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? Not always.  Do I aspire to be?  Of course, hence this blog…

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Bringing real life into the classroom

This will be a short but sweet one, but oh so very sweet!

If anyone isn’t aware, last night Liverpool FC left us all at a loss for words and wondering what the heck had just happened?

Liverpool faced a monumental task going into the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, having lost to Barcelona 3-0 in the first leg at the Camp Nou.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, star players got injured and it seemed like it had been good while it lasted…

However, while many were busy writing them off, some never lost hope (least of all the players and the manager) and Liverpool ended up beating Barcelona 4-0!  An incredible example of resolve, strength and belief; the shirts said it all “Don’t give up!” It’s hard for anyone not to admire what Liverpool managed to do last night (even a Barcelona fan!)

So off I toddled to class today ready to wind a few students up (who incidentally had been winding me up all week…) What I hadn’t considered was the potential that this surprising news had for learning opportunities (until they hit me in the face that is.)

Some of my students had noticed the words “Don’t Give Up” on the shirts.  A conversation ensued about what “Don’t give up” means, the difficult task Liverpool faced and how they managed to overcome the obstacles.  We talked about the qualities the team and the manager showed to turn things around and what the manager might have said to encourage his players to achieve their goals (pardon the pun!) and how we could apply this to our own lives, in particular related to learning.  We thought about situations we had found ourselves in and tasks/activities that had seemed insurmountable at the time and how we had dealt with that and how we might have tackled it another, maybe better, way.  An improvised class in the benefits of a growth mindset 😉

However it didn’t end there… All the stars were definitely aligned today I realised when I checked my lesson plan and found the learning outcome for a different class was describing things using exclamatives!  

Out the window went the textbook examples. Who’s going to remember “What delicious waffles” over “What an unbelievable match!”  “What an incredible score!” “What fantastic players” “What an amazing night”  The only danger was excluding the non football fans, but no, what great joy they had winding up their classmates! “What a terrible performance” “What a disastrous result” “What a nightmare!” …

And finally, the lesson I learned (or remembered) is, making learning relevant makes learning better.  Bringing the real world into the classroom and providing real life examples not only helps understanding and makes learning more memorable but also increases engagement and motivation.  Don’t miss those valuable opportunities for learning!

Thank you Liverpool FC (and well done!)

 

Featured image by Gert Altmann Pixabay

group of students


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Projects: Setting students up for success

“Projects are a great way to develop language and other essential skills, however we need to give students a bit more than an “Off we go…” to ensure quality learning is taking place.”

Read my latest post Projects: Setting students up for success on www.teachingenglish.org.uk

I discuss some of the benefits of doing projects in class and how I set them up to ensure all students are organised, prepared, engaged and learning.

Below you can find a couple of examples of the accompanying presentations and information available to my students for some of the the projects I mention in my post.

High five to project work 😉


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Christmas activities to keep students engaged and learning

Christmas is just around the corner, exams have finished but classes still go on… Make the most of the class time left with a Christmas activity or two…

Activity 1

I adapted the following activity from a blog post I read a couple of years ago on elt sparks.  The activity is based on a Christmas ad for H&M by the director Wes Anderson. My students were really struggling with the past tenses (past simple, past continuous and past perfect) and needed more practice.  I decided to use a narrative (the advert) to facilitate understanding and provide further practice. 

The advert tells the story of some passengers who are stuck on a train after bad weather and mechanical difficulties cause the train to be delayed.  This delay means they will miss Christmas with their families. The conductor and his assistant decide to organise a Christmas brunch in the cafeteria for all their passengers to make them feel better and they have an ingenious idea to execute their plan… Continue reading


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Empower students with flipped, cooperative learning

Here’s a link to my latest blog post Empower students with flipped, cooperative learning on www.teachingenglish.org.uk where I answer the following question:

More and more, we are told that our role as teachers is changing. We are told that the skills our students need for the future workplace in a globalised world are different from how they used to be. Creativity and imagination, collaboration, critical thinking, citizenship, student leadership and digital literacies are all things our students need to be competent in. How do you provide a focus on these skills in your classes? What activities do you do that help your students develop these?

I discuss how I integrate flipped learning and cooperative learning in my classes to help students develop these essential skills and prepare them for life beyond the classroom…

 


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Teaching and learning with a wiki: Part 2 Google Sites

I recently updated a post from 2016 Learning and teaching using a wiki following the closure of Wikispaces (the platform I was using to host my wiki.)  When I heard about the impending closure of Wikispaces my first reaction was to panic!  What was I going to do? I had spent hours learning how to use it and hours adding content and, whatsmore, so had my students.

After the initial panic, I started to consider my options rationally.  Without a doubt I wanted to carry on using a wiki with my students so the next step was to research the alternatives on offer.   Continue reading


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3 activities to promote storytelling in the language classroom

Stories are all around us, be it in oral or written form. Some entertain, some educate, some explain and many transmit our feelings, beliefs and values. Every day, every year, every meal, holiday, encounter, memory… tells a story.  We think in narratives all day long, making up stories in our heads for every action and conversation. It’s how we understand the world.

Telling stories is nothing new, we’ve been doing it since ancient times and the power of a story is undeniable, but what makes stories so engaging?

Continue reading


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Technology to reach more students, more often.

I am excited to have been accepted as a TeachingEnglish blogger on the British Council’s website www.teachingenglish.org.uk and to have published my first blog post there.  The topic I chose to write about this month is one that I feel passionate about, using technology to enhance the teaching and learning process.

What ICT tools or resources do you currently use in your classrooms and why? What are the pedagogical benefits of the tools you use and how do you evaluate their effectiveness as a learning resource?

Read about how I use Google Classroom and wikis to break down the classroom walls, making learning English more personal, relevant and engaging.

Technology to reach more students, more often.