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Neil T. Millington's blog

Three enjoyable smartphone activities to get learners talking

I have been experimenting with using mobile devices in my university communication classes over the last couple of years. I have had some success and in other cases it hasn’t worked as well. These days, all of my learners have smartphones and they use them a lot. I have teacher friends who have tried banning their use in class but with not a great deal of success. I guess they are part and parcel of a student’s life and I wanted to find ways to best utilize them in class. As I mentioned, I tried various ways of using them and here are three activities that worked well with my learners.

Average: 4 (2 votes)

Be kind to yourself!

One of the greatest challenges I have faced over the previous 12 months was finding a balance between teaching, studies, personal projects, and time for me. At times, it has felt like there haven’t been enough hours in day, days in week, weeks in a month, and months in the year. During my confirmation interview for my doctoral thesis, I was given the advice – be kind to yourself – unfortunately, I wasn’t able to heed this advice, and in the end it impacted on my health.

Average: 4 (5 votes)

Successful teacher collaboration - Two teachers - Two roles - One class

Unfortunately, in the context where I work there is no mentoring or coaching system. In addition, there is little peer observation and therefore I have often found myself relying on the feedback given by the learners in their end of semester evaluations. Even these are limited in terms of actual useful feedback. The questionnaires are standardised and many of the questions are not applicable to the classes I teach. Of course, not having a mentoring or coaching system, and rarely being observed, has its advantages and disadvantages.

Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

Lessons learned – The most challenging class I have faced

Has a student or a class ever brought you to tears? This blog post is about class that brought my partner teacher to tears and took me to the edge of despair. It was back in the spring of 2001 when I was a relatively new and inexperienced teacher. My partner teacher was even less experienced than I was at that time. I remember worrying about this particular class every weekend, but there was one particular day when everything that could go wrong, did, and horribly so.

Average: 5 (1 vote)

20% time! - An attempt to empower learners to be more creative and innovative

Probably one of most well-known management philosophies in recent years has been Google's "20% time". Over 10 years ago, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin mentioned the idea in their 2004 IPO letter: They stated, “We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google," They continued, "This empowers them to be more creative and innovative.

Average: 5 (2 votes)

Speed-chat: A minimal resource activity to get your learners talking

Recently, a colleague and I have been trying out an activity called speed-chat. One challenge we face in our context is giving our learners ample opportunities to practice the target language. This can be especially difficult because we have large classes, and many of our learners have had little experience in using English in unplanned situations.

Average: 4.5 (15 votes)


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