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Using podcasts to develop listening skills

They are an excellent way to work on your, or your students’, listening skills, as you can listen to them as many times as you want to. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also manipulate files so that they are faster or slower, or so that you are only listening to an excerpt of the whole programme.

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Teaching very low-level learners

When you don't share a common language with your students, it can seem very challenging to work with very low-level students. However, it can also be incredibly rewarding as this is the level when you can see the most progress in your students over the time that you work with them. Here are 5 things to remember to help you have PRIDE in your teaching.

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Unplanned opportunities - A lesson in culture

It was break time in a multicultural class in Newcastle. I was marking writing while sitting at a table at the front of the room. A Saudi lady in my class came to look over my shoulder at her work as I checked it. She leaned against me and I felt myself being pushed forward. I didn’t say anything straight away, as I couldn’t work out exactly what was happening or why she was doing it – I though that perhaps she just couldn’t see very well, and didn’t realize she was pushing me. As I finished checking her work, she continued to push me forwards.

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Sandy Millin - Giving students feedback on their writing

In the past couple of years, I’ve experimented with a new approach, and I finally feel like I’ve hit upon something which works.

In the Cambridge DELTA exam, Paper One Task Five, you have to look at a piece of learner-produced writing or speaking, identify 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses of the text, providing an example for each, then choose one weakness to prioritise for follow-up work. My new method is inspired by this approach of prioritizing areas. Both my intermediate teen and upper intermediate adult students seem to have responded well to it.

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Sandy Millin: Turning points

Where am I now?
I currently work as the Director of Studies (DoS) at International House Bydgoszcz, Poland. I’m also a CELTA trainer and I do some materials writing (and have published an ebook on speaking skills). None of this was planned, though I knew that at some point I wanted to move into management, and perhaps own a school. Now I’m not so sure I want the stress of being an owner!
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How professional development is structured where I work

Development at our school is done in a variety of ways, all of which were inherited from my predecessors.

Collaborative level planning meetings

This is a system which I have never seen in any other school. Weekly one-hour slots are timetabled for all of the teachers who work on a particular level to plan together, with a member of senior staff present to prompt and provide assistance. Two lessons are planned each week, and we aim to be one week ahead at all times.

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Sandy Millin: Highlights from my teaching story

Becoming a teacher

I think I’ve always been a natural teacher. When I was at primary school, if the teacher was busy my classmates would ask me for help. I’d forgotten this until I met up with my primary school teacher again a few years ago and she told me. At secondary school, I used to annoy younger students in my tutor group by refusing to do their homework for them, instead asking them questions and making them figure it out by themselves.

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