Top Tips: Teaching at UK summer schools

Summer school season is nearly upon us! This is my favourite time of year – you get to work in some great locations around the UK, visit famous attractions and generally have a lot of fun! I’ll be missing out this year, but I’ve worked at 6 different schools in the past. Each time I’ve been a Teacher and Activity Leader. If you’re doing a similar role this year then here are a few tips to help you hit the ground running! (more…)

CELTA Lesson Frameworks

I had a request last week from a reader who wanted to know more about lesson frameworks. I wrote about how useful they are a while back, but only gave one example. So, I’ve dug out my excellent CELTA handbook (from IH Budapest) and summarised most of the frameworks mentioned. I’ve added a bit of information to explain some stages a bit more.

Here’s the basic structure for…

Receptive skills lessons

Note: receptive skills are reading and listening

Lead-in – Generate interest in the topic / text. There are quite a few ideas for lead-ins here and here

Orientation to text – What do you need to tell the students about the text to prepare them for reading/listening? This could be text type, text source, speakers’ accents, etc. Whatever is relevant.

Gist task – set a short task based on general understanding of the text as a whole. For reading texts, the gist task is often timed. Students compare their answers together (pairs/groups) first before class feedback.

Pre-teach vocabulary – Teach any vocabulary needed for the detailed task

Detailed task – set a task based on detailed comprehension (formats might include gap fills, ordering events, true/false, etc). Students compare their answers together (pairs/groups) first before class feedback.

Follow-up activity – do a speaking/writing activity based on the text.framework2

The above is the BASIC framework. In practice, and with more time than you get during a CELTA lesson, certain tasks might be extended or added. For example, I often add vocabulary, pronunciation and game stages after the detailed task in my classes. So, the above focuses primarily on reading and listening skills, in practice other skills/systems are integrated.


5 great tips for new teachers

Here’s a fantastic guest post from Michael Walker, who currently teaches at a university in South Korea. He offers some great tips for teachers who are just starting out. Thanks Michael!

  1. Smile

    don't smile

    Don’t smile until Christmas?

There is an old piece of teaching advice which tells us. “Don’t smile until Christmas.” This is nonsense, a simple smile is contagious, we want our students to learn in a happy, friendly, and approachable environment, smiling helps deliver that type of environment. Creating a friendly, safe, and welcoming environment in the classroom is vital to educational success. If students are not comfortable they will not talk, if they stay silent their English will not improve. A friendly environment will lead to increased student-teacher contact, this is key to student motivation and learning. (more…)

classroom organisation: some reflections

I was re-reading a booklet the other day on how to use Cuisenaire Rods in class, written by John Evans whilst at LTC Eastbourne. It’s brilliant so look it up! Anyway, the first activity in the booklet involves using rods to tell the story of the Battle of Hastings. This is still one of the best teaching resources I’ve used.

The very first procedure of activity says this:classroom arrangements10

Set the chairs up in a horse-shoe. Do not have students sitting behind their desks. You WILL kill the lesson. It is important that they can see the rods and that they are close to the action. If you don’t believe me, try it!

As John points out, the layout of the learning environment can really influence the class dynamic. Here are some of my reflections on organising the classroom and dealing with some problems have arisen. (more…)

16 ways to improve your whiteboard work

I had my first lesson observation at the British Council Bangkok the other day. I still have a job, woohoo!

I got some very surprising feedback from my line manager: ‘your board work was a real strength’. Boardwork? Strength?! I did NOT expect that! However, I do think my whiteboard work has improved a bit over the last year for a few reasons. (more…)

It’s your move… helping students manage spoken discourse


Helping learners to deal with spoken discourse was a hot topic on my Diploma course. You might encounter the terms ‘interactional talk’ and ‘transactional talk’ when you get to modules on discourse analysis; a possible development task could be to devise a lesson based on things like ‘responses’ and ‘follow-up moves’. If so, I hope this post will help. I’ll introduce an approach to teaching spoken discourse markers, which is based on a task-based learning input session from my CELTA. (more…)