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


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 (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

Mini Heroes learn English – tips to survive and enjoy YL classes (1)

This year I’m on maternity leave, well not officially, since in Italy mothers are requested to re-enter their jobs 3-4 months after their child’s birth, but let’s say, I’ve become a freelance mummy-teacher. What does that mean? In the morning, I started running an English home-nursery, while in the afternoon, I started teaching kids. On Wednesdays, I have lessons with my Mini Heroes, 6-7 year old boys (only boys). Obviously, my lesson planning is completely different from my good old lessons to adults and I usually need a shower after a lesson with them, but being their hero-teacher is the best price on Earth. It’s not a traditional classroom course. We do our lessons in our playroom in my home, using my kids’ toys. But most of the activities I tried with remarkable success and/or results are simply to be introduced even in a classroom.  Read more

Tips and tricks for exam preparation (6)

In the next two posts, I would like to discuss some details that might improve your students’ performance in the speaking exam. Remember that your students have only got used to speaking to you and their classmates, so the situation where they have to talk to a complete stranger about unexpected things might cause a high level of stress which might cause even the best student to stumble. So try to find enough time to talk about the examiner’s aim, about realistic expectations (an A2 student doesn’t have to be ‘fluent’ and not knowing a word is not a sin, etc.) and what candidates are supposed to do during the exam. This way, you will help your students face the oral part of their exam without (or at least with a lower level of) anxiety. Read more

Tips and tricks for exam preparation (5)

Listening might be the most difficult challenge for your students, mainly due to incorrect learning habits. Traditional language teaching still puts emphasis on mechanical grammar exercises, reading, tests and, usually, speaking drills that don’t really involve listening skill training. Students should be exposed to native spoken English every day. By assigning homework which involves watching TV in English or even listening to short videos on YouTube, teachers will encourage students to practise their listening skills. Still, these types of homework assignments are exceptions rather than the rule. There might be some improvement in students using their CD-Rom included in their course pack, but these often provide subtitles which turns their practice into reading instead of listening. Read more