Difficult times call for bold measures…
Current world events have caused a lot of uncertainty when it comes to employment. Among the worst affected are the young, recent graduates who have never properly entered the job market. Many businesses just aren’t hiring, and the type of work traditionally used to tide young people over (part-time, service sector) has all but dried up.
One side effect of the current circumstances is that people who have long been thinking of starting their own businesses are finally deciding to take the plunge. Language learning has been a popular choice for combating the boredom of long hours spent in lockdown, which in turn has inspired many people to flog their services as online language teachers. As many have discovered, though, finding students to sustain their enterprise presents a whole new challenge that can be difficult to overcome. Read More »
Teachers are very busy people, and it’s always a struggle to find enough time to put together high-quality content for lessons. The problem is perhaps more acute for online language teachers, who often deal with learners of very different ages, needs and levels of ability. Factor in unsociable working hours and the effort of turning print resources into digital resources and you’ll understand why teachers need all the help they can get!
That’s why I’ve decided to throw together a list of some of the websites I’ve turned to over the years. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but I wanted to cover as many types of learners as possible, from young to old, beginner to advanced. I’ve provided a brief explanation of what to expect on each site, but my advice is dive in and take a look for yourself. Hopefully you’ll find something that makes life easier when the time comes to throw together a last minute lesson. Read More »
How often in your daily life do you read aloud? Unless you have small children, the answer is probably “not often”. For most of us, the vast majority of the oral reading we did was back in the early years of elementary school, when we were still learning to read. At that stage, it was important to read aloud in order for teachers to grasp our strengths and deficits as developing readers. With this information, they could provide the assistance needed to address the issues preventing fluent reading.
As we grow older, and the mechanics of reading are presumed to have been mastered, reading is assessed through comprehension. We read a passage, and then answer questions to demonstrate that we have read well. Assessing comprehension can alert teachers to reading problems, but it cannot shed much light on the nature of the problems. In other words, while teachers might know that their students are not reading well, with only comprehension scores to go on, they are none the wiser as to why. Read More »
My son was less than two years old when our family moved to Japan. Now, there are many things to be concerned about with a child that age, but we were particularly eager that he learn to speak Japanese. After all, this wasn’t an extended holiday. We intended to settle down.
Fast forward a year and we found ourselves worrying that our son might not be able to speak English, the language we’d assumed would be native to him. We did our best to talk and read to him in English, but we sometimes worried that we weren’t doing enough. We didn’t want to turn our home into a cram school, but thankfully we discovered an activity that could entertain us all and provide our son with some much needed English input, watching movies.
I like documentaries and my wife is partial to romantic comedies, but we were pretty sure that neither of these would go down well with a three-year-old. Thankfully, the school where I was working at the time had a great selection of English animation movies. We probably watched 50 or more of these over the next few years. Some had a greater effect on my son’s language development than others. Read More »
To correct, or not to correct? That is the question…
Actually, no. When it comes to teaching languages, it is much more nuanced than that. Rather the question is how, when (and when not) to correct in order to achieve the maximum benefit to learners in terms of language development and motivation.
Investigate the subject and you will soon discover that there is a spectrum of opinions concerning the role of corrective feedback in language learning. Some say that uncorrected errors become habits with negative consequences that can persist for years. Others insist that errors are a vital part of learning and that excessive correction from the teacher negatively affects motivation and self-perception as a language learner. Occasionally, these beliefs are tied to the teacher’s own preferences as a language learner, but more often they come from the broader educational context and the expectations placed on students and teachers. Read More »