The Basics of Course Planning

As the new academic year comes closer, many of you will be starting to plan your upcoming courses. Educational courses are usually governed by the basic principles of Curriculum Design and language courses are no exception. These principles included, among other things, the following:startup-593327_1280

  • Course goals
  • Course objectives
  • Course materials

However, for many in the English Language Teaching world course design isn’t an integral part of planning and preparation, though it probably should be. Most language teachers simply receive a coursebook from the school and are told to teach it over the course of the year.

The teacher who takes the coursebook and divides it up according to each month of the academic year has already taken a significant step in the right direction. However, this can be taken a little further.

How should a simple language course be laid out? What are course aims? Where does a coursebook fit into a course syllabus? These are some of the questions this post will try to address, so keep reading…  Continue reading

5 Good Teaching Habits

As teachers and learners, we all expect different things from learning and teaching. Some learners expect language-heavy courses, full of grammar and with lots of teacher explanation. Others anticipate a more social learning approach, where they play with the language and acquire it through practice, practice and practice. school-1223873

Whatever the style you take or whatever the style your learners expect you to take, there are some basic behaviours that all teachers should follow in the classroom. These go a long way to building an effective learning environment. Teachers come in all shapes and sizes and they vary greatly, but great teachers all share some common features i.e. the core basics of good teaching habits.

Whether you have been in teaching for five minutes or five years, reminding yourself of the core basics of good teaching is always a good refresher.

So, what are these top five teaching behaviours or habits? Keep reading to find out… Continue reading

Flipped Learning, Tutoring Bar and Educational Myths

How effective are teaching methods? Are learners taking enough away from lessons? What could improve learning output? These are all typical questions developing teachers ask themselves.

Questions about the effectiveness of teaching and the effect it has on learning have grown immensely over the last years not only in language education but in general education, too.

As a result, teachers have gone back to school, so to speak, and started reading up on research, developing hypotheses and running experiments. The end result? A wealth of tried and tested methods to make teaching and learning a guaranteed success.

However, all of these results don’t point in the same direction. In fact, we are now in a situation where experiment results stand in absolute contradiction to each other.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these theories on how best to educate our learners. Continue reading

When the DoS comes in…

In most schools, the Director of Studies will pay regular visits to classrooms to see how things are going. Short visits are often termed pop-ins and longer visits observations. 

As pointed out in an ELT Chat summary, there are many different forms of observing, from peer and self observations to developmental and appraisal observations. The exact nature of pop-ins will vary from institute to institute, but the general idea is to get a quick snapshot of the lesson, the learners and the teacher. 2635694952_8aeb635f80_o

In short, what both pop-ins and observations have in common is that someone else – usually the DoS – comes to the classroom to see part of a normal lesson. Except, do teachers and students behave their usual self during observations?

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Training, Education and Development

The three terms are often used simultaneously and interchangeably, yet training, education and development each have their own distinct meaning and application in teaching and teacher training.

Creative Commons
Creative Commons

Training and Development are the two terms which are most often lumped together. A quick search in Google produces millions of hits. Add in education and you get even more hits.

However, if training, education and development represent the three pillars of this area, then what is the difference between each? More importantly: what do these differences mean for Teachers and Teacher Trainers?

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Teacher Training: Organising Effective Reflective Practice

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The title of this post is a bit of a mouthful: try repeating the –ive ending of effective and reflective without stumbling over your tongue. The spelling and punctuation is a little bit tricky: should organise be with an “s” or a “z”? However, it is the notions behind the title which are most challenging for the Teacher Trainer, not only in terms of theory but also in practice. It therefore begs two fundamental questions:

  1. What is Reflective Practice? 
  2. Why is it a challenge for Teacher Trainers?

What is Reflective Practice?

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Observations and Paperwork

A colleague, who forms part of the team of teachers I train and help to develop on a regular basis, recently asked me quite an insightful question:

If a trainer or an observer is so experienced and well-trained in their field, surely they don’t need a lesson plan to understand each stage of a lesson.

I immediately agreed on the assertion that observers rarely need a plan to know what a given stage of a lesson is about.lesson plan 1

However, the paperwork that comes with observations is a formality which is universally followed: it doesn’t matter if you’re being observed by the Academic Director of a large Language Teaching Organisation with several sites across a country, or by a Senior Teacher in a school, it is a given that you will hand in a lesson plan before being observed.

Having initially agreed with the teacher’s assertion, this led to the inevitable subsequent question:

Why is it necessary to hand in lesson plans?
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