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by Donna Hutchinson
Newly-qualified TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Teaching Conditional tenses with Song!

Teaching grammar can sometimes be, shall we say, really dull and boring but we must accept that it is a fundamental part of EFL and, our students want it. Sometimes, if I’ve taught a lesson with no grammar, students can appear baffled and lost and I must of course stress that grammar is not part of each and every lesson though I do not doubt its importance. Therefore we must try, every now and then, to spice it up a little. We can do this with games which I’ve mentioned in a previous post but, for one particular set of grammar, I like to use the medium of song. And the grammar that gets this star treatment? Conditional tenses! *applause*

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by Donna Hutchinson
Newly-qualified TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Sometimes, it happens. I have 20 minutes or so at the end of the lesson and it needs filling. Sometimes students work quicker than I’d anticipated or, there just isn’t enough material. In any case, it doesn’t seem worth it to start the next module or unit and there’s only so much the brain can take in at once. In these situations I have go-to games.

There is the classic, Hangman. Usually I’ll ask students to use new vocab we have learnt during the week or pick a topic like personality traits, depending on the level. And generally, most games can be adapted to any level which is very useful. I personally prefer team games as I think it’s a good way to mix up a class and encourage team interaction.

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by Donna Hutchinson
Newly-qualified TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Recently, I’ve been teaching one-to-one lessons. I suppose I’m somewhat self-taught with them because they weren’t really covered during my CELTA. My only previous experience with private tuition is when, during my GCSEs, I had to get a maths tutor to help me with my ever-failing numeracy skills. At the time, as a petulant 16 year old, I hated those sessions. I already hated maths anyway, let alone being forced by my evil parents to put in extra time after school to do more horrid maths – cue teenage hissy fit. However, I don’t even need to say that looking back now; I can see that they were beneficial. I found that out pretty soon after on results day when I managed to get a B, a significant improvement from the E I’d achieved for my mock GCSE the year before.

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Donna Hutchinson
Newly-qualified TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

In comparison to last year, this winter has been decidedly warmer and wetter. Much to my relief, London did not shut down due to a couple of snowflakes. Also, in a stark comparison, last year I was working in a bar at its busiest time – so busy I felt like I lived there. But this year, for most of the winter, I have been experiencing a distinct dry spell in terms of EFL work (of course I’m putting aside the Christmas break). It has been a rather frustrating experience.

As a teacher without even a year’s experience, it is decidedly more difficult to find work over the colder seasons without going to China. There are jobs available in London, I’ve seen them, but they demand much more experience than appears on my CV. However, I’m convinced that if I could just get to the interview stage I would stand a better chance; but breaking through that first online barrier is hard enough.

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By Donna Hutchinson
Newly-qualified TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Teacher’s Books – Help or Hindrance?

I have used a number of different textbooks since beginning my teaching in July this year, but that number pales in comparison to how many there actually are out there. There have been some that I prefer over others, and some which I think are better for certain tasks than others, but that is to be expected. No matter the textbook, no matter their quality, all textbooks come along with their own little sidekick, the teacher’s book. The Robin to their Batman? Are they really necessary?

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By Donna Hutchinson
Newly-qualified TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

A Classroom for the Digital Age

By svonog (http://flickr.com/photos/svonog/432774995/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There is no doubt about it, the digital age is well and truly upon us. Everything is turning electronic and I’m very much a part of it. I love my Blackberry, my Mac Book and of course Google and Facebook are a big part of my life. So, what does this mean for the classroom? From my experience it means students with at least one phone and a laptop and/or tablet.  Yet, the thing that I find more important than relentlessly telling students to put their phones away, is the place of digital media for teachers and the classroom.

On my CELTA course at International House all the classrooms had IWBs (Interactive Whiteboards) and we had to learn how to use them. We didn’t have to use them for all our lessons, but for the most part, we did, especially for lead-ins. The simple ability of being able to display images on a screen can really get a lesson going. Of course, this can also be done with a projector so nothing spectacular there. The same goes for Power Points; there’s no actual interaction so are they really necessary?

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