Following on from her first post, Why use a Teacher’s book? (Part 1), Julietta Schoenmann, a language teacher and teacher trainer with over twenty years experience, continues to explain the many uses of a teacher’s book.
You might agree with me when I say that one of the greatest challenges we face in our classrooms is managing mixed abilities. I’ve never met anyone who has claimed to have a totally homogenous class – at least, if they have they’ve kept it secret as everyone else would be incredibly jealous! Your course book will have carefully selected topics and activities that appeal to the majority of learners but no course book can fully cater to the needs of an individual class.
So what should we do? We need to have plenty of activities ready for students who finish a task ahead of the others; also for those who need additional practice with particularly tricky structures or lexis, over and above what the course book provides. A good teacher’s book will include extra activities for both these groups of students so you don’t have to waste precious minutes raiding the resource book shelves or spend ages trawling the internet for an additional grammar practice exercise.
Open a New English File teacher’s book on any page at random and you’ll find several examples of ‘extra challenge’ or ‘extra support’– perfect for those fast finishers or those who are struggling with new concepts. Here are the kinds of things you can ask students to do:
Let SS listen again with the tapescript on p 123. Deal with any problematic vocabulary (extra support)
Let SS role play with other symptoms and say if they are really allergic to anything, etc (extra challenge)
Let SS practise the dialogue first in pairs, both with books open (extra support)
Get SS to role play the conversation between Mark and Allie in pairs using the tapescript on p 123. Let SS read their parts first and then try to act it from memory (extra challenge)
(all taken from New English File Pre-Intermediate Teacher’s Book pages 96/97)
Another helpful addition to the teacher’s book is the wealth of photocopiable activities available at the end. Let’s face it – ELT teachers are never happier than when they’re photocopying and cutting up A4 sheets of paper into tiny pieces….So what is there for you to choose from? A number of inventive tasks (e.g. New English File Intermediate page 184) that are often designed for pair interaction and invite students to share information while communicating in an engaging and personal way. There is also a selection of vocabulary games that support the process of recycling so vital to acquiring new lexis (e.g. New English File Advanced page 221). And then there are also songs (students love songs!) – one for each unit – with helpful activities that aid understanding and extend vocabulary and grammar knowledge (e.g. New English File Elementary page 225).
Finally, a word or two about monitoring students’ progress – there are two ways in which a teacher’s book can help you to keep this on track. The first one is about checking answers to tasks that students do in class or for homework. Have you ever left your teacher’s book in the staff room and had to work out the answers a second before your students? Nightmare isn’t it. The teacher’s book has everything covered and makes the whole checking process smooth and efficient, leaving more time in class to get on with other engaging activities. If the answers to some tasks are particularly complicated I like to quickly put them on a PowerPoint slide before the lesson and flash this up at the same time I or my students are reading out the answers – I think it’s helpful to offer support to visual learners and can avoid unnecessary confusion and repetition.
The other good thing is that you don’t have to spend time devising tests that give you and your students feedback about the progress they’re making and the areas they need to work on – they’ve already been done for you! Quicktests (e.g. New English File Intermediate page 216) do what they say on the tin – quick to administer and quick to mark. You can pop these in at the end of a unit (they only take around 25 minutes to do) therefore ensuring that you and your students get useful feedback on their strengths and weaknesses as learners. Easy!