Thursday, 30 December 2010

New Directions

The year's just about done and dusted and the new one is fast approaching. It's time for some reflection. In May I posted some thoughts called Back-Up Plan inspired by Alex Case over at TEFLtastic

Now, I'm not the most original of thinkers. This post is inspired by something that Jason Renshaw said in a comment about Back Up Plan (Thank you). Jason pointed out that  whilst back up plans are one thing, using what you know and creating new directions are another

So the new year is looming and I think it's time for just that!.In my search for continuous development and improvement. I've narrowed down my attempt to create some new directions for 2011 to just three.

1) MA Time - Inspired by people in my PLN such as Dave Dodgson with his helpful MA reflections .  I've all but decided that it's time to take the plunge and do my MA. Originally I wanted to do an MA focused on Young Learners at York University but it's too expensive. 

The reality of in ELTing around the world means that even after doing my MA , I won't be earning much more money afterwards so, it has to be affordable. Luckily the Dip gives you 60 credits with many universities so, I've saved some money already (using what I have and what I know) Yippee... just have to save about 5,000 euros and I'll make it!

2) Cambridge Examiner - My next plan to make more cash (which I'll need to pay for the MA) and to spread my wings and learn something new, is to become an examiner for Cambridge. This would be both really interesting and a great personal challenge. The problem is that it's proving very difficult. There seems to be a bit of a monopoly by  existing examiners around my neck of the woods. I'm thinking of offering my services free of charge just to get some experience. Does anyone know anything about becoming an examiner for Cambridge?

3) CLIL Specialist - Finally I've decided that in Spain, CLIL is gaining in popularity and is worth investing time and money in. So, I'm on the lookout for CLIL courses online to help me get closer to my goal. Anyone know of anything good out there?

The list is short, and my hopes are high! Lets see what happens in 2011. 

If you don't try you'll never know. Anyone else trying new directions for 2011?

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Born or made?

When I was young I used to ride horses. I spent my childhood in jodhpurs and wellies. I was told that I was ' a natural' with horses. I wasn't  'a natural' at maths, science, or school in general. I wasn't ' a natural' sailor, skier or water skier. I have no special talent for cooking or writing.

One day, along came teaching and once again I was labelled  ' a natural'. So, what does it mean '? 

Lets set the scene, this was way back when RSA CELTAs existed. I was 23 and had never taught anything. I knew very little, to nothing about English grammar or teaching so, what were they talking about?

Good Teachers are born NOT made.

Enough of blowing my own trumpet. 

This post was sparked by a great #eltchat about soft skills in teaching last Wednesday. If you are thinking What are those ? , don't worry, so was I before the chat. I suppose you could say that soft skills are people skills, roughly speaking. 

I don't think that you can teach these qualities I think they're innate. That's why a four week Cert course can be all that some people need. If you already have the soft skills required  such as empathy, patience, a willingness to learn and rapport ,to name but a few, you're off to a running start. It's not rocket science after all!

You can learn the subject and be very knowledgeable but without these personal qualities you will never be a 'good' teacher. Teaching is an 'art', a 'vocation' and a 'privilidge'.

What do you think BORN or MADE?
 What can be taught?
Just read this article TES The Myth of Presence 
What do you think? 

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Recycling Vocabulary in Primary ELT

This is a simple but effective way to recycle vocabulary with YLs.

This is my vocabulary box. This one was made with very young learners in mind so ,the pictures and box are a bit babyish. 

You can choose another design for older children, more appropriate to their ages and interests. The first step is the box. The children love the box in itself. It never fails to stir their interest when I walk into class with it. After you've made your box the fun starts.

As I teach all of my YL classes using a coursebook, we have a lot of flashcards. I collect them in the box and we play a lot of games with them. Here are a few of my favourite games:

1. I've lost my voice : Sit the children in a circle. Ask one of the children to come to the front. They take out a picture flashcard. You tell them that they've lost their voice. They're only allowed to mouth the word to the other students. The students watch and guess the word. This is a lovely quiet activity and a great, fun way to recycle vocabulary.

2. Pictionary: Fill the box with word cards instead of picture flashcards. Sit the the children in a circle as before. One child takes out a word card and draws a visual representation of the word on the board. Children take it in turn to guess the word.

3. I'm the teacher : This can be used for fast finishers. If you have children that have finished an activity earlier they can get the box and take it turns in being the teacher by quizzing their friends on the vocabulary. 

4.Make a sentence : With older students they can take a word or picture flashcard and make a sentence that includes that word.  Helps children to 'know' a word by giving them practice in using it in a sentence.

5. Spelling Bee: Take a flashcard and spell the word. Helps children to 'know' a word by being able to spell it.

What games  and activities do you play to recycle vocabulary?

Inspired by Emma Herrod's post - The Two - Week Vocabulary Blogging Challenge

More Great Games for YLS from Dave Dodgson at Reflections of a Teacher and Learner