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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.
This Units focus is on the use of Course Books, Materials and Teaching Aids that you can utilize to efficiently teach your class. These sorts of things include the Black Board / White Board (also known as Wipe Board), Visual Aids, Worksheets / Work Cards, Cassettes / CDs / DVDs / Videos, Dictionaries, the actual Course Books, Resource Books and Photocopiers / Computers / Over-head Projectors (OHPs).
Before reading on, there are two main types of materials, which are:
1. Authentic materials
2. Creative materials
Authentic materials are real-life examples of the use of English (Newspapers, Songs, Poems, Brochures, Menus, etc). Creative materials are things made for teaching the students what they need to know (Flash Cards, Crosswords, Word Searches, Picture Stories, Roleplay Cards, etc). It is important to note that you can make your own things to better suit your classes weaknesses, but this takes a lot of time.
Back to the point, Black Boards / White Boards are one of the most obvious things a teacher has at their disposal for teaching. They are seen by the entire class from nearly every angle, and are big enough so you can write whatever you need to. It is important to always keep a very clean board and to have a plan ready for what you are going to put on the board and where (including the colours used). This is to ensure you have a nice layout for the information so students have the best chance of learning and remembering what?s on the board. You can simply use a blank piece of paper or a smaller White Board that you?ve bought to easily plan an effective layout for the board notes. Keep in mind, students are likely to just write exactly what?s on the board into their notes also, so be sure to write only what?s necessary on the board during the study phase.
Visual Aids are also used to show students what they?re learning as opposed to telling them, increasing your TTT. It is important that you try your best to use a variety of Visual Aids, which can further increase interest within the class, and that you use Visual Aids large enough for the whole class to see as you?re holding it. Some things you can include as Visual Aids are:
1. Realia (Real objects)
2. Pictures / Photos
The major benefits of Visual Aids are that they can:
1. Reduce TTT
2. Add variety and interest
3. Aid student?s memories
4. Stimulate discussion
5. Allow you to elicit language
Worksheets and Work Cards also create huge benefits within the class, especially during the study phase of the lesson. Benefits for these include, but are not limited to the facts that they can:
1. Be bought
2. Act as a prompt to introduce an activity
It is very important that you make your Worksheets / Work Cards durable, because then you will be able to use them for a number of years, as opposed to a 1 or 2 time thing. So you could give them a hard backing by using a plastic presentation folder or a clipboard, and you can cover them with a plastic pocket.
Cassettes / CDs / DVDs / Videos are amazing resources that you can use, especially since the internet can provide free services with these, like YouTube. From experience, I?ve learnt that some students learn better from reading, and others from seeing, and videos are perhaps the most convenient way to show students something, especially if you want to reduce your TTT. Things you need to consider when using Cassettes (though incredibly outdated), CDs, DVDs or Videos are:
1. Do you know how they work?
2. How much time does it take, and how long will it take to rewind?
3. You should set the volume BEFORE the class begins
4. Check that it works before using it
5. They can act as a prompt and create interest, and possibly discussion.
6. They can be motivational
Dictionaries are also pretty useful resources. They are good for homework related activities, but shouldn?t be overused. There are 2 types of dictionaries that you can use:
1. Monolingual (Mono meaning 1 language)
2. Bilingual (Dictionaries using 2 languages to likely translate words)
They both have the benefits of helping students with:
3. Parts of Speech (Verb, Noun, Preposition, etc.)
4. Examples of a typical context for the word to be used
Resource Books generally come in 3 types of books; Student Books, Workbooks and Teacher Resource Books. Student Books, of course, have the information the students need to know, Workbooks have activities that the students can do during the study phase, and the Teachers Resource Book has the information the teacher needs to teach the students, though written for the teacher and not for the students. So they may include possible activities we can get the students to do, or valuable information we may have forgotten or missed when teaching. Again, it is important to not overuse these books. Advantages include:
1. They are graded for the student?s level
2. They are quicker than making your own
3. They offer continuity (are always up to date with the year, and are presented in a logical order)
4. Students generally expect to use them
5. They are good for new teachers
1. Again, shouldn?t be used for the whole class
2. Do they cover the interests / needs of the class?
3. Tend to be a compromise (they haven?t been created for every teaching situation)
4. Book can dictate teaching over your own teaching
5. You and the students may not like the book
Lastly, Photocopiers / Computers / Over-head Projectors (OHPs) are good for exactly the same reasons that we use Cassettes / CDs / DVDs / Videos except they can also be seen by the whole class (by either printing things or showing them on OVPs) and can be used to show PowerPoint Presentations for more visual learners, though this can increase TTT. Refer back to the information on ?Cassettes / CDs / DVDs / Videos? for more information.
Next, we need to know how to make the best of our Course Books. The most important things you consider are:
1. You need to create a balanced lesson (in terms of the range of skills that are being taught and ?the types of materials being used within that, being either grammar or vocabulary?)
2. Don?t use them all the time
3. Don?t rely on the information presented
4. Match the material given to your students? needs
Finally there are 4 approaches we can use when suiting the Course Book to our student?s needs. These are:
1. Omit ? To leave out selected parts of material
2. Replace ? To use your own material over the books to better suit the class
3. Supplement ? Add additional material to what?s in the Course Book, likely to assist in weaknesses of the class?s knowledge
4. Adapt ? To use our own style of materials based on the Course Book, rather than the course books materials themselves.
In conclusion, it is important to use the right materials to best help your students learn, and if necessary you can boost your involvement within the class by using some of the 4 approaches listed above, so you can better help students learn by matching their interests with the things they need to learn.