Below you can read feedback from an ITTT graduate regarding one section of their online TEFL certification course. Each of our online courses is broken down into concise units that focus on specific areas of English language teaching. This convenient, highly structured design means that you can quickly get to grips with each section before moving onto the next.
Unit 17 involves equipment and teaching aids to make lessons more interesting, effective and less dependent on the course book.
These tools and suggested usage follow.
1. The Board.
Blackboard work should be planned and organized. The board can be used for writing, drawing, sticking things and projecting to draw and hold the attention of the students.
The principles for using the board include:
? Start with a clean board.
? Write legibly and neatly.
? Use the correct writing tool for the board.
? Keep the board clear and easy to read.
? Try to section off the board such as columns to provide areas for vocabulary, grammar and notes.
? Use different colors, underling or circling to highlight language points and show irregularities.
? Adjust the size of your writing to the size of the board so it can be read from the back of the class.
? Only put essential or requested information on the board.
? Erase what is no longer needed.
? Avoid unnecessary capitalization as difficult to read.
? Bear in mind that students tend to write down all on the board so accuracy is essential.
? Involve the students in the writing process.
? Clean the board at the end of the lesson.
2. Interactive whiteboard.
Interactive whiteboards (IWBs) are increasingly used but expenses delay introduction in less developed regions and vary in price and complexity. Factors to bear in mind are to test and have a back-up plan upon failure, careful system selection and placement, training on the equipment. IWB may not be suitable for lesson preparation and paper recommended though IWB possible. Teachers should try not to overcomplicate an IWB lesson plan and lose focus. IWB may be used to show PowerPoint presentations, movies or other sound files but teachers need to have knowledge of how to switch applications smoothly without unnecessary loss of time.
3. Overhead projector.
Overhead projectors (OHP) show pre-prepared transparencies (OHT) and may serve as an alternative to the board but have advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include focus student attention, advance preparation to cut down on board writing with back to students, stacking OHTs, hiding information on OHT to display later, model grammar or vocabulary, timed readings, gap fill exercises, feedback after exercises, kept in a file for re-use and teachers can ensure legibly written. The disadvantages include the need for a surface to project that can be seen, set up difficulties, class must be large enough to merit and classroom may need reorganizing to allow for project path.
4. Visual aids.
Visual aids such as real objects, pictures and photos may be used in the classroom for many purposes.
These purposes include:
? To illustrate meaning more quickly than verbally and reduce teacher talk time.
? To bring the outside world into the classroom and add variety and interest.
? To attract attention and help memory process.
? To stimulate discussion and elicit language.
? To serve as prompts in communications games like story building.
? To set the context.
? To present new vocabulary and drills.
? To enable productions without ability to draw.
5. Worksheets and work cards
Worksheets and work cards can be purchased or made and are useful:
? To adapt published materials.
? To act as prompt or cue materials.
? To write your own exercises with authentic material.
? To make for communication activities or role play
? To aid in reading and grammar exercises and present new vocabulary
6. The cassette recorder
Cassette recorders can be used to record authentic materials, record students? communication or make dialogues for use in the classroom. Preparation and practice are ?essential? and suggestions in this spirit include:
? To be familiar with the machine.
? To time rewind and zero counter.
? To check volume level.
? To check operation
? To rewind while students discuss first listening task.
7. Compact disc player
Compact disc (CDs) have taken over position of cassettes as the primary audio source but many of the above principles apply. Note track numbers and practice quickly finding the right point.
8. Videos and DVDs
The basic principles to use audio cassettes apply to video and DVDs. Make sure the monitor is large enough and located for all to see. Videos may be used to present information, give background to a topic, present dialogues and interaction, build listening comprehension skills and other things. Course material may be recorded from other sources. Many teachers find that video in short instalments over a period of time motivates students but this can be overdone. Purpose and task are important such as to analyze or present new language, predict what will happen next and write a brief summary or review. Videos stimulate discussion. In particular, one effective method is to pair students, sit back to back with one watching without volume and one describes to see if other student can use the information to complete a questionnaire and the non-viewing student asks questions to complete the questionnaire. Then the roles of the pair are swapped. Advantages over audio cassettes are the student see and hear and thus making it easier to understand and it holds attention better.
9. Video camera
Video camera may be used to records student activity to analysis and discuss, to record a film project, record other sources or take to the streets with the foregoing caution on correct usage of equipment.
Dictionaries in any form are the single most useful tool and use of English dictionaries should be encouraged.
11. Course books
Course book are another source with advantages and disadvantages discussed in prior unit.
12. Resource books
Resource books may include grammar exercises, communication games and a range of other topics. These can be used to adapt, supplement and replace material for a course book and include copy permission. Common resource books may include Grammar Practice Activities, Elementary Communication Games, Intermediate Communication Games, Essential Grammar in Use and others listed.
Teachers should make clear copies and avoid paper waste and ensure proper operation.
Computers are becoming a fundamental part of teaching but still has problem in terms of not enough, too costly, may be overused and lose impact and may result in students become uncommunicative.
Uses for the computer in English language teaching include as a word processor, playing a CD to support content, reference tools, email, view video clips, YouTube, podcast (program of music or talk made available in digital format to download). An online search for ?TEFL audio clips? or ?TEFL MP3s? or for British materials are at http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english and American at http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english.
15. Online sources.
The unit listed pages and pages of helpful online resources for dictionaries, online lessons, exercises, literature and poetry, media, general, teaching and other categories.
These materials above, new to me in the context of teaching, will assist my teaching practice.