Tagged: materials-light

the se7en deadly sins of elt – talk

I gave this talk at IATEFL 2012 as part of the TDSIG Special Programme and heard later that many people who wanted to see it could not get in to the room because it was full.

I may resurrect the talk live in some new form in the future, but in the meantime here is a recording I made of it in its original form a few years ago.

I’ve made some edits for length and privacy purposes, so sorry if there are any continuity errors.  My hair is unruly and the sound quality is not optimal, but I hope that you like it.

(Runtime: approx. 35 minutes)

Question: should I write a book or not?

Someone recently messaged me to encourage me to publish a book of low-resource ideas for initial language teacher training.

I think I would like to write such a book (when I get the time, that is!), but I would hate to do it if the world doesn’t seem to want something like that with the Teacher Training Unplugged twist.

So here is a bit of fun with a serious purpose: if you have a moment, please answer this simple question and I promise I’ll act (sooner or later) on the results!



If you can’t see the poll question, it is because your browser is blocking the embedded content from PollDaddy – this could happen if you use Ghostery or NoScript to protect yourself online.  Please allow PollDaddy if you want to see and answer the question.

Thanks for participating; I’m really looking forward to what you think.

Christmas ELT Appeal: Worst Case Scenario Survival Toolkit

Toolkit - courtesy of Wikimedia commons
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I got an email a few days ago from a teacher in Australia called Rufus. She works with teachers in parts of the world where resources that many of us take for granted can be scarce, and where others that we may occasionally get our hands on are pure pipe dream.

She asked me to contribute to some upcoming training she would be leading in Cambodia, with teachers whose local resources were limited and whose confidence in their own English proficiency may also be limited, and who may not have been fortunate enough to have received much in the way of formal teacher education in the recent past.

In particular, she asked me what I considered my essential teachers’ toolkit: what, as a teacher, I considered a bare minimum of resources with which I could imagine working effectively with groups of students more or less anywhere. Continue reading

A Different Kind Of Scaffolding in ELT

Acknowledgement: Photo by Kim Traynor (hosted at Wikipedia)
Thanks to Kim Traynor for this image

There was a trainee teacher on my last CELTA course who had come to us without any academic background to speak of but with a wealth of life experience; in the end, he turned out to be one of the most interesting trainees I’ve worked with. Continue reading

ELT BITES Materials-Light Lesson Challenge!

Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/pshab/ for this image
Acknowledgement: Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/pshab/ for this CC licenced image

Richard Gresswell over at ELT BITES posted a low-materials challenge for teachers recently – you can find the challenge and instructions here.  I thought I would try, so…

Lesson Idea: “What’s up?  There’s been a powercut”

True story – I arrived at work one morning many years ago to find the school in darkness and dismay – there was a powercut and nothing was working.  Our morning courses didn’t have coursebooks assigned but there was a course plan.  I had nothing prepared yet. Continue reading

Why ELT needs to cut like a knife

Thiers knife
Every boy should have a penknife…

A few weeks back I was working with a group of CEF B2 learners. I had recently returned from a holiday in France and had brought a souvenir back with me: a pocket knife made by hand in the traditional heart of French blade-making, Thiers.

The knife itself (as you can see in the picture) is not particularly attractive or interesting – there were many other shinier, more beautifully made display pieces in the dozens of specialist shops in the town.

But this was the one that had found its way from a mediaeval town in France into a language class in a Hanseatic town in Germany. Continue reading

TDSIG Unplugged Countdown: “One…”

The 4th principle of OST
The 4th Principle of OST

This mini-series sketches out some of the ideas that I would like to explore at the upcoming TDSIG Unplugged Conference in Barcelona on 21 May 2011.  If any of them chime with you and you would like to explore them as well – or if you would like to work on completely different issues, the conference is there to give you the open space to do just that.  It is never too late to join in, so if you haven’t already, visit www.tdsig.org/unplugged and register!

Counting down…1…

When will the voice of Dogme ELT fall silent? Continue reading

Throwing down the gauntlet

We are language teachers and teacher trainers working on initial teacher training courses in Hamburg, Germany.  During the course of our work we have constantly sought to refine our course design and delivery so that it provides the best training experience for the people who come to us as possible.  Over the years this has led to us looking closely at the syllabus requirements of the awarding body that we work with, Cambridge ESOL, as well as “best practice” as embodied in the course design of other centres that we are in contact with.

We were proud of the course that we had developed over time and this pride did not seem entirely unfounded: our graduates gave us consistently positive feedback; external assessors and moderators were almost always very happy with our work; colleagues familiar with our approach regularly asked to borrow our ideas.  Resting one our laurels would have seemed a reasonable position to take, on the face of it. Continue reading