I thought that maybe we’d get some sense of community to work through problems we face in society, it looks like the status quo is still very much alive and well. Instead, so many people crave normality. Normality was unfair and rubbish.
The tools are there to be had in our little corner of English language teaching. We’ve got pay-what-you-want services, open source software, and even beyond that, we have exchange of services and knowledge. We should be more open to this if we truly believe that teachers can learn from students and that it isn’t just one-way transmission of knowledge. Yes, I know I have a Patreon; am I not allowed to be paid for things I write?
Anyway, talk costs nothing. Deeds matter. I am going to try a low-stakes experiment. I think that starting in September or October, I have time to mentor about two people, probably a mixture of email and video chat, or even Discord, for about four months. Let’s leave it open at the minute to see what happens. It costs nothing. All I want is permission to blog about what I learn from the experience over that time. You get my 17 years of experience working in education, and I get what you bring.
Everyone has experienced a boring textbook before. In this post on her blog, Nicola Prentis gives the essential tips for ripping the guts out of a long text to turn it into a discussion.
As mentioned in her post, it doesn’t work for everything, especially horrendously boring books so if you need to work to a syllabus based on a truly awful book, here’s what I would do.
1. Is the text too long? If so, use half, or even just a third, but make sure it is still relatively meaningful after ditching the rest.
2. Find the useful vocabulary. Take note.
3. Analyse the grammar. Do you have a ‘grammar point’ to teach? Do certain tenses or forms repeat? How can they be used in a meaningful or useful way?
4. Plan a couple of activities where students could feasibly and naturally use the language features (vocabulary and grammar).
5. Choose which activity is your energiser and which is your main event. You should know your students, put the activities where they need to be. Energise your junior high school students before a main event where they may need to be more thoughtful. If you are teaching the same students two lessons back-to-back or coming back to them later, don’t be afraid to have the students spend time thoughtfully first before you energise them ready for part two where you might repeat this process.