Photos from East London

Micro-training tasks

As promised - the tasks from the East London training!

Micro-training 2 - Giving Instructions

A.    Running Dictation

Running dictations are a great way to energise a class, involve learners in all four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as team work. When organised well they are an effective learning tool. Unfortunately if instructions are not given well, chaos may ensue and there could even be accidents.

Running dictations are a great way to energise a class, involve learners in all four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as team work. When organised well they are an effective learning tool. Unfortunately if instructions are not given well, chaos may ensue and there could even be accidents.

Running dictations are a great way to energise a class, involve learners in all four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as team work. When organised well they are an effective learning tool. Unfortunately if instructions are not given well, chaos may ensue and there could even be accidents.

Micro-training 2 - Giving Instructions

A.    Running Dictation

Prepare one piece of paper with the text for each team and pin up either outside the classroom or at an extreme end of the room so it is not visible from the tables.
Organise students into groups of 4, tell them who is 1,2,3,4
Number 1 from each team goes to their (how will they know which is theirs?) paper and tries to remember as much as possible – a few words, a phrase or a short sentence. They do not remove the paper.
Number 1 returns to their group and dictates the sentence while number 2 writes it down. The others listen and help.
Only one representative from each group should be looking at the paper at one time.
Now number 2 goes to the paper and continues the process trying to remember as much of the text as possible, returning to the table and dictating it to Number 3.
The process continues round the table until all the text has been written. One of the team can then fetch the text and the whole team compares their version to the original and see if they have made any mistakes.

Micro-training 2 - Giving Instructions
2. Find someone who…

1.       ……………………………… has never done teacher training before.

2.       ………………………………. has problems giving clear instructions.

3.       ……………………………….. doesn’t like using technology when training teachers.

4.       ……………………………….. has taught for more than 15 years.

5.       ……………………………….. likes using games and activities like this when teacher training.

6.       ………………………………. is confident they can design training materials.

7.       ……………………………….  is ready for a break!

Micro-training 2 - Giving Instructions

B.    Find someone who…


Give out one worksheet per person

Ask participants to read them quietly and check they understand them

Explain that the name is missing, they need to find someone whose name can start the sentence and make the sentence true. They must pay attention as some are negative sentences.

Ask students to form one or two questions correctly as an example.

Then explain they are going to ask their classmates these questions.

Students move around the class asking different people, noting down a name if it makes a true sentence

The same name may only appear once on the sheet!

Do some kind of wind up / review.

Micro-training 2 - Giving Instructions

C.      Matching game

When planning training

is not about telling teachers how to teach.
Pair work and group work
but training also involves different skills to teaching.
Building rapport with your participants is important as
it’s important to consider the context teachers work in.
Teacher training
ensure that participants have a chance to share their ideas in a non-threatening way.
Effective trainers have many of the skills which effective teachers have,
teachers need to feel you understand their problems and respect them.

Micro-training 2 - Giving Instructions

C   .Matching game


Cut up the cards so you have one per participant

Plan what to do if you have an odd number

Hand out a card to each participant and ask them to keep them secret

Ask them to read their card. It’s half of their sentence. Ask them to write down what they think is the other half of their sentence. They mustn’t share any of this with the others.

They should walk around and read out their halves to each other in order to find their partner – the person who has the other half of their sentence. Once they are sure they have their partner they should sit down together.

When everyone has their partner. Ask each pair to read out the full sentence and say how close it was to how they guessed their sentence was completed.

Do some kind of review / wind up.

Micro-training 2 - Giving Instructions

D.    Pair dictation


An effective trainer __ ____ __ _______ many useful classroom practices to teachers  __ ____ __ ____ ________ _________ __ _________ which focus on particular aspects of teaching ____ __ ________ __________, developing thinking skills ___ __________. By using different class management techniques __ ______ ____________ to answer questions ____ _____ ___ ______ or rolling a dice, ____________ ___ __ ____ ____ __ and appreciate such simple strategies ___ ___ ____ ____ ________ into their classroom.


__ ________ ______ is able to present ____ ______ _________ ________ __ ________ as well as those directly presented in workshops _____ _____ __ __________ _______ __ ________ such as teaching vocabulary, __________ ________ ______ and assessment. __ _____ _________ _____ __________ __________ to choose participants  __ ______ _________ like lolly pop sticks __ _______ _ _____, participants get to take part in ___ __________ ____ ______ __________ and can take them directly ____ ______ __________.

Micro-training 2 - Giving Instructions

D.     Pair Dictation


Explain or model the activity with an example.

Arrange the group into pairs facing each other.

Hand out the sheets A to one person and B to the other person in the pair.

Ask them not to look at each others’ paper.

Tell them to take turns reading the segments of the text to each other, while their partner fills in their gaps, until the entire text is completed.

Ask them to reflect back, giving comments of the task and the content of the text.


Micro-training 2 - Giving Instructions

E.      Board game

Sorry the snakes and ladders board game won't upload!!

Micro-training 2 - Giving Instructions

F.     Board Game

Each player needs a counter
The group need a dice
Each player takes it in turn to roll the dice. They move their counter forward the amount of spaces shown on the dice.
If the counter lands on the head of a snake, the player must slide their counter to the bottom of the snake and begin again from there when it’s their turn
If the counter lands on the bottom of a ladder, they must move their counter to the top of the ladder and start again from there
If a player lands on a square that says Q – they must ask the others a question about Teacher Training e.g. What should we know about the teachers we train?
If a player lands on a square that say I – they must tell the rest of their group something they know or believe about Teacher Training e.g. I think that it’s imprtant to build teachers’ confidence.
If a player lands on a P – they must tell the group something personal about themself e.g. I have never liked brocolli.

The first player to reach the star is the winner.


Prepared for Exams or Prepared for Life?

Key slides from my talks in Poland 13-17 April 2015

Aims of exams:
Recognition that younger learners need motivation
Challenge and direction for learning
Clear signs of progress
Memorable language learning
Real language skills

Everyone can experience feelings of resolve and a commitment to think more and to dare more … and of being poised to learn and ready to take the next step.
Martin V. Covington, The Will to Learn, Cambridge University Press
The most important attitude that can be formed is that of the desire to go on learning..    
John Dewey, 1938
(1859 – 1952,  American philosopher and educational reformer)

Backwash effect is …the extent to which a test influences teachers and learners to do things they would not otherwise necessarily do

Dangers of exam-driven teaching
Practice tests ad nauseum
Lots of individually done exercises
No learning taking place
Rote learning
Sense of failure
Idea of ‘finishing English’

What do learners need to know to do well in English language tests?
Communicative value of language
Vocabulary / Grammar
Understand written and spoken English
Respond naturally in conversation

Which functions?
explain, describe, tell, ask, invite, offer
deny, suggest, promise, warn, compare, persuade
Approve, boast, confess, emphasise, justify, object, prove, reject

What’s the best way to prepare for speaking tests?
English-rich environment
Speaking integrated with other skills
Speaking planned in the lesson
Regular varied speaking tasks
Lots of opportunities to speak together
Pair and group work
Focus on fluency not just accuracy
Focus on phonology

Exam skills
Understand rubric
Know what is required to do well
Ability to study on their own
Make an ‘educated guess’
Be confident and prepared!

Whatever we do in the classroom, we must remember to:
Continue to develop skills and language as well as examination techniques
Challenge and engage students
Keep students motivated – in the short and long-term
Ensure students see connections between class work and exams
Plan exam preparation lessons accordingly


IATEFL 10 April 2015

What makes teenagers tick?

Notes for my PCE IATEFL presentation, 10 April 2015

 1.     I wish I was anywhere else but here. I hate school.
Over time for teenagers school becomes a place, not of learning, but enforced memorization and personal restrictions, with a focus on exam success and no real connection to the outside world.

2.     My legs are too long and the chair’s uncomfortable.

Teens go through many changes connected to their physical growth and development. These include tiredness, lack of sleep and aches connected with actual growing bones and muscles, dropping of voice for boys, onset of menstruation for girls etc. All these can make them feel uncomfortable, tired and even irrational.

3.     I got to sleep at 4 a.m. and I’m tired.

Once kids reach puberty, their wake-sleep cycle changes and stays that way until their early 20s This is a biological change.
They tend not to get sleepy until after 10:00 p.m., and then when they do wake up, it takes them longer to get fully wake. In fact, most aren't really wide awake until early afternoon.

Sleep experts say today’s teens are sleeping less than they ever have.
Physiological changes, social pressures and factors such as TVs and other stimulating gadgets in the bedroom contribute to late nights and mood swings.

Lack of sleep also impacts on teenagers' education as it can leave them too tired to concentrate in class.

NHS report, 2008

Hampton Court House, in Surrey, UK, said the change to 13:30 from the usual time of 09:00 will be more productive and less stressful for students.
Teenagers have a biological disposition "to going to bed late and struggling to get up early", the school said.
Headmaster Guy Holloway added that scientific evidence had shown that many did not sleep sufficiently during the week, causing a "significant impact on teenage cognition and mental and physical health generally".

BBC News, 10 May 2014

4.     My hair is greasy and I have spots. Don’t look at me!
Are those girls looking at me and laughing?

It’s bad enough to have the nasty side effects of hormonal changes like spots and greasy hair, but they coincide with feelings of self-consciousness and inadequacy with the fellow students we find attractive.

5.     Why are we reading about xxxx?

 Dropouts don’t leave school because we don’t give them enough facts, but because they don’t find any meaning in them

Gertrude Moskowitz, Caring and Sharing in the Foreign Language Class, 1978, Newbury House

Teens want to know how what they do connects, how it’s relevant. We need o engage in a dialogue with them about this.

6.     I’m thinking!

Silence may be an honest reaction to what the teacher is saying.
We know that young people develop at separate ages. Why do we insist that they should develop at the same pace?

Charles Handy

7.     I’m not lazy. I’m BORED!!!

Human beings feel best in flow, when they are fully involved in meeting a challenge, solving a problem, discovering something new.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow, 1997, Basic Books

Everyone can experience feelings of resolve and a commitment to think more and to dare more … and of being poised to learn and ready to take the next step.

Martin V. Covington, The Will to Learn, 1998, Cambridge University Press

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

Albert Einstein

8.     Stop telling me what I’ve done wrong. I know I’m useless at English.

Young people who seem stroppy and uncooperative .. simply cannot help blocking out negative remarks when they feel they are under verbal attack. When criticised … there is reduced activity in the areas of the brain relating to emotional control and empathy. They have difficulty controlling this emotion and find it challenging to understand others’ perspective.

Journal of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Adults have a developed anterior cingulate cortex, which … can help detect mistakes..
This part of the brain is still being wired in teenagers, making it more difficult for them, even when they recognise a mistake, to learn from it.

Frances E Jensen, The Teenage Brain, 2015, Thorsons

John Atkinson’s Motivation Theory:

All individuals can be characterised by two learned drives, a motive to approach success and a motive to avoid failure.

Martin V Covington, A Will to Learn, 1998,     Cambridge University Press

Researchers have found that nothing contributes more to a student’s sense of self-esteem than good grades, nor shatters it so completely as do poor grades.

 J Rosenberg, Society and the Adolescent Self-Image, 1965, Princeton University Press

Learned Helpnessness:
A state of depression or loss of hope which accompanies a belief that no matter how hard or how well one tries, failure if the inevitable outcome.

Coyne & Lazarus, Handbook on Stress and Anxiety, 1980, Jossey-Bass

What’s wrong with this student’s writing?

What’s right with it?

 On year 10,000 scientists found a very big problem! A very tiny microchip was into a computer. This microchip could destroy the hole world. Scientists were trying over five years to destroy it but it was so impossible.

Aims of marking

u To show students what they are doing right

u To show students where they need to make improvements

u and how?

u To encourage students

u To enable students to reflect on their own writing

u To celebrate the effort the students have made

u To enable teachers to notice skills / language areas that need to be readdressed in class


         Our job as teachers is not to point out differences between our students’ language and standard English. That is too negative a role. Our job is to encourage the growth of language by appreciating the learning steps.

Julian Edge, Mistakes and Correction, 1990, Longman

9.     The dog ate my homework.

They need …superb attention, planning and organisational skills, all of which develop more slowly in boy.

Frances E Jensen, The Teenage Brain, Thorsons, 2015


How can we help?

Introduce different ways of planning

Bring in texts on effective study skills

Have a discussion / role play on topic

Check that students have own strategy / scheme

Get parents onside


In summary, Teens:

Brain still developing

Can’t deal with mistakes

Over-sensitive to criticism

Need to know why they are doing something

We need to take into account how the developing brain works


What they are really saying is..

Help me!

Praise me!

Understand me!

Give me some space!