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13 Principles for Practical Success

1. Make sure your students know the differences between a summary and a paraphrase. Students can fill in the blanks without really comprehending or being able to paraphrase. If your book is mainly focused on writing and listening exercises, it’s up to you to bring it to life and relatable. Tie in all aspects of reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Don’t isolate each component too much. Peer work is great, unless one students takes the burden of all the work.

2. Walk into class knowing your agenda. Write it on the board, so students have a roadmap of what the day holds for them.

3. Get everyone to participate; even the shy ones. If the desks don’t fit the needs of the collaborative environment, rearrange them.

4. The lower level classes need to be corrected for pronunciation if it is really off. Don’t let it get fossilized.

5. If students are inattentive, pretend to fall asleep, or go outside and say you are going to get the director.

6. Don’t be a “page turner teacher”. Incorporate the book to bring your lessons alive and communicative. Teach the objective, not the book. That doesn’t mean abandon the book; it just means don’t have it be the center of every lesson.

7. When students don’t know a word, help them using context clues, instead of always resorting to their phone dictionaries.

8. Use open-ended questions, instead of closed-ended questions. For example, “What would you do?” vs. “What did he do?” This helps with their critical thinking and fluency. For accuracy, the other way around is appropriate. However, for spontaneous responses, use open-ended questions that have lots of possible answers.

9. Some exercises are for accuracy, while others should focus on fluency: -fill in the blank vs. discussion; reading aloud vs. debates; sentence frames vs. communication games; dialogues and dictations vs. role-plays; repetition/”repeat after me” vs. presentations; choral drilling vs. educational games.

10. Pick and choose your behavior problem battles. Don’t let it lead the class and take up too much time. Decide whether or not to even give it attention.

11. Your lessons should have a warm up, introduce the target language, use the target language/model it, and then have them attempt the task using the target language.

12. Never start with a grammar point. Fuse the grammar point in a real language setting. Make it authentic. Let the students know, “Here come the instructions.” Give instructions one at a time. Do controlled practice of the objective, before group work.

13. Don’t view students’ energy as a downfall. Some are really enthusiastic. Let it drive the lesson!!!

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