Experiences for English Language Teaching

Tag: Teaching English (Page 1 of 2)

Preparing for an Online Pre-Sessional Course: Curriculum and Pedagogy

With my last blog post, I shared my induction surrounding the technology related to the online pre-sessional course which I am involved with for eight weeks this year. However, with this blog post, I wish to share the induction from last week and what was covered in preparation for the course in general as well as for the first week. The induction itself lasted two days, Tuesday and Thursday, and it was effectively a full day, morning and afternoon, of preparation and training – via Zoom of course. 

The morning of Tuesday, aims of the induction covered an overview of the online course, the pedagogy of an online EAP course, the role of the online EAP tutor as well as channels of communication for tutors. Tutors were introduced to the online course – which had been organised by the a number of individuals who put in a great deal of work to ensure that the course was available. One of the concerns I had for the course was the amount of synchronous teaching being conducted during a week. However, this concern was misplaced as live teaching sessions would be organised twice in a week (Tuesday and Friday), with the majority of student work being asynchronous. I decided to conduct my live sessions in the morning, as we had to consider the time difference for students. The majority of the students are in South East Asia and they are around eight hours ahead. One of my colleagues mentioned that students in the Middle East would have to have their live sessions before the afternoon, so this made sense to place them in the morning.

Obviously, the curriculum places more emphasis on guided discovery and self-study. Therefore, tutors have to use the Canvas site to engage with students online, while also engaging with and prompting students to ensure they are following the course. If you are unaware of Canvas, it is a platform used by many higher educational institutes and facilitates online learning. You can include a discussion board, quizzes as well as set assignments. We were introduced to the site the week before and it is all intuitive. Anyhow, we were suggested that tutors upload an introduction video for their assigned group of students, so I decided to record, edit and upload it.

It took a while for the video to be uploaded to the Canvas site and to embed within a discussion post – they don’t make it easy. Anyhow, I got there in the end and I hope that some students create their own video self-introductions but I expect that they will write them though as it is more convenient.

Nevertheless, tutors were randomly placed in breakout rooms to discuss experience of online teaching and share advice for teaching remotely. It was really interesting to hear about the experiences of teaching online as well as advice to offer each other. Some advice shared included:

  • Expect technology not to work
  • Mistakes are likely to happen when using technology or Zoom
  • Don’t spend too much time preparing for the live sessions
  • Don’t respond to university emails outside of your office hours (09:00-17:00)
  • Get away from the screen/computer with regular breaks during the day

The next part of the induction was to consider the role of the tutor during the online pre-sessional. Most tutors agreed that they regarded themselves as a ‘facilitator’ rather than a teacher, while also responding to student queries and emergent language during the course. Teachers also considered their own teaching environment: I am currently working on my kitchen table and have a range of documents stuck up on the wall, so that I can keep an eye on my schedule during the week.

The next part of the induction looked at schedules for tutors. Within the week, there are a number of sessions that students have to complete themselves with a range of recorded presentations for students to watch. I also need to watch the presentations and predict questions that students may ask, so effectively I am also doing the course at the same time. It was highlighted superficially there may appear not much ‘real teaching’ going on, but there was consideration that tutors are responding to questions on the discussion board, organising Zoom meetings, providing pastoral care/tutorial sessions as well as marking assignments. Anyhow, it was a very interesting induction over the two days and a lot was covered: copyright issues, the firewall with China and students not being able to access some content as well as planning for the first day of teaching.

I hope to share my experiences of teaching a pre-sessional in future posts and also reflect on how students are learning given the greater autonomy required for them as well as how my live sessions are received. Although my students may be placed anywhere in the world, I am looking forward to meeting them and hopefully this physical distance will be reduced in via technological platforms.

How To Make Reading More Engaging

In this quick post, I share five tips to make your reading more engaging and entertaining for your learners. I have also supplemented the post with a video for those that want to watch something for 5 minutes.

Should you enjoy the video, please leave a Like and Subscribe if you haven’t already.

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Episode 5: How To Teach A Grammar Auction

A few days ago, I decided for the first time ever to deliver a grammar auction activity to my group of learners. I had never done this activity before but had done variations from it: awarding points for correct answers, etc. In this blog post (and video below), I would like to share my tips to ensure that you are able to deliver a fantastic grammar auction lesson.

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?✍️? Pass The Second CELTA Written Assignment (Part 1) ?✍️?

A few weeks ago, I uploaded a video about the first CELTA assignment. In this post, I look at how to pass the second CELTA assignment. As this is quite a big task, I have split this video up into 2 parts. The first part (below), details what to consider when writing your essay, how best to complete the task as well as what to do if you have to resubmit your assignment.

If you enjoy the video, don’t forget to hit the Subscribe and Like button. When subscribing, click on the notification bell so you know when I upload Part 2 and you are one of the first ones to watch.

See you next week, at 1pm every Monday with a teaching related video.

Happy teaching!

Teaching Tips Episode 10: Ten Reading Tips

One thing that can trouble teachers is how to teach reading skills in an engaging and interesting way. When I was learning French or German at school, my teachers would give us a block of text – not all that I could understand – some comprehension questions and let us get on with it. Fast forward 25 years, and I have created some techniques to ensure that reading is dynamic and exciting.

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Five Icebreakers in the EFL Classroom

Those dreaded first lessons do not have to be stressful. Watch the video below for some ideas on five icebreakers in the EFL classroom.

What activities or techniques do you incorporate in your first lessons? Have you tried any ideas in the video?

Teaching Ideas for Word Stress

pronunciation-practice-activities

Pronunciation Practice Activities” by Martin Hewings

So the past few months, I have been focusing more and more on pronunciation for all levels of learners, no matter whether they are young learners or adult learners of English. Anyhow, I tried out a new lesson idea today which was partly inspired from the wonderful book, “Pronunciation Practice Activities“, written by Martin Hewings. I would recommend any teacher worth their salt to purchase this book, as it offers some great pronunciation lesson ideas which could be incorporated into class immediately.

Most teachers would identify word stress with the teaching of new vocabulary or as a technique to support pronunciation for problematic lexical items. This is all well and good but it reminds me of a teacher reacting to issues rather than proactively focusing on areas of language learning. Personally, if a teacher is able to develop a lesson based around pronunciation and developing learners’ awareness of pronunciation, so much the better. There is by no means anything wrong by reacting to pronunciation issues as they arise but I think it would be a nice change of focus when we remind learners that there are some basic principles that they can learn no matter how large or small the lexical item. Nevertheless, lets look at one lesson idea which is published in “Pronunciation Practice Activities“.

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Real English Lesson: Functional Language

I recorded this lesson at my work of a fellow teacher preparing learners with functional language for debates and expressing points of view. It was a great lesson and I was so grateful being able to observe and record such a valuable lesson. I now thought that I will share this lesson with you all to see how my colleague is able to engage, motivate and support learners during a lesson. Enjoy!

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Improving Spelling with Elementary Learners

Hello all. It is almost the Lunar New Year, so a huge congratulations to those readers from China and the Far East who will be commencing their celebrations soon. Today, we are looking at how to improve spelling with elementary or low-level learners, particularly if they are from an Arabic background.

It is notoriously difficult to improve or develop an Arabic learners. There are some important things you could consider incorporating in class such as unscrabbling letters to make the words, removing the vowels from words and students have to write them in words and, one of my favourite activities, using Scrabble tiles in class. Watch the video below to see how I use them in class by getting learners to review spelling and vocabulary.

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