The AMT Experience: B “log” entry 1 by Edite Abrantes

“Make hay while the sun shines”… the sun did shine in charming Greenwich as if to say “Welcome to IHWO AMT Conference” and a warm welcome it was indeed. Meeting up with old friends and making new ones amidst learning novel approaches to teacher development, assessment techniques, navigating the students towards excellence in the IELTS exam, reviewing blended learning approaches and much more, the first day proved to be a professionally enriching experience which deserves to be recorded for future reference.

The day’s work started with an animated and live recorded video message wishing IHWO’s COO, Lucy Horsefield, a speedy recovery from her bout of tonsillitis. Just what the doctor ordered…actually it was what Monica Green, IHWO’s CEO ordered, but who’s concerned with semantics when it’s the thought that counts?! In true IHWO team spirit, Monica stepped in to cover for Lucy and addressed the significance of preparing students for jobs that are yet to be invented and the impactful mission IH schools have in assisting language learners in achieving their goals. After all, with 76 schools spread over 33 countries, why would students go elsewhere to learn a foreign language? Moreover, the array of Teacher Training opportunities, the concern for the younger students’ wellbeing and safety, the focus on providing a meaningful Customer Experience and the involvement in charitable projects such as those proposed by the newly set up International House World Foundation ensure that being part of the IHWO team is more than just a job but a way of “Succeeding Together”!

The underlying theme in the morning sessions was that of being bold in our exam preparation methods so that we can harness the ability modern “screenage” students have for multitasking and using it to develop their competence in the use of a foreign language, while circumventing the pitfalls of merging to need to teach with that of assessing, testing and preparing students for internationally recognised exams such as those of Cambridge University or Trinity College.

In the afternoon, the attention was mainly on sharing teaching practices which promote Teacher Professional Development, be them through informal meetings which result in greater self-reflection regarding strengths and areas to build on, drop-in observations that raise teachers’ awareness to the fact that teaching is a continuous act of learning and improving and the manner in which role-playing can be an effective developmental tool.

Signed off at 23.51.

Sign in tomorrow for b”log” entry 2.


Guidelines on managing challenging students by Edite Abrantes

We all know that encouragement and good rapport do much more for a positive classroom environment than reprimands and scolding. After all, the aim is to help students enjoy the lessons, feel good about being there and consequently adopt less disruptive behaviour in the classroom.

Unavoidably, though, students misbehave, are mischievous and even troublesome at times. When they do, don’t rush into rebuking and giving extra homework as punishment, count to ten and bear the following pieces of advice in mind:

  • Take a deep breath and do your best to remain calm.

It’s natural to become frustrated, stressed and angry over irreverent students who simply “ignore” your requests to behave and do their work. However, such feelings affect your rational and inevitably your agitation shows and becomes contagious. So, take a deep breath, or several if you must, try to remain calm and collected and think before responding. Remember, students look up to you, so try to adopt an assertive posture, model an appropriate, exemplary response which clearly indicates that you care about them and their problems. However, where warnings are necessary, state them clearly and quietly so as to avoid disrupting the class.

  • Treat allstudents respectfully and amicably. 

Be consistent in what you let students say and do and be careful not to favor certain students. Avoid labeling students as “good” or “bad.” Instead describe their behavior as “positive,” “acceptable,” “disruptive,” or “unacceptable.” Moreover, give the unruly student a chance to respond politely by explaining not only what he or she is doing wrong, but also what he or she can do to correct it. In addition, seat the student near to you so a glance or a hand on his or her shoulder will let the student know he or she is stepping the line.

Don’t forget to promote the students’ self-worth by praising them often but sincerely. When it’s necessary to speak to a student about his or her behavior, try to do so in private; especially when teaching teenagers who must “show off” to their peers. Publicly lecturing them may trigger exaggerated, face-saving performances which can snow ball into unmanageable situations.

  • Set the example.

Are you as respectful of your students’ feelings as you want them to be of yours and their peers? Are you as organized and on-task as you tell them to be? Are your classroom rules and consequences clear and easy for students to follow?  Be firm and consistent about your rules, and express displeasure with the students’ behavior without criticizing them. Model the behaviour you expect from your students so they can have a reference and an example to follow.

  • Be an active listener and observer.

Try to understand where the “odd” behavior is coming from. Is the student distressed by a personal situation such as the parents’ divorce, new baby in the family, learning difficulties in other subjects or in a particular area of the syllabus, or some other daunting experience? Speaking to the student’s parents may shed light on the crux of the problem and help you develop a closer rapport with the student through understanding and sympathy. Whenever possible, make the time to speak to challenging students privately and show your concern for them.

  • Be realistic.

Sometimes, despite our best intentions and efforts, we find ourselves unable to get across to one of the students in our class. The student may be rude, disruptive, or plain annoying. Remember, it’s human nature and some personalities clash. But instead of feeling guilty about being unable to manage the situation better,  take positive steps to minimize disruptions and handle them as best as you can for …

Who’s afraid of the /bɪg bæd wʊlf/? by Joana Styliano

As some of you may know, I am a huge fan of Adrian Underhill’s phonemic chart. I have come to realise it gets a bit lonely in that department but still I rise and gladly keep on selling its relevance. Let me share my passion and the underlying reasons. In my opinion, the phonemic chart is the ultimate tool for learner autonomy and how teacher friendly is it in error correction?
Oh well, first things first. Whether you have or have not attended my sessions on pronunciation in previous years, it is quite obvious that if you are aware of the sounds, there is very little you cannot say either as a student or simply as an individual. Funnily enough, being a native speaker makes little difference here – I have come across my share of native teachers who felt tackling the chart was too daunting a task and in the end simply avoided fiddling with it.
The great Adrian Underhill has bestowed upon us a phonemic chart which consists of all the sounds used in the English language. The trick is to give it a go yourself, as a teacher, and then explore it in class. I do not mean spend a whole term on it or keep at it until your students master it like proper linguists. Instead, guide them so they feel it can be their ally rather than the funny things on the walls at school.

Once students have learnt the basics – i.e. each sound, including diphthongs, and the differences between long and short sounds for example (yes, that alone is already step in the right direction) – correcting their pronunciation mistakes becomes much more visible than ‘mere’ drilling, thus appealing to a wider range of students within the spectrum of learning styles.

That’s all very nice but how to go about it? Ideally it takes about one lesson to introduce the sounds and let students play with them – give them dictionaries or allow them to use online resources (most of them have the transcriptions but I am a fan of myself), and let them select words in pairs/groups for the rest of the class to guess. Don’t forget to include word stress since teaching them how to identify it will also make them more capable of noticing and correcting their own mistakes hence making them more autonomous learners.

When you are confident enough to take it to the next level, feel free to play games or literally to have fun with it – perhaps as a warmer or at the end of class. I use it with higher levels right at the start by introducing transcriptions of new words that students will then have to decipher and later on integrate into their work, either in writing or speaking – for example at FCE or CAE level. It is also interesting to use it to correct mistakes at lower levels (e.g. any Teens level), such as the usual ‘bear’ (/beər/ not /bɪər/), not to mention the use of phonics with (very) young learners.

The sky is the limit and there are endless resources to help you. I would like to suggest Mark Hancock’s work but do feel free to come and see me in case you are looking into this area.

I hope to have demystified /prəˌnʌnsɪˈeɪʃən/ so that you too find it as interesting and engaging! In the end it is pretty much like anything else: if you enjoy it, so will your students!


Beginning to flip: intro to flipped language teaching by Shawn Severson

Here’s Shawn’s talk @ ‪#‎IHTOC7‬ “Beginning to flip: intro to flipped language teaching”
All talks were extremely interesting, so don’t forget to go through the blog and watch them!



The classroom collection: using music in the classroom by Sandra Luna

Sandra shared some ideas on how to use music with “The classroom collection: using music in the classroom” @ ‪#‎IHTOC7‬. All talks were extremely interesting, so don’t forget to go through the blog and watch them!



Students too “shy” to speak? Coach them! by Edite Abrantes

And if you need help with getting your students to talk you might like to watch Edite’s talk @ ‪#‎IHTOC7‬ “Students too “shy” to speak? Coach them!”

All talks were extremely interesting, so don’t forget to go through the blog and watch them!


How to subtitle a YouTube film – by Shawn Severson

Want to have your students subtitle a film to practice dialogue and narration skills? Would you like them to work on a grammar point like the present continuous, explaining what someone is doing? Well, one way is to subtitle. If you create a YouTube channel, you can use your administrator account to subtitle and the process is simple.

1. Download a video from YouTube.

2. Upload the video to your channel.

3. Click on CC (closed captioning)

4. “Add new subtitles or CC”. The rest of the process will be to define at what points you want your captions to appear and disappear.


Looking for online practice tips? – by Sandra Luna

If you’re looking for online practice to suggest to your students, try one of the following links:

Lyrics Training
The website has been slightly remodeled, but it’s still great! Lots of songs with different levels of difficulty to help your students improve their listening skills!

Free Rice Game – /english-vocabulary/1374
Have you fed anyone today? This game helps students improve their vocabulary, and it donates 10 grains of rice through the World Food Programme to help end hunger!

Poetry Board
Encourage students to play with words to form sentences and poems. They can then save and share their masterpieces with you and the rest of the class! Great to include in class blogs.


Let’s Play Checkers – by Sandra Luna

One the easiest game, one everyone knows so you won’t have to teach the game. Instead you’ll be able to teach language!

checkers game

Checkers is one of the easiest games to learn. Most children like it and adults never forget how to play it. Many years ago I started to use it to teach grammar. It started with the Simple Present and the 3rd person -s. However, I’ve used it with so many different things I think you can teach virtually anything using it.

Here’s a list of topics I’ve worked on with this: phrasal verbs, prepositions (at, in, on), Simple Present, phonemes, stress patterns and word formation. I’m sure you can come up with other ideas for how to use this, wouldn’t you like to share?

The pictures describe how I build my pieces and the image I use for the board. If you laminate these (like I do) they’ll last and you can reuse your pieces if you make them in card. I have a box of different sets according to what I want to work on.

The rules are the normal checkers’ rules with a twist, you can only take your opponents piece if they’re a match. For example: if black has “in” and white has “June”. Sometimes the game will come to a dead end, which can also happen when playing the regular game. Just tell your students that the player who has taken more pieces wins the match and that they can have another turn. Hope you like it.

Click on the links below to get materials and see how to adapt the game!

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