I've just spent the Easter long weekend away in Denmark (the town, not the country), one of the most beautiful and relaxing South-West towns I know. It helps that my parents-in-law have a house down there, so accommodation is not an issue, even for the weekend when the 5000 population of Denmark swells to 25 000! One shop owner told me that she does a great deal of her annual budget over the weekend.
Anyway, with little desire to do any sightseeing, I spent the weekend writing all the ideas about teaching that buzz around in my head and, when I had finished, I realised not only that what I was actually doing was writing a training system for ESL teachers around the world, but that, as far as I know, there isn't such a system.
CELTA, the intensive four week program that gets people ready to step in front of an ESL class, trains teachers in methodology, but not content. Teachers pick up the content as they go, gleaning tips, tricks and resources from Murphy's, Swan, the university presses, websites and their colleagues.
But what if there were a single document that provided teachers with everything they needed to know about how the English language works? I started to get very excited! Such a system would take a teacher from words to clauses via punctuation to sentences, including tenses, conditionals, modals, gerunds, infinitives, noun and verb types, sentence structures, articles, phrasal verbs, common verbs and their forms (work, get, have, take, make, go), prepositions, relative clauses, conjunctions and everything else.
Of course, it would cover structures, not necessarily vocabulary, although there would be some included.
For all the teachers out there, both primary and ESL, you will know how I feel with this next post.
I started with a new low Elementary class this week with a wide-ranging nationality mix: Czech, Korean, Thai, Brazilian, Italian, Turkish, Saudi, Indonesian and a Cuban brother and sister. These are apparently the lowest level class in the school at the moment. I've only got them for two weeks total (10 teaching days) and yesterday was Day Four, so I thought I would use some Shoebox techniques to get them moving with their past simple. At the end of Wednesday's class, I asked them to write diaries and bring them in for Thursday. They DID. Almost every one of the fourteen students wrote a diary and gave it to me to mark. I can't begin to tell you my delight when they used most of the teaching points (Past simple regular and irregular, After that, compound sentences, infinitive of purpose and coordinating conjunctions) correctly. There were high fives, fist pumps, grins of delight and even some teacher dancing. Wonderful. Sheer teaching happiness.