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TEFL-Diary

TEFL Diary - David Overton keeps a diary - a blog - about his actual experiences during his English classes.

The latest: First Class Private Class .


 

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William Christison
William Christison

Teaches English classes in companies and in his own private home.

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The Lexical Approach:


What Methodology do You Use?
That's a question we often get asked by our potential students, so I've decided to give it some thought. Obviously we don't speak to a potential student in the same way as to a fellow teacher. In all likelihood the student we're courting knows next to nothing about methodology, whereas a colleague a great deal, after all this is our bread and butter. So with a colleague we can go on and on about the Lexical Approach, but the student probably just wants to know what we do in class.
Read more: First Class Private Class


I Hate that Word
I was teaching a private class the other day with an intermediate student, a pretty good one I might add, fairly motivated, hardworking, normally positive. We were working on a pronunciation activity, the /h/ sound to be exact, and the authors of the coursebook had prepared a minimal pair activity, and we were looking at these two sentences: 'I'm heating up the beans' and 'I'm eating up the beans'. So my student reads the sentences, and first looking disconcerted and then exasperated, says “Why is the word 'up' there? I hate that word!”
Read more: I Hate that Word


Teaching Phrasal Verbs
Phrasal verbs can be a pretty messy business. While giving rules for tenses and comparatives and the like is fairly straightforward, hard and fast rules for phrasal verbs are hard to come by, and if you don’t watch your step you can easily end up confusing and demoralizing your students.
Read more: Teaching Phrasal Verbs


Spotlight on collocations
I’ve been thinking it’s time to change the channel and turn the spotlight on the Lexical Approach and on my favorite in-class activity, picking out collocations from texts.
Read more: Spotlight on collocations


Into The Breach
I remember I was once a fledgling EFL teacher; yeah, that wasn’t just yesterday either, in fact it was during “la movida” here in Madrid. And I think it was also about the time the internet was just taking off and I was wondering what all the fuss was about. I guess now I know as I sit here pecking out my latest entry in my blog on Madrid Teacher, which is a very cost effective way of finding students.
Read more: Into The Breach


Super Students
I always kick off my classes with revision cards. On slips of paper I write sentences in which I have underlined the target lexical item. Students cover the underlined word with their finger and try to elicit the word from their partner, a bit like taboo. I really like it: you pick several flowers with one cut (a humanistic variation of the more violent two-birds-with-one-stone idiom). Students warm up and revise, and it gives you (the teacher) a chance to settle in. Anyway, today my students had their homework out and immediate starting commenting on it. And I wondered, is this a coincidence or are they trying to tell me something?
Read more: Super Student


Lexical Approach
English-language teaching has made a lot of progress since the days of Audiolingualism when language teaching was based on the building block approach to learning with a structural syllabus, and language was “presented” by the teacher, and “practiced” and “produced” by the students. Or has it really progressed so much? If you find this kind of question intriguing, you’ll love Michael Luis’ book, The Lexical Approach, published in 1993, but still very relevant today.
Read more: Lexical Approach



Apps In English


Methodology


Upgrade your students
I was just finishing a class with a student who once had an ultra high level, in fact very nearly bilingual, but who's been away from English for a while due to work commitments. Though she's still very fluent, she's understandably lost some vocabulary; in fact she was saying she's forgotten a lot of phrasal verbs.
Read more: Upgrade Your Students.


Game-Based Learning
This time I've decided to write about something I know almost nothing about: Game-Based Learning (GBL). Of course I play games in class, TEFL classics like 20 Questions and Hangman, but what is this GBL I've been hearing about? Do students learn by playing computer games in class? I decided to find out, so I started by reading the main GBL guru: Marc Prensky.
Read more: Game-Based Learning.


Using Videos in Class
Lately I've been thinking about using videos (audio-visual material) in class. In fact I used to do this all the time, but lately the pendulum seems to have swung in the other direction. I tend to be that way, I really get into something for a while, then drift away from it, then back again. So let's get  back into videos!
Read more: Using Videos in Class.


Don't Test Listening, Teach it!
Time to do another listening in class. So being trained teachers, we dutifully begin with the lead-in to get students discussing the topic. This builds up their expectations and helps them anticipate or predict what will be said. Of course, this can be done in any number of ways, for example, the students can discuss lead-in questions, pictures, or what they know about the topic. We can pre-teach some of the lexis from the listening and then have them predict what will be said. All of this is well and good.
Read more: Don't Test Listening, Teach it!


Task Based Learning
Dilemma. My lunchtime class has canceled. What shall I do: write something for TEFL Diary or relube the bearings on my old bike? (Or I could do some shopping or clean the house, but let's not talk about that). In any case, besides teaching English and riding bikes, I'm also an amateur bike mechanic. It keeps costs down and it's relaxing to do something with your hands beside waving board pens around.
Read more: Task Based Learning


Are you a dictator?
Dictation has seen better days. It probably peaked out back in the 50s and 60s when language learning was seen as behaviorist, that is, as developing correct speech habits. This was the belief behind Audiolingualism in the States, and Situational Language Teaching in Briton. Since language learning was seen as mechanical habit formation, it was imperative that students develop correct speech habits; errors meant failure and were to be avoided at all cost.
Read more: Are you a dictator?


Spring Fever
A soft breeze blows across the Spanish capital. Now the days stretch out into late evening, and as winter slowly relinquishes its grip, people shed their heavy clothes. The mild sunshine awakens new inklings as lightly-clad residents mingle along the crowded streets and plazas. The temperature is rising and new blood courses through our veins. There can be no doubt about it: we’ve got spring fever!
Read more: Spring Fever


What Students Want
The other day one of my students, a girl from South America, came up to me after class and asked if she could “make a suggestion”, and she got the collocation right!; though I suppose a native speaker might have said something like, “David, I was wondering if I could have a word with you”. Then I’d have known I was in trouble. Anyway, she suggested we spend less time on fluency activities and more on grammar. OK, I have to admit I wasn’t expecting that: I was nonplussed, dumbfounded and flabbergasted.
Read more: What Students Want


Gadgets and Gizmos
To be truthful I’ve never felt any special inclination to have the latest gadgets and gizmos. In fact I think I was the last kid on the block to get a mobile phone. Now usually if you’ve got a class in a company they’ve got a CD player around somewhere you can use, but not this company where I taught today, so I bring along these portable speakers and, get this, a CD player. Gasp!
Read more: Gadgets and Gizmos


Thy classes shalt be lively and dynamic
To be truthful I’ve never felt any special inclination to have the latest gadgets and gizmos. In fact I think I was the last kid on the block to get a mobile phone. Now usually if you’ve got a class in a company they’ve got a CD player around somewhere you can use, but not this company where I taught today, so I bring along these portable speakers and, get this, a CD player. Gasp!
Read more: Thy classes shalt be lively and dynamic


Meanings and Metaphors
“Meanings and Metaphors: activities to practise figurative language”, by Gillian Lazar, is a 34-unit photocopiable resource book. The units are designed to last from 50 to 60 minutes. They are arranged more or less in order of difficulty: the lower intermediate activities towards the beginning, the intermediate and upper intermediate in the middle, the advanced activities at the end.
Read more: Meanings and Metaphors.


Metaphors We Live By
I’m going to be discussing the book, Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I must say it’s certainly given me food for thought, though I should warn you that it’s meaty: this is not light reading, though the fact that abundant examples are given throughout keeps things from getting stodgy.
Read more: Metaphors We Live By.


Talking Teachers
How can we get away from the “tyranny of the textbook”? It’s not easy. Most of them are carefully thought out and tightly knit. So busy teachers are mainly limited to adapting them a bit, taking the activity out of the book, for example by dictating the discussion questions or having students brainstorm vocabulary. In addition, teachers can supplement them using songs, DVDs, games, articles, or maybe a favourite activity from another textbook. Actually this is so commonplace that many textbooks now come with their own supplementary activities book. Thoughtful authors are making our jobs easier, but more difficult if we wish to escape the “tyranny of the textbook” and inject more life into the classroom and respond more directly to our students’ needs.
Read more: Talking Teachers


Approaches and Methods
Are you familiar with the history of ELT (English Language Teaching)? Do you know how the Grammar Translation Method and Audiolingualism still influence our teaching today? Do you know what the Communicative Language Teaching revolution was all about? Would you like to know more about “alternative” approaches and methods such as the Silent Way, Suggestopedia, or Counseling-learning? Or how about more recent innovations such as Task-Based Language Teaching and the Lexical Approach? If you’re interested in these things, this is a good book to read.
Read more: Approaches and Methods.



The TEFL Business


Alejandro's Story
Alejandro's been my student for about a year now. When we started off he was applying for a new job and part of the selection process involved an interview in English where he needed to show he had a working knowledge of the language. Alejandro was the very picture of a hardworking, motivated student. Besides the interview, he had a real interest in the language itself. He did all sorts of things outside of class, from home-English type stuff to watching TV series in English. He even listened to podcasts when he was training for marathons.
Read more: Alejandro's Story


The Closing of Opening
Lately I’ve been thinking about different sorts of innovations we’ve seen in the TEFL field over the years. I’d love to dream up a TEFL bombshell that will enhance my economic well-being. If I do, maybe you’ll see me in the Dragons’ Den! (a TV show where entrepreneurs hoping to get financing pitch their ideas to venture capitalists.) Anyway, I was thinking some recent “innovations” turned out to be basically a gimmick with an advertising budget: a case in point, the infamous language academy Opening, now closed.
Read more: The closing of Opening



Freelance Teaching


First Class Private Class
I've just recently started a private class, so I met someone new! That's certainly one of the upsides of teaching, and of course with the communicative approach, it's all about communicating! So I get to find out all sorts of things; and vice versa. In fact, the truth is I learn lots from my students, for example, about the latest technology, films, the economy; you name it!
Read more: First Class Private Class


Notes from a Teacher on Holiday
Well, I have one more year of teaching under my belt, and now I find myself on vacation by the beach in Galicia, a nice place to find yourself I might add. So I’m recharging my batteries and finding time for my hobbies; and forgetting all about English teaching? Actually I’ve dreamt I was teaching a couple of times, so maybe I can improve my methodology in my sleep, ha, ha.
Read more: Notes from a Teacher on Holiday


Second Edition
Another little surprise today. We’re using In Company intermediate for one of my classes and the company is buying a copy for all the students. As it was sold out at the local English bookshop, the company ordered copies and they came in today, and surprise surprise!, it’s a “new edition”. It’s been changed around enough to make it awkward for me to keep on using the old recording.
Read more: Second Edition


Mixed Abilities
Today I taught a mixed-ability class in a company, but not the same one I wrote about before: this is as common as sunshine in the desert! Anyway, their levels range from pre-intermediate to upper-intermediate, and attendance is pretty irregular, in fact sometimes just one comes, which was the case today. At a solid upper-intermediate level, today’s student’s probably the strongest.
Read more: Mixed Abilities



The Teacher's Lot


Teaching is a Two-Way Street
Sooner or later teachers reflect on what they like or dislike about their work. I think my answer would be the same as most of my colleagues: the best part is the students. Peripheral things can be tedious: paperwork, tests, correcting tests (I plan to write a separate post about marking writing). But the learning process and the ever-present possibility of the unexpected is what keeps things interesting.
Read more: Teaching is a Two-Way Street


Controversy erupts over pensions
There has been a spate of articles recently about the Spanish Social Security system. This was spurred by a recent report from the European Union saying that of all the member states, Spain will experience the sharpest rise in pension costs. In 2007 it allocated 8.4% of its GDP to pay retirees, but that figure is set to rise to 15.1% by 2060, while the EU average will be 12.6%. At present in Spain there are four tax payers for every senior citizen, but due to the aging population and low birth rate, in 2050 it apparently will shrink to two to one.
Read more: Controversy Erupts Over Pensions


Paying into social security
Many a beleaguered academy owner is out there fighting for survival in the TEFL jungle, and one of the main ways to stay competitive is to cut costs, their main expenses being advertising and teachers’ salaries. A lot of academies try to save money and gain flexibility by not hiring many full-time teachers. This is because it’s hard to fill a 25-hour contract because most classes are given at peak times: early morning, lunchtime, and late evening, which means full-time teachers tend to be underhours, especially during slow times of the year. So instead of having, say, twenty full-time teachers, many opt to have forty part-time teachers.
Read more: Paying into social security


A TEFL Fantasy
Interviewer on NPR: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s our great pleasure to welcome to our program the world famous TEFL superstar, Blade of Grass.
Blade of Grass: Thank you everyone. It’s a great honor to be here today on this top quality radio station.
Int: Thank you. And congratulations on being selected for the TEFL team for the Education Olympics, which will be broadcast this evening around the world. Do you think you’re going to be coming home with gold.
Read more: A TEFL Fantasy


Teachers Unite
It’s great rubbing elbows (or shoulders as the Brits say) with my English-teaching colleagues. We have shared experiences, think the same way, have roughly the same linguistic brain waves: the same parts of our brains light up like Christmas trees.
So here we all are in the insalubrious (because of secondary smoke) confines of our local watering hole, slaking our thirst after long hours of exposing students to language, clarifying meaning, and uncovering grammar, when I decide to toss out a sort-of serious question.
Read more: Teachers Unite


The Teaching Game
For me the incident below where I came up with my own lead-in for a reading shows one of the best parts of being an EFL teacher: the creativity! This helps stave off teacher burnout and keeps things interesting.
Read more: The Teaching Game



Uncategorized


Taboo English
Course books have been getting better and better over the years: nowadays most do a good job of exposing students to 'authentic' (practical) English, the kind you're likely to hear when speaking to native (or even non-native) speakers. But they do have their limitations mainly because they're a commercial product, authors and publishers naturally hope to sell as many as possible and so don't want to risk offending anybody. So at times they can seem a bit antiseptic, steering clear of anything which may be controversial.
Read more: Taboo English


High Expectations
It seems whatever we do, we can always do more. We can always spend more time with our family and friends, or working, and of course, learning English. So as English language teachers we should be demanding and try to get our students to do as much as possible outside of class, whether it be homework in the workbook, or watching a film in English.
Read more: High Expectations


Dead Class
I love an audience. That’s definitely one of the best parts of teaching. I talk to my students basically the same way I talk to my friends: casually, informally, personally. Yeah, there’s some risk because there’s real communication; I don’t see eye to eye with everyone, but it’s good to hear other views, and I learn. Teaching really is a two-way street: I learn as well. If not, teaching would be dead boring.
Read more: Dead Class


Speaking of Dictionaries
Speaking of dictionaries, I corrected some of my students writing today where they had to talk about where they live, and some of them said things like “I live in a residential quarter of Madrid”. Now I would never say that. I’d say “I live in a residential neighborhood in Madrid”, yet the dictionary supports the students’ meaning, so I can’t “correct” it. I’ll try to remember to ask my British colleagues if that sounds right to them.
Read more: Speaking of Dictionaries


Blindsided
I’ve been zapped, thrown a curve ball, blindsided. Today I was teaching a class in the academy where I work, which is my base, my home, where I mingle with other English teaching professions like myself; and where I get my hands on extra material and teacher’s books and the like I don’t want to shell out my own money on. It’s not a bad deal.
Read more: Blindsided


You're Being Observed  
One advantage to working in an academy is that you get observed, although sometimes teachers find it an ordeal. It's stressful, you're under pressure, and you want to look good. But if the observer is good, the feedback session will be thought-provoking and an opportunity to reflect on your teaching.
Read more: You're Being Observed


After the Holidays  
Well, the Cabalgata is over. The Three Kings have come. I've had my traditional roscón de reyes, and we'll soon be back in the classroom. Actually, to be truthful, I was in the classroom during the holidays. I stayed here in Madrid and told my private students that I'd be available if they were interested, and some of them were! Actually if you're just staying home, it's not bad to get out and teach a class.
Read more: After the Holidays



More about David Overton:




      Profile:
In-Company Classes

     Contact Information:

        E-mail: madridteacherdavid@hotmail.com.
        Telephone: 912-877-646.
        Cell: 652-93-92-89.




Inglés en Empresas


Inglés en Empresas - David Overton imparte clases a todos los niveles, a particulares y en empresas, en el centro y norte de Madrid (en Sanchinarro).
Estoy especializado en clases generales, en empresas, preparación para los exámenes de FC, CAE, y Proficiency. Vivo en Sanchinarro, así que las zonas de trabajo cubiertas son el centro y el norte de Madrid.






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Teachers Required



The Green Monkey Schools and BBS are seeking English teachers for 2017-2018 teaching season Corporate classes are in-company, usually in Madrid but also in the suburbs. Classes to children, adults and teenagers are in our schools located in and around Madrid as well as Barcelona.

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