ACEnglishteacher

All things EFL… A collection of practical ideas, resources for the classroom and thoughts on EFL today

What makes a good teacher word cloud


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Anyone who read my very first post Blogging and the art of procrastination will know that, among other things, it took me a while to find a name for this blog.

Why ACE?  What can I say, I’m an 80’s kid… Everything that’s “awesome” now, was “ace” in the 80’s (where I was growing up) and it’s one of my all-time favourite words.  Synonyms are; excellent, outstanding, first-class, first-rate, brilliant, expert

So, am I an ace English teacher? No.  Do I aspire to be an ace English teacher? Of course…

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Save time planning lessons with Google Docs

It’s that time of year again…almost but not quite there! In some respects these are the most difficult days to plan for.  There’s no new content to be taught, exams are over and students are waiting for their reports, daydreaming about the summer holidays…  Unfortunately whilst students are in mode “relax,”  teachers are definitely not! There’s still class and you’re running around like a headless chicken: correcting exams, writing reports, preparing resits and planning lessons!

Over the years, teachers build up a large bank of resources. My problem is that over these years as my memory has suffered the effects of ageing, remembering and retrieving this information has become increasingly difficult.  Around this time last year while juggling everything else and desperately trying to remember “that great activity” I had done at the end of the summer term the year before (yes my memory is that short) I had a bright idea.  Once again my old friend Google had a hand to play (I make no apologies for being a Google enthusiast, I know it knows everything about me, but it makes my life a whole lot easier…)

Anyone already familiar with my blog may know that I am a huge fan of maximising time. I want to do my job well, however, I also want enough free time to re-energise and avoid burn out! I believe by making small changes we can save huge amounts of time (minimising frustration and stress) without compromising the quality of our classes. This is one of the reasons I created the page Bright ideas to share some of these small changes which have made a difference. Continue reading

Quote determination


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Blogging and the art of determination

This post is a “Happy Birthday” message to my blogging self and a kind of sequel to my very first blog post Blogging and the art of procrastination.  It may have taken me a while to get going, but I’m still here one year on (along with my handful of followers, thank you!)

When I realised I’d been blogging for nearly a year, I decided to look back at my first post in which I list my initial doubts and reservations about becoming a blogger (the reasons for my procrastination.)  So, one year on, what have I learned?  What have I still got to learn and how did procrastination become determination? Continue reading

Flip writing


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Flip writing in the EFL classroom

For too many years I’ve been complaining about the standard of my students’ writing, the lack of effort they put into it (some don’t even bother to do it such is their lack of effort!) and the disregard for the personalised comments I painstakingly write on each and every writing task (I teach 12-16 year olds by the way.) I have been known to make clear my resulting feelings of frustration and disappointment quite vociferously, none of which makes for a positive classroom atmosphere…

Enough was enough!   After speaking to my students I came to the conclusion that a lot of them don’t write well in English because:

  • They find it difficult
  • They find some of the topics uninspiring
  • They take shortcuts and don’t follow my “steps to success”
  • They don’t reflect on the writing process
  • They are only interested in knowing their mark

So, how to ensure they find it less difficult, more engaging, follow the
necessary steps, reflect on the task and my comments to get better at writing?  How to set them up for success?

Flip it!

Anyone who read my recent blog post Why flipped learning as got me excited will know that I am as much a newbie to flipped learning as I am an enthusiast.  Since participating in the EVO sessions back in February, I have been trying to incorporate (little by little) flipped learning into my teaching practice and the “writing dilemma” seemed to be a perfect opportunity to try out some flipping… Continue reading


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Creating dialogues using a cooperative learning strategy

Although dialogues in textbooks often include lots of good functional language to practise, the way to practise it can be uninspiring and predictable. cooperative learning strategyUsually students listen to a model dialogue (maybe after completing the gaps with target vocabulary), practise it and then create their own using prompts provided in the text book.

Although my students often found these activities quite dull,  I wanted them to learn the useful functional language, so I started to look for ways to make practising dialogues a bit more meaningful and engaging.  Round about the same time I got seduced by cooperative learning… Continue reading

Google search tipc


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Google like a pro: 12 top tips

Although my digital natives are a dab hand at whatsapping, instagramming, snapchatting… (not facebooking however, that’s just for oldies like me apparently!) some of their other digital skills are pretty basic.

In my blog post Developing digital competence , I looked at The European Framework for digital competence which identifies 5 key areas considered necessary to be a successful digital citizen.  The first one is informationIdentify, locate, retrieve, store and analyse digital information, judging its relevance and purpose.  This is definitely one skill area that my students need to improve in. 

Whilst they are able to eventually locate the information they are looking for, they are not efficient “searchers” and often end up wading through tonnes of irrelevant information and taking far too long. This can be frustrating enough in your own language, but identifying and locating information in a language which isn’t your mother tongue, can be even more so (especially if you have a low level of proficiency.)

Tweaking search terms however, can narrow down the search; saving time and making the task that little bit easier. Introduce students to these simple tweaks to encourage them to become more efficient “searchers” and more competent digital citizens.

Google like a pro (PDF)

 

Calendar


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Using celebrations to engage students

Add dates of “International days” to your calendar and set a notification for a week before.

Using official celebrations are a great way to engage students and discuss topics which might not be covered in your textbook/curriculum. There are plenty of them, from serious topics and recognised International Days to semi serious and downright bizarre worldwide events, festivals and celebrations …

The problem I had, was finding out about them (usually on the day), leaving no time to prepare something for class.  Then, I had the bright idea of adding them as new events to my google calendar and setting a repeat notification for every year one week before the event.  Now I never miss Grammar Day (!?), No selfies Day or Cheese Doodle Day (today!)

For officially recognised International Days check out the United nations International Days page and if you fancy something a bit more light-hearted go to www.daysoftheyear.com (serious stuff too)

Thanks to the notification I received this week (thanks google calendar), I’ll be celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th of March with my students.  

I’ve created a Padlet wall (a great easy to use tool for giving students a voice, see my blog post for more ideas how to use Padlet) for students to post a description of the achievements of a woman they would like to celebrate… (see below)

Looking forward to Chocolate Mousse Day, World Wish Day and No Housework Day next month…;-)

Made with Padlet