General

Review: The Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners

This review of The Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners by S Garton & F Copland (Eds) first appeared in IATEFL Voices Issue 276.

This handbook provides an overview of teaching English to young learners across a wide variety of international contexts. The editors state that this 540-page volume outlines the key issues in young learner teaching and offers a ‘plausible research agenda moving forward’. It achieves this for the most part, although there will inevitably be gaps given the scope of the book. (more…)

PGCEi Module 1: Educational Aims and Values

I’ve written a bit about why you should do a PGCEi but not much about the course content. So, here it goes…

The first module of the PGCEi (Nottingham) was on the aims and values of education in international contexts. The module covered some fairly broad topics like ‘the purpose of education, the nature of knowledge, the concept of a curriculum’ and so on.

The module was assessed based on process work and an essay. After you’ve done all the reading and module tasks, you write a 1000-word piece of process work outlining your own educational beliefs and values. Then you complete a 4000-word assignment in which you critique a model of schooling based on those values. (more…)

23 Ways to Use a Text in Your ESL Classes

Reading. One of the big four, along with elephants, lions and rhinos. Or is it listening, speaking and writing? Who knows. Either way, my question for you is: when was the last time your students were actively learning a new skill through reading, instead of just answering comprehension questions? There is so much that English language students can learn through a text, and we have a whole bag of ideas for you to use in your next class. Through these methods, you’ll learn how to squeeze a text for all its worth. As you’ll see, these tips don’t just help students become better readers. They’ll also help students develop better critical thinking skills, better vocabulary skills and better writing skills.

1. Make a prediction. This is a great skill for learners to use. Super simple – give students the title of a text and see if they can make some guesses about what the text will be about. You can also develop this as you go along. If you’re reading a story, make more predictions after reading each paragraph or chapter. How do they think the story will end? Students will learn how to pre-empt information and adjust their predictions as they go along.

2. Recognise text type or genre. One thing I like to do before a reading exercise is ask students what kind of text we seem to be looking at, and what kind of information therefore might be included. For example, they might identify that we’re going to read a personal email, and therefore it might include information about what this person and their family have been doing recently, some questions and maybe an invitation. This process enables students to improve their speed reading and prediction skills. What was that about speed reading?

3. Speed read. Adult students will often feel like they have to understand Every. Single. Word. In. The. Text. before they can breathe out. Speed reading can help students get to grips with a text in a matter of seconds. This works particularly well with essays and news articles. Ask students to read only the first and last sentence of each paragraph. They’ll see that the first sentence of a paragraph is often the ‘topic sentence’, which summaries the main point of the paragraph. Not only does this help them prepare for exam situations where they have to understand the outline of a text fast, it also helps them learn how to structure their own writing. (more…)

Review: Rosenshine’s Principles in Action

Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction (POI) is a list of research-based strategies which teachers can apply in their practice. The list of 10 principles (whittled-down over time) could be considered ‘core skills’ for teachers. They’ll no doubt be familiar to CELTA/Dip grads, although Rosenshine’s POI itself might be new for you. Here are the principles (actually the longer list of 17, from Rosenshine 2010):


I’ve just read a book by @teacherhead (Tom Sherrington) on Rosenshine’s ‘Principles in Action’ (John Catt Publications). It’s a pretty good resource, the first half is Sherrington’s take on the Rosenshine’s principles and how to apply them. The second part is the original pamphlet that outlines those principles. (more…)

Materials writing news and views, August 2020

*Opens hands expressively* Hello everyone, and welcome to this month’s update.

*Does cup holding/triangle hand thingy in front near belly* My name’s Pete, and today …

Ahhh you’ll get what I’m going on about in a minute.

New releases

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Review: How Global Capital is Remaking International Education

The full title is … How Global Capital is Remaking International Education: The Emergence of Transnational Education Corporations.

In this Springer Brief publication from 2019, Hyejin Kim considers the impact of corporate interests in the international education sector. Kim focuses on how private equity groups such as Transnational Education Corporations (TECs) have shaped the international education scene. Examples include how they capitalize on educational reforms, influence government policy, economize education, expand as an add on to other business interests (e.g. property development), and so on. Kim’s critique focuses on three or four major TECs, with the author having spent time working within the sector in admissions, marketing and as a managing director. (more…)

15 ELT educators to follow on LinkedIn

If you’re fairly new to LinkedIn as a teacher/writer then here are a few suggestions for who to follow. Some of these people are on Twitter too, but I come across them more on LinkedIn as my feed isn’t as busy. Note: this is not a ‘Top 15…’ but it’s people I find insightful and I hope you will too!

I have not linked to any profiles without permission but these people should be easy enough to find through the search bar. If you are one of these people and you are happy for me to link to you just get in touch.

ELT professionals group
This is probably the biggest group on LinkedIn for ELT teachers. Is a good feed of useful posts set up (I think?) by David Deubelbeiss, who is also worth following.

Tasha Fletcher
Tasha has just started a new blog at handsonlearninginesl, sharing tips and lesson ideas for ESL teachers. She’s present on both Twitter and LinkedIn and is doing a good job promoting her resources so far.

Karl Millsom
Karl works for JLA TESOL in Indonesia. He prompts some good discussion with his #ThursdayThoughts and ‘controversial views’. He’s been sharing interviews with prominent ELTers on his YouTube channel. (more…)

Reflection: Steps towards materials-light teaching

Me, Matt and Tiago chatted about lots of topics at the first Bangkok ELT Books n’ Beer session last night. Great fun!
The topic of materials-light teaching and dealing with emergent needs came up. Tiago is on a Celta to Delta journey at the moment and mentioned how he would like to try out techniques like Dogme ELT, although there are those fears…

What if I’m not skilled enough to elicit content from learners or prompt interaction?
What if I miss those triggers from the learners that should guide the lesson?
What if the whole thing just falls on its head?

Not Tiago’s words, just what I think we were getting at. We talked about how Dogme ELT must require so much teacher skill and experience, and that got me thinking:

How did I develop the confidence to do things like…

  • deal with having only a loose idea of where things might lead?
  • go with the flow?
  • let the learners lead?
  • enter class without books or handouts?!

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MA, PGCEi or Diploma?

Question from a reader:

I’m after some advice. I can’t decide which professional development course to do. I have a CELTA plus five years’ teaching experience and I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a DELTA or Dip. Then again, I’ve heard that for university jobs like teaching pre-sessional courses it’s good to have an MA. But recently I’ve heard people mention the PGCEi as a future-proofing qualification and I’m like… aargh! Which course should I do?

My comments:

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