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by Helen Waldron

It would have been impossible to write about global issues in 2017 without mentioning immigration. It’s a hugely divisive and complex issue and unfortunately one that often reduces human suffering into numbers. Seeing people as statistics dehumanizes the victims and reduces our capacity for empathy towards them.

When devising the “Immigration” activity for A-Z of Global Issues I wanted to challenge our perceptions of the refugee crisis and considered two options: either I reinstate the emotive, human element by using victim narratives and/or challenging viewpoints through role reversals (see Brian Bilston’s magnificent poem “Refugees”, or this short clip from Amnesty International; or I turn the discourse of immigration upon itself and escalate the numbers and the time frame still further.

In the end I did the latter. The main message is that immigration has always been taking place. Most of our ancestors were immigrants. Land shifts, people move.

Thus the “Immigration” activity takes the form of that perennial card game,  “Top Trumps.” Games are ideal for practising social skills and social language. “Top Trumps” is especially good for big number practice. It’s a very easy game to play; the challenge is that the students themselves have to partially write the cards. To do this they also need to be able to discuss their viewpoints and justify their opinions.

Note to teachers: allow more time for preparation than for the actual game. This is language practice and social learning through sharing and collaboration. There are four card “families,” three dealing with a continent, one with more global consequences. Some brief details are provided on each card and students are required to evaluate the factors leading to each immigration situation.

Such concepts as the “push,” “pull” and “network” factors, may be new. They deal with the extent to which people are obliged to leave their old land (“push”) or motivated to enter their new one (“pull”). For instance the “New World” settlers arriving in the United States of America from Central Europe in the nineteenth century were often poor, but also aspirational and they had the means to pay for their own passage, whereas many starving Irish were practically “deported” to North America by landlords willing to be rid of them.  “Network” factors describe the situation of many so-called “global citizens” following contacts that have already been forged, and can be seen when an IT specialist moves to a country where similarly qualified people live and work. In reality, the reasons for immigration is almost always a combination of all three factors, but engaging with each scenario should help students to understand them.

A-Z of Global Issues photocopiables by Julie Pratten, Linda Ruas and Helen Waldron (Academic Study Kit)  will be available from 26 June price: £25.99 


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Walking the teacher-coach talk by Michelle Hunter

Today the lesson went according to plan. The students, having received their instructions, engaged in their tasks with enthusiasm and gusto. They participated equally, presented their research findings eloquently and with very few language errors. They responded well to the different methods, media and feedback, appreciating the variety. What did I, their teacher, do most of the time? Generally speaking, initiated tasks, guided through stages, supported where necessary, created a safe environment for active participation and an open ear during discussion. In essence, I felt happy today that I walked the teacher-coach talk.

Experiencing such a “lesson-in-flow” is not an everyday occurrence. I’m sure you can relate to what I mean when I write that. But I can honestly say, that the more I practice a coach-approach to teaching, the more often students proactively and positively participate in class. I also have an increased sense of well-being and achievement, both during and after the class.
What helps me maintain a positive, effective learning environment?

1.       “Ease”. A sense of inner ease, away from rush and hectic.
2.       “Appreciation”. Recognition for the willingness offered by my students to trust and go along with some of my more “creative” activities.
3.       “Attention”. The act of listening proactively to what someone wants to express, and not interrupting their thinking process. Also paying attention to what is not being said and noticing energy levels within the group.
4.       “Encouragement”. Gently pushing individuals to think a little further, to test the boundaries of their knowledge; to “demand higher” of them.
(Kline, 1999)

Where did I learn such principles? From the world of coaching. What I learned, and continue to learn, from training as a coach offers me a whole new framework within which to practice as a teacher. Not every lesson is a model example; I don’t always practice what I preach. Some days I realise I’ve spoken proportionally more than my learners, or that I failed again in my personal goal of concise instruction-giving, or forgot a whole section of my lesson because I was distracted. And that’s OK, because I have learned about growth mindsets (Dweck, 2006) and the benefits of being mindfully (Schoeberlein, 2009) aware and self-forgiving of my errors, gaffs and foibles.
But for today, I shall celebrate the brilliance of my students and pat myself on the back for a job well done this lesson.


Dweck, C., (2006) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Constable & Robinson: London

Schoeberlein, B., (2009) Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness: A Guide for Anyone Who Teaches Anything. Wisdom Publications.

Kline, N., (1999) Time to Think. Cassell

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“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  Theodore Roosevelt

 As educators, we constantly ask ourselves questions about the best way to serve our learners and guide them towards good global citizenship. Along the way, I believe we should also be questioning ourselves, our colleagues and our PLN.  Recently, a young banker told me this, “We have to change the way we deal with our clients. We need to listen more to what they really need from us and focus less on selling them products. In the past, there was always a sales target; ‘In every exchange with the client, try to sell them as many products as possible’. Those days are over; we have to empathise with people. We have to connect. We can’t just pretend anymore.” In fact, nothing is new about this; if you look at community banking for farming communities 100 years ago, bankers were an extension of the family. The same bank manager helped fathers, their sons and their daughters run the family business. They cared about local business because the community depended upon it."

I have to admit I was surprised to hear this coming from a banker. So what about our own profession and the institutions that have ‘raised us’ as ELT professionals? There is a lot of talk about providing our learners with the skills they need to become true global citizens, but who is ready to equip us with the tools we need to become 21st century educators? Have we also become too wrapped up in the products of our trade to step back, listen more and empathise? At the same time we need to take a close  look at the professional groups that we belong to. They shape our profession, don’t they? Are they ready to invest in us, to embrace change and grow with us? After being involved in BE and soft skills training for three decades, I have to stop and wonder if as a profession, we are failing miserably in the care stakes.

In corporate ELT people care about their business, their cashflow, their branding and social media, but what about the people? After all, we are in the people business, aren't we, 24/7? Does the corporate ELT world really care about people issues, teaching conditions, ethics and sustainability or does it just pay lip service to these things (like our politicians?)
So let's just take stock for a moment and consider the following questions.

Firstly, are you intentional about seeking the best in others, as opposed to seeing the worst? How is your empathy level? Do you really acknowledge the views of others or simply dismiss those you don't agree with? As managers and leaders, (if our goal is to get the most out of people) do you do this by providing sound support or do you implement a scorched earth policy? Other burning questions  to ask yourself, to take away and ponder.  

1  What exactly IS your legacy? What is the bigger picture and goal that you strive for?2  How are you documenting your legacies and how are your learners doing the same? 3  Are you really thinking for yourself and putting your personal touch into your work, or are you just following the job description and/or simply following what others have done or are doing?4  As a manager, leader and educator,  do you make every conversation and interaction count? You may need that second cup of coffee now.

My own personal conclusion: The extent to which an experience inspires me often depends on my attitude and perspective. A shift in both these areas helps me grow and become more effective (and perhaps more successful?) What about you?

CARE = Commitment +Attitude + Respect + Effort


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