Blog name: eslwriting.org, by Rob Whyte
Blog's date of creation: June 2010
Where are you located in the world: Busan, South Korea
1. What do you think makes your blog special?
I'm not really sure my blog is special. It's not very attractive, nor is it especially well laid out.
In terms of content, teachers might find it useful because I post a lot of student-centered language learning activities. That's one unique aspect of the blog: I speak to ESL students directly and ESL teachers indirectly.
2. What is the most useful resource/page/section on your blog?
The most useful section for teachers might be the posts under Speaking Activities. There are several semesters of university-level speaking activities here.
If I could highlight one activity, I would suggest a video pair work exercise, similar to this one:
This is an especially fun and challenging 20 minute activity, ideal for a class that needs a change from the routine.
3. How do you make lessons fun and engaging for your students?
Managing the pace of a class is, I think, critical to creating a fun learning environment. By pace, I mean varying the types of activities with frequency.
I tend to divide a 50 class into three segments, 10 minute quickie warmer, 20-30 minutes from the book, and 10-15 creative pair or small group work.
Constantly changing the methods and learning content keeps the class attentive and avoids the boredom that comes from the teacher saying "next page."
4. What are your top three suggestions for English learners?
1. Read everyday, but choose material that is appropriate for your vocabulary level.
2. Spend at least 20 minutes a day on concentrated listening. With so many podcasts and smart phones, finding something to listen to while riding a bus or subway isn't a problem anymore.
3. No matter what level a student might be at, always come back to the basics to improve spoken fluency. That means always practice basic questions, answers, and simple grammatical styles.
5. Could you share some wisdom? What is the most common mistake you see English teachers make?
Here are a couple of errors in practice and thought that I have made and suspect others do as well.
1. Don't be the sage on the stage.
Sometimes teachers want to demonstrate their own brilliance. That's a mistake. Being a teacher is a role, so play the role of a modest adult who is concerned about student progress.
2. Don't talk too much.
Years ago I took a TEFL [Teaching English as a foreign language] class in Toronto. The instructor said teacher talk time should be 30% of the class or less. Now with more than 10 years of teaching experience under my belt, that small claim is true and extremely helpful.
3. Be prepared.
By prepared I mean a full set of activities and learning objectives. Plus, be prepared for the little bumps that normally occur in the journey of life. Computer doesn't work, the light bulb in the projector burns out, an activity completely bombs. Always have a back up plan.