Skip to 0 minutes and 2 secondsHello and welcome to the beginning of Week 4. Hello, everyone. So we're going to begin this week by talking about Amal and what Amal's doing at this point. As usual. Yes, so Amal. The first question is, what's happening in the lesson now? And what was happening is Amal was setting up an activity where the students have the text. They'd read the text. And now, she was going to focus on some of the grammar-- the language in the text. So she was setting up an activity where she gave them some definitions and words in a text. They had to find the words in the text and match the meaning to the word.

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 secondsAnd the second question is, why is she doing that? And the answer is that she is presenting this language. The language is in the text. Why is the language in the text? Because it provides a context for language. Exactly. Exactly. And so instead of standing up and just saying so-and-so, such and such, means such and such, she shows the language in the context and asks the students to work out the meaning. So she's given them some meanings. They look at it. They try to work out the meaning, and then they choose the right one from the choice that she's given them. And why is that a good way of presenting language?

Skip to 1 minute and 17 secondsWell, it helps people understand how the language is used because the context is there. And because they're working it out for themselves. It's more memorable and you can understand what you've worked out. When the teacher explains it, maybe you can't understand what they say. But when you've worked it out for yourself. And the last question is, what is she teaching? And the answer is phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs, yeah. And I think everybody got that really. Yeah, very tricky in English, the phrasal verbs. Oh, terrible, terrible. OK, so let's move on now to our questions for this week. The first question is, does the teacher need to know everything? Marie Therese, do you know everything?

Skip to 1 minute and 55 secondsWell, very fortunately, the answer is no because I know very little about everything about anything.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 secondsWe do make mistakes. And sometimes, I listen to these videos again and I think, Oh, I've made a grammatical mistake there. What will people think because we make mistakes when we speak-- slips of the tongue, really. So absolutely, the teacher does not need to know everything, and you can't, actually. And don't ever set yourself up as the font of all knowledge. Partly because then you end up talking a lot and telling people all of your fanciful knowledge. And partly because you will get called out. There will be a student one day, who knows something more than you do. But the question I think was asked really because I think what the participant was saying is so we can't know everything.

Skip to 2 minutes and 48 secondsAnd if we don't know everything, what do we do when a student asks us something, or something comes up in class, and we don't know the answer? I think the first thing to say is that's fine. It's OK. We're not god, so we are allowed not to know everything. And just say, I'm going to have to look that up and come back to you. Or why not set the challenge for the student? Get him to go and look it up and come back. And then you can both share the answer. So I think that's-- does that work for you? Yeah, absolutely. OK, great. So I think the second question's for you, Monica.

Skip to 3 minutes and 21 secondsThe second question was about how do I know the level of my students? You go into a class and how do I know if they're A1 or A2, or B1 or B2? If you're familiar with the CEFR levels, that's how the levels work. So A1 is quite elementary-- beginner. And then A2 is elementary, and then you go on to B1 and B2. Well, on the Cambridge English website, there is a test called Test your English, and there are 25 questions there multiple choice. And if you go on to answer those questions, I went on today just to check it out-- Did you get intermediate? And I made some deliberate mistakes. I came out with KET. Now KET is A2.

Skip to 3 minutes and 57 secondsYeah, so that's like pre-intermediate. And that's roughly where your students-- of course, they might come in different levels, and that will help you plan for the class. Because if some of the students are coming out as B1, and some is A2, immediately you can think about differentiation. Can they do that on their mobile phones? Can they take the test on their phones? I would imagine. I actually haven't done it on a mobile. I did it on my PC, but I would imagine so. That'd be great. You could just actually set that in the beginning, and everybody get on the website, do it on their mobile phones, and then report the answer-- fantastic.

Skip to 4 minutes and 29 secondsOK, next question is-- Speaking practise-- now, some of you live in countries where lots of English is spoken. Other people are in countries where there is very little English-- very few people from England or from America-- so-called 'native speakers', and the question was, how can you get authentic speaking practise if there aren't first language speakers in your context? So Marie Therese, what advice would you give them? Well, I think the first thing to say is, I don't think you need a native speaker to practise English. Absolutely not. We were talking last week-- at the end of last week about the Scottish accent thing where there was a participant who lived in Scotland, and some friends came to visit from London.

Skip to 5 minutes and 10 secondsAnd she had to translate us because they could not understand Scottish. So what's the difference between talking to somebody from-- I don't know-- somebody from France and talking to somebody from Glasgow. Actually, as far as I'm concerned, there's very little difference because I don't understand Glaswegians either. So think the thing about the 'native speaker' thing is a bit of a fixation, to be honest. I think it's important to practise English, and it's important to speak English. But just try and find somebody else that speaks English like you do. I know quite a lot of people will, for example, if you have a university in your town, there might be somebody there who's learning English or wants to practise English.

Skip to 5 minutes and 52 secondsSo go and find maybe advertised in the university newspaper or something like that. If you are in, for example, you're an English person working in Japan, and you want to practise to learn Japanese. Again, the university is a good source for that because you can go and do let's speak English for half an hour and let's speak Japanese for half an hour. And that works, but universities might also have visiting scholars and so on. Students from other countries coming to visit. So I think that's a useful source. Leslie, one of our moderators, pointed out that actually, most people who speak English today are speaking English with people whose first language isn't English.

Skip to 6 minutes and 34 secondsSo you might be a businessman from India or maybe you're doing business in Germany. So one's German. One is from India, and you're speaking in English. Or you might be on holiday. I'm sure lots of you have had this that you go on holiday to a country, maybe Denmark. And you don't speak Danish, but Danes generally speak very good English. And you speak English so you're communicating in English, although that's a second language for both of you. So there are usually opportunities for speaking English in most contexts if you look around. And of course, for exposure to English, the internet is-- Yeah, absolutely. YouTube videos, and films, and everything. OK, so the next question, Marie Therese, was? I don't know.

Skip to 7 minutes and 14 secondsHow can you help learners with disabilities? Yeah, a couple of people asked about helping learners with disabilities. And obviously, it depends what the disability is. But very often, there's assistive technology to help learners. But one of the suggestions I'd make-- For example? Well, you can get, for example, enlarged text for people who have short sight, for example, or visual impairments or something. But one of the tips I would give is that there are books that are published specifically for helping learners with dyslexia. Now, you may not be talking about a learner with dyslexia. But having looked at those books, I would say that the strategies in those books are applicable to all teaching.

Skip to 7 minutes and 52 secondsAnd actually, one of those books is written by an English Language Teacher trainer-- ELT teacher trainer. Yeah, there are two books actually, and we'll put links to them on the step at the end because look at the books. Because the strategy is that basically, it's about good teaching and about very scaffolded teaching to make the learning kind of accessible. And I went to a seminar once, which was by special needs teachers, and they were actually superb teachers because they really knew how to start from the needs of their learners. And as I've said, to scaffold the learning. So we put those two books there. But again, look at what assistive technology might be available.

Skip to 8 minutes and 27 secondsAnd obviously, if your learners are taking exams, then there are special considerations that could be put in to-- You get extra time. Using a laptop, having an amanuensis to write the answers for you if you can't write. And again, you can do those things in the classroom, regardless of whether you're taking an exam or not. You could bring in somebody to write. And I think actually, Monica, that's really that's a really good point is if you can create the atmosphere in your class where people help each other, then students that have disabilities or learning difficulties, or whatever can be helped by stronger students. Why not? They don't have to stand alone.

Skip to 9 minutes and 3 secondsSo I wasn't sure whether the question was about physical disabilities or learning disabilities or both. But obviously, to try and meet the needs of the learners and to look at what support is available from the school where you work and from the exam board if the learner's taking exams. And get students to cooperate and help each other as well. OK, so the last question I think we're going to answer today is-- Oh, this is about teaching language. Yeah, it's about accents, and about some people have a kind of notion that you have to have a kind of standard BBC English pronunciation in class, and I think that's a bit weird because actually everybody doesn't speak like that.

Skip to 9 minutes and 48 secondsSo I think really students need to understand-- I tell you. When I first started teaching, I had a class with really low levels students-- absolutely gorgeous. And after about a month, one of them came. She said to me, I love your teaching. I understand everything. But outside nothing. This was not a compliment because if you are the only person that your students can understand, that is not good because that means you speak funny, weird English in class. And when they go in, they hear not funny weird English, but real English they don't understand it. I think the notion of accents is quite normal, and then people from the Northeast of England speaking one way. People from France speak another way.

Skip to 10 minutes and 36 secondsPeople from Japan speak another way. And it's just a difference-- it's the variety of English. So whatever-- don't alter your accent because that will be funny, won't it? Just speak as you speak with your accent. And try to speak naturally. We talked last week about grading language-- grading your language. So try not to slow your language down. Absolutely, It doesn't help learners. It really doesn't. And speak unnaturally, but try to speak at a normal speed. Obviously, if you speak very fast as you and I do, maybe we do need to slow down a bit. But generally, try to speak naturally. But grade your language so that you're comprehensible. Absolutely. But don't change your accent.

Skip to 11 minutes and 15 secondsWhatever accent you have, don't change it-- unless it's actually a very, very broad accent, which even perhaps another native speaker might not understand. You maybe need to modify a little bit. But generally, no. I think that's it for this week. Questions for this week? More questions? We'll have a look at the set and see if any more questions come in over the next couple of days. We'll keep answering. We'll keep moderating. And please keep commenting-- We keep going back to next week and look. --on each other's comments. And don't forget to press the button to say you've completed the step when you have. So remember, this is an opportunity for writing, as Emma said last week, integrated skills. You listen.

Skip to 11 minutes and 50 secondsYou read stuff, and then writing is your chance to get some writing practise. Have fun. Enjoy. Bye-bye. Bye-bye, see you at the end of the week.

Introduction to Week 4

Once again, we start the week by answering last week’s questions about Amal’s lesson, and Monica and Marie Therese also answer your questions from Week 3. This video will appear here on Friday 23rd February at around 3pm (UK time).

Here are the books on strategies for learners with special educational needs:

Supporting Learners with Dyslexia in the ELT Classroom by Michele Daloiso (Oxford University Press)

Special Educational Needs by Marie Delaney (Oxford University Press)

There’s a lot involved in teaching language, isn’t there? What do teachers need to know about language? This week we’ll talk about what people mean when they talk about ‘language’ and teaching ‘language’ and we’ll explore the things teachers need to know about language in order to be able to teach it effectively.

Once again we are going to hear from learners and teachers about the challenges learners face when they are learning about the English language. We’ll look at how teachers help learners to overcome some of the challenges of learning about language.

There will be more quizzes and discussions and lots of other activities. As before, we look forward to seeing your contributions to our tasks and reading the comments and ideas you share with us this week.


Use the comment section now to say what you think people mean when they talk about ‘language’ – we’ll talk about this in the next step. Say also what you hope you’ll learn this week.

As you work through the week, you can mark each step as complete by clicking the round, pink button at the bottom of each page.

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring the World of English Language Teaching

Cambridge Assessment English