Teaching Tips

  • Reading aloud: when is it a good idea?

    Published on 2nd December, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Students often enjoy reading aloud, if this technique is used with caution. It can neatly round off a text-based lesson and can also focus students on pronunciation and phrasing. It may also be a useful diagnostic tool: a speaker’s intonation, stress, pausing and rhythm often reveal how much of the […]more…

  • Repetition and memorisation: ‘I went to market …’

    Published on 25th November, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Repetition and memorisation may carry negative connotations of teacher-dominated classrooms but there is no doubt that they can play a healthy part in a language learner’s diet. Memory is, after all, a crucial part of language learning. There is a classic repetition activity, essentially a disguised drill, which is versatile, […]more…

  • Student–student monitoring in oral fluency tasks

    Published on 18th November, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Asking students to monitor their peers’ speaking can raise awareness of their own and others’ roles and level of contribution. It can raise the profile of oral fluency tasks too, if your students consider them to be extraneous to the main objectives (usually perceived by students to be grammar-related). Set […]more…

  • Realia to the rescue

    Published on 11th November, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    This week’s tip gives suggestions on how to use objects the students have to hand. The ideas can be used as colourful practice activities or oral fluency ideas, perhaps to inject life into a lesson, or for those lessons when one has had little time to prepare.  What’s in your […]more…

  • Monitoring: the skill 2

    Published on 4th November, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Last week’s tip looked at some typical difficulties involved in monitoring and how to cater for these, in order to monitor effectively. The two suggestions given were signalling devices to inform students on an implicit level that you as teacher do not want to be directly involved at that point. […]more…

  • Monitoring: the skill

    Published on 28th October, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Monitoring is a learnt skill, not a natural one. When monitoring students in oral fluency activities, eg a discussion, the following sometimes happens: students stop talking, feeling slightly self-conscious; one student dominates, in order to display their language to you; students redirect their conversations to you, instead of talking to […]more…

  • Exploiting students’ work in other classes

    Published on 21st October, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Using students’ work in other classes can be stimulating and useful. Work done by one group of students can be shown to others at a similar level, or perhaps a lower one. I find that students creating the work for display are given a clear and motivating incentive; receiving students […]more…

  • Old favourites: Bingo revisited

    Published on 14th October, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Bingo is one of those games which, although not originally intended for the language classroom, suits it perfectly. It’s surprisingly versatile and can be used at any level. Assume that there are just 6 squares on your bingo board. Use a handout or simply ask your students to draw the […]more…

  • Keeping your language authentic

    Published on 7th October, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Have you ever been in that slightly embarrassing situation where you are practising a particular language item in a language-focused lesson, and a student tells you something which is inherently interesting, sad, funny or shocking, but their language – the language in focus – is inaccurate? You feel torn. Should […]more…

  • Inaccurate jabberers

    Published on 30th September, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    A typical problem is how to get learners to talk in English, often because they are so accuracy-oriented. However, in my present teaching context in the UK, I have the opposite problem: learners are often fluent but highly inaccurate. They have the confidence and know-how to communicate their message effectively, […]more…

  • Fragmented lessons

    Published on 23rd September, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    In last week’s tip, we looked at how to choose appropriate practice activities. One of the recommendations mentioned was to select tasks which gave an overall sense of continuity. I thought this planning-related topic could also be the springboard for a related tip. Fragmented lessons are inevitable from time to […]more…

  • White shirt overload: choosing appropriate practice activities

    Published on 16th September, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    When planning your lesson, you may find it hard to differentiate between practice activities for a language-focused lesson. The coursebook and/or workbook may offer a selection, and you may also want to use an old favourite, perhaps self-designed, or one from a different coursebook, resource or supplementary book. There is […]more…