What makes a good EFL teacher?
“How long is a piece of string?” springs to mind but the answer may be much simpler than you think, because you probably tick many of the boxes already. You’re probably asking this question because you are already or soon plan to be an EFL teacher. This means that you probably like working with people, that you prefer variety to routine, and that you are don’t mind taking calculated risks. As a rule,Teaching English as a Foreign Lnguage is one of the most satisfying jobs you can do because the vast majority of learners are highly-motivated, so all you need to do is try to recognise which aspect of your teaching skills needs to be used at any given time.
Below are some suggestions about the different roles you’ll find yourself playing – all of which combine to make a good teacher.
The Party Host
This job is about getting people chatting and communicating as much as possible, so a good EFL teacher needs to be approachable and create a friendly atmosphere in which plenty of communication can take place. At times this means you are more of a facilitator, rather like the host at a party, making sure each class member interacts with the others. You should organise and set up activities whereby the class get to know one another and talk freely about their opinions and their lives, just as they would if they met through a mutual friend. As any good host would, once they get chatting, just stand back and quietly observe; only join in when the conversation dries up. This minimizes your ‘Teacher Talking Time’ and maximises ‘Student Talking Time’, which is one of your main goals as a teacher. You simply need to have a great big smile on your face and a welcoming attitude towards your class members. Read the rest of this entry »
Assessing Young Language Learners
Cambridge University Press 2006, 388 pp., £20.10
ISBN-13: 978 0 521 60123 8
The recent upsurge in young children learning English as a second or foreign language around the world has brought in a concomitant need for understanding how to assess their language learning. While there is a substantial number of methodology books in the area, research into and work in the area of assessment at this level seems to have just begun. It is also intriguing that when the British Council designated 2003–2004 as the ‘Year of the Young Learner’ and brought out a special collection of young learner (YL)-focused articles ( Ellis and Morrow 2004) published earlier in ELTJ, the collection did not have any section or article on assessment. It could be that there was no previously published article on this topic worthy of inclusion in this collection, but see for example Mattos (2000). However, we need to admit that the area of assessment of YLs is still young as the author acknowledges (p. 61) and needs to be attended to immediately. This book is an excellent effort in this direction and as the series editors remark, it ‘provides both a discussion of the research to help readers better understand (these) children and how to assess them most appropriately, and a principled discussion of the variety of assessment approaches that are available to practitioners’ (p. xi). The author makes her extensive experience of teaching and research in the area of YLs accessible to the reader. Although it is a part of the Cambridge Language Assessment Series, it is a stand-alone book and does not presuppose ‘traditional’ language testing knowledge such as test construction, statistical issues, test validation, etc. Read the rest of this entry »
What is the discovery technique?
Grammar can either be taught explicitly or implicitly. When we talk about an explicit approach to grammar we are talking about stating directly, usually at the beginning of a particular activity, what the grammar is. For example, “Today we are looking at the third conditional.” On the other hand an implicit approach to grammar is one where the students are ‘led’ to the grammar through a series of steps – this is what is meant by the ‘discovery technique’. In other words, the ‘discovery technique’ aims to lead students towards a generalised grammar rule or pattern.
Isn’t that the same as task-based learning?
No. Certainly task based learning is one form of ‘discovery technique’ but not the only way. In task-based learning the focus is on carrying out communicative tasks without specific focus on form. However, it is possible in the ‘discovery technique’ to be predominantly concerned with the form. The idea is that students will ‘discover’ the grammar through a series of steps (these might be tasks, language awareness activities, pictures, questions etc) and will deduce both the form and the meaning from the context(s). Read the rest of this entry »
Twenty Practıcal Uses Of A Computer For The Efl Professıonal
by Chris Elvin
This paper is a list of the uses that I have for my computer as a high school teacher of English as a foreign language.
This is not a how to guide. Nor do I offer an evaluation for of any of my teaching ideas; suffice to say that none of the suggestions is particularly groundbreaking, and that if they have not yet been tried and tested, similar activities have.
1) To make worksheets
I start with perhaps the most obvious use of a computer, to make teaching resources for classroom use. Some worksheets that I make are to support the language learning aims of the syllabus, while others are made to more closely meet the students’ needs or wants, by allowing them to be part of the resource creating process.
For example, to review a topic, or a language structure, I hand out slips of paper and ask students to write down two or three questions that they would like to ask their classmates. In a preformatted Excel page, it is a relatively easy task to quickly type, sort and edit the students’ questions, before pasting into PageMaker and printing. These questions can be used for pair work, group work, quizzes, class discussions, or to play board games such as Snakes and Ladders, or its Japanese equivalent, Sugoroku. Similarly, student generated word lists can be used to play TV games such as Blockbusters (see Cribb, 2001) and Attack 25 (on Japanese TV).
2) To play DVDs
You can, of course, play DVDs from a DVD player. I use my computer to play short interesting sections of DVD movies that have a clear language learning point worthy of study. The advantage of DVDs over videocassettes is that you can choose whether or not to show subtitles, and also choose the language in which the subtitles can be viewed. Generally speaking, my students learn best by watching first with no subtitles, then with Japanese subtitles to get the gist, and finally with English subtitles to focus more closely on form. Read the rest of this entry »
Six Facts You Should Know to Empower Your Teaching
As parents and teachers, we need to enhance our abilities to create a relationship of trust with the students or the children we interact with. The task sometimes seems hard and we often feel discouraged. Fortunately, there is hope with the vision that both teachers and children can discover the joy of learning.Empowering children with self confidence and strengthening your capabilities to teach will become second hand as you integrate the following six principles or beliefs. It’s a sure deal.
1. The map is not the territory. Wherever you travel and whenever you use a map, you know that this map doesn’t show exactly the whole territory. Some things are just not included on the map. In the same way, our view of the world doesn’t show the complete reality. When children, as well as each one of us, experience the world we give it meaning, which is often distorted. This fact help us understand that we need to listen to better understand children’s interpretation of the world and thus help them grow in their view of the world, not our own, which is also only a map. Read the rest of this entry »