Teaching Tips

  • Fond farewells

    Published on 26th May, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    It’s been fun passing on some tips over the last few months. I hope I’ve managed to remind you of some old ideas, and provide you with a few new ones too. Whilst some of the tips have been ideas-oriented, some have centred around raising awareness of yourself as a […]more…

  • Task language

    Published on 19th May, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    This tip invites you as teachers to step back from (interactive) tasks that are commonly carried out in the classroom. It invites you to think of language which certain tasks may require, language which is seldom highlighted in ready-made materials, but which can be very useful for students. These examples […]more…

  • My pet hate

    Published on 12th May, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    This week the focus is on deducing words from context – a sub-skill of reading which is sometimes misunderstood. For this reason, it has become a pet hate of mine! Here are some typical problems. The wrong words To make this focus worthwhile, it is essential that the words selected […]more…

  • Instant questionnaires

    Published on 5th May, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    How healthy are you? How adventurous are you? How romantic are you? How computer-literate are you? How relaxed are you? These are all possible headings that can be used to create questionnaires in class at different levels, providing healthy opportunities for oral fluency. Be prepared to allow plenty of time […]more…

  • Old favourites: adapting board games

    Published on 28th April, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Board games can be an enjoyable way to recycle language, particularly at the end of a term or a heavier week. Many standard board games can be used in the classroom, eg Scrabble or Monopoly. One of my all-time favourites is Beetle Drive, a game for all levels, even beginners. […]more…

  • Think local

    Published on 21st April, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Using the local environment as a source of material, ideas and inspiration can be a useful approach, which many of you no doubt exploit already. Localised tasks can be slotted neatly into your courses at any level. Here are some random generic ideas. Role plays Incorporate local places such as […]more…

  • Playing with syntax

    Published on 14th April, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    There are many ways to encourage students to focus on different levels of language: syntax, lexis, spelling, punctuation, etc. One of my favourites is the dictogloss, where students collaboratively construct a text they have heard and made notes on. I relish watching the cognitive wheels turning as my learners discuss […]more…

  • Thinking backwards

    Published on 7th April, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Sometimes it’s more rewarding to develop or find our own texts, rather than using ready-made ones. After all, it can be satisfying to identify a text or task which suits the learners’ needs or interests, rather like cooking a successful meal ourselves instead of buying a ready-made one! The question […]more…

  • Promoting fluency with very low level students

    Published on 31st March, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    This may seem like a contradiction in terms: how can you get students to talk fluently when they do not have the language? By ‘fluency’ here I mean having meaningful communication, without an accuracy focus. I like to have bubbles of ‘fluency’ opportunities in even very low level classes – […]more…

  • Teaching discoursally

    Published on 24th March, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    The following simple suggestions raise awareness and prominence of both discoursal and lexical features in a written text. Use these techniques to encourage students to look at texts they have read in a different light (suggestions 4 and possibly 3 may work better with a previously unseen text). What follows […]more…

  • To personalise or not to personalise

    Published on 17th March, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    I’ve been a staunch proponent of personalising language from the early stages of my teaching and training. I also believe firmly in encouraging students to communicate from the earliest stages, however inaccurate they might be. Personalisation means allowing students to express their interests, concerns and comments. It also means selecting […]more…

  • Avoiding the cold shower treatment!

    Published on 10th March, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

    Empathy is an important quality of a teacher. All too often we get carried away with our lesson, especially one we have spent time planning. We can become so caught up in it that we forget to stand back and envisage what it is like to be immersed in our […]more…