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Aboutness: Current events and classroom content (part 1)

Published by on 7 October, 2015 |

aboutness graphic v2 001 710x601 Aboutness: Current events and classroom content (part 1)As a language teacher I believe in bringing real content to the classroom, and getting students talking about things that matter to them, whether they be perennial ’issues’ or ones related to current events. As a coursebook writer (Speakout, Pearson) I’ve had to work within certain constraints normally imposed by publishers to ensure that no content ends up in a coursebook that might offend someone, somewhere in the world. There’s even an acronym for this (’PARSNIP’—don’t ask me what each letter means but as you might guess sex, narcotics and pork are among them), either to give authors a handy reference or to make the notion of taboo topics easy to refer to.  The avoidance of potentially sensitive topics is one of the main criticisms made of major coursebooks, and I can see the point, but I also understand why publishers feel they need to play it safe.

When I was a fulltime English teacher, coursebooks never prevented me from including real, potentially risky content in my lessons where I felt it was appropriate. I made mistakes at times, for example using an article on sexual harassment in the workplace with a group where 1-2 Read more

Perspectives on further development: the DELTA, or how I got out of a rut I didn’t know I was in

Published by on 11 February, 2015 |

change v1 Perspectives on further development:  the DELTA, or how I got out of a rut I didnt know I was inLooking back at my own career it’s struck me that there were a number of turning points that enabled me to take a fresh look at what I do, to feel I’m starting on a new path and moving in a new direction that will keep me from getting bored and jaded. Those turning points varied widely: moving to a new country (in my case USA to Japan to Hungary); taking on a new position (from EFL teacher to teacher trainer to department manager to coursebook writer); and pursuing further training in the form of a training course–in my case namely the Cambridge DTEFLA, now the DELTA. While changing countries and getting a promotion is not within the immediate reach of every English teacher, pursuing further training is. And as a one-time Diploma candidate and a trainer on the course since 1995, I can say why it is that the DELTA can influence one’s career more than almost any other step one can take voluntarily.

When I did my Cambridge Diploma course, I had been teaching for a few years, had taught in three countries, and was still madly enthusiastic about teaching.  I felt Read more

Perspectives on further development 1

Published by on 30 October, 2014 |

Anyone who approaches ELT as a career inevitably reflects on their own development from time to time; many of us take active steps towards becoming better, more versatile, more ‘enlightened’ teachers. Some of us have moved on to positions in ELT that involve less direct teaching of English, e.g. educational management, teacher training, materials writing, while others have remained full time in the classroom. One things is certain: Each of us has our own perspective on further development, and all of us can benefit from sharing our individual perspectives. That is the aim of this blog series.

We heartily welcome comments on this and any of our blog entries, and if you’re interested in contributing as a guest blogger, contact us at ttraining@ih.hu

This guest blog was contributed by IH Budapest CELTA ‘graduate’ David Juhasz. Since completing his CELTA with us in 2010, David has earned an MA in English and an Honours degree in Applied Linguistics as well as the Cambridge DELTA, has taught and done teacher training in Hungary and in the UK. He is currently pursuing his PhD in TESOL / Applied Linguistics and is on Fulbright scholarship at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. - http://linguistics.georgetown.edu/research/visiting/whos-visiting , david.l.juhasz@gmail.com

Language skills use vs. development -> From safe recipe(s) to á la you?

funny cooking quotes Perspectives on further development 1I always liked the idea of comparing teaching to other creative professions. After all, we plan, execute and if something misfires, we try to save what we can. Ultimately, we learn from previous mistakes and develop ourselves. Let’s take cooking for instance. There are novice cooks, intermediate sous-chefs and accomplished master chefs. They work at home, in restaurants and finally, they find their own places, voices and tastes in the world in Michelin-star institutions. My TEFL-cooking career began quite early, without any experience. The results were not surprising:  sometimes the lessons got burned, overcooked, too spicy or I just felt that something was missing… Read more

Christmas activities for all year

Published by on 6 December, 2013 |

santa blank face with question mark Christmas activities for all yearIt’s that time of year, and if you’re short on ideas for Christmas holiday related activities for your classes, you’ll find a few here to keep up your sleeve. All of the activities use pictures, and all of them can be used and reused at a range of levels, for various purposes (fluency development, controlled oral grammar practice, listening) at any time of year.  What makes them Xmassy is the pictures you use.  These days it’s easier than ever to get together a set of pictures on any theme (via Google images), so put together a set of 10 A4 pictures and try out some of the activities below. Then do the same at Easter icon smile Christmas activities for all year Read more

First lesson ideas: Magic square

Published by on 1 September, 2013 |

Magic square illustration1 710x691 First lesson ideas: Magic squareAs another academic year starts, most of your groups will probably be meeting for the first time, and as usual you’ll want to turn that gathering of strangers into a cohesive group of co-learners as quickly as possible.  The magic square is one way to do this—a get-to-know speaking activity that works equally well at any level (except zero beginners). Like many get-to-know’s, it uses simple personal prompts to stimulate interaction among students.

What you prepare:

  • Some pieces of blank paper (can be scrap, blank one side) cut into squares, as many as there are students in your group. Use squares, not rectangles.
  • Your own completed magic square (see illustration for an example, and instructions below). Read more

My favourite filler

Published by on 2 May, 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

What you prepare: A set of 4-5 minimal pairs that focus on a possible problem sound for your learners. So, for Hungarian learners, distinguishing between /w/ and /v/ is problematic (there is no /w/ in Hungarian), and a possible set of pairs could be: vine-wine, vein/vane-wane, vow-wow, a vial/awhile.

What you do:
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The lost art of… listening

Published by on 26 April, 2013 | Tags: , , ,

1288797 17766700 The lost art of... listeningWhether you’re an English teacher or a teacher trainer, you probably focus a lot of your energy and technique on getting your ‘subjects’ to speak. Your goal may vary considerably from one occasion to the next; you may be trying to get them to practice a language point, to make a comment on the topic of the day so that you can move on to the reading task, or, if you’re a trainer, you may be getting a trainee to make what you hope is a relevant comment on a lesson in teaching practice (so that you can move onto your agenda?). Whatever your goal, and however you prompt your subject(s), one factor that is going to have a major impact on their response has nothing to do with how you set things up; it’s rather how you listen. In short, if you are able to listen genuinely, if the quality of your listening is ‘authentic’, the quality and sophistication of your ‘subjects’’ response will be enhanced.

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