What I’ve Been Reading: Blogs for ELT Teachers
There are other informative blogs out there to be reading besides mine. Today I’ll give you 5 other blogs to keep up with to expand your ELT reading horizons (just don’t forget where you heard about them from).
I’ve included links to the blogs and I mention specific posts that really interested me.
Learning through Observations
This is a good one to follow because the two hosts are very experienced teachers in China. It’s not just a podcast, but also a blog (the same word in Chinese I believe) run by Ross Thorburn and Tracy Yu. The podcast I listened to most recently and really “tuned” into was this one here where they talk about how to learn through observations. What was especially good were the strategies that they suggested for learning through observing others and learning through being observed yourself.
I’ve decided to leave out the other podcasts I listen to because sometimes they aren’t “so accessible” here in China.
Adapting Approaches for our Learners
This well-respected provider of Trinity Cert TESOL and Trinity DipTESOL courses in Hong Kong has a good blog. One of the most recent articles that I read was here where Tom Garside talks about some of the ways we can approach lessons based on our learner’s needs. This is a refreshing article for anyone who is tired of those “cookie cutter” lesson procedures, especially for receptive skills lessons.
Tom Garside also posts regularly on LinkedIn, XploreTEFL.com, and Language Point.
Most people don’t happen to live next to busy training centers that provide CELTA and Cert TESOL courses. There is also a need for providing quality teacher development resources to non-native speaking teachers with little access to training. Tom Garside, mentioned above, works with other teacher trainers from around the world to provide courses in flexible formats. There is also a very good blog that posts quite regularly.
Focusing on the Learning Rather than Teaching
One of the posts that caught my eye was this one, written by Christian Tiplady. If you are involved in giving formal observations to teachers in your setting I highly recommend this read. He gives some ideas for the observer so she can focus more on the students and learning rather than on the teacher and teaching.
Get Your Learners to Notice Collocations
Another post I liked was on LinkedIn here. It’s a post on collocations and different activities to help learners notice them. It was a good read because I’ve been fascinated on anything to do with collocations, colligations, lexical chunks, the Lexical Approach…
Also, in the big rush to cover the massive syllabus on CELTA, collocations are often just brushed over on trainees panic when they find that they have a collocations lesson and wind up just doing a matching activity. You will find out some other good activities that you can integrate into your own teaching.
The writer, Katie Wood, is an experienced teacher, materials writer, and teacher trainer.
Features of pronunciation: Essential vs. Superficial
Mark Hancock, the author of Pronunciation Games, is one of the authors of the site. I first came across this post as a PDF a few months ago that was shared on LinkedIn. It’s about how we should approach pronunciation nowadays given the fact that English is now a lingua franca. It also provides a bit of background information on English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) in case you aren’t up to date.
It’s a really good read to put some perspective on your pronunciation work in class. It will help you decide if you have a bias yourself as far as pron teaching is concerned. It also goes nicely with some of the ideas from Teaching Pronunciation (mentioned below) where the teachers advocate that the learners should have a choice in what kind of pronunciation they want their version of English to have.
Unfortunately the following one isn’t so accessible in China, but it nevertheless deserves an honorable mention because it’s got some great ideas (this is the hidden sixth blog).
For anyone who wants to integrate more pronunciation into lessons this is the place to check out. One of the co-writers, Nicola Meldrum, was the course director of my Trinity DipTESOL at Oxford TEFL.
I want to refer to two great articles you should check out.
FFP: Feedback Focused Planning
This first one is for you who tend to “overplan” your lessons (cramming too much into them and having trouble finishing and giving good feedback). On CELTAs I find myself asking the trainees to make separate stages for feedback to activities to ensure that there is an appropriate focus to it. I tell them to “anticipate the feedback you will give.” That’s because you need to find what they know, what they don’t know, and then fill in the gaps. At the same time I’m also telling people “more is less:” do more with less input.
Nicola articulates this well in her blog post and gives some strategies teachers can use to stage feedback effectively throughout the lesson rather than leaving it to the very end where “there is no opportunity for the learners to act on that feedback.”
A Good Strategy for Improving Receptive Pronunciation
While this post isn’t terribly new, I was rereading it just the other month because I was trying out an activity I’d read back in January. There is a good task cycle that outlines a procedure to clarify a sentences in a very “bottom-up” way by having the students listen hard for all the words. It gives pronunciation a good focus and makes the learners work hard while you support them and create opportunities for noticing language.
Expanding your ELT Reading Horizons
I hope that you find the blogs I mentioned above useful and that you can benefit from future posts. Be sure to subscribe to Sound Practice ELT if you haven’t so that you can stay up to date.
If you’ve made it this far, be sure to comment below and give some suggestions if I’ve left any blogs out that deserve to be mentioned here (especially for readers in China).