TEFL Trainer

Teaching Young Learners – Working with a Course Book

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Look at some of the material and state how you would make the lesson interesting by supplementing or expanding upon the content of the page.

  1. Swimming pool

For this exercise, I would personalize the exercise by giving the characters who say something in the picture names. As an introduction, I would follow the original lesson getting the children to repeat the sentences but each time I moved on to each person I would elicit some more ideas and vocabulary relating to that person.

For example, Dave, who says ‘let’s eat something’

Is Dave swimming?

What color hair does he have?

Who is he with?

After completing the exercise, having discussed each person saying something, I would give the learners a freer practice. I would get the learners into groups and get them to look at the pictures and elicit any more information from the picture. I would then get them to write 2 sentences each for 3 people. 

For example He is wearing goggles. She is playing with a ball.

I would now take the pictures away from each group

I would then have a quiz where each group has to ask say 2 sentences and then ask two questions. This would be repeated two times.

For example 1. He is wearing goggles. He has ginger hair.

What is his name?

What does he say?

2. She is climbing the stairs. She is with a friend.

What is her name?

What does she say?

The teacher and learners could check all the scores to see who has won the little competition.

2. Objects

For this activity, I would expand it by getting the learners into pairs and giving them identical pictures. These pictures could have a street scene or just objects. Although the pictures and the objects in the picture are the same, each of the learners has some of their objects colored in and others left blank (white). Some of the objects are colored the same. For example, in picture 1 the car is red but in picture 2 the car is blank, but picture 1 has a blue bird and picture 2 has a blue bird. The learners complete the task by sitting opposite each other so they are not able to see each other pictures. The task can be done like the game of battleships where they have a screen to divide themselves. It is up to the learners to work together telling each other the colors of objects in each other’s picture. They complete the drawing by coloring every object until they have identical colored pictures. The teacher can have a feedback session with the learners to check over their work.

SIT TESOL Course – Reflection on an Article

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Giving and Receiving Feedback – It Will Never Be Easy But It Can Be Better By Larry Potter

(612 words)

This is a commendable article for me as I think at times I recognise that it is hard to receive and give feedback. It could be said that most people’s feedback skills could be said to need a little practice. I think this is important because as a teacher you will need feedback from your students to tell you if they enjoyed and comprehended your teaching. Also, the students will want feedback on their learning. Each will need a positive, constructive base. 

After reading the article, my first reaction is to think of myself who usually goes on the defensive when given feedback. The defensive, I mean that you are not really listening to the person giving the feedback. Larry Potter alludes to this point; he defines feedback as ‘information that can be heard by the receiver as evidence by the fact that he/she does not go on the defensive’. I agree with Larry Potter that feedback has ‘great value’ but only ‘to us if we can let the feedback in and effectively use the information’. I do like this sort of article because I can identify with points in the article that coincide with myself. An example would be when Larry describes Ineffective feedback as ‘judgmental statements’. I think I can give judgmental statements and upset people. I recently said a teacher was talking too much in class but forgot to look at the students who were okay with his talking. Other people said this is only level 2, the students do not talk much. I felt a bit bad for talking about the teacher. I think maybe I was too opinionated. Also, I think I get feedback a lot but may not use the experience, as I should. Maybe I think they are just making a comment and I don’t really ask them such questions as  ‘Why’? ‘What do you think is better?’ I think after reading this article on feedback for future actions I should take time to realize that I could be wrong and that I should take in the information (feedback) that has been given. I think I should ask for clarification and realize that it is not a battle and the comment is to help and I should reply with what I think. Thus hopefully getting a discussion going. 

The information that is given in the feedback can be ‘shut out’ as Larry Potter says. We ‘lack the skills to send and receive feedback’. I agree with this point as I had a situation the other day. I thought of a lesson plan and mentioned it to a teacher and basically, I was told that it was wrong because the lesson wasn’t student-centered thus in the lesson plan the teacher would speak more which he or she is not supposed to do. The problem with me was I had thought about this lesson for a long time and had it planned. Now my first reaction when I was told it was wrong was to get a little angry, I felt as though it was an attack against me. Maybe  I felt as though I was not good enough, my ideas were not good enough. So I felt a bit sorry for myself. I think the best idea would be to say ‘shall I forget about that lesson plan’, and if she said ‘yes’, say to her ‘what do you think then? I could have asked her why she thought is wrong and what ideas I should think of. I think I should have got to the bottom of my thinking as I might think up another lesson plan like this and have the same trouble again.

Extended Reflection on TEFL Classroom Practice

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(words 2117)

The TEFL lesson that was just taught I feel went satisfactory. There were many aspects in the lesson that were a positive learning experience for the students. I think I tried to keep the students’ attention all the way through the lesson. I think this aided the students learning because I didn’t give them a chance to start talking about any other non-English language-related subjects. During the ‘use’ stage of PPU teaching method, there was a lot of free talking, so I felt some accomplishment. The overall feeling, if an observer was to look at the whole lesson, is to say that the objectives were certainly on their way to being achieved. These objectives were for students to use adjectives to describe people’s feelings,  There are some points, I would like to pick up on in relation to students not fully achieving their goals as such I will include them in this essay to fully explain. I must say though that if I were a student in this class, I would have felt the lesson moved along at a pace that kept me attentive. With this attentiveness hopefully, the students would have attained that new information.

I think the ‘use’ stage, which involved the students telling an interesting story, was a significant part because this is the stage that showed me how well all the prior practice and ‘presentation stage’ went. Looking from the student’s perspective, they were ready to tell their story after hearing the teacher give an example of a model story, which made them more aware of what had to be done. I think as a student this would have given me the inspiration to think of an interesting story that had a beginning, climax, and end. The students knew what their task was and they went about it with the right attitude. Once they had their stories they stood up and told each other by going in pairs and telling their stories with the other students using the new vocabulary which I had taught, to help them along (conversation prompts). The students were up and talking and exchanging stories that would provoke feeling, which is what I wanted them to do. I think by giving them five minutes preceding the activity to write and think about their stories was a suitable idea because when I looked at some of their writing, some of the students were very slow to start. I think as a student you need this time and the teacher has to remember that it is fresh in his/her head plus the teacher has had time to think about the subject, the students have not. I think also that once the activity started, it was right to leave them to get on with the activity by themselves without really interfering with the students’ conversation. I periodically joined in with the pairs just to check they were okay which I found didn’t interfere with their talking that much. This exercise worked because I modeled the activity well before the students stood up. I modeled with two students giving my conversation prompts, which moved the conversation along. The conversation prompts were another good idea. The students certainly had some interesting stories to tell. There were a couple of points that hindered the process though these were firstly not making sure the students moved around and changed partners. Some students gathered together a little (more than two) which I didn’t really want. The process would have been better if I had kept them in their pairs and for them to tell each other their stories then move on. I think getting them to move, would have been helped by me clapping my hands and saying ‘okay, change partners’. Secondly, I should have told them to talk to only five people. This would have meant the process had an ending, a goal for the students to reach. This would have kept them focused I think. 

Another aspect of the lesson that I think went well was the ‘practice’ stage where I gave the students strips of paper with situations on them. This was for the students to use with a dialogue using the adjectives they had learnt, to say ‘How they felt’. I think this is a great way to get the students off their chairs thus changing the lesson with a different technique and giving them a chance to speak and use the specific language associated with the lesson. As a student, I would have been glad to start using the language and mingling instead of sat down listening to the teacher. The students were up off their seat hearing their replies. I think, as a practice this exercise was adequate as it was controlled and was kept within the boundaries of the language that was to be used. Also what helped was the students were given a model conversation to help them practice with. This was modeled with the ‘teacher–student’ to help them. The conversation gave the students a platform to start, thus as a ‘practice’ stage (which is where the teacher can check and monitor). I think, as an exercise, this was fine. The only part that hindered the process was that the students kept hold of the strips of paper and they were not given a chance to change. The students seemed a little bored because they were saying the same sentence over and over again. I think, as a student, I would have felt the exercise was a bit tedious. The students’ strips of paper (situations) should have been changed after each pairs’ conversation, this would have created more thought and got the students more engrossed in the exercise. Moreover, it would have prolonged the exercise because they would not have thought the process was dragging on. 

The part of the lesson I think didn’t go as planned was the worksheet. There was ‘situation’ on the worksheet and ‘how did you feel’ in two separate columns for each. For a situation, the students had to write an adjective in the designated gap under the heading ‘how did you feel’ to describe how he/she felt in that situation. And when there was an adjective the student had to think of a situation and write it in the designated gap under the heading ‘situation’ on the paper. I gave the students the worksheet and then modeled it. I think once the students had this worksheet they started to complete it. They were used to being given worksheets so I suppose they knew the drill. The fact was that some of them thought it was a matching exercise, which it wasn’t; this made me realize I had got things wrong. By now they were confused and some were trying to write which I didn’t want. I think as a student once I got this paper I would have wanted to finish it in my own way, regardless of what the teacher was saying. I think this shows you what students do. Students can be sidetracked and lose their concentration thus their attention wanders away from the real point of the exercise. This experience tells me that a teacher should give clear instruction first before giving out a worksheet and reiterate it by having the students tell the teacher what he/she had just said. Concept questions I think could have helped.

Another aspect that did not go as well as I would have liked was the challenging of students and the giving of information. I felt as though I wrote some sentences on the boards that were not worth doing also I was repeating the sentences as though I thought the students needed the practice. From the students’ perspective if I had heard the teacher the first time he/she spoke the sentence I would be a bit puzzled as to why the teacher would want to put it on the board and repeat it. The students I think might have lost a little interest when it came to doing other stages in the class because the teacher was teaching stuff they already knew. I think that for the level the students were in, this process was demeaning their level of English and taking up valuable time. Such that by giving them basic sentences the students might have lost interest and felt as though they were not learning. I think as a student the basic process of learning is to feel as though the lesson is testing my abilities. I think they should have been brought out their comfort zone, which is challenging them with the material they do not know.

A final thought on aspects that did not go well was my use of language. Sometimes I don’t speak fluently and break up my sentences, which are not complete, and grammatical. This I think makes the language a little strange. I think from the perspective of a student who is learning a new language, is that they could find it hard to follow the teacher’s sentences. The sentences are broken up and leave the student a bit confused. I think there could be a few factors that explain my language. Firstly I have been teaching lower-level students, some twelve years old, where you have to be slow for them to understand you, maybe this played a part. Also, I think, maybe it is where I think if I speak slower and pronounce the word with more stress they will understand. The good thing though, and I have been told in feedback, is that I recognize the problem and I will try to rectify it in the next lesson. I think with clear instructions, which are kept to a minimum. To a minimum, I mean less teacher talk time where unnecessary language is used will help to make for a clear voice that sounds normal. 

Regarding SWBAT’s during the lesson, I think they were achieved. If I look at the final ‘use’ stage I had the students describing their stories, which is what I wanted. This was an objective of mine. I am not sure that I achieved an overall goal of getting the students to achieve their objectives, which would have been to learn far more new material and new vocabulary. I think as a SWBAT of getting them talking about the subject of feelings, the students did generate some quality stories which they told very well. Their ideas for the stories were funny and interesting, although I cannot really say they were challenged. I had SWBAT’s for each stage but I think should make them a little harder and made sure they understood each one until I moved on. The challenging part would have been less writing of basic sentences on the board. The more adjectives I could have written on the board would have gauged the students’ strengths and weaknesses. The reaction would have told me how difficult they were. Thus if I had heard these new words in the ‘use stage I would have felt I was achieving and this would have told me that the students achieved their objective. I think this ‘use’ stage of the class, which was one of my SWBAT’s, informed my beliefs because it was a measure of how the students understood the lesson, although I think that students can still fall into the trap of using grammar and vocabulary they already know. I think maybe if you can have students demonstrate in front of the class and make them use the new grammar and vocabulary this will give you a fair measure of how well they have learnt during the class. I think overall every SWBAT was challenged but I could have made the lessons (SWBAT’s) a little more difficult as to challenge the students and also made sure at each stage I checked that I reached the SWBAT.

There are many goals I can now set myself from the reflection I have just done. I will plan a better lesson; firstly a more challenging lesson that has more questions coming from the students, such that I can measure their learning by the questions they ask and the amount of student interaction. I feel as though the objectives should be properly met at each stage and should be checked by me before I go on. Also, my voice will be clearer and I have to realize that I should speak as if talking to another English-speaking person (less the idioms and slang speech). I think the more relaxed and less worried you are going into the class the lesson will flow. I will make sure that the students feel that they have achieved in the class and that they have something to talk about once leaving the class. 

Extended Reflection on a TEFL Classroom Experience

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Lesson #4

I would like to say this lesson was my favorite because I feel as though I got the students to speak more English and be more relaxed doing that. I was very content to say that I gave the students the best opportunity to expand and use their English language. I also feel that the lesson was quite trouble-free. This made me feel pleased 

I think right from the start I had the students focused as I got them into groups and had them up off their chairs to the whiteboard. This exercise had them thinking of things that happen in the morning before they go to an appointment. I felt as though this was a good learning experience because they contributed in their two groups, and I noticed that were all laughing at some of the mistakes they were making. I think this was great that they were happy to get it wrong and not worry. I was happy just to hear them trying. I must say though they were on the right track and mistakes were few and far between. I would say I just tweaked their words a bit to make them right. This, I did by using CCQ’s (concept checking questions). I also did some pronunciation, so I feel we all understood even the quiet students who I tried to involve. I am glad I was aware of these students and did something because there were some problems there. The words the students put on the whiteboard were also a great way to add emphasis because I challenged a few of their results by adding further questions like ‘where is the verb?’, ‘Do you really do this in the morning?’ but I did not overplay it which I liked. I think this was a good idea because they were at a lower level. I think now I have been doing this course I have become more student-focused, and I am realizing these problems the students have. I think for a teacher if they can help the class to work as one and help the weaker ones it will be great. I am glad during the lesson I established who the students were who had some little problems.

The only slip-up I noticed, and this was an action point of mine was ‘the challenging of students’. I think there was one point in the lesson that I should have expanded on. This was the ‘during stage’. I had the students watch a video and put their sentence strips of what happened in the order of the video. Even before the video they had to put the sentence strips in an order they thought. This time spent doing this, I think, would have made them accustomed to the words. Thus, if I had taken them away when they watched the video I think they could have retold the story by remembering the strips they had and having also watched the video. I realize that they were a level that was capable of retelling the story. Moreover, it would have given the students more chances to speak. It would have also made the ‘during stage’ longer.  I must remember that I was doing a PDP lesson. This is where I must say time hindered me. I know that I should have cut stages down so I could fit in certain aspects, but today they were happy doing the exercise, and I thought that they were showing me that they were learning and using English. They certainly were not just talking Thai which I am aware some do. At that time I thought it would be rude to stop them from using this language. But, now I realize that there could have been other ways to make them talk, namely retelling the story. Even so, I felt they were learning so am I really wrong?

After all that has been said I am not sure my SWBAT (students will be able to..) was fully clear. I did say in my lesson plan the ‘students will be able to talk about plans to go to an appointment’ but that was in the post-stage. So, I think for a well-achieved SWBAT this might have been the wrong choice for this PDP lesson. This doesn’t mean to say I didn’t get the students to achieve anything. I did have them talking about things you do in the morning and being late for appointments.  I think with the retelling of the story in the ‘during stage’ there would have been a SWBAT. I think a bit more preparation with the lesson plan will alleviate mistakes like this. I think a bit of foresight into the lesson can help.

I think for my next lesson I will still plan on challenging the students. Also, I would like to think that I will follow the PDP more closely. I am still doing good lessons but I think I still fall short, a little, on achieving the main SWBAT. I see this point because then I can actually gauge how much the students have learned because they should be using the new grammar/sentences.  

What Makes a Good Language Lesson?

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Notes on a Lecture by Professor Jack C Richards

Reflection on an Article

(590 words)

My initial reaction to this article was to think I had heard this before and read it also in a book. I think the issue is though, as a teacher if you miss some points in your lesson then all that reading /listening was not worth the effort. I think that Professor Richard raises some valid points that I hope by talking about them raises my awareness that bit more.

I have to agree with Professor Richards, this is a focus of mine as well, and that is the ‘focus on the learners’ in the classroom and their acquisition of a new language.  I know in a class of twenty students there will be students that are more extroverted and introverted. I think it is right, bearing the students’ learning in mind, that the teacher must ‘allow the learner’s perspective to be their constant focus of attention’. I think for a teacher, it can be easy to teach a lesson but if you have not made sure that the students have learned all that you gave them it is not of any value. I think by involving all the class you can get a better perspective where you can improve yourself and help all students more in the class. Professor Richard alludes to this by saying: ‘teachers need to change students seating positions on regular basis and teach lesson from different location’. I have heard the word ‘comfort zone’, and I think this is what it means by getting the students to realize the reason for coming to an English language class. It is true that the students do like to sit with their friends and sometimes make the class a social experience, not a learning experience.

Another fact I think is valuable and that is the ‘goals of the lesson’. This goes along with the clearly written lesson plan. If there are clear objectives and the teacher makes sure the students are achieving them the teacher will have the students’ attention. Professor Richards says for successful lessons, ‘goals and activities are clear and students are occupied for a large portion of the lesson’. I think by doing this, the lesson will give the students as Professor Richards says, ‘a sense that they are actually capable of learning to speak English’. This means that activities given to the students are achievable. Also, I think the end result is as much value as the during/middle part. The result is what the students leave the classroom with. The teacher hopes and I think every teacher should strive for is that the students should, ‘be able to do something in English that they couldn’t do as well before’. This means the teacher’s lesson must be something that the students can, ‘retain and use and which is lasting value’. I think this is one of the main issues for a teacher which is to be able to successfully finish a lesson where all the students have learned something and achieved. This is an issue that affects me, as I like to focus on challenging the students.

I like this article because it is another way of reinforcing what the teacher knows but sometimes forget. I would have liked to have listened to the whole lecture though and not just these summaries.