Grammar: A for Adjectives

I have been planning to write about grammar for a long time. I don’t think that grammar is so important in language teaching, however, no established teacher can afford not knowing grammar, above all in adult courses. In my career as a supervisor of native and non-native English teachers, I noticed that most new teachers have difficulties what to explain about any grammar structure to their students. The more they knew about the students’ first language, the clearer the answer became to this question. But there is always a first time. Read more


S.O.S. alias for the Sake Of Substitution (1) – Problems, Solutions

Years ago I worked for a school that offered computer-dominated blended courses to its students. These spent hours, days, if not weeks in front of the screen, until they memorized the answers to the repeated questions and so they could book conversation lessons. Since there was no guidance by a class teacher (there were no classes), teachers could and should monitor and evaluate the students in these conversation lessons. These were also the only ones that were prepared by the teacher. So these were my favorite ones. However, we didn’t really know at what level the students would be, since everybody above a given level could book for a conversation lesson (for example, everybody who completed the first 4 units, could book Conversation I, but also students in higher units could come back and do a brush-up conversation lesson at this lower level. This meant, that flexibility was essential. The same, what a substitution requires. So this lesson idea (one of my most popular ones) might help you out in a last-minute substitution. Read more

Young Learners: Project-based teaching – Fashion show and Masterchef Junior instead of course books (4)

Project 2: Masterchef Junior Palermo

The girls couldn’t wait for this project, although I had some concerns about it, since one of the girls was celiac and had also diabetes. So it was tricky not to make mistakes with the ingredients. I decided not to make it difficult, but put the girls to work right after the first (introduction) lesson.

The vocabulary was menu, ingredients, cooking verbs, the grammar was imperative and present continuous again and a quick introduction of countable and uncountable nouns. The outcome was a cooking video (a series of short videos), showing the girls preparing their own recipes. Here is a short description of the four lessons. Read more

Young Learners: Project-based teaching – Fashion show and Masterchef Junior instead of course books (3)

Project 1: Are you a fashion girl?

Our first project was about and around fashion, something girls love to talk about, even though they might not look so fashionable every time.

The vocabulary included clothing items and accessories, the grammar was mainly present continuous, the article a/an with clothes, singular and plural forms and the word order in noun phrases with adjectives (I’m wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans. She’s wearing a pink skirt, a white blouse with red buttons and white tights.).

The main activity was a real fashion show with music the girls had picked for their appearance and a fashion magazine with the photos shot at the fashion show. Here is a short description of the lessons. Read more

Young Learners: Project-based teaching – Fashion show and Masterchef Junior instead of course books (2)

In my previous post I started to explain, why I chose to design project-based courses instead of the traditional book-based syllabi. I listed the main reasons, why teaching Young Learners, whose age and language knowledge should equally be considered, becomes a problem when creating long-term plans, since there is no clear guideline (can-lists) for kids.
On the other hand, this also gives lots of freedom to the teacher to tailor a course to the interests and needs of  the students (if possible, some schools oblige the teacher to follow standardized long-term plans). This was exactly what I had been dreaming of years.

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Young Learners: Project-based teaching – Fashion show and Masterchef Junior instead of course books (1)

After more than 10 years of classroom teaching (mostly to adults, but also young learners, YL), I was pretty fed up with coursebooks. As I mentioned in my last post series about Mini Heroes, I started teaching English to kids at home, in the room I use for my home nursery in the mornings. In addition to my two boy groups, I managed to set up a mini-group with 8-9 year old girls and could start with a very exciting course: a course based on projects. Let me explain to you what it means. Read more