How to Support Your EFL Teachers at the Start of the Year

As an EFL supervisor, you should pay a visit to your EFL teachers at the first week of the new school year. First, you should check their preparation notes and then ask them to gather so as to be able to hold a meeting with them. During the meeting, talk positively with them about the importance of language and the honor of being a language teacher. Then, discuss with them how to be effective teacher of English by telling them the following:

1. Control your teaching:

As a teacher, you should try your best to make your teaching effective. You won’t be able to do so except if you:

  • Know the course materials very well by reading them in advance.
  • Know the outcomes of each unit and stick them at the front of your preparation notes to adjust your teaching accordingly.
  • Always prepare your lessons very well. Your lesson preparation should include mainly: Objectives – Warm-up activity – Presentation steps – Practice steps – Assessment Procedures and homework assignment – Self-evaluation Notes.
  • Have information about your students, e.g. their names, level of learning, weakness & strength points, … etc. and make use of this information when preparing your lessons.

2. Improve your teaching:

After controlling it, you should go a step forward to improve your teaching to facilitate your students’ learning. You can do that by:

  • Learning & applying new teaching methods, techniques and activities.
  • Adjusting your teaching according to your students’ learning levels and needs.
  • Reflecting on your success and difficulties in the classroom.
  • Discussing teaching experiences with your colleagues.
  • Assessing your students’ progress giving them effective feedback.
  • Correcting your students’ written work as soon as possible underlining their mistakes and then dealing with common mistakes on the board.
  • Designing and using simple teaching aids in the classroom to facilitate learning and attract your students’ attention.
  • Organizing your students during the class in different and various ways: whole-class, individual students, pair work and group work, and doing so depending on the learning activity itself and the time assigned to it.

3. Give students enough time for language practice:

English is a language and it is learned mainly by practice. To enhance language practice in the classroom, you should:

  • Create real-life situations and encourage students to use language in them as they have learned.
  • Give students the chance to hear and use authentic English.
  • Use audio and visual teaching aids to foster students’ talk in English fluently.
  • Ask students to put any new word they learn in a sentence of their own.
  • Ask students to utilize new structures in realistic situations.

A Free Printable EFL Lesson Plan Template

All teachers should understand that a lesson plan is not an end but it is a means and indicator. For supervisors, a good written lesson plan indicates that the teacher has enough information about the lesson and he is well mentally prepared to teach it effectively because a lesson plan is like a road map for teachers to know what students should learn, the learning activities to achieve objectives, how to teach these activities, how students do practice and how to assess students’ achievement of the goals. In the previous post, we talked in more details about six things must included in a lesson plan. Please get a look at these things to know how to write a good lesson plan.

The next big question is: Do we need a lesson plan template?

I think the answer is: Why not? It means “yes” and here are the reasons:

  1. Some teachers need to write a detailed lesson plan to get the most out of the lesson study. Writing such a plan is a difficult work. In this case, using a lesson plan template saves time and effort especially when it covers all guidelines of the lesson.
  2. A lesson plan template – provided it is good – includes the main things that must be included in the lesson. it means getting a comprehensive lesson plan that enhance teacher mental preparation.
  3. A printed lesson plan helps teachers to stay organized and focused while teaching. They won’t find themselves elaborate or write things far away form main content of the lesson.
  4. With a lesson plan template, teachers agree upon the main things or headlines that must be included in each lesson (headlines such as objectives, presentation, practice, assessment, …..etc.) but each teacher reflects his personality and experience when writing the details under each headline. This agreement and variety at the same time can be very useful for discussion and peer evaluation afterwards.

Which template should we use?

Lesson plan templates differ according to the curriculum you teach, the facilities available for you, the learning environment and students’ learning levels. But even they are different, you should use the one that includes the main six things that must be included in a lesson plan.

Can we tailor our own template?

Yes, you can, and it is better to build the lesson plan template that works for you. But remember, your template should be organized in a way that makes sense to you. It should also be easy to reproduce and fill in. And to start building your template, you should consider how to include the essential six elements listed in the previous post. You may decide to place all elements on a single page or you may start with a two-page layout. Of course, you should take into account the spaces under each element according to the details you plan to write.

How does the teacher’s guide fit as an “optimum resource” while planning lessons?”

In case that the teacher’s guide provides you with the following information:

  • Learning objectives.
  • Suggested teaching aids to use to facilitate learning and attract students’ attention.
  • Suggested warm-up activities.
  • Learning strategies that facilitate lesson learning.
  • Class organization for each activity.
  • The best period for each activity.
  • The steps in sequence to introduce the lesson.
  • What students do in each activity.

In that case, we can consider the teacher’s guide as an “optimum resource” for planning lessons and so we recommend reading it carefully before teaching each lesson, and follow it when plan your lessons or when you build a lesson plan template.

Here is a printable lesson plan template that I created for the upcoming school year and include in it the six main things that must be included in each lesson plan.

Here is a link to download it for free and in a word file that you can edit.

A Free Printable EFL Lesson Plan Template

Let me know what you think of it. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment to give me your feedback.

P.S. If we are not connected on social media yet, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Six Things Must be Included in a Lesson Plan

A lesson plan is like a map that guides you while you are teaching. Planning your lessons beforehand is a must as it is the proof that you know what to do in the classroom. You are not required to write all details in your lesson plan provided that you are expert enough and you can use just clues to prove that you are well mentally prepared. But whether you are a beginner or expert teacher, there are six main things you must include in your lesson plan. When preparation notes seen by professionals, they go directly to make sure first that the following six things are there as any discussion comes afterward depends on them.

  1. Details of the lesson:

First of all, you should mention in writing what you are going to teach and to which class. Write the unit and lesson number, which period and which class and the topic or the theme of the unit and the lesson.

  1. Objectives:

Setting the objectives of the lesson is the most important thing you must include in your plan. Select the most important and relevant three objectives students are required to achieve at the end of the lesson and write them carefully. Always remember, objectives here should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) and written from the perspective of the learner using action verbs. E.g. at the end of the lesson students should be able to write a 10-sentence paragraph about summer holiday.

  1. Teaching aids:

After that, you should set the tools that you are going to use to facilitate learning and attract your students’ attention. Unlike resources (student’s book, workbook, handwriting book, teacher’s guide, CDs, DVDs, the board, ….) teaching aids are often created by the teachers themselves such as pictures, drawings, flashcards, real objects, wall sheets, diagrams, charts, … . Etc. These aids should be adapted to your students’ learning levels and the learning environment. Needless to say that you should write down only what you are going to use not everything.

  1. Stages of the lesson:

We come to the framework of the lesson. I mean the content of the lesson which includes the new vocab, structure, function and the skill to be emphasized. After writing these things in focus, you should divide the stages of the lesson into four main stages: the first one is warm-up in which you should tell us in only one sentence how to prepare students to the new lesson. The second stage is presentation in which you should write at least three focused steps to introduce the content of the lesson mentioned before in the framework. The third one is practice where you write how students will use and produce the new language included in the lesson. You may divide practice into controlled, guided and free practice writing one sentence to show how to cover each type. Or you may add production after practice and writing evidence from students to show language production.

  1. Evaluation:

Evaluation is the four and last stage of the lesson. This stage should be divided mainly into two categories: the first one is assessment in which you write how to make sure that students achieve the objectives set at the start of the lesson. You may write a question students answer orally or in writing. You may write an assignment for students to do at home or anything else you see suitable to know to what extent students achieve the objectives of the lesson. The second category under evaluation is self-evaluation where you – as teacher – should reflect on your lesson after finishing it. So self-evaluation should be done after leaving the classroom immediately writing how things went on during the lesson. Were objectives achieved? Were students responsive or reluctant? Do students need more practice on any point in the lesson? …. Etc.

  1. Timing:

It’s important to achieve a kind of time management during your lesson. You should specify certain amount of time for each stage of the lesson and try your best to commit to this time. Write time specified beside each stage, activity or task.

In the end, there’s something I want to emphasize again. You should try your best to be focused in your lesson plan. Avoid elaboration and detailed procedures. Focus only on the main steps which represent clues for the details beyond. Before going to plan your lesson I recommend you to read the teacher’s guide. TG is considered an ideal resource for teachers to plan their lessons effectively whether in writing or more importantly mentally.

 

Why and How to Use Multimedia in EFL Class

There are various types of multimedia that we can use in an EFL lesson. Among these are DVDs, CDs, video clips, flash presentations, audio files, … etc.

But why do you think we need to use multimedia in our lessons? The following are the main reasons.

  1. To maintain a high level of interest in the lesson.
  2. To expose learners to life-like language.
  3. To promote greater student participation.
  4. To simulate an English speaking environment.
  5. To sharpen learners’ memory.

In the Past written passages were the main way to get the language and most of our comprehension drills were boring and not very effective. In addition, ideas were either vague or too simple

Nowadays multimedia are available everywhere and pupils find them interesting and attractive. Sight and sound evoke pupils’ curiosity for learning and capture their attention in a better way, which results in a more effective learning and enhanced retention. Multimedia encourage pupils to use the language, comment on a scene or act it.

We can mention more and more advantages for using multimedia in EFL lesson such as they:

  1. increase learners’ retention.
  2. add variety to your lesson.
  3. provide better details.
  4. enhance the persuasive appeal of your lesson.
  5. reach learners by addressing different learning styles.
  6. can be used to show abstract concepts.
  7. reduce your public speaking anxiety.
  8. improve pronunciation, intonation and word stress.
  9. help minimize teachers’ talking time.

How to use multimedia effectively?

First of all, you should:

  1. choose a suitable material.
  2. prepare additional aids, such as pictures, slides, wall sheets, etc.
  3. prepare handouts containing all types of questions.

Steps in sequence:

  1. Playing for enjoyment (non-stop).
  2. Giving blank sheets of papers.
  3. Asking pupils to write down their notes, ideas, questions and difficult words.
  4. Second play for “note taking”.
  5. During the second play, making many stops for the sake of repeating a word, a sentence or asking a question.
  6. Final play for checking answers.
  7. Wrapping up by making pupils act or retell what they have seen.

Cambridge English Exams & How They Are Mapped to the CEFR

There are five main Cambridge English exams:

  1. Key English Test (KET),
  2. Preliminary English Test (PET),
  3. First Certificate in English (FCE),
  4. Certificate of Advanced English (CAE), and
  5. Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE).

These exams are designed to assess competency in English for learners of English as a second or foreign language.

KET is the easiest of the Cambridge exams. It is for elementary level. You can do this exam if you want to know that you have basic knowledge of reading, writing, speaking and listening in English. The test has three sections:

  1. Reading & Writing – 70 minutes, 56 questions.
  2. Listening – 25 minutes.
  3. Speaking – 8:10 minutes.

PET is for intermediate level. With this level of English you will be able to enjoy holidays in English speaking countries. And once you have passed this exam, you should probably continue your studying in English. The test has three sections:

  1. Reading & Writing are taken together – 90 minutes.
  2. Listening – 30 minutes.
  3. Speaking – an interview, 10 minutes.

FCE is the most important of the Cambridge exams as it gives you the first certificate in English. It is for upper intermediate level. The test has four sections:

  1. Reading & Use of English – 75 minutes.
  2. Writing – 2 essays, 80 minutes.
  3. Listening – 40 minutes. 
  4. Speaking – interview, normally with another candidate, 14 minutes.

CAE is for you if you can communicate with confidence in English for work or study purposes. The test has four sections:

  1. Reading & Use of English – 90 minutes.
  2. Writing – 2 tasks, 90 minutes.
  3. Listening – 40 minutes, 30 questions.
  4. Speaking – interview, normally with another candidate, 15 minutes.

CPE is the hardest of the Cambridge exams. It is for super advanced level. If you pass this test, it means that your English is good enough to teach English to others and to study at any British university. The test has five sections:

1. Reading – 4 parts, 90 minutes.

  • part 1: 3 texts with 18 gaps.
  • part 2: 4 related texts with 2 questions each.
  • part 3: text with missing paragraphs.
  • part 4: text with multiple choice questions.

2. Composition – 2 tasks, 2 hours.

3. Use of English – 3 parts, 90 minutes

  • part 1: text with 15 gaps.
  • part 2: word formation.
  • part 3: gapped sentences.

4. Listening – 2 parts, 3 or 4 recordings, 40 minutes.

  • part 1: 4 passages with multiple choice questions.
  • part 2: 1 long passage with gapped text.

5. Interview – normally with another candidate, 15 minutes.

Cambridge English exams aim to provide information about the learners’ level in each individual language skill (reading, writing, speaking and listening), to enable learners to act on problem areas and monitor their own progress. They are also designed to allow students to be actively involved in their learning, and gain self-confidence as they move to the next level.

Cambridge English exams are also mapped according to The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF or CEFR).

(CEF or CEFR) was put together by the Council of Europe as a way of standardizing the levels of language exams in different regions. It is very widely used internationally and all important exams are mapped to the CEFR.

CEFR has six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2. Here is a short description for each level and the Cambridge English exam at it.

A1 level is described as a basic ability to communicate and exchange information in a simple way.

A2 level is described as an ability to deal with simple, straightforward information and begin to express oneself in familiar contexts. Cambridge Key English Test (KET) is at this level.

B1 level is described as the ability to express oneself in a limited way in familiar situations and to deal in a general way with non-routine information. Cambridge Preliminary English Test (PET) is at this level.

B2 level is described as the capacity to achieve most goals and express oneself on a range of topics. Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE) is at this level.

C1 level is described as the ability to communicate with the emphasis on how well it is done, in terms of appropriacy, sensitivity and the capacity to deal with unfamiliar topics. Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) is at this level.

C2 level is described as the capacity to deal with material which is academic or cognitively demanding, and to use language to good effect at a level of performance which may in certain aspects be more advanced than that of an average native speaker. Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) is at this level.

What is your level of English? Which exam should you study for? If you want to check your level of English, Subscribe to our Blog to send you by email an English level test. At the end of the test your level will be assessed at a CEF level (A2 to C2). Then, with the comparison mentioned above, you will be able to decide which exam you should study for. 

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Ten Things Students Expect From EFL Teachers in the Classroom

When students enroll on an EFL course or enter an EFL class, they always have their list of wants and needs. When they feel these things aren’t right and their expectations aren’t addressed, they start complaining or stop attending the course. So EFL teachers should take the following things into consideration:

1. Determining students’ levels of English.

Students come to your class with different objectives, needs and levels in English. So, you need first to start with doing something to identify each learner’s level. You can conduct a placement test to know that. Classify your class into groups according to the level of each one and adjust your activities accordingly.

2. Giving students the chance to feel they make progress.

Students need to feel a sense of progress and achievement. You can do so by telling students with the objectives of each activity they do in the classroom. Then give some quizzes to measure their progress giving them immediate feedback.

3. Encouraging students and inspiring them.

Students need encouragement to keep going in their journey of learning. Encouragement for students is like the fuel for the car. Praise any little progress and provide support all the time. Plan not only to teach students but to make difference in their life. Always instil positive attitudes in them toward English learning and creativity in using it. Make them convinced that content they are being taught is meaningful and useful for their progress in life.

4. Creating interesting experiences.

When you plan your lesson, you should put in your mind that today’s students are different. They have control on their choices and spend their time differently so if you want your students to learn, learning experiences should be planned to be interesting and motivating. They should be inspiring, engaging, exciting and empowering them.

5. Providing useful learning materials.

Learning materials can support student learning and increase their success. Learning materials should be tailored to the content in which they’re being used and to the students they are using. The availability of these materials is very important. The Internet has many resources for teachers, most of them free, that can help them make their own materials. And then teachers should upload them to all students to be available at any time everywhere.

6. Covering the four main language skills.

Language skills relate to different aspects of using language such as listening, reading, writing or speaking. Skills are our ability to do these things. They are usually divided into two types: receptive and productive. Receptive skills are those used in understanding, reading or listening. Productive skills involve producing language, speaking or writing. It is important to consider the four skills when designing language learning materials. This helps to identify the objectives of each activity or lesson. It is generally accepted that receptive skills should come before productive skills, however, it is important to remember that communication is interactive and requires the use of all skills most of the time. Learning materials based on covering all skills are realistic considering the real use of language everyday.

7. Keeping good relationship with students.

Students come to the EFL classroom expecting that they will enjoy friendly and intimate atmosphere. Comfortable learning environment is very important for students to learn and memorize what they get. Teachers should start their classes with a big smile asking students about how they are and call each student with his/her name. when the teacher starts questioning, he/she should avoid threatening or embarrassing any student. The teacher should be just a facilitator or a guide to students not a boss.

8. Being aware of native speakers’ culture.

Foreign language is more than knowledge of some theoretical aspects like vocabulary of grammatical items. When communication matters, Fluency becomes more important than accuracy, ideas and opinions more exciting than grammar and vocabulary. EFL teachers in the classroom should combine linguistic competence with cultural awareness. It is the knowledge of communicating beyond words. By understanding, appreciating the other’s values, customs and beliefs and the awareness of the different cultures among and around us, students will be able to absorb the foreign communicative language more easily and consider how it is different from their native language.

9. Providing immediate correction and feedback.

For students to feel a sense of achievement, they should receive immediate correction and feedback for their spoken or written answers. Such feedback can help students learn more efficiently; and if used correctly, feedback can function as a very powerful tool to motivate students to learn.

10. Being fair and flexible.

Even life is not fair, but students expect classroom should be so. To be fair means being clear, helpful and caring for all students all the time. In addition, you should be flexible with your students. you should have the ability to change to suit the different situations. Your adaptation to new and different circumstances is the key factor that leads to success in your career of teaching EFL.

Seven Top Technologies Will be Used More in ELT in the Near Future

These technologies represent some of the latest tools and trends in ELT. While some are being implemented now, the use of others is on the horizon. So you need to prepare yourself for them in the next one to five years. Here is the list of them:

1. Smart Watches

Smart watches promise for new ways of learning. Its motion and pressure sensors can make it more applicable for activity-based learning.

2. Smart Phones, Tablets and Mobile Phones

Students who have these gadgets and used to access to the internet using them have been growing. Students can easily use these tools for their learning. It will give them an opportunity for more independence and openness in addition to more collaboration with tons of learning resources and apps.

3. Cloud Computing

Google Classroom  is one of the cloud-based tools which more schools will use in the next five years as it make easier for students and teachers to have access to information wherever they are, on whatever device they have.

4. Social Media

Using social media nowadays is the standard. They will be used more in the near future across schools and universities for research and share information

5. Open Source Software

Blogs, eBooks MOOCs and other open source content will be used increasingly as they provide students with a chance to have control on their learning.

6. Flipped or Blended Learning

This approach will become more commonly used in the next five years as it allows students to be responsible for their learning and gives opportunity to teachers to spend more time preparing challenging tasks to their students.

7. Gamification

Using games in learning increases the stickiness of the lesson in students’ memory as they – according to many researches – remember 90% of what they do. For that reason it is expected to use gamificaton more in the next two or three years.

In Sum: These new technologies continue to emerge and be used in the learning community in general and particularly in ELT field. As a teacher, you should be ready for that use evaluating them to see how to get the most benefit from each one.

The Latest Trends in English Language Teaching & Learning

1. CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning):

It is one of the latest trends in ELT. This model pursues to make a link between language learning and content development. That is to say, English learning is more oriented around school subjects (History, Science, Geography … etc.). The underlying principle is that English should not be the end of a language program but the means through which learners will acquire knowledge in other fields.

I think that this is a more academic and scientific orientations for which teachers have to be well prepared. The approach demands not only the mastery of English and the management of ELT methods but certain degree of awareness of some disciplines.

2. e-learning applied to ELT:

It is one of the latest trends and how it can be applied to ELT is probably a good area for research as the internet becomes more available to an ever wider group of students. How students interact and how the systems used facilitate that interaction is a question which will need to be understood to increase the effectiveness of this medium.

3. Blended learning:

It is the approach that is at the cutting edge in education and with a wide range of possibilities for ELT. It helps teachers optimize language learning and teaching by using ICT (Information and Communication Technology) resources (internet, web-based tools, CD-Roms, etc.) in combination with face-to-face sessions. E-learning that encompasses the use of technological and electronic support for educational purposes embraces blended learning.

4. TBLT (Task-based language teaching):

It is among the latest trends in ELT nowadays where users can have varieties of learning experiences in life-like environments. It focuses on the use of authentic language and on asking students to do meaningful tasks using the target language. Such tasks can include visiting a doctor, conducting an interview, or calling customer service for help.

Assessment is primarily based on task outcome (in other words the appropriate completion of real world tasks) rather than on accuracy of prescribed language forms. This makes this approach popular for developing target language fluency and student confidence. As such TBLT can be considered a branch of communicative language teaching (CLT).

5. Situated Language Teaching:

In this approach learners involve actively in meaningful language learning situations and contextualized practices created by the teacher. Situated language learning focuses on   the contexts, situations and knowledge construction. Skills and knowledge are best acquired within realistic contexts and authentic settings, where students are engaged in experiential language learning tasks.

6. Edutainment

It is started to be heard most nowadays.  It refers to using online games and games in ELT and self-language learning. Learners should be so engaged that they should forget even they are learning something. In this approach learning and entertainment are two words used together.

Six Myths about the Teaching of Listening

There are six myths or half-truths that are related to the teaching of listening during the process of language learning. They are false rituals which need to be analysed and put into question. Let’s consider them.

1. Listening can’t be taught:

In fact there are many things teachers can do to help students listen effectively. Teachers can continually expose their students to appropriate listening material which should be followed by good practice activities which give students opportunities to listen successfully and build confidence in listening skill. Teachers can teach students some strategies which can guide them to efficient listening.

2. Listening is a passive skill:

Listening is not passive but on contrary it is extremely active. During listening students do many activities. They guess, predict, infer, criticize and above all they interpret. Clearly it is a receptive rather than a passive skill.

3. For students, understanding foreign speakers of English is easier than understanding native speakers.

Of course it depends on other conditions such as the speed of the speaker talk and the amount of exposure to the target language. A further point is that the type of English students are exposed to affects their performance in the listening work they do in classroom.

4. Listening to a foreign language and listening to our native language involve same skills:

There are some differences in applying these skills. When we listen to our language we listen with “half an ear” that is without concentrating fully but still we understand the message. On the other side when we listen to a foreign language, we often need to pay full attention to the message to understand.

5. Students should understand every word while listening in the classroom:

It is not necessary as speech usually consists of words that are not important. Spoken language includes redundancy which makes listening easier because it allows us not to focus fully on every word. But one important point must be considered here, students can afford not to listen to every word when they have a command of basic grammar and vocabulary. In this case, they will be able to decide which words are significant and which ones they can ignore.

6. Students shouldn’t be allowed to read the scripts of recordings:

When it happens, it may be said that students will focus on the reading more than the listening. The solution here is to use the script at the final stage after students listen to the text at least twice. Overall, it must be said that the exposure to the script has its benefits such as allowing students to see the difference between the written and spoken form of words. It also allows them to see which words are “swallowed” and notice prominent grammar points.

15 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Teaching to Improve

Perhaps your previous school year went well and your teaching was amazing. Maybe you think it wasn’t and it went poorly. Maybe you can describe your previous school year and evaluate your teaching with different adjectives. Maybe you were not conscious about your performance.

So here are some questions to help you reflect on that school year so that you can be aware of what had happened and then can do your best in summer to make the next school year better.

  1. When were students at their best and how did I know?
  2. When did I notice myself doing the best and how did I know?
  3. What were classroom management strategies I used and were they successful?
  4. What did I do to save time as a teacher? Did I succeed?
  5. What are the key things that affect my effectiveness as a teacher?
  6. What was my teaching philosophy and was it reflected on my teaching practices?
  7. How was my relationship with my colleagues and how did it affect my performance?
  8. How was my relationship with my students and how did it affect their performance?
  9. How did I spend time inside and outside the classroom and how did I know that I did the right/wrong things?
  10. What did I do to motivate students to do what I asked them to do?
  11. Of the things that I didn’t do last year, which one was most worth my time to do?
  12. Could I affect my students and changed their lives positively? What should I do to do so?
  13. Did I succeed in making teaching fun for me? What should be done to feel so?
  14. What am I most excited about for the next year? Am I prepared for it?
  15. What is the one “big idea/thing” I should focus on during this summer to improve my teaching?
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