Category: Teaching Tips

Can you try in English, please?

I’m a bilingual and bicultural, British-Spanish, English teacher in Spain and many colleagues at work seem very surprised when I tell them I hardly ever translate anything in my beginner o elementary classes. Needless to say, this is because I believe teachers should be able to communicate without relying on their learners’ L1. However, I have absolutely nothing against translating some words in class if it proves to be beneficial for learners at a particular moment. I’ve taught in different contexts and I speak a couple more languages fluently but as a general rule I avoid using my students’ L1 in class simply because it makes my job easier:...

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Improving the speaking skill through pairwork

For many people, the best way to learn a new language is obvious – go and live in a country where that language is spoken. Unfortunately, for many people, this is also a hugely impractical solution. This is part of the reason why immersion courses, where only the second language is being spoken in class, have become so popular. Essentially, from the moment you enter the classroom, you are part of a microcosm in which the second language is the only way to communicate. The classroom is like a tiny embassy. It’s a little London, a mini-Madrid, a piece...

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Warmers, coolers and too much teacher talk

Warmers and Coolers A bag load of warmers and coolers are a teacher’s best friend. A warmer is a short game or activity at the beginning of the lesson and a cooler is the same at the end. Imagine going into a class, as a student, and the teacher immediately bombards you with grammar and worksheets. It’s like playing sport without warming up or asking someone to marry you without a first date. A warmer is a great way to review vocabulary from a previous class, introduce the topic of today or just relax and entertain your students. You...

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Four first day activities

Stuck for ideas as to what to do in class in those first few weeks? Want to get your students talking and getting to know each other and you? Here are a few ideas to help you… My Life Materials: Photos or drawings Level: Elementary – Upper Int (+) Aim: To practise listening for specific information and gain fluency practice Procedure 1. Show students photos or drawings of you in your everyday life, eg, with your family, doing a hobby etc, and in pairs they speculate about what the pictures show. Pre-teach any necessary vocabulary. 2. Then as a...

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What are we actually teaching students in a reading lesson?

Have you ever wondered what you are actually teaching students in a reading lesson? Have you wondered why the course book gets the students to read the same article several times? Then you are probably not alone, many teachers follow ideas in their course books without really knowing why they are doing it. Here is a simple overview of what we are trying to achieve in a reading lesson: What are we developing in a reading lesson? We are developing sub-skills (different ways) of reading to give students strategies in order to make them more autonomous outside the classroom,...

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