These days, faced with low pay and poor working conditions in most private language schools, more and more teachers are going it alone and teaching privately. Before starting, it's good to have certain things in place in order to make it a smoother transition. Here goes: 1. Find out what they don't like. Obviously, it's important to do a thorough needs analysis before you begin teaching a student. However, not every learner knows what they like when it comes to English classes - indeed they won't know this until they've tried...

English teacher, 'How are you feeling today?' Student, 'Tense' English teacher, 'How were you feeling yesterday? How will you have been feeling by the end of the week? How have you been feeling this month?'   Did you groan? I hope so, because that makes two of us. I certainly let out an audible 'oh...

[caption id="attachment_3320" align="aligncenter" width="297"] 2005_0918_174853AA by hslo CC BY-SA 2.0[/caption] I  recently came across a blog post by Cathy Moore titled 'How to respond to learning styles believers', in which she talks about the perils of debunking theories to which people have become quite accustomed and attached to over the years, but which have been shown not to be based on evidence - in this case the theory related to learning styles. I posted a link to the article on Facebook and from the ensuing response and comments, it's...

1 You listen to songs, mainly paying attention to the lyrics for examples of language use you can practise in class. 2 You have a huge bank of useful but interesting general knowledge, entirely gleaned from coursebooks. 3 You gesticulate wildly all the time when speaking to people, something you learnt when trying to explain concepts such as 'put off' or 'defeated'. [caption id="attachment_3185" align="aligncenter" width="300"] ...

Photo by Higor Cavalcante | CC BY 2.0 No matter where you are in the world today, English is everywhere you look. It’s used in shop signs, products in the supermarket, the names of buildings, menus, graffiti, airports, public transport, shopping centres, notices, advertising posters and hoardings. In fact, here in Brazil there is even an English name for this type of advertising – ‘outdoor’ (as well as ‘busdoor’ for adverts on the back of buses, and ‘indoor’ for adverts in stations, shopping centres, etc.). I first became interested in Linguistic...

Good morning. My name's Damian and I like coursebooks. I've liked them for about 20 years now. Coursebooks are a funny beast in our profession. They seem to take a lot of flack from various sectors of the industry, yet they are - and continue to be - all pervasive. Whatever your connection with ELT, every one of us has at least used a major coursebook in the past, and I would venture as far as to say that all of us owe at least one good teaching idea...

One of the books that made the biggest impression on me last year was Evgeny Morozov's To Save Everything, Click Here: Technology, Solutionism and the Urge to Fix Problems that Don't Exist. In it, he describes the rise of tech companies into all-pervasive areas of life, their inherent solutionism, and the threats this process poses to society as a whole. So what exactly is solutionism? Well, in its simplest terms, it's the belief that pretty much everything we face in live can be cast as a simple problem + solution. The...

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says 'Morning boys. How's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?' Excerpt from the commencement address given by the late David Foster Wallace to graduates of Kenyon College in 2005. (Photo: Diving Maldives: Gold Striped Emperor Fish by Malcolm Browne CC BY-ND 2.0) Over the course...

Kitten! by Sergey Ivanov CC BY-SA 2.0 This month's post has nothing to do with kittens, but do we really need an excuse?  This month I'm straying from the topic of teaching slightly to look at what happens when we, as teachers, write about our profession. It's a topic that's quite close to my heart as it's what first got me interested in developing critical thinking skills in teachers. I think it's fair to say that as teachers we have all, at some point or another, read books, blogs, and articles...

As a Native English-Speaking Teacher (NEST) who didn't learn any English grammar at school, it wasn't until I started training as a teacher and then teaching that I really started to get to grips with the English grammatical - and later lexical - system. In fact, I don't think there's ever been a point where I've felt I understand the whole system. That's one of the great things about being a teacher - you keep learning. When I first started out as a language teacher in the mid-1990s, I...

Humans (like all intelligent hunters) seem innately disposed to notice things which move rather than things which stand still. Cook, 2000 Don't move a muscle. by Chris Isherwood CC-BY-2.0 It is often argued that the English language class should try to emulate the ‘real world’ as much as possible. Tasks and activities should reflect what people do in real life, in order to give learners the tools that they’ll need to use English outside the classroom. While this is no doubt good advice, I believe there is also a valid and useful...

Picture the scene: There I was, a shy 13-year-old boy, dressed in an itchy, ill-fitting school uniform in the middle of a German language class. Our teacher, Mrs. Dawson, a strict woman who ruled the classroom with an iron fist, is going round the class calling out people to read chunks of a text out loud, in German. Nothing could be more embarrassing for a nervous teenager in the throes of adolescence than having to read out a short passage (badly) in another language to a room full...

10 years ago I was teaching in in a school in central London. At that time the internet as a teaching resource was just beginning to take off, and while I and many of my peers were starting to get to grips with how to get the most out of it, there was always the trusty Metro. Metro was (and still is) a popular free newspaper which is distributed on the London underground. It has broad appeal both due to the nature of it's articles and the range...

Think of a baby. What is it you associate with it most - the smell? The sound of the baby crying? Perhaps you think about how it feels to hold a baby, or even just what it looks like? The chances are that most people reading this (assuming there's more than one!) will have answered that question differently, since it's intuitive to think that we all perceive and interact with the world around us in different ways. ...

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.Blaise Pascal, 1669   He took some persuading. When the 17th Century Christian philosopher wrote that in 1669, it was as a part of a description of human intellect. But these are words which still hold true for many of us teachers who have had any level of basic training. We can all remember that one boring teacher at school or university who used to lecture us. Sometimes...

Ok, so you need to read the text and answer the questions. These questions here. You need to answer these questions…Do you need to answer the questions? Simple. (Black Dyke Mills 2 by Tim Green CC-BY-2.0) This is something I recently heard a teacher on a pre-service training course say to a group of (mildly bewildered) students. Interestingly enough, the same teacher commented in the feedback discussion later that he felt like he was patronising students asking this question, but that he knew he ‘had to ask an ICQ’ (Instruction Check...

Have you taken many selfies recently? If so, was it because you were enjoying some me time, and wanted to share the moment with friends, or were you just in a bit  of a dappy mood? Squee!   Image: Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net If you followed that paragraph, then well done, but perhaps it’s time to move on, as that was so 2013. Oxford Dictionaries announced at the end of last year that selfie (a photo you take of yourself ) was 2013’s word of the year. Other notable new words of 2013...