What to Rely on
I’m sure most of us use coursebooks as the main source of information and some other supplementary materials to add variety or change something that we may dislike in the main coursebook. We can obviously save our time and rely on a well-structured syllabus or decide not to do that due to the fact that it’s impossible to find a perfect coursebook for a particular group of students with their needs. The internet offers myriad ways to help teachers who want to save time and use ready-made materials. They might be topic-based, help develop skills and make use of authentic materials.
I want to remind you of some other teaching resources that we sometimes underuse. They are reference books and websites, technology and visual aids, things around us and classroom space, whiteboards and cork boards.
Using Visual Aids
Our CELTA trainees understand the benefits of using visuals in the classroom. They try to create some useful prompts to attract the learners’ attention, clarify some important features of the target language and make their presentations memorable. The funnier, more colourful, more emotionally appealing, the better!
You can pre-teach vocabulary to facilitate understanding of a text or help students put some useful expressions into practice if you highlight the written record of those and annotate it with some useful information such as a part of speech, collocates, a stress, silent letters or tricky sounds.
Dictionaries and mobile devices can be used to develop learning skills and promote learner autonomy. That’s how our learners can understand and use words effectively by looking them up for a part of speech, the frequency of a word, its collocations. They will be able to find word families and clarify the difference in meaning of similar words. This might be particularly important if you work with exam classes.
Most of our students are likely to be tech-savvy, which means they are good at searching for information and they’ll be glad if you show them some useful websites for their language study.
Tips on Using Dictionaries in Class
- Train your students use monolingual dictionaries like Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English or Macmillan Online Dictionary.
- Allocate some time for using dictionaries in class on a regular basis.
- After reading a text or discussing a topic let your students decide which new words they want to know and look them up in a dictionary.
- Ask the students to create Quizlet sets and share them with each other.
- Help them notice collocations and find other words that go together. You can recommend them using an online dictionary or Netspeak to do that.
- Think of some questions that you can use to prompt the learners, e.g. Is this word formal or informal? Is this verb transitive? What prepositions can you use after this adjective? etc.
- Find more ideas at Leo Selivan’s blog.