Sunday, December 12, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Thank you Janet for sharing so many sites and tips on how to make students enjoy learning Phrasal Verbs!
Janet Bianchini Fun with Phrasal Verbs!
Thank you Mike for showing us how to start Faceblogging!
Mike Harrison Getting some Facebook time with your colleagues
Thank you Miguel for reminding me that I have a Flip and I should get busy making good use of it!
Miguel Mendoza Flip Cameras in the ELT Classroom
Thank you Guido for the best session about Twitter I’ve ever attended – it was great to see you again!
Guido Europeaantje Twitter: Turn 140 Characters into a Virtual Staffroom
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I finally got the Internet at home and have so much to catch up with! So many new posts, a new version of Twitter and the Virtual Round Table conference!
Almost everyone has been asking me what happened (‘You said you were staying in Poland!’) and where I ended up – so here we go :)
|Where I live now|
In order to avoid confusion and to answer all the questions, I’ve divided all my musing into a few categories. Enjoy!
-I teach 22.5 hours a week (1 hour=60 min) and my timetable consists of YL, teenage and adult classes
-As I live very close to the Medebaldea center (the school has 2 more), most of my classes were scheduled to take place there. It takes me 5min to get to work on foot which is awesome especially after travelling to school for more than an hour in Istanbul.
-I also get to teach in a public Catholic school called Larraona and Ikastola San Fermin (Ikastola means school in Basque as I was told)
-Every Tuesday and Thursday I walk for 25 min to get to Mutua Navarra for my 7.30 off site company class - don’t mind the walk though – the students are great there!
-My biggest challenge will be the, already famous on Twitter, 3 year olds. As I have never taught such small kids, it’s going to be tough. During my first class one girl started crying and I had no idea why. I’ll update you on how things go :)
-After a two year break – I got three adult groups – all on a Pre-Intermediate level. How I enjoy these classes!
-Some of my classes are in blocks and the longest one is 4.5 hours without any breaks. By no breaks I mean no breaks. The classes are scheduled as follows: 16-18, 18-19, 19-20.30. No comment.
-We were all handed cheap MP3 players in order to download all the tracks we need. There are no CDs available to use so everyone has to carry the MP3 player and the speakers all day long to every school they teach in. Interesting.
Spain and Pamplona – first impressions and observations
-Trying to get the Internet at home is a pain. That’s all I have to say about it. Eventually you end up buying one of these ridiculously expensive USB sticks or whatever they are called or knock on the neighbours’ doors asking for their password offering money in return.
-Shops close on Sundays. Only bars and cinemas are open. If you want to buy bread on Sunday – fat chance!
-Dubbing in cinemas will drive me mad. Apparently there is no chance to watch films with subtitles in Pamplona.
-It seems impossible to pay with a 500Euro banknote – none of the shops or restaurants want to accept it.
-People jog a lot, even at 7 am when I go to work.
-You can buy cigarettes either in special tobacco shops or from vending machines in bars.
-There are tons of twins around – is that a Pamplona thing?
-Wines here are awesome and food is great – people who were telling me that the pintxos in Pamplona are delicious were 100% right!
-It seems impossible to buy a prepaid sim card without buying a phone – the shop assistants always say they have just run of them so everyone ends up buying the phone as well.
-The siesta. From around 14 till 16 shops, banks, offices etc close down. Every day. Why didn’t we have it in Turkey I wonder?
-I simply love entering supermarkets and seeing the jamón after living without pork products for three years :)
-Life is OK now - it was harder at the beginning without the Internet but now things are fine. It’s not paradise though – starting your life from scratch in a foreign country is always tough at the beginning. Once you’ve experienced it, you know it takes time to make friends and start feeling comfortable.
-Thanks to Couch Surfing I managed to meet some very nice people who took me around and gave some useful tips concerning Pamplona and life in Spain in general – in case you’re reading this – thanks a bunch!
-I still don’t know where exactly my apartment is located. Seems like its somewhere between Medebaldea and Barañain. But then again there is Etxabakoitz which is close as well. No, I haven’t misspelled that – Etxabakoitz. It’s gonna take me weeks to learn how to pronounce that so don’t worry if you can’t.
-I live with a lovely Hungarian couple – Katalin and Peter. Katalin works at Clen College as well and I’ve just learned that her CELTA tutor in Hungary was working with me in Poland 4 years ago. Small world!
-People keep calling me Ana which I will probably have to accept soon :)
Spanish students and teaching in Spain
-I was warned many times that they can be naughty and talkative, misbehaving and nasty. So far, I haven’t really noticed that.
-The first thing I realized having entered the classroom was the students’ pronunciation – sometimes I have no idea what they are saying. The sound /g/ is the biggest issue as it almost always gets pronounced as /h/. There seems to be an issue with /s/ and / ʃ/ as well but I have yet to figure out why.
-Some students here don’t think of themselves as Spanish. They say they speak Euskera (not Basque) and feel very proud of that. Sensitive issue?
-Teaching English seems so much easier than back in Poland in Turkey. So many words in Spanish are similar to their English equivalents that you end up saving a lot of precious classroom time for explanations.
-Last week one of my teenage students asked for a translation in Spanish and didn’t get one. What followed was a 10 min discussion – the students simply couldn’t understand how one can decide to live in a foreign country without speaking the language spoken there. Does that mean I’m crazy having made such a decision?
-So far my knowledge of Spanish consists of random words and phrases such as ‘una caña’ ‘si’ and ‘cafe con leche’ :)
-I should be starting classes after 19th Oct but so far I’ve been using this wonderful site to learn the basics (The Mi Vida Loca series is fantastic!)
-After Turkey, it’s pretty easy to figure out what people are saying even without knowing the language so, well...
|Where I'm going soon|
-I definitely have to learn Spanish.
-I'm waiting impatiently for some of my friends to come and visit and I do hope to meet some other bloggers from Spain soon!
I'm really sorry I wasn't able to make it to the IATEFL Poland in Bydgoszcz this year but there is TESOL France coming up in November. I've already bought the tickets and booked a hotel so hope to meet some of you in Paris!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Anyway, as some of you may have already heard, I ended up in Pamplona, Spain.
We´ll see how things will work out here but I'm pretty positive about this experience :)
The main issue is - I have no Internet access at home so until I get it, I will have to stay away from blogging, Twitter and my PLN. I´m doing everything I can to fix this problem asap but god knows how long it´s going to last.
Who said life in Spain will be easy...
Keep your fingers crossed everyone! :)
Sunday, August 8, 2010
|With Anna and my friend Sasha in Braga :)|
Friday, July 23, 2010
- Get certified – CELTA or TEFL might be expensive but they’re totally worth the money. You may have a Master’s from your local university but the employers need an internationally recognized document proving that you’re a teacher. It will simply make your life easier though it certainly is possible to get a job abroad without CELTA / TEFL. I wouldn't recommend doing the courses online though - good schools won't accept that!
- Look for a job on reputable websites – this one has worked for me.
- Send out tons of resumes – don’t get discouraged if you get hardly any replies. Send more and more and more!
- Try to get some international experience – short summer courses are a good option. Summer schools need plenty of teachers every year so your chances are a lot higher.
- Don’t be fussy – most likely you will have to teach kids, business English and/or 1 to 1 classes. Take what they give, you can get picky later on.
- Do a thorough research – there are plenty of forums and message boards – get to know people who have worked in a country you want to work in. Check out the visa regulations and the local market requirements.
- Be realistic – if you’re not and EU citizen, your chances of getting a job in Europe might be slim. Some countries employ only NESTs and you won’t be considered at all. Sad but true.
- Save some money. You might need it for the flight, flat deposit, first rent, getting a new phone etc.
- Once you’ve been offered a job, check out the employer. Google the school and check whether they have a website. Look for reviews and opinions.
- Be cautious – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Use your common sense!
- Choose a country you want to work in.
- Find a CELTA course there.
- Save some money.
- Do the country/ visa/ local market research.
- While you do your CELTA a) ask the local teachers for help and advice b) start looking for a job and a flat.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
The students may also use free online dictionaries, e.g. this one or that one.
You may also ask the students to prepare the envelopes as homework. It's pretty useful before an exam! I've tried it once as a revision - the students brought the envelopes having chosen the categories themselves so we had e.g. T-words, Unit 6 words, Adjectives. Some students chose the same categories but it isn't an issue - the words inside the envelopes are never exactly the same!
Friday, June 4, 2010
1. The Spelling Race – students line up in 2 rows facing the board. The teacher calls out a word. Students have to write it down letter by letter i.e. each letter is written by one student. Every student has one move – s/he can write down a letter or make one correction if a mistake has been made. The team that finishes first wins (provided that they spelt a word correctly!). Perfect for a revision before an exam!
2. The longest word – students line up in 2 rows facing the board. The teacher writes a long word horizontally on the board twice (there should be one word for each group). The students run to the board one by one and write down words beginning with one of the letters in the word written by the teacher. It’s good as a filler or an ice-breaker. The team that finishes first, wins. Extra point may be given to the team that writes the longest word.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Shadow Puppet Theatre
Shadow Puppet Theatre is an engaging activity that uses simple techniques to make the process of learning about new characters more enjoyable and rewarding. This hands on approach allows learners to develop their speaking and writing skills, as well as giving an opportunity to use real language in a positive student centred environment. It is suitable for use with primary students but can also be adapted to suit higher levels. Shadow puppet theatre can be used to introduce characters from readers and main course books or to support general language learning in the classroom.
The basis of this technique is very simple. Students should be in groups of 4-6 students for the duration of the project. Groups could be friendship based, teacher chosen or randomly chosen. A useful way to organize groups is to give each child a colour and then ask all the reds to group, all the blues.. etc. Once the groups are formed, students should be provided with a number of characters, ideally projected onto a whiteboard. These characters could be from material used in class or totally fictional. As a starter activity, learners should describe two characters in a set time and note down their groups ideas on a post-it. During feedback students can stick their post-its next to the characters on the board so that the teacher can share and elicit sentences from the material provided.
After feeding back to the class, the outline of the task should be shared with the group. The teacher should reveal that groups choose at least two characters and create a short shadow puppet sketch. A good way to organize this is to hand out envelopes containing a matching activity of job descriptions and roles to the groups. The learners then complete the activity before the teacher shares the answers on the board. Students can then be asked to choose a role. To ensure success, these roles should be clear and a realistic time frame should be given. The jobs should include:
• Script writers- write the story and narrate during the performance.
• Puppet makers- make the puppets and read the dialogue during the performance.
A group size of 4 is ideal for this activity as 2 students can be assigned to each job, so the learners feel supported by working in pairs. Larger groups can be given more characters to work with and the extra students can help by holding the screens or being responsible for the light source during the show. Groups are then assigned a target language to include in the production as a focus point. The target language should be used occasionally within the dialogue to make communication more natural. Using the target language exclusively could lead to unrealistic dialogues with limited meaning.
The script writers should write a short dialogue including the target language for the performance. It is important to remind learners to include some background information before the dialogue begins, e.g. One day Homer and Bart were in the kitchen…
The puppet makers should draw and cut out the characters on the cardboard provided- cutting holes for eyes and other features creates a great effect. They can then stick the character to a pencil or wooden stick to complete the puppet. It is a good idea to give time to experiment for both script writers and puppet makers- creating an opportunity for peer assessment within the group before the performance.
The final product can be presented either in front of the whole class or between two groups. Before the performance it is a good idea to explain where students are expected to sit or stand during each show. This will allow a smooth transition between groups. During the performances there is an opportunity for peer (audience) assessment and students should complete feedback forms accordingly. The criteria used could be discussed and agreed on with the class, or created by the teacher and shared before the performance. Alongside assessment for learning, filming is a valuable tool to be used with learners. In fact, it has a double effect, firstly learners really strive to achieve their best (and often ask for two takes!) and secondly, it gives a chance to revisit the material in the future for further analysis in the class.
When using new activities it is important to know how the strategy will benefit learners and how much time should be devoted to the process in its entirety. This technique can be extended or reduced to suit the needs of a variety of language learners and language teachers. When time is restricted it can be completed in as few as three lessons, one for set up, the second for dialogue writing and puppet making and the final for the performances. However, students can get a great deal from the sessions and a longer time period would be preferable to allow for trial and error during the developmental stages. Shadow puppet theatre can be used as an example of CLIL in the language classroom and as such be extended to include a number of subject areas, e.g.
• Learners could research ideal screen materials in Science, learning keywords such as transparent, translucent and opaque. They could also investigate light sources alongside screen materials to produce the optimum environment for their puppets to be show cased.
• In Design Technology, students could use the design process to make screens
• In History traditional puppet shows could be explored- this would be of particular interest in countries such as Turkey as shadow puppet theatre was used for entertainment in the past.
• Voice projection and intonation could be explored in the Drama class.
• Scenes could be created in the Art class.
In fact planning time with other subject areas would be a fantastic way of incorporating a real cross curricular approach.
In conclusion, this technique is a flexible activity that can be altered to suit a variety of situations. It engages learners and allows freedom of thought in the EFL classroom. The roles and time restrictions given support learners by keeping them focused allowing the language teacher time to advise students as and when required. Therefore the teacher is facilitating the learning process while students take ownership of their projects, improving their self esteem as they strive to achieve their potential.