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Showing posts from June, 2017

3224. At the Summer Break!

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Teaching. Something great. I like it. It is a call or vocation, or at least we say so in Spanish. I have a summer camp for boys in a few days. I’ll be the link between the teachers and the rest of the monitors and staff. Teaching as something pretty great, I was saying.The boys’ lives and biographies are in my hands. I will try to teach them how to be men, thorough ones. I pray for them, their families and my mission. I’ll also be having interviews and tutorials in English with those kids. Because it is an English camp. I’ve been there since 1991, with some stops in between. At the same school, in Spanish Costa del Sol. But you Americans and other readers seek pragmatic and practical stuff, right? Okay then, I’m saying that because of my function at that camp I’ve got to combine being serious with those boys plus smiling and being, how do you say it? Nice and kind. Those are the words. Nice and kind. And as well I have got to plan the excursion to Gibraltar, because I guess also this …

3223. Students Need to Show Themselves as They Are!

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So geniuses we were talking about. But they’re born as geniuses or they make themselves? I would say both. They find genius ideas, fine creations, they have brilliant and bright findings! And they may be encountered among our dear students... We have to facilitate creative thinking and working. For example we could let our students write compositions or essays, or stories. Or we could be watchful so as to find the genius spark lighting somewhere among our students and their working. We could be watchful so as to discover – how should I say? – any brilliant attitude and aptitude amid our students. You may be thinking of more challenges or chances or opportunities for them to show themselves as geniuses. Up to some extent any one of our students is great at something. They are! We can find a lot along our lessons and at tutoring sessions with each one of them. But let’s not forget we have to offer creative learning, maybe together with regular learning according to the plan, syllabus or…

3222. Geniuses in Our Classroom?

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Isaac Newton, Thomas A. Edison, Antoni Gaudí, John Ford, Joan Miró, Alfred Hitchcock, Steve Jobs. Geniuses, right? Well, they all were bad students. In no way do I intend to tell you that our students have to be bad ones in order to be geniuses. Those people got bored in the classroom or anyway they had problems at studying. What students of ours can be potential geniuses? Think of it. Maybe we have to discover what is good for the students we have: Have we seen their strong points? Maybe they’re in need of someone discovering their special talent. In the meanwhile do not stop good students and high-achievers we may have in our classrooms, lest they could get bored too! We need to make tutorials with our individual students, to find out what is okay with them and also to help them learn what the syllabus or program states they have to learn, anyway. But let’s be prone to discover that that kid is good at that classroom small job, or that other over there could be buff at that other sm…

3221. A Student Council to Govern the Classroom?

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Should students in some way decide about the class of students’ internal affairs? In a former school I taught there was something nice, kind of a student council, and I think that was okay. The members, three students, have some decision-making competences. They were chosen by their classmates, at the beginning of the school year. So they were kind of three representatives. They met with their head teacher or a class teacher every two weeks or so to deal with students’ stuff they could help out at. Since they had a vision the teacher hardly had they were useful to govern a class and help out their classmates. For example they used to talk, at those meetings, about kids they could see they had some academic problems, or about some insane atmosphere there could be among the students, from time to time. Or they collected their classmates’ distress about any school subject way of conducting by any teacher. The rest of students knew and agreed those points would be talked about at the coun…

3220. You Committed Teachers Are Great!

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The efficient teacher… is not born, he’s a self-made man – plus the help he has received from his colleagues. He is able to make his students work and learn nice. He knows how to motivate them. And his students respect and love him, ultimately. He knows how to set a nice discipline in the classroom. But sometimes there are behavior problems – well, remember his students are kids, maybe adolescents, which means “they lack maturity yet”. When he has to apply some punishment, some nice punishment, it isn’t a revenge claim but something fair, and directed to make those teens grow and mature. He’s an expert at his knowledge area, and he achieves to present his knowledge within an ampler view of things, useful to his students for life. He’s a guy that thinks of his students, about what’s good to them. Because of that his students appreciate the care he dispenses and gives to them. He plans his lessons, each and every one, and his students recognize that work and appreciate it, ultimately. H…

3219. Are You a Great Teacher?

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Uniqueness, I told you about it on last post: every student is unique, and that’s okay. Every teacher is unique too. Is that so? And you, for certain, have much to give to your students, even now, if you’re in the summer break. Take care of you, teacher. And try and be honest, honorable and upright, because we teachers give our dear students whatever we are. We transmit what we are, ultimately. Even from our private lives. Whatever we do, whatever we don’t, is transmitted to our dear students. And we cannot give what we don’t have. If we want our students to be honest, honorable and upright, we have to go overhead. Do you say “overhead”, because I mean we teachers have to lead our students’ way by going before them, and by setting nice examples. Maybe the right word is “ahead”. Sometimes we teachers may be tired and hectic: let’s be careful because at those times we could give a snap and bad answer to one of our students, or to all the class of students, and we might regret it after t…

3218. Every Single Student Is Unique!

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Uniqueness. Every single student of ours is unique. They are not a mass I have to master. I have to think of each one, they may be many though. People need to feel they are loved, whatever they are like, not because of what they have or because they’re good at learning English. We feel strong and supported when we know we are loved not conditionally, according to Jutta Burggraf (2007). And this love is love of benevolence: we want and wish to do what’s good for them. I don’t confine my work to mere teaching, but also to being at my students’ disposal, if they want to talk with me. I knew a female teacher whose female students turned to her between lessons, just to tell her something of their own. And in that way we teachers do what’s good for our students. We should dedicate some time to think of our students, to pray for them and their families, to think about their potentialities. We are not going to be paid for that but it is part of our work as teachers. I think that way. And that…

3217. Teachers Working Together like a Fist!

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I usually write about what we teachers can do in the classroom, and that seems okay, right? But we should also consider we are not alone before our nice hard-though work. We can count on other colleagues and companions. I do know there can be teachers who hinder and trip up other colleagues, but as well I know we can count on others for fulfilling our nice work. Also we often can count on the department head. I could tell you about when I was starting my career as a teacher: I could count on the teacher head, the principal, one foreign language coordinator we had, some colleagues with more experience: had I listened to them more carefully, I would have improved much better. Alike we always can count on the Other, on God himself. I could also tell you about this point, only if my experience were not so personal and interior. With our companions and with God we can reach farther. Remember we are not alone at school. We can count on our comrades. Hopefully! We together can reach and go f…

3216. Staying Easy before Exams!

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A second or foreign language teacher can become mad as a hatter regarding getting communication in that language in the classroom, but let’s consider that we’re referring to communication among people, among persons. We have to take care of that communication: we have to treat people in a nice way, in a human and humane way: our communication must have human nicety. For that language teacher it is paramount to create communication in the classroom, but he should consider that he’s creating communication for real people. For example beside drills and other exercises he should communicate in English – the target language – for the actual conducting and leading the lesson. In other words he should give announcements in that language. For his students to understand him he should explain with rather massive language, until he considers his students understood him well. For example if I was to implement exams or tests next school year I should explain it clearly to my dear students. In case…

3215. Our Students as Able to Communicate Naturally

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We second or foreign language teachers must help our students reach communicative competences. In that target language. We don’t confine our work to teaching language facts but we target our students’ communicative skills. We target our energies toward our students would get those abilities to communicate with other people. So we do not just assess and test and evaluate our students’ concepts about that target language. Thus our exams and tests will be predominately practical, although we might also wish to assess their language knowledge. If we assess our students’ communication skills we should plan and prepare tests that should have similar, very similar, activities as the ones we have carried out along lessons: our students shouldn’t find activities they have never done, as it happened to me at the beginning of my career as a teacher: I then expected the students could abstract their knowledge to carry out activities they had never done, because I thought they would be able to sol…

3214. Our Kids Are Just Great We May Assume

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Psychologist Leonard Sax states that it might be dangerous and hurting to treat young people or kids as if they were grown-ups, and I wrote something about this on post #3212. You know, I think that in some way we could treat our young students as they are, in accordance with their age, okay, but a bit older than they really are. In that way we foster their freedom and responsibility. Even we could treat them a bit better that they really are – otherwise they will become even worse... We can assign them small jobs in the classroom, of course. My experience says that we can treat kids by counting on them and trusting them somewhat even quite a lot. We can also talk to and with them by recognizing they’re intelligent persons, persons with some discernment, some growing discernment. They can’t direct the syllabus, the program and the rhythm of teaching but we can demand from them to get nice grades. We teachers must appeal their responsibility and we’ll gain quite much, I mean it. So let…

3213. Getting Enthused Students Too

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The teacher should manage the classroom and the students’ behavior, but ultimately these people should have prevalent freedom to behave as they think better. We’ll teach and show them what is better. If we achieve to love them they will respect us teachers, more likely than not. Otherwise with a “terror regime” they could obey us but they will not develop as persons. Thus sensible authority must be exerted with respect and love toward the students; otherwise they will obey but not as free persons. We teachers have to teach our students why behaving nice is good for them. We have got several reasons: respect toward the teacher, who is an adult person; respect toward one another, who have to work at their now-professional work, which is learning and studying; respect toward their parents and families, who ultimately are paying their taxes to have nice schools all over the nation; and last but not least, respect toward God – with transcendent views it is easier and simpler to have ethics…

3212. The Collapse of Parenting?

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We want to educate our young people and we’re after it, okay. We want young people to be free and responsible, and that’s okay too. We put them in charge of small jobs in the classroom and in the whole school, and that seems nice too.

But we grown-ups have to remember that they still need our guidelines and clear prescriptions, they need some clear vision of life from us adults. We may want to educate them inside the flipped-classroom model but they need our criteria to research and orientations to find the right material as well – well, a correct flipped-classroom model anyway presupposes and assumes our adult help and supervision.

And all that because they don’t have firm criteria yet: they’re making them. If they have clear vision of the “game”, we can allow them conduct on their own, but up to some extent: as I said they still need our adults’ firm and clear criteria, and they expect a lot from us: orientation, in a word.

They should not decide yet what the subject syllabuses and …

3211. Reading Literature as Something Great!

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Reading is something great for learning a language. Not enough but great anyway. We have to cultivate the other language skills: listening (oh listening, how much I have to improve here!), speaking and writing. Reading: you can do it you alone, on your own. When reading fiction or nonfiction you will encounter new words: a nice chance to learn them or some of them… Try and guess the meaning of the new words, from the context, but also use a dictionary, maybe an online one. Focus on those new words and try and guess their meaning from context, as I said. It is actual guessing but with some foundation, a somehow firm one: the context. While reading you’re learning and acquiring too: some words will get stuck in memory, in an aware way and mode. You’ll be piling up new words! And you’re thinking in English! (Remember English is my target language). That language will be like a second one, part of your nature! Each book means a firm step forward. As well try and learn some of those words …

3210. How to Use Technologies in the Classroom

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I confess I have to learn how to use the technologies in the classroom. Because of that today I copy and paste a nice comment from the website of The British council and BBC, whose link is https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/ekontovas/do-you-use-et You can visit the site because the comment continues.
Using technology in the 21st century classroom is I think a sine qua non. Students are digital natives. They are born in technology, they use technology daily and different devices are part of their everyday lives. From a very young age they know how to use a tablet for example and how to find videos that interest them or even apps that are entertaining for them. Not including technology in the teaching procedure is like speaking to them in a different language. The benefits of using it in the classroom are numerous. First of all, students are motivated. They are excited for the lesson and about discovering what the teacher has prepared for them this time. Secondly, they are taught t…

3209. On an Enthused Teacher

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The enthused teacher who teaches with enthusiasm makes what he teaches into something easier to learn. He will pass on and transmit that enthusiasm to his dear students. I’ve seen this in various occasions. If he’s a second or foreign language teacher he will make his dear students will also love English (the foreign language) and learning it. And not only learning but also unaware acquiring. Even his students will in some way look forward to having that lesson, or at least they will enjoy that lesson. And as well he will have fewer behavior problems: he passes on his enthusiasm for learning to those kids. Even he can be learning that language. And from his experience at learning he will be giving clues and hints to his students for them to learn and acquire the taught tongue. And the other way round: if the teacher dislikes his school subject and he’s in the classroom as a convict sent to row in the sea, like the slaves who were enrolled in large ships to row as a punishment, he will…

3208. How Our Students Can Be Happy!

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I wrote about good and autonomous students on last post, #3207. Something else can be said. When students become good ones, because they have adequate learning strategies and they’re aware they’re competent students, they become happier. Okay, then they may also become good helpers and they can assist their classmates in a more thorough way. And they become happier, and you can see this on regular days. Someone is happier when he’s open to help his fellow people. It is also something you can see and spot on regular days, on any ordinary day, as I said. I’m referring to something that is written inside each person, something natural, some tendency toward that helping others. In case they’re rather selfish, could we not advise them and suggest them how to help their classmates? If they give that step forward, for sure they’ll become happier. Something concrete and specific? Put some high-achievers sitting next to low-achievers, in order to assist them. I’ve seen nice examples along my c…

3207. Just Autonomous Learners!

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Would you like to have autonomous learners? That’s great, indeed. What’s more, only if we pass on the learning wish to our students we will be able to have them learning, really and actually. If our students apply learning strategies, they for sure will learn. The point is to have them self-direct their actual learning process. In that way they’ll be more aware they’re learning. The students may reach the point of regulating, planning and assessing their own learning. More specific and concrete: they make up a schedule for studying and working, they exact themselves the fulfilling of that schedule, they ask themselves if they learned what was taught by us teachers. They also know how to correct their activities, how to prepare and train themselves for exams, some basic techniques of studying and learning, how to plan their work for vacations and weekends. In that way they are not so dependent on their teacher, who is not longer the only motor of the learning: they learn because they r…

3206. How to Be Great at Exams

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We second or foreign language teachers should test our students’ communicative competence. I would advise you to test speaking along lessons, while the other three language skills (listening, reading and writing) can be assessed and tested at regular written tests. However we should test these three latter skills also along the school year lessons and not only at written tests. What I propose is a continuous testing and assessing, and not only confined to written tests at each “evaluation” or term – I also would propose five (or four) “evaluations” plus the final testing. Only three “evaluations” seem little to me. The communicative competence should be tested more often. As well remember that our students should not find the test activities unexpected: those activities should have been worked out along the lessons too. I could carry on by writing about all this testing thing, but what can we do to minimize our students’ anxiety at final tests and at regular tests? Right away with fre…

3205. Educating within Liberty

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Families are the natural place where our students may grow fine or at least they should. But together with their families our students spend long at our school. Let’s give an example about what some parents maybe should do with one of their children aged 16. Those parents, both dad and mom can exact from the kid to study his exams to pass them at the June call. If he fails, he will have to pass other exams in September. Okay then, those parents might have a few serious but nice conversations with their kid in order to specify his goals, his way of studying and making the compulsory essays, and so on. But those dad and mom will in no way super-protect and over-protect him too much: they will let him work on his own. And then if he fails his exams they will try to make him face his responsibility: Why did you fail? What was wrong? What was your obligation and duty? Think of it, with serenity but with realism, and try and find the solution. Nice and gentle conversations anyway! I don'…

3204. Students Usually Love Small Jobs!

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Most of us may be convinced that having small jobs in the classroom is beneficial to our students, is this so? I’m persuaded yes.

With those tasks our dear students gain responsibility, and you may agree that all of us desire students be responsible. With those small jobs our students grow inner. Our students may think, Okay this is my business and I have to carry it out. In some way or other they may think so.

We also get a classroom that is neater and tidier if we implement those jobs. They feel the classroom and the school as something of their own. This is something so educative, and besides our students may love those tasks. This is my experience.

We teachers have to learn how to delegate our exhaustive work in our students’ hands: we cannot do everything. As well in that way we construct the classroom with material which is essential for our teaching them. Anyone can think of a nice list of small jobs. Some examples: getting chalk for our still-existing chalkboards, turning off …

3203. How to Become a Competent Teacher

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The teacher has to be a leader, a leader of the class. Otherwise he cannot influence positively on his students. A leader manages the class nice. Even more: I remember a teacher that said that a class or a classroom with students doesn’t have to be managed. You can manage objects but not students properly, that is: people, persons. No one can give what he doesn’t have. Because of that a teacher should be ornamented or equipped with good habits and virtues. In that way he IS a leader, and influences on his dear students, and his students respect him. If he’s a competent teacher his doing-things-well influences on his students and more likely they’ll respect him. Even at his private life he should be honest, honorable and upright: in that way he IS a leader and his students, as I said, will likely respect him and his work with people, with persons. He with his only presence passes on doing-things-well. Maybe he will have to make himself respected at the beginning but if he’s a competent…

3202. The Hobbit and Not Less!

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Lately I'm reading The Hobbit - it's simply great. Also philologist comrade J.R.R. Tolkien is so great. Now famous and close to any spectator by means of the movies. What if I tell you that I'm having a rather big laugh at the people popping up in the book...

It's been for ages that I've been about to read The Lord of the Rings but eventually I did not read it at all. My students love the sequels, also by reading the books. And as well it's so great because the author drinks from many mythology backgrounds as well as from Christian sources. Moreover it's giving me chances to learn many a word... I've borrowed it from my school or center library. / Photo from: Paste Magazine

3201. How to Learn More Vocabulary

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Vocabulary and its learning is paramount at learning a second or foreign language, and that’s obvious, okay. The more lexis the learner has learned the more able he’ll be to have a nice communicative competence in English or whatever the target language is. Because of that my students and I practice in the classroom how to define words in English, our common target tongue. It is an activity my students love, and it is nice for practicing the communicative competence and skill. Sometimes my dear students answer to my question for defining a word by using the word in Spanish, our mother language. And I tell them Okay, that’s right, but in English it is… Both I and my students try to create an atmosphere where English is the vehicle for our mutual communication and I don’t like much that a very few of them would say the word to define in Spanish… I was thinking of that some days ago, and today I’ve read in Lynne Cameron (2004) Teaching Languages to Young Learners that one way to define a…

3200. Some Relaxing Now?

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Oh, you know, it turned out maybe too serious but I mean it: We teachers are not alone in our daily struggle to teach our students. Among other reasons we can count on the Other, God, and his only beloved Son Jesus Christ. We call this latter the Master, the Teacher, and He’s true God and true man. He can help us. Well you know, I thought it be right to tell about this point. We aren’t alone and I could tell you fine things about their help. I wish you all a nice break at summer, if you’re at the north hemisphere of the earth. You all need resting and relaxing. Yesterday I taught my last lesson of the winter season and now I focus on this nice summer. For instance I’ll be assisting at a summer English camp July 18 through 31. I’ll be the link or bridge between the monitor staff and the brilliant English-language native teachers. By the way and before I forget it: what I wrote about turning to Jesus Christ for help may look too serious a thing or kinda that, like I said, but for me it …