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 (8)

This post closes my series about exam preparation. I have discussed some typical exam exercises in every paper (Reading, Use of English, Writing, Listening and Speaking) and tried to provide guidelines how to prepare for these. In this last post, I would like to give you some final tips for your exam preparation course. 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

Tips and tricks for exam preparation (2)

In my previous post I went through some general suggestions about exam preparation courses. I tried to set up the main rules for a proper course preparation and discussed the importance of familiarizing students with the exam structure and teaching time management.

This time, I’d like to go into detail. I have listed some exercises that definitely need explicit explanation and preparation.  My purpose is not to list all exercise types here, but mainly to give an idea what might be of importance and how you can teach exam skills. Read more

Tips and tricks for exam preparation (1)

Have you ever thought about why it is that not all excellent students can pass an exam? And why can others, whose performance has never been outstanding, do it? Passing an exam is not equal to speaking/understanding a language. It’s more about understanding what exam writers want to see and how they want to trick candidates. Exams are business, they have very little to do with real language competence. But they cost money… Read more