Hunger Makes a Thief of any Man, or Cheap Excuses for Lousy Teaching

At a private English school I once worked at years ago in South Korea I was so desperately hungry that I quickly popped into the teachers room, grabbed my third rate sandwich from the nearby 7-11, and while carefully hiding it between pages 22 and 23 of SuperKids 1, I slipped back into the classroom. After telling the children to do some pair work I carefully munched away…
It was definitely a low point in my years of teaching but it taught me the importance of proper planning. It also taught me to hate all these people who say they can go all day without eating.

OUP Webinar – How to Get Your Students to Write!

I was just catching up on my reading at the OUP ELT Global Blog when I came across an interesting primer for an upcoming webinar titled, “It’s Hard Enough to Find Enough Class Time for Writing”, the third in their Solutions Writing Challenge.


[Writing lessons] get treated like an extra add-on – only to be brought out when all other lessons have been completed. A shame though, don’t you think? We talk about preparing our students for the world of the 21st century in which digital literacy is key, but we find it challenging to allow time for doing those writing lessons.

South African freelance teacher Elna Coetzer will be describing some of her strategies and ideas for teaching writing in the classroom. Although it seems to be focused on the OUP textbook Solutions, I’m sure it will be full of insights for anyone in the business.

The webinar takes place on April 22nd, 2015, and then again on the 24th. You can sign up for it at the OUP registration page.

Yes, in ELT, Less Can Actually be More!

Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto, co-author of OUP’s best selling Let’s Go series, has penned a must-read post on the OUP ELT Global Blog called Teach Less to Help Young Students Learn More.

“Teachers are often pressured to teach more – more vocabulary, more grammar, more content – to satisfy parents and administrators. Moving through a coursebook quickly becomes the measure of success… [However] the measure of a successful lesson isn’t how much you teach; it’s how much students can do with the language they’ve learned.”

Sound familiar? Read more of Barbara’s wonderful piece here.

Upcoming Webinar: Changing with the Times: The 21st Century Classroom

Adapting technology for use in the EFL classroom continues to be a hobby/concern/obsession of mine. So my interest was piqued by a blog post on the OUP Global ELT Blog by the teacher and materials developer Gareth Davies titled “Changing with the Times: The 21st Century Classroom,” in which he asks:

“How does this digitalisation of life affect our students when they come into our classrooms? Have their expectations changed or their behaviour patterns? Should we be looking to adapt our methodology to meet the modern challenges of 21st Century teaching?”

A webinar on 30th of January by Mr. Davies will expand on his thoughts in the blog. Alas I’ll be traveling in Japan then, but just in case I plan to sign up anyway. And so should you, by visiting the registration page. In the meantime you can read more material written by Mr. Davies by checking out his blogs.

Here is a video from Mr. Davies discussing interactive whiteboards:

And another on using digital media with teenagers:

Cool, I’m Famous at OUP Now…Sort of…

I just want to say a big (and very belated) thanks to Verissimo Toste for so unexpectedly writing such a great blog post at OUP’s Global ELT Blog.

We’re helping to solve your EFL teaching problems by answering your questions every two weeks. This week’s blog is in response to Mark Armstrong’s blog comment regarding the challenge of helping students to self-correct their own writing…  Read More

Verissimo is a very knowledgable instructor for whom I have lots of time. I was going to write more about him and some of the materials he has available online at a later date but for now you can check him out here:

It’s been a slow few weeks here are at ESL Review due to the holiday season but we’ll be back in January with lots of reviews about cool stuff to use in English classes.

Upcoming Webinar: Teaching Young Learners with Special Needs

Karen Frazier is a teacher I greatly respect, both for her wealth of experience, and for her co-authorship of the Let’s Go series. So when I found that she will be hosting a webinar called Teaching young learners with special needs – tips from a fellow teacher, my ears perked up. Anyone who has spent a few years in the classroom will be able to relate to the opening of her piece by the same title on the OUP ELT blog:

Every ELT teacher has experienced a moment when he or she wonders what else can be done to help a student who seems to be struggling in class. Trying new activities and methods may work, but sometimes the student continues to have problems. This may suggest the student has some underlying disability. It could also mean that the student is struggling primarily because the language is different from the student’s first language or because of issues related to acculturation.

In either case, what can a teacher do in class to help this student?

Indeed, I had a child or two in mind as I was reading this. The webinar takes place on the 12th of December and you can sign up by visiting the registration page. Even if you are not sure you can make the time, sign up anyway and get a recording of the event sent to you by OUP. No excuses for a topic of this importance and a speaker of this stature.

For a taste of Karen Frazier, check out her speaking on the use of puppets and flashcards in the classroom:

Upcoming Webinar: Helping Your Students to Become Effective Writers

I just finished reading a thought-provoking piece on the OUP ELT blog by Julie Moore (not to be confused with the actress), a freelance lexicographer and materials writer, on whether we ELTs really do enough to teach writing.

In ELT, we often talk about teaching the four skills; reading, writing, listening, and speaking. But how much class time do we actually devote to teaching writing skills? I know that for many years in my own teaching career, my ‘teaching’ of writing skills amounted to little more than five minutes (emphasis mine) going through a homework task at the end of the lesson. The task might be linked to the topic of the lesson and there might be a bit of useful vocabulary, a few key words or phrases in a nice shaded box, but otherwise, I think my students were pretty much left to their own devices.

If this sounds familiar, then sign up for her upcoming webinar, Helping your students to become effective writers, and gain access to her decades of experience and wisdom. It takes place on November 26th and 27th, so hurry on over to the registration page to sign up.

For a sample of the Julie Moore experience, I’ve dug up some videos, including:

Too busy to attend? As I’ve mentioned before, shortly after the webinar OUP sends out an email to everyone who signed up (whether they watched it live or not) with a link to a recording of the event which you can watch at your leisure.

Upcoming Webinar: Developing Effective Presentation Skills

Thomas Healy

I just finished reading this great piece on the OUP ELT Global Blog which tells the story of ELT instructor and presenter Thomas Healy’s journey from technology neophyte to proselytizer. There are some great tips about putting Facebook to use in the classroom with regards to giving presentations, and touches on (one of my favorite topics) making the most out of precious class time with technology. Mr. Healy will be expanding on this in a follow-up webinar entitled Developing Effective Presentation Skills, which takes place on the 8th and 14th of November. Go to the registration page to sign up and check your local time. 

Can’t make it? Shortly after the webinar has concluded OUP sends an email to everyone who has signed up with a link to a recording of the event, including the online chatter of the attendees. That’s great news for people whose changing schedules often prevent them from attending the live events. While there is the obvious downside of not being able to interact with the presenter and other attendees, at least you will have access to the knowledge being imparted by Mr. Healy. So sign up and watch at your leisure.

Upcoming OUP Webinar: Dyslexia – A Problem or a Gift?

Dyslexia is something I first learned about from watching the Cosby Show when I was a child. But as an adult I cannot remember it being discussed much among coworkers, nor can I honestly recall giving it too much thought myself. Reading Marie Delaney’s post at OUP’s English language teaching blog made me wish I had. More than anything else I read, I gulped at the detrimental effect on student confidence that dyslexia has, and what a miserable experience the classroom can be for students with the condition.

Fortunately Marie Delaney’s upcoming OUP webinar, Dyslexia – A Problem or a Gift?, should prove very helpful by explaining how to understand the main issues concerning dyslexia; the strengths of dyslexic learners; and practical classroom strategies for us teachers. It will take place on the 9th and 18th of October – visit the registration page to check your local time and to sign up.

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Upcoming OUP Webinar: Speaking in the Monolingual Classroom

Imagine this scenario: all your students have the same L1; they all come from the same town; they may even work in the same company. The students are fine…they’re fine…but the class atmosphere is somehow…you know…awkward. There’s not a lot of communication going on, not a lot of fun, and you start to doubt your ability as a teacher. Well, Mike Boyle, who has written such textbooks as American English File and Smart Choicehas some tips to help us out with this seemingly intractable problem in his upcoming webinar (September 26 and 27), Speaking in the Monolingual Classroom. Click here to register before it’s all full up.

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