The ABC of ELT

What I learnt about teaching from being on TV

During the last year my director offered me the chance to be on English Club TV and although I was slightly worried about it I took up the opportunity and it has been a great learning experience. In fact it has even taught me things about teaching.

1. Be Confident and Convincing

One of the first things I had to learn was to sound confident and thus convincing. This was especially true for my program which was based around the idea of telling facts. If I didn’t sound convincing then no one would believe me or the facts. A confident tone, positive body language helped to project this.

Likewise, in class we need our explanations of grammar and vocabulary to be convincing so that students can feel safe and actually learn. If we give a unconvincing answer to something we know then they won’t believe it, won’t story it in their memory and continue to suffer problems. The best way to do this, of course, is to research the topic that is being taught and language in general.

The potential danger is of giving a bad explanation confidently and then the student will learn (and subsequently have to unlearn) the point they were taught.


2. Minimalism isn’t boring

If you look at my program it is just in a single white room the whole time. Okay we put photos up sometimes, but what keeps the attention most is the changes in perspective, the interesting subject matter, and the shocking facts.

Changing views means we can look at the same information but our attention is raised more as we are taking the same information in but from a different perspective. In Kids groups we might think of lots of rapidly changing activities but it can also be useful to think about what extra information can we get out of a text? How can we change the focus on the language. What lenses are we using to look at this. How can we change our view of the class environment.

3. You have to use your own words

When I’m presented with a script there are some mistakes due to lack of English knowledge by the translator, but more frequently it is a case that I don’t own the expression I’m saying. By that I mean one person would certainly say the phrase in a certain way (perhaps from a different speech community or just a different individual) but I wouldn’t. Whenever an issue such as this occurs and I try to say it the way someone else would I have a much harder time remembering my lines.

Sometimes we have to provide multiple options for our students so that they can own the language they are using.

I hope you enjoyed the video.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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