Preparing for a new school year

It’s been a very busy summer, so I haven’t been posting much on this blog. But now that the beginning of our school year is approaching, and I’m starting to get ready for it, I found again the inspiration and need to share some thoughts with the blosphere.
As I explained in detail here, this year we are experimenting some courses without the support of a textbook. I’m both excited and scared at the thought. Excited because the absence of a textbook opens up so many possibilities, and I’m really looking forward to trying some completely unplugged lessons. Scared because I know I will eventually find myself super-busy, with only 30-40 minutes left in the weekly schedule to plan a 2-hour lesson. And doing that without a textbook can be difficult. Continue reading “Preparing for a new school year”

To coursebook or not to coursebook? That is the question.

I decided to write this post after reading Sandy Millin’s post and thinking: “wow, that’s exactly what I think!”. I apologise if this is more of a random collection of thoughts, but again, Sandy’s post reminded me of how putting your thoughts in writing sometimes can help to clarify your mind and put things into perspective.
You should know that this year I have become increasingly uncomfortable with textbooks. This is not to say that the ones we use in our school are poor in quality, on the contrary: I have chosen them exactly because I think they are one of the best alternatives found in the market today. Yet, I found myself “covering” less then half of the coursebook by the end of the year, and drifting away very often by choosing topics and lessons not based on the book units. Continue reading “To coursebook or not to coursebook? That is the question.”

The role of translation in the language classroom

I know a lot of teachers and trainers have already written about this. In the past, translation was a big part of language learning, but now it has become a secondary — if not frowned upon — activity in the language classroom. And I was one of those teachers who believe translation only gets students too attached to L1 to speak or write fluently.
But something that recently happened in my beginner classroom made me think differently about translation, so I have decided to share this experience and what it taught me on this blog. Continue reading “The role of translation in the language classroom”

My Dogme experiment

As I promised here, today I would like to tell you about my experimental Dogme lesson. I have been really fascinated by the Dogme idea since I first heard about Thornbury and Meddings’s book from Anthony. I bought the book immediately and, as I was reading it, I thought the authors were saying exactly what was in my mind but I couldn’t express (but then again, this often happens when I read methodology books).
Anyway, I have been referring back to that book ever since, so one day – a couple of months ago – I decided to try a Dogme lesson with my intermediate class. I chose this particular class both for the level – I still have strong doubts that Dogme can be effectively used in lower level classes – and for the fact that I knew all the students very well. The activity that I chose for the lesson was “Everyone’s a teacher” from page 29 of Teaching Unplugged.
Continue reading “My Dogme experiment”

A Demand High experiment

Today I would like to start a series of posts on some “experiments” I started to do in the classroom after my CELTA experience. I got inspiration to try out these more experimental practices reading books, blogs and watching videos I have come across on the web in the past few months — where appropriate I will link to the source, of course.
Today I would like to start with some Demand High ideas I tried to put into practice during all my adult classes since I started reading Underhill and Scrivener’s blog. I don’t have the presumption of saying that I actually taught any Demand-high lessons in a strict sense; what I did is get inspiration from the ideas and thoughts I read around the web, and changed my teaching practice accordingly, to “gain real learning value” out of generally overlooked or standardised classroom activities like homework correction and feedback sessions.
Continue reading “A Demand High experiment”

Dealing with language deficiencies in the adult classroom

I know, the title sounds really fancy but if you are looking for a scholarly article I am sorry to disappoint you: I know close to nothing about Dyslexia or any other language-related deficiency. This post is more of a written-down-and-shared version of my thoughts since, from the little I do know (most of which comes from conversations with a speech-therapist friend), I think we as foreign language teachers sometimes deal with language-related problems or deficiencies that students aren’t even aware they have.
I don’t know if this happens to you, but I easily come across people who are unable to spell words (in their own native language, not in English), unable to read properly – especially longer words – or even unable to repeat sounds I model, no matter how slowly or clearly I model them.
Continue reading “Dealing with language deficiencies in the adult classroom”

My CELTA experience

As you can read from my profile, some time ago I got my first ELT-related teaching qualification: Cambridge CELTA. I took the full-time course here in Thiene (Italy) with 10 other candidates. I enrolled in the course after a year of thinking, pondering if that was the right choice and – most importantly – saving, not because it is required where I work or because I wish to improve my position or salary (since I’m self-employed, none of this applies) but merely as a professional development opportunity.
With this post, I would like to quickly summarise some thoughts that came to mind looking back to those busy CELTA days (yes, CELTA is as energy-consuming and time-demanding as they say) in order to clarify them in my mind, and to share them with other people considering to take the course.
Continue reading “My CELTA experience”

The beginning

Hello and welcome!
This is the first post of a hopefully long series. I’ve already explained here both the title and the purpose of this blog, so I will not repeat myself. Here I only wish to point out a few things regarding this blog:

  • All views, ideas and thoughts are my personal opinion. They do not reflect the opinion of authors of books/blogs that I quote, but only my interpretation of them.
  • This blog is based on my everyday experience as English teacher. I may report on facts that happened in class or on specific students, but anonymity will always be granted to them, plus I might change a few small details (not significant to the point or idea expressed in the post) in order to grant further anonymity to my students and colleagues.

Continue reading “The beginning”