Monday, 22 February 2010

Managing behaviour

As we get ready to go back to school, doing our best to teach "Positive discipline" becomes a hot issue to most of us, teachers in service. Why not devote 15 minutes to enjoy John Bayley observing a series of lessons and demonstrating how top teachers produce results? There are four different videos available, so choose the one you find most appealing from the title, and follow the link!

Do you have any tips on behaviour management to share? Or any questions you'd like to ask? Post a comment!


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Using our mother tongue in class

On 15th Feb 2010, David Alistair posted the following tip (#150) at

"If you are teaching monolingual groups it is clearly very useful to know the mother tongue of your students as you can pre-empt some problems they might have. But actually using the mother tongue as a teaching tool has been a different story as teacher training courses used to banish it to ELT oblivion & we used to ignore the poor student who was desperate to translate,
encouraging them to 'think' in English. Nowadays it is recognised as a useful & natural tool in the process of language learning.

"There is still a case for not using it on the initial training course as some teaching skills might not be developed if translation were relied on. Here are a few translation activities:

"1. Same day articles - for news stories that have international appeal, get hold of copies of the English story & the students' language story - newspapers, internet, radio. - predict the
content of the story.
- read the English version & picking up on any useful language.
- students translate the story.
- they then compare their versions with the mother tongue version.
- they could also then compare the mother tongue version & the English versions, looking at style & content.
The shorter the article the better!

"2. False friends - picking up on them as they crop up or in warmers/coolers. (Spanish/English false friends here)

"3. New language consolidation - after the presentation & before the practice, elicit & have a quick comparison with the mother tongue version of the target language to highlight the similarities or differences. This can be a very comforting stage for the students.

"4. To provide variety to your array of techniques, use the Community Language Learning (CLL) procedure now & then. Very basically, this involves seating the students in a circle with a tape recorder in the middle. They have a conversation, preferably about a subject of their choice but you could lead into it from the current theme, & all of their contributions are taped. When they have a problem, they call on you & you whisper to the student the English version of what they want to say. They then say this in the conversation. This technique can be used at all
levels, & is especially useful at very low levels. Before the next lesson, transcribe interesting parts of their conversation & use it for analysis & consolidation.

"5. Word-for-word versions - good for the translation obsessed student. Give out a literal translation of a short article or conversation & the students translate it into their language &
discuss how it could be more naturally expressed in English.

"The important thing about using translation in class is that it is used in a principled way - you know why you are using it, the students know, there are times when it is OK & when it is not. The alternative is a lazy use of translation where both the students & the teacher become reliant on it."

How do YOU feel about using students' mother tongue in class? Do you regularly try any of the activities suggested in this tip?
Post a comment and learns who shares your feelings!


Thursday, 4 February 2010

CBL: learning language through content learning

Now you've read about CLIL (see our entries on CLIL here and here if you've missed them), you must be willing to look into a similar approach to the teaching of languages: content-based learning (CBL).

Here's an excellent starting point: a summary by one of our workshop participants during 2009.

Content Based Learning (CBL)

Thanks, Alejandra, for having shared this! (please leave comments at her Scribd if you can!)


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Teaching pronunciation

A short post today, just to share a game available online for students to practise word stress (notice it's designed to be based on the vocabulary presented in each unit of their textbook):

Incredible English (OUP): Stress monster!

And here's another game, aimed at practising homonyms (two words are homonyms if they are pronounced or spelled the same way but have different meanings ): Word Frog>Homonyms

Try them and have fun (be brave and choose the highest levels of difficulty!!!) !

Do you think activities like these ones can actually contribute to our students' learning the pronunciation of English? Share your beliefs by posting a comment!


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Managing your class

Class discipline is probably a concern to most teachers (either novice or experienced) more often than any movie might suggest... In this enlightening article, Marti Schwartz shares his tips to succeed at managing our classes:

(click on the link below the image to be re-directed to the full article)


What IS assessment?

Many people assume that assessment is simply another word for testing but in this article Adrian Tennant outlines its role as an important aspect of teaching and learning (click on the image below or on either of the links in it to be directed to the article itself) :

Another great resource from the kind guys at Macmillan's Onestopenglish!