Freedom in the classroom: Open Sankoré

Some time last year I wrote a couple of posts on using free software in the classroom: I briefly explored the ethical and practical benefits, as well as recommending some interesting software I use every day for work.

In the school where I work now we (unfortunately) run MS Windows in all the classroom computers, but there is a piece of good news: instead of expensive — and not always reliable — proprietary software, we use a powerful free interactive whiteboard called Open Sankoré.Read More »

How to be a confident NNEST

Many things have already been written and said about the topic of NNEST equality in ELT. However, what can we do as NNESTs to improve our self-confidence and how students and employers see us?

Last week I read this excellent post by Elly Setterfield, which got me thinking about how I see myself as a non-native English speaking teacher. In her post, Elly debunks the myth that students prefer native teachers, adding some excellent advice on how to build your confidence as a NNEST.Read More »

global_issues

Sensitive issues and ELT

It all started with a notelt from Mike Harrison where he was asking if we thought it appropriate to bring up hot or controversial topics in class. I thought my answer would be “no”. I remember my CELTA tutors telling us how “what’s the best way to avoid stress” is a good topic for ELT, but how more sensitive areas such as religion, sexuality, racism and so on should be avoided for the sake of classroom management.

Then, just a few days later, on the wake of the Orlando attacks, I found myself discussing with James about if and how to approach the topic of LGBT and sexual diversity in the English classroom. I felt the events screamed to be brought and discussed in class. After all we live within a society and so it felt really weird to completely ignore what was happening and discuss about holidays, top tips for a job interview or how to survive a year abroad.

Then came Brexit, which left me stunned and unable to react for a couple of days. Again, I immediately felt I had to discuss the issue with my adult students, as ignoring it would make me uncomfortable (and by the way, I dove into this great lesson plan for ideas and the outcome was very positive both in terms of language and of the discussion that arose from the video).

Now I’m getting a bit confused…Read More »

A lesson on Brexit?

This is just a very quick post on the wake of Brexit results. I have been reading a lot on the topic lately, so I can’t imagine writing about anything else at the moment.

I only want to share a link to a fantastic lesson based on a viral video you might have already seen somewhere by the brilliant on Kieran Donaghy of Film English. The lesson focuses on the topic of ethnic origins and the importance of cultivating an open mind.

The DNA journey

I used a modified version of Kieran’s lesson plan (including revision of family vocabulary and expanding on to less frequent words such as ‘ancestors’ or ‘great-grandmother’) with my intermediate adult students. Even though this area is not famous for its open-mindedness, the lesson worked really well, the students were involved and the conversation that resulted was fruitful, both in terms of language and content.

freedom-jumping

Freedom in the teacher’s room

Today I would like to go a bit off topic and start a short series of articles about free software for teachers and students. I have seen many posts on what, how and when to use one software or another (the most commonly mentioned being Microsoft Office), so today I would like to add my contribution to this discussion.

Why free software?

First of all, let me clarify what free software is and why you should choose it over proprietary software (for a more detailed explanation see the gnu.org website). Free software is NOT software that you don’t have to pay. It is software that gives its users the freedom of transparency. You can use it and modify it as you please, copy and re-distribute it in any form and if you are a programmer you can see and modify its source code. These freedoms — which may seem useless to the non-specialist — actually have many implications for every user. Read More »

equality

A NNEST and employer on the equity debate

I know I’m lagging behind on this topic as many bloggers and ELT professionals have already written and spoken extensively about it, especially after this plenary by Silvana Richardson at IATEFL 2016. And by the way, of all the things I’ve been reading on the topic, I particularly enjoyed this article by Marek Kiczkowiak and this slightly older one by Michael Griffin.

I’m sorry if I’m just repeating what other people have already written, but I feel very strongly about this issue, so I decided to write my thoughts anyway. What’s more, I am in a very peculiar position to comment on this as I am what you would define a NNEST and at the same time I have hired teachers to teach at my (tiny) language school, so I also have the employer perspective.Read More »