At the beginning of 2013 I was invited to take part in a course about mentoring offered by EVO .To my surprise, I discovered that mentoring is something I have been doing for a long time. Furthermore, it is one of the things I like most as a teacher and a teacher trainer. The use of mentoring is widespread across the commercial, education and not-for-profit sectors as a developmental, supporting and helping activity. So mentoring is part of our professional development The origin of the term mentor is found in...

When I was an English student, some teachers had the magical ability to deliver lessons that were fun and engaging, which allowed me to express myself and to feel I had an active role in my own learning. As I tried to learn how to teach, the ready-made activities that I came across (and the one-size-fits-all solutions they usually propose), frequently failed to replicate, in my students, that feeling I’d had as a learner. So did the ‘fireworks’ - songs and films I naively used as if they were...

Sharing experiences may be daunting but there is a whole developmental process in it. Maybe I am talking about the same idea, yet again, but I attended a conference this past week and much was discussed about the need of continuous development for people working in education. This job of ours require us to be always in our feet studying, catering for our students. Julie Tice, teacher trainer, BC, Lisbon, said that “reflective teaching means looking at what you do in the classroom, thinking about why you do it, and...

Hello! In my previous post we looked at the concept of ‘meaningful learning’, the idea of taking what learners already know and using it to help them to learn more.  In this post, I want to start looking at how to do this in the classroom. Using learners’ knowledge of L1. This clearly cuts into a controversial issue in ELT for the past thirty years or so – the use of the mother tongue.  What I’d like to argue is that we can’t/shouldn’t ignore all this knowledge that learners have and...

#6: D is for Desks This month we move from tables to desks. Here, though I refer to real desks not desks-as-simile. Real, solid, rectangular teacher’s desks. [caption id="attachment_1784" align="alignleft" width="384"] Evil incarnate[/caption] A desk is such an innocent thing, a flat top and four legs, sometimes a draw to forget things in. But I rage, rage against the using of the desk (sorry, Dylan). I want to find an axe and hack away until all that remains is a pile of splinters and sawdust gently settling in the air. What...

I've recently come across Deena Boraie's  2013 post on the TESOL webpage in which she lists the latest trends in EFL. Two of these trends immediately caught my eye: Change in the Goal of Teaching English: Our goals are no longer to transform our students into imitations of native speakers, but into "competent English-knowing bilinguals," since we assume our students are already proficient in their native languages; Changing view of an English teacher: The quality and effectiveness of English language teachers are no longer determined by their being native speakers,...

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...

Hello again! Many years ago I took a class in educational psychology and came across this quote from the cognitive psychologist, David Ausubel: "If I had to reduce all of cognitive psychology to one principle it would be this:  the most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows.  Ascertain this and teach him accordingly."  (1978:  flyleaf). I was very struck by this and was therefore even more interested to find out what cognitive psychology had to say about ‘meaningful learning’, something that we talk about vaguely in...

#5: N is for Natives [caption id="attachment_1594" align="alignright" width="448"] Some native speakers recently[/caption] I’m not going to revisit the old stuff about inherent linguistic knowledge vs explicit understanding, nor the career teacher vs the traveller, and certainly not local cultural knowledge versus target cultural knowledge. I’m going to ask a simple question. What’s the difference between a table and a native teacher of English? Not a lot really….. I see the native-ness as a layer of varnish on the surface of the table. It looks good, and it sells better than...