Resourceful, by Rachael
Blog's date of creation: February 2012
Where are you located in the world: UK
1. What do you think makes your blog special?
I spend most of my time writing ELT [English Language Teaching] materials for publication. I love it, but I rarely get to interact with teachers actually using my materials.
The materials I create for my blog are different because I get immediate feedback, which is great. Plus I can do a lot of things which are not (yet) possible in coursebooks, such as using the latest TED talk, or a viral video.
articles also get a lot of comments, and I love the back and forth
discussions – it's like having a staff room again!
2. What is the most useful resource/page/section on your blog?
3. How do you make lessons fun and engaging for your students?
I do still teach, though not regularly, and of course I always try and write fun and engaging material!
In terms of that, I think it's important to try and get learners to look at the topic in a new way and to be able to relate it to their lives.
And in terms of classroom teaching, I think plenty of
different activities [there are lots of ideas on my site ;-) ] and
changes of pace.
4. What are your top three suggestions for English learners?
1. Lots of reading. Time after time, studies have shown that extensive reading not only improves vocabulary, but can also help with writing and even speaking.
2. Speak in English in class. I'm not against a little bit of L1 when it makes more practical sense, but generally students need to maximise their opportunities to speak in English, even if it feels a bit silly.
For teachers this means devising tasks which will encourage English use- general discussion questions don't tend to work as well in a monolingual classroom as a more specific task.
Rote learning of vocabulary. Not very fashionable (though I think it's
coming back), but it really is the best way to improve your vocabulary,
provided you also give yourself lots of opportunities to use it in
conversation or writing as well.
5. Could you share some wisdom? What is the most common mistake you see English teachers make?
I'm also a teacher trainer, so I've observed a lot of lessons. I've seen a lot of good teaching, but perhaps the most common mistake is not thinking through a task from the students' point of view.
What I mean is actually thinking about what they are going to have to do, and, vitally, what language they will need to do it. When activities fall flat, it's nearly always because students either don't know what to do, or because they don't have the language.