ELT Experiences

Experiences for English Language Teaching

Month: June 2014

ETp Live Conference 2014: Brighton

I was fortunate to attend the English Teaching Professional Live Conference this year, which was held in Brighton – so just a short train journey to the event. I arrived, collected my badge and was given a wonderful goody bag filled with various books and other things. There were 11 speakers at the event which included Chia Suan Chong, Antonia Clare, Jeremy Harmer, Mike Hogan, Philip Kerr and Ken Wilson, so I was spoilt for choice on which talk I would attend. It was quickly decided that I would attend talks based on personal importance and those that were possibly necessary for my school.

Thus, I decided to attend Jeremy Harmer’s opening talk “Sacred gift or faithful servant? Focus and creativity in the classroom”, followed by Dennis Davy’s talk “London calling – practical ideas on how to use London (or any city) as the theme of a series of lessons”, then Philip Kerr with “The brave new world of adaptive learning”, next with Anna Musielak’s talk with “How to incorporate drama, games, literature and popular culture into the classroom”, then Chia Suan Chong’s talk on “Creating the right impression – the politeness and pragmatics of EFL” and finally with Ken Wilson on “Ten ways to get your students to DO something”.

“Sacred gift or faithful servant? Focus and creativity in the classroom”: Jeremy Harmer

Opening plenary ETp Live 2014The opening of English Teaching professional Live 2014, in Brighton, was started by Jeremy Harmer.  As usual, he was incredibly energetic during the talk and started the conference by giving a quote by Sheryl Crow on what she has sacrificed for her music, which was her love life, but she also said, during a Guardian interview “I think whatever you give your attention to is what thrives”.  Jeremy attempted to link ‘more heart and more creativity’ in the classroom by focusing on what you love doing: teaching.  However, before answering this question, Jeremy wanted to remind attendees of the conference of important issues in teaching such as prompting creativity and attention in the classroom as well as demanding more from your learners.

Jeremy also, having been to various of his talks, linked musical practice to repetition in language learning which would then prompt automaticity.  There was a nice spin with the improvisation of jazz music with lexical chunks, with jazz musicians knowing over a hundred licks which could then be included during improvisation.  The obvious metaphor was that learners should have a bank of lexical chunks which they could pepper their speaking with to sound more fluent.  There was also another link with musical practice and English language teaching, which I had not thought about before, where Jeremy attempted to link ‘deliberate practice’ and ‘mindless practice’ with an emphasis that deliberate language practice is more cognitively important, where mindless language practice is unsuitable for any teacher and learner.  He finally suggested areas to improve focus and creativity in the classroom, such as demanding learner focus, seizing the teaching moment, providing CLIL-based tasks, etc.

It was wonderful start to the conference and it is always a pleasure to see Jeremy give such an enthusiastic and thought provoking talk.

Additional Reading: What Sheryl Crow gave her attention to

“London calling – practical ideas on how to use London (or any city) as the theme of a series of lessons”: Dennis Davy

Dennis DavyThe second talk that I attended was by Dennis Davy on using cities, with him offering London as an example, to develop cultural awareness and interest in language teaching.  There were various ideas offered by Dennis and it was nice to see that a teacher based in France was keen to incorporate cities into their repertoire of lessons.

The talk started with Dennis getting attendees to think of famous poets, musicians, painters, etc that were related to London.  There were numerous ideas of this shared in the room and then we moved on to the teaching of cities.  Dennis mentioned that the course that he developed in France was 30 hours in length and was loosely CLIL related.  The content of the course was negotiated by the learners and his learners were academics with the main aim to develop cultural awareness and cultural competence.

Dennis suggested different practical ideas which could be incorporated to practice the various skills of English:

  1. Speaking: presentations, discussions, spoken commentaries on paintings, etc
  2. Listening: TimeOut London, podcasts, films, music, etc
  3. Reading: poems, newspapers, short stories, etc
  4. Writing: essays, summaries of presentations, etc

The talk was invaluable for those teachers that had not considered teaching with the focus on cities, but there were a few questions from attendees enquiring whether students would be ‘sold’ on this idea of teaching, how student progress could be measured during the course and what the assessment criteria would involve.  Nearer the end, I felt that Dennis was giving a commentary of his slides as he was showing slide after slide of painters and paintings, and unfortunately I started to switch off.  I did come to this talk to see what could be included in the classroom not to see numerous slides of paintings, architecture, etc.  However, it was a good chance to reflect on what our school could develop or deliver by developing learner interest in cities or places of interest within the classroom, prior to our learners visiting these places.

“The brave new world of adaptive learning”: Philip Kerr

Philip KerrPhilip Kerr’s talk was about adaptive learning and it was the first time that I had come across the term ‘adaptive learning’.  Adaptive learning is online computer education which amends the delivery of teaching material based upon the answer provided by the learner.  Kerr painted a picture of the industry of English language teaching which was slowly becoming more and more reliant on technology with publishing houses focusing solely on adaptive learning applications to supplement and complement coursebooks.  He gave a first-hand account on how a large publishing house had spent their budget on the technology rather than focus on the content in the coursebook and the project had to be shelved in the end.

The second part of the talk looked at the replacement of teachers with technology and interestingly I read an article a number of days previously about teachers being replaced by technology and it is a worrying proposition by educational institutions.  Despite the debate of technology versus teachers, the big global institutions are able to drive their market to affect language teachers and schools.  The final focus of the talk by Kerr, focused on the development of learning management systems which were being developed and used for English teaching institutions such as Macmillan Campus and Pearson MyLab and Philip proposed that ‘technology in the classroom is offering a solution for no problem’.  Although the talk was of any practical nature, Philip maintained interest in the industry of English teaching that it was as useful as any other talk during the day.

Additional reading: Adaptive Learning in ELT

“How to incorporate drama, games, literature and popular culture into the classroom”: Anna Musielak

10503750_10154274374345573_1336425711_oAnna’s highly practical and invaluable talk was wonderful and it was so nice to go to such a talk and take away so many ideas which could be incorporated into the classroom.  She started the talk by asking attendees what we could do with drama, pop culture and/or literature with many ideas include:

  1. Drama: role-play, body language, etc
  2. Pop Culture: entertainment, instagram, etc
  3. Literature: Shakespeare

Anna provided examples of the different valuable games and activities which teachers could use in class.  Some of the best ideas which were proposed included:

  • Grab a slip: a pair of students are acting in a scene, the example at the talk was about the weather, and then when the teacher blows a whistle or claps, the students then have to grab a piece of paper and try to use the phrase as naturally as possible for the context.  Obviously, Anna created some funny phrases for the conversation and topic and both people demonstrating the activity were in hysterics.  I would like to use this activity in the near future with my young learners and you can change it from phrases to words or people, etc.
  • Snowball fights: everyone at the session wrote a question on the piece of paper, rolled it into a ball and then we threw them around the conference hall.  When Anna blew her whistle, we all picked up a paper ball and then wrote an answer to the question.  I would love to do this activity for get to know you activities and will use this in the future.
  • Talk gibberish: a pair of student work together and then one student is talking gibberish or some old literature like Shakespeare and then the other student is now translating in more modern and up to date English.
  • Cheering corrections: Anna told attendees of an engaging and interesting idea of correcting learners through the use of cheering or booing.  If an answer is incorrect, students should boo, and if it is correct, students should cheer.  It was a nice and engaging way of maintaining learner interest in the highly useful area of learner feedback.

Anna’s talk was really useful and I would recommend any teacher to attend her talk in the future.  She has some wonderful ideas which young learner, or adult, teachers could incorporate straight away into the classroom.

Additional Reading: Anna’s Twitter

“Creating the right impression – the politeness and pragmatics of EFL”: Chia Suan Chong

Chia’s talk on politeness in English was a very educational and helpful talk.  Chia initially shared her experiences of being considered ‘rude’ and ‘impolite’, when she asked her housemates, “Can you take the rubbish out please!”, in a very direct and loud way – which is often considered rude and impolite.  She introduced the concept of English as a Lingua Franca, known as ELF, and Kachru’s 3 circles of world Englishes.  This reminded me of my MA studies when I was looking at ELF and a Lingua Franca Core (LFC) by Jennifer Jenkins.  The great thing about this talk was that research had been conducted, with Chia sharing the results of this.  What she had done was record a day on the front desk at IH London and then go through the recording and transcribe this, then finally interview what was considered polite and impolite.

It was a very useful talk, with Chia demonstrating important areas of ELF: pronunciation, politeness, etc.  We finally looked at the ‘impressions of (im)politeness’ through the use of a video and being asked what was impolite about the situation in the video and then comparing it with a similar situational video.

Additional Reading: Chia’s blog

Ten Seven ways to get your students to DO something”: Ken Wilson

The closing talk was by Ken Wilson and it was the first time that I was going to see a talk by him.  He proposed seven, not ten, due to time restriction, ways to get students involved in the classroom and getting them to do things.  It was a very useful and practical end for the last session of the conference.  His seven strategies included:

  1. Make your students curious: what do you think this person is?
  2. Challenge them: a 7 second reading challenge – what can you remember?
  3. Teach unplugged (Dogme): abandon your plan and see what happens.
  4. Let them use their imagination: personalise the lesson and content.
  5. Do something just for fun: an active role-play – “What time is it?”
  6. Turn your class into a spider web: throw out answers back to the students and see if they agree or disagree.
  7. Be enthusiastic: if you walk into a class looking pretty miserable, your students will be bored and not want to be there.

It was a quick and paced talk with attendees having to do various activities during the session and before we knew it, that was the end of the talk.  It was so useful.

The talks were so useful and I really felt that I had acquired new practical ideas which I could incorporate into the classroom.  I was so happy to have met so many other teachers who were incredibly motivated and enthusiastic about teaching and I would highly recommend teachers to attend the next ETp Live event.

20 More Ways To Be A Better English Language Teacher (Part 2)

In the first part of these blog postings, we looked at various ways to develop and enhance your career as a language teacher with 20 ideas which could be incorporated within your personal CPD goals or aims.  The second part of this series looks at another 20 ideas which you could incorporate at any stage of your ELT career.  Before I start this blog post, I would like to thank all those that have visited this post – it has been the most popular blog post on this website despite only being live for a short period.

1. Volunteer with a Special Interest Group (SIG) or Association

If you have joined an ELT association such as IATEFL, or a local association in your country, then you could volunteer to help them in your free-time.  There are numerous posts that may require your skills or assistance.  For example, if you are able to use technology affectively or have organised your own Google Hangout, then you maybe able to help organise a similar event for the association or if you have experiences of writing book reviews then you could help co-ordinate the editing of these.

2. Improve your board work

I have now made a conscious decision to improve my board work in as much as learning how to draw various places, activities, etc.  It definitely shows to those observing your lessons that you are able to draw or use your board effectively.  You will become more confident on using your board effectively and shall become quicker during lessons.  I have had students photograph my whiteboard after a lesson as they find it more visually appealing.  More information about the whiteboard in the following blog post here.

The (White) Elephant in the Room

3. Create a (video) podcast

If you don’t have the time to dedicate to writing blog posts, you could look at creating a (video) podcast about your experiences of ELT.  It is very simple to do.  You can just use your smartphone to create them and then can upload to: YouTube (for video podcasts) or SoundCloud (for audio podcasts).  Share them with your colleagues in the staffroom or via other social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook.

4. Learn a language

I started learning a foreign language, more information available on my other blog “Kimchi Bites“, Korean to be precise, to put myself in the shoes of my learners and to become more aware of what a language learner is like: the difficulties, possible habits, etc.  Learning a language and how your students keep making mistakes can be aided by learning about their language and culture.  You will then be able to relate to your students in both inside or outside your classroom.

5. Demand more from yourself

As in the previous blog post – demanding more from your students – you should demand more from yourself to keep yourself evolving as a teacher.  If something didn’t go well, change it.  Evolve with the changes otherwise you may become that teacher who is always moaning in the staffroom and trust me you don’t want to end up being that teacher.

6. Consider doing another course

You completed your CELTA a number of years ago and have gained some classroom experience.  But things are not just developing as you have expected in the past year or two.  You could consider doing an additional course to supplement your CELTA or equivalent such as a young learner extension course, a Diploma or Masters.  You will meet similar teachers when you do this type of course and it will further confirm your desire to continue in this profession.

7. Take a break

To avoid any form of burnout, you need to take time out from teaching during the year.  The time you take away will give you the space and time to unwind, relax and have a well deserved break.  During this period of relaxation, try to meet with friends or family, listen to some music or read a non-ELT book.  If you are suffering from burnout, your lessons will be difficult to plan, learners will notice your lack of motivation or concentration during lessons and they will likely complain to your line manager.  So if you need a break, tell your boss and arrange a mutually agreed period to have time off.

8. Collect books for your school

Your learners will likely have access to eBooks via their tablets, smartphone or computer but reading a traditional book still has its place in any school.  Unfortunately for many schools, they do not have the resources to purchase brand new books and stock them up similar to a local library.  However, you could collect or ask for a donation of unwanted books from family, friends or hotels.  Hotels are a wonderful place to request for books as they are likely to receive them from tourists who leave them in their room or lobby.

9. Use smartphones in class

Rather than banning the use of smartphones outright in the classroom, you could incorporate them during dedicated lessons.  A previous blog post that I had written offers 7 wonderful ideas of the use of smartphones in the classroom.  Perhaps you can create your own lesson(s) with your learner’s smartphones or get students to record speaking to review at a later date.

10. Create a school magazine/eBook

If you want to be a bit more creative and would like to showcase all the wonderful work that students have completed over the course of an academic year or so, then creating a school magazine (available as PDF or digital download) would be fantastic.  I created a school magazine for a group of young learners who were studying at our school during the period of four weeks.  This was then emailed to the group leaders so students could then download or print their own personal copy.  It is a great opportunity for students to share their work with family, friends or other teachers.School eBook

11. Pilot material for publishers

There is a chance, should you wish, whereby you can get in touch with the main ELT publishers and pilot any of their material or their coursebooks which they are considering for publication.  After a period of piloting material, you will build up a good relationship with the publishers and they may offer additional opportunities for you to consider in due course.  There is a new website set up for teachers who wish to get into authoring with publishing houses known as “ELT Teacher 2 Writer” and it is free to register.  Once you have registered, you will find possible courses on starting to write for various publishers.

12. Mentor a new teacher

When you were a new teacher, as was the case for me, everything was probably quite overwhelming and there was a lot to take on board at the time – keeping registers, marking students writing, dealing with student queries as well as preparing and planning lessons.  However, I was fortunate to have the support from various teachers at the time but unfortunately, I hadn’t had the chance to be mentored during this period.  These days, I take a very active role in developing teachers and in one way, I get more experienced teachers to mentor less experienced, or newly qualified, teachers.  So, consider mentoring a teacher over a period of time and help your team out during the year.

13. Watch a webinar

The brilliant result of technology these days is that a lot of the seminars are now available to watch via Google Hangouts or recorded with Adobe Connect and you don’t have to watch exactly on the day or time of the online web-seminar (webinar), as you are able to rewatch these again and again.  Some free webinars which are available include: British Council Seminars, Macmillan or OUP ELT Webinars.

14. Write a teacher diary

Blogging about your experiences of an English language teacher can be quite open and lack any form of privacy.  However, you may wish to write about your experiences but keep them private and, in this case, within a diary.  You could decide not to share this diary with any other teachers and reflect on things that had happened during the week or look back at what you had done, with the intention to review your progress from any given date.

15. Rearrange seating in the classroom

If you are having trouble with motivation or lack of focus during lessons, you could consider rearranging the seating in the classroom, then monitor to see how the response is with regards to this change.  You are then able to note any positive changes in classroom dynamics with the seating of the classroom.  I have done this personally a number of times as well as nominated seating for particular students around the class.  There is both positive and negative feedback if you go ahead and tell students where they have to sit but sometimes it is nice to spice up the lessons a bit.

16. Specialise

Just teaching is not the be all and end all of language education.  There are plenty of opportunities for teachers to specialise in this field.  For example, you may find that you find an opportunity to train teachers, organise social events or be responsible for stock in the Teachers’ Room.  If you are able to become more responsible for more than just teaching, you will find that you are given more responsibility and are responsible for other aspects of running a language school.  Should you be incredibly lucky, you may secure permanent employment.

17. ELTPics in the Classroom

ELTPics is a wonderful yet unknown resource for English language teachers.  All teachers should become more aware of the possibility of using ELTPics in the classroom.  The benefit of using ELTPics in the classroom is that you do not have to worry about copyright law as all pictures are under Creative Commons Licensing and Attribution law.  As teachers, it is important that we use a stock of images that we are confident that do not place us in a legally difficult area.  For more ideas about using ELTPics in the classroom is available from a previous blog post here.

18. Get Involved with ELTChat

As with ELTPics, there are plenty other websites available to consider.  ELTChat is also another wonderful discussion group on Twitter which teachers of English around the world could consider using.  Every week on a Wednesday (either at 12 noon or 9pm GMT), the moderators organise a discussion on various topics for those that are interested.  Obviously being held on Twitter, it is necessary for teachers to join Twitter before contributing to the discussion.  More information about the ELTChat discussion group is available to read on their website.

19. Write an ELT book review

As with my previous suggestions in the last series of this blog post, you could read various books about English language teaching.  However, you could start reviewing ELT-related books for journals or other publications.  Read other book reviews and try to choose a style which is most suited for the journal or publication that you wish your book review to be published.  For example, a book review in the ELT Journal would be quite academic compared to the EL Gazette, which would be less formal and academic.

When writing your book review, consider the following questions to help you:

  • What is the type of book?
  • What is the contents of the book?
  • Who is the book aimed for?
  • What way is the book different to other books?
  • What did you like about the book?
  • What did you dislike about the book?
  • What is your evaluation of the book?  Would you recommend it for other readers?

If you are able to answer the following questions about the book you would like to review, you will then find writing up a book review relatively stress-free.  You can read up on my own book reviews here.

20. Create your own online teaching portfolio

The final blog post in this series looks at documenting and organising your own CPD.  As with anything, it is important to keep a record of your professional development so that they can shared to various organisations or individuals when requested.  To help assist you in producing your own online teaching portfolio, you can use the Cambridge ESOL Teacher Portfolio website, which is completely digital.  It is easy to create your portfolio and if you spend a little bit of time on each week or month, you will then be able to provide a digital copy when requested.

20 Ways To Be A Better English Language Teacher (Part 1)

English language teaching can be a challenging and difficult process, especially if you are seeking for new ideas and thoughts on improving your day-to-day teaching.  Much of the challenge is learning to develop yourself, especially once you have found your place in this career and feel settled.  You must continuously strive to improve your own teaching day in and day out.  Here are some ideas to consider when you want to improve and develop your own teaching or if you want to be a better teacher overall.

1. Reflect on your lessons

It seems like commonsense but for some teachers that I have observed, they have difficulty reflecting and improving their own lessons.  If you have observed or a teacher has taught a lesson which didn’t go as expected, most would have the knowledge that their lesson could have been improved.  So, next time you teach a prepared lesson, reflect on the lesson afterwards and try to learn or improve it for next time.  When reflecting on lessons, consider the following:

  • Did the students enjoy the lesson?
  • Did I achieve my personal aims at the end of the class?  Why/why not?
  • Were all students engaged?
  • Was I interesting?

2. Record your lessons with video

If you have any difficulty on reflecting your lessons, or you wish to consider studying your lesson in more detail, you could record your own lesson to analyse afterwards.  You will be able to see your own habits, become more aware of where you are usually placed in the classroom as well as see your own instructions or pick up any things that could be lost during the process of teaching.  It is a really useful activity and I would highly recommend doing this at least once every six months.

3. Consider your aims

When you are preparing your lessons, think about the following: “By the end of the lesson, students will be able to …”.  If you follow this mantra, you will be able to improve your aims/objectives of the lesson and the lesson itself.  For example, if you want to get students to practice reviewing/remembering irregular verbs, you could think about how you could students to review or remember the verbs.  Do you want to create a pelmanism game or do you want to create a bingo game?  It seems so simple but the number of times that I have seen teachers struggling to prepare a lesson for their learners is surprising.

4. Incorporate the phonemic chart in lessons

Newly certified teachers have little confidence in using the phonemic chart in class but it takes a short amount of time to become more comfortable with this.  Try to incorporate a little but often.  Watch the phonemic video on YouTube with Adrian Underhill and you will find opportunities to include during the lesson.  If you are pre-teaching vocabulary, look up or try to guess the phonemic spelling in an English dictionary and then be prepared to include phonemic spelling in one section of the lesson.

5. Use flashcards in lessons

Teachers don’t often use flashcards as much as they could, especially for young learner classes.  Try to create some flashcards for use in a lesson, so if you are teaching parts of the body, create some flashcards on this lexical area and use some flashcard teaching ideas to include in lessons.  Learners will be more engaged and you will have less classroom management issues if you are dealing with the whole class during drilling or pronunciation activities with the flashcards.

More ideas for teaching flashcards available here.

6. Observe your peers

If you are keen to improve your lessons, try to observe your peers.  Ask your Director of Studies or line manager whether you are able to observe other teachers and focus on one area whilst observing: instructions, classroom management, drilling, etc.  You will pick up new ideas for teaching and find yourself more confident after observing your colleagues.  However, it is incredibly important that you have time to have a chat with your observed teacher afterwards so you can share ideas, opinions and general views of the lesson.

7. Being observed

If you are keen to observe other teachers, it is natural to open your classroom to your colleagues.  Furthermore, it is always important to be observed as well as observe your peers.  You could ask your colleagues if they are able to look at one aspect of the lesson if you are concerned about it.  Just like observing other classes, it is important to chat with the observer to find out any further information about your class.

8. Expect more from your students

If you are putting in the effort with your classes but the students remain limited or passive with their response to this, tell them to be more active in class.  Obviously, you won’t be able to change the dynamics of the classroom but you can gently remind them that it is in their best interest to be more involved in their learning.  Praise students who do make the effort to participate and are more active during the lesson and students will change accordingly.

9. Experiment during lessons

When teaching, you may often find yourself repeating or organising lessons with a similar format, try something new.  If you have not taught much grammar, try to cover this area of language, if you are keen teach a bit of pronunciation include it or if you haven’t included any form of technology, try using it.  You will learn something if you experiment or push yourself to try new things in the classroom.  However, should you decide not to experiment during lessons, your classes will be affected.

10. Become less coursebook reliant

There are two distinct types of teachers, those that follow the coursebook religiously and those that like to trek off the well trodden path while taking the most advantage from exploratory teaching techniques.  Try to create lessons with your aims in mind and use your coursebook to springboard ideas.  Refer to other supplementary worksheets or exercises to assist in the development of becoming less reliant on the coursebook.

11. Read books on ELT

You have finished your CELTA and you are constantly referring to “Learning Teaching” (Scrivener) or “The Practice of English Language Teaching” (Harmer) but you haven’t read anything else since.  Visit some online book shops (Amazon or BEBC) and order some additional books on ELT or specific areas of interest (teaching young learners, technology, listening, role-play, etc).  The majority of these books will often contain various lesson ideas which you could incorporate in the classroom.

12. Start an ELT blog

If you have started your career in ELT, it is often a difficult to take on board everything when you start teaching.  One way around this is to get your thoughts, ideas and views written down and to share these with other teachers.  You will retain a lot more if you read and reflect what you consider important in ELT and you will also get to know more about other ELT bloggers.

13. Follow ELT blogs

You have made your first step of creating your very own ELT blog, as recommended before, but you want to connect with other ELT bloggers, so what is the best way?  It is very simple.  Follow some other ELT bloggers, add some comments, connect with other bloggers and respond to what you have read – whether you write up your own blog post as a response or comment in the comment’s section is up to you.  When you connect with other English language teachers, you will be able to share like-minded ideas or opinions.

14. Consider yourself a learner

When planning your lessons, try to put yourself in the learner’s shoes and consider what you think would work well in your learner’s opinion.  Forget what you believe is important and appropriate, but try to teach what your learners expect.  When you are able to deliver lessons that your learners want, you will have no trouble at all finding work in the future.

15. Attend a conference

Setting up your own website or blog could be a great chance to connect with and share ideas with other English language teachers but it is not the same as meeting ELT professionals face-to-face.  One place to meet other English language teachers could be at an arranged ELT-related conference such as the annual IATEFL Conference held each year, or more regular events arranged by English UK or the Teaching English Seminars.  You will be able to attend a conference, learn a bit more about the profession as well as meet other attendees.

16. Give a talk at a conference

So you are attending all these conferences but you feel that you have the desire to share your experiences or ideas, then giving a talk at a conference is an ideal suggestion.  Naturally, you will feel slightly nervous the first talk that you give at a national or international conference but the more practice and experience you gain at an event, the more you feel better placed to train other teachers.  You will have some teachers at the end of the talk share their experiences or request that you give a talk at another venue and opportunities will develop.

17. Use authentic material

Whether you want to move away from the coursebook or you have a desire to bring in the real world to the classroom, for the benefit of your learners, authentic material has a place in the language classroom.  Try to, at least once per week, bring in some authentic material to the classroom: a clip from a radio show, a video from YouTube or newspapers.  You may find that you are intrinsically motivated to push your students further and expose them to natural and less artificial English, which may be the case with some graded coursebooks.

You don’t just have to restrict yourself to the authentic material and may find yourself seeking for authentic and natural contexts to prepare learners for the topic in the coursebook.  For example, if your topic for the lesson is about pets and animals, you may find a clip from a TV or radio show appropriate to develop interest, but there is a little preparation required.  However, students will recognise the effort you put into your lessons and, hopefully, appreciate it.

Example of Context Building:

  • What is the name of the cat?
  • Why is the cat at the vet?
  • Do you think vets are cheap or expensive?
  • Are vets cheap or expensive in your country?
  • Has this surgery with a cat been done before?
  • What is the vet’s opinion of the surgery?
  • Where do you think this surgery is located?

18. Try out different methods of teaching

You are slowly becoming aware of the different methods of teaching due to continued reading and reflection but you are stuck with incorporating your very own communicative approach in the classroom, but you feel that you would like to push the boundaries or your knowledge and try something new in the classroom.  One way to do this is to try a more traditional approach, such as drilling or a less student centred approach.  You will learn that there is a place for various methods and approaches in the language classroom and that they will also inform your very own teaching.

19. Write a journal article

When you are teaching and you notice something that other teachers or educationalists do not initially recognise, a good approach to inform those is to write an article for a respectable journal such as IATEFL Voices or for another publication such as one of the Special Interest Groups in ELT.  You will learn more about language teaching and you shall have the chance to share your experiences, opinions or views with potential readers.  One possible opportunity which may come from this could be being invited to give a talk on the article that you had written.

20. Read a journal article

If you are writing an article for a respected journal, you may as well read other articles and respond to these articles by getting in touch with the contributor and sharing your very own ideas, opinions or views.  You will extend your subject knowledge of ELT and acquire more information about teaching in various other contexts such as South East Asia, Europe, etc.  Furthermore, you may discover some teaching ideas from the various journals that you are reading and this could be incorporated into your future lessons.

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