Classroom practices: too much or not enough?

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Even experienced teachers can become prisoners of their own teaching habits and beliefs, overusing certain approaches, while completely overlooking others. As a result, in this podcast we talk about things that in our opinion we as teachers should do less often in an EFL classroom, and some things that we think we don’t do enough of and should do much more often. Among other things we look at:

  • grammar based vs lexical syllabus
  • teaching individual words vs teaching chunks
  • responding to students needs vs following the syllabus
  • teacher talking time

We’d love to hear what you think about these issues. What are the things you don’t do enough as a teacher? Are there any things you do too much of? Leave us a comment below the post.

The podcast music theme is under Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0 International License and was downloaded from this website.

6 thoughts on “Classroom practices: too much or not enough?

  1. Great podcast! Very relevant topics to be discussed. Although I completely agree with the idea of responding to students needs as opposed to only following the syllabus, I find it must be difficult to start tackling a certain piece of language (grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation) raised by one student and make a lesson (or a large part of the lesson) out of it. I feel like students, especially beginners, might find it a bit confusing. I mean, while one student might need to talk about the past, other students might need to use a kind of conditional clause to talk about the same topic and contribute to the discussion. How can we select the language point we are going to focus on for that part of the lesson? Moreover, if we decide it’s better to deviate from the syllabus and work with a point which seems to be essential for students to know at that moment, how easy would it be to devise activities which would provide them with a chance to practise this language point? I guess we tend to follow the syllabus most of the time because it seems easier/more practical when it comes to planning a course.
    These are some questions that sprang to mind while listening to the podcast. I hope they are pertinent to the discussion.

    1. Thank you for your comments Leandrozuan. You make some excellent points. Yes, it is challenging for the teacher as you cannot be sure what language points may need scaffolding before the lesson. Dogme is perhaps not so suitable for less experienced teachers. As I began my teacher career, I found It easier to have the grammar point thought out before I entered the classroom. However, if you’re confident enough to deal with gaps in learner knowledge and deliver ‘pointers’ or ‘lexis/ pron./ grammar spots’ as they come up, it can be a really rewarding teaching and learning experience.

      I don’t think you need to devise controlled practice exercises- the conversation is the practice, traditional grammar lectures can still have their place in other classes, but sometimes to focus needs to be on communication. Alternatively, controlled practice of the language points which come up in the class can be given as homework.

      I agree with you that the reason why we tend to follow a grammar syllabus is because it’s easier for the teacher, when we should focus more on the learners wants and needs.

      Another point to make is the the dogme approach requires learners to be participative and class numbers need to be small.

        1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Robert. I’ll definitely have a look at some more info on Dogme, but the points you make are very clear. I guess the key is practising to get more teaching experience, so then we might feel more comfortable and confident to experiment and try new things in the classroom. As a result, it gets easier to know what we need to do more or less of, which touches on the other points: teacher talking time, teaching chunks, etc.
          Looking forward to the next podcast.

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