Wednesday 1 December 2010

Quick Tip: How to Use Learning Styles in the Classroom

Updated 18 May 2013

Everyone learns differently due to learning styles / learning strategies. There are many different theories out there (take a look at Wikipedia, for example). You might also want to check out all you need to know about learning styles.

If you're interested in learning styles you should read how we retrain knowledge. Bloom's Taxonomy, Dale's Cone, and the Learning Pyramid make for interesting reads.

Due to this knowledge of learning styles, differentiated instruction, curriculum, and assessment is becoming more and more common in the classroom. The University of Toronto says that learning styles can be categorised into three categories.
  1. Perceptual modalities: physiological; using the five senses to learn
  2. Information processing: cognitive; thinking
  3. Personality patter: affective; motivation, values, emotions, and decision making process
Researchers usually concentrate on one or two of these categories and have come up with a wide variety of learning style theories. There are a lot of good books about learning styles that are definitely worth a read. Here are some of the most popular theories:


Monday 1 November 2010

20 Ways to Correct Spoken Errors in the TEFL Classroom

Updated 19 February 2012

The following is from a workshop given by Paul Seligson from Richmond Publishing in Lima, Peru in 2008. You might also be interested in these ways of correcting speaking errors.

How to React to a Spoken Error
  1. Pause and give them a chance to correct themselves.
  2. Ignore the error.
  3. Ask the student to repeat and you elicit the correction non-verbally.
  4. Ask the class to help.
  5. Repeat the error.
  6. Repeat the sentence and pause where the error is.
  7. Identify the error and elicit the correction.
  8. Use grammar elicitation to fix the error.
  9. Correct it and move on.
  10. Correct it and have them repeat.
  11. Exaggerate the correction.
  12. Use visuals (point back for the past, draw an S for the 3rd person singular).
  13. Make a mental note to go over it later.
  14. Use humour, only when appropriate.
  15. Use rhyming words rather than phonics for pronunciation.
  16. Write the correction on a post-it and give it to them.
  17. Make the student write the correction.
  18. Take notes on the error.
  19. Use signals, such as raising a finger if you hear an error.
  20. Ask your students for more ideas.


Wednesday 27 October 2010

Reader Reviews

Here are some of the reviews I've gotten from readers. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, send them to me at

"Your site is proving to be very useful, especially for Korean unis." Nick, November 2014

"Thank you for sharing, Sharon. Your a shining star--don't ever let your light go out or let anyone blow it out. Your gonna make it." Holly, October 2012.

"Best to you, Sharon, I know you have always extended yourself to help people on this site. I have always held you in high regard." fortunatekooky from Dave's ESL Cafe, July 2012.

 "It seems like you are the guru!" roman510 from Dave's ESL Cafe, July 2012.

 "Thanks a million, Sharon! That's a great resource you got there - very helpful! Cheers!!" Dee Gnarls, February 2012.

"I can't even begin to describe how helpful your website has been...and I just discovered it today!" Katie, 17 January 2012.

 "Thank you very much! You wrote a very well researched and detailed article. All the best :)"
sohniye from Dave's ESL Cafe, August 2011.

"You're my knight in shining armor. As you've probably noticed, I'm undecided about where to go. These leads your giving me are very helpful. I really appreciate it." madhatter109 from Dave's ESL Cafe, August 2011.

"I read thoroughly both of the articles you posted; they have a dizzying amount of information, complete with sub-links to resources, websites, and aid. I'm very grateful for this. I believe I'll be spending the day poring over these articles and the many others found on TEFL Tips.

Thanks for your help in the threads, too, btw. If things work out for me wherever I go, I'll be sure to send a personal thank you. If you have any more information you feel like sending my way, don't let me stop you, either." Jonikiro from Dave's ESL Cafe, August 2011

"Thanks, Sharon! This is exactly the type of info that i was looking for! I especially like the EU page." Castanett from Dave's ESL Cafe, July 2011.

"Love the new look of your blog!! maria1001 from Dave's ESL Cafe, July 2011.

"Many, many thanks. Your input is extremely valuable, and I truly appreciate the time and information. Best of luck to you, and thank you again" Russell, July 2011

"You write some REALLY in-depth, informative blogs! Way to go. Best of luck on getting your Romanian Citizenship." luv2travel from Dave's ESL Cafe, June 2011

"I went over the links you gave me. They were SO helpful, thank you again for providing them to me!" liquidhazel from Dave's ESL Cafe, June 2011

"I think you are remarkable for responding to so many questions from strangers. :-)" Sandra D., June 2011.

"Well damn! Thank you!" think_balance from Dave's ESL Cafe, June 2011.

"Really good info again. The new info is under the Spain section, correct? I see you've added the CIEE program, among others. Would you mind if I posted these in this forum, NatureGirl? I don't want to steal your thunder, but I'd like to get as much relevant info in the thread as possible." elameire from Dave's ESL Cafe, June 2011.

"I will be graduating this summer. I am still looking for a program for my certification. Do you think Language Corps or TEFL International is a good choice, are they reputable? Also I am thinking of either getting in Japan, Korea or Europe. Your advice means a lot to me. Thanks." lamhung_502 from Dave's ESL Cafe, June 2011.

"Thank you! What an informative site! Thanks also for your many contributions at Dave's too." DLat from Dave's ESL Cafe, June 2011.

"Thanks very much, a wealth of information!" nz_taniwha from Dave's ESL Cafe, May 2011.

"You sent me a lot of Peru links a while back. It was very helpful." jooooooey from Dave's ESL Cafe, May 2011.

"Cheers for the info. You sound like a really nice person. Wish I knew someone like you during my brief time in Korea. Knew a few decent people but they were out numbered by weird ones :) Take care and we'll speak again." demitrescou from Dave's ESL Cafe, May 2011.

"Thanks, naturegirl - this is extremely helpful!" rotemmay from Dave's ESL Cafe, May 2011.

"I just wanted to say I've found your posts and Latin America Forum very informative." maria1001 from Dave's ESL Cafe, May 2011.

"A lot of work has gone into it! Good job, Nature Girl!" dmocha from Dave's ESL Cafe, April 2011.

"Ha! You're the one?! I came upon your site several months back during my research. You were the FIRST person that gave me hope regarding Europe. I will definitely be looking more into what you mentioned. This is incredibly encouraging. You have no idea how appreciative I am for this info. Anyway, I want to wish you and your husband many blessings on the soon to be new addition to your family. Congratulations! And once again, thank you so much for all of your insight! You are helping and encouraging many people." AndUrPointIs from Dave's ESL Cafe, April 2011.

"Hey, thanks that's a very useful site." CherieAT from Dave's ESL Cafe, April 2011.

"Thank you so much for the link! Your blog has all the information I've been trying to find on Dave's recently! It is bookmarked. Also, thank you for your time and input on the boards. I appreciate your posts and your advice to others has helped me out before. :)" Warda from Dave's ESL Cafe, March 2011.

"Just want to say thank you for your posts! You offer very usable, accurate information about options for teaching English in Spain. Your posts are
informed, accurate, and extensive." Angie929 from Dave's ESL Cafe, March 2011.

"naturegirl321, I can't thank you enough! Thanks for the PM and link to your Web site. Are there any tips/advice you have (I'm sure tons!)? Thank you thank you! You can't imagine how helpful and comforting your posts and PM's have been!! Thank you again!!!" tjc2120 from Dave's ESL Cafe, February 2011.

"You have helped me many times on my search for a job. I saw one of your other posts where you listed a bunch of sites for teaching in Europe. You are a bundle of knowledge. Thanks so much. I will keep up the search on International Schools and see where that leads me." deniserita from Dave's ESL Cafe. February 2011.

"Thanks so much for your informative response, its interesting to hear what its like on the ground:) Nice, your blog gives a really good overview of LA. " jimmy86 from Dave's ESL Cafe, February 2011.

"Thank you for the great information and kind words!" Cmozes from Dave's ESL Cafe, February 2011.

"I barely perused your site there, and I can already tell it will be immensely helpful. I will be spending some good time sifting through the different links this evening. I am truly grateful." Seamus from Dave's ESL Cafe, February 2011.

"I am once again in your debt, if you ever make it to Mexico City, I owe you a beer and a dinner of the best tacos in Mexico City. Your website is a wealth of information." TeresaLopez, Dave's ESL Cafe, February 2011.

"I discovered your blog just tonight and love it! It's just the thing I've been looking for to help guide me in my desire to continue my TEFL career. My next big step is getting my MA somewhere in the world... and it's a little daunting. Any input is greatly appreciated!" Jason M., February 2011.

"The articles were very helpful and I think your site is an amazing resource overall. I appreciate the time you took to do this!" smooches, Dave's ESL Cafe, February 2011.

"Your articles are awesome. Your site is extensive. I think you have researched and written about almost every topic that could conceivably come up for an ESL teacher. You should be making lots of money for your knowledge and work, kind of like Dave himself. I think it's all there, you just need to find a way to capitalize on it. I wish I could figure out how to be prolific the way you are." Zero from Dave's ESL Cafe, February 2011.

"I really respect your viewpoint as you have done so much in the industry and given so much back. Any advice or words of wisdom that you have would be greatly appreciated." Kate S., January 2011.

"Just wanted to check with an expert. Nothing wrong with acknowledging that you are an expert on the ESL process. You took a great amount of time compiling the information for your blogs. And I consider myself a reasonably smart person. Since I found you during my research I think it is evidence that you are an authority figure on the subject." Jonathan L., December 2010.

"I wish there were more people like you, and you seem really dedicated to helping people in TEFL." Sara the Slytherin from Dave's ESL Cafe, December 2010.

"Perfect, wow, you really are a life saver :) Thank you so much for the help!" BtBedway from Dave's ESL Cafe, November 2010.

"As far as your blog is concerned, I spent a lot of time doing keyword/phrase searches and never came across it. There were a few great sites I came across using search engines, Dave's ESL being one of the best, but I never managed to find yours. And while Dave's ESL appears to have the best forum, your blog is by far the most informative and most helpful of any site that I have seen.Once again, I'm grateful for all your help and I'll be sure to let you know if any ideas for your site come to mind." leibowlips from Dave's ESL Cafe, October 2010.


Wednesday 1 September 2010

Teaching Speaking to ESL and EFL Students

This article has been published in HLT Magazine in April 2011. You can read the article here. You might also be interested in teaching speaking to ESL and EFL students. Take a look at the topics below as well.


Sunday 1 August 2010

Packing Tips for Moving Overseas

Updated 15 February 2013

Anyone who's moved knows how stressful it is, but when you're moving to a different country and can only take a couple of suitcases it gets even harder. There are lots of packing and moving tips that you should check out. If you're only going for a short time you could always put your stuff in storage or store it at a relative's house.

However, if you're planning on moving abroad for a long period of time, you'll have to find a more permanent solution. Below you can find some tips that will help you out. 30 days to move abroad and moving abroad also have more info.

Purging Your Life
You're going to have to be brutally honest when you do this. Take a look around you and ask yourself if you really need everything. Take one room at a time and work systematically. You should be able to sort everything into three groups.
  • Sell: Expensive or nice items can be sold online (ebay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc), at a garage sale, or at a consignment shop.
  • Donate: Items that are in decent condition should be given away to Oxfam, Salvation Army, Am Vets, or other charity shops. You could even donate to your church or an assisted living home. Or donate to family members: things like baby clothes and toys are especially useful to those with young children.
  • Throw Away: Things that are useless (like old warranties for electronics that you no longer have) should be thrown away. Try to recycle as much as you can. You could also try putting stuff in your yard with a "free" sign on it. You'd be surprised how much of it will disappear. One person's trash is another person's treasure.

Deciding What to Get Rid of
So how do you decide what to keep? Try asking yourself the questions below as you go through your stuff. You can find more info about selling or storing your stuff at the expat guy.
  • Will it be in style in a couple of years? (Things like old clothes fall into this category)
  • Will it still be valid? (Warranties, bank statements, credit card statements, tax documents, etc. Shread important papers!)
  • Is it still useful? (Old computers, ancient radios, etc)
  • Is it easy to replace? (Cardboard boxes, paper cups, etc)
  • Do you use it? (Books, CDs, cassettes, movies)

What Should You Keep?
  • Does it have sedimental value? (Photos, heirlooms, etc)
  • Photos, some clothes, pictures your children made have lots of memories attached to them, but don't keep everything. Save a couple of the best things and get rid of the rest. Save the best items then take picutres of the rest. You can save the pictures and donate the rest to someone who could use them.
  • Furniture. If you're going for a short time you should probably keep your furniture so you can use it when you get back. If you're going for a while, you could ship it or sell it.
What Should You Take With You?
The world isn't what it used to be. Countries are becoming more global and you can probably buy everything you need overseas. It might be harder to find or more expensive, but you should be able to find just about everything. If you can't find it in country you can often order things online.

Finding clothes or shoes that fit can be difficult and some people decide to get everything tailor made. It's usually cheaper than shipping stuff from back home and tailors are cheaper overseas. While it's still more expensive than buying things in stores you'll have quality items instead of quantity.

In some countries it can be hard to find things or you might not be able to find the same brands as back home. You have a couple of choices: stock up when you go home, order online, learn to do without, get stuff from expats that are leaving, or adapt to what the locals use. Good deodorant is expensive here in Korea, however, I've gotten enough free deodorant from friends who have left Korea to last me a year. What's harder to find or more expensive varies country to country so be sure to do a bit of research before you go.

It's not easy to get rid of things, but once your life is less cluttered, you'll feel better. Keep only the necessary items and next time you go shopping: ask yourself if you really need it.


Thursday 1 July 2010

10 Tips for Assessing Students

Updated 22 June 2012
  1. Only test what you have taught. This includes the content and the structure of the exam. For example, if you've only given them exercises where they've had to circle the correct answer, it wouldn't be fair to give them fill in the blank / gap exercises.
  2. Buy an exam book. It's make your life a whole lot easier.
  3. Be strict. Don't allow talking, borrowing pencils, erasers, cell phones, etc,. Tell students ahead of time and be sure that your coordinator backs you up.
  4. Check answers together. This allows students to get their results faster as well as ask you questions then and there. You might have to check writing by yourself though.
  5. Think outside the box. Besides traditional methods look into other ways to assess students.
  6. Proof-read. Check for typos and simple mistakes.
  7. Do your tests ahead of time. Sit down and write all your exams at once. This will make sure you're consistent and get them out of the way.
  8. Make an answer key. It's save you a lot of trouble.
  9. Vary the exercises. Fill in the blank / gap, true / false, correct the mistake, open-ended questions, note taking, summaries, jumbled sentences, matching, and multiple choice are some ideas. Look at johnslat's suggestions on different testing exercises. Check out Bloom's Taxotomy of Learning as well for more ideas.
  10. Make them easy to grade. The more objective, the better.
Also published in . .
This article has also been published in the ELT Times.


Tuesday 1 June 2010

Teaching Grammar to ESL and EFL Students

Updated 17 February 2012

You might also be interested in:
There are many ways to teach your students grammar. All these tips came from a workshop by Julio Valladares at the University of Piura, Peru.
  • Make sure that when explaining grammar students are aware of the form (such as "to be", past participle, etc), function (reason for using it) and have examples to look at.
  • Try using songs with the grammar point you want to cover.
  • Check out books by Raymond Murphy or Michael Swan.
  • There are lots of lesson plans and worksheets in the lesson planning link
  • Use timelines. They visually shows students when things are happening.
  • Have students read a text and find the grammar point that you want to work on.
  • Drawings can be fun. If you can't draw try bringing pictures to class.
  • Use relia. These are real items, such as a backpack, can of soup, stuffed, animal, etc. If you can connect it to grammar, try it.
  • Play games. There are ways to make learning fun.
  • Cut a sentence up and have the students order it. This is good for practising word order.
  • Personalise everything and make it real to the students. It has to relate to their lives.
  • Come right out and explain the form and function of the grammar point.
  • Give students examples, then tell them to practice, and finally gives them a grammar explanation.
  • Have student look at a reading and say whether the sentences are grammatically correct or incorrect.
  • Charts can be used for just about anything, such as form, function, singular, or plural.
  • Say or write sentences and have students create rules based on the example sentences.
  • Compare students' L1 and English.
  • Compile a list of common mistakes and go over them in class.
  • Use a variety of exercises. Fill in the blank/gap, open cloze, fix the mistake, multiple choice, word bank, matching, etc.
General Test Taking Tips
  • Read the instructions first. It only takes a minute or two and can save you a lot of time if you look at the instructions.
  • Forget cramming. You should study a little every day rather than trying to learn everything the night before.
  • Eat breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day and is necessary to help you think.
  • Bring your materials. Have your pencils, erasers, watch, and ID ready the night before.
  • Go early. Make sure you leave your house ahead of time so that you get to the class a few minutes before the test begins.
  • Pace yourself. If you've finished early, go back and check your answers.
  • Check your answers. Make sure you haven't made any simple mistakes. And if you have, change them.
  • Don't panic. It's just a test. The worst you can do is fail.
  • Don't leave any blanks.

Specific Test Taking Tips for Grammar
  • Make sure the verb agrees with the subject of the sentence.
  • Watch the tense. If the sentence is in past, the verb should be in past too.
  • Don't make simple mistakes. Remember the 3rd person singular "s"!
  • Know parts of speech.
  • Take notes. When you get the test, write the forms and function at the top so you have something to refer back to.


Saturday 1 May 2010

Negotiating Your Contract

The first thing that you do is to make sure that you thank the employer for their job offer. You can find ways to thank the employer in how to accept / reject a job offer. While you are negotiating your contract ask to be put in touch with current or past teachers.

If a school refuses to put you in contact with their teachers, that’s not a good sign. Move on to the next school. You should find out the answers to these basic questions before signing your contract.

Negotiating your contract is just one of many job hunting strategies out there. Here are some good tips on contract negotiation. If you do negotiate, make sure you have a stellar CV or you probably won't get what you want. Getting your your dream job is hard to do, but not impossible.

One important thing to consider is that while most employers expect you to negotiate, some don't want to negotiate and will withdraw their job offer. First, if this happens to you, it's probably for the best. These types of employers simply want to find teachers who will teach for the lowest salary and benefits. (Of course, if you get a spectacular contract, with a high salary offer and great benefits, you shouldn't push your luck and ask for more. You should, however, clarify any vague items).

Second, it's best to have a back up plan. Don't stop applying for positions or talking with potential employers until you have a contract AND visa (although some employers in some countries won't get visas).

Third, make sure you do some research. Talking to other teachers and looking on forums, such as ESL Cafe and ELT World, and country specific forums (try searching for "the name of the country" and "expat") are good places to start. You need to know how much what salary and benefits are given to teachers working in an institute/school/university in X country makes.

The information below will help you find out which things should be negotiated and how to go about clarifying your contract. You can also find useful information in Salary Negotiations and College Grad.

Negotiating or Clarifying?
Once you get a contract and have decided to accept their job offer, it's time to negotiate and/or clarify your contract. Don't make the mistake and think that contracts are written in stone. Contracts are an offer, once you get a contract, you should make a counter offer. If you're thinking of rejecting a job offer due to salary, try negotiating first. There are other things besides money to consider, and you should take them into account when you negotiate.

Even if the contract has a great salary and benefits, make sure that you look over the contract carefully and clarify any vague items. If you don't understand something, ask your future employer to clarify, and then put the explanation into the contract.

Things to Consider When Negotiating
Once you know what to consider when negotiating, it's time to ask for a better deal. Here are some things that are often negotiated. In general, the Middle East and Asia tend to offer more benefits than other areas. If you're trying to figure out where to teach, look at what's the best country?

Salary. Obviously salary is one of the first things people look at when they get a job offer, but there are also other things to consider. If you want to negotiate your salary, you should know the average salary for the country and position you will be in. Talking to other teachers and looking on forums, such as ESL Cafe and country specific forums (try searching for "the name of the country" and "expat") are good places to start. You need to know how much teachers are paid in the country that you are looking at and you need to know how much a teacher with your qualifications and experience should earn.

The more qualifications and experience you have, the more room you have to negotiate. For example, in the advertisement it says teachers are paid 1000-2000 USD. You are an experienced teacher with five years experience and they have only offered you 1100 USD. You could say something like "I have a question regarding the salary. In the contract it says that I will receive 1100 USD, however, I feel that my five years experience, participation in national conferences, and being head teacher at my current position would make me eligible for a higher salary." Try not to name a salary, sometimes they will offer you a much higher salary than you expected it. When they come back with an offer, then you can make a counteroffer. While sometimes employers have a chart to determine salary, like with a BA you'll earn, with a BA + TEFL cert you'll earn Y, etc, other times they don't and are just trying to get you to work for them as cheaply as you can.

With that being said, you'll have to remember that money's not everything. If you manage your money with a budget and are able to supplement your teaching income, then you should do pretty well. Who you work with, potential for professional growth, pay rises and other benefits, such as the ability to travel, are also important. The majority of teachers would rather work in a great teaching environment with ok pay, then at a school with an ok environment and great pay. Remember that a bad environment can cause stress and burn out.

Hours. Figure out how many teaching hours and how many prep/office hours are in your contract. A contract that has a high salary might also have many hours. While some people don't mind working long hours, others are more concerned about having free time to study the local language or just relax. While teaching hours are usually fixed, you might be able to negotiate your office hours.

Also make sure that you have a fixed number of guaranteed teaching hours, especially if you are paid by the hour. Find out about working on the weekends. If you have the weekend off from teaching, you shouldn't have to go to meetings or unpaid training events or try to convince parents to send their kids to your school. If you do have to work on the weekend, make sure your contract states that you will be paid extra.

Insurance. Some employers offer insurance and the type of insurance they offer can cary greatly. Find out what percentage of the monthly fee they pay for, what it covers exactly (dental, accidents, death, annual check up, vaccinations, emergencies, etc), and how much of the medical fees are covered each time you go to a doctor.

Pension. If you get to contribute to a pension fund, find out if your employer will match your contributions. Also find out how you get your money back once you leave the country.

Flight Allowance. If you are offered a flight, try to put a clause in your contract that offers you either a flight back to your home country or cash in lieu of a flight. If you decide to stay in the country after your contract finishes and don't go home, you will lose your flight. So it's best to put the either - or clause in. And make sure you state how much you will be paid for your flight, when you will be paid (try to get half your flight paid for halfway into the contract and the other half at the end) and in what currency.

Anther thing to consider are if you are paid for a round trip or a one way ticket. Also, see hoe many flights you have per contract. If you have a two year contract, try to get two round trip tickets.

Some employers will pay for flights up front, though this doesn't happen this often. If it does, and you do not finish your contract, you will more than likely have to pay the school back for your flight.

Housing or a Housing Allowance. If you are offered a place to live, find out what is included. Ask for a specific list of furniture and find out about things such as if you have hot water all the time and whether water or electricity is ever cut. (I've lived in a couple of places that cut off the water for half the day.) Don't expect things such as bath tubs or dishwashers. Both are luxury items in many countries. Most places are too small to have a bathtub and dishwashers use too much electricity.

You should expect to have the following basic items when you are provided with housing: bed, pillow, bedding, desk with a chair, closet or dresser, table with chairs, bathroom with hot water, fridge, stove (with gas if necessary), and a TV with a DVD player. If you can get the following, that would be great: pots, pans, microwave, cutlery, plates, bowls, glasses, cooking utensils, dustpan and broom, vacuum, or drinking water.

Sometimes you are offered a housing allowance if you choose not to live in the provided housing. If they do, find out if they give you the money and when, or if they pay the owners directly. If you do decide to find your own housing, make sure your housing allowance will cover the majority of your rent. Although you will probably have to pay for some of the rent of out your pocket, you don't want the majority of your salary going towards your rent. Some countries, mainly in Asia, ask for key money. Key money can range from one month to one year of rent in advance. Some employers will help with key money, other won't. The bottom line is make sure that if you don't accept the provided housing that you can afford to pay the rent.

Utilities Allowance. If you live in provided housing, some employers will offer to pay up to a certain amount of your utilites. If they do, find out if they give you the money and when, or if they pay the utilities companies directly.

Free/Discounted Lunches or a Food Allowance. Sometimes you are offered free lunches or discounted lunches during weekdays when school is in session. The quality of the food can vary greatly, but if it's good, it can help cut down on monthly costs. If the school offers you free or discounted lunches, and you don't want to eat at their cafeteria, find out of they can give you a food allowance instead.

Free Transportation or a Transportation Allowance. If you live on campus or within wakling distance of the school, then daily transportation won't be much of a problem. However, you could try to get transportation for the weekend, especially if you're going to be living in the country or a remote area. Sometimes you might be able to get bus tickets to a big city between once a week to once a month.

If you live off campus or far from school, try to get a transportation allowance to help cover the cost of getting to and from school. While you can't expect the school to pay for taxis, you might be able to get them to pay for buses. And you might not be able to get them to completely pay for your daily transport to and from school, they might be willing to pay for a portion of it.

Number of Different Classes. While most teachers are only concerned with the number of hours they teach, you also need to consider the number of different classes you teach and how often they met. If you have 20 teaching hours and have to teach 10 different classes, it's very different than having 20 hours and only 3 different classes. Try to get the least number of different classes that you can.

Teaching Assistant. While many teachers don't like having a co-teacher, some like having an assistant. An assistant can help you make copies, write quizzes/tests, grade papers, cut out things, or decorate bulletin boards.

Paid schooling. Even if you don't have children, some employers will pay you to go back to school and further your education. Paying part of your expenses greatly helps. If they can't afford that, ask if they'll pay for you to attend local conferences. If you have school aged children and don't homeschool them, they're going to have to go to school. Ask your employer if they cover part or all of those costs.

Opportunities for Extra Money. Some schools don't let you work at other institutes or even teach private classes, thus taking away the chance to make extra money. If you can, try to have your contract say that you can teach private students as long as they are not students at the school.

There are other ways to make extra money as well. Although some teachers don't like to teach summer or winter camps due to stress, others like them because they're a chance to make extra money. However, some schools make camps mandatory and although you'll work more hours, they won't pay you more. If your school has a camp, see if you can negotiate for extra money for teaching it.

Overtime is another way to make money. Teaching more hours is a good way to earn a bit of extra money. If you are asked to put in extra teaching hours, make sure that it states in your contract that you will get paid extra. Some schools try to make you work more hours and don't pay you overtime because the hours you work are during the school hours. Have your contract state that if you work over X hours a week, you will get paid X per hour. Make sure it says per week, otherwise you could work many hours in one week and only a few in the next.

Paid Training. While the majority of schools often have meetings, some also have training sessions. These many vary from a couple times a week to a couple times a semester. Granted, you probably will learn something useful at these training sessions, they can be held afterschool or on the weekend, taking time away from your free time. If you do have to go to training sessions, make sure that you don't have to pay for anything. In addition, you might want to try to negotiate a bit of extra pay since you are putting in extra hours at work.

Freebies. There are lots of non-monetary benefits that schools can offer you. Language lessons are just the start. If your school offers these, find out where you will take them (whether at an institute or whether another teacher at the school will teach you). And find out of they're free or how much discount the school will give you.

Nowadays the majority of schools have free internet access at the school, but you should also find out if you will have free/discounted internet access at your house. Free/Discounted access to gyms, pools, or libraries are also great perks that are nice to have.

Visa costs can add up. While many schools pay for all and any visa costs that incur in the country, only some of them will pay for costs that incur outside of the country. Make sure your contract is specific about what it covers.

Unused sick days might be exchange for a bonus. If you are given X amount of sick days, find out what happens if you don't use them by the time your contract finishes. The same might be true for unused vacation days. (But I would still encourage you to take a vacation, it's nice to get away, and you'll come back refreshed and less stressed.). One thing must be said about vacation days, make sure that they really are vacation days. In some countries, you might be asked to make up holidays. That means that although you will get Labour Day off, the next week you might have to work an extra hour a day to make up for the lost hours.

Tax-free Salary. Taxes can take a huge chunk out of your salary. Although you are often allowed a certain amount of tax-free salary, the remaining amount can be taxed at rates as high as 30%. Find out if the school pays your taxes, instead of taking them out of your salary. Another trick some schools use is state that your salary is lower than it actually is (making sure this amount is within the tax-free salary range) and then pay you the rest in cash. While this can work nicely for both you and the school. You have to be able to trust the school will pay you the rest in cash.

Bonuses. There are usually two types of bonuses that are given: performance and non-performance bonuses. If you are entitled to bonuses, find out who the school awards them to and when they are given.

Performance bonuses can be extra money given based on the number of returning students, test scores, or student feedback. Chances are if you stay at the same school for a while you will get the chance to move up and get a better position. When you are given a higher position and more responsibility, make sure that you get extra pay or more benefits for the extra work that you will be putting in. Non-performance bonuses can be for Christmas, the end of the year, and for completing your contract.

Relocation Allowance. While many countries may be cheap to live in, you will have to bring some money to help with start up costs. Even if your have food and housing provided, there are often little extras that you have to buy. These little things can add up quickly. If you can get the school to provide you with a relocation allowance, that will help a lot. Institutes may give a couple hundred dollars, while international schools may give you an extra month's salary and pay for extra luggage and give you an allowance to ship items as well (up to a certain amount).

Clarifying Your Contract
Basically, by clarifying your contract, you are making sure that both you and your employer interprete your contract in the same way. More than likely there will be some things that you don't understand in your contract. If you have questions, email your employer and have them answer your questions, then put their answers into your contract.

Clarifying your contract is usually less stressful than trying to negotiate. Make sure you know the answers to these basic questions before signing your contract. Listing your questions makes it easier for the person to respond. Remember to be polite when you ask your questions. First list the items that you want to clarify and then bring up the items you want to negotiate.

Once you have finished negotiating and clarifying anything you don't understand, send your new contract to your employer. If your employer has any objection to the changes, then you will have to edit your contract again. Once they are also satisfied with the changes, then you can sign your contract and either mail, fax or scan it back to them. Then they should also send you a copy with their signature and start any visa paperwork, if necessary.


Thursday 1 April 2010

Teaching Listening to ESL Students

Updated 17 February 2012

You might also be interested in:
Basic Tips
  • Do your research. There are lots of great ways for students to practice listening.
  • Do comp checks. Stop every once in a while and make sure students understand what is being said.
  • Look online. There are lots of lesson plans and worksheets in the lesson planning link.
  • Walk around the room. There are always a couple of students who just don't get it.
  • Listen to a variety of accents. It's hard for native English speakers to understand some accents, so imagine what your students are going through.
  • Play games. There are ways to make learning fun. 
  • Use different activities. Multiple choice, fill in the blank/gap, take notes, making speakers to sentences, correct the mistakes, true / false, or yes/no, etc.
  • Use the tapescripts.  Using both listening and reading will double their comprehension.
  • Different listenings. Use interviews, stories, the news, sports, etc for listening exercises.
  • Be patient. If you pressure your students it'll only make it harder.
  • Dictation. You can use a reading text you've gone over or simply make your own up.

General Test Taking Tips
  • Read and follow the instructions. It only takes a minute or two and can save you a lot of time if you look at the instructions.
  • Forget cramming. You should study a little every day rather than trying to learn everything the night before.
  • Eat breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day and is necessary to help you think.
  • Bring your materials. Have your pencils, erasers, watch, and ID ready the night before.
  • Go early. Make sure you leave your house ahead of time so that you get to the class a few minutes before the test begins.
  • Pace yourself. If you've finished early, go back and check your answers.
  • Check your answers. Make sure you haven't made any simple mistakes.
  • Don't panic. It's just a test. The worst you can do is fail.
  • Don't leave blanks. Guess if you don't know.

Specific Test Taking Tips for Listening
  • Skim the questions beforehand. Figure out if you'll need dates, times, names, verbs, etc.
  • Beware of false answers. The speaker will often mention all the opinions so don't just pick the first answer you hear.
  • Don't tune out. You have to listen to the entire thing.
  • Be ready. The first answer to the first question might be in the first sentence. So start listening right from the beginning.
  • Synonyms and antonyms. Sometimes none of the answers look correct. For example if the speaker says, "My friend's not tall." the answer might be "short".
  • 100% or nothing. Your answer should be 100% correct.


Monday 1 March 2010

Teaching Vocabulary to EFL and ESL Students

Updated 17 February 2012

You might also be interested in:
Basic Tips
  • Use it. You should use a word 10 times while speaking or 20 times while writing.
  • Read. Reading will allow you to learn vocabulary passively. Best of all, it's fun!
  • Study. People interested in teaching as a profession can earn an online teaching certificate from the comfort of their home.
  • Play games. Scrabble, Boggle, Crosswords, or Vocabulary Bags can help students with vocabulary. 
  • Look online. There are lots of lesson plans and worksheets in the lesson planning link.
  • Mnemonics. Thinking of related words or pictures can help students remember vocab.
  • A word a day. Use it correctly and you'll be on your way to having a larger vocabulary.
  • Slangs and idioms. These are a part of English speakers everyday lives. Learning these expressions will help you on exams as well.
  • Vocabulary cards or notebooks. Keeping a small notebook with you will help you make the most of your time and review vocab.
  • Don't stare. Simply staring at a word won't help you commit it to memory. You have to use it.
  • Look it up. Dictionaries are great for expanding your vocabulary.
  • Take online tests. There are tons of websites that have vocabulary tests and games.
  • Thesaurus. It's a book of synonyms and antonyms. It will help you use other words besides "good" or "bad".
  • Roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Learning what they mean can help you understand new words.
  • Groups words. Arrange them by themes, synonyms, antonyms, etc.
  • Mental images. Think about the word. Visualise something that it reminds you of.
  • Association. Associate the new vocabulary word with one that you already know.
  • Rhyme. Create a rhyme using the vocabulary word.
  • Create. Write a story or sentence that includes that word.
  • Translate it. Sometimes it's easier to translate the word into your native language.
  • Part of speech. Know what part of speech the word is and if it can be made into other parts of speech.
  • Collocations. There are no reasons for collocations. They just have to be memorised.
  • Spelling. Students spell the word aloud. It helps them remember it and review the English alphabet.
  • More tips. How to teach your students vocab.

General Test Taking Tips
  • Read and follow all the instructions. It only takes a minute or two and can save you a lot of time.
  • Forget cramming. You should study a little every day. Don't try to learn everything the night before.
  • Eat breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day and is necessary to help you think. 
  • Bring your materials. Have your pencils, erasers, watch, and ID ready the night before.
  • Go early. Make sure you leave your house ahead of time so that you get to the class a few minutes before the test begins.
  • Pace yourself. Don't work too slowly or too quickly. If you've finished early, go back and check your answers.
  • Check your answers. Make sure you haven't made any simple mistakes.
  • Don't panic. It's just a test. The worst you can do is fail.
Specific Test Taking Tips for Vocabulary
  • No blanks. Guess if you have to, but don't leave any blanks on a test.
  • Eliminate answers. If there are four and you can eliminate two then you have a 50-50 chance.
  • Move on. If you don't know the answer, guess and go to the next one.
  • Go with your first answer. It's usually the correct one. 
  • Same letter. Sometimes you may find the same letter repeating itself. That's ok. Don't second guess yourself.


Wednesday 10 February 2010

Teaching English Abroad If You're a Non Native English Speaker

Updated 10 February 2012

For the purposes of this article an English speaking country will be considered: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK or the US. Non native English speakers (NNS) have a more difficult time finding a job teaching English abroad. Here are some ways that will increase your chances of getting an English teaching job abroad. The fact that speaking another language can also help you since you know what it's like to learn English and may speak the students' native language. Read more about NNS teaching English

  • If you have a passport from an English speaking country your chances of getting a job teaching English overseas will increase. If you are currently living in an English speaking country to become a citizen.
  • Where you went to school is very important. Some places want you to have spent at least 10 years in the school system of an English speaking country. Furthermore, many employers want you to have a degree from an English speaking country. Some of them won't consider degrees from non-English speaking countries even if all the courses were in English. This can be difficult for French Canadians.
  • Your English level is also a very important factor. Is your English at the same level as a native speaker? Taking an exam such as Cambridge, Michigan, or TOEFL can prove to your employer that you have a native speaker level of English. When looking for TEFL jobs try calling or visiting the school instead of just emailing. By doing this they will be able to hear your English and see that you are fluent in English.
  • The time you've spent in an English speaking country will also come into play. Did your family immigrant when you were just a child or did you go as an adult? The earlier you immigrated the better your chances of getting a job as a TEFL teacher.

Suggested Countries and Programmes
  • China
  • European countries such as Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Spain. You'll have to have the appropriate work visas to work in Europe if you aren't from an EU country.
  • Japan has an instructor's visa and the JET programme. There is also a Specialist in Humanities/International Relations work visa  but you will have to prove a degree or 3 years of related experience.
  • International schools. To work in an international school you'll need to be a qualified teacher.
  • Korean universities. You'll need to have a masters. You could get the E7 or the E1.
  • Latin America
  • Saudi Arabia gets non-native speakers visas to teach in universities.
  • Universities around the world get NNS visas as long as they're qualified. A masters degree is essential.


Sunday 17 January 2010

5 Tips for Giving Homework

Updated 18 February 2012

Daily: Chances are that if you don't assign homework the majority of the students aren't going to review what you did it class.

KISS: Keep it short and simple.

Make it relevant:  Creating schedule (present), describing people (present), explaining about how they met their partner (past), talking about their favorite teacher (past), naming goals (future) or making predictions about their country (future) work well. Opinion and T/F questions are good as well. Try asking your students to simply read an (online, newspaper, magazine) article, tell the class about it and give their opinion on what they read. Ask students to listen to something (news, movies, interviews, youtube, etc.) then say what they remembered or what their opinion is.

Don't assign homework at the end of class: Typical classes are often wrapped up by the teacher saying, "Ok class, do exercises A and B on page 27 for homework." Students might not have heard and they will probably forget about it. In addition, they have no time to ask questions about it. Write the assignment on the board and go over the exercise to make sure the students know what is expected. Another idea is to assign homework after you deal with the particular teaching point you were practising.

Acknowledge it: If you can't correct it on your own go over it as a class. Students can check their own or exchange papers. By doing this you can answer any questions students may have.

Read more: Here are some more homework tips that you might be interested in.


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