My 2014 EFL resolutions

It’s been a while since my last post, but Christmas holidays don’t really give you too much time for things other than eating and lounging around on the sofa, with your brain half switched off. So, in a way I’m glad the festive slumber’s all over (and I think both my liver and my stomach are too).

I was thinking about the best way to restart the blog in the new year, and I’ve decided that the most appropriate, if not the most imaginative, would be with some New Year EFL resolutions.This blog has given me a great chance to express myself and to reflect on my teaching practice, and I think I’ve benefited a lot from posting regularly.

However, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. And writing down the resolutions might force me to actually follow them, as I can always go back and re-read this post. So off we go then.

This year I’m going to:

  1. do a bit more of what I preach.

    This is not to say I haven’t, but I think my eyes have been bigger than my stomach. Now that I look back at the posts, there are many activities and ideas I was meaning to introduce to my classes, but never did. Lack of time. Laziness. Conformity. The usual excuses. But I’m going to be better. Perhaps I’ll write less. Or write more about things that I can immediately put into practice. Or that are more relevant to my day-to-day teaching practice.

  2. plan my classes more thoroughly.

    Ok, don’t get me wrong. I do plan my classes, as I imagine any English teacher does. However, I’ve become rather slack. Probably the last really through lesson plan I wrote was for DELTA LSA 4. Of course, you can’t write a 10 page lesson plan for every class. But more than a running order on a loose piece of paper is needed. One of the things I need to focus on more is anticipating students’ problems better. I should also be more thorough when planning how to clarify meaning. A good starting point are the tips given by Adam Simpson here.

  3. read at least one EFL blog post a week and reflect on them by either implementing the ideas in my classes or/and blogging about them.

    Since I became a freelancer and set up the blog, I’ve been slowly discovering what a treasure trove of EFL ideas blogs and the Internet in general can be. But I can be a bit slack and there are so many great blogs I would like to read (apart from the regular non-EFL reading that I’d also like to do), that it can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning. So that’s why I’ve set a low target to start off with. If I read too much, it might just go over my head. Or be forgotten too quickly. And just reading is not enough, I think. Unless I put the ideas I read about into practice, I won’t know if they work. Or even worse – I will just forget about them. So I’m going to try to reflect on every post I read either through blogging about it, or through putting it into practice.

  4. teach my students HOW to study.

    To somebody who’s a teacher and a language learner, all the good learner practices might seem so obvious that we fail to notice that to some of our students they sound Greek. I’ve got students who clearly have no clue how to study a language effectively. So they struggle. But not because of the language content. The basic mechanics of studying and learning go beyond their heads. I need to build some basic learner training into my teaching routine. At times, something as simple as asking the student: WHAT did we do and WHY did we do it? might just do the trick and make them more aware of the learning process. The first thing I’m planning to do is to teach some of them how to be more gritty.

  5. learn from my mistakes.

    Do you find yourself falling into the same trap over and over again? If your answer is now, then you’re lucky. And I envy you. I’ve noticed that more often than not I am able to notice my mistakes, but I don’t pay enough attention to them and the next time round I’m likely to fall into the same pitfall. It’s quite irritating. Especially the second or third time round. So, I’m going to write down the mistake(s) I’ve made in my lesson planning/procedure/clarification/instructions/etc. and make a conscious effort to avoid them/it next time. I might use a post-it note and place them somewhere visible for me during the lesson, e.g. the lesson plan/running order.

Ideally, I would like to find time to comment and self-reflect on theses resolutions at least twice during the year by writing a post. And I’d love to hear from you about any teaching resolutions you’ve made and how you’re planning to put them into practice.

Happy New Year!

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5 thoughts on “My 2014 EFL resolutions

  1. I have promised to blog more lesson ideas this year, in order to share with my fellow teachers. The internet is such an incredible resource and I want to give back as well as take. I intend to try using more and more authentic, original and interesting ways of teaching, to inspire and motivate my students to learn. I am also going to post more comments on peoples blogs, to show gratitude and appreciation for their work. So Happy New Year and thanks for post, I find your blog really interesting. Emma

  2. Thanks for your comment, Emma. I'm glad you enjoy the blog. If you have any suggestions for future posts, please let me know.
    Posting more comments is something I should do as well. I agree – the Internet is an absolute treasure trove of ideas. And I feel I've only just scratched the surface.

  3. These are almost the same resolutions I make when I start teaching somewhere (I don't have a regular job, but taught at different schools, had different courses for adults,…), although I don't follow them through all the time.

    What I find interesting is teaching/explaining to your learners HOW to learn. I have tried to do that, but I'm not sure what to tell them, what to show them. Do you have any more specific idea on this? It could be a new blog entry, which I'd love to read.

    In some previous post of yours, I also wrote about pronunciation and I've decided to include that into my short English course. The ladies loved it and I think it might be helpful for them.

    Regards, Ana

  4. Thanks for your comment, Ana.
    Following through is one of my big sticking points too. That's why this time I've decided to write the resolutions down, so I can refer back to them in the future.
    I think it would be a good blog entry. Thanks for the suggestion! Learner training is crucial, and it took me a while before I realised it. The simplest tip would be to reflect with your learners on the process. Let's say you're doing a listening lesson and you've just done a lead-in and an orientation to the text (e.g. through predicting the content), and you've listened for gist. Now, before you move on, ask your students: What did we do step by step? Why did we do it? Did it help you understand the listening?
    I remember our short discussion about pron. How did you go about it?
    Best,

  5. I do hope you will stick to your resolutions.
    I was thinking about pron. and how to go about it and having limited time and all that. So I decided to just explain how different letters sound/behave in words.
    I began with -th sound that has voiced and unvoiced pron. Especially the unvoiced is difficult since we don't have any similar sounds in our language. I wrote down some common words for both sounds and we practised saying them loudly.
    Tomorrow I will explain when to pron/not pron. -h at the beginning of the word. And later on I will tell them about -ph and v/w. Things like that. I hope I'm doing the right thing.
    According to my experiences students (adults mostly) want to have specific instructions on how to learn a language. They believe there are some rules or steps or something that will help them learn English (or any other language) quickly, easily and with little effort.
    I tell them to be more attentive when watching movies, listening to songs, surfing the Internet. English is all around us, we just have to pay attention. And it doesn't feel like learning.

    Regards, Ana

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