A teacher goes on holiday… AGAIN!

Recycle-Tag2015 was my third year working as Younger Learner Coordinator and teacher at IH Buenos Aires. Easy, right? Well, not really because I also became the head of the testing department for another IH School, I completed the IH teacher trainer certificate and I taught an on-line language development course for Uruguayan teachers of English as a foreign language. Fortunately, on Dec 30th these jobs were paused and I was officially on holiday.

But does going on holiday mean forgetting about teaching altogether? A Director once told me life starts when we close the school and go home. However, I believe that teaching is an important aspect of my life and even while on holiday I tend to have a couple of thoughts connected to our field. I embrace these thoughts because they are more reflective in the sense that I’m not busy and thinking about what I have to do next. So I thought I’d share the following with you.

Do it again!

I was watching a film with a friend and somehow we started talking about how she used to watch her favourite TV series again and again and she would learn the dialogues by heart with her brother. This lead to how children enjoy reading their favourite books more than once or even being told the same stories. And there, I started talking about how I’m a big believer in doing exercises again and repeating tasks in the classroom.

I often find that teachers like to innovate and most of us spend time planning and creating new activities. When these activities work, we are happy, and we may try them with other classes. But how often do we repeat the exact same activity the following class or week?

The perks of repeating activities

I feel that repeating activities (e.g. from word formation exercises or gap fills to projects) is more conducive to learning in the sense that when students do something for the second or third time, they can compare it with the first time they’d done it and measure their progress. It’s interesting how sometimes they make the exact same mistakes or even different ones. They can also analyse why they’ve improved or not.

Which exercises should we repeat?

When it comes to teaching, there’s never a one-size fits it all answer, but I think we need to repeat exercises which are at the right degree of challenge (neither too easy nor too difficult) and which students enjoy doing or at least understand the reasons why we are doing them and the benefits they have. This reinforces the idea that teachers need to share aims with their learners.

How can we add an element of fun?

If you’ve done a typical coursebook multiple choice exercise and found that students struggled with it and there’s loads they can learn from it, you can repeat it by uploading the questions to https://getkahoot.com/ That way, learners can do the exercise in a fun way using their mobiles and they may even ask to do it a third time.

If you’re working with word formation exercises while preparing learners for International exams and find that they still struggle, you can make a list of the words learners struggle with and have them do the exercise again but playing with spongy letters or writing answers on a laminated board. Here’s a video in which my former FCE learners talk about this.

Do you usually do this with your learners? Is there anything you’d like to comment on? Please share your thoughts below.

Finally, I’d like to thank my friend and colleague @ashowski for encouraging me to start blogging.