Tag Archives: handout

Promoting Speaking Skills

It’s time for Oxford University’s two-week English Language Teachers’ Summer Seminar in the beautiful setting of Exeter College.

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My course in the first week was on the topic of Promoting Speaking Skills. It was a pleasure to work with fantastic teachers from Colombia, Turkey, Netherlands, Russia, Romania, Czech Rep, Ireland, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Taiwan, Yemen, Japan, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Thailand, Spain, Mexico and Bangladesh: we had a fascinatingly diverse array of classroom experience with which to work and I enjoyed leading the course very much.

As promised, I have put the slides from the week together in one file.

If you would like e-copies of the handouts for each day, email me at legyened@yahoo.co.uk


Great to be back in Serbia.
As promised, here are the slides from my sessions in pdf format:
Secondary session 1:
In this session we will consider the reasons why many teenagers dislike writing in English and attempt to identify those aspects of writing skills with which teenagers tend to experience the most difficulties. Then we will consider a range of simple and practical classroom activities which can help to equip students with the skills and strategies they need to succeed with writing.
1 Secondary Writing

Secondary session 2:
Project work in and outside the classroom
Project work is a tried and tested approach for extending topics creatively, personalising English lessons and revitalising jaded students. So how can we get the best out of projects in the digital age? This session will offer some practical and time-saving ways to make project work more engaging for ‘digital natives’, while also looking at how we can give traditional projects a new twist.
2 Secondary Project work

Primary session:
Learning to write in English can be hard for younger learners who are just getting familiar with English. What are the best ways to help them develop? We will look at some simple and effective classroom activities. We will also think about upper primary students, especially those who find writing boring and difficult. What can we do to make writing more enjoyable for them? We will try out a variety of fun and imaginative ideas to help learners write effectively and creatively.
3 Primary Writing

Netherlands handouts

Greetings to all the teachers attending the OUP events in Amsterdam, Apeldoorn, Tilburg and Rotterdam.

The handout for my first session on ‘Study skills and critical thinking’ is available here.

The handout for my second session on ‘Bringing lessons to life’ is available here. No here. I mean here.

It’s been a fun tour.
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Latvia handouts

Thanks to those teachers who took part in the recent OUP professional development days in Riga and Ventspils, as well as those who attended the LATGALE ELT conference in Daugavpils.

My first session was ‘Exam skills and topics – what teens need’. We looked at a variety of techniques that can boost students’ confidence and motivation to prepare – from unexpected visitors to grandmothers. I promised you a handout, didn’t I?

Then we had ‘Grammar in the spotlight’ – looking at the practicalities of making grammar lessons work with younger learners. There is a handout for this session, too.

If you’re not in Latvia, then make sure you go there some time. Take a camera.

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Slovakia: mountains, walls and slides

I didn’t have to wait long to get back in the mountains again. They might not be quite as grand as the Swiss Alps, but the Matra mountains of Slovakia still take the breath away – especially if you live in as topographically monotonous a country as Hungary. My four-day trip spanned the country from east to west, taking in some gorgeous scenery en route.

Košice / Kassa
The first thing I saw when I stepped off the train was a sign welcoming me to the European Capital of Culture for 2013. I’m afraid this was news to me. I felt a bit guilty, actually. I suppose I really ought to have known, especially as my own home city did no end of bragging when it had its own chance to hold this title three years ago. I consoled myself with the fact that no-one else I know seemed to have heard about this accolade, either.

Prešov / Eperjes
The home town of my host, travelling companion and fellow trainer Roman Cancinov. Roman is a charismatic and entertaining speaker, but never more so than when he is on home turf and speaking to his ‘own’ teachers – often addressing them by name, in fact. There was a great rapport and I could tell that everyone enjoyed the seminar a lot.

My finest achievement was putting up ‘The Wall’ all by myself. This is a clever bit of promotional paraphernalia: a collapsible display board with magnetic strips and glossy poster rolls that clip on the front. It looks magnificent when it is up – and the whole thing fits inside a portable case. I’m a bit of a klutz around the house, so the mere fact that I was able to put this thing up and take it down again attests to the brilliance of its design. And oh, the warm glow of satisfaction it afforded…

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Banská Bystrica / Besztercebánya
Banská Bystrica
Nestled high up in the mountains, Banská Bystrica is simply a delight, with one of the most atmospheric main squares that I have seen in the region. The seminar was held in the city library, home to the town’s British Cultural Centre, formerly part of the British Council. Wandering around the beautiful building, I also chanced upon a children’s puppet performance and was shown around an exhibition of musical instruments by a Hungarian speaker.

Trenčín / Trencsén
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The final seminar was held in the shadow of this magnificent fortress. Kind of. Well, it was in the same town, anyway. A great place to wrap things up.

Seminar topic
My talk focused on drafting written work. This is one of those topics that it can be difficult to warm to, and indeed one of the things we looked at was why drafting and re-drafting written work can be problematic for both students and teacher.
01 difficulties

One practical solution that we discussed was linked to correcting mistakes in written work.
02 pre-selection
Rather than correcting every single mistake in a piece of written work in red (or green 🙂 ) ink, why not specify what type of mistakes you are going to correct *before* you set the work? If, for example, you have noticed a conspicuous number of prepositions used incorrectly, tell the class that when you look at their drafts you are going to highlight problems with use of prepositions – but leave everything else uncorrected.

Most students can only focus on one aspect of language at a time. Trying to correct everything, every time is enormously time-consuming for the teacher and the result can be demoralising for the students. On the other hand, pre-specifying a correction focus can help students to monitor themselves, increasing the likelihood that they will catch themselves before making a slip. The other huge advantage is that teachers can save themselves time and effort.

If you would like to see the slides of the session in pdf format you are in luck.

Poland: Beauty and the Piste

Poland – where winter still has the country in its icy grip. My travels are taking me to  Kraków, Nowy Sącz, Katowice, Tarnów, Rzeszów, Bydgoszcz, Toruń and Gdańsk.

Beautiful Kraków


Snowy Rzeszów


For those taking part in the PELT Convention in Rzeszów, the handout for my talk on ‘Using Literature with Teens’ is available here.