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.
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.
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.
Below is a list of questions you can use when reflecting on a lesson.
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.
Here are four of my favourite no-prep activities and links from other people’s blogs, plus a book full of great ideas for you to be inspired by.
I never noticed my own accent or that of the people around me until I heard my voice for the first time. As part of our language GCSEs (exams at age 16 in the UK) we had to go into a room with a tape recorder and record a piece we’d prepared over the previous few weeks. Before we started it, we had to say our name, centre number and candidate number. I wasn’t sure if the recording had worked properly, so rewound it and listened back. I was so unhappy with my accent that I recorded it a second time, even though I knew it had to be me because there was nobody else in the room!
If we rail against their use in the classroom, all that is likely to happen is our students will feel like we don’t really understand where they’re coming from, and we will harm the rapport we may have built up. Instead, we need to ask ourselves why our students are using them and turn this to our advantage.
Four of them were from Saudi Arabia, four from Brazil, and the others were from Czech Republic, Spain and Turkey. We spent 20 hours a week together, two in the morning and two in the afternoon every day. Normally when you teach a class like this in the UK there are new students every Monday, either changing levels or new to the school, and students leave every Friday, again to change levels or leaving the school completely.