What you'll find here

This is a distillation of teaching methods and tips including insights I have gained from the classroom.

Useful links for teaching tips


Some Key Points
  • Make lots of use of supplementary materials. Just teaching the text book gets monotonous.
  • Personalize wherever possible. Give personal examples (students love to find out about you.) Get them to use language about their own lives and share.
  • Always make it student centered. Self discovery exercises. Pair and group work. Peer checking.
  • Keep teacher talking time down - especially with lower levels.
  • Time warnings - 3 minutes to go.
  • Always have a dynamic lead in.
  • Get them talking within 3 minutes of the lesson starting.
  • Have short, sharp, concentrated stages (activities) and frequent changes of pace, focus and activities.
  • Use a variety of activities and interaction.
  • Always have a filler activity handy.
  • Do not echo.

Lesson Planning

  • Prioritize stages that help you achieve your main aim.
  • Have a main aim when planning a lesson and prioritize time for it.
  • Plan your whole week in advance so you can plan allocation of time and right mix of skills and grammar.
  • A lesson plan is not rigid - be flexible and adapt if necessary.

Classroom Management

  • With overhead projector, watch out for shadow. When writing on whiteboard, watch out for blocking.
  • To encourage pair work, give out one handout per pair. Give handout to all afterwards.
  • Don't give time for everything. But do say "X minutes left."
  • Come down to their level when helping
  • If they speak quietly, move away - not closer.
  • Mix up pairs and groups on a regular basis
  • Keep students moving. Different pairs. Mills. Attach materials along the walls etc.

Setting Tasks (Instructions)

  • Be central when giving instructions
  • Get attention first
  • Stage instructions (only tell what need to know at that point)
  • Chest it / show it
  • Do first one as an example (elicit)
  • Use ICQ's to check understanding
  • Hand out materials last (if possible)
  • Demonstrate rather than explain
  • Keep language simple
  • Gestures with low levels
  • Monitor to check if on task

Monitoring

  • Remember to monitor (except during actual reading and listening)
  • Lots of monitoring and moving around the classroom.
  • Decide how to monitor (discreet verse get involved.)

Creating Rapport

  • Praise and encourage. Use names. Acknowledge contributions.
  • Use names all the time.
  • Smile. Look for opportunities for humour.
  • Share personal experiences and stories.
  • Greet students and say goodbye.
  • Do not sit behind a desk. Sit in front or stand. Desk acts as a barrier.

Feedback

  • Nominate students (at random) to stop strong ones dominating. Also keeps them on their toes.
  • If person has a problem, determine / decide if it is potentially class wide.
  • In feedback, just focus on areas where problem.
  • Do error correction for speaking and writing. Acknowledge any good examples of language.
  • Feedback - if accuracy exercise, they need to see the answers (handout, board, around room)
  • Find ways to vary feedback. (call out, show on board, key on handout, around room.)

Grammar and Vocabulary

  • Target language - cover meaning, pronunciation and form (MPF)
  • Look for fun and varied ways to introduce target language (dictogloss, songs, poems, personal stories, picture stories, running dictations etc.)
  • Ensure free and less controlled practice, not just controlled
  • Make students work out grammar rules themselves (guided discovery)
  • Always write up new vocabulary on the board
  • Show form for new vocabulary words
  • One grammar exercise is not enough - need repetition from controlled to free.
  • Make students work out Grammar rules. But always ensure there is an idiot proof summary at end of it.
  • Don't do all grammar on one day - do revision exercises later in the week to re-inforce

Pronunciation

  • Include it with language lessons (MPF)
  • Individual drills as well as choral drills.
  • Drilling really important at lower levels.

Speaking

  • Always get class feedback after a speaking exercise.
  • When showing useful language, encourage them to use it.
  • If possible, provide a reason for listening to partner (advice, report back etc)
  • If participate in speaking activities, do not overcorrect as reduces confidence - encourage fluency
  • With speaking, sometimes give time for reflection (and notes) before speaking.
  • If need to fill time in speaking, can always repair and get to do again
  • Make speaking exercises task based

Writing

  • Give time to plan, generate ideas, generate language, draft and edit
  • Provide model texts and useful language
  • More

Receptive Skills

  • Give time limits for reading - especially gist tasks.
  • Sit for reading. Monitor for peer check.
  • Remember to pre-teach vocabulary with reading and listening.
  • For listening - play once for gist, twice for detail.
  • Lesson steps: Lead in, prediction, pre-teach vocabulary, gist, detailed comprehension or specific information task, peer check, follow up (productive skill).

Lower Levels

  • Realia and visuals very important at lower levels
  • Pronunciation very important
  • Write all new words on the board - they must see it
  • Keep TTT very low
  • Concentration is particularly tiring for beginners.
  • Have short, sharp, concentrated stages (activities) and frequent changes of pace, focus and activities.
  • At elementary level, give students time to process questions and statements.

Useful Expressions

  • Here's an example. Give me an example.
  • Nearly. Not quite!
  • Excellent. Good. Well done. Great.