Useful links for CPD

McKinsey’s report: https://mckinseyonsociety.com/how-the-worlds-best-performing-schools-come-out-on-top

Husband’s article: https://ioelondonblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/great-teachers-or-great-teaching-why-mckinsey-got-it-wrong/

TeachingEnglish CPD:  https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/teacher-development/continuing-professional-development

Futurelearn MOOC: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses (Professional practices for English language teaching; Understanding language; Understanding IELTS, Exploring English: Shakespeare

Ann  Burns on collaborative action research: http://www.professoranneburns.com/arvideo.htm

Ann Burns on institutional and organisational research: http://ihjournal.com/doing-action-research-%E2%80%93-what%E2%80%99s-in-it-for-teachers-and-institutions-by-anne-burns

Divya Madhavan’s blog containing information about action research: http://divyamadhavan.com

Willy Cardoso’s blog containing information about action research: https://authenticteaching.wordpress.com/

Simon Borg’s website about CPD: http://simon-borg.co.uk/category/professional-development/

ELTDP Symposium talk by Simon Borg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DrXaP7x06E

What makes teachers tick? by Andy Hockley: http://lamsig.iatefl.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/2-Hockley-Wt-makes-a-good-tcr-tick.pdf

Peer observation, career development by Andy Hockley: http://lamsig.iatefl.org/news-and-events/archived-articles

Thomas Farrell’s website about reflective teaching: http://www.reflectiveinquiry.ca

Interview with Thomas Farrell: http://www.livesofteachers.com/2015/02/24/an-interview-with-thomas-farrell/

Information about John Dewey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dewey#On_education_and_teacher_education

Stephen Downes, George Siemens (Connectivism – A learning theory for the digital age: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Connect with other teachers: http://eltchat.org/wordpress/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monitoring and feedback

Ways to monitor

  • Moving along learners
  • Praising learners
  • Making sure individual learners are on task
  • Tracking learners’ progress
  • Correcting learners
  • Encouraging one learner to help another
  • Checking instructions

Advantages of monitoring

  • Makes teacher more approachable
  • Teacher perceived as being supportive and interested
  • Leads to more dynamic classroom interaction
  • Teacher can check if learners are on task easily
  • Teacher can give individual attention
  • Easier to track progress
  • Helps create rapport

Useful links



Activities that can be part of post-task feedback from learners

Praise good work as well as correcting any errors
Get learners to correct each other’s exercises.
Don’t always ask the same learners for answers.
Keep a brisk pace; ask no more than five learners.
Ask for a personal response to an activity, as well as answers.
For example, did learners like the activity? Why was it useful?
Use the monitoring stage to check progress; use feedback to highlight good examples.
Use this stage to highlight pronunciation and other common errors.

Useful link


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Some useful sites for teachers:






Some useful resources for collaborative learning:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Using inclusive practices in the classroom

Before looking at how to improve your knowledge of inclusive practices the first point that needs to be stressed is that teachers should not be trying to identify special needs in their classroom. Your expertise lies in your ability to notice general learning difficulties; such as problems with concentration or with sequencing. By identifying the areas of difficulty the teacher can come up with strategies to support the learner/s. If a child has a significantly greater difficulty in one or more aspects of learning than the majority of children in the same grade you may also recommend that the child is assessed by an expert to ensure that they can get the right kind of support. The links below show a range of ways you raise your awareness of inclusive practices and learning difficulties.

General information

International Association of Special Education (IASE) http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/teaching-english-learners-special-educational-needs-sens-%E2%80%93-myths-realities

Publications and downloadable resources

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/B480_Special%20Need_Publication_A4_V5_Final_MR.pdf https://www.senmagazine.co.uk/ http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/support-and-development2/special_educational_needs_pg/support-children-with-sen.htm  http://www.idponline.org.uk/

Online training

http://www.advanced-training.org.uk http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/teacher-training/special-educational-needs


http://www.sess.ie/resources http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/webinars  (eg: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/sally-farley-inclusive-learning)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

An International English?

A friend recently went to a training session conducted by a young American teacher. She picked up a few new ideas and was generally pleased with the content except for one strange piece of advice. The teacher told the group ” Don’t teach ‘have got’ as it’s not international English. Teach ‘have’.”

I was amazed that any teacher or trainer would spout such nonsense. Although, I might occasionally tease American friends about something they say that is strange to me ( and vice versa) I firmly believe that both languages have the same value. It’s true that in some countries learners prefer to learn American English and others British English. I have no problem with that. In fact, I can see no reason why all forms of native speaker English shouldn’t be assigned the same value.

There are 54 independent states in the Commonwealth of Nations (previously the British Commonwealth) most of which use English as a first or second language. It seems logical that the native English speakers  in many of those states, which includes Australia, are influenced by the UK. I would also argue that Indian English or Singapore English is also a authentic form of the language. Of course, there may be some colloquialisms in the English used throughout the Commonwealth but just spend a little time in the UK and you soon notice that the language has been bent in many different ways across the country.

Language is about communication and although there may be preferences from learners about the accent they want or the style of English they need (depending on the contexts where they need to use their English) it’s good to remind them of this fact. As long as we all understand each other what’s the problem?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting the best out of using video in EFL classrooms

Writing subtitles

Bombay TV

This site is a lot of fun and learners can make their own dialogue and pairs can come up to the front and read it out while the clip is playing.


Dot sub

This site can be used for translation or comprehension exercises.


Fun videos

Top 10 George W Bush moments

This was used in a lesson about giving advice and used the topic of leadership. The learners brainstormed adjectives to describe the perfect leader. Then they watched the video and noted down his mistakes and discussed their favourite faux pas. This was followed up by them giving advice to the president.


Creature comforts

A great resource for learners. Interviewers travelled around the UK and interviewed the public on a range of topics. The audio was then used with animated animals. It is very entertaining but challenging as there are a wide range of accents. It is great as it contains authentic, natural language that can be used for comprehension activities. It can be used with B1+ learners if an easy task is set.


Trigger happy TV

There is little or no dialogue here but great as a prediction activity leading to creative writing.

Snail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVJ80MQLEuk

Stop sign:


gorilla 1.23-1.34/ 2.07-2.30




Following instructions/ getting tips

These video sites have a range of resources and a lot of ‘How to..’ videos. These can be used with certain topics such as food/ recipes or teaching how to write clear instructions. They can also be used to give tips for business English students, such as how to act in an interview.


How to make hummus: http://vimeo.com/channels/cooking/3367913



Videos with lesson plans


British council websites with a range of video resources and lesson ideas. This can be used for independent study or in the lesson.





Real English

This is perfect authentic language for A1/2 learners. People were interviewed on the street and asked basic questions such as ‘What is your star sign?’


English Central

Numerous videos selected that can be used in the classroom.



ESL video

These videos can be used for self-study or in the classroom.



As ESL video can be used at home or in the classroom.


Film English

You can subscribe to get updates when new lesson plans are uploaded.



Links to videos and lesson ideas.


The English blog

Current affairs videos – The writer produces transcripts.


Video dictionary


Video lexis definitions. This could be easily followed up by your learners creating their own video definitions.


For younger learners

BBC Learning zone




An introduction to India


 LearnEnglish Teens


Authentic videos

National geographic

Wide range of videos that could be used for comprehension or discussion


Top documentary films

As above – very impressive resource



An inconvenient truth

Lead-in to discussion on the environment


Fast food nation

Lead-in to discussion on diet/ food industry


Simple English videos

Movie trailers with transcripts



This kind of video can be a great lead-in for a discussion/ debate.


One example:



Car accidentLearners act as witnesses and discuss or write down what happened.


Criminal mischief

The start of this clip could be used for witness/ descriptions. There is an interview with one of the children. This clip could also lead to a discussion about the behaviours of the children.


Bank robbery

Sometimes difficult to find this kind of video that is suitable for classroom use (without swearing/ extreme violence)


Also a acted version:


Ideas of how to use these kinds of clips:


Interesting facts

Can be used for comprehension (give learners a list of numbers and they have to make notes about the facts related to the numbers) or to answer a quiz.


I dream of Turkey 

These promos can be useful warmers for lessons related to travel.


More tips for using videos

Jamie Keddie- Video telling

This shows Jamie Keddie executing a video lesson with his learners.


Ideas for using video content on LearnEnglish kids


Ideas for videoing your learners

10 ideas for classroom video projects


This shows example videos


Ideas for out-of-class video


Creating video diaries


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Get ready for action! (how to conduct an ELT action research project)

Read articles (online or off-line) on the subject 

Also all of the main publishers websites include articles (see links under ‘Ready-made lesson plans’):

Read books on the subject
Most publishers are moving into e-books. The British Council has some free books that include research into ELT practice:

Find out more about research methods
Join the IATEFL research SIG

Join Iris
This site does not contain research but rather research instruments, which could be useful as a reference. Also, it gives details about the research undertaken with the tool and the contact.

Go to conferences, workshops, webinars
Join your national teachers’ association or an international organization such as these below:

The British Council and most publishers conduct regular teaching webinars:

Watch video tips

Talk to colleagues
This could be your manager, older colleagues or younger colleagues. Do not assume that a newly-qualified teacher will not be able to help. If they have been studying recently they might have some fresh ideas or they may be more up-to-date on technology for example.

Observe colleagues
Make sure you decide beforehand what you want to focus on (such as classroom management) and let your colleague know what you are watching out for. This will help them to choose the best lesson for you to observe. Take an observation task in with you. This paper will give you some ideas:
Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener also has a range of observation activities that can be used to check for common problem areas such as too much teacher talking time.

Ask a colleague to observe your lessons and give feedback
Again, agree on the task/ focus of the observation (pacing, TTT, instruction-giving, etc). It’s a good idea to ask the same teacher to give feedback after you have conducted your research.

Conduct surveys with your colleagues/ PLN (crowd sourcing)
Join a community where you can share ideas and get support. Ask your personal learning network on social networking sites such as Twitter/ Facebook, etc. for ideas. The British Council TeachingEnglish website and most publishers have community forums. This site also looks interesting: http://www.eltlinkup.org/

Conduct surveys with your students
If your learners seem bored or are not motivated to study you need to find out what makes them tick. Do not assume anything. You may be surprised to find out they want to study when the topics and lessons fit their interests.

Talk to your students
I know it seems pretty basic but especially for new teachers it can be scary to ask “Did you like that activity? Why? Why not?” Once a group of teens told me at the start of a lesson “We’ve done that before. It’s boring”. I decided to do something completely different (some quick thinking involved) and I gained a lot of respect from them after that. Giving learners some ownership of the lesson is a great motivator. This does not mean that you are not in control of the lesson at all. Giving choices such as, “In the next lesson do you want to do… or …” can make learners feel that their opinion is valued. Even with Year 1 learners you can ask “Hands up who liked this book (etc.)?” If they really like a particular song or book you know that you can continue to use and exploit it.

Keep a teaching journal (self-evaluation)
You could use one of the observation templates to help you to decide what to focus on when evaluating your own lesson/ teaching. So if you have a problem with TTT you could decide in one lesson to make a note of how long you speak for and how long the learners speak for. You can then come up with strategies to reduce your talking time in subsequent lessons.

Try out ready-made lesson plans
These could be from your colleagues, real or virtual, or from well-known websites/ books:

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment