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by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

I have recently moved levels; from high upper intermediate (basically pre-advanced) to high intermediate (just a touch above intermediate). I was nervous about this move because I’d become so used to my high upper ints where I rarely had to grade my language, and was only conscious of it when explaining new vocabulary. More than that though, I was used to not having to explain a task in too much detail, “take a look at exercise one” would generally suffice. Doing the first question as an example wasn’t always necessary and if there were any problems, they would quickly let me know.

Moving down to a lower level, I was conscious of the changes. I wouldn’t be able to stack my instructions quite so much and I probably would have to do the first task as an example together as a class. I was also aware that I may have to speak slower, enunciate a little more and be more conscious of those pesky phrasal verbs. All of these I was aware of but the problem lies in how far to take it. Grade too much and I come off patronising but don’t grade enough and I’m a bad teacher. It’s a tricky one, I tell you.

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by Luke Vyner @LLELuke
Director of London Language Experience

How to make the most out of a class trip in London?

ceridwen [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The class trip is a well known dilemma with teachers, students and Directors of Studies often having contentious ideas about their purpose. From my experience I’ve seen that frequently schools do not make the most out of them, often avoiding them or in some extreme cases banning class trips entirely. I see this as a tragedy, because London is such a fantastic teaching resource that to not make the most out of it is a great shame.

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by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Spring has sprung! Sunshine and showers!

Christine Matthews [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Regardless of my main topic plans for the week, something else has taken over my lessons recently and that is spring and the weather it has brought along with it. I have had students thanking me personally for the great British weather I have provided for them. I told them that I just want them to have an authentic experience while they’re here. Merely looking out of the window has been the inspiration for hours of English work and I revel in it, I think it’s amazing how much language can arise out of such a seemingly simple thing.

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Regale in Realia

by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Regale in Realia

By Thespiritofchristmas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Realia; using real resources and stuff in lessons. I love realia. I use it often and I vary it per level. I remember vividly, learning about realia on my CELTA and thinking, ‘what a nice word’, little did I know that realia and I would become such good friends.

One of my favourite resources of all time is the BBC news website and BBC iPlayer. I mean, I adore it. I can use it across levels, from radio clips for higher levels to video clips for lower levels, both usually accompanied with a text. The language in the articles can sometimes be a little difficult, and good for higher levels but it can also be used with lower levels just by breaking it down first. iPlayer can generally be relied on for documentaries. I have used many documentaries in relation to a topic from a textbook. Last week my class and I watched an episode of Coast and out came a sea of vocabulary. BBC realia is loaded with culturally relevant topics and language that is useful and not too academic. Also, The Apprentice is excellent for business topics.

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by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Writer’s Block: How to teach writing?

I love writing; I always have. Academically, it has always been my strongest skill but it is also a creative outlet for me.  When I was at uni, it would take me days to get through reading all the material but only a couple of hours to bosh out the actual essay. Even going back as far as primary school, writing was my favourite part of English, I would write epic tales about me and my friends discovering unknown worlds or I would write poems for my mum (I know, I’m adorable).

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by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Teacher Observations: You’re being watched

By Woodwalker, with a retouche by Poxnar [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I had been managing to avoid it since finishing my CELTA, but the dreaded observations have come back into my life once again. I had to be observed first by the DOS and then by a colleague for a peer observation. Thankfully, in separate lessons which were about 3 weeks apart.

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