12 'Get to know you' activities for ESL students

David Ausubel (1968) wrote that “the most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach them accordingly.” But how can English language teachers learn what their students already know about English? And how can teachers learn what students already know about the world? In this blog post we’re going to look at activities TEFL teachers can use to learn about their students. What can you learn about your students? Learning about your… All categories

PPP Vs ESA: Staging Models for TEFL Teachers

One of the most confusing points for new teachers undertaking initial teacher training courses are the similarities and differences between staging models. In particular, the difference between Donn Byrne’s Present, Practice, Produce (PPP) and Jeremy Harmer’s Engage, Study, Activate (ESA) is something I have often found myself answering questions on. The purpose of this blog is to explore some of the similarities and differences between these two staging models. Relationship to methodologies… All categories

Creating Teaching Materials with ChatGPT and DALL-E2

Creating teaching materials is one of the most time-consuming things that teachers do. Finding a text on a specific topic can take ages. Even once you’ve found or written a text, you might then need to edit it to match the level of your students. Then you might go through the text to pick out useful vocabulary. You might even search for images to go along with the text. All that time could be better spent planning lessons, reflecting on teaching, or just watching HBO. Until recently, there were… Teaching skills, ESL activities, Five ways to, Theme based learning

Jigsaw Activities in Receptive Skills Lessons

It is well acknowledged among TESOL & TEFL instructors that a focus on receptive skills is important in language learning. Learners who are effective readers and listeners in English are better able to communicate and open themselves up to useful sources of language input. It is, therefore, important that receptive skills lessons engage students and provide practice which is useful for the development of their skills. This blog will outline how ‘jigsaw’ reading and listening activities can… ESL activities, Teaching skills

Teaching Reading: 5 Common Mistakes EFL Teachers make

Many English language lessons involve reading. Reading can engage students, encourage autonomy and help improve other skills, like speaking and writing. But if done badly, reading can bore students, waste time and create cognitive overload. In this article, I’ll show you five common mistakes TEFL teachers make while teaching reading and how to avoid these.   1. Choosing boring texts The problem: If students are reading something compelling, they’ll make an effort to think about the topic, guess… Teaching skills, ESL activities, Five ways to

Teaching Register: the forgotten component of English Language Teaching

Exposure to variation in English is something that all English teachers should try to encourage. But what happens when learners are only exposed to English through one source? It’s not as uncommon as you might think. There are Young Learners who are only exposed to gaming videos on YouTube. There are older learners who may only read a certain genre of books. Other learners may only be exposed to English through music. These learners are often unaware of differences in language register. Take… Teaching skills, ESL activities, Five ways to

Teaching Tenses in English: a complete guide

What is the difference if someone says ‘I have lived here for five years’ or ‘I have been living here for five years’? If you are reading a newspaper article and the writer states ‘an agreement has been reached’ rather than ‘an agreement was reached’, why did they make this choice? Why do we sometimes use the present tense to talk about the future (‘I fly there on Tuesday’)? Or the past (‘I go to the park and see this big dog and it’s chasing this man’)? All languages have methods to… ESL activities, Careers in TESOL, Teaching skills

Asking effective questions in your ESL classes

In this blog, we cover best practices for TESOL teachers to choose the right questions to ask in your ESL classes. Different questions have different qualities. These qualities influence student participation and involvement. Questions can be either:  Open or closed. Open questions have many possible answers. Closed answers have a limited number.  Display or referential. Referential questions are questions which the person asking the questions doesn’t know the answer to in advance. Display… All categories, Teaching skills, How to...

How to prepare for the Trinity CertTESOL - Tips from a trainer

So, you’ve been offered a place on the Trinity College London Cert TESOL course, paid the fees waiting to start the course and possibly completed the 20 hr TESOL Starter course. Wonderful. Now what? Should you just wait to start the course?  It never ceases to amaze me when trainees begin the Cert TESOL course, what little preparation many have done to provide themselves with the best opportunity of getting the most out of the course and being able to manage the demands. Why does this… All categories, Certificate courses

5 ways to use photos in English language lessons

Why use photos?  I love using photos in language classes. Here’s why:  Photos are differentiated materials. Students of different levels can use their own language to describe what they see.  Good photos are engaging and a welcome change from reading and listening texts.  It’s easy than ever for us (teachers) to take photos. It’s also super convenient to show these to students.  Encouraging learners to bring in their own photos to class helps to personalize language learning.  Many… Teaching skills, All categories, Five ways to

Why you need to stop punishing your students: solutions for 3 common problems

In many of the young learner classes I watch, teachers try to control their students’ behaviour using punishment. In this article, I’m going to tell you   why punishment causes more behaviour problems than it solves  which punishments are the most destructive  alternatives you can use to stop negative student behaviour  how to prevent negative behaviour from reoccurring in the future.  Problems with punishment  I said at the start, I think you need… All categories, How to..., Teaching skills

Turning your whole school into your classroom: a practical guide

Shakespeare once said that the whole world can be a stage. Well, I think your whole school can be a classroom. Unfortunately, in most of the schools I visit, learning (and teaching) seems to be anchored in the classroom. So why should teachers take classes out of the classroom and use the rest of the school for learning? Why get out of the classroom? It can be challenging to get learners to move in class, especially if: you teach in a small space. your classroom has furniture which can’t… All categories

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