How I plan with coursebooks

Coursebooks. Arrgh.

I write and read so many rants about them. Global coursebooks are too ‘catch-all’, they’re not aligned with what we know about second language acquisition, they’re a straightjacket, the images promote certain ideals, the content is too diluted, etc.

Like them or not, many teachers are bound to using a coursebook. Maybe a syllabus is coursebook-driven, the school demand it, the expectation from parents is that they’ve shelled out for the book so it must be completed cover-to-cover. Whatever. It happens. I can rant about it on my blog until the cows come home, but at the end of the day I’ve got to find a way to use it.

My school mostly use their own in-house materials, but we have a coursebook-driven syllabus for the teens (well, until next year). Here’s an example of some of the steps I go through when planning from the book. These are meant for less-experienced teachers. They are representative of my classroom practice but I can’t guarantee they’ll be effective (!). Every class is different.

Here we go. I have a copy of Beyond A2+ (Macmillan). I’m opening it at random… and we got…


For my teens? COME ON! Can I start again? No? Right. Ok… (more…)


Reflection on CELTA and Trinity TESOL Courses

In her latest guest post, Nicky Salmon talks about the importance of reflecting on your teaching practice.

A very important part of any pre- or in-service teacher training course, is REFLECTION.

On a CELTA or Trinity TESOL course this will mostly be reflecting ON your practice, which means you will look back at the lesson you have just taught to reflect on

-what went well or not so well,

-reasons for these,

-what you can use again or change for next time.

Your ability to reflect on your planning and teaching is an assessed part of the course but many people find the whole process very difficult.

It might be because you have never reflected formally before.

It might be because you just don’t know what to prioritise in your reflection.

It might be because you just don’t know what language to use as you reflect. (more…)

Lesson idea: multiple intelligence

The theory of multiple intelligences came up in English in Mind this week. I knew it would really interest my students, so I decided to

explore it a bit more. Here’s another idea to get your teens talking, and reflecting on their own skills/abilities.

Lead in:

I did a quick ‘unscramble the letters to make words’ task

LEVECR = clever                MARTS = smart                 ITELGINTLEN = intelligent

Then I asked the students to complete the sentence:

‘Intelligence is…’

They came up with some pretty good definitions. I put a simplified dictionary definition of intelligence, and then the students discussed a few questions:

Do you think you’re intelligent? If so, how?

What about your friends? Do you have any really smart mates?

Do you have to be good at every school subject to be ‘intelligent’?