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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

Welcome, Nick!

Published by on 18 May, 2015 |

If you’ve been in and around IH Budapest for the last couple of weeks, you’ll have seen a new and very friendly face – the one just below, in fact.

 Welcome, Nick!

It belongs to the one and only Nick Wimshurst, and it’s my absolute pleasure to welcome him to the team as our new full time CELTA trainer.

We had a little chat about his background, Budapest and beliefs.

NA: Hi Nick – welcome to Budapest, IH Budapest and IH Budapest Teacher Training!

NW: Thank you! It’s nice to join the fold.

NA: Tell us a bit about your background – where are you from? Where have you worked?

NW: I’m from a small, coastal town in the north-east of England called South Shields. I have spent most of my time teaching in Poland and the Czech Republic, but split this up working at University in England. Most recently I spent a year teaching and training in Dubai, which was interesting to say the least!

NA: So you’re from South Shields – doesn’t that make you a Geordie? 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

Good Luck Mike!

Published by on 18 December, 2014 |

It’s a sad day when one has to say farewell to colleagues – something that happens often in this business, but doesn’t necessarily get any easier. A long-standing member of our team, Michael Graham, is moving to pastures new from January 2015. I have worked with Mike for many years, first as his DELTA tutor and then as his colleague in teacher training. If his recent farewell karaoke party (or should that be parties – he seems to be having quite a few) is anything to go by, he will be missed by many in the Budapest EFL community. I sat down with Mike for a quick chat on his time here and what lies ahead. Read more

It works for me! Retranslation and Noticing

Published by on 8 December, 2014 |

Translation in the classroom remains something of a taboo; partly, perhaps, because many training courses proscribe its use as a technique, and partly because not all teachers are familiar with the mother tongue (L1) of their learners, and therefore feel uncomfortable with its use in their classrooms.

However, many teachers, trainers and writers have been unhappy with its poor reputation. Judicious and principled use of L1 / translation has been making a steady comeback. Guy Cook and Philip Kerr, for instance, have in recent years published thought-provoking and informative books that explore the use and usefulness of translation / L1 in the classroom to great depth.

Translation pic 300x183 It works for me! Retranslation and Noticing

I thought I’d share an activity that utilises your learners’ L1. We demonstrated it on our recent APPL course and it seemed to be quite popular with those who attended; many tried it out and reported back on its success. The activity is known by various names – most commonly, Retranslation.

What is Retranslation? How does it work?

Retranslation has been around for a long time – I first heard of it early in my career and I’ve traced it further back to an ELTJ article from 1984, though it may be older still. It is an activity that encourages learners to closely consider differences and similarities between L1 and L2 by translating and then, after a time delay, retranslating a short text. Read more

Perspectives on further development 2

Published by on 25 November, 2014 |

The Art of Lesson Planning image Perspectives on further development 2Mike Cattlin worked at IH Budapest Teacher Training from 2002 to 2005. His new e-book The Art of Lesson Planning is published by Matador. The book overviews a wide range of skills that underpin effective lesson planning; it offers a useful distillation of the tips and techniques Mike has acquired during more than 20 years in the business.

I sat down to ask him more about The Art of Lesson Planning – including who it was written for.

NA: When I read the reviews of The Art of Lesson Planning by people such as Scott Thornbury, Tim Bowen and Michael Carrier, it seems as though the book would benefit a wide range of teachers. Who do you believe it is most useful for – pre-service, in-service or DELTA-level teachers? Who did you have in mind when you wrote it?

MC: When I started to write it, I was thinking pre-service, as I knew how useful it could be for trainees on my own courses, and in-service, to revise much of what teachers learn on initial teacher training courses but then forget and often need for in-service observations and future developmental courses. As the process went on, I started to add more detail and I believe there is now useful pre-course revision for DELTA candidates as well. I like to think there is something there for everyone and different levels of teacher can take different things from it; it was interesting to note, however, that Tim Bowen thought pre-CELTA and Scott Thornbury thought it was more for pre-DELTA.  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

It works for me! George the Giant (and very passive) Lobster

Published by on 8 April, 2014 |

About George

George and I go way back and I have a good deal to thank him for. I first came across the story of his exploits when searching for an article for an in-house seminar on teaching the passive in 2009 and we have been working together ever since. So essential has he become to helping me get across the idea of theme and rheme (known vs new info) in fact, that I now find it difficult to imagine teaching the passive without him. I hope you’ll find him just as useful!

 To begin to understand the reasons as to why he’s so useful, you first need to know his story: Read more

On my mind: Stick with the plan or go with the flow?

Published by on 9 January, 2014 |

This month’s Teacher Training blog entry has been contributed by guest blogger Johanna Szőke.

Jo graphic 300x210 On my mind: Stick with the plan or go with the flow?Are you one of those teachers who feel the need to spend half their lives planning lessons and then feel compelled to follow them through to the last letter? Do you feel frustrated about letting go for a minute and then being unable to find your way back to the plan? Have you ever felt upset about leaving the classroom with tasks that you couldn’t cover?

I, quite frankly, have never been the meticulous planner type. Not now when I teach more than 25 hours a week and not back then when I was still new to the world of TEFL. And here’s why.

I remember having a conversation with a recent CELTA graduate this year, while I was doing my extensive DELTA course, about how they could build a better rapport with a group they were teaching. They had also fallen a little behind the course plan, so on one occasion they tried 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