Experiences of an English Language Teacher

Tag: ELT (Page 1 of 5)

Ten Ways To Get Students Speaking

This is a post that I am sharing from my other website, Seoul Foreigner, and I hope you find this post useful. Anyhow, it has been over 18 years since I started teaching English to students in the UK and South Korea, with varying degrees of success. In the following video, I share ten different ways to get your students speaking either in an online or face-to-face environment.

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Getting an English Teaching Job in South Korea

Getting an English teaching job in South Korea can be fraught with challenges which could include finding a reputable employer, getting the expected remuneration, as well as getting all the documents required for the visa.

In this post, I shall share my personal recommendations for finding and securing an English teaching job in South Korea but feel free to watch the video, from my YouTube Channel, above where I share such insight.

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Online Chat with Tim Warre: Blogger and Materials Developer

I was fortunate enough to have an online chat with Tim Warre, who is a blogger over at Tim’s Free English Lesson Plans and a materials developer. During our recorded chat, we discussed various aspects of English language teaching such as routes into online teaching, the development of AI, an ideal online teaching setup, as well as entrepreneurship.

Grab a coffee and a snack (the recorded chat is just under an hour), and have a listen.

My Experience of Teaching on Preply for 2 Years

It has been two years since I started tutoring students from around the world on Preply, and I guess it all stemmed from a lack of teaching opportunities during the midst of a pandemic. Despite registering with Preply back in July 2016, it took almost 5 years to finally complete the registration and making my profile live. Unfortunately, it was perhaps the least suitable moment to find an alternative means of earnings during the pandemic, but I was keen to make it work.

Setting Up My Profile

During the initial stages of setting up a Preply Profile, I was required to send documents which would confirm my identification and proof of address. I suppose organisations of any worth are expected to ensure the proper checks were in place and within half an hour, Preply had received a scan of my passport and a proof of address. All this was done via a smartphone application and the whole process was rather seamless.

Once my registration was accepted, I was able to make a start on setting up my profile. Creating an eye-catching and engaging profile takes time, and is something I spent a few days on. I wanted to make my profile as professional as possible, and to do so requires a bit of time and research.

Fortunately, as the Preply platform is open for all, you are able to view other profiles and see how more successful tutors are marketing themselves online. I wrote down some initial ideas and starting to formulate them into something a little more suitable. I guess one has to consider the learners that you one is attempting to market and teach, while also writing something that is graded for that potential client.

The other aspect that I noticed during my research was that tutors were marketing their profile with a headline such as “Professional IELTS Tutor” or “Qualified English Language Teacher”. Looking at the written introduction certainly helped create an eye-catchy headline for potential students.

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Book Review: “101 EFL Activities for Teaching University Students” by Hall Houston

It was a surprise to receive Hall’s most recent publication to review, “101 EFL Activities for Teaching University Students”, during the summer, and I was keen to share my thoughts and ideas. However, it has taken a while to write out and create a video, but I appreciate Hall Houston’s patience in the meantime. Nevertheless, I hope I do this review justice.

Watch my immediate reaction to this new book by Hall Houston

Overall Impressions

When I first opened this book on my computer, I was surprised how many different activities were included within the publication. Of course there are 101 activities, but it is sometimes hard to visualise the number of tasks within the contents page. The contents page covers three pages in length and the book is split into three key components: ‘Getting Off to a Good Start’, ‘Maintaining Motivation and Interest’, and ‘Ending the Semester Gracefully’.

The intention is obvious with the book offering ideas for the beginning, middle, or end of the course or term. There are a number of activities which are within each of these three components:

  • Getting Off to a Good Start: 38 activities
  • Maintaining Motivation and Interest: 38 activities
  • Ending the Semester Gracefully: 25 activities
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How To Teach ‘Too’ and ‘Enough’

In this brief post / video, I share how I go about teaching the difference between ‘too’ and ‘enough’ with pre-intermediate or intermediate learners of English. These are some tips and feel free to either adapt or ignore this as what may work for me might not work for you.

1. Introduce Adjectives

The first step is to introduce common adjectives to learners with the use of flashcards. Print off some flashcards which represent common adjectives such as cold, hot, expensive, etc. and then elicit from students the language. While language is being elicited, board it up and check pronunciation by nominating students.

2. Students Predict Situations

Get students to think of particular situations with the selected adjectives, for example with the image of someone tired they could have worked for twelve hours. Give an example to all students with one flashcard and ask students to work together in pairs or small groups, noting down possible situations. Once students have written down some ideas, nominate groups to share their ideas, writing down them on the whiteboard.

3. Creative Dialogue

The next step is to get students to create a dialogue based on their predicted situations. Provide an example for all students to get them started: referring to the picture related tiredness:

  • Person A: Could you write the report for me by tomorrow morning?
  • Person B: Sorry, I am really tired!

Get students to work together in small groups or pairs, thinking of potential dialogue using the adjectives and scenarios as an idea. Give learners some time and then monitor them, helping where necessary. Check whether any learners have used the target language with ‘too’ or ‘enough’ so that you can nominate them for later. After ten minutes or so, ask students to read out their dialogue in pairs or small groups and share them with the rest of the class.

Make a note of any particular language such as the example dialogue above or the target language and write this up on the whiteboard for all students. If none of the students use the target language, you will have to present it to the class. For example, write the situation above and write the start of the sentence ‘I am too tired to … as I didn’t get enough sleep’ and get students to complete the sentence in small groups.

4. Using Target Language

Ask students to use the language ‘too’ and ‘enough’ with the images and situations, working together in small groups or pairs. After a short period, nominate groups to provide their example sentences using ‘too’ and ‘enough’. You could highlight the grammatical structure with the target language so students are aware of how to construct it.

The next step is for students to consolidate understanding and to review with the use of a gapfill exercise. Get students to complete this individually, and monitor or assist learners where necessary. Once students have completed this, get learners to compare answers in small groups or pairs. Here is an online gapfill activity which you could get students to complete.

5. Situational Complaints

The final task for students to undertake is for them to complain about certain situations using the target language. Hand out or board up some situations for students to share their complaints with others. Monitor learners and then provide feedback where necessary. I have included some topics in the Word document below which could be used with students.

I hope you found this grammar teaching post / video useful and that it gave you some ideas for teaching the language point, ‘too’ and ‘enough’. If you would like a future grammar teaching series to be included, kindly let me know in the comments.

Happy Teaching!

Personal Update and Thanks for 10,000 Subscribers

Hello. This is a short blog post to provide an update with regards to my what has been happening recently and to thank all those that have subscribed to my YouTube Channel.

Over the past month, I have been rather quiet and took a short break from producing video content for my YouTube Channel – there has been quite a bit on my mind and I have had to process much. I shall share this in the future but for now I am happier and more content. One reason for this was being asked to teach a short week course for a group of Spanish teenagers for a local language school – you can read more about it in this blog post. This really got me out the house and put me back where I enjoy – the classroom!

Anyhow, there is a video below where I provide a bit of an update. I am planning to release more content on YouTube in the coming weeks and it would be wonderful if you could subscribe (if you haven’t already).

I told you this was a short blog post! Anyhow, that is it for me today and I hope you have a good rest of the week. Stay safe and happy teaching all!

The First Teenage Group of Students Post-Pandemic in the UK

In the old staffroom preparing for the week ahead and getting resources from LinguaHouse.

The past couple of years have really caused havoc for the English language sector in the UK, with many language schools closing completely down over the past two years. Only recently, in the UK, have we started to feel a sense of normalcy returning with some schools private English language schools opening up to international students once again. Only the past few weeks, have I noticed more students locally, wandering around my hometown – something which was once considered the norm a few years ago. On a personal level, I know a handful of people who have travelled from abroad to the UK with nominal checks before and after arriving. So in terms of English language teaching, the UK is open for business with international students having the opportunity to visit and experience what was lost the past few years, so much so that I was asked to teach a small group of teenage Spanish learners over the Easter break, for a week.

I popped into the school the week before to reacquaint myself with the various material available and to pencil down a possible weekly plan. It took a few hours to get everything together but I was quite happy and then I was asked to cover an adult class for an hour while my ex-Director of Studies undertook some tutorials with his students. It was quite an interesting lesson and I thought about focusing on pronunciation and vowel sounds as this would help these Elementary / Pre-Intermediate adult learners develop their skills with listening and generating appropriate awareness of British pronunciation. It included a listening task with some comprehension questions and the students done a good work picking out all the necessary answers from the listening. Personally, it was a good chance to be lowered softly into the private English teaching industry post-pandemic.

I had to take a little time to get used to using the physical whiteboard!

Before I knew it, the lesson was over and I was registering as an employee for the school for the week ahead. All was submitted and I was out the door, returning to the school to teach a new group of young Spanish teenagers, and this was when the butterflies and nerves started to grip. I guess some experienced teachers and tutors not mention the amount gravity of such apprehension when dealing with new students. First lessons always provide a healthy balance of nerves and keen me on my toes. Anyhow, I had a few days to relax before returning to the school to teach a full week with new students.

The weekend seemed to whizz by, and I was back in the school around 8am to get my material photocopied in preparation for the 9am start of class. I met all students, who were divided into three classes. I took my students into their classroom, where I decided to start what had been the usual get to know you activities with the true and false statements, with students having to predict which were true or false, but this ended up finishing far too quickly. I then realised that the students were not provided with any books or pens, so I had to incorporate some engaging yet ‘material light’ activities in class for the 45 minutes. I then rushed to the DoS’s room to collect said pens and materials for the students. I returned to class and most of the week, I attempted to connect both the morning lessons with the students social activities in the afternoon. I even used LinguaHouse’s material which was received adequately with the students. Interestingly, I have only used LinguaHouse’s material within an online environment and the students seemed appreciative of the tasks – one advantage of this material is it is topic-based and hopefully more engaging for students. The only time that I decided to focus on my own source of material was when I was introducing the learners to the phonemic chart and British pronunciation – I discovered early on that the Spanish group of learners had difficulty with ‘-ed’ verb endings, often mixing up the pronunciation from /t/ to /id/.

I attempted to introduce the phonemic chart to teenagers and use the phonemic script when teaching!

One thing the students reminded me to use in class was Kahoot! I had used this with face-to-face course in the past and it was so refreshing to use this application again in the last ten minutes of class. It engaged the learners and they were the ones requesting that we use it in class.

Before I knew it, I was now on Friday, having taught the students for the week. I asked the school if I were to be paid time and a half due it being Good Friday, but I was told this wasn’t the case. I was slightly miffed by this as another adult teacher was contracted to be paid time and a half, so my feathers were a little ruffled, which prompted me to share a poll on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of participants indicated that being paid time and a half should be the case.

Should EFL teachers be paid time and a half when working public holidays?

However, I should mention that there is no UK law in place where employees should be entitled to time and a half when working on public holidays. One thing that I used to do a few years ago was to work public holidays and then take the time off in lieu and combining with holiday entitlement, usually with a holiday to Korea or elsewhere. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to teach a group of young learners as it had been over three years – even before the pandemic – since I had last taught a closed group. Naturally, I was nervous to begin with but over the coming days, I rediscovered my passion for teaching, particularly face-to-face, and regained my confidence once again.

How do I feel moving on with teaching face-to-face? Well, I feel more comfortable and happy to teach groups of learners, whether adults or young learners. I am also aware that I hold a great deal of flexibility when it comes down to teaching either for a University, a local language school or independently as a freelance online tutor. As students regain their confidence to return to learning in-class or on-campus, I feel more confidence with my employability. It has certainly, without a doubt, been a challenging few years with many suffering from economically from the pandemic. I know some great EFL teachers who have moved on to other more stable forms of income, with some working within the NHS or within different industries. Personally, I am fascinated by languages, cultures, and travelling, with the opportunities to be exposed to varied cultures and individuals continues my fascination so it is unimaginable to think that I side-step General, Academic English teaching or exam preparation such as IELTS.

I hope you found my ramblings of some use and that it struck a chord. Here’s to a better 2022 for the English teaching industry.

Teaching About British Food: Full Lesson Plan

Hello all and welcome to a brief post featuring a full lesson with materials and lesson structure which you could use for your class. This lesson is geared towards Intermediate to Advanced learners and should last 60 minutes.

1. Lesson Introduction

Start the lesson by asking students there favourite food in the home country, as well as what food they like from the UK. Write up some of the language on the whiteboard and scaffold vocabulary where necessary. Choose one food that is from the student’s country and ask them to explain it in English, write up language and correct where necessary.

Tell students that they are going to learn a little more about British food and the type of food that is either cooked at home or ordered at a British pub. See what English food they know and tell them that there is more to food than just fish and chips.

2. Picture Matching

Explain to students that the first task is to match the name of the food to the corresponding picture. Tell them not to use smartphones or tablets to search for the food online but to guess, and not to worry about mistakes. Hand out the first task to students, explain that they should complete this alone, and monitor where necessary.

Once students have finished matching, ask them to compare their answers with each other for a few minutes. Finally, elicit potential answers from students, writing up their ideas on the whiteboard, and correct where necessary.

3. Description to Name Matching

Tell students that they are now to match the description of food, and that they should try to match the name and picture to this. Use the first description as an example and read it out to students, get students to predict the name of the food. Once you receive the correct name, tell them that they must write the name in the right-hand column on the worksheet.

Tell students not to translate any language at this point but to try to understand it from context. Hand out the worksheet and monitor learners assisting where necessary. Once students have finished, mix the learners up in class and get them to compare each other’s answers, before eliciting and sharing the correct answers with each other.

4. Language Review

The next step is for students to review some of the language from the reading. Tell learners to highlight or underline any language that they struggled with but to not check a dictionary or translation tool yet. Once students have highlighted language from the reading, get them to check with each other first to see if their peers know the language and vice versa.

The next step is to highlight ‘-ed’ endings with some of the language and to review pronunciation (i.e. ‘mixed‘ /t/ ‘pickled‘ /d/ ‘roasted‘ /id/). Create a table on the whiteboard and get students to highlight words with ‘ed’ endings and to decide what their pronunciation is; /t/, /d/, or /id/. Review as a class and assist where necessary, drill and correct.

Finally, handout Exercise 3 to the class with the key language, with students needing to decide what the word form is (noun, verb, adjective, etc.). You can hand a monolingual English dictionary out to students and ask them to look for definitions or ask them to head over to Google and ask them to type ‘Define [word]’. Google will provide a brief explanation of the word as well as an example sentence.

Once students have found a definition, tell students to predict the possible translation in their L1 before they check the translation. This in itself develops learner confidence and usage in their L2. The more times learners are correct in predicting possible translations, the more confident they will become.

5. Review Vocabulary

You could review vocabulary by asking students to get into two groups in single files and playing a ‘broken telephones’ style game where learners whisper a word from above to the person in front and the student at the front of the class has to write the chosen word. An alternative to reviewing the vocabulary with this game is by playing ‘hangman’ or ‘pictionary’.

Lesson Material

The material for this lesson is available to download below. It is available in Word format and can be adapted to suit your teaching context.

If you do find this lesson useful or have feedback, please let me know in the comments. It would be great to know what you thought of it.

How To Work With SEND Students

For the past month, I have been supplementing my English teaching income by working as a Teaching Assistant within the mainstream education system in the UK, especially with those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Having spent this time developing an awareness of the issues surrounding SEND and the all encompassing yet broad stroke applied to any students having difficulty with learning in an educational setting, I thought it would be nice to share my experiences and strategies that I have incorporated to deal with SEND students, particularly for those English language teachers finding themselves having to supplement their earnings who have minimal experience within this area of employment.

Before continuing the reading of this post, I would highly recommend the following TED Talk to give you an idea about living with autism.

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