The difficult role of the observing teacher
Observed lessons are never representative of a teacher's practice. The teacher and students are unnerved by my presence, and things feel stilted. Even when the lesson does go well, I know I'm seeing only part of the whole.
A fun challenge to see if you, as a teacher, could do better.
Could you create the 'perfect' educational environment? In these positions, you'd have the power over some of the issues facing us every day as teachers, but not all. Some problems can only be addressed higher up the chain, at the ministry level.
The success and failure of eliciting
Questions form a crucial part of a successful lesson: they increase student participation and involvement, give the teacher valuable information about what the students already know, help to focus students' attention, and improve the teacher-student relationship.
A new term usually means meeting new students
As you move into a new year with new classes, you may be considering what sort of impression you want to make on the students when you have your first lesson. What exactly should a teacher do in the first few lessons considering that these first impressions are so important?
It's the time of the year for the job surge
April and May are good times to be looking for a teaching job in Thailand. Getting one starts with a resume or a Curriculum Vitae. We all know how it works, and what what to put into it, right?
Our experiences as students guide us as teachers.
It's painful to watch teachers model themselves on the teachers they specifically didn't like - a case of "Okay you lot, if you aren't going to listen, I'll do what Mr. D used to do to us in form 1. I hated that I was becoming Mr. D with my own students.
Language teachers need nutrition expertise too!
Our students eat. That's a good thing, except that after sweet snacks things can get complicated. This is most noticeable (for me, anyway) with kindergarten children who can't inhibit their impulses. The cause?
Who gets to decide what it means to be a 'good' teacher?
I have to admit that it is easy and tempting to think about teachers in shades of 'good'. But perhaps the reality is that there is no such thing as a good teacher. Or, if you are a glass-half-full sort, every teacher is good (in their own little way).
If you choose not to, your decision is easily justified.
When the class is struggling with remembering vocabulary, fighting with grammar rules, and also grappling with the whole notion of motivation to study English, taking time to perfect pronunciation seems like a real stretch of the imagination.
In search of the holy grail.
Is there a Holy Grail of ELT jobs? Why are some teachers happy, while others suffer under a yoke of abuse? Who are these employers that are spoiling our fun?
Getting to grips with Google N-gram
If time and resources allow, another way of handling questions of vocabulary is with the Google Ngram Viewer - a really useful tool for English language teachers!
Helping students suffering from synonym-itis
It's such a pleasure to have students who are motivated to learn, and curious about the language. However, there is the little problem of how easily these enthusiastic learners can catch you out with curveball questions.
Should teachers tolerate telephones in the classroom?
Telephones have become an integral part of modern life, to the extent that they are an intrusion and compromise the long-term goals for our classrooms. I present the following arguments to support my position.
The eternally pointless blame game
The participants in a school's operation are called stakeholders. Parents, teachers and students are perhaps the key stakeholders. Any (or all) of these contribute to, and can have a say in how things are run in a school.
The power of expectations
During my training as a teacher, we were told never to call a student stupid. Or lazy. Or bad. Or any other such pejorative. It seems like a sensible prescription, right? Criticize the behavior, not the person.
The curse of the native speaker
Let's face it - language learning is stressful stuff. There are words to memorize, grammar codes to figure out, rules that can't be broken, messages that have to be decoded and recoded, strange contortions of the lips and tongue, and frustration as everything comes out back to front.
Fictionalizing our reality
I love watching movies about classrooms and teachers. A lot of movie classroom scenes are blatant parodies of the real thing, which makes them strangely insightful.
Let's start with Chinese household appliances
I had always taken teaching and learning lexical sets as a given - but perhaps in language teaching, there are no givens: it's a constant search for ways of doing things better.