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Using multimedia in our classrooms

Students in lecture with digital gadgetsFollowing on from her posts, Why use a Teacher’s book? Part 1 and Part 2, Julietta Schoenmann, a language teacher and teacher trainer with over twenty years’ experience, considers the impact and hidden potential of using multimedia in teaching.

We know it’s out there and we know we ought to be part of it… yes, I’m talking about the digital revolution! We have observed the way it’s impacted on our work over the last decade or so and some of us have been quick to embrace the changes wholeheartedly.

However, many of us have been eased into this brave new world quite gently through the inclusion of MultiROMs with our course books and the replacement of the good old OHP with a swish new projector in our classroom. But what about that scourge of modern teaching, the interactive whiteboard? Or augmented reality which promises to transform learning through our smartphone? Or the fact that most of our students are far more techno-savvy than we are anyway?

What can we do as practitioners to not only keep up with the latest developments, but feel confident about implementing them in our classrooms? Let’s look at a few examples and consider ways in which we can make them part of our normal teaching toolkit.

Using an interactive whiteboard (IWB)

In my experience a lot of teachers are plain terrified of this piece of equipment, hence the reason why many of them have been installed in classrooms by progressive managers only to find them unused and gathering dust a few months later. Just think of it as a big computer monitor – it does all the things your PC does but BIGGER! In order to get the hang of it, it’s important to have some practice sessions without students sniggering at your bungled attempts to drag pictures across the screen or change the pen colour from red to black.

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Using the Teacher’s Book (Part 2)

teacher-holding-bookFollowing 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)

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Why use a Teacher’s Book? (Part 1)

Teacher holding a book in classIn the first of a two-part series, Julietta Schoenmann, a teacher and teacher trainer, presents the benefits of using a Teacher’s Book to help plan and execute your lessons. Please note, this article contains references to the New English File Teacher’s Book series.

Do you remember when you first started teaching? Were you like me and treated your teacher’s book like a bible – the all-knowing, multi-purpose guide to all things pedagogical? Did you follow its advice carefully and rarely deviate from what it suggested for….ooh……the first year of your teaching career?! Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. But there’s no doubt that a good teacher’s book can:

  • save us time when it comes to lesson planning
  • offer ideas for bringing a topic alive
  • provide a wealth of extra materials to give our students practice in the areas of language they find challenging.

What’s more, the introduction to a teacher’s book often has a detailed outline of the methodological approach that the course book takes – very handy for those potentially awkward moments when students come up to you at the end of the lesson and ask why you don’t teach more grammar, etc. You can explain your rationale for teaching in the way that you do, supported by the evidence found in the introduction.

Also useful is the information included on how the student’s book is organised – what you can find in each unit, what other materials are available like CD-ROMs or workbooks and what resources are included at the back of the book. I cringe every time I remember a student who came up to me after about three months of classes and said he hadn’t realised there was a grammar reference section at the back of his course book. After that embarrassing experience I decided to help students on the first day of term find their way round their new course book with an orientation quiz. E.g. What topic can you find on page 76? Or What useful section is located on pages 157-158? This sort of quiz is quick and easy to make if you use the teacher’s book to help you.  

So what do you use your teacher’s book for and how can it help you to plan and deliver effective lessons? Let’s think about lesson planning first….

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