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Thursday, 17 December 2009

Teaching Video Analysis - a practical exercise


Here's an interesting little exercise for you:

Have a look at this teaching video I found on You Tube and tell me what you think from a teacher's and teaching point of view. I find there are many useful things we can take from this.

As you watch, consider the following points:

1) What sort of learner do you think this video is aimed at?
2) Do you think it meets its aims?
3) Are the presentation and explanation well-adapted to the You Tube medium?
4) How could this lesson be improved?
5) What can we imagine about the teacher's reasons for doing this video?



I'll give my comments once I've heard from some of you - so why not let us know what you think and get a discussion going?

I think it's great that so many people are putting so much effort into providing useful teaching and learning aids based on their personal experience - something which was practically impossible just 15 years ago.

But as proactive English teachers and trainers we owe it to ourselves to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, or at least to know what actually makes a good English lesson. That's one of the main purposes of this blog: to keep the grey matter ticking over and to never stop learning and improving. We'll all benefit from that.
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Sab Will is Course Director at TEFL Paris, a TEFL Certificate Teacher Training Centre

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Three Pillars of Being a Great Teacher

Arrogant as this may sound, I believe I have identified the three fundamental characteristics, the Three Pillars, if you will, necessary to be a great English teacher. And this after many years of reflection and meditation!

Yes, in retrospect that really does sound a bit over the top. But I still believe it! And it's all based on L-O-V-E folks!

So, let's see what you think, as the Beatles play cheerfully in the background ('All you need is love, love... (English teachers)... love is all you need... love is all you need...')

PILLAR ONE:

A LOVE OF LANGUAGEThat surge of deeply-seated geeky-intellectual joy and squirmy satisfaction that comes from discovering a clever new blend like 'guesstimate' or the sudden, searingly understanding that 'smartbook' is not really a new IT milestone but just the latest in a long line of dreamt-up fancy antecedents including smartphones, netbooks, notebooks, mini-notebooks, subnotebooks and laptops (let's not forget the good old laptop!) trying to dupe us into thinking something pretty wicked this way comes...

(you've got to Love Language to be a Great English Teacher)

PILLAR TWO:

A LOVE OF TEACHINGA lot of people seem to forget that teaching - the act of helping learners to understand new ideas - is a skill and an art and a passion unto itself, irrespective of the subject being taught. The satisfaction that comes from this interchange, yes, this two-way exchange of ideas and learning, is one of the most wonderful aspects of this noble activity.

(you've got to Love Teaching to be a Great English Teacher)

PILLAR THREE:

A LOVE OF PEOPLEIn the end this may be the most important of all the three pillars. In the final analysis, it's all about the atmosphere in the classroom, that tangible static of thoughts and revelations, struggles and enlightenment, buzzing through the air. It's about the very human pleasure to be had from that special, that unique and privileged place where people feel safe and confident enough to try things out, to make mistakes in a positive atmosphere and know their efforts will be recognised and encouraged. It's about human beings interacting together, sharing experiences and supporting each other in their attempts to improve themselves.

(you've got to Love People to be a Great English Teacher)

The LTP Approach

LANGUAGE TEACHING PEOPLEBecause we are People who Teach Language.
Because we are People being Taught through Language.
Because Language Teaches People things.
Because we are Teaching real People through Language.
Because Language is a lubricant.
Because Teaching is a gift.
Because People are precious.

What do you think?
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Sab Will is Course Director at TEFL Paris, a TEFL Certificate Teacher Training Centre

Monday, 14 December 2009

Introducing Sab's New Academy of the Ingleesh Language (SNAIL)


Well hey, if the French can have their Academie Française, and the Spanish their Real Academia Española, then I think it's high time we English speakers had our own Academy too.

If you google 'English Academy' you get a bunch of language school home pages, so I reckon the coast is clear to set up my very own, my original, my totally official Sab's New Academy of the Ingleesh Language, or 'SNAIL' for short.

Based firmly on the original (and best, of course) missions of our Gallic and Hispanic cousins academies, SNAIL shall insist on the absolute minimum amount of change to the language from the days of, oh, let's say Shakespeare, for a start.

This train of thought was started when I read that the venerable Real Academia Española has just updated the 1931 version of its Nueva gramáticade la lengua española , the word nueva having become somewhat compromised in recent decades.

Some of the oh-so-grudgingly included 'exceptions' to the pure version include accepting that a handful of unenlightened individuals (mostly living in South America but increadingly found on the Iberian Peninsula itself) have completely dropped the polite or familiar plural form of you (vosotros) from both their daily speech and even their grammar books in favour of ustedes. Ouch!

A Caribbean pronunciation of amor (love) as amol is another example, as well as mentioning that some Latin American friends don't actually bother to invert the subject and the verb in questions such as "¿Qué quiere Luis?", prefering "¿Qué Luis quiere?" instead. You can almost hear the grinding teeth back at the old Academia, can't you?!

I have to make an admission. Having made fun of these poor old institutions, what they have done in producing the Nueva gramáticade la lengua española is actually a massive and hugely admirable step towards linguistic reality. Where the 1931 version basically told people how they should speak the Spanish language, the new one attempts to describe how people all over the world actually speak it. And there's the great difference, and what a marvellous difference it is too.

In my review of the excellent Cambridge Grammar of the English Language I praised CUP for doing exactly the same thing: describing instead of prescribing, and the approach is as refreshing as it is simply sensible.

And the teaching point in all this? Well simply to realise and remember that language is pretty much uncontrollable, and that we should revel in its changes and adaptations and enjoy sharing them with our students. And when they say they've heard a certain expression that we are not familiar with, be careful before saying it isn't 'proper' English. It may be that they are one step ahead of us!
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Sab Will is Course Director at TEFL Paris, a TEFL Certificate Teacher Training Centre

Friday, 11 December 2009

Welcome to the TEFL Paris Teacher Training Blog!


Hello, and welcome to the brand new and exclusive... TEFL Paris - Teacher Training Blog!

TEFL Paris is a great teacher training centre just half an hour from Paris and we offer an excellent 4-week TEFL Certificate course to set up future teachers with all the skills they need to walk into their first paid English lesson... and teach!

As language and teaching fanatics, we are keen to share our ideas and to learn from your comments as well of course, which is why we have set up this little corner of the web.

The TEFL Paris Teacher Training Blog is run by TEFL Paris Course Director, Sab Will. That would be me. I'll be delighted to answer any questions you have for me and hope to hear from lots of you soon.

Although based in Paris, I'm interested in all aspects of English teaching all over the world, so do let us know how you are getting on wherever you find yourself churning out another attempt to get your students to understand the good old present perfect!

I aim to regularly post snippets of useful information relating to learning, teaching and training, interesting ideas, funny stories, innovative lessons I've seen and more, and I would love to have your comments on them, and your own stories too. Feel free to disagree totally with anything I say, but keep it friendly of course. Over to you!
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Sab Will is Course Director at TEFL Paris, a TEFL Certificate Teacher Training Centre

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