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Professional Development

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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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…)

An invitation to participate in academic publication (by Theron Muller)

I fell into the world of academic publishing a bit accidentally. After finishing my MA in TEFL/TESL I was interested in maintaining familiarity with what I had learned and was worried that if I didn’t actively maintain my participation in the discourse of the profession, then the MA would become little more than another piece of paper and set of letters on my resume. With that in mind, I joined the staff of JALT‘s The Language Teacher (TLT) as a proofreader, and over the course of the past six years have moved through various roles at the publication, including Coeditor. As part of my involvement with TLT I was invited to work with the JALT Conference Proceedings team, where I have most recently served as vetting coordinator. There are a number of other publications that I have been or am involved in, including The Asian ESP Journal. (more…)

Do It Your Way (by Janet Bianchini)

A very good friend, Ehrhard, a retired teacher from the former GDR, recently wrote a letter to me, which made me truly reflect. He told me that he was so happy that he had taught English “his way” successfully for many years, even though his colleagues had changed their styles and methods to suit the trend of the day. He had remained faithful and constant throughout his long and illustrious teaching career to what he firmly and most importantly of all, passionately, believed in. By doing so, he had earned the greatest of respect from all his adult students of EFL.

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I know that I know nothing (by Anita Kwiatkowska)

Graduating from University felt awesome and life was beautiful. Full of enthusiasm and open for fresh perspectives I was ready to walk the new path as a fully qualified EFL teacher.

I had taught before graduation – most students did. I already had my favourite games and a foolproof set of grammatical exercises that would make an idiot grasp the difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous. (more…)

Mind Mapping: Learning and Teaching with Both Sides of the Brain (by Hobie Swan)

Introduction

One of the more undiscovered or, in some cases, underutilized teaching methods is the use of mind maps. While the exact origin of this approach to learning is lost in the mists of time, mind mapping has for decades been a regular feature of primary and secondary education in Europe—in Germany and Britain, in particular. (more…)

Being an EFL teacher (by Eva Büyüksimkeşyan)


When I sat down to write this post, the only thing came to my mind was, ”At the moment I’m where I’ve always wanted to be and this is because I’m an EFL teacher.” Being an EFL teacher helped me become who I am now. It promoted my creativity, enabled me to find different solutions for problems,and helped me become more patient and understanding. If you love teaching, please do it. You need to be self-motivated but the challenge is worth it. Before you start maybe you should know some facts about it. (more…)

Text Your Knowledge (by Nick Jaworski)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

As a manager I interview a lot of teachers.  One question I always ask is about reading texts.  If you have a short reading text, what are some different ways in which it can be used?  I am constantly surprised by the lack of responses I get to this question.  Candidates most often give one of two responses

1)      I have the students read the text and then I ask them questions about it.

Ok, this is standard and nothing wrong with that.  We want to check to see that the students comprehend the text, but this is generally quite boring and is really more of a test than teaching reading skills.

2)      I have the students read it out loud.

Sadly, I have seen this used a lot in classes at well.  I’m sitting and observing a class of 15 students and the teacher asks one student to read out loud while the others follow along in the book.  This has to be one of the worst wastes of time for a class.  One student is speaking and the other 14 students are bored out of their mind and not paying attention.  Additionally, the one reading isn’t comprehending the text because they are too focused on speaking correctly.  The only thing being worked on here is pronunciation of the one student reading the text. (more…)