Using Dice for Practicing Extended Speaking

Using Dice for Practicing Extended Speaking

One of the most challenging skills for students to develop is the ability to speak at length coherently. While the Ask-Answer-Add method is fantastic for teaching and practicing conversation patterns, high-stakes exams, such as TOEFL iBT, Pearson Test of English, and IELTS, essentially require students to deliver monologues.

Therefore, the question becomes how do we have students practice delivering extended speech in an engaging manner?

Enter “Speaking Dice”

What school doesn’t have a set, or six, of these?

Continue reading “Using Dice for Practicing Extended Speaking”

Learning to Write Like a Reader: Teaching Students How to Edit and Do Peer-Review

Learning to Write Like a Reader: Teaching Students How to Edit and Do Peer-Review

Peer review is an important an beneficial step in the writing process if done effectively. The question then becomes how can you do it effectively? Today I’ll provide three examples: Checklists, Write Like a Reader and Paramedic Editing.


Why should you provide students with a checklist? First, checklists identify the key ideas/components/aspects that should be in a students writing. Second, providing students with explicit instruction increases the likelihood of them remaining on task. Basically, if you want students to be on task, make sure they know what the task is and how to do it (For a more complete discussion of using checklists, please see “Check It Out! Using Checklists to Support Student Learning” by Kathleen Dudden Rowlands) Continue reading “Learning to Write Like a Reader: Teaching Students How to Edit and Do Peer-Review”

Putting it in Order: IELTS Writing Task 1 (Describing a Process)

Putting it in Order: IELTS Writing Task 1 (Describing a Process)

Teaching IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 can be challenging. At least with Task 2 candidates can give their opinion but when it comes to Task 1 it’s “Just the facts, ma’am.” Luckily for both students and teachers, lessons don’t have to be dry just because the material is.

I have used the lesson plan below several times to teach process writing but with a few tweaks it can be used to teach any genre of writing because, as
Miyamoto Musashi said,”if you know the Way broadly you will see it in everything.


Before Class:

1. Make enough copies of the picture cards1

EAP, IELTS, Writing, Academic Writing
Image via IELTS Buddy

Continue reading “Putting it in Order: IELTS Writing Task 1 (Describing a Process)”

The World is Your Staffroom: Using the Internet for Professional Development Part 1 – Seminars and Webinars

If you work at a large institution, you have access to experienced teachers, in-house workshops, seminars and (possibly) travel assistance for presenting at, or possibly, attending conferences. Additionally, your line manager has probably assigned you a mentor who can answer the day-to-day questions like “What happens if I need a new CD?” as well as fill you in on the “culture of the school” or the “unwritten rules.”

Yep, if you work at a school with a growth mindset, you will always be reminded that a teacher is a learner first and foremost and, therefore, will always be challenged to improve not only their content knowledge but also their pedagogy. In this type of school, in-house professional development workshops will be mandatory and there will be competition to see who can generate the highest turn-out for workshops.

Edtech, Writing, Youtube, TOEFL iBT, IELTS, Classroom Management, PLN, CPD, PD, Professional Development, CELTA, DELTA, TESOL, EFL
Do you do things because that is how they have always been done?

But what if you don’t work in “that” school? Continue reading “The World is Your Staffroom: Using the Internet for Professional Development Part 1 – Seminars and Webinars”

Using Reading Races in EAP/Test Prep Classes

What’s the first image that comes to mind when you hear “Academic Reading?” Personally, I have flashbacks from my undergrad days lugging around the 1,000 page plus Norton Anthology of English Literature.

When I ask my students, they typically use words like “boring, business” and/or “scientific” to describe what they have to read in their IEP/Test-Prep classes.

That the material they have to read is uninteresting or even boring doesn’t really surprise me: honestly, who really wants to read academic texts?

Does it really have to be like this?

However, just because the material is boring, it doesn’t mean the class has to be. Instead of just telling students to read and answer a list of questions, how about we make it a little more interactive, social, competitive and (gasp) fun? Continue reading “Using Reading Races in EAP/Test Prep Classes”

"Red Light! Green Light!" Teaching Students How to Give Peer-Feedback During Speaking Activities

Teaching speaking sounds easy until you actually try it. Some of the myriad issues that inevitably pop up are:


Which dialect should the instructor teach? Most people will instinctively say “their own” but what if an American teacher is teaching a room full of students preparing to study in the UK? Should the American instructor really teach “sidewalk” instead of “footpath?” How about “crosswalk” instead of “zebra crossing?”


Of course you want your students to use “real English,” but how do you teach slang? Similar to dialect, whose slang do you teach? What about cursing?

Continue reading “"Red Light! Green Light!" Teaching Students How to Give Peer-Feedback During Speaking Activities”

EAP, IELTS, Listening, Speaking Skills, TOEFL iBT, Monitoring
Should I send myself to the principal’s office?

Reading with a Purpose: Teaching Skimming and Scanning

The first time I can remember telling a class skimming and scanning were important was about seven years ago. I was teaching TOEFL iBT prep in Hanoi, Vietnam and was trying to explain just how important it was for the students to be able to get the “gist” of what they reading (skimming) or find key words/details (scanning) in a passage. If I remember right, I even held up the sheet below in an attempt to “prove” I was right.

TOEFL iBT, Reading Skills, Speaking Skills, Writing Skills, EAP, IELTS, TOEIC
Click here to download.

Fast forward to last semester. I was teaching English 101 at University of Arizona and, as I had so many times before, was telling the students to “not read every word – scan for the main idea.” And then one of my students did something that had never happened before: she asked “How?” Continue reading “Reading with a Purpose: Teaching Skimming and Scanning”