ELT Experiences

Experiences for English Language Teaching

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Online Story Cubes for Online Lessons

Dave Birss and his Story Dice

For the past few years, I have been using Story Dice with my adolescent and adult learners. However, due to the emergency delivery of lessons being conducted remotely, I have had to find new ways of offering similar lessons and activities and was thrilled to learn about Dave Birss offering online Story Dice.

I had written a blog post previously about the use of Story Cubes within physical classrooms with ten lesson ideas. I would recommend readers to view the list of ten teaching ideas to use in conjunction with Dave Birss’s online story dice. Some of the lesson ideas include reviewing grammar forms, presenting topics/stories, rolling stories, etc.

While you are getting remote students to work in small groups within their breakout rooms, you could get them to capture a screenshot of their dice, upload this to the document that they are using to brainstorm/share ideas of their story. Tasks could be extended over a period of time in the form of a class project and then groups of learners could share their final projects together within Padlet or on the class Virtual Learning Network (VLE).

Why not share your lesson ideas using online replacements with the Story Cubes in the comments below?

Six Websites for EAP Teachers

When I first started teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP), I was unfamiliar with any resources, websites or activities. My first year of teaching EAP involved being supported and shadowed by others. After a period of time, I found myself becoming more and more comfortable teaching and planning EAP tasks and lessons. In this post/video, I will share a variety of websites which could aid potential or current EAP teachers access resources and information which will help them prepare and plan lessons for their students.

When considering potential material or planning your EAP lessons, it is important to consider the role of the EAP teacher. It took a while for me to learn that the role of the EAP teacher is essentially there as a facilitator: to guide students towards best or expected academic practice (depending upon their department or specialism), develop the necessary study skills in preparation for their courses (especially during pre-sessional courses), or to provide students with the skills to tackle reading for their courses. The recommended websites below are those that I have accessed and suggested students to access for self-study, and I hope this helps you.

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How I Got Involved in Teaching English for Academic Purposes

I have been very fortunate to be involved in an area of English teaching for the last few years which I find incredibly fascinating and extremely rewarding, especially when you see the progress that undergraduate and post-graduate international students make within a period of time. In this post and video, I share my experiences of how I got involved in the teaching of English for Academic Purposes (also known as EAP).

Before I share how I discovered this element of academic English and EAP, I really need to focus on what started my journey within the field of English language teaching. I first discovered the English teaching profession by chance when I moved to South Korea to teach English to young learners at a small private after-school institute. It was this that ignited my passion within English teaching and motivated me enough to undertake an initial teacher training certificate – the CELTA – after a year of teaching to these wonderful young learners.

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Day in the Life of a Remote English Teacher

I have been teaching remotely for around a year now since the most educational language institutes and higher educational providers responded to COVID-19 by getting everyone to work from home. Who knew we would be still be teaching remotely a year later. In the video below, I share what a usual quiet day of teaching is like.

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I must say as a proviso that I currently have a very quiet teaching schedule and I am fortunate to have time to focus on other things. Perhaps I could share an update when things are a little busier once I am teaching remotely full-time. Anyhow, I do hope you like the video and please feel free to share your current ‘day in the life’ experience in the comments.

“50 Tips for Teaching Pronunciation” Book Review

In today’s post and video, we are reviewing a new book, Mark Hancock’s “50 Tips for Teaching Pronunciation”. For those that are unsure, Mark Hancock has published “Pronunciation Games” as well as authored “Pronunciation in Use”.

The teaching of pronunciation can be a rather difficult skill to develop, as it was for me, for many newly certified English language teachers. However, the benefit of developing the confidence to teach pronunciation can aid your students in becoming more intelligible and confident when speaking. 

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Teaching EFL in the UK

When I first returned to the UK, after teaching in South Korea for just over 3 years, I soon discovered that things were not as simple from abroad. In this post and accompanying video, I will be sharing my experiences of teaching English as a foreign language in the UK.

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Making Online Lessons More Interactive and Engaging

So many other professionals responded with some great tips. Thank you all!

A number of days ago, I asked on Twitter a question about how to go about a task within an online environment. I received a number of practical suggestions including Pete from ELT Planning and Leo Selivan of Leoxicon. This prompted me to record a video (available below) about the suggested applications and review some which I had used in the past.

The task that I was trying to organise within a remote environment required placing headings in order and then matching the descriptions to the headings. A simple enough idea, yeah? In a physical classroom this would work fine, but in an online environment how does one achieve it? Thank you to all who contributed their suggestions.

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In this post, I will be sharing a few of the applications that were recommended as well as some of the others that I have used to ensure that lessons are interactive, engaging and memorable.

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Gestures To Use While Teaching

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Teaching online means having to use gestures remotely. This may cause some discomfort as you could become self-conscious when teaching and having to use gestures which you is not necessarily natural in an online environment. In this video above, I share some tips for using gestures while teaching English online.

Some of the tips that I recommend include trying to look at the webcam and raising a hand to encourage and elicit answers from students who are connected to the online lesson remotely, using two hands, fingers and pinching to illustrate a full answer or sentence, or cupping a hand to the ear to encourage learners to repeat their answer.

I am sure there are many other gestures that we use unconsciously while teaching remotely or face-to-face which were not included in the video but why don’t you share your favourite gestures you use for teaching?

Allistair Elliott: Teaching EFL in Vietnam

Allistair Elliott is an English language teacher with experiences teaching in South Korea and Vietnam and married to a Vietnamese. Learn a bit more about his teaching, experiences and his book which details his life as an EFL teacher – you can read a bit more about The Incomplete A-Z of EFL on EFL Magazine. A huge thanks to Allistair for agreeing to an interview with ELT Experiences.

Tell me about your yourself and how you got into English language teaching.

My hometown is Scarborough, but my spiritual home is Leeds 9. This is the LS9 post code area of Leeds, and an eternally unglamourous place. However, I have friends and family there, so it holds strong as my home.

And I began my EFL journey from Leeds (LS9). I had arrived at a point in my life that I was wearily too familiar with. As detailed in my A-Z teaching English book, I knew exactly and intimately what was about to happen. I did not want to go through the slog of signing-on and trudging around for desultory jobs. My friend was already in South Korea teaching English and urged me to go there. After a few weeks of thought, I did. My book is this the result of this decision.

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How To Make English Teachers Happy

In my last post/video, I shared my grievances and negative experiences with an online English company, iTutorGroup. However, in this post, I would like to consider what is required to make English teachers happy – whether they are teaching remotely or within a physical school.

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In this post, I outline three points which will improve the happiness of all teachers and is reaction to a TED Talk that I had watched a few days previously.

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