I'm kind of tired that students come to me, stressed about not knowing the verb "to be".
"But it's basic!!! Everyone tells me that the verb "to be" is the easiest in English! If I can't understand it, how can I understand anything else?"
Well, let's get the record straight, shall we? There is nothing simple about "be". So don't feel stressed, or frustrated. Just because it's common, does not make it simple. It is important, yes, but not simple.
I wish there was an instant reply to this... That you could snap your fingers like a magician and you'd be able to fluently speak English or any other language you'd like to learn. Unfortunately, that's not the case, and teachers who promise to do so miraculously in a very short time are probably being more optimistic than real.
That said, there are lots of things you can do on your own to improve your English. Here are my first 3 tips:
1. Social Media
Have you noticed the amount of different pages and groups dedicated to language learning on social media? Be it Facebook, Instagram or YouTube (just to name a few), the lessons are out there with people willing to help, teach and who don't have a hidden agenda that will make you spend money in the end. (This blog is living proof of that, btw.)
If you enjoy listening to music, then I'm sure you've felt the frustration of not being able to understand what it is people are singing. I've had students asking me to play this or that song in class to then discover they absolutely hate the lyrics of a song they thought was absolutely brilliant (I can think of an older student and his disappointment about "I am a woman in love" ..... ah well). Anyway, if you're into music you should listen to your favourite song again and again. Try to imitate the rhythm, the accent, make a list of the words you recognise, watch the video clip along with the lyrics and check out Lyrics Training, a website that helps you learn languages through music.
3. Talk to your imaginary friend
Yes, yes, I know. You're probably too old for that, right? Well, I talk to myself all the time. Call me nuts, but I'm my best friend :) By talking to yourself or someone imaginary you're not getting any feedback (maybe: you might become aware of certain mistakes, like verb tenses and this gives you a chance to correct them) but you're slowly building your confidence and this gives you the chance to stop, look up a word and continue the "conversation" without feeling embarrassed.
That's it for now. Try these and let me know how they work for you. I'm really interested in your feedback, that's the only way I can continue to improve as a teacher and continue to help my students.
Leave a comment below.
Very interesting debate this afternoon with someone who always (and I do mean always!) makes me think about what I'm saying.
Today was not different and we ended up having this sharing of ideas about Shakespeare and Luís de Camões and reading habits. Yes, I. I absolutely agree that reading habits are picked up at home, but I also think that more could be done to encourage young people to read. The classics are undisputedly important and therefore, as promised, here's the link to The Lusíads, in English.
TOEFL is a widely known exam providing information regarding someone's ability in English within the context of universities.
So, if you'd like to study abroad, perhaps in the USA, it is very likely that you'll be asked to take it because universities want to make sure you'll be able to follow the course and be successful, and for that, you need English.
So, that said, I've been asked quite often what the difference between iBT and pdt is. Simply said: iBT is the internet based test and pdt is the paper delivered test.
Not so simply, the differences are bigger than just format.
The pdt is the new version of the paper test which was used until October 2017. It is available in places where there is no internet and has 3 sections: Reading, Listening and Writing. (Yes, that's true: no Speaking).
The iBT is by far the most frequently used format of the test. I believe 98% of people taking the TOEFL take it online. The tests lasts for about 4 hours (the paper delivered test will take a little less than 3h) and includes all 4 skills: Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking.
It seems unbelievable that I haven't written in such a long time.
My apologies to those who actually do read what I write.
The reason is this: since leaving IH Porto last January a million things have happened. First and above all, I wanted time to heal, to recover, get my health back, be able to spend time with my children and my partner, learn how to slow down a bit. My wishes didn't last long and in May, without any warning or preparation, I decided to open my own language school. And in July we opened our doors and I've been working non-stop on this new project.
If you'd like to take a look at our website, please feel free to do so, and in case you've got Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, please follow us there too.
The blog is still open and will be an important part of the school, but I need time to get things in place. Baby steps, one step at a time. :)
This is a sentence many teachers have heard again and again in and out of their classroom.
Kids frustrated, with lack of motivation and apparently who don't seem to care in the least.
This is a topic that has interested me over the years, having dealt with teenagers for a number of years.
My response to this and other issues that seem to be related to behaviour always go back to some fundamental principles of being a teacher (and a human being):
1. Plan your lesson: especially transitions
2. Vary the type of interaction throughout your lesson (pair work, group, individual...)
3. Get students to move around whenever possible
4. Establish rapport. If you don't, then don't expect them to learn as you would like them to.
5. Model behaviour, instead of shouting "be quiet" or trying to solve confrontation by trying to intimidate your students
6. Pick your battles, sometimes and somethings are just not worth it
7. ... but be consistent
8. Remember everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, and teenagers aren't any different
9. Have fun. If you enjoy your lesson and have fun with it, your students are likely to do so as well
10. Finally, remember, it's not (always) about you. Students may actually like you but something is causing their lack of motivation. Your job is to find out what and try to engage them as much as possible
I'll be presenting in Abrantes this coming Saturday. If you're nearby, why not come and say "hi"? :)
Here's the Facebook link with the event. I'll also be posting a video soon about this topic. In the meantime, if you have any questions, just remember you can get in touch with me, through the Facebook page.