Geoff Richards's blog on ajarn.com.


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.


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.


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.


Repetition

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.


Isaan insights

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.

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