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March, 2010:

Teaching Young Learners with Songs (by Matt Richelson)

Barbara was so kind to ask me to write about how to use songs with young learners.  I have learned a lot from teaching English using songs, and I am happy to share what I know.

I have a background in music, and bringing music into the classroom has been very natural for me.  What if you don’t have a musical background? Don’t worry!  You do not have to be a great singer, or musician to use songs with kids. Just be enthusiastic!

If you are new to using songs you may think, why songs? Songs are great for many reasons. The melodies help the words stick into children’s heads. Have you ever had a song stuck in your head you couldn’t get out? The rhythm of the songs helps the children speak in a natural flow.  Simply put, they are great practice! Also, many ESL and EFL songs nowadays have built in actions and activities.  So when we sing “I brush my teeth”, then we can do the action while we sing. This combination of singing, and doing actions really helps stimulate the memory of the child. Oh, and it is fun! (more…)

The Foolproof Lesson

Most teachers have a short list of foolproof activities they can build a lesson around in a pinch–and this is one of mine.

It’s foolproof because it works for all levels, all ages, and with or without prepared materials. It’s deceptively simple, so beginning students are able to expand their existing language skills and strategies without feeling intimidated. Students control the difficulty, and discover the language they need in the process of completing a task. I’ve done this successfully with with both children and engineers (at extreme ends of the language skill spectrum), but will demonstrate it with a class I currently teach of beginning adults. (more…)

Individual Differences Count (by Mike Harrison)


“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family”

Virginia Satir, author and psychotherapist (1916-1988)

My experience as a teacher of English is not vast – I am currently in my third year as a full-time teacher and have taught in Spain and the UK – but seeing my learners as individuals is something I have always tried to do. I actually had to trawl the net for the above quote, but I think it was worth it. It encapsulates for me what a good learning environment, with teachers and learners included, should be. (more…)

Whatever gets them through the door (by Daniel T. Kirk)

Over the last twenty-three years, I have taught English to people in every demographic category other than homeless people. Over that time, the issue that continues to pique my interest is their motivation for carrying their feet across the threshold of my classroom. I have an idea about what gets my college students into class, but what about other hard working folks that don’t need a credit?

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Sometimes Less is More (by Anita Kwiatkowska)

I can still remember my first Christmas lesson seven years ago. My 3rd graders were making little Santas from red paper and we were chatting about the presents they expected to get that year. Foolish as I was back then, I suddenly asked ‘Of course you no longer believe in…?’. No, I didn’t finish that question with ‘Santa’ as the bewildered look in my students’ eyes prevented me from doing so. You see, they still believed in Santa and if I hadn’t hesitated I would have made an irreversible mistake. I would have taken away their dreams.

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Moving Your Kindergarten into Web 2.0 with 5 Different Tools (by Özge Karaoğlu)


“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow” John Dewey

Kindergarten has always been the place to make friends, paint pictures, tell stories, play games and have fun while learning. Wooden blocks and legos have always been favorites in kindergarten classes. Today, the world is undergoing a digital change, changing our children digitally as well. Marc Prensky says “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach” in his Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants article. I agree with him wholeheartedly. (more…)

How to create video activities on a teacher’s blog (by Christina Markoulaki)

The focal point of my previous post on this blog were the potential ways teachers can help their students to organize and practice their knowledge by setting up a blog especially for them. Since video activities on a teacher’s blog seem to be the most appealing ones to learners of all ages, I will now briefly number a series of easy steps for those who wish to take advantage of the potential all kinds of videos offer for making attention- grabbing blog activities. It is to be noted that I have consciously avoided complex educational jargon, having outlined the procedure as it practically happens in an everyday lesson.

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Teaching High School in Croatia (by Arjana Blazic)

To teach is to touch a life forever.

I have been trying to enhance my teaching with the new technologies since 1997 when I created my first web page while attending a seminar on New Technologies in Modern Language Teaching in Finland. But everything I did over those twelve years was nothing compared to what I have been doing since I joined Twitter and built my PLN in April 2009.

Today my students and I use technology to connect with students and teachers from all over the world. We tweet, we ning, we skype, we glog, we wiki, we blog … we learn, we understand, we respect. (more…)

Flap Books: A Simple Secret for Student Support! (by Lesley Ito)

I think what every teacher needs to know is this simple secret to successful ESL/EFL classes: Students can accomplish so much more if the lesson has proper support. It is very difficult for students, particularly at the EFL level, to stand up in front of the class and spontaneously tell a story or talk about their lives. One great way to provide support is with a simple, versatile craft called a Flap Book. Students can use these as a prop for communication as they hold their Flap Books and then lift the flaps as needed to remind them of what they want to say.

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21 days, 5 cities, 1000 teachers, and 20 computers

In February, I talked with approximately 1000 teachers in Fukuoka, Okayama, Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo as part of the OUP Teaching Workshop Series. Workshop titles were assigned to fit an acronym. I was the “I” in K.I.D.S.—Interactive Ideas for Keeping your English Classes Relevant for the 21st century. The challenge for me was how to make technology tools relevant for teachers who don’t have computers in their classrooms. (more…)