initial teacher training

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…)

Course Review: How to teach IELTS

I recently completed a course on how to prepare students for the IELTS exam. IELTS course
The course was provided by Cambridge English Teacher (CET).

CET is an online professional development platform which currently offers about 20 courses related to teaching, learning and assessment. They range in length and price, with some only costing a few dollars and requiring only 4 hours of study. There are 6 introductory courses covering different exams in the Cambridge suite – each one requires around 25 hours of study time and costs about $15 (depending on your location).

Why did I take this training course?

My lack of exam teaching, along with my lack of experience teaching Very Young Learners, are two big gaps in my teaching CV. Taking this online course showed my new employer that I was committed to developing my skills in this area, and I was given opportunities to observe and teach IELTS courses almost immediately. (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…)

Little tips from CELTA training that go a long way

When you undertake a 1-month intensive CELTA course it’s near impossible to absorb all the information you’re given. You have to prioritise, and that means getting the basics right. Staging a lesson, introducing new language effectively, anticipating problems, that type of thing. Even learning English grammar rules, that’s hard enough for a native speaker!

However, if you get chance, take a bit of time to consider how your CELTA tutors model good classroom practice during input sessions. Our tutors used a lot of activities and techniques on us which we could in turn apply in the classroom. They didn’t always tell us this, so it’s worth making a note of little things you observe. You never know when a little tip or idea might be beneficial, so you might as well jot it down just in case! (more…)

CELTA tip: guided discovery

I got an A in my CELTA, but I had some teaching experience before the course. I find one of the hardest things about teaching is actually standing up and doing it. I am a really nervous person, and this trait has plagued me for a long time. Without some experience of being in front of people and presenting information I would have really struggled, but this wasn’t much of a concern for the less neurotic people on the course!

Anyhow, teaching experience was not the only contributing factor to my A grade. If I could pinpoint the exact moment that my trainers gave me that mark, I’d say it was Tuesday, Week 4, about 12pm, just after Teaching Practice 7. I’d just finished a class on the present perfect continuous, which makes my CELTA grade all the more special as teaching grammar remains my biggest weakness. (more…)