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| Teaching English in Italy - Five Ways to Cut Costs and Save Materials in the ESL Classroom
By:Kit Sheridan

For English language teachers in Italy, it's always a good idea to be cost-efficient with materials. Whether you work for yourself or for a school, conserving paper and other classroom resources makes teaching ESL less wasteful and more economical. Teachers also save time when they don't have to copy and distribute handouts, and needn't worry about forgetting materials or finding out too late that the photocopier needs repair.

Here are five ways to cut costs and save materials in the Italian ESL classroom:

1) Design materials that can be printed on both sides of the photocopy. Italian public schools aren't generous with their paper stock. If you absolutely have to use photocopied materials, make use of both sides of the paper. The worksheet should not be too dark or ink-heavy on one side or it will compromise legibility on the opposite side.

2) Have students make their own materials. Students love to produce materials. A good idea is to have them create a worksheet and then exchange with a partner. They love to challenge each other and it's good practice for accuracy with spelling and grammar. Make-your-own word search and crossword puzzles (great for vocabulary lessons) are always hits in the ESL classroom. The teacher should monitor the work closely to catch and correct any errors before students exchange worksheets.

3) Use the whiteboard/blackboard. Italy still works with traditional blackboards in most cases, though some schools have whiteboards. Draw a scene on the board and have students write sentences in their notebooks to describe it, or have them comment on it as speaking practice. Be sure the drawing can elicit the grammar and/or vocabulary in your lesson's objective, and that it contains enough details to give each student a chance to cite something original. Make a rough copy of your drawing while you're planning your lesson to be sure you can execute it on the board, and that you can draw it quickly while students are focused on another task.

4) Make use of dictation. Students in Italy have a particularly difficult time with English spelling, and short dictations are a good way to have them practice accuracy of common words. This exercise is also very valuable when teaching the possessive "s", plurals, personal pronouns and possessive adjectives. As a follow-up activity to review grammar, students can circle each instance of the verb "to be", underline each plural noun, etc.

5) Take advantage of online quizzes and blogs. There are many free platforms available for teachers to create their own webpage or website. If the school has internet access (schools in Italy are catching up on technology), it is even possible to conduct an entire lesson online. The teacher plans the lesson and then uploads it to the site, where the students can follow along, complete on-site worksheets by downloading them to a word processor, and test their knowledge with online quizzes. Its ideal for a mixed-level class with students who finish earlier than others in lockstep. They can simply go on to the next activity on-site, or click on one of the linked pages in the teacher's "links" directory to find more ESL activities and games on the web.

Your originality will be noticed by those with whom you collaborate on your ESL projects, and you may become known as the teacher who gets the job done creatively while saving materials and money. If you teach English in Italy, using your resources wisely is not only cost-effective and time-saving, but is one of the best ways to promote yourself as a professional in the ELT arena.

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