Instructions are an important part of every teacher’s life. They can either make or break our lessons, getting students in the best mood imaginable or sending them into a downward spiral of discontentment (has anyone ever heard students react with sighs of “reading again?”). How can we guarantee that the second doesn’t happen?  Imagine a teacher who has an elementary group of adults and wants to help his learners develop listening skills. Now look at the instructions that our imaginary and well-intentioned teacher delivered in one lesson to that...

Checking exercises is so deeply ingrained in our teaching practice that we seldom give it a thought. Asking students to report back after a small-group activity is also common practice ever since the boom of the communicative approach.  But are we making the best use of classroom time or could we just be doing it for the sake of habit? Just last week, I was talking to a teacher I know about a great lesson she had delivered when we caught ourselves discussing just that. It dawned on us...

As we come to the end of the year, our classes are also about to finish. Hence, the time for us teachers to start planning the end of the semester has come. We end up getting so busy organizing reviews, writing tests, testing and assessing students, writing reports and/or report cards, providing students with feedback on their work we sometimes forget to “give students opportunities to reflect on what they have learnt and experienced in the lesson/term/year” (Emma Gore-Lloyd, 2014). I first heard about the different phases of a...

Being a bit of a YouTube buff, myself, I’ve always been really keen on using videos with my students. So much interaction and such great ideas can come from just a couple of minutes (or even seconds) of audio-visual input! We often use movie snippets or interviews in order to bring the outside world into the classroom, but my favourite videos are the ones that became popular and accessible via video-sharing websites - those usually created by Internet users rather than the conventional media. These are the genres I particularly...

Last month, we looked at personalisation, guided discovery and raising awareness of sub-skills and strategies as ways to promote learner engagement (click here to check it out). Today, I’d like to share some more ideas on this topic, which I consider one of the most important, albeit challenging, in both lesson preparation and delivery. Reacting to content as well as language As teachers, we are so concerned with the learners’ linguistic development that we may easily fall into the trap of devoting exclusive attention to the words students use rather...

As the end of the year approaches, several students, teachers, school managers and parents may be coming to the conclusion that what was done and learnt throughout the year, or the term, was not enough. In other words, some students will fail their courses. And so, what happens next? How to deal with failure? For obvious reasons, I’ll just deal with ELT here, but the “arguments” may well apply to other school subjects. First of all, I believe that depending on which hat you are wearing, you might see...

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...

In my experience as an English teacher, I have observed other teachers’ lessons and been observed countless times. It is probably safe to say that the majority of teachers are much more concerned about what to do than about how to do it. However, the ‘hows' can be as important as the ‘whats' and ‘whys', and we teachers very often fail to realize that clear, concise instructions can mean the difference between a successful lesson or activity or an absolute flop. My own impression is that giving instructions is...

Hi everyone! I was wondering about what I would share with you this month and, as I was rereading an old article, it came to me: group work. Some teachers, used to teacher-fronted classes, resist promoting group work afraid of losing control and of students learning something “wrong”. If you are one of them, remember that learning is not an overnight phenomenon. On the contrary, it is developmental and it takes long. The fact is that group work has been extensively investigated[1] and its advantages greatly outnumber the eventual exposure...

Hi everyone! Have you ever wondered about classroom experiences? About how can they bring an expanded understanding of the teaching and learning process? Starting today, I`ll be contributing with posts on classroom language learning experiences because they can provide a lot of information about what goes on between teachers and students as well as a holistic perspective of the process of teaching, learning and evaluating – the three most common reasons for bringing people to a language class. Every month, I’ll post excerpts of students’ or teachers’ narratives. Selections will...