Monday, 28 July 2014

Feature Teachers

Over the past 6 months we have managed to interview some great characters in the teaching world for The Teacher Abroad blog. The most memorable has to be when we got the opportunity to speak with John Peter Sloan and were able to ask him some probing questions into both his teaching techniques as well as his much publicised personal life. JPS, I like to call him, is something of a celebrity on the comedy circuit in Italy, making regular appearances on TV shows and in theatres. His day job is running a teaching and publishing empire based in Milan and Rome. I honestly don’t know where he gets the energy from to also do stand-up, TV and open an English themed pub!

However, all of our other feature teachers have all proved to be more than entertaining and memorable in their own ways, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to you for a little light reading.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The hard and fast rules of colloquial pairs

Many of my IELTS students make a point of studying their idioms and phrasal verbs, mostly as it's a clear cut way to show fluency and develop a more natural and advanced way of speaking English. However, there is something else which can also help here. This is the use of colloquial pairs. You will surely all now about 'pros and cons' from learning how to speak about advantages and disadvantages, and this is indeed a colloquial pair, however what about others?

What is a colloquial pair? Well these are pairs of words that have a special significance, such as idioms or slang. You must take care not to put them in the wrong order however, as while these pairs may be understood in a reversed order, they will sound incorrect to a native speaker.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Working 9-to-5?

Earlier this year I began contributing to the Teaching English site run by the British Council. The topics have been quite varied, ranging from simple language lesson plans, through to whether or not language course-books are essential, plus aspects of motivation and assessment, as well as advice for new teachers and classroom management skills. I have shared some of these posts here on The Teacher Abroad, but if you are interested in viewing them in situ you can do so through my Teaching English page.

The reason I mention this again is that the British Council site as a whole, and in particular the Teaching English part, is packed full of information and help for English language teachers anywhere in the world. I couldn’t recommend the site more highly if I tried. They have built a whole community of like minded people where you can discuss anything teaching related and are sure to find all of the help you need. In addition, there are loads of teaching resources available absolutely free, teacher development activities and online conferences, as well as regular published articles from both professionals and academics alike.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Those who can - Take II

I remember writing a post back in January about the saying ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach, which I suppose implies that people who cannot cut it in the ‘real world’, consign themselves to what is considered to be the less demanding refuge of academia. Well, academia may offer a slower pace of life for some, but it is hardly less demanding. Unfortunately, unless you have trained and worked as a teacher, you will never be able to understand just how much time and effort goes into teaching a simple lesson.

I am drawn back to this subject by the recent strike action taken by some school teachers, as part of a wider public sector ‘day of action’. From what I understand, their main reason for taking this action is over pay, or to be more precise, a pay rise cap of 1% which has been in force since 2012. While I am not advocating taking away their democratic right to strike, in my opinion this is a petty detail over which to take industrial action especially when it causes unnecessary disruption to those who wish to learn. These teachers are at least employed and enjoy a decent wage and benefits for their troubles.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The evil of predictive texting

In my previous post, I argued that text messaging and using abbreviations of words was a good thing for students of the English language, but the main downside to this is the evil that is auto-correcting and predictive texting technologies. In a recent article in The Telegraph, it was reported that a senior professor of educational technology claimed that spelling and grammar lessons were becoming redundant and that in the future there would be no place for them in the language classroom.