Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

Coursebook review questions

Following my recent post about coursebooks, Ian Parr asked on Twitter if a site existed for teachers to write reviews of coursebooks. As far as I know, there isn’t one, but I think it would be great idea, as at the moment I think the only way I know about which coursebooks to use are from publishers’ reps and word of mouth. I don’t think I’ll be setting such a site up any time soon, but if I did, these are the questions I would like people to answer about the coursebook they are using and the context they’re using it in:

  • Which book and edition are you reviewing?
  • Which country are you in?
  • Is the group monolingual or multilingual? Which languages do they speak other than English?
  • Do your students have any literacy challenges in English or their other languages?
  • Is the book localised as far as you are aware, or is it an international edition?
  • What age(s) are you teaching?
  • Are your classes organised by level, age or some other criterion?
  • Approximately how many students are you working with in an average group with this book?
  • What kind of facilities do you have? For example are you using a whiteboard/blackboard/projector/IWB…?
  • How much teaching experience do you have a) in general; b) in this context; c) with this level/age group; d) with this book/series?
  • To the best of your knowledge, how much learning experience do your students have a) in general; b) in this context?; c) with this series? For example, how many years have they been learning English in a private language school?
  • How many lessons do your students have and how often? What percentage of the course do they use the coursebook for? How easy has it been to select material from the coursebook for your students? What has helped/hindered you to make these decisions?
  • How long is your average lesson? Do you feel having the coursebook helped reduce your planning time?
  • Who chose your coursebook? Were you involved in the decision? If yes, in what capacity? For example, did you teach test lessons?
  • What is the balance of skills and language in the book? Is there enough of both?
  • What kind of topics are included in the bokk? Are there any which your students found particularly engaging or boring?
  • Are the reading/listening texts at the right level of challenge?
  • Are speaking/writing tasks engaging and communicative?
  • Is new language introduced and practiced in context? Is the meaning clear? Are there enough examples of practice activities? How much support do your students need to understand beyond the help the get from the book?
  • How easy is it to adapt the coursebook to the needs of different students in your group? For example, are there extra activities you can give to students who need more help?
  • Is it easy to navigate the book? For example, how clearly labelled are references to grammar explanations in other places?
  • Does the audio use a range of voice types (gender, age, accent, nationality, etc)? Is there a range of text types? How closely do the extracts reflect authentic use of English?
  • Are images included to support the students? Or are they just used as decoration? How clear is the layout? for example, is there text on top of images anywhere?
  • Which extra components have you used? For example resource pack, workbook, CDs, tests? Did you feel they really suppemented the course or were they unnecessary?
  • If you used the teacher’s book, do you feel it helped?
  • Overall, what are the most challenging things you have found when using this coursebook? What are the most positive aspects of it?
  • Would you use this book again with the same group of students? What other contexts do you think it might work or not work in?

I know there are a lot of questions here and I would be surprised if anybody answered them all  but you never know. What would you add to the list?

Coursebooks

Image taken by Sue Annan, from the ELTpics collection and shared under a Creative Commons 3.0 licence

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Time out

A couple of hours of playing Chinese chequers (my set is almost exactly the same as this one!), chatting, and eating take-away pierogi – the perfect ending to the week.

What did you do to take time out this week?

Hampton Court Palace clock (24 hours on one face)

Classroom Management Techniques by Jim Scrivener (a review)

Classroom management techniques cover

This book is full of useful ideas covering a very wide range of classroom management issues. Every school should have a copy, not just language schools. It includes such useful areas as:

  • Avoiding chaos when rearranging the room
  • Being yourself
  • Finding the right voice tone
  • Helping the group to work together
  • Training students to listen to each other
  • Justifying pair and group work to students
  • Dealing with small disruptions
  • Starting lessons

It’s great for new teachers and more experienced ones, helping you to deal with problems you may have, or giving you new ideas you may not have thought of before. Every technique is broken down into clear steps, and they are often accompanied by diagrams or images to help you understand them.

I decided to read it from cover to cover, to give me an idea of the contents. Throughout, I kept thinking which teachers at my school would benefit from the different techniques or chapters. It also has a comprehensive contents page and index, meaning you can find whatever you’re looking for quickly and easily. Of course, I don’t think every idea would work in my classroom, but then, I’d be disappointed if I found a book where that was the case!

Why not get yourself a copy? [And if you use this link, I’ll get a few pennies too!] 🙂

IATEFL Glasgow 2017: The things I missed

Or at least, some of them! At a conference this size, it’s inevitable that you miss some sessions you really wanted to attend. In this post, I’ve collected individual tweets and video links to some of the presentations and events I found interesting, but which don’t fit easily into any of my other categories for posts this year.

A history of IATEFL

Richard Smith and Shelagh Rixon have written a book called A History of IATEFL, which is being sent out to all current members, and will soon be available to read online. There was a celebration evening on the Wednesday night of the conference which I couldn’t attend – by all accounts, it was fascinating. I’m really looking forward to reading the book once I get my copy.

Mike Hogan has this to say from the Business Special Interest Group Pre-Conference Event:

George Pickering summarises my job as a DoS at the Leadership and Management Special Interest Group Pre-Conference Event:

You can find out more about the Hands Up Project and get involved through Nick’s website.

I definitely feel like this applies to me – I was born in 1985, and just about remember life before the internet, so am pretty sure I can class myself as a Millennial. The longest I’ve stayed in any one job was three years (in Brno), I may still be in my current job in 2020 but I’m not 100% sure, and I’ll probably end up as a freelancer at some point.

Consistently including assessment and evaluation on my courses is definitely an area I need to develop.

I agree!

A talk I wish I’d been able to attend, as I think it would build on what I’ve learnt from Laura Patsko’s blog: Is CLT fair to introverts? and Conferencing for introverts

I find it interesting that ‘time management’ appears on the list as an element of ‘non-verbal communication’. I’d never thought of it like that, but I suppose it is.

I found Harry Kuchah-Kuchah’s plenary fascinating a couple of years ago, and wish I could have found out more about how their teacher association research has developed – I hope he writes about it elsewhere.

This could be useful after a conference (like now!) or a training course as a way to sum up what’s changed.

NWES looks like it could be helpful for thinking about future plans and developments at a school.

This AAA framework is one a lot of people could do with remembering! 🙂

Although this is about providing extra online practice, I think most of these criteria apply to any and all homework tasks.

Women Speakers ELT

I’ve just added myself to the database of women speakers set up by Nicola Prentis and Russ Mayne. The aim is to collect profiles of female speakers who would like to advertise their availability to speak at conferences, to help organisers to have a gender balance in their presenters. If you would like to be added to the database, you can complete their contact form. You can find out more about the research which prompted this database and the criticism/replies to it here.

Sandy presenting at the TipTop conference 2014, Sevastopol

2015 in review

I always find these stats interesting, though I’m not sure if anyone else does! Apparently I’ve shared 98 posts so far this year. This will be number 99, and I’ll try and write another one in the next few hours to get a nice round 100. 🙂

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 210,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Activities for Christmas and New Year (‘Sundays with BELTA’ webinar announcement)

Sandy - Sundays with BELTA square poster

On Sunday 13th December at 16:00 CET (and what’s that in your timezone?) I’ll be doing a webinar for the Belgian English Language Teachers Association, which anyone can come along to. I’ll be sharing easily adaptable activities for Christmas and the New Year. You can find out all the details by clicking here or on the poster above. See you there!

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