Conferences as a means to motivate EL teachers.

A real live meeting with colleagues is one of the most motivational annual events for me. In January 2019, the regional Winter Methodology School organized by the local ELT Association turned fifteen. More than two hundred EL teachers and educators from Siberia, Moscow, the Far East, Longman-Pearson representatives, Cambridge International Exam specialists and two English Language Fellows from the USA gathered together to make their presentations and conduct workshops, to discuss the current problems, and simply to socialize.

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Bridging the generation gap

We have been doing international internet projects with students and teachers for more than twenty years; I have written about them many times. For our new topic, I would like to share our ongoing positive domestic project. Several years ago a few well-equipped schools, the local education authorities and parent-teacher associations suggested an innovative usage of the numerous internet classes. What if we could work at bridging the generation gap by bridging the digital divide?

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Unplanned learning opportunities.

It’s the New Year! 2019 is upon us, and we got wonderful new topics. The very first one made me smile, and my fingers started itching at once. I mean, is there anything really strictly planned in our work? Don’t we always come against unplanned situations and expect the unexpected? When working with children this is rather the rule than an exception, isn’t it?

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Teachers as Miracle Workers.

It seems to me that every year brings more and more demands on teachers. Without getting any significant pay increase we are supposed to master many new skills and impart them to our students: creativity and imagination, digital literacies, critical thinking, collaboration, citizenship and leadership. The big question is, who is to teach us? How do we fit in all the new requirements into the national curriculum and our traditional lesson plans?

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Robots or Humans?

A friend tells me about her grandson who just started school. There is one big problem: the primary school teacher suddenly resigned, the school cannot find a substitute, so all those 25 children are shuttled from one teacher to another. What do they learn, how does this unsettling experience form their first impressions of the whole educational process? We do not need to elaborate on the importance of the very first homeroom teacher, of the role they play in every child’s life. Sadly the same disquieting tendency can be observed in other countries today.

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Teacher Associations

I have been a member of several teacher associations for many years, and there is a wealth of experience to share with my colleagues around the globe. The first one was of course at school where I worked. Traditionally, all the teachers belong to what is called “a methodological association”, or department. There is one for every group of subjects: the local language and literature, mathematics and science, foreign languages... All the schools are members of their district, city and regional organizations,with various events held annually for each department.

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Teaching Is Sharing!

The essence of teaching is sharing! I believe I had an epiphany thanks to this topic. Indeed, first we learn, then we come to work, and what do we do throughout the whole academic year but share our knowledge with students and colleagues? Gathering new information, developing professionally, accumulating more and more experience are all part and parcel of our daily life as human beings, teachers and (with luck) parents. One of the first problems we encounter when we just begin is the following: how not to over-burden our audience?

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Grammar-Translation Method as Part of the Communicative Approach to ELT.

The old Grammar-Translation method is very much in evidence, and has been for many decades. I believe this is partly due to the fact that many older teachers who were taught in the rigorous curriculum framework are still quite active. The cycle continues, and it is not necessary bad or obsolete. Our current topic is twofold. One side refers to the course book usage per se while the other one raises the question of a systematic grammar syllabus. Which one is the best way to learn a language? Can we disregard a textbook? Is it possible (gasp) to teach grammar without a coherent manual?

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