AllRight teacher training

This part of training overviews the technical basics for online teaching, the choice of workspace and the teacher’s look.

  1. ⚙️Technical basics and minimum requirements.
    • General information.
    • How to check technical parameters of my computer?
    • What if the technical parameters of my computer do not match the minimum requirements?
  1. 👩‍💻Workspace and appearance of the teacher.
    • Choosing and setting the workspace.
    • Teacher’s look.

This part covers the main methodological approaches, their pros and cons from the practical point of view.

  1. 🙋Communicative approach in its practical meaning.
    • Communicative approach – general facts.
    • Main principles and their practical application.
  2. ✍️Other approaches and methods to teaching English: pros and cons
    • Communicative approach – general facts.
    • Main principles and their practical application.

This part contains detailed guidelines for teaching online lessons.

  1. Classic lesson structure.
    • Introduction
    • Main part.
    • Final part.

Choosing the course for particular purposes, extra free online resources which can be used at the lessons.

  • Courses for children and young teenagers.
    • AllRight course
    • Similar courses
    • Grammatical courses
    • Reading courses
  • Creating an individual course according to the student’s study aims.
  • Extra resources:

  • YouTube.
  • LEGO.
  • Minecraft and other computer games.
  • Online whiteboards.
  • Websites and other online resources.
  • Involving the student’s own surrounding.

✍️Other approaches and methods to teaching English: pros and cons

  1. 📗Grammar translation method VS Communicative Approach
  2. 📘Direct method VS Communicative Approach
  3. 🙋‍♂️Total Physical Response

Below we are going to review several popular ELT (English language teaching) methods and approaches. First of all we should note, that there are no “good” and “bad” methods, as each of them has its own advantages and

📗Grammar translation method VS Communicative Approach

Grammar translation method is one of the oldest in ELT and unfortunately still widely used at some schools. The main goal of this method is to enable a student to read texts in a foreign language, presuming that this might influence on other skills development in a magical way.

With all its disadvantages, the Grammar Translation method still exists at schools and even more – at the lessons of most teachers.

We consider that it is possible to use the elements of this method, i.e. some of its activities at our classes.

Let’s look into its main principles and activities to compare it with Communicative Approach:

Grammar Translation Method Communicative Approach
Reading and writing skills are focused while listening and speaking are practically ignored. All four skills are developed simultaneously with an emphasis on speaking.
Learning grammar rules and vocabulary lists is the priority. Grammar rules and vocabulary is presented in context.
Understanding the meaning of new words is realized through translation into mother language. The meaning of new words is presented in context or with pictures or gestures (especially for young learners).
Student’s native language is used to explain the rules and give instructions at the lesson. Student’s native language is practically avoided, but not prohibited in case of need.
Accuracy is more important than fluency. Fluency is as important as accuracy; trial and error is a natural part of learning.
Activities used at the lessons:
Text translation.
Answering the questions on the text. Can be used as an element of the lesson to check the level of comprehension. Should be presented as Teacher-Student communication.
Fill in the blanks. Can be used as an element of the lesson to develop grammar accuracy, but not more than 1 exercise per lesson.
Learning vocabulary lists with translation into native language by heart.
Learning grammar rules by heart.
Use words in sentences. Is normally used as a natural part of communication with an emphasis on full answers:
—        in question-answer activity
—        in guessing games
—        in quizzes
Writing a composition. Can be given as a homework for more advanced students.

📘Direct method VS Communicative Approach

The direct method is based on the idea that the student should think in the second language directly. The target language is taught to young learners in practically the same natural way as their native language.

This method is good for small groups or individual classes but requires excellent skills of the teacher in keeping the mother language of the students away from the class. It is practically impossible to use the direct method at schools where there are constraints of time, classroom size and teacher background (the method requires native fluency).

Let’s look into its main principles and activities to compare it with Communicative Approach (and see they have a lot in common):

Direct method Communicative Approach
Listening and speaking skills are focused, reading and writing are neglected. All four skills are developed simultaneously with an emphasis on speaking.
The meaning of the new vocabulary is taught through demonstration, action or real objects. Same.
Grammar is taught as constructions and is picked by students naturally. Nearly same. Grammar structures serve for solving communicative tasks: asking the way (prepositions of place), etc.
Student’s native language is prohibited. Student’s native language is avoided, but allowed to use in case of need.
Activities used at the lessons:
Variety of examples (in order to demonstrate the meaning of a word). Can be used successfully with young learners.
E.g. To demonstrate the meaning of “cat” a teacher can:
— show a picture/flashcard
— show a toy
— show a real cat
— mime a cat
— produce the sound of a cat
Storytelling (a teacher reads a text to students, preferably 3 times). Can be used successfully with young learners.
Reading aloud. Can be used as an element of the lesson, but not more than 1 exercise per class.
Question-answer exercises. One of the basic exercises.
Student self-correction (the teacher gives correct examples to demonstrate the student’s error). When a student performs a task for fluency development, the teacher won’t interfere to correct. The teacher will come back to the student’s error during the accuracy development exercise.
Conversation practice. One of the basic exercises.
Fill in the blanks. Can be used as an element of the lesson to develop grammar accuracy, but not more than 1 exercise per lesson.

🙋‍♂️Total Physical Response

Total Physical Response (TPR) is a method built around the coordination of speech and action.

When parents talk to their young child who is still unable to react verbally, the child would respond with gestures, gradually building association between the gesture and the words, pronounced by the parents. TPR implements this idea into the classroom, making this method perfectly effective for young learners.

The main idea of TPR is that new vocabulary is presented through gestures and miming.

Activities used at the lesson:

  • listen and mime
  • look at the miming and guess
  • mime and say
  • listen and do the action

TPR is easily combined with the Communicative Approach when teaching young learners. At AllRight we call this “Speaker method”.

🙋Communicative approach in its practical meaning

  1. 📝Communicative approach – general facts.
  2. ☑️Main principles and their practical application.

📝Communicative approach – general facts

The main idea of the communicative approach lies in the fact that we focus not on studying a language as a matter but on using this language in real-life situations. The learning process is not about accumulation of grammar and vocabulary but about communication using the skills which are already available.

Here are the main principles of the communicative approach in teaching:

  1. Studying a language is learning to communicate using the target language.
  2. All the activities you use at the lesson should have a communicative purpose.
  3. Four language skills — speaking, listening, reading and writing — should be developed simultaneously.
  4. The topics of the course are selected according to student’s age, level, interest and learning aims.
  5. Motivation is top important.
  6. Trial and error is considered part of the learning process.

Let’s review these principles from the point of view of their use in the classroom.

☑️Main principles and their practical application

Studying a language is learning to communicate using the target language.

What does a typical lesson look like? Writing out a list on new words, translating some texts using them, opening the brackets for some grammatical rule. But that never gives your student an ability to use the vocabulary he learnt in real life. So the aim of the communicative class is to teach your student to use those words by practicing real-life communication.

In a class with a young learner that looks as following:

❌NOT writing down new words: “go straight ahead – [translation], turn left – [translation]”…
✔️BUT looking at a map together and describing the way from point A to point B.

 

All the activities you use at the lesson should have a communicative purpose.

When choosing an activity for the lesson a teacher needs to keep just 1 question in mind: “What will my student learn to do after completing this?”

In practical meaning, the aim of an activity is:

❌NOT “to learn descriptive adjectives”
✔️BUT “to learn describing a friend’s appearance”.

In a class with a young learner top communicative tasks are:

  • games (any game creates a need for the student to guess something or to give or follow the instructions which is actually a push for communication)
  • role-play (imagining yourself in a real-life situation and imitating communication when role-playing a comic or a cartoon)

Actually every level of All Right syllabus has communicative aims formulated in the beginning.

For example, here are some communicative aims of Charlie Starter 1 course:

  • Talk and ask about where things are and describe them.
    NOT: “Learn prepositions of place”
  • Describe an animals’ characteristics and features.
    NOT: “Learn the names of animals, body parts and descriptive adjectives”
  • Talk and ask about what you are wearing and what other people are wearing.
    NOT: “Learn the names of clothes and Present Continuous”
  • Talk and ask about possession.
    NOT: “Learn possessive adjectives”
  • Talk and ask about another person’s skills.
    NOT: “Learn modal verb can”
  • Talk and ask about tastes for food.
    NOT: “Learn the names of food and Present Simple”

 

Four language skills — speaking, listening, reading and writing — should be developed simultaneously.

This is a tricky moment. Sure enough, communication can be both oral and written, so a teacher implements tasks for all 4 skills, but… sometimes this results in a bunch of reading-writing exercises, maybe one or two listening-reading-writing tasks, which is definitely NOT about communicative approach. It might be easier to focus on the idea that speaking is a priority, so that reading, listening and writing will be added to the lesson naturally without any special focus.

Online teaching is actually the best way to practice communicative approach. There are not many ways to organize the student’s writing at the lesson, so speaking becomes number one activity.

In an online class with a young learner the time should be divided between the activities in the following way:
60% — speaking (at least half of that is student’s speaking part)
20% — listening (a song or a short video for 2-3 min will be enough)
10% — reading (mostly as a part of some other task)
10% — writing (if any at all)
All the rest of listening/reading/writing activities can be sent as a homework.

 

The topics of the course are selected according to student’s age, level, interest and learning aims.

That’s the easiest part: we talk about pets, friends and school with small kids and about technology, movies and modern music with teenagers. BUT a good communicative class should also include the topics interesting for this particular student.

Let’s imagine the following situation:

Student: girl, 7 y.o.
Level: beginner (A0)
Interests: “My little pony”, drawing
Learning aims: speaking practice, no reading/writing
Topic of the current lesson: pets

What could a teacher implement at the lesson besides the coursebook?

  1. Focusing around “My little pony” interest + speaking learning aim.
  • Looking through the pictures of “My little pony”;
  • focusing on the fact that “a pony” is “a horse”;
  • finding the differences between a usual horse, a usual pony and “My little pony” characters (wings, horn);
  • describing her favourite pony – name, age, colour, size (using the previously learnt vocabulary);
  • then describing a usual horse or pony in the same way;
  • then describing any other pet of the lesson in the same way.
  1. Focusing on the child’s drawing hobby + speaking learning aim.
  • asking the student to listen and draw an animal;
  • then asking the student to guess which animal you drew;
  • describing the animals in the drawings – imagining a name, age, colour and size;
  • playing a guessing game when a teacher describes the animal’s characteristics and the student guesses the animal;
  • same game but changing parts.

 

Motivation is top important.

What is the highest motivation for a young learner?

  • A teacher as a friend, not only a teacher as a guide: do your best to establish friendly relationship with a child; do not stand upon him, stay on the same level in communication.
  • A lesson as a game, not as hard work: try to turn every task into a game (e.g. drilling the new vocabulary with scared/happy/angry/bored intonation will add excitement of imitation)
  • Appreciation: use all ways to praise your student. For example, All Right classroom has stars to send to the student and an animated character to give compliments to a child for success.

 

Trial and error is considered part of the learning process.

What is the main reason of the famous “language barrier”? (spoiler: NOT lack of knowledge).

That’s fear of making a mistake.

It is a pity but the students often face dispraise from parents and school teachers for not showing immediate 100% success at language learning.

So the aim of the teacher in a communicative class is to help the student start speaking no matter how many mistakes he makes in the beginning. Every attempt is great. Every error leads to improvement.

In an class it is much better to say “Try again” instead of “You are wrong” (by the way, the animated character in All Right classroom is able to do that!).

👩‍💻Workspace and appearance of the teacher.

  1. 🖨️Choosing and setting the workspace.
  2. 👩Teacher’s look.

The image of the teacher is an important part of communication at the lesson. Pay attention to your background and to your look to create a positive impression on the student.

🖨️Choosing and setting the workspace

Background

  • The best background is a clean wall behind the teacher.
  • You can place a whiteboard or some colourful stickers behind yourself which can be handy at the lesson as well.
  • All Right can give you a project of a poster which you can print out and place on the wall behind yourself – this will add value to your background. 
  • Not all apartments and rooms allow to sit in front of a wall. If you have room space behind you, please make sure it looks neat and clean; take away unnecessary details (children’s toys, clothes on the bed and other mess).
  • It is a bad idea to sit in front of a window. The light behind you will be caught by your webcam and this will make your face go so dark that the student won’t be able to see you properly. 

Light

  • The best light is from your window when it comes from the right or from the left. You can also use a desktop lamp to lighten your face.
  • If you sit opposite the window make sure your face doesn’t look too light in the webcam.
  • Don’t sit in front of a window, your face will look too dark

    👩Teacher’s look

  • A teacher’s clothes and hair should look neat. There is no special dress-code, but make sure your T-shirt has no spots from yesterday’s pizza. 

⚙️Technical basics and minimum requirements.

  1. ⚙️General information.
  2. 💻How to check technical parameters of my computer?
  3. ⚠️What if the technical parameters of my computer do not match the minimum requirements?

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