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by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

laptop

Recently, I gave my IELTS class a task 2 practice test. For those of you not fluent in IELTS (lucky you) this means a 250 word essay giving an opinion of some sort. The question was as follows:

Computers are not necessarily the best way for children to learn. In many areas of education a teacher can be more effective in helping pupils to gain new skills and knowledge.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this point of view?

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by Jonathan Last @JonathanLast1
Author of Teaching English with Chopsticks: TEFL from the Frontline

Working with a diverse classroom

By Christian Fischer. (Own picture of a private globe, made in Germany.) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Teaching English has many variables.  These include the type of institution that employs you; whether you’re working in your home nation or abroad; if you’re teaching adults or children; and your learners’ motivation.  One thing that will certainly never be the same twice is your students.

If you’re living in another country, the students are likely to be mostly, if not all, indigenous – you would certainly expect this to be the case in Asian nations such as China, Japan and Korea.  This uniformity will, of course, still throw in a range of personalities and combinations of characters.

But if you are teaching to a multicultural classroom – something more than likely in London – then you will face an additional challenge unique to environments that bring together people from a diverse cultures, backgrounds and beliefs.

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by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Language under the influence

By Jose L. Marin (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Every Thursday evening at Internexus (where I work) we have Pub Night. This is when two members of staff choose a pub, tell the students a time and from there everyone gets a chance to socialise, relax and utilise language in a much less formalised setting. Last night I did pub night and today, I can tell you, I am very tired but it was, and most often is, worth it.

Last night’s venue was Camden’s Blues Kitchen. Hosting live music and within walking distance of the school gave it many plus points. This was an especially good pub night because we had just received a new intake of students and they had decided to come along and mix with the pub night regulars. I think it’s a good way of easing any nervous students into the school and allowing them to meet other students who they may not have classes with. You can always rely on the regulars to keep up conversation, that’s for sure.

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by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

A Writing Experiment

Ralf Roletschek [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

As I mentioned last week, I had attended an EFL conference. One of the speakers there was Nick Bilborough who did a workshop on teaching writing. I was very interested in this seminar because writing has been something that I struggle to teach. As mentioned in a previous blog, I myself enjoy writing but teaching it is a totally different matter. Since then I have decided to implement one of the techniques he spoke about.

I have recently taken on a new class who are at a high intermediate level. This means that they’re floating in between intermediate and upper intermediate which can be a little frustrating for some students. We are using an intermediate level coursebook which can often seem too easy for their level but, they might struggle with an upper intermediate book. Their main issue is that though they are able to complete closed tasks from the coursebook and workbook and all other supplements I use, they struggle to put this language into their speaking and writing.

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by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Last weekend I lost my virginity… My EFL conference virginity, mind! I must admit, it did make me feel more like a proper teacher to be among so many peers. On an early Saturday (yes, Saturday) morning, I convened with a few of my colleagues at Canterbury Christ Church University to attend workshops run by the likes of Nick Bilborough, Tessa Woodward and my headline act, Jeremy Harmer and others.  Each of the workshops I attended were practical, very useful and for me, a very interesting experience. I shan’t be forgetting it any time soon, for a number of reasons…

Upon arrival, I received a free bag containing catalogues, a timetable of the day’s events, etc… I also had to pick up my name badge and certificate which did, however, read ‘Donna Huthinson’ and ‘Donna Hathison’ respectively. This provoked a few laughs when I shared photographic evidence on Facebook.

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by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Give or take a few students who left or moved up a level, I had had basically the same class for about 3 months and I must say I got really quite attached to them. Last week I switched levels and so am having to leave behind my lovely class. By having a class for that long, you develop your own little world, your own rules and understandings. Everybody in that class gets along, they care about each other, they are genuinely interested in each other and they welcome new students with open arms. I must admit, I’m a little possessive of them and I was somewhat reluctant to let them go. Furthermore, I had moulded a classroom environment that I love and feel as though I will have start from scratch again. However, after voicing this in the staff room I came to realise that I was not alone in this feeling. A number of other teachers were also very reluctant to give up their own little worlds and take on somebody else’s an indication that all the classes must be lovely to work in.

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