General

Writing and full-time teaching

I wrote this in 2019. Just came across it again. My loose thoughts on a random post-writing, pre-COVID evening…

Balancing writing alongside teaching (and other) commitments isn’t always easy. I try to be realistic about the amount of time I can give to writing. My general rule is that I never take on writing projects which require over 20 hours a week – that’s when things start to get stressful. Having said that, sometimes you just can’t turn the work down, especially when it’s a gamechanger for your career.

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Be like Walton Burns

There was a good post from Russ Mayne recently on the importance of criticism. He mentioned overly unpleasant criticism and unnecessary venom that might accompany it. Russ mentioned both academic and social media contexts. This post is about the latter, and mainly blogs.

I’ve directed unnecessary venom and ad hominem attacks at somebody in ELT before. I once called Geoff Jordan a false idol and even referred to him as, quote, ‘the Bam Margera of ELT’. That was poor form – I don’t even know if he owns a skateboard. Honestly, it was in the heat of the moment and I apologize.

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Book review: 21st Century Skills in the ELT Classroom

This book from Garnet Education explores various issues around the integration of 21st Century Skills in the ELT classroom (!). In the foreword, Christopher Graham (Editor) states that while each chapter is framed with reference to research, the focus is more on practical takeaways for teachers.

The resource doesn’t have to be read cover to cover. Each chapter provides a concise take on a specific aspect of teaching 21st Century Skills, so teachers can dip into the resource as needed.

Each chapter has been authored by a different expert in the field; Graham stresses that this may result in contradictions or repetition, as authors were encouraged to share their own take on things with disagreement providing a springboard for discussion.

Here are the topics covered:

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Research in brief: Critique of BICS and CALP

BICS and CALP in a nutshell

BICS and CALP was an idea first proposed by Prof Jim Cummins in the early 1980s. BICS stands for Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills, and CALP is Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency. Here’s what they are:

‘BICS refers to conversational fluency in a language while CALP refers to students’ ability to understand and express, in both oral and written modes, concepts and ideas that are relevant to success in school’ (Cummins 2008: 108).

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Review: Work It Out with Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verb resource books you’ve used… GO!

Okay, so there was a good one on the bookshelf at LTC called ‘Illustrated Phrasal Verbs’. Me and Sketch used it so often that the student’s book fell apart (only one copy – a conference freebie), then we had to photocopy pages from the teacher’s book and tipex out the answers to make gap-fills. When I think back, the illustrations were sometimes ambiguous, and we were all too often test-teach-testing it. Not always the most effective.

Apart from that, well… There was ‘Test Your Phrasal Verbs’ (so so) and Phrasal Verbs in Use. Although more of a self-study resource, its concise explanations were great for teachers too. All controlled practice though, not a classroom resource really. Well, sparingly.

Here’s a welcome addition to my (admittedly limited) phrasal verb teaching toolkit – Work It Out with Phrasal Verbs, from Prosperity Education. It’s a neat teaching resource (aimed at B2-C1 level students) written by Billie Jago and Monica Ruda-Peachey.

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Materials Writing news and views, October 2020

Just a few things this time. I’m out the loop at the moment, enjoying my teaching too much!

Facebook groups for writers

There are a lot of Facebook groups for ELT writers these days. If you would like to share a link to your group then please let me know (or do so yourself in the comments). I don’t know which groups are open to new members/restricted/etc.

ELTon results

Congrats to all ELTons winners, which you can find here.

ELT Footprint – probably the most odds-on victory since the awards started I’d imagine.

Taking nothing away from winners past/present with this comment: I think there are aspects of the ELTons nomination process that could be tightened – BC please get in touch if you’d like to hear my suggestions 🙂

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Free lessons on Onestopenglish

Onestopenglish is still free at the moment. This is a great opportunity to make the most of their awesome resources. There’s so much available on the site: lesson plans, articles related to methodology, resources created by the Onestopenglish community… they’ve also been teaming up with institutions like NILE recently to provide tips for teachers.

I’ve written a few resources for site over the past year which I hope you will find interesting and useful. Most of them are for the Everyday Life series. They’re print-and-go adult General English resources, complete with teacher notes and student worksheets. These are often task-led and typically suit 1 – 1.5 hour lessons.

Everyday Life Lesson Topics:

Exercise

Minor illnesses

Typical dishes

Fake news

Superstitions

Star signs

Getting to work

Describing your neighbourhood

Article /resource for the Online Education series:

Parents as Temporary Teachers

Lesson Share Winning Resource:

Instant Coffee, a Black Mirror inspired short story with resources (for approximately three hours of class time)

Feedback on any of these resources is most welcome! I hope they come in handy for your own lessons.

All reviews from ELT Planning

Russ Mayne suggested I should have a post or page listing all my reviews. So, here it is.

It turns out there are quite a few. As always, all views are my own and these reviews are highly subjective!

Before the list, some highlights…

  • According to my ratings, the best training courses I’ve taken have been Spoken Grammar by Ken Paterson (Udemy) and Evaluating Digital Materials by Pete Sharma (Itdi.pro). The PGCEi modules come in next.
  • There are a lot of resource sites ranked 4.5/5. In a battle of the video-based lesson platforms, Fluentize triumphs over Ready to Run.
  • My highest-rated book is Silly Shakespeare for Students from Alphabet Publishing. Second place was Great Writing, which was great to teach from.
  • These don’t include resources I’ve reviewed in a roundabout way. For example, my posts on PronPack are kinda like a review really, same with the Phonology for Listening and some other posts.
  • Bear in mind the review date. Sites might change, books might have a second edition, I might understand more about a topic now, etc.
  • A special mention for Eli Publishing, Alphabet Publishing and Marek at TEFL Equity Advocates, who went out of their way to send physical copies of their books to Thailand for review.

Note: the * shows that at the time I didn’t give the resource a 5-star rating, so I’ve added it now.

Apps

2020 Teacher Tapp (Rating 3.8/5)

2020 Studycat (3.5/5)

2020 Learn Thai Duolingo-style (*4/5)

2017 ELSA Speak Pronunciation App (*4/5)

2017 British Council Apps (*Rating probs averages out at 4/5 but this one is a bit vague)

Online resource sites

2020 Read to Run (*Rating 3.5/5)

2020 EAL Hub (2/5)

2020 NILE Membership (*4.5/5)

2019 Wordwall for vocabulary games (*4.5/5)

2018 Fluentize video lessons (4.5/5)

2015 Newsmart (4.5/5) RIP ☹

Training courses/modules/providers

2020 PGCEi Module 2 (*4.5/5)

2020 PGCEi Module 1 (*4.7/5)

2019 Spoken Grammar (5/5)

2019 Evaluating Digital Materials (5/5)

2019 NILE Tech-assisted Language Learning (4/5)

2019 NILE Materials Development (4.5/5)

2018 ELT Training Library from Language Fuel (4/5)

2015 How to Teach IELTS (*4.5/5)

2016 Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching (4.5/5)

Books

2020 Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners (*4/5)

2020 Rosenshine’s Principles in Action (3.9/5)

2020 How Global Capital is Remaking International Education (3.5/5)

2020 Barry Reinvents Himself (4.325/5)

2020 Silly Shakespeare for Students (4.9/5)

2020 The Learning Power Approach (4/5)

2019 Play for the Planet (4/5)

2019 A-Z of ESOL (*4.2/5)

2019 Teaching English as a Lingua Franca (4.5/5)

2019 Egghead (3.5/5)

2019 Loving London (4.5/5)

2019 Vocabulary in Pictures (*4.2/5)

2018 Stories Without End (*4.5/5)

2018 ELT Lesson Observation and Feedback Handbook (4.5/5)

2018 Great Writing (4.6/5)

2018 Her Own Worst Enemy (4.5/5)

2017 Successful Group Work (*4/5)

2017 Community Classroom Builders (*4/5)

2016 Incredible English (*4.3/5)

2015 Punctuation..? (*3/5)

Other

ELT Publishing Professionals (*4.5/5)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Monetizing your teaching blog

WordAds… ah, go on then.

I didn’t want to make money from my blog. I had my reasons for that, which were basically…

  • I’ve always felt bad, kinda guilty about the idea.
  • My content is random and rambling – I couldn’t see it as a way to generate income. I’m surprised people read this stuff tbh.
  • I didn’t want money to change my content. As it stood, I wrote what I wanted, when I wanted. I was worried that monetizing might lead me towards more clickbait.
  • etc

What changed?

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New teacher induction

I had to induct a new teacher at school once. They were fairly new to teaching and unfamiliar with our in-house product at the time (called myClass). I thought that listening to me ramble on for half an hour about how to approach the planning would be boring. So, I decided a one-page ‘try it like this’ would be better. And a tad less condescending*. Here was that one page.

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