Conversation classes 101

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Before I came to Spain I only had a vague knowledge of conversation classes and it was not a point that was really focussed on during my CELTA. However after arriving in Spain i soon realised how popular they were and all the problems that can come with this interesting concept of solely speaking for an entire lesson.

I’m not entirely sure where this idea of everyone must have a conversation class comes from , as improvement in all areas of language is valuable and as the skills are interlinked it seems in my opinion quite strange to focus and be obsessed only with one. I can’t see a conversation class being effective for anyone under B2 level (free to disagree). Below this level, speaking can be incorporated into any lesson and specific focus on pronunciation and fluency can also be done here. For higher levels a conversation has the benefit of focussing purely on speaking for the whole class time and within that you can focus on very specific student speaking problem1s or the more wider overall fluency and it gives students enough time to switch their minds into English mode and really test what they know and how they can express themselves.

Either way, in Spain (and most of Europe) you will be asked to do them so here are some pointers that might help you. Some are common sense and some might just make the difference between a successful class and unsuccessful one. Continue reading “Conversation classes 101”

5 things pupils ask that you wish they wouldn’t

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Welcome to students say the darndest things or should I say any EFL class anywhere. It can be a hoot and a holler teaching them to an outright existential crisis causing nightmare. Here are some of the more humorous episodes that we’ve experienced, perhaps you can relate and add some more in the comments. Continue reading “5 things pupils ask that you wish they wouldn’t”

5 things not to ask an EFL teacher

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Strange questions are abound in our field so we thought we’d add to the list of peculiar inquisitions we put up with in our most humble of fields.

1.Are you a native?/ You speak very well for a non-native.

Guess what people, not everyone is a native speaker, judge me on my qualifications and experience not my passport. Yes yes ‘student preference’… ‘ EU discrimination’ and so the wheel turns but it is infuriating and inevitability followed with “wow your English is good for a non-native”. Well no shit Sherlock I’ve been studying it for 20 years.

Continue reading “5 things not to ask an EFL teacher”

What are your teaching qualifications worth in Spain?

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“We want a native teacher with a CELTA with 3 years experience to work for pennies in our industrial park academy.”

“We want a native or non native teacher,no experience necessary to work in the centre of a great city with full sponsorship for CELTA.”

An exaggeration perhaps but there is no doubt that the adverts for teaching jobs in Spain are at times baffling. Continue reading “What are your teaching qualifications worth in Spain?”

Teacher Burnout

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Unfortunately this term is not as common as it should be. It can affect anyone at any time and is no different to work related stress or simply being pushed too hard day after day until you break. It is in fact all too common in the EFL world as bosses push employees to their limits day in day out until they either quit or are replaced.

Everybody’s different and some are affected more than others but the toll it can take on people’s lives, no matter how small, are quite frankly unacceptable. Most bosses turn around and say if you can’t handle it then quit, others may say it’s a product of the self entitled millennials who don’t know real hard work but in a world where stress related illnesses are on the rise and where it is being spoken about more openly than ever before perhaps it is time to speak out and address the issue in our field and let employers and employees alike know that teacher burnout is very real and very damaging.

We reached out across the Facebook group sphere, these private groups where every kind of EFL teacher dwells from here to kiribati (shout out to our reader over there), to find out what some teachers thought and if they could take some spare time to answer a few questions about teacher burnout. We asked them to answer four questions and here are some of their answers we received…. Continue reading “Teacher Burnout”

EFL Interviews- The questions I like to ask

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The classic tête-à-tête. The first formal meeting between employer and potential employee. They are a fundamental part of the recruitment process for any EFL teacher and can also be quite nerve-racking. Especially when the job is in a place you really want to go. Through my experiences of doing interviews for positions in Spain, Italy, Malta and England I hope to put together some questions that you should definitely ask during the interview. And I’ve had it all, from why are you asking so many questions, to why aren’t you asking enough, to even… I don’t want to answer that. Well, with some decorum and respect you can ask these questions below and, hopefully, it will help you get a better picture of what you are stepping into and, like the once bitten twice shy teacher that I am, you can avoid the trap of working for the kings of this pyramid scheme we call EFL. (a term from a comment on a previous blog I wrote that still makes me chuckle). Continue reading “EFL Interviews- The questions I like to ask”