ELT Experiences

Experiences for English Language Teaching

13 Strategies and Games for Teaching Writing

There’s no wright way to right.

A blank page. Just a question and a word count at the top. You stumble your way through an answer, sheepishly hand it in (with a funny feeling it’s not what your teacher wanted) and have it handed back to you later full of little red lines. Did you really make so many mistakes?

It’s no wonder that some students dislike writing. It’s boring or scary, and sometimes both – like a homemade horror film. But it doesn’t have to be! I actually promise this. There are so many ways to help students think creatively and love writing.

What activities are there to help you and your students get the most out of writing, I hear you cry silently at the computer screen. Weeeelllll … don’t you know it, I have some ideas.

Hang on in there and check out number 11 – it’s a method that will completely transform your students’ writing skills.

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“How To Write Grammar Presentations and Practice”: Book Review

I received a review copy of “How To Write Grammar Presentations and Practice” by Diane Hall and Graham Burton from ELT Teacher 2 Writer. This has been the first time that I have reviewed a book published by ELT Teacher 2 Writer and was very keen to share my thoughts and opinions. Looking at the blurb at the back of the book, it is aimed for teachers who wish to receive a theoretical overview of grammar, considerations towards good grammar presentations and practice, as well as practical tips for writing rules, explanations, and rubrics.

Watch a video review
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How To Teach Writing and Correction Techniques

There is an expectation from some students for the teacher to provide as much feedback as possible, whether it is related to one of the skills speaking, reading, pronunciation, writing, etc. In fact, when students produce some written work in their L2, teachers usually go through the writing and provide some feedback. In today’s article, I will look at how to proceed with errors in writing. There have three main approaches to correcting student written work – there is a forth but I will not go into this in this post.

The first approach to providing correction and feedback on student writing is correcting everything that the student has submitted to the teacher. This is quite a traditional approach to writing, but it may impact on student confidence towards writing in their second language. The second approach to written correction is providing feedback on selected parts of a student’s writing. This will not overwhelm a student, and usually a teacher will choose a paragraph to analyse with some feedback. The final approach to providing feedback or correction for writing, is with the use of symbols or a coding system. The coding system relates to the particular error, with the teacher drawing student attention towards the error in the hopes that awareness of the issues.

Don’t forget that I share videos every Wednesday and Friday at 12pm (UK time)

In this article, I share ten common codings that teachers can incorporate with their written feedback for students. Obviously, before attempting to incorporate a coding system, I would recommend that teachers introduce this system to students in the classroom before immediately handing back any written work. Students will need to become accustomed to this style of feedback and it is more learner-centred, with students having to discover the problems with their text. Therefore, learner training and tutoring is a valuable and necessary part when including this style of error correction and feedback.

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The Impact of COVID-19 to TEFL

In the context of COVID, we are sure that you are curious about where the English Language Teaching world is from a teaching perspective? This is a year that has affected all of our lives in so many ways and the effects of COVID have obviously had a major impact on the ELT markets around the world. In short, the ELT industry is still coming to terms with all that has happened this year.

To truly understand where ELT is at the moment, The TEFL Academy went about conducting an in-depth study of the industry as a whole. It is clear from their findings that many people are considering teaching English for the very first time. This is due to the increase in online English teaching English work that is now available, coupled with the emergence of ‘working from home’ being the norm for so many people around the world. Ultimately the closure of in-classroom schools did not cause a decrease in demand for teachers but indeed an increase with schools switching to online learning methods.

The TEFL Academy learned that many of their students and TEFL teachers’ original plans and ambitions have been altered this year. Perhaps your own teaching plans have been changed too? If this is the case, the following 6 findings from the recent survey will be of interest to you and may even surprise you somewhat!

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Is There A Difference Between ‘Remote’ and ‘Online’ Teaching?

I was watching a recent YouTube video by Cambridge University Press ELT about the ‘great reset’ with regards to online teaching. What struck me was the fact that more credence is being given towards ‘online teaching’ now, rather than before the pandemic. I remember chatting to some other English teachers and teacher trainers about ‘online teaching’ and enquiring why there could not be an input session about online teaching and language learning during an initial teacher certificate, such as the CELTA or the equivalent. Some reasons that were made included online teaching not being a true form of teaching or it being more a fad, with the majority of organisations – prior to the pandemic – being located in South East Asia. You only have to scroll through the various online teaching companies to notice that the vast majority are located in China, Taiwan or Korea.

A few years later, a number of physical institutions and organisations are having to catch up and compete with online institutions. As well as companies and institutes having to incorporate a change to redress the current emergency, many teachers, who were teaching face-to-face, now find themselves in the position to teach within an online environment. It is my assumption that the vast majority of English teachers and practitioners have had limited experience of teaching within an online environment, let alone learning online. This raises the question: “How can English teachers be qualified to teach English online if they have not been trained?”. Teachers who have completed various qualifications (CELTA, DELTA, etc.) have all focused within a physical classroom environment. Teachers themselves have also not develop the softskills to deliver lesson content online for students and those teachers who have years of experience of teaching synchronously for numerous organisations based in South East Asia, usually unqualified without a CELTA or equivalent, have not been consulted. I should point out now that I am not disregarding how organisations, institutes and professional teachers have responded to the emergency form of teaching, but I am merely wondering whether more can be done.

A difference between ‘remote’ and ‘online’

Nevertheless, the video that I watch (please see above), raised an important point about the difference between ‘remote teaching’ and ‘online teaching’. Ben Goldstein highlighted that there was a clear division both forms which is a good step forwards. However, I disagree with the division of terms above. Personally, ‘remote teaching’ is associated with the location, while ‘online teaching’ is related to the tools to deliver the lesson. You are ‘remote’ from the classroom yet using ‘online’ tools to teach the students. When you teach ‘online’, you are using a variety of both ‘synchronous’ and ‘asynchronous’ tools to deliver content – not everything is delivered synchronously when teaching ‘online’. When you teach remotely, you can be located anywhere – at home, in an institute or at a cafe. You are not restricted to teaching, unless you have a stable internet connection and suitable equipment. What I find Ben is describing above is how the industry is dealing with the pandemic (“Remote”) and what online organisations were operating prior to the pandemic (“Online”).

Anyhow, the video is well worth watching as it does raise important questions as well as opportunities that are available for educational institutes.

WordPress Website Tutorial for English Language Teachers

I have always believed that setting up your own English teaching website is a useful activity, as teachers can reflect on their lessons by keeping a diary and share their experiences with others online. I first created my own blog – as it was back then – on Blogger, before transferring my website to WordPress. I initially set up my website to document my experiences of undertaking an MA in English Language Teaching, yet soon realised that it could be used for so much more.

Since starting, I have been keen to get other teachers involved in developing their own website so that they can document their own practice and share with other English teachers around the world. One other professional English teacher that I was able to persuade to join the ‘WordPress cult’ was Peter who created ELT Planning. In this post/video, I share the process that you have to follow when creating your very own WordPress website.

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How To Become An Independent Online English Teacher

Becoming a freelance online English teacher is the aim for many educators, especially as we currently are in the middle of a pandemic. It has highlighted the importance of becoming more independent, building up a client base and supporting students who wish to continue their English studies. In fact, last week, I reviewed a book which had been sent to me: “Become an Online English Teacher” and also included a review on YouTube. I was asked a question on YouTube by one fellow Subscriber about the best online English teaching companies to consider working for and this got me thinking whether there was a ‘good company’ to work for, especially as most online English companies are based in South East Asia and I decided to make a video talking about this.

In the video, I started thinking about two ways to deliver online English education: the first was with an online English education company (usually based in South East Asia) and the other was to establish yourself as an online English teacher. However, what are the benefits for working for a online English company?

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Top Six Reading Activities for EAP Teachers

I recently read a really interesting and inspiring blog post on ELT Planning – about 23 ways to use a text in the classroom. It was very interesting to see what was suggested and it got me thinking about EAP-related tasks which could be used by teachers and students for their academic reading skills.

In academic writing and skills development, reading is crucial for any undergraduate or post-graduate student, with English being their second language. For the vast majority of EAP students, they have difficulty comprehending academic language, so in this blog post, I am sharing my six favourite reading activities for EAP students.

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Reflections as a Young Learner Co-ordinator

It has been over a year since I left my previous position as Young Learner Co-ordinator with a local private language school in my hometown, but was fortunate enough to secure employment with a University soon after leaving. However, I was reading a blog post by Sandy Millin in which she reflects on her 5 years as a Director of Studies, so I thought I would share my reflections for the six years I were a Young Learner Co-ordinator.

What Did I Learn?

Teachers can be unpredictable

When I was promoted to the position of Young Learner Co-ordinator, from English teacher, the majority of staff were very supportive – the Director of Studies, Principal, Directors. However, there were two staff who were not so happy and one person made their opinion heard almost immediately. As the Director of Studies (DoS) held a meeting to share the good news, this person quipped, “We knew this was going to happen!” and the DoS responded, “No, actually we didn’t!”. What other teachers did not realise the Directors offered the position to me to help out during the summer months – more a temporary position – and I responded saying, “Well, if you are offering a position for a few months, I will not accept this and go back to Korea.” A compromise was met and I was offered a full-time permanent position, so agreed to this.

So what did I learn from this?

There will always be people around who would respond more emotionally, and from various situations which occurred, I learned how to manage more demanding staff.

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“Become an Online English Teacher”: Book Review

The new norm for language teaching is conducted remotely. It has been thrust upon all practitioners due to circumstances beyond our control, but much of the field of remote teaching and learning has been underestimated prior to the pandemic. I remember a few years ago, I was discussing why online language teaching and learning was not included in the CELTA and one practitioner declared that it was more unregulated with many institutions based in China seeking to exploit language teachers and pay as little as possible.

While this might necessarily be true, to some extent, there has been a growing opportunity for professional tutors to deliver lessons and courses online, particularly through higher educational institutes and private language schools.  However, there are many opportunities for freelance English teachers that wish to tutor English remotely, and with today’s blog post I shall be reviewing “Become an Online English Teacher: Essential tools, strategies and methodologies for building a successful business“.

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