reflections

RIP LTC Eastbourne

I’ve heard that it’s the end of the road for LTC Eastbourne. I haven’t come across an announcement from the school itself (now a Twin Language Centre). I’m only going on contact with staff, past and present.

I’m gutted.

(more…)

Bad teaching

A ramble from last year. Just came across it again. Ha! When I re-read it I thought, ‘actually Pete, it was pretty bad teaching! What were you on about?!’ Meh. I don’t just post the good. Enjoy.

I’m such a bad teacher sometimes. I’m prone to slack/lazy practice. I mean, take this list of things not to do when teaching vocab (shared on twitter by @bwileducate)

Now consider this dialogue in my class over the weekend…

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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).

(more…)

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?

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Research in brief: Alderfer ESL Program Assessment Tool

What might be optimal ESL provision in international schools?

Alderfer and Alderfer (2011) state that there is no unifying set of criteria to assess ESL programs in international school contexts. Their research sets out to provide one.

The authors outline four categories through which ESL programs can be assessed:

  • Program conditions
  • Student learning conditions
  • Teaching conditions
  • Home culture conditions
(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?!

(more…)

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:

(more…)

Guest post: Student and teacher reflection journals

It’s been a while since a guest post on ELT Planning. Michael Walker is a PGCEi-qualified teacher who has spent a while teaching EAP at a university in the Republic of Korea. In this cool post, Michael describes the impact of using reflection journals on his practice and on student learning.

I may be a bit of an anomaly in the EAL field, truth be told, teaching English doesn’t excite me, never has. What does get me up in the morning and into the classroom is developing a student’s interest in learning.

Like many EAL teachers, I fell into language teaching. Spending a year in a foreign clime teaching well-behaved children was and probably still is a cushy option for a recent graduate. However, my interest in learning never left me. In fact, after several years teaching elementary students I found myself voluntarily searching for pedagogical literature, having discussions with other staff members on how to excite and inspire students, and spending hours developing materials that will appeal to a diverse bunch of learners. Not because I was overly passionate about instilling an understanding of comparative adjectives into my students, but just because I wanted the students to develop a love of learning. (more…)