Since an early age I have been fascinated by languages and how they open up new worlds and cultures to the language learner. Originally planning to become a translator, I studied French and Spanish to degree level, but found that I was often better translating into the other language than into English, which didn't bode well for a career in translating.
I was lucky enough to spend my third year abroad teaching as the Language Assistant at the Official State Language School in Cadiz. I thoroughly enjoyed my year and was encouraged to explore methodology in depth and to experiment by my colleague and friend Vicky Samaniego.
I returned to Leeds University enthused with the teaching of English and after graduating, enrolled in a CELTA course (or RSA CTEFLA as it was then known) at International House Newcastle. Little did I know it, but I was about to embark on a long and fruitful journey into ELT. Ih were then actively recruiting teachers for their Polish schools and I thought it would give me useful experience in knowing what my beginners' classes were going through. The weekly input sessions encouraged me to develop my teaching and over the years I went from being a trainee on the YL Extension and DELTA courses to becoming a CELTYL and CELTA tutor, supported all the while by my tutors Rachael Roberts and Jon Butt.
Back in the UK I worked in an FE college for a year, teaching mainly FCE and IELTS to adults , but then made a move into the world of publishing when I started work at Cambridge English as the Subject Officer for the Cambridge Young Learners English (YLE) Tests. I was part of the team that conducted the 2007 review of the tests, analysing popular course materials in an attempt to make the tests more relevant to the digital generation.
In 2008 I moved to Macmillan Publishers where I was the Commissioning Editor for Primary materials, first in the Spain group, then in the International Group. I learnt a huge amount about how to publish effective and attractive materials whilst at Macmillan and count Footprints, Way Ahead Tests, Grammar Goals and YLE Skills as my main achievements.
Since leaving Macmillan I have become a freelance ELT writer and editor of Primary and occasionally Secondary materials. I work for multiple clients such as CUP, Macmillan, Pearson and Young Digital Planet so every day is different. I have recently become the project lead on a project to produce can-do statements for Young learners and am enjoying the challenges it brings.
I am passionate about producing meaningful, motivating and enjoyable materials for children and teenagers learning English and hope to give you an insight into this through my blog. It's the first time I have written a blog so I am really excited to be doing this.
After a break of more than three weeks, I am back with the next instalment of my training course.
This is session 4 of my 10-week Teacher Training course for teachers of Young Learners. It is written with NQTs or newly qualified teachers in mind and it looks at how to make instructions clear to children’s classes to ensure successful learning takes place. The session includes a demonstration of how not to give instructions, followed by a step-by-step guide on how to make a greetings card with a children’s class. Trainees are set homework to observe each other and see how they can improve their teaching practice.
I hope you find these materials useful and relevant to your teaching context. Do please let me know if you have any feedback or questions.
It’s now almost half term in UK schools and it is time to look at what happens when the ‘Happy Honeymoon’ many teachers experience at the start of a school year starts to wear off.
This is session 3 of my 10-week Teacher Training course for teachers of Young Learners. It is written with NQTs or newly qualified teachers in mind and it builds on the work done on classroom management in session 2 of this course. Trainees are required to take part in a ‘maze’ activity originally published by International House experts David Spencer and David Vaughan in IATEFL’sYL SIG magazine CATs.
I hope you find these materials thought-provoking and relevant to your teaching context. Do please let me know if you have any feedback or questions.
It’s now almost half way through the autumn term in most UK schools and in schools and colleges in many other countries.
Here is session 2 of my 10-week Teacher Training course for teachers of Young Learners. It can be run with new teachers of children (and those with some experience too!) and it explores the ins and outs of good classroom management, both principles and practice. All you need is an IWB, access to the Internet and Teachers TV or You Tube, plus some fairly basic pen and paper materials.
I hope you find these materials stimulating and relevant to your teaching context. Do please let me know if you have any feedback or questions.
Ahead of the return to school for most teachers and young learners, I am pleased to share a ten-week initial Teacher Training course for recently qualified teachers of children and young teenagers. I wrote this when I was still working as a Teacher Trainer and have updated it to place it on my blog.
During August, many teachers are taking a thoroughly well-deserved break. I am keeping my head down proofreading a Lower Secondary course that is being versioned for Egypt.
Next week, I plan to take some down time from Wednesday through to the following Tuesday morning. I am planning to use some of that time to add some content to the Teaching materials tab on this blog. So look out for something from me soon.
See EFL Magazine for an article about how to set up pair work for speaking activities with children. The article is by Donna Shaw, author of Find Out!, Footprints and High Five. It is at EFL Magazine and is called Time to Talk.
More than a month after my last post and I am back at my desk looking at cognitive levelling this week and the research that has been done into this area, or not, as the case may be. This seems a more recent area of research in the field of children.
As well as estimating the age at which a child can be reasonably expected to do something, say ‘Can tell the time in clock hours e.g. It’s nine o’clock.’ I have been trying to band the abilities into four areas: open (age 6 upwards), 7 or older, 9 or older and 11 or older. This is still very much up for discussion as so much happens around the age of ten when more abstract thinking and understanding come into play. For instance, when should children be expected to write a well-constructed paragraph with a topic sentence, main body and final sentence?
I hope to answer that question more expertly as this week goes by.
Well, our talk went down well at IATEFL and I am now back at my desk getting ready for the next stage of the Learning objectives for YLs project. This will be to reorder the descriptors to create a logical set and to incorporate the feedback from reviewers and either rewrite descriptors or send them for further analysis. I also need to assign a cognitive level to the descriptors, which will be quite a challenge. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into the job, so to speak, and will keep you updated.