish version is on post # 753. / Photo from: logosoftwear com. running baker

Dear Luisi,

Kind greetings.

Here you have some rules – better said, suggestions – that might help Javi to prepare for the next test. I do mean suggestions, for evidently it’s him who is learning how to study, with my help, but ultimately he is the one who is finding his unique, and efficient way how to learn English.

I’d appreciate if you passed this email over to him.

1. Javi, read, and read, over and over what you have in the pages of your coursebooks. This is what you’ll face up in the test. Be aware of the ways you learn grammar, vocabulary, idioms; ponder about your own way of learning. In this way you’re going to find your unique learning style, which will take you to pass the upcoming test. Within 2 or 3 years, 5 at the most, you sure will have to speak with other people whose communication language is English.

2. Each and every sentence you read, each minute you dedicate to studying, will make you get tenths of the total grade [In Spain ususally, among primary and secondary students, tests have 10 questions or activities, or in any case the total upper grade is 10 points; thus, 5/10 means just pass].

3. It’s essential to pass this test. I don’t mean you should get choked, simply carry on studying. I assure you are advancing. Let’s go to get the grade of 5 or 6; better said YOU go to get those grades. It’s crucial to pass this test. It isn’t enough, though, you’re learning more and more; well this is very valuable, anyway, I’d even say this is the important thing: to keep on advancing and learning more and more.

4. Make your handwriting a clear one. This helps your teacher to read your test and makes the grading kinder for her; as well this nice handwriting is a part of the grading.


Friday, November 25, 2011

753. Looking for the right way to success

Here is an email I sent to Javi’s mom one time, for her to send it over to Javi, before a near test of English at school. I taught Javi private classes. He was 14 or 15. He HAD to pass this exam. This exam, if he actually passed it, that would imply a significant step to pass a substantial part of the subject. I have changed these people’s names. Sorry for the likely format bugs. / Photo from: katarina-nocchie blogspot com. rainy day

Estimada Luisi,

Aprovecho para saludarte.

Escribo a continuación unas normas, o mejor, sugerencias que pueden ayudar a Javi en el próximo examen. Sugerencias porque lógicamente él está aprendiendo a estudiar, con mi ayuda, pero tiene que encontrar su manera, eficaz, de aprender inglés, él mismo.

Si fueras tan amable de hacerle llegar el contenido de este email, o el propio email.

1. Javi, dale vueltas a lo que aparece en las páginas del libro, que será la materia del examen. Lee, relee, fíjate en cómo vas aprendiendo el vocabulario, la gramática, etc. Así irás encontrando la forma tuya de estudiar que te lleve a aprobar ese examen...; mejor dicho, ese es el camino para que aprendas inglés. Dentro de 2 o 3, o 5 años vas a tener unas relaciones con personas que sencillamente se entienden en inglés.

2. Por cada frase que leas, cada minuto que estudies, vas arañando décimas en cada pregunta del examen.

3. Este examen es primordial aprobarlo. No quiero que te agobies, simplemente... sigue estudiando. Veo que estás mejorando. Vamos por (o vas por) 5 o 6 de nota. Es importante aprobar este examen; no basta que estés mejorando, que ya es mucho, que es todo realmente, y eso es lo que cuenta.

4. Que se te entienda la letra. Esto predispone a la profesora, y es parte de la nota del examen.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

752. A class with young kids

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “A couple years ago I taught English to a small group: they were three. The youngest kid was 9 and the others were 13 and 12. At those ages that difference of years, as you know, is very big.

The youngest one was smart, though had little English. I started to give him instructions, sometimes, at every class. Like ‘Go to the green door and open it... now close it,’ etc. I made gestures related to the actions, with my arms and hands. If I spoke to him in English he would understand little – actually some words were unknown to him - but he began to understand me, and other instructions given by his classmates. This young kid began to relate, to connect ‘that language’ – he knew it was English – with actions and the physical surroundings. Moreover I had got to have this kid move and stand up often: it was necessary for him to do that, at his age, and also because he had been doing homework and studying for rather a long while before, in another classroom.” / Photo from: blogs longwood edu. female teacher with children in classroom.

Monday, November 21, 2011

751. Working together can boost efficiency

Here is a thread post that was published in the web-site of British Council – BBC, , and a reply by me. If you want, obviously you can provide some contribution. Sorry for the possible format settings on this post.

A qualified English language now what?

Submitted by nbotfield_elt on 18 November, 2011 - 20:50

Hello Everybody!

Hope you're all well. I'm a newly qualified teacher with a BA in English language, an MA in English Language Teaching, a TESOL, bags of enthusiasm, heaps of theoretical knowledge job. I understand the job situation is pretty dire in the UK for everyone at the moment so I accept the lack of interest in hiring an NQT. I'm going abroad to teach in about 9 months time, however, I was wondering if anyone had any ideas of what to do to keep me fresh and in the game for the time being? I've applied to volunteer once a week at a refugee centre but other than that, I can't afford to give up too much of my time for free.

Has anyone had this kind of experience before? Is there something other than teaching that you perhaps did, within the field of ELT, that might assist in keeping qualifications fresh, whilst perhaps also looking good on a CV? I'm a little bit stuck as every route I've gone down so far, e.g exam marker, winter English camps etc. has been blocked as experience in teaching is always needed.

So, in short, is there anything NQTs can do in the UK that will make them more desirable to future employers?

Any suggestions welcome!

A qualified Teacher... so now what?

Submitted on 21 November, 2011 - 13:55

Hi N.,

I think I can, up to some extent, understand your circumstances from what you clearly tell.

I’d like to give you any useful hint, if possible, from what another teacher like me can say – although our circumstances are different.

First, as you actually see, the beginnings of any career are hard and tough. However you’got many positive points in your favour.

As far as I know, a native speaker of English is welcome here in Spain if he or she wishes to teach English. Here in my country we do have very big cyphers of unemployment. However, as I’ve said, and I see how things are going on here more or less, an English native speaker is very useful. Even more if the teacher is British.

I live in Granada, south of Spain, you may know: Sierra Nevada and skiing, Alhambra, a lot of tourists... and you have amazing titles that any employer would like to have, from an overview perspective. Not only in teaching English but in many varied jobs – I see you’d like to work according as your achievements though.

Plus you have some professional and interesting experience; experience of a job or work is very well welcome here; all of this is something to take into consideration.

Now, and more and more, Spanish people are longing for mastering English: quite many, many people, mostly young people, can’t be hired just because the employer demands a high level of English. And you are a highly-qualified teacher to teach that very advanced level.

Today nearly any (almost any) young person does need English to apply for a job.

I guess, anyway, that lodging and the sort can be a big problem for you, as you have little money.

In my case, at the end, I was hired for a job as an English teacher... and I’m not an English native speaker.

Well, I tried to give you some spark of light, I’d like. I would, if you let me do so, encourage you: you do have interesting titles few people have.

That said, and you’re a clever person, I presume, the stuff written here is not sort of paradise and all is easy – not necessary to state, but I did.

At your disposal. Best wishes, N.


Granada, Spain

English teacher and teacher trainer

(Photo on this post from: officefreaks com. working together)

750. Management of the class

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “In order to manage the class, or in other words, to efficiently teach and create an atmosphere of work, I think it’s essential to continuously observe your students: if they are following you, following another classmate that is responding or explaining about his or her experience, if that student over there is lately more absent-minded..., if there is some furtive-looking sort of plotting between two students - smiling cunningly, with furtive and shifty looks at each other...

View all this not as something negative and invigilating-like. I see you’re trying to manage the class so as to make their real and serene learning English easier.

You’ve got to intervene as soon as possible to cut off possible disruption and misbehavior problems.

I’ve seen you also take into account the average students and the high-achievers, who are trying to listen to the teacher and the conversation between two or more students in English.

Now I can remember one day when two students were discussing, for long, about the way each of them studied English. It was amazing: both were naturalistically communicating with each other, and I think they were not aware they were talking in English: the important point then was the discussion and nice small controversy between those two students, of 12 or 13 years. The interest for listening to those two kids grew among the others.” / Photo from: pard technion ac il. Students With Computer

Saturday, November 19, 2011

749. He knows strategies to win

I’ve sometimes quoted from brilliant expert H. D. Brown. Today I offer you some (hopefully) useful points for your teaching English and for your students.

They are taken from this author, (1989) A Practical Guide to Language Learning. A Fifteen-Week Program of Strategies for Success. New York: McGraw-Hill. I’d say the methodology he proposes for learners is helpful and encouraging. You can consider each of the points:

1. It sets a general “tone” with which you can approach the language you’re learning.

2. It describes how successful language learners are able to develop effective combination of emotional, intellectual, and physical abilities.

3. It helps you to believe in yourself and to take charge of your own learning above and beyond your classroom activities.

4. It helps you to understand yourself as a language learner and to discover your own unique strategies for success.

5. It gives you helpful ideas for working cooperatively with your teacher and with your classmates, all of whom are members of a team. (page 2).

I included this quotation in a paper that a journal of Universidad de Jaén published in 2006 (Journal: Guadalbullón). More quotations if you type this scholar’s name in Search/ Photo from: paddling about com. Scott Parsons 2008 Olympics

Thursday, November 17, 2011

748. She loves her private classes

One day a teacher of English said to a colleague of his, “Like you know, I plan every class. Last week, however, I arrived at the center where I teach private classes to a boy of 13 or 14, and at the beginning I told him something like ‘Ok, I didn’t plan today’s class.’ Actually he has to study English harder... and learn how to study and learn, more importantly, I’d say.

Being honest I have a clear idea about what I have to do in the classes, in general. ‘What do you think we should do today?’, I asked him. And when he said what would-be more appropriate then, I had to focus on what he had thought preferably to do, not follow my ideas!

I’d dare to say that in this way he got more aware of his needs. I hope in this way he’ll become more autonomous, and the like. I’m a mere help, you know, and it’s him who has to attend the classes as the protagonist.

That week, he improved, because, like I said, he felt the protagonist of the learning English process, and I was kind of scrutches for him to walk then, necessary ones okay, but some day he won’t need those scrutches.

Well, better said, I’ll keep on standing by him to try open him more challenging ways to become a proficient speaker.

Remember, all in all, you teacher are the other protagonist in the class.

Well, man, perhaps, if you ask a student what to do in the private class, he can tell you he doesn’t know... This is part of the game, it’s natural. Such is life, it’s not regular. This is part of the great work of teaching English.” / Photo from: cooperpiano com. yamaha piano playing

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

747. All can be educative

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “A couple of days ago I was going out my classrroom. While I was talking to a soccer coach of our school at the large hall I saw a small group of young kids running around and playing over there. Natural. Also there were some leaves on the floor, because we’re in fall, and the soft wind pushes leaves into the building.

I asked, anyway, those kids if they had anything to do with the leaves on the floor – at that moment I hadn’t realized we’re in fall. One said, ‘It wasn’t me’ [in Spanish] and then flew away to the gym to practice soccer.

One of the kids was left behind, in the bathrooms. After that he also sped out to the gym. I noticed the light of the bathrooms was on. So, I thought I should tell this latter student to leave the place after having turned off the light.

I then went down to the gym, asked another soccer coach if I could pick up the child for a short while. When we two reached the bathrooms, I asked the kid to turn off the light and told him the reason why. He said he didn’t know where the key was. Okay. I had him find it and turn the light off.

You can think this is a small thing, and it is indeed, but at that moment I thought this was a practical way of teaching the kid to save electricity and to learn to take care of his school and think of his classmates. I thought this was educative.

Sometimes I say to some students to put their desks in neat rows after the class. Then sometimes I catch me thinking they’re learning to behave better.” / Photo from: irishhospicelibrary wordpress com. school children

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

746. The Internet as a common instrument for teachers

Today teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Yesterday I was talking about the Internet and books, when we were at the teacher hall. Just I wanted to tell you that, well, as anyone knows, this tool is a great one, not only to find information quickly. I think it’s fair to say all this, obvious it may be though. The Web offers so many other things. My colleagues and I use it to learn from other teachers of English worldwide, to share resources, to share experiences, varied points of view about similar circumstances, games, read the experts, find interesting texts to exploit in the class, to find solutions, to make the kids think and contemplate. Tomorrow or whenever possible, please, tell me what you thought about teaching politeness to our students and that story you once mentioned.” / Photo from: rockvalleycollege edu. Illinois. The young man in the picture doesn't necessarily have to be a teacher

Monday, November 14, 2011

745. Students learning to contemplate

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I’m trying to update my capability of utilizing the new technologies as tools to improve my students’ learning English.

Sometimes I take my kids to the computer hall, and have them search topics like history of aviation-challenges or Asian countries. I assign a limited time to fulfill this work, like fifteen minutes for instance. We use Google (Explorer 8) and Firefox. They are just great to quickly find information. The students work in pairs or in groups of three, because of the number of available computers.

One father came up to me last week and made me think: he told me that obviously it kept being necessary to read books – also e-books, sure – for they make the kids think more carefully, contemplate, be creative, invent stories, ponder things: in a word, to be more careful and calm in thinking. The Internet, yes, but also books.

He added this was not any ‘against’ the Internet at all: both are complementary, evidently, and when using the Internet it also helps think.

Kids need to learn how to think in a calm and creative way, read carefully, enjoy reading, relate parts of the plot and the characters among them. In that way kids would improve (as well) their spelling and get a neat handwriting. As a conclusion, if I wish my students to be more really-thinking people, and so, more independent and critical about current thinking, I ought to learn how to combine the Web with reading books – and e-books.” / Photo from: informedfarmers com. New Zealand farms

Sunday, November 13, 2011

744. Leisure activities also

Something very simple today. I’m a teacher of English but often I also think of teachers of other subjects. I'd like many of the posts of this blog could perhaps be useful to those other teachers. A few days ago one kid told me they have eleven subjects in total! One teacher told me once that I should bear in mind the fact of the students having that big number of subjects. For example, a good moment to bear that in mind is when assigning homework: rather brief, continuous and relevant for the process of learning English. Also I ought to remember that young people have got to do sport and move in general, more when concerning young kids. / Photo from: swimming org. man swimming

Saturday, November 12, 2011

743. Teaching to catch the core of the problem

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I’ve been awaiting for today to tell you about my experience at teaching private classes, as you asked me to do. I have reached a conclusion regarding these classes, look.

Some students used to ask me for private classes, a few years ago. The first premise was they failed the school subject of English, because they did not know how to study the subject of English; it wasn’t like math, history, geography, economics; often they didn’t like the subject, I think because they saw it as something useless: a meaningless textbook, a lot of meaningless exercises, grammar that didn’t mean anything for real life, nonsense texts.

I don’t mean at all that today’s coursebooks of English are dud – I believe they are a really-helpful instrument for learning English... only if students learned how to make a good use of them!

Many times this happened in spite of my colleagues’ nice effort to fulfill their duty as teachers of English.

My private students used to fail a test after another. Nevertheless, when they discovered the book was an interesting and indispensable tool when they plunged into it, more and more, eventually they passed the subject of English.

Now it was a tool to build up realistic English. Soon the exercises passed to be meaningful. I proposed sentences as examples related to their everyday life, with a slight stroke of humor. I explained the importance of mastering past simple because it’s one of the most commonly used verbal tenses when talking in English, isn’t it?

I tried to connect a text about recycling garbage to their real life.

As a general positive summary: they learned how to take the best from the textbook and drills and exercises, and as a result they began to willingly face those exercises, and that fact led them to pass the subject, and a few times even get a good grade.” / Photo from: 10mmmman wordpress com. bald eagle landing down on tree

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

742. A message for teachers

Here is an address of John Paul II to the students, teachers and administrators of Rome’s schools. I re-read it and think it can be encouraging for us, teachers, and teachers of languages. This speech was on February 13, 1999. I hope it’d come in useful. Every sentence is meaningful because it provides an ample vision of our day-after-day work. / Photo from: dailymail co uk. postman

It is the school's task to develop in the students an appropriate knowledge of the world, of cultures and of languages, and at the same time to help them search for the truth with an open mind, in order to form a free and responsible personality. In this journey which nourishes the mind, acceptance of the "mystery" of man cannot be lacking: it appeals to God and makes us discover his action in the world.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

741. Writing about really interesting topics

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Writing texts is one sheerly great way to begin to express students’ ideas in English.

As well it’s a way to develop their thinking capability, because the students have to invest an effort, an attractive one, to sort out the ideas they wish to communicate with you and his or her classmates. One example: they’ve read a text about sex discrimination.

From the beginning, I would tell you, the students should make up sentences by using the words and grammar they’re learning lately; this could be a starting point to actually think in English, and so not translating from Spanish.

With some experience you will learn how to rope your students in an interesting topic they like, perhaps because you’ve commented about it, and they tried to give their own ideas, trying hard to utter them in English, while you might be helping them with the vocabulary they don’t know.

Don’t focus on correcting the grammar mistakes at this stage: let them talk about what they think.

You can provide them with prompts to speak out by asking them really interesting questions about the topic. Also you can say sentences about the text and then ask them whether they’re true or false.

I’m not going to say more things now about writing and discussing about a given topic. A lot of teachers have done it and you’ll find their vision of those processes of speaking and writing in the Internet and books. I’ve already told you further things in this blog.” / Photo from: blog nj com. girl writing

Monday, November 7, 2011

740. They're following your directions

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Yesterday Sunday, I saw a mom that was repeating the same order or warning to her little kid, like, ‘Don’t climb up that verandah; you can fall down’.

And she said the same warning several times, in a louder and louder voice. Meanwhile the kid was not listening to his mom. This was in the central green downtown.

Farther was another mom, who, in a low voice, was telling her son not to climb up somewhere, in a nice but firm voice, and she went on to explain what could happen to the kid, the possible consequences of this climbing up to that dangerous place. She didn’t repeat the same sentence too much. She expected the kid to do things nice.

Well, this is an example I’ve invented but it could help you, in your classes, whenever you’ve got to say an instruction to your students. Don’t repeat the same thing many times. Just once, or twice, in clear and simple terms, calmly, helping your students see the advantages of doing something correct.

This conducting is educative.” / Photo from: panoramio com. by sluppus. Boys in an excursion

Sunday, November 6, 2011

739. The right swing at the right moment

While driving back home after school teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Like I told you last week – what I meant then – is that a teacher must acquire prudence, good sense.

Think for example of assigning as homework to read a text from the textbook, which includes examples of the difference of usage between past simple and past continuous, which also is at that moment better than setting as homework just to do a drill about that difference of the two verbal tenses: the former homework is, at that moment, more appropriate than a mere exercise about those tenses.

Another example of good sense and prudence is noticing this or that student keeps on not participating in the class: he said the last thing in class five or six days ago – too much, perhaps.

You then try to facilitate his participating – you wait with patience, you give him or her some clue, you slightly praise their trying, and as a result you’re helping to build their self-esteem.

One other day you cleverly find out that then it’s the right moment to demand more from your students because they got interested in some topic and they wish to go on talking about it in English.

Man, we do need to acquire and gain this prudence and wisdom to manage the class, and what’s more, to educate them.

Like you know, our labor is not just teaching English. Your attitude in the class can be a marvelous chance to really educate your kids.” / Photo from: uncg edu. sofia aidemark swedish ure

Friday, November 4, 2011

738. Trust me, honey, this is the correct way

I've just seen the link to British-Council - BBC I typed on post # 737. Oh, silly me! Sorry again: the right link is I've been a bit hectic these days, so I think I've been wrong because of my hurrying up. Anyway, as you can see, the link is in my blog, at the right column of links. / Photo from: rgodldfr arb wordpress com. Forest in fall.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

737. My apologies

I'm sorry, you British Council - BBC team. For I typed your web-site link wrong, on post # 736. I've just realized that your real web-site link is

Thank you very much indeed, for your thorough useful service to us, teachers of English.