Posted in The Developing Teacher

Get students to read and listen to more texts with this neat idea

Reading and listening is a very important way for students to soak up more language, notice patterns within it, and reinforce what they have studied before. Students tend to lead busy lives and often see reading and listening as enormous tasks to undertake. What can we do as teachers to encourage them to get into the habit of saying ‘yes’ to reading or listening for a couple of minutes, which then in turn can lead to something more substantial? Create a reading and listening club for your class. Here is how I set my one up.

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Posted in Reflection

A Reflective Review of 2021

This entry for 2021 should be a relatively short one to write up as opposed to the eventful year before it. 

One thing I remember distinctly about this year was me saying a not so fond farewell to 2020 and praying that this year would be much better – I think a lot of people would admit that 2021 was way worse than 2020! From being cooped up at home during the overly long lockdowns, to the paranoia and debates, you could kind of agree that 2021 was the worst. 

I started off the year with gusto. I had my final Delta lesson to prepare for and teach in the first two weeks of the year; this was the external lesson and it was to be held online. I didn’t mind spending my Christmas working on the lesson plan, materials and essay as I knew that this journey was finally going to come to an end. 

When it was on the eve of teaching the lesson, it really was make or break time. I didn’t know what to expect from an online observation, really. All I knew was that I was given a fortunate opportunity to complete this course during one of the worst eras in human history, and I was one of the lucky ones to get this over the line. I met the assessor briefly before the lesson and then we got started. I prepared a vocabulary lesson on verb-noun collocations for a B2/C1 class in the context of reading about a pub in Ireland that was voted one of the best a few years back. The students found the lesson challenging, but appreciated the practice of mining the text for word combinations. 

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Posted in Training

Research project – Running feedback sessions

When it comes to giving feedback to language students, it’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. I’ve been working on this skill for a few years now and I think I’m doing okay with it. But now I have to navigate through a new context. 

Now that I am a teacher trainer, giving feedback to teacher trainees on their work is, as you can imagine, a little bit different and comes with a new set of challenges.

That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to the ELT community to see how other trainers around the world conduct their feedback sessions to see what I could learn.

I am looking for trainers who can spare 5-10 minutes to answer a set of questions, and – with your permission – you and your answers will then be featured on the blog!

If you would like to take part in my research and feel you could help me on my journey, you can reach me here or at peo.ryan109@gmail or on my LinkedIn account.

Do get in touch!

Posted in CELTA, Reflection, Training

Shaking off the imposter syndrome 

Since the start of the year, I’ve been getting to grips with my new job as a teacher trainer on the Cambridge CELTA courses, and I have contributed next to nothing to the blog (hello again my old friend). Balancing trying to adjust myself to the ins and outs of the role while also freelancing as a language teacher has been challenging yet welcoming, considering I wasn’t up to much in 2021. 

I have a lot to say now though, however. The word ‘adjust’ in the opening paragraph is the core of this blog entry.

I completed my official ‘onboarding’ and shadowing of a full-time course in January, after completing a mountain of paperwork and pre-course tasks months prior. Shadowing my fellow tutors work then and today inspires me to learn more. Seeing them work with the trainees assuring them and guiding them gives me a lot of food for thought. I became certified soon after my first course, and I’m currently approaching the finishing line on a part-time course that started in February. However, one constant that has somewhat plagued me on both courses has been this feeling of suffering from what I can only describe as imposter syndrome. 

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Posted in ELTABB

And the winner goes to…

It was really nice to get an email from the English Language Teachers’ Association Berlin-Brandenburg (ELTABB) that I had been chosen as the ELTABBer of the month recently. I’ve talked a little bit about the charity organisation on the blog before and recently did a workshop and wrote an article for the members.

ELTABB has helped me to understand the working context of Berlin and what it means to be a freelancer. It can help you to find jobs in the area, connect with local teachers, attend teacher meet-ups, read articles from members, attend webinars, and get legal advice among other things. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think my settling into living abroad would have been as smooth. And with that in mind, it was great to give back a little bit to the community recently, and hope to do more in the near future. I’m looking forward to the Christmas Stammtisch!

You can read my interview with the members below.

Posted in Blogging, CELTA, ELTABB, Training

Update and looking ahead

I haven’t been able to update the blog as much as I would have liked recently because I’ve been doing a couple of things behind the scenes.

I’ve been giving workshops on giving feedback to students and clients here in Berlin with a particular aim of focusing on making the positives more objective and clearer. This proved to be very fruitful for all involved and I was glad to see that the participants got a lot out of it. I also came away with a lot of food for thought, for instance, when reformulating students’ utterances, am I giving them sentences and words that they would actually say in their context? Am I speaking in their voice or my own? Building rapport and understanding my students’ situations and world has a newfound importance for me. It also got me thinking about how I can get the students to utilise the emergent ideas and language more, and how to stretch that further. This is quite exciting for me, and I hope to research these paths over the next few months.

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Posted in Reflection

The heat is on

The weather has been pretty nice at times and unbearable at other times here in Berlin. I think I have acclimatised quite well though since I moved here, much to the dismay of my fiance (I got engaged recently). She rolls her eyes when I say that I am cold when the temperatures are in the low 20s. 

The winter temperatures are notoriously low which I am not looking forward to considering the energy crisis we are currently in here in Europe. Having said that though, it wasn’t bad earlier in the year. There were some days when my bones were shaking, and I made it my mission to teach vocabulary kinetically to warm up. 

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Posted in Dogme, Reflection

A love letter to Dogme teaching

I know Dogme teaching isn’t to everyone’s liking, but boy did it get me out of trouble recently. I was in a real bind which I’ll detail below shortly. 

I am really thankful that I explored this teaching methodology during my Delta, and I tend to have, what teachers and bloggers call online, ‘Dogme Moments’ in my classroom pretty much all the time now. However, for a class I had a couple of weeks ago, I had to use a deep-end approach, and it really saved my bacon. Let me explain.

I came home after a long day ready to start my in-company sessions for the evening. As you do, I got my email, material, and Zoom all fired up and ready to go. But, the Internet started to drop a little bit. No big, just restart the computer, what could go wrong? Big mistake. 

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Posted in Reflection

Accessibility in the classroom

As a gamer, I must applaud what game developers are doing these days when it comes to making their games as accessible as possible for their target markets. Basically, for those who don’t know, they are now implementing accessibility options for those who want to enjoy their games as much as they can. Having a game playable for those who are visually impaired, have hearing difficulties, autism, and so on, must be really liberating. For me, I often have to magnify or zoom in on text that is so scrawny. I don’t understand why other developers make their heads-up display (HUD) or text so small. Like, we have massive TVs these days!

This got me thinking about my lessons in the classroom. Am I attending to my students’ needs when it comes to accessibility? Can I do more?

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Posted in Reflection

Working with students who need English for Specific Purposes

Yesterday, I attended a really nice workshop on one-to-one teaching, led by one of my Directors of Studies at a Berlin school I work in. We focused on a number of key points to consider when teaching in this context: pros and cons when teaching and learning in this way, the needs analysis, and troubleshooting. 

One area of the workshop that got me thinking was working with students who need English for Specific Purposes. Unfortunately, when it comes to materials and coursebooks you may need to use to get a good sense of what it is like to be in the student’s shoes, these books can be lacking in the engagement department. Not having a background in the student’s field can really alienate a lot of teachers, too; it can be an uphill battle before you’ve even started the student’s course.

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