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Category: Methodology

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”.


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Expanding language school is looking for full-time and part-time teachers.

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William Christison
William Christison

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

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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.

But maybe I shouldn’t have been. I’ve been seeing more non-Spaniards trickling into my classrooms of late, especially South Americans. In that continent they seem to have an abundance of original version films and TV series, and many tell me they’ve been to the States to visit friends or go shopping (they tend to be from the upper-crust of their society). And I imagine their English classes are more skills focused and less grammar oriented than here in Spain, because they don’t tend to do so well on written level tests, but their fluency and vocabulary are obviously significantly better. You know, they get by quite well with basic English, but they don’t put in the auxiliary verbs and other fine points (which show up like a sore thumb on exams like First Certificate, which focuses quite heavily on accuracy), so many of them want to plug up holes and do Murphy type exercises.

Facing a classroom of Spaniards and South Americans gives the teacher an extra challenge because their needs are so different. Often Spaniards want to put into practice what they’ve already studied to pass exams in school. And they really enjoy it if these activities are bouncy and fun, along the lines of debates, role plays and songs.

But I’ll never forget a class I had years ago, back when you rarely saw foreigners in Spain (except for tourists), which had basically turned into a bouncy fun conversation class. They were smiling and having fun, but one day they took me off guard by telling me they didn’t think they were progressing. I think they meant they were  putting into practice what they already knew, but they wanted to learn more as well!

That class shaped the way I teach to this day because now I make sure that, no matter what, they feel they come away from the class with something. I want them to be able to say something like “today I learnt some useful vocabulary” or “now I understand the use of gerunds and infinitives a little better”. This is besides the more skillsy stuff like listening and speaking.

So when I teach a class, the first thing is to make sure they learn something. This is the language exposure phase which often involves a reading where we notice some characteristics of the language. After that I try to squeeze in a listening in every class (which usually involves a language focus as well), and finally a speaking stage.

So teaching becomes a game of constantly making little adjustments to keep your students as happy as possible. And sometimes their needs and wants can vary quite a bit, as my Latin American student mentioned above. In her class I’ll do my best to slot in some grammar work, and hope she appreciates the rest. Teaching means catering to everybody’s needs.

Language School Requires Teachers

IH MaddridUpdate: July 20, 2017:

We are now recruiting for two different types of contract:

i) In-company teachers for up to 12 hours a week. Freelance or on contract. We are looking for enthusiastic, experienced In-Company teachers. We can give you work each morning and lunchtime. Competitive pay rates, access to first class training, development and resources. CELTA or equivalent essential. Mid-September or October start date.

ii) Adults and YL teachers on around 20 hours a week, lunchtime to evening schedules. If you are an enthusiatic and dedicated teacher who loves working with young learners and adult students, we are looking to fill a limited number of positions. Competitive pay rates, excellent resources, support and teacher development. CELTA or equivalent and relevant experience essential.

For either position, please send your CV and teaching qualification certificate to For more information see our website

More info on International House Madrid on MadridTeacher, and more info about IHMadrid's TEFL Course.

More about David Overton:

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     Contact Information:

        Telephone: 912-877-646.
        Cell: 652-93-92-89.

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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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