New ELT games and other photocopiable activities October 2014

Actually more than a month’s supply as it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, but with most recent top:

Making Arrangements Phone Calls Game

Analyse and write IELTS Speaking Part Two Tasks

Past or Present? Used to/Would Speaking Game

Present Simple Routines Pairwork Information Gap

Present Simple Third Person Guessing Game

Present Simple Taboo Questions Game

Present Simple Matchmakers Game

Present Simple Job Interviews Roleplay Game

Present Simple Guess Who Game

Present Simple Personalised Board Game

Present Simple Sentence Completion Bluffing game

Present Simple Ask and Tell Taboo Questions Game

Adverbs of Frequency Describe the Jobs Game

Adverbs of Frequency Bluffing Card Game

Different Stress and Intonation in Negotiations

Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) Writing Part Two Review Tasks

Paragraphing Mistakes in Emails

Opening & Closing Emails Jigsaw Puzzle Game

Negotiating Saying Yes, No & Maybe

IELTS Speaking Parts One, Two and Three Dice Game

Ask and analyse 100 IELTS Speaking Part One Typical Questions

Regrets Dice Bluffing Game

Social Issues Numbers Pairwork

Email formal and informal functional language review

IELTS Speaking Part One Board Game & Useful Language

‘Have Something Done’ Speaking Practice

There is/ There are How Many Board Game

Infinitives of Purpose Adventure Board Game

Determiners with Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Put the Dates in Order Games

Imperative for Offers and Commands in Presentations

“Have You Ever” Job Interview Questions Games

Emailing Politeness Competition Game

Apologies and giving bad news key words speaking game

Longer requests phrases card game

Turn taking functions card game

Business Result Pre-Intermediate rotating revision board game

 

Posted in Photocopiable worksheets, TEFL games | 1 Comment

Mixed results from Denver court order to improve teaching of English

This is a genuinely interesting story, but it also made me wonder what other court orders could influence our industry:

- A court orders a teacher to allow a pair of students who are flirting with each other to stay together, despite the activity finishing

- A court orders teachers to stop wasting time changing pairs all the time more generally

- A court orders IATEFL to actually represent its members when it comes to discrimination, industrial action, working conditions, etc

- A court gives compensation to a student, teacher or school who were fooled into buying a new textbook by the marking bs used by the publishers

- A court gives compensation to an ELT writer who was dismissed for introducing topics like LGBT issues into their textbook

- A judge gets all the “biggest TEFL courses” together to work out which actually have the right to claim that

- A court gives compensation to some who failed a CELTA or DELTA due to no scientific evidence that the way they were asked to teach is any more effective than the way that they did on the course

- A court stops recruiters asking for photos so that they can choose teachers by looks or race

etc

Anyone fancy starting any of the cases above or have any other ideas of ones which could change our TEFL world?

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | Tagged | Leave a comment

What I think about TEFL on my most cynical days

“It’s really not difficult to learn a language on your own if you are motivated.

And if you aren’t motivated, why waste my time and your money coming to class?”

 

Anyone want to convince Cynical Alex that he’s wrong, or alternatively add your own cynical thoughts to make mine not quite so bad?

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | 4 Comments

Do you really need a degree to TEFL?

And is that right?

I really got a bit het up when I realised that someone had got a job and working visa with a degree that they had awarded to themselves , and I even thought about dobbing him in with the visa authorities. I’m still considering it, but in the meantime I started to ponder the rights and wrongs of needing a university qualification in order to have legal permission to get students to practise Present Simple or to collect a couple of errors while students discuss the environment.

First of all, I have to admit that when it comes to eliciting the Present Perfect Continuous and organising Find Someone Who, having got, say, a 2:2 in Physics and a taste for beer at a mid-ranking British uni is not going to help at all. I should therefore probably support people who find any way at all around the silly need for a BA in Anything to be able to move to Japan and sing Head Shoulders Knees and Toes for money.

However, having studied the Higgs Boson is equally unimportant for the chartered accountancy and computer programming jobs that my uni classmates got due to having BScs in physics. More importantly, anything that reduces the already low entrance requirements of our “profession” is something that will help bring down our already extremely low working conditions. It would be nice if the entrance requirements were proper teaching qualifications, but in the meantime I guess a degree is a fair thing to ask for from an English teacher when we’d be almost certainly complain about having to be served by a doctor, dentist or “real teacher” who had stopped school at 18 and later took an unaccredited three-month online course.

Or not?

Posted in Teaching English Abroad, TEFL qualifications | 9 Comments

“The TEFL University” – as dodgy as it sounds?

The founder/ owner of “The TEFL University” seems genuinely keen to give stuff away for free or cheap (including other people’s stuff – see below), but unfortunately I still recommend giving this site and its courses a wide berth. Here are 20 reasons, followed by more details on some of them.

Firstly, whatever definition you care to use, “The TEFL University” is not a university. Therefore using the names “BA” and “degree” to describe one of its qualifications (a two or three month, $299.00 one) and the name of the site are pure deception.

It also has many of the common danger signs of dodgy TEFL courses:

  1. No accreditation, with evasive and downright bizarre comments on the topic
  2. “Teaching English Abroad is Fun” and apparently suitable for anyone
  3. Mention of how easy to pass/ impossible to fail it is
  4. Claims about being cheap or free put first in descriptions
  5. The same “do the course for free and then pay for a test and certificate” business model as some other dodgy TEFL courses I’ve written about, with a price for the test that is actually just as high as a lot of other online TEFL courses once you factor in their (permanent) GroupOn discounts
  6. Misleading use of the “120 hour TEFL course” description
  7. Mention of being above an unexplained (because non-existent) “industry standard”
  8. Mention of being “internationally accepted” without any description of what that means
  9. Mention of being “non-profit”/ “charitable” when that is clearly not actually legally the case
  10. Murky (to say the least) business relationships with other organisations which are mentioned, and some fishiness about those organisations too
  11. A close connection to Thailand
  12. A vague connection to the UK which is probably someone’s granny’s shed if it even exists at all
  13. Mention of a “Board of Directors” and other positions on the certificates that almost certainly don’t exist in such an admittedly small organization
  14. The founder doing most or all of the academic and admin jobs
  15. The founder/ owner/ course writer/ admin’s CV doesn’t really match what you might expect of a founder of a university, BA degree and TEFL course. Ditto for the other course writer and seeming business partner.
  16. A less than professional website with the bare minimum amount of information, along with grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes
  17. Underwhelming comments from former trainees, mainly focusing on cost, fun and ease of passing
  18. Rather scrappy and minimal course materials, with rather a random selection of links
  19. Even more unprofessional and evasive replies to email enquiries

More details of some of those here:

Whatever definition you care to use, “The TEFL University” is not a university. Therefore using the names “BA” and “degree” to describe one of its qualifications (a two or three month, $299.00 one) and the name of the site are pure deception. 

Rather ironically, the site mentions fake degrees/ universities, but its only proof that it isn’t a fake is that you actually have to do some study to get the “degree”. There certainly are real degree mills where you don’t have to study at all, but if avoiding that is all you need to be a “TEFL University”, then many online TEFL courses should be worth at least a BA and a CELTA should be worth a PhD!. Anyway, the site then goes on to say that no one who has paid for the course has ever failed and there are comments from students mentioning how easy it all is. It might be a good option if you are looking for a convincing fake degree as people have apparently used its reasonably professional-looking certificates to get work permits (including it seems the people who set up the course!), but in South Korea for example (which gets several mentions as a place their “graduates” have gone), you’d also have to lie about it being an online course as the government only accepts face to face degrees.

There is no actual attempt at proving that this is actually any more of a university than, say, i-to-i TEFL. In fact, the justification in the emails below would absolutely mean that every TEFL organisation in the world could be a “university”. Instead of proof that they are any better than that, there are most of the classic signs of fake universities:

  • No accreditation (despite claiming to be based in the UK, where universities – and indeed even just colleges – obviously need to be accredited)
  • No admission criteria bar an ability to pay
  • Very little study and time needed compared to a real undergraduate degree, and made even shorter by offering credits for virtually anything relevant (despite degrees from genuine distance providers like The Open University taking longer than face to face degrees, and ditto with UK-based distance and face to face MAs)
  • No list of faculty
  • The only two names associated with the course that I could find (on the front page of the TEFL course materials) only have degrees from that very same “TEFL University”! (I’d imagine you’d need at least one proper professor with a PhD to be a university, surely…)
  • No physical address given, but a vague claim of a link to an English-speaking country (in this case simply giving the address “Brighton, UK”!)
  • No phone number
  • A bogus coat of arms (with Latin in, of course – see the bottom of this page)

No accreditation, with evasive and downright bizarre comments on the topic

Both their website and emails say that they don’t need accreditation because “We are The TEFL University”. And I don’t need a gun license because I am The Master of the Universe…

“Teaching English Abroad is Fun” and apparently suitable for anyone

“Teaching English abroad is available to everyone!” – not if you don’t have a proper university degree it isn’t, at least not for most people in most places. And more importantly, would anyone say “Teaching is for everyone”??

“something that doesn’t involve the same amount of stress and has a lot more job satisfaction” – as far as stress goes, again teaching English is obviously still teaching, and when it isn’t really teaching, there goes the job satisfaction…

Misleading use of the “120 hour TEFL course” description

The only reason the “120 hour” thing exists is because that was the standard for face to face courses with observed and graded teaching practice (the important bit). No one has ever asked a teacher if they have passed a 120-hour online course, and anyway the booklet that make up this entire course has less than 120 pages with no actual exercises either in the book or online to do as you read it – meaning over one hour to read each page! Even if you do read all the things that they link to in full (a rather odd thing to do), I still don’t know where they got exactly 120-hours from.

Mention of being above an unexplained (because non-existent) “industry standard”

Some kind of link might have helped, but there is of course no industry body who sets such standards to link to…

Mention of being “internationally accepted” without any description of what that means

Most online qualifications won’t get you a visa, a job that you couldn’t have got with no qualification at all, a pay rise, or a promotion – and that is internationally universal! It’s unlikely that this totally unknown one would do any better than that.

Mention of being “non-profit”/ “charitable” when that is clearly not actually legally the case

See emails below for avoiding this question, plus registered charities would have reference numbers etc that would be on their site. See below for the founder’s other form on this topic.

Murky (to say the least) business relationships with other organisations which are mentioned, and some fishiness about those organisations too

The site mentions several times that the courses/ certificates can be offered so cheaply because it is being sponsored by Freebiesave.org, talking about them as “they” and not once mentioning that the site is completely owned by exactly the same person as “The TEFL University”. Ditto with the links to “Our friends in Thailand… the Thailand Teachers Club (TTC)” (despite The TEFL University’s founder’s email on his online CV being members@thailandteachersclub.com and having a profile page on that site).

The former site also makes less than convincing claims to be a non-profit charity but goes one worse with asking people to donate to it, while the latter seems to mainly be links to illegally uploaded TEFL books.

A close connection to Thailand

Spain has always been the centre for totally fake course that just take your money and don’t even bother sending you a certificate, but for an TEFL courses with much marketing and minimal standards Thailand has to be the world capital, and I’d closely investigate any course that was mainly based in that country before thinking about taking their courses.

A vague connection to the UK which is probably someone’s granny’s shed if it even exists at all

This is a common trick with TEFL course providers, online degree mills, and even EFL publishers that are really based in other countries. They at least usually have an actual address, rather than just “Brighton, UK” . The email below also mentions a “Saudi Arabian (Dammam) sub office” that is almost certainly really his flat in the place he now works, while giving two reasons why I can’t go to the Brighton office.

Mention of a “Board of Directors” and other positions on the certificates that almost certainly don’t exist in such an admittedly small organization

Again, they wouldn’t be the first to do this trick. They would probably be the first to do so after saying on their website that they are not a large international organisation… Also, the founder/ course writer/ owner signs himself off as “University admin”, so who on earth would the chairman of the board and the Registrar be??

The founder doing most or all of the academic and admin jobs

The emails below all end with “Max, University Admin”, obviously the same Max who wrote the course and set up the website, as that Max Diamond is definitely now working in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, according to his online CV.

The founder/ owner/ course writer/ admin’s CV doesn’t really match what you might expect of a founder of a university, BA degree and TEFL course. Ditto for the other course writer and seeming business partner.

The person who set up this “university” and TEFL course only has a degree from his very own university and only took the Cambridge CELTA two years ago. I can’t find any mention of academic publications on his online CV, but the freebies site he runs does give free PDFs of the books he has written, including The Budgie Manual, Horoscope 2014 – A Quick Guide to Your Future!, The Big Book of Homemade Candy Recipes and Amazing Cat Tales. 

His teaching experience mainly consists of “private lessons” in Thailand while also doing other jobs. So what is his background if not TEFL or academic based? Apparently “I have been in the business of Internet marketing for clients websites and for many years and thankfully, this keeps ‘food on the table’”…

And check out the photo on his “author profile” – not really what you’d expect from the founder/ owner/ chancellor of an actual university…

A less than professional website with the bare minimum amount of information, along with grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes

By no means the worst example of this among Thailand-based TEFL providers, but when I pasted the entire site into a Word document to edit it down to make this piece, Microsoft kindly pointed out quite a lot of basic errors that I don’t think you’d find on the site of, say, Cambridge ESOL or Aston University (“This club is 100% free to join and it’s members get a ton of stuff for nothing” etc). Not something they could apparently be bothered to check themselves…

Underwhelming comments from former trainees, mainly focusing on cost, fun and ease of passing

Examples include:

“I really enjoyed the course and unlike so many others, it was really affordable! Roger H., USA”

“Passed the course, applied for a job in China, and got it! Thank you so much. Sarah J., UK”

“A friend recommended The TEFL University, I will be doing the same to other friends. Many thanks, as I just could not afford those other ‘over-priced’ TEFL courses! Charlotte H., USA”

“Exams always make me nervous, but I sailed though this one. Great course, professional service. Tony J., USA”

“As you know, I needed the BA degree to be granted a work permit and now I have it, the job is mine. Cheers! Graham P., UK”

Rather scrappy and minimal course materials, with rather a random selection of links

And I’m saying that as someone who has contributed to some of the sites that they link to…

Again, I posted the text from the PDF into a Word document so I could pick out some bits of it and instantly found tons of errors, including misspelling the name of their own website on the very first page (“The TEFL Uuiversity”).

More importantly, unlike almost any TEFL course I have come across, there is no practice at all of the concepts etc as they go along. Rather strange that a course which starts by describing PPP could think that someone could learn something by just reading a 100-odd page book and then taking an exam… And when you are asked to read something to link to, that is the very un-TEFLy instruction they use – always just “Read…” and never “Read… and…” or “Read… for…”

The actual advice in the booklet is a mix of common sense and some other parts which are a bit, shall we say, eccentric. Here are some examples from the first third of the booklet that I read:

  • A suggestion that all teachers use PPP or ESA (Engage, Study and Activate), with absolutely no mention of other more generally accepted approaches like TTT (Test Teach Test) and TBA (the Task-based Approach).
  • The absolutely bizarre idea of avoiding the phonemic script (which is what I assume they mean when they mention the IPA) and instead trying to “respell” words to show their pronunciation, with examples like “Mi naeh miz Fred” and “buh NAEH nuh”. Makes you wonder why anyone needed to produce phonemic symbols. I also wonder how students can get hold of a dictionary with your respellings in it…
  • The model lesson plan is a lesson which wouldn’t pass a CELTA. It suggests avoiding the problem of vocabulary students might not understand by starting the class with translation of difficult words. Controlled practice is to get students to read out questions and answers in front of the class, continuing until you run out of time.
  • Suggesting “ass” (as in “arse”, presumably) and “ash” as a useful minimal pair
  • Not a single actual quote or academic reference (despite a great fondness for statements like “Research tends to indicate that…”)
  • The idea that “we” scan and skim but EFL students apparently don’t have those skills
  • Almost no alternatives given to the advice, e.g. no mention of the recent doubts about the usefulness of teaching reading microskills or of process writing
  • Bodily contact as the best form of controlling students (“Even quite disruptive teenagers can often be settled down with a simple gentle hand placed on their shoulder.”)
  • All context specific examples are about Thailand (as the two writers have only taught there, and now Saudi Arabia).

In general, the booklet looks like it took about a week to write, fair enough for a freebie book on budgies but as the basis of a teaching qualification, I think not.

Unprofessional and evasive replies to email enquiries

Here is the full exchange, which I would judge mainly as evasiveness, especially the classic technique of saying “The information is on the website” when it is quite clearly is not, then getting in a strop when I point that out and insist on actual answers to my questions. You can judge for yourselves. I’ve put the bits I think are important in bold.

“Hi I was wondering which of these definitions provided by the UK government your university matches: https://www.gov.uk/check-a-university-is-officially-recognised/overview Thanks”

 

“Dear Alex

Please read the FAQ page. Most general enquiries are answered there

Regards

Max

University Admin”

“Dear Max   Thanks for your reply. Had already read the FAQ and it seems to suggest that you have no recognition from the UK government. Would that be correct?   Thanks   All the best   Alex”

“Hi Alex

The TEFL University requires no recognition from anyone (nor do we want or need anybody!), we are the TEFL University!

We train teachers, we supply teachers (worldwide), we educate… full stop!

Max”

 

“Hi Alex

We are The TEFL University… our courses and certificates are accepted worldwide. The British government has no say in our certification, and how we conduct our courses, as with most non-governmental institutions!

Regards

Max

University Admin”

“Dear Max   Thanks for your very clear replies. In that case I don’t see what your reasons are for calling yourself a university and for calling one of your courses a BA. Could you tell me what distinguishes your course and organisation from other TEFL course providers? Thanks   All the best   Alex”

“Hi Alex

You can find most of your questions answered inside the pages of our website.

We are a genuine non-profit organisation, that provides a truly affordable solution for people wanting to further themselves and pursue a career in ESL teaching.

We are very passionate about what we do. Our sponsors feel the same.

Regards

Max

University Admin”

“Hi Max   Can I just check if that means you are a registered NPO?   I’ve looked at literally the whole site, including the download, and I still have quite a lot of questions, most of which are answered in other TEFL course websites. For example: – I couldn’t find any details about the academic staff. – Which countries in particular have people used your qualifications to get jobs and visas in, especially your BAs?   I can phone you or even pop into your office in Brighton if it’ll make it easier to discuss.   Cheers   Alex”   “Hi Alex

 

“Sorry, but I am currently at our Thailand sub office, and will be in our Saudi Arabian (Dammam) sub office next week.

Our staff is made up of teachers and academics from around the world. Exam and course marking is done from a datrabase of over 50 examination staff on a rotational basis. The Brighton office is used for internal admin purposes only.

We have graduates currently teaching in many countries (Thailand, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East, South America, South Korea etc)

If you still feel unsure about using our services, I suggest that you seek a course elsewhere that you feel more comfortable with.

Regards

Max

University Admin”

“Dear Max   Thanks for the rapid reply.   Sorry to get you at an inconvenient time, but I only just found out about you from a Google Alert I have on “TEFL”. When I saw that there was a TEFL university and that they were offering free courses, I instantly thought it was something that readers of my TEFL blog would be interested in reading about. I’ve written about free TEFL courses before, including this interview a couple of years ago: http://tefltastic.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/eslinsider-free-tefl-course/   I think the best way of allowing you to spread your message to my 30,000 or so monthly readers would probably also be some kind of email interview. Please let me know if that sounds okay.   Thanks for linking to EnglishClub.com and Usingenglish.com, btw, as they both have a fair bit of my TEFL writing on them!   All the best   Alex”

“Hi Max   Sorry to bother you again, but just to let you know that I’m about halfway through writing a post on what I’ve learned about your organisation so far, but I’ll still be very happy to include an interview or similar as I offered yesterday if you’d like to have your say.    All the best   Alex”

“Hi Alex

Thanks for the inclusion!

[PRIVATE INFO EDITED OUT] and the internet out here in [EDITED] is barely possible… sorry!

Next week I have to travel to several meetings, before flying back to Saudi. Please do send me the link to the blog article.

Regards

Max”

Note also the lack of a proper email signature and not using full names even from the first reply. I teach emailing to admin staff in a university here in Japan, and none of my students have ever sent me even a first example without a proper email signature…

Posted in Online TEFL certificate | 9 Comments

A hilariously bad TEFL course model lesson plan

Discovered this while researching something else and my jaw just dropped with its awfulness (and I say that as someone who still has to teach with materials made up by random teachers in other branches of my schools). I’ve highlighted parts which I think are particularly worth a bitter giggle or two, then given my own commentary, with all my comments in italics. I’ll reveal which TEFL course provider is responsible for this monstrosity in a fuller post on them in the next day or two.

 

Topic: Talking about future plans

Aim: The aim of this lesson is for the students to be able to relate and talk about their future plans. They will also practice and improve their reading and writing skills. In this lesson the students will focus on communicating in the future tense and understand the correct grammar and functions related to the future tense. They will also work on improving their sentence structuring.

Materials: A copy of the hand out to every student.

Anticipated problems: The students may be unfamiliar with or find it difficult to understand the correct grammar points and functions. They may also be confused with when to know how to use either will or going to in the future tense. They may also be unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary in the hand out and their spelling may also be weak.

Solutions: I will first write the following words on the board and give the Thai (for example) translation.

Probably:

Definitely :

Biggest :

Hope:

I will then draw a time line on the board to explain the grammar points.

PAST——————–PRESENT——————–FUTURE

was am will /going to

Controlled practice:

I will explain how and when we use either will /going to in the future tense. I will explain to the class that it depends on the question form. I will write the following 2 question’s on the board as examples for the class.

Q1: Where are you going tomorrow?

A1: I am going to………….

Q2: What will you do tomorrow?

A1: I will……………

I will explain to the students that you’ll is short for you will. I will explain to the students that we use going to if it is in the question.

Free practice: I will then have the students give their answers to the questions. I will walk around the class monitoring the students, checking for correct grammar and sentence structure. I will then put the students into pairs and have them ask each other the questions.

Controlled practice: I will then have different pairs stand at the top of the class and role play out the questions to the rest of the class. As always depending on time, I will go through as many students as possible.

Approved by: (school representive)

 

Sample work sheet for lesson plan above

There would obviously be spaces below each question, allowing students to fill in their answers

Q1. What were you doing five years ago?

Q2. What do you think you will be doing in 15 years’ time?

Q3. Where are you going after this lesson?

Q4.Name one thing you will probably buy today.

Q5. Name one thing you are definitely not going to buy today.

Q6.Name one thing you will probably eat today.

Q7.Name one thing you are definitely not going to eat today.

Q8.What is your biggest hope for the future?

 

It’s difficult to find anything good to say about that lesson and its accompanying plan. In fact, it’s difficult even to know where to start with tearing it apart – so I guess I’ll begin at the beginning and work my way through. I’ll then comment on the info at the top, before looking at how well it matches what they recommend their trainees do (not well!) and what trainees should do more generally.

 

Lesson plan with comments in bold italics

 

Solutions: I will first write the following words on the board and give the Thai (for example) translation

Probably:

Definitely :

Biggest :

Hope:

Not much of a warmer (which they recommend, see below) and nowhere in the rest of the booklet do they recommend translation. I also can’t imagine why someone who needs translation of “biggest” is being taught Future Continuous etc… Also, I can only guide a taxi and ask for the bill in Thai, but in languages I know more thoroughly “hope” and “probably” are very difficult to translate correctly, with “hope” being often confused with “wish” and “look forward to” and common translations of “probably” not having that around 70% probability

I will then draw a time line on the board to explain the grammar points.

PAST——————–PRESENT——————–FUTURE – Again, why is someone who doesn’t know the difference between the past, present and future studying several future tenses at the same time?

was am will /going to – “will be”/ “going to be” surely, if you really want to stick to that one verb “be”?

Controlled practice: - Half of this is actually the presentation.

I will explain how and when we use either will /going to in the future tense. I will explain to the class that it depends on the question form. – This is simply not true. You can and should say “I don’t have any plans but I’ll probably just watch TV” in response to “What are you going to do tonight?” if that is the case for you. It also doesn’t even start to explain why there are two tenses and how they are different from each other – something that students will probably ask and a beginner teacher needs to prepare themselves for, surely the main reason for writing a lesson plan like this.

 

I will write the following 2 question’s on the board as examples for the class. – I know that’s an easy punctuation mistake to make that isn’t always picked up by Word, but remember that this is a model lesson plan…

Q1: Where are you going tomorrow?

A1: I am going to………….

Q2: What will you do tomorrow? – A rather bizarre question, asking them to make predictions about the next day… I don’t know about you, but I’ve almost certainly never asked or been asked this question in my life.

A1: I will……………

I will explain to the students that you’ll is short for you will. I will explain to the students that we use going to if it is in the question. – No elicitation in this lesson at all, despite it being something the booklet mentions all the time. Also not sure why “You’ll” (rather than “I’ll”) will come up in this lesson.

 

Free practice: I will then have the students give their answers to the questions. I will walk around the class monitoring the students, checking for correct grammar and sentence structure. – How is this free practice??? Not 100% clear that he means write the answers, but I guess so. Also not clear if he wants full answers to the questions – unnatural if he does and pointless if he doesn’t.

 

I will then put the students into pairs and have them ask each other the questions. – Not clear if they can look at their written answers during this stage. Pointless stage if they can. Also, how should the people asking the questions react to the answers? Are they at least encouraged to indulge in a little actual communication by asking follow up questions?

Controlled practice: I will then have different pairs stand at the top of the class and role play out the questions to the rest of the class. As always depending on time, I will go through as many students as possible. – Not a roleplay by any stretch of the imagination, and completely pointless, particularly as the rest of the class has no task while listening. That leaves this as a lesson with no real communication/ production stage, e.g. a chance to ask their own questions with the forms or communicate without prior written preparation. Again, this is despite the booklet really emphasizing PPP.

Approved by: (school representive) – And finishing on a high with an actual spelling mistake…

 

Sample work sheet for lesson plan above

There would obviously be spaces below each question, allowing students to fill in their answers

Q1. What were you doing five years ago? – What is Past Continuous doing in this lesson?? Are not all those future tenses confusion enough??

Q2. What do you think you will be doing in 15 years’ time? Future Continuous in the same lesson as introducing future tenses for the first time???

Q3. Where are you going after this lesson? – Not clear if that is supposed to be the (common) shorter form of “going to go” or yet another tense (Present Continuous). Needs more explanation or at least preparation for student questions either way.

Q4.Name one thing you will probably buy today.

Q5. Name one thing you are definitely not going to buy today.

Q6.Name one thing you will probably eat today. – From these examples, students will probably draw the totally wrong conclusion that “going to” is used with negative sentences but otherwise with exactly the same meaning as “will”. If anything it makes more sense to talk about predictions with “will” with negatives, as who makes negative plans??

Q7.Name one thing you are definitely not going to eat today.

Q8.What is your biggest hope for the future? – And yet another future form stuck in at the end, as if there weren’t enough already…

 

And the same for the top bit

 

Topic: Talking about future plans – Most of the forms in this lesson have nothing to do with plans.

Aim: The aim of this lesson is for the students to be able to relate and talk about their future plans. They will also practice and improve their reading and writing skills. – Reading questions and writing answers is not a reading and writing skills lesson. Also “relate and talk about”??

 

In this lesson the students will focus on communicating in the future tense and understand the correct grammar and functions related to the future tense. – There is no communication in the lesson at all. They will also leave the class more confused about future forms than they were before they came into the lesson.

 

They will also work on improving their sentence structuring.????

Materials: A copy of the hand out to every student.

Anticipated problems: The students may be unfamiliar with or find it difficult to understand the correct grammar points and functions. They may also be confused with when to know how to use either will or going to in the future tense. – But they will get no help, and their teacher will be completely unprepared if they do ask for a proper explanation.

 

Not only is that a terrible lesson, the plan itself misses out several things that are recommended in the very same chapter and therefore it is supposed to be modelling:

  • No summary of all the (many) grammar points introduced (they might have realized that “hope”, “going to” – or possibly Present Continuous, “will”, Future Continuous and adverbs of possibility/ probability was a bit too much if they had…)
  • No warmer/ review of previous lesson
  • No preparation for elicitation
  • PPP format not clearly labelled, and no proper production stage
  • No attempt to make the language relevant and interesting for the students
  • No drilling or other pronunciation presentation or practice, or preparation to do so if students have problems with it (despite this being one of the trickiest things about “will”, especially when it comes to comprehension)
  • No final conclusion to the lesson

 

And then there are the many vital things on a lesson plan that they forgot to mention in the booklet at all:

  • Justifications for the overall lesson and the stages in it
  • Description of previous class(es)
  • Description of the students, with their strengths and weaknesses, interests, motivations for learning English, etc.
  • Timings (!)
  • Preparation for student questions
  • The actual instructions/ explanations they will use, written out in full (preferably in speech marks)
  • Numbered stages
  • Alternative stages/ Fillers/ Plan Bs

Instead of which, they wasted time and space writing their lesson plan in full sentences.

 

So, whodunit? All will shortly be revealed, along with some frankly even more shocking info…

Posted in Online TEFL certificate, Teacher training, Teaching English in Thailand | 11 Comments

Present Simple – 56 stimulating practice activities

New article with that rather large number of activities just up on Usingenglish.com. Many of the ideas are possible with no or minimal resources, and we are getting up all the worksheets which are described as I write this.

Article

56 classroom activities for the Present Simple tense

Worksheets, with links to four new ones so far

Present Simple games/ worksheets

with links to the vital accompanying grammar point of adverbs of frequency and contrasts with Present Continuous.

 

Posted in Present simple for routines etc. | 2 Comments

Have Something Done activities page just added

Couldn’t find much good stuff online, but have added five useful links to my own speaking games on the topic, one that Cambridge FCE examiners love for some reason:

New have something done page

Posted in Cambridge First Certificate, Passives | Leave a comment

Can you recommend any campaigning TEFL blogs?

I’ve been thinking for a while that a TEFL blog carnival on more campaigning topics such as teaching pay and conditions, crappy schools and the like would make a great change to “Teaching ideas for…”, so if anyone with actual Twitter and Facebook accounts fancies giving it a try I’ll see if I can’t get back in campaigning mood and add something. In the meantime, I’m planning to start a section of my blogroll on blogs and blog posts on things which are meant to change the industry rather than just the way that individual teachers choose to teach. Suggestions below please.

Here are a few that I’ve found so far:

Marker pens and kryptonite on Decentralised teaching and learning

Five questions about fair pay, respect and equal pay for TEFL teachers on Cooperativa de Serveis Linguistics de Barcelona

Angry Language Brigade on Libcom.org

TEFL Equity Advocates

TEFL Blacklist (not to be confused with the original one, see below)

A Disabled Access Friendly World: ELT Lessons on TEFL Matters

Some older ones that I’d love to find active versions of:

Marxist TEFL

Critical Mass ELT

The TEFL Blacklist

and 11 of my own random ideas to change this industry of ours:

Random Ideas to Change TEFL

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | 6 Comments

10 beginning and ending emails classroom photocopiables

New page on the most important part of emailing in English, and the point I probably spend most classroom time on, now I’ve realised how pointless (if fun) it is to spend much class time on First Conditional and Past Continuous games:

Opening and closing emails materials page

Posted in Email | Leave a comment