Mary is an assistant English language teacher in Tokyo, Japan, and she recently completed the 120-hour online TEFL/TESOL course with ITTT. She enjoyed the course a lot and had fun completing all 20 units. In her TEFL review, she also says that she enjoyed the flexibility the course gave her to complete the course in her leisure time. She recommends the course to anyone interested in teaching English and finds the course to be great value for money.
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.
In this chapter I learned about the following:
Teaching Productive Skills
speaking and writing
In many ways, writing is the most neglected skill in the TEFL world, as many teachers don't like to see their classroom hours being devoted to what is called 'quiet time'. Writing is often relegated to homework, which is frequently not done and so the skill is never developed. In many ways, writing is the most difficult skill, require a greater degree of accuracy.
Accuracy vs Fluency activities
- accuracy activities (in study phase) = concentrated on producing correct language
- fluency activities (in activate phase) = concentrated on allowing the student to experiment and be creative with language. Less concerned with accuracy and more concerned with effectiveness and flow of communication
Speaking activities in the classroom:
1) controlled activities (accuracy based activities, language is controlled by Teacher)
- drilling = choral and individual listening to and repetition of the teacher's model of pronunciation.
- prompting = pre-planned question and answer
2) guided activities (accuracy based but a little more creative and productive, output is controlled by Teacher but language isn't)
- model dialogues
- guided role-play
3) creative communication (fluency based activities, scenario is usually created by Teacher but content of the language isn't)
- free role-play
- information gap (where different students have different pieces of information and they have to share this information to get the complete picture/solve the task, etc)
- communication games
Reasons why students doesn't want to speak:
- lack of confidence
- fear of making mistakes
- peer intimidation
- lack of interest in the topic
- previous learning experience
- cultural reasons
Technique to create interaction:
- plenty of controlled and guided practice before fluency activities
- make speaking activities purposeful (create a desire and need to communicate)
- change the classroom dynamics
- careful planning
- with certain activities you may need to allow students time to think about what they are going to say
A typical free/creative speaking activity lesson:
The learner objective would be for the students to be able to use the language involved with weather and weather forecast
Engage - ask students about the weather in their country and discuss how it changes throughout the year. Discuss weather variations in other countries. Ask them if they know what a weather forecast is and where they can find them.
Study - elicit weather forecast vocabulary and complete various matching and gap-fill exercises
Activate - students write a country (not their own) and a month on a card in pair, which is collected by the teacher to be redistributed to another pair. They then have to prepare a typical weather forecast for the country of the card that they now have, at that time of the year.
Guidelines for a free/creative speaking activity
Before the lesson
- decide on your aims: what you want to do and why
- try to predict what the students will bring to the activity and any problems they might have. Will they have something to speak about? Are they capable of doing the activity successfully? Do they have the necessary language? Will the students find the activity interesting, useful, fun?
- work out how long the activity will take and tailor it to the time available
- prepare any necessary materials
- work out your instructions
During the activity
- arouse the student's interest through visuals, a short lead - in talk, newspaper headline, etc. Try to relate the topic to the student's own interests and experience
- you might want to remind students of any structures or vocabulary that might be useful - perhaps leaving them on the board for reference
- set up the activity so that the students know the aims of the activity and what they are to do. This means giving clear instructions and checking that they have been understood
- make sure the students have enough time to prepare, perhaps in pairs or groups, before asking them to tackle the main activity. Do not be tempted to cut down on the time needed for this. Do not forget that the students are probably getting useful speaking practice at this stage too
- make the activity even more 'process' rather than 'product' based by encouraging rehearsal if appropriate, particularly with role-plays
- monitor the activity: do not interrupt except to provide help and encouragement if necessary; try to keep a low profile. Watch the pace - do not let the activity drag on and remember to leave time for feedback
- evaluate the activity and the student's performance in order to provide feedback later but don't jump in with instant corrections. Wait until after the activity has finished before correcting. Don't over-correct. Free speaking activities are more concerned with fluency than accuracy.
After the activity (provide feedback)
- indicate how well the class communicated; comment on how fluent each was, how well they argued as a group, and so on. Focus on what they were able to do rather than on what they couldn't do.
- sometimes you might want to record the activity on audio and play it back for discussion. Focus on possible improvements rather than mistakes
- note down glaring recurrent errors in grammar, pronunciation and use of vocabulary. Individual mistakes might be discussed (in private) with the students concerned and you might recommend suitable remedial work to do at home. Mistakes which are common to the class can be monitored and then practiced another day when you have had a chance to prepare a suitable remedial lesson.
Handwriting = poor handwriting may influence student negatively
Spelling = can not only create misunderstandings but can often be perceived as lack of education.
Spelling in English can be very difficult by the fact that many words are pronounced the same are written differently (waist and waste), and some words are written the same but pronounced differently (read and read).
English is not a phonetic language. Different way of pronouncing the same letters (or combinations of letters). British vs American English/Spelling.
Layout and punctuation = punctuation is frequently a matter of personal style but totally incorrect usage can lead to rather awkward and difficult looking pieces of writing.
Games = competitive vs co-operative games