Just a ‘yay!’ post

Posted: September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

My colleague Adam Howell and I have just finished a teacher training course (the first ever for me!) It was a 5 day long intensive in-service course with daily input sessions and observed teaching practice – we said the final good-byes an hour ago and I’m bursting with pleasure. =)

It was an overwhelming week – I don’t know of anything, really, that creates the atmosphere of care and support better than those crazily intensive courses, and experiencing that as a trainer was not in the least less overwhelming than experiencing it as a trainee. But even today in the morning I wasn’t really sure whether any of it worked. However after seeing the last observed lessons today and reading the list of ‘take-aways’ that the trainees compiled I think it did.

Yesterday Adam and I compiled a session that was based entirely on the issues that arose from observed TP. Since it’s rooted so much in our particular situation I’m not sure it could be of any use to anyone, but I thought I’d put it up here for future reference – and also as a reminder to myself of the kinds of issues that less experienced teachers might be struggling with, because for me it was very challenging to know what to expect while I was preparing for the course.

We organized the session as a series of ‘case studies’. I especially liked the way the last case study on boardwork worked – owing a debt of thanks to Jonny Ingham for his wonderful sample of board work in his post on tweaking error correction.

Case 1:

Situation: Ss were asked to use phrases (for discussing problems/possible solutions in a meeting) to discuss problems. Ss were not given examples or problems to work with.

Issue: Ss had two tasks hidden as one – in addition to using the target language, they had to do the creative work of figuring out what to talk about.

Possible solution:

Other possible solutions:

Case 2:

Situation: Ss were asked to do a role play of a decision-making meeting, using polite phrases for agreeing/disagreeing. Role play was for directors of a kitchen appliances company considering outsourcing production from the expensive UK.

Issue: Ss ended up reading arguments from the card rather than their own utterances, due to a) irrelevance of the subject to Ss and/or b) no familiarity with vocab/concepts on the cards themselves.

Possible solution:

Other possible solutions:

Case 3. Exploiting opportunities for communication  

Situation 1: In a lesson on future forms, students write 5 sentences about their future plans. The task is to try out the following expressions: I’m going to.. I’d like to.. I will… Present simple for timetables. After the activity, each student reads out their sentences and the group moves on to the next activity.

Issue: The students are a bit bored.

Task: Devise a follow-up task to give the students the chance to communicate. 

Case 4. Listening

Situation: A group (A2) listens for the first time to the opening of a presentation that will be used to mine for job interview expressions. The teacher assigns a gist task (4 simple question). After the first listen he asks ‘What is the answer to number 1?’ etc. The same student gives answers to all the questions.

Issue: Only one student understood the listening text. The rest of the students are unlikely to understand target language from the text because they didn’t understand the text.


Other possible solutions:

Case 5. Feedback to pair work

Situation: Students get a list of personal traits and qualifications and are asked to sort them into the ones necessary for a TV presenter, for a sales director or for both, and then come up with a job description. They do the task in pairs. For feedback, one person from each pair reads out their job description.

Issue: While one person is reading their description, the remaining students aren’t listening.

Task 1: Devise a specific task that will make it necessary for everyone to listen.
Task 2: Devise a specific communicative task that will encourage the students to share the results of their work.

Case 6: Personalizing the language


Lesson aim: Students will be able to answer questions in a job interview.
Situation: The students do a vocabulary matching task, in which they match 12 personality traits with their definitions (e.g. ambitious – really want to achieve a lot). The students cope with the task well and move on to read a text about 3 people who have some of those traits.
Issue: In the task at the end of the lesson, the students don’t use new vocabulary.


Other possible solutions:

Case 7. Giving feedback.

Lesson aim: Students will be able to speak about qualities and requirements for different types of jobs as well as describe what necessary, preferable, mandatory, prohibited for different jobs.

Lesson focuses on 4 modals of obligation (should/shouldn’t, have to, must/mustn’t)

At the end of the lesson the students produced:

S2: Applicant must be workaholic, he must good for studying, he must interest in new technologies and he must have a high degree in engineering academy and he must have five year experience in IT sphere.

S3: Applicants must be experienced in management, have fluent in English , have strong negotiation skills and have strong record in selling.

Task: think what delayed correction you’d give. Decide:

  • what to focus on
  • organize boardwork – refer to this sample of boardwork:

This awesome sample of boardwork was created by Jonny Ingham – see the post here: http://eflrecipes.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/error-correction/


















That’s us trying ideas out – we went from board to board, pointing out really effective elements and suggesting improvement – and in the end the teachers redesigned the boards taking this feedback into account.

2014-09-25 17.21.18

Today we revisited that session on case studies and formulated a few ‘tips for a successful lesson’ that came out of those cases.

After that, the teachers went off to spend a few hours coming up with a full list of tips that had come out of teaching feedback sessions that they had started incorporating into their teaching. Somehow it was a pleasure for me to read, so this being a ‘yay’ post, I’m including the list. =) Capture



  1. jonnyingham says:

    Hi Olya and Adam. Thanks for your kind words about my post on boardwork. It is great to hear it has been of use. It sounds like you delivered a really practical course and got some great results.

  2. olyasergeeva says:

    Thank YOU, Jonny – having your model to refer to really made a lot of difference!

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