Geoff Richards's blog on Ajarn.com
Small talk with big results
The art of teaching English forwards
"Hi, how are you?" "I'm fine thank you, and you?" "I'm fine thank you." Now, where have we all seen and heard this longwinded, nigh on nonsensical way of communicating before?
Magazines with class part two
What I've learned from a school magazine project
What has topped it all off for me is the surprising ease that this potentially challenging project (getting students to produce a school magazine) has been thus far.
The death of General English
And if it isn't dead, it damn well should be
Students study English with local teachers or native English speakers (NES), or both, but what they're ultimately looking at is a textbook, many of which were never published with Asian markets in mind.
Magazines with class
The task of producing a school magazine
Since being in Thailand, I’ve often thought about producing a basic magazine for students but, up until this new school year, had disregarded the idea because I was teaching P1 to 4 and it would have meant me doing most of the leg work.
Short and sweet
How to get large classes talking
Over the last 7 years of working in Thailand, I’ve seen numerous teaching forum threads about how to get large classes talking.
We're not all going on a summer holiday
A two-month teaching diary until May rolls around again
So, school is out. If you’re going on holiday either in or out of Thailand, lucky old you, I hope that you have a great time.
Review until they are blue in the face
Approaches to pre-test or exam review
Never forget the golden rule of review work: what may seem incredibly repetitive to you is very stimulating for students because they know what all of the questions and answers mean and they’re communicating in a foreign language.
How to get them talking
How can teachers get their students to interact in a way that's beneficial?
If students don't learn to interact with their teacher and other students in English during P1 to 4 then they'll find themselves struggling to do so by the time that they enroll at a private language centre because they're preparing for university or want a better job.
The paddling pool of critical thinking in the English classroom
The important thing is that you're not teaching critical thinking itself
What I’m presenting here are the essential basics of a 6-step process to help your students expand the English that you’re teaching them so that they can use it in more and different ways. All or some of which may help them to retain more of it and actively use it.
Some solutions to the challenges of teaching in Thailand
Some ideas on how to make life easier for yourself
Don’t take complaints or awkward suggestions to your local head. Go to them with easy to understand positive solutions instead. And don’t push your case or demand an immediate response.
Games for large unruly classes
Should games always have a pedagogical value? No.
Some of these appear in different versions and with different names on Dave’s ESL Café, but most of those were designed for smaller classes in countries like South Korea and Japan and don’t work very well with larger groups in Southeast Asia.
Phonics for teenagers and adults
Why should students feel intimidated?
Phonics for absolute and false beginners? Yup, and even up to intermediate level too. And beyond if your students benefit from it.
An alternative guide
A rough guide to the lonely planet of teaching in SE Asia
If you studied TEFL or CELTA in your home country, something that would have almost definitely been lacking from your course was your tutors experience and knowledge of SE Asia.
Writing your own readers
Why not design your own student reading material
Let your textbooks dictate the level and style of language to use and only introduce new vocabulary if it’s cool and/or funny. Students have a nice habit of always remembering these types of words.
An argument about what students really need
Most of us are faced with the same challenge: large class sizes. We can’t do anything about this other than work with it.
Edutainment is back
Love it or loathe it - we're in the entertainment business
Games are a great way to get student’s brains working in English. And, in the rarity of having any ringleaders who say that they don’t want to play games, have them copy the copyright crap from the inside front cover of their textbooks while the rest of the class enjoy themselves.
The 360 degree approach
A new way to teach TOEFL and IELTS
I only tutor TOEFL and IELTS privately and no longer teach the subjects at private language centres. I will not adhere to rules and regulations that mean students have to repeatedly sit tests. It’s a rip-off.
Being a business English teacher
Finding a teaching job in the corporate environment
Why isn’t there more demand for business English courses in Thailand? Well, most of the available textbooks are as dull as dishwater and are far too generic. If they were designed for international markets then most of the countries in Southeast Asia didn’t appear on the list.
Vegetarian eating in Isaan
eating healthy in the wonderful North-East of Thailand
Most Isaan towns and cities have a number of veggie restaurants of note and there is little that these establishments can’t do with tofu and fungi.
Those damn textbooks
Why those textbooks were not designed for South east Asia
Conversation classes are popular in Southeast Asia but the staple for this course is “Let’s Talk”. Why? Because it is one of the few conversational books available. By the time you have stripped it down and localised the content, you may just as well have done it all by yourself, which of course you have.
Safe as houses
Why the global economic crisis probably won’t hit Isaan
Isaan is the least touristed area of the country so a drop in overall visitor figures to Thailand won’t really make an impact on the local economy.
A basic model for teaching kids
Try something that really works
This a very logical and easy-to-use starting point for teachers that are new to working with kids or want to improve their skills in this area.
Finding work in Isaan
How easy is it to get jobs in this region?
General Internet searches tend not to provide a very complete picture of employers because many of them don’t have websites. Those that do are unlikely to show any interest unless you’re in the immediate vicinity.
All about Isaan folk
What keeps them smiling exactly
What are Isaan folk like to work with? There are always going to be exceptions and I have worked with one scallywag outfit myself. But, on the whole, people here don’t go in for back stabbing or office politics. In my office we speak a mixture of English, Thai and Chinese and we always have a good laugh.
The value of learning groups
How to help students learn better
Think back to when you were a kid or a teen and what your least favourite school subject was. It wasn’t that it was boring because if it had of been then other students wouldn’t have liked it or excelled at it. It was because it wasn’t particularly accessible to you as a learner.
Yes, it's official
Thais can be just as good at English as Khmers, Vietnamese and Laotians but
English is a compulsory subject in Thailand. But class sizes are normally large. This leaves little or no room for one-to-one dialogues.
Some background on this fascinating area of Thailand
Isaan folk are by far the easiest to get along with in Thailand. In four years of living here I have only had two of those encounters where a local that you know, for no apparent reason, suddenly starts ignoring you. And even those exceptions went away quickly.