Interaction Patterns header
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Varying interaction patterns

Varying interaction patterns is an essential skill for teachers. Done well, it really brings a lesson to life. Done badly (or not at all), it’s a sure way to spoil an otherwise great lesson.

If you’ve ever been in a classroom situation yourself, you’ll know how crucial it is. For instance, one day, my Kung Fu teacher forgot to get us to switch partners as he usually does… my wife was stuck with someone half her size who didn’t really get it. Compare that to another lesson, when we rotated between partners, a one-on-one with teacher and finished with group practice. It made a world of difference.

So anyway, getting back to ELT, I recently made a training session on varying interaction patterns for colleagues at work. See what you think… Read More

How to improve your lesson timing header
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How to improve your lesson timing

I am mentoring a teacher who is preparing for DipTESOL at the moment. Her main concern about the observed teaching practice is timing, so this post is for her and anyone else who has identified timing something to work on in their teaching.

Actually, I think all teachers have had issues with timing at some point or another (observations in particular). People often offer suggestions like:

  • Set realistic timings in your lesson plan
  • Make sure you can see a clock or wear a watch
  • Use a timer on the IWB or your mobile phone

Don’t get me wrong, these are all useful suggestions. The problem is, they’re all pretty obvious and don’t actually get to the root cause of timing problems. So here are my top 5 tried-and-tested timing tips… Read More

Varying interaction patterns header
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Teaching functional language: Staging

The other day, out of the blue, I got a message from a colleague. We were talking about teaching functional language. He said:

“We have covered all the language, why can’t they do it????”

I understood exactly what he meant. I still distinctly remember one of my first functional lessons that completely bombed. I was teaching phrases for agreeing and disagreeing from a course book and when it came to learners using them, it never materialised. Since then, I’ve taught lots of functional lessons, had lots of trial and error and lots of great advice from other teachers. So what was my answer? Read More