Eight Back-to-School Tips for ELT Supervisors

The supervisor should concern for creating a successful relationship with the teachers from the first day of the school year. This will make teachers enthusiastic, respectful and admirable of their work and their supervisor. Considering that, the supervisor should:

  1. Explain what he can offer to the teachers clarifying that his goal is to collaborate with them to develop their and the students’ four language skills, listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  2. Ask to observe a class declaring that his goal is not to watch how the teacher teaches but in order to learn along with the teacher.
  3. Give suggestions and ideas that can be put into use and be ready to collaborate with the teachers to implement them.
  4. Provide teachers with basic teaching resources that can be used and adapted for the students creatively.
  5. Role model some teaching practices getting the class engaged and motivated.
  6. Guide teachers to write focused and meaningful objectives to lessons.
  7. Help teachers to reflect on their teaching by providing them with the time to contemplate on the day’s lesson.
  8. Convey encouragement and support along with professional respect and personal interest.

In closing, supervisors should be eager and excited of teaching and learning and share these positive feelings with their teachers. Being active listener and giving the feeling of partnership are responsible to give teachers a head start along the school year.

Hard but not impossible

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Learning a new language is not easy. It is hard for adults and busy people to learn a new language that sounds differently from their mother tongue and that they don’t use outside the classroom.

It is really hard, but not impossible. Recent studies suggest that you can get better at a foreign language simply by listening to it, without speaking it yourself.

In other words, if you listen regularly to podcasts in the language you’re trying to learn, you will learn it at the end.

One hour listening practice a day following with some simple tasks is a good start to improve your listening comprehension and increase your ability to distinguish sounds.

Also, it is recommended to watch TV shows or short video clips and read material written in the language you are learning.

The goal is to be surrounded by the target language at all times and immerse yourself in it. Still, you should be both passive and active when you learn a foreign language, that is to listen and speak, read and write. In other words you should receive and produce something in the language you are learning EVERY DAY.

 

Best MOOCs for EFL teachers

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There are so many MOOCs for EFL teachers. I selected the following courses as I think they’re the best ones for EFL teachers to get the basic professional development. If EFL teachers take these courses, they will acquire the theoretical background of language teaching approaches and they will develop their teaching practices in the classroom as well.

* Teaching for Success: Practices for English Language Teaching

https://www.futurelearn.com/programs/english-language-teaching

1. Lessons and Teaching.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/english-language-teaching

2. Learning and Learners

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/english-language-teaching-learning

3. The Classroom and the World.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/english-language-teaching-classroom

* Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/understanding-language

* Teach English Now! Second Language Listening, Speaking, and Pronunciation

https://www.coursera.org/learn/tesol-speaking

* Teach English Now! Second Language Reading, Writing, and Grammar

https://www.coursera.org/learn/tesol-writing

* Teach English Now! Lesson Design and Assessment

https://www.coursera.org/learn/lesson-design

* Introduction to Teaching English as a Second Language

https://alison.com/courses/Teaching-English-as-a-Second-Language

A checklist for a good language test

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If you have already prepared a language test, don’t print it unless you check the following points. Then, you may go ahead to print it or improve it before printing. You should ensure that your test:

  • Follows the specifications assigned for preparing the language tests.
  • Measures the achievement of the desired objectives.
  • Tests what it ought to test and measures what it is supposed to measure.
  • Covers all items that have been taught or studied and includes items from different areas of the syllabus.
  • Tests vocabulary as well as grammar.
  • Includes everyday and communicative language.
  • Is neither too difficult nor too easy but progressive in difficulty.
  • Is appropriate in length for the allocated time.
  • Tells students what to do exactly and in a clear way.
  • Is easy to be conducted and scored without wasting too much time or effort.
  • Produces the same results if it is given twice to same students under the same conditions.

The Cycle of Creating a Good Language Test

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  1. The decision of providing and making the test:

It is usually made by the head teacher, administration, or the supervisor to select a teacher to construct the test. Or the teacher himself decides to make and provide the test as a formative kind of assessment of students’ learning.

  1. Considering the specifications:

It is related to have and get a look at the specifications of the test that should be followed to produce the test in its final version.

  1. Collecting information for the test:

In this stage the test provider collects information about the students (the test takers), their levels, abilities, points of weakness and points of strength as well and about the content on which the test is based, its objectives and outcomes, the items that have been taught and the teacher focused on and the items that have not been taught or have less focus in teaching.

  1. Assembling the materials for the test:

Here the test provider should write sample questions for the test following the specifications. As many questions as possible should be written down on a separate paper in this stage.

  1. Making the test:

According to the information collected in stage 3, the test provider should select from the questions written in stage 4 those questions which are suitable and use them to construct the test according to stage 2. Marks should be provided besides each question in the test as well.

  1. Marking and grading the test:

After conducting the test, it should be marked and graded. Marking means providing accurate marks for each students while grading means putting the marks into a meaningful category so that the test results can be understood.

  1. Reporting and communicating the test results:

In the final stage, test takers and others who concern should be provided with the test results and any other information needed for an appropriate interpretation.

Eight Practical Steps to Teach Grammar Rules

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  1. Start with questions that lead to model sentences in which the grammatical rule is included.

E.g. How long have you been learning English?

How long have they been playing football?

How long has she been cooking pizza? Etc.

  1. Encouraging students to answer the questions in complete sentences using the grammatical rule and write the model sentences on the board.
  2. Read the sentences focusing on the main features of the rule (highlight the form with different colour or by underlining them).
  3. Tell students the function and the meaning of the grammatical rule, when to use it and how to apply it in communication.
  4. Encourage students to do some different and various exercises on the rule to familiarize them with it. Check understanding and involve as many students as possible.
  5. Elicit the form of the rule from students and write it on the board.
  6. Ask students to give more meaningful examples of the rule.
  7. Give more practice of the rule creating real-life situations for students to use the rule in.

Ten Simple Assessment Ideas for Everyday Use

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We always rely on written tests to assess our students. written tests cover little amount of  the learning material, so we should search for more ideas to show us that we are moving on, and whether our students have understood our explanation or they need more practice. I think the following ideas are useful to assess to what extent the students have learnt and what their weaknesses are:

  1. Ask open-ended questions starting with why and how.
  2. Ask for a summary of the lesson at the end.
  3. Use short tests/quizzes regularly and test one thing every time.
  4. Encourage role-play activities especially for conversations.
  5. Ask for comments from students on teaching procedures.
  6. Use mind map tools to encourage students to talk.
  7. Ask students to prepare something and talk about it.
  8. Encourage exchanging books among students to mark.
  9. Use rubrics and ask students to assess themselves.
  10. Exploit games and puzzles to assess language usage.

What else can you add? Write what you already do to assess your students daily.

Understanding Your Low-Achiever Students

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Who is the low-achiever student?

If the student doesn’t or achieves to a low extent the required objectives at the end of the lesson, unit or course, it is important to recognize and identify him/her as a low achiever. In this case, a remedial plan should be designed to allow him/her to learn the required knowledge and skills to achieve the established objectives.

Why are some students low achievers?

Some students are low achievers due to different and various reasons. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Perhaps the content is too difficult or the students must learn a large amount of it in a short time.
  2. Maybe there was no time for practice, revision or recycling the previous content.
  3. The students may use wrong or poor learning strategies or study habits when learning or studying their lessons.
  4. The students may suffer from stress, depression, physical illness or learning disability.
  5. The attitude of the students towards education may be negative. They may lack motivation to learn and study.
  6. The reasons may relate to the teachers and teaching. Teachers may be unclear concerning to the objectives their students should achieve. Teachers may use poor or inappropriate teaching or assessment techniques. Feedback and assistance that must be provided to low achievers may be totally absent or provided too late.

How to assist students to prevent their failure and ensure their achievement of objectives?

  1. Set the objectives that should be achieved at the end of learning sessions and prepare how to assess their achievement. Objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic and timed) and be informed to the students orally at the beginning of each learning session.
  2. Diagnose the difficulties as soon as possible or anticipate them and prepare how to deal with and react to them.
  3. Observe the students and provide them with immediate feedback concerning to their points of weakness.
  4. Prepare some procedures the students should follow or design and implement a remedial plan to remedy your students’ points of weakness.
  5. Consult and get advice as early as possible from your colleagues, supervisor, psychological and social specialist regarding to learning issues of your students.

What to do if unable to prevent failure or remedy weakness?

  1. Never give a passing mark to the learner who doesn’t deserve it.
  2. Make professional judgments about your students’ performance.
  3. Document your judgments and let the school principal and parents be aware of them.
  4. Don’t feel “bad”. Failure in a course can be a signal for students to re-consider their choices of the kind of learning or specialization or at least it will mean that, unless they work hard, they won’t pass.

12 Tips to Control a Large Class.

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It’s difficult to control a large class which includes different abilities and speeds of learning. It’s not easy to give each student the attention he needs. In addition, students may not have the textbooks to write on, so they have the chance to make noise. The following 12 tips will help you to overcome the previous challenges and achieve a satisfied level of control on your large class so that your teaching will be effective.

  1. State a system for everything, e.g. speaking, turn taking, respect of others, test taking, answering questions, …… etc.
  2. Achieve an agreement with the students from the first beginning. Focus on praising frequently those who are committing to their promises.
  3. Be firm but warm. Use strict words but preserve the dignity of students and don’t humiliate them.
  4. Pursue the main source of disciplinary problems not symptoms and think and use various alternatives to solve them.
  5. Get used to call your students with their first and second names.
  6. Increase the amount of interaction activities during each lesson.
  7. Use pair-work or small group-work technique when doing the exercises considering the variation in ability levels.
  8. Use audio-visual aids to attract students’ attention and facilitate learning.
  9. Don’t bury yourself in the textbook or the preparation notes but always eye contact with students.
  10. Don’t plant your feet firmly in one place for the whole lesson but always move around the class.
  11. Dress appropriately and use effective facial and hand gestures.
  12. Arrange the chairs, organize the board, free the class from external noises, speak up to be heard and show yourself to all the students in the classroom.

Consider Six Main Points in your Assessment

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Before writing any examination questions or designing assessment exercises, you should keep in mind the following six points:

  1. Provide your students with the opportunity to show to what extent they have achieved the outcomes of learning of the whole syllabus or the lesson at hand. Accordingly, your assessment should differentiate between those who have already learned and those who need revision or more practice.
  1. Focus only on the most important aspects of the course and the objectives that you set for each lesson or unit, rather than other details.
  1. Provide feedback on performance as soon as possible so that students may improve themselves. Remember that the main aim of assessment is that students are able to learn through the process of assessment and view assessment as part of their learning process.
  1. Provide a means of encouragement by giving students the chance to see and sense their success and progress. It builds and increases their self-confidence as achievers.
  1. Design clear assessment criteria and marking guidance that allow differentiation and make students feel that you are fair.
  1. Meet all of your students’ styles of learning by using different and various assessment means and tools but assess one thing at a time.
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