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24 September 2015 By In Blogs

Think of two different learning experiences in your life (not languages), one of which was successful and one of which was not.

List three main factors which made the experience successful or unsuccessful.



1. Realising that not all the details are essential

2. Staying calm even when others were not calm

3. Thinking through the situation in a calm manner


1. Doubting the right thoughts, in light of negativity from others

2. Believing the negativity

3. Settling for the easy option, knowing it was not the best

Now think of your own experience as a learner of languages at school or elsewhere. What conclusions would you draw as regards what makes a good language lesson? Write a minimum of 100 words.

A good language lesson is not easy to deliver. A good language lesson is provided by a teacher who is flexible and adaptable, to suit the needs of each learner. Such a teacher must grow to be diligent and reflective.

The teacher's diligence will call for utmost patience when planning and delivering the lesson. It will also call for patience and endurance with the students throughout the lesson. Empathy will be required by the teacher, towards the students, allowing each individual to develop their learning through their classroom and out-of-classroom interaction with English speakers, those who are learning English and when they are alone revising and practising English Language.

The teacher will thus be required to remain calm throughout the teaching practice. That is, even if the students become worried that English is too difficult for them. Indeed, even if every student believes there is no way they will be able to complete the first goal of the English Language lesson  – let alone the goals and objectives of the entire lesson.

To maintain a good lesson, the teacher is required to model and demonstrate hope within the lesson. For example, the teacher should provide students with successful examples which demonstrate particular aspects of the lesson. The teacher should then patiently and calmly guide the students, with much care and enthusiasm, along the path of successful English Language learning.

A good lesson also includes the teacher allowing the students to admit their concerns, if they have any, regarding learning English. However, the teacher must ensure that he or she provides the students with realistic and viable options which they can utilize to overcome their negative thoughts. The teacher must also work to build the path of successful educational development, through which the thoughts and actions of the students can evolve from being deeply negative, to being absolutely hopeful and thus successful.

A good lesson should challenge students in their learning and development. The lesson should therefore consist of easy to advanced questions/tasks (for their level) of learning. Fore example, an intermediate lesson should consist of activities which cause the students to consider basic to intermediate grammar, with a few upper-intermediate level questions.

As long as the challenge is not overwhelming and carefully explained, the students will be able to attempt each question without feeling like failures from the start. The modelling of the teacher would allow the students to grow in the confidence to attempt each answer in an orderly manner, believing that all things are possible, if they try their best. 



24 September 2015 By In Blogs

He's been to Paris/He's gone to Paris. His command of English is limited.

(Think how you could demonstrate using visuals, the whiteboard and/or mime rather than explanation.)

I would make a youtube video clip and present it to the class on the interactive whiteboard. The youtube clip would consist of a short dialogue between. The students would only see my face, but hear my voice and that of my sister.

I would wear a t-shirt which states: “I love (a heart symbol) Paris” I would walk through the front door, saying “Hi Karla!” and carrying bags (demonstrating luggage). I would be out of breath and quickly walk to the sofa in the living room and relax. I would then take out a mug from my bag and put a tea-bag in it. I would hold the mug up and point to the label on the mug that states: “I love Paris”, and I would add “Mmmmm...” 

My sister, Karla, would run downstairs and say: “Hi Karlene! Where have you been?” I would say: “I've been to Paris”.

Karla would say: “Where is dad?”

I would say: “He's gone to Paris”. I would then show a picture of a man smiling in Paris, next to the Eiffel Tower.

I would then ask my sister to say and hold up an A3 sheet on which it would be written:

“Where have you been?”

I would then say and hold up an A3 sheet of paper on which it would be written: “I've been to Paris.”

Next, my sister would hold up a picture of the man standing next to the Eiffel Tower. She would then say: “Where's he gone?”

I would then say and hold up an A3 sheet of paper on which it would be written: “He's gone to Paris”.

After the clip, I would hold up a picture of the same man smiling at home. I would ask the students, “Where's he been?” I would wait patiently for the students to say: “He's been to Paris”. If the students did not provide the correct answer, I would point them to the sentence on the whiteboard which would state the question: “Where's he been?”, and then: “He's _________ to Paris”. I would ask 2-3 individual students: “Where's he been?” I would wait for the students to say: “He's been to Paris?”

I would then drill all the students as a group and then individually to say: “He's been to Paris”.

Next, I would draw a stick man on the whiteboard with an aeroplane above pointing towards the picture of the Eiffel Tower and the label 'Paris'.

I would ask the class to fill in the blank on their piece of paper: “W______ h________ g_______?” (“Where's he gone?”). I would then ask a few students for the answer (“He's gone to Paris”). I would then re-confirm the answer to the class by writing on the board: “Where's he gone?”

I would then show a picture of the gentleman smiling in his office and ask the students to fill in the blanks on their piece of paper: “He'__ b_____ to Paris”. (“He's been to Paris.”)

I would then ask individual students: E.g.

“Julia, where's he gone?” (Answer: “He's gone to Paris.”)

“John, where's he been?” (Answer: “He's been to Paris.”)

Throughout the lesson, I would verbally congratulate the students once they stated the correct answers. I would also congratulate every student for their effort. 

24 September 2015 By In Blogs

You are going to teach a mixed-nationality, intermediate class the present perfect. Plan the lesson below and be ready to discuss- the assumptions you have made in planning this lesson- the main stages of the lesson- the types of task  students would do- reasons for your choices

Lesson: 55 minutes

Intro (5 mins) – Main Body (35 minutes) presentation, practice (controlled), drilling, not controlled practice, free drilling – Pre-plenary (10 minutes) - Plenary (5 minutes)

Visual: Youtube video (Michael Bublé – Haven't Met You Yet), Brainstorm (on board)

Audio: Background music, listening as I state words to be drilled

Kinaesthetic: Match the Words to the Pictures in the Comic worksheet (pre-plenary), Traffic Lights Quiz (plenary), raise hands, write on board

SEN/Special Educational Needs students: Lyrics (on screen), lyric sheets

Students who complete tasks early: Write a song in the present perfect, place the present perfect rule in the correct order

*Materials: Youtube, lyrics sheet (for students), Traffic Lights quiz, red and green circles on lollipop sticks, comic sheets and text (on squares), prittstick

Intro/Starter (to set context for the present perfect): Play music in the background on youtube (as students enter the class), with the present perfect as a focal part of the lyrics. Then hand students lyrics to the song, and play the song again - show the music video on the screen (with the lyrics also showing on the screen) for SEN students, and the other students. This will help all students associate the actions of the individuals on the screen with the correct time-frame of the tense (present perfect).

List names of tenses on the board, as on worksheets. Request students to circle the correct tense, on their worksheet, used in the song. Cast a vote: ask students who circled 'the present continuous'...'present perfect'  - request students to raise their hands to indicate their answers. (Do not state the answer until all possibilities have be questioned). Ask a student with the correct answer why he or she believes the answer is 'the present perfect'. Pinpoint a student and ask if he or she agrees or not with the answer, and why. Verbally confirm whether the initial student's answer is correct. Write one of the sentences within the lyrics on the board (in another colour). Annotate the sentence as you explain why the sentence is present perfect.

Main Body:  Point students to the board and write the aims and objectives under your pre-written 'Aims' and 'Objectives' list. List key words on the board and task for students who complete their work early: Write a song in the present perfect, with3 short stanzas (provide sentence starters for SEN students). Ask students if they know what the key words mean. Explain that you've been singing and playing the harp and the guitar for 'x' (time). Explain where you've performed, etc. Ask students if they play any musical instruments, sing or write songs. Ask students how long they've been playing their instruments, etc.

Request students to read text about a prospective employee's interview experience in the music industry.

Presentation: Conduct an interview using the worksheet template and keyword (interview students in front of the class – ask one question to each student). Explain that students are to do the same for their task, in pairs. Ask a student to explain to the class what the task is.

Practice (controlled): Divide students into pairs (A and B). Explain the task: In pairs, students interview one another for specific jobs of their choice, with the questions and answers provided on worksheets. Request a student to state what the task is.

Drilling: Drill pronunciation of key words (practise phonetic sounds and stress/emphasis of each word) – e.g. performing /pəˈfɔːŋ/ , mirroring

Not controlled: Brainstorm British musicians from any age of time: Request students to state aloud musicians they can think of from any period of time, including the present. Nominate an advanced student to write answers provided on the board (state that the student and his/her peers are to help one another with the spelling and pronunciation of musicians they list).

Explain to students that they are to imagine they are musicians. Request students to, in groups of threes, create a display of word, sentences and pictures (using the material provided), to show what they've been working on as British musicians for the last 5 years. Explain students are to choose amongst the list of popular British musicians (as listed on the board)

Drill (Free) (with expression, intonation) the pronunciation of key sentences which express the present perfect (sentences which contain the keywords) –  e.g. Those girls have been performing at the Royal Albert Hall for decades!

Pre-plenary: Give students a comic with text beneath each picture. The text represents various tenses. Each picture corresponds to the text. Request students to place the correct text under the correct box. and underline or circle the present perfect sentences. Ask for class feedback regarding task.

Plenary/Evaluation: Quiz students by using 'Traffic Lights'. Explain task to students. Call out the name of a student and then ask the student to explain what the task is to the class. List, one by one, sentences in various tenses. Request students to raise a green circle on a lollipop stick to indicate “Yes, it (the sentence) is written in the present perfect tense!”, and they would raise a red circle on lollipop stick to indicate “No, it (the sentence) is not written in the present perfect tense!” Reward students with a sweet each for effort (those who got 1-5 answers correct), and two sweets for those who got 6-10 answers right. Place smiley stickers on the work of every student as they leave the classroom to congratulate and encourage them for their effort, and in their continuous learning.

Assumptions: As students are of the intermediate level, they should understand the basic formation of the present perfect tense. The present perfect lesson would form part of revision for most, if not all students. They would practise using the tense more than concentrate on how and when the tense is used.

Reasons: The implementation of VAK greatly enhances student current learning of tenses, motivates student present learning and sets a precedence for future learning.

The lesson also provides students with confidence boosts as they learn to understand the meaning of keywords, and master the English pronunciation and usage of the keywords within the correct context, for the present perfect. The new vocabulary allows students to use more words used by native English speakers with specific and relevant contexts.

Students complete the lesson knowing they have worked to gain the skills to achieve the specified learning goals and objectives. Students complete their learning, recognising that they entered the classroom with prior learning (e.g. vocabulary previously learned). They leave the lesson having learned the meaning of, how to pronounce and use new vocabulary relevant in today's modern Britain, and other English-based countries (e.g. the US, Australia, etc).  

24 September 2015 By In Blogs

For the traditional English Language pedagogical thinker in the West, the CLT method is perhaps an extreme take-over of the supposed primary, pivotal and thus essential facet of English Language teaching: Grammar.

Grammar is typically revered as the foundational basis and emphasis of English Language teaching. The CLT method directly challenges this premise by assuming that grammar can be 'captured' by the learner through acquired skills, such as conversation with a native-English speaker.  In this light, it is argued whether the CLT method is truly an approach, rather than a method (Belchamber, 2007).

The dynamics of implicit learning are complex in structure and in content. Each English Language learner bases his or her initial implicit understanding of the English language upon the implied aspects of the mother-tongue language. Through this development, clear linguistic distinctions of meaning and understanding of the English Language require clarification and re-iteration within the pedagogical practice by the teacher, to the learner. This is the in-depth task which the English Language Teacher should achieve through learned diligence, focus and understanding.

The CLT method is perhaps viewed by countless traditional pedagogical practitioners as a direct hijacking of the foundational principal and basis of English Language Education, namely, grammar. Nevertheless, the reality stands that an increasing number of students continue to benefit linguistically from the CLT method, particularly via English Language conversation. This is an actuality that cannot be denied.

*Initial reading taken from:

VivaLing Blog:How language teaching methodologies have changed, and why they matter

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