For those of us who decide to take the plunge and develop our own TESOL worksheets, there are numerous factors to take into consideration. In addition to issues such as authenticity and the importance of contextualization, one factor that we must never forget is the physical appearance of our material. Given that the criteria for evaluating course books frequently include reference to the ‘look’ and the ‘feel’ of the resource, it seems that such criteria that are also pertinent to materials that we design ourselves. This post examines the most important factors in producing an appealing piece of work that your learners will love.
One of the worst things about professionally published language teaching materials is that they often tend to focus on one particular skill in a fairly unnatural way. Indeed, a lot of language courses even go as far as focusing solely on productive skills. In such courses, reading and listening become secondary skills (while other courses do the exact opposite, of course). Authentic materials, in the other hand, allow teachers to plan for integrated skills lessons.
At some point in our TEFL careers, we all take the plunge and decide it’s time to make our own worksheet or supplementary activity. However, creating our own TEFL material isn’t as plain sailing as it might at first seem. There are several issues that may actually prove to be quite disadvantageous when compared to using professionally published resources. In this blog, I will look at the challenges of using your own TEFL material and I will provide you with free resources to help you improve your TEFL methods!
There are many benefits to making your own TESOL materials. Firstly, commercially-produced materials tend to be generic and not aimed at any specific group of learners or any particular cultural or educational context. Such issues are easily overcome when we develop our own resources. Another advantage is that we can address individual needs. This is important, as we see great diversity in English language classrooms, both in terms of where they are located and in terms of the individual learners within the teaching context. What’s more, teacher-made materials enable us to choose texts and activities at the right level for our learners. With that in mind, personalization is another benefit of teacher-designed materials, as they add a personal touch to teaching that learners really appreciate. Considering the interests the learning styles of our students is likely to increase their motivation and level of engagement. A final benefit of developing our own materials is timeliness. What we mean here is that a teacher’s own material can act as a response to contemporary local and/or international events with up-to-date, relevant and high interest topics and tasks.
Despite these many advantages, it’s still important that we don’t take it for granted that our self-made materials will be great successes in our classes; we need to focus on all the things we need to keep in mind when developing our own materials. This post looks at two of these factors; we begin with the importance of strategy training, then move on to the need to accommodate both form and function.
In an ideal world, TESOL teaching materials should create situations where learners need to interact with each other in ways similar to those in which they will engage outside of the classroom. Why is this so? Basically, the majority of learners who are able to communicate fluently in a second language do so by being in situations where they have to use the language for some real communicative purpose. The activities in the textbook are often inadequate, so this article will explain how to stimulate student interaction with authentic material.
Teacher-made TESOL materials form an important part of most English language courses. Despite the rich array of commercially available materials, many teachers continue to produce their own materials for classroom use. Indeed, most of us spend a substantial amount of time looking for, choosing, evaluating, adapting or making our own materials to use in our classrooms.
With all this work going into preparing supplementary materials, it’s important for us to think about how to make things work as effectively as possible. Over the course of several posts, we’ll look at all the factors you need to keep in mind when preparing worksheets and handouts. In this post, we’ll start off by examining the importance of contextualizing your materials, and then move on to making sure that our materials generate interaction and promote the use of new language.
A prefix is a word part (morpheme) placed in front of a base word to form a new word. Prefixes change the semantic meaning of the affected word. For example, if we add the prefix un- to the base word ‘kind’, we will form the negative ‘unkind’. Here are more examples of prefixes: non (existent), il (legal), im (patient), un(sure), dis(solve), ir(responsible), mis(understand), in(humane), over (cooked), and re(done).
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When you start out teaching, one of the hardest things to do is to see the wood (the whole course of study that your learners will work through) for the trees (the individual lessons you’ll teach that comprise this course of study). Nevertheless, thinking about things from this wider perspective is a must if you are to achieve a balance of skills and activities that take place, as well as making sure that what you do fits in with the other teachers who are also teaching your class. Here are some points to consider when planning for the longer term.
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Two questions that often come up to new ESL teachers are:
- “As we prepare lessons for beginner level English dialogue, how are we sure that they understand the language of instruction?”
- “Is there a curriculum for ESL student to follow so that I may have an idea of what to expect from different ESL levels?”
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Writing, unlike speaking, is not an ability we acquire naturally, even in our first language: it has to be taught. In TESOL, Writing is often referred to as the ‘Cinderella’ skill because it’s the one that gets left behind while all the others ‘join the ball’. What this means for us as language teachers is that unless our learners are explicitly taught how to write in their new language, their writing skills are likely to get left behind while their speaking, reading and listening develops. Fortunately, there are ways we can plan effective writing lessons.