Sunday, 25 September 2016

CELTA Summary

I did a CELTA course earlier this summer in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and was recently thinking about the things I'd learned as I try to apply them to my current university course. Below are some of the key points from the CELTA course. Feel free to leave others in the comment section below.

Authentic language – don’t teach inauthentic dialogues or pronunciation
Boarding – prepare your board work and make it clear and logical
Chesting – demonstrate an activity by chesting the material prior to distributing it around the class
Communicative – language is about communication, so students need to be talking in order to learn
Controlled and freer practice – allow students a chance to use the language in activities that first involve limited choice, and then get freer
Echoing – don’t do it!
Eliciting – try to elicit meaning and grammar labels from students
Fluency and accuracy – these are different; it is most important to build fluency, so don’t worry when accuracy slips except in controlled practice
Graded language – don’t speak too fast, use too many idioms, or overly complex grammar; avoid too much Teacher Talk Time (TTT)
Instructions – make them clear and precise; practice in advance; if necessary, use Instruction Check Questions (ICQs)
Lead-in – activate schemata by offering an interesting, relevant lead-in activity
MPF – (meaning, form pronunciation) for all new vocabulary, demonstrate meaning clearly, then work on P and F with drilling and modelling; use Concept Check Questions (CCQs) to check M
Personalization – use photos and stories from your own life to build rapport with students
Pairwork – always give students time to discuss with a partner after an activity and before reporting back
Phonology – work on word stress, linkage, phonemes, etc
Planning – work on lesson plans and language analyses to ensure successful lessons
Sit back – teacher shouldn’t be talking too much or monitoring obtrusively

TTT – keep it to a minimum

Friday, 23 September 2016

Past Tense Review Lesson - Running Dictation and Guided Discovery

I just did this lesson today with two groups of sophomore university students and it went rather well, so I'm going to share it with my readers. If you use it and find it helpful, please share the link around.

Last week I taught a quite boring lesson to review the present tenses, and I wanted something more kinaesthetic and communicative. I also wanted to incorporate the guided-discovery approach rather than just talking and testing.

I began the lesson with a running dictation, which I'd never done at my present job because the school is rather fusty and conservative. However, it went incredibly well. I wrote this reading passage and had the four sentences stuck up on walls around the school (within 100 meters of the classroom).
 I actually hadn't underlined the verbs in the document when it was printed and cut up for the students. This was just for my reference, and to show them later.

I got the students in groups of five. One student would write and the other four would, one by one, run off and read the sentence, then try to remember it, and come back to tell "the writer."

Here's where the language point comes in... I would tell the students to put the story in order, and then when they'd done that, I'd ask what tense it is in... past, present, or future? They'd say, "past," and I'd ask them to underline all the verbs.

At this point, they would start to realize some of the errors they'd made in the sentences because they'd recall the verb rules. Instead of essentially a game of Chinese whispers, it became a grammatical jigsaw puzzle.

I had a few students read their stories aloud and then gave the correct version to the class to compare.


After this I had them do a guided discovery exercise to have them establish exactly when to use the various past tenses. It seemed really difficult and took them a long time, but they figured it out, particularly after I put them in pairs and told them to check with their partner. Then I had them do two more tasks to test their understanding. Here's the worksheet I made:

And here are the answers for you lazy teachers ;)

After this I had the students write stories from their childhood using a variety of past tenses, and other students were required to ask 3 questions about the story. 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Job Application Task

I made this for my final CELTA class. It's a fake newspaper jobs page. I wanted my students to write a job application cover letter (although you could adapt this for a speaking class and have them do an interview), and so I put some questions on the back. I wanted to check that they understood the content of the advert first, before writing.

Before doing this activity I gave my students a model, of course, and we explored some useful language points for writing a cover letter.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Love/Hate + verb-ing Worksheet

I recently taught a CELTA class about saying whether you like/love/hate etc doing something. The grammar is pretty simple.

subject + like/love/hate/don't mind/don't like + verb-ing

Here's the worksheet I put together. I think it's pretty self-explanatory. I initially taught my students the grammar on a whiteboard, with the "smileys" representing like/love etc on a cline. 

Feel free to download and print for your classes.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

ESL Airport Lesson

Here's a lesson I put together with vocabulary, questions, and role playing for various situations in an airport and on an airplane.

Part One – Airplane

Carry-on baggage
Overhead compartment
Tray table
Flight Attendant
Boarding pass
Emergency exit
Life jacket

Let’s discuss the following questions together. Please try to use some of the vocabulary from above.
1.       Have you ever travelled by airplane before?
2.       How do you feel about flying on airplanes?
3.       Do you feel that flying is safe? Why or why not?
4.       What should you do before the flight takes off?
5.       How can you pass the time on a flight?
6.       What are the duties of a flight attendant? What would make a good flight attendant?
7.       What kind of person would or wouldn’t you like to sit next to on a plane?
8.       What is good behavior on a flight? What is bad behavior?
9.       What items can you take with you in your carry-on baggage?
10.   Should part of the plane is the best for sitting – aisle or window? Front or back?
11.   How do you feel about airline food?
12.   What happens in the cockpit of an airplane?
13.   What advice do you have for someone who is nervous about flying?
14.   What should you do in the event of an emergency on an airplane?
15.   What is the future of air travel?

The following dialogue takes place before take-off. Please attempt to fill in the blanks, and then practice reading the dialogue aloud.
Passenger 1: Excuse me, would it be possible to ________________ seats with someone? My wife and I would like to sit together.
Flight Attendant: Certainly, sir. For now, please take your seat, and once the plane takes off, I'll help you with that.
Passenger 1: Thank you. Could you help me put this bag in the ________________ compartment?
Flight Attendant: Sure... there you go. 
Passenger 1: I'm sorry, I think you're ________________. 
Passenger 2: Oh, let me check my boarding ________________... Yes, I'm sorry, my mistake.
Passenger 1: No problem. I'm going to _________________ anyway. My wife and I would like to sit together.
Passenger 2: Oh, well, I can switch places with your wife. That way you two can sit together.
Passenger 1: Really? That would be great! Thanks a lot.

Now choose one of the following situations and practice a dialogue with a partner:
Situation 1: A passenger’s baby is crying loudly and disturbing other people on the plane. A flight              attendant must speak with the parents to resolve the situation.
Situation 2: You wish to order a special meal, as you allergic to the flight food. You must discuss the         options with the flight attendant.
Situation 3:  A passenger wishes to discuss security procedures with one of the flight attendants.
Situation 4: There is a seat available in First Class. The flight attendant offers it to a passenger as an          upgrade.

Part Two – Airport
The following words are important for you to know before travelling through an airport. You will need to understand them by the end of this lesson.
Boarding pass


Please look at the map above and discuss the layout of the airport.
1.       What things can you see in an airport?
2.       What questions do they ask you when you check-in at the airport?
3.       What questions do they ask you when going through immigration and customs at the airport?
4.       What are some customs restrictions?
5.       How much baggage do you take with you?
6.       What items should not be included in your hand baggage?
7.       What documents do you need for international travel?
8.       Where is the nearest airport and what is it like? How can you travel there?
9.       What are some frustrations people experience in an airport?
10.   How can airports be improved to make them more “passenger friendly”?
The following dialogue takes place at the immigration desk on arrival in Canada. Person A works for immigration control, and Person B is a passenger who has just arrived in Canada. Let’s practice reading it aloud.
A: Welcome to Canada. May I see your passport please?
B: Sure. Here it is.
A: Where are you coming from?
B: I'm coming from Beijing, China.
A: What is the purpose of your visit?
B: I'm here on business.
A: How long are you planning to stay?
B: I'll be staying for three weeks.
A: Where will you be staying?
B: I'll be staying at a hotel.
A: Have you ever been to Canada before?
B: No, this is my first time.
A: Do you have anything to declare?
B: No, nothing.
A: Enjoy your stay.
B: Thank you.

Now work in pairs. Practice one of the following situations:
Situation 1: Check-in procedure.

Situation 2: Customs declaration. 

Find the docx. worksheet here.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

New Lessons

I have posted a few new lessons over at my new website, TED-IELTS. The most recent is called, "Improve your IELTS writing with parallelism."

Don't know what parallelism means?! Well, then you really need to check out this new lesson!

There's also a lesson called "8 useful IELTS speaking tips" and a few TED videos with comprehension questions and other activities to boost your listening skills and vocabulary.