Articles for Teachers

A bag of tricks for the traveling YL ESL teacher - Don’t leave home without it
By:Stefan Chiarantano

It's somewhat of a nuisance to carry around but I don't go to any of my schools without it. I've now settled on a large, colourful plastic bag that zips and that can easily be molded to fit into my bicycle hamper. It raises a few eyebrows wherever I go but what the heck it helps me to do my job. Perhaps, you have one too. My bag is full of useful props, things, objects that help me to teach in a creative, magical way and serve to relax and loosen up the children for learning. It's something akin to a bag of tricks that a magician uses to awe his audience. I strive to do the same with mine.
Here are the things that make up my bag of tricks. It includes:
· Lots of children's songs CDs. Music is magic to young learners' ears. I use music as a warm-up to start the class and also to start a game. The children lap it up. They sway, bounce and move their bodies to the music they hear.
· Puppets. It allows me to teach target language and introduce and act out simple dialogue skits. A puppet, I have discovered, actually introduces another native speaker in the classroom. They're great and the children warmly respond to them.
· Squishy balls. They're soft and colourful. They are easy to catch. I use them to promote classroom participation.
· A wig. I wear it to liven up the class. It makes me look ridiculous but it grabs their attention.
· Flashcards. It's a great way to introduce language. I make my own. It's cheaper if you do. I use them in games. I also carry with me a set of ABC flashcards to teach the alphabet and phonics.
· Stuff toy animals. They're cute. I use them to teach prepositions such as on, in, under, behind, in front of, etc.
· Soft, large, cushy dice. I use them to play games like snakes and ladders.
· Coloured hollow plastic balls. I use them for teaching colours and in activities such as the passing activity.
· Paper, pencils, coloured pencils, and erasers. I use them in drawing/colouring/connect the dot activities. They are a great way to end the class and to restore peace and calm to a lively and active group of children.
· Magnets. To hang flashcards on the blackboard.
· Tambourines/rattles. I use them to start a game and for drill activities. They act as a cue.
· Peanuts, two bowls, and two sets of chopsticks. I use them to play the chopstick game.

My bag also includes tissue, throat lozenges, and a bottle of water. I don't ever leave home without my bag of tricks. I'd be lost without it. It sure makes a difference to the way I teach. Perhaps, if you haven't one you might just be tempted to start one and take it with you whenever you go to your schools.


A Primer for teaching English to speakers of other languages

The book "A Primer for teaching English to speakers of other languages" embraces many aspects of teaching English and is based on the author’s teaching and life experiences overseas. It is an essential resource for anyone who is contemplating teaching abroad; individuals interested in building on and improving their teaching skills; and to give prospective English teachers lacking experience a heads up.

The primer aims to provide a glimpse of the ins and outs of teaching English to speakers of other languages. It contains sections on teaching, managing the classroom, a guide to lesson planning and examples thereof, dealing with your attitude, and coping with your experiences abroad. There are articles ranging from realia to warm-up activities to EFL and Confucius. There’s a selection of handouts that can be adapted for use in your classroom, and a section of useful resources, and useful classroom gestures, which serve as a guide.

The tragic event of the Tsunami that hit Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004 has left an indelible impact on our collective consciousness. It left its impact on me. Therefore, proceeds from the sale of the E-book will be donated to development and relief agencies working in the affected areas of Southeast Asia. The primer has been priced at an affordable price to make it accessible to the many.

Here's the link to the primer:

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