Coaching Language Teacher Development

I was asked recently, “How can I help my teachers get better?”

This is probably one of the most important jobs of a director or program coordinator. The teaching ability of your staff can make or break the quality of your program.

Unfortunately, helping teachers develop can be difficult. The first hurdle is the teacher has to want to get better. As teaching is quite a personal thing, teachers can often become defensive when suggestions of how to improve are offered.

Another problem is that teaching is very complicated. As an instructional coach, it can often be difficult to decide where to start. And in some cases, the point of development may not have a clear solution.

In this post, I will take you through my process for helping teachers to develop. It isn’t a quick fix, but I have found it has helped me achieve the vital goal of building the skills of a staff.

Continue reading “Coaching Language Teacher Development”

Research Spotlight- Cross-cultural transition: International teachers’ experience of ‘culture shock’

My first night in Taiwan was awful. (The details are irrelevant)

But let’s just say culture shock hit me hard, and it took about 4-6 months before I settled in and “adjusted”.

I use quotation marks purposely on “adjusted” because I wonder if any of us really adjust.

Is culture shock just about the food, language, etc.? Or is there more to it?

And what about international teachers? Is their culture shock experience unique?

Donna Roskell attempted to answer those questions with her study Cross-cultural transition: International teachers’ experience of ‘culture shock’.

Continue reading “Research Spotlight- Cross-cultural transition: International teachers’ experience of ‘culture shock’”

Too Much or Too Little Grammar

Do you feel like you teach enough grammar in the classroom – too much or too little?

One of my concerns about the current state of EFL, particularly in schools that implement content-based language instruction is that grammar has taken a back seat and sometimes is even left at the curb.

Having taught in a content-based school while also tutoring students from a more traditional program, I noticed something interesting. The students from my school were more familiar and comfortable with academic concepts in English, but my tutoring students had “cleaner” English.

I shared this observation with a friend who owns a language school near where I live. The students in her school represent students from two different systems, one traditional and one content-based, and she seemed to notice the same thing.

Michael Swan, a well-known ELT author famous for his books on teaching grammar, asks us to reflect on the question:

Am I teaching enough grammar?

Watch his video where he discusses his thoughts on teaching too much or too little grammar and let me know what you think below in the comments.

I am curious to know where my readers stand.

Struggling Writers? Let Them Speak!

Which do you find easier, speaking or writing?

I think most people would unequivocally answer speaking.

Writing is not easy. In fact, it can often be painful. I was having lunch with a friend the other day who lamented on the difficulty he had writing a paper for a course he is taking. Even for me, someone who writes fairly regularly, writing can be quite the task, especially a first draft.

But what if I told you writing a first draft could be as easy as speaking?

Great news! It can! Continue reading “Struggling Writers? Let Them Speak!”

My First Google Hangout English Tutoring Session

So… it’s week 2 of my summer vacation, and I already miss teaching.

Thankfully, it’s 2017 and I don’t need a school to get my teaching fix. I can just teach online from home!

Online teaching has become a very popular option for teachers who are looking to reach more students outside of a classroom. And programs such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts have never made it easier to connect with people anywhere.

One problem though… despite its popularity, I have never done any English teaching online.

Today, I braved into this new world. Two of my former students and I took the leap online by doing a 30-minute class together on Google Hangouts.

This post is about my experience.

***SPOILER ALERT- IT WAS A DISASTER!*** Continue reading “My First Google Hangout English Tutoring Session”

3 Things I Learned About EFL Education from ‘B’ Group

The school year has ended. Summer is here. And all the teachers are rejoicing and singing for the new beginning.

Now that the dust has settled from the school year and I have rejuvenated myself on my Icelandic adventure (yes, you should definitely go), I thought now would be a good time to reflect on the school year that has passed.

I am not ashamed to say publicly that this has been the most difficult year of teaching in my career. I never thought anything could beat my year teaching on the east side of Austin, but it seems my students this year certainly achieved something (less hair on my head and a higher blood pressure that even daily meditation could not prevent).

Despite the challenges and frustrations, this experience has taught me a lot about EFL education, and I would like to share with you 3 things I have learned.

Continue reading “3 Things I Learned About EFL Education from ‘B’ Group”

What is a Reading Portfolio?

Learning to read is a journey.

Take a moment to think back to your school days. What evidence do you have of that special journey?

A test? A book report? Maybe a diorama?

Perhaps you answered yes to all of those, but how meaningful were these to you?

(I know…your diorama was the bomb…got it)

And did you ever set them all out at the end of the year to reflect on and celebrate the journey?

I suspect both questions would elicit negative answers (except for the diorama…I know).

So how can we as teachers create meaningful reading experiences for our students that give them an opportunity to look back on the journey and reflect on the success and celebrate it?

One possible way is a reading portfolio.

Continue reading “What is a Reading Portfolio?”