Monday, 20 November 2017

Summer Teaching at the Lake!

I think I am now .........

regarding blogging for the moment!

This rather belated post is going to be about my teaching at the Lake School of English during the summer months from July through to October this year.

Comic tool used:

I had the great pleasure to teach a variety of levels ranging from AO (Complete Beginner) to B2+ (Upper Intermediate).  All the learners were wonderfully receptive and I enjoyed teaching each individual class.  It was also as usual, fantastic to be back in the staffroom and be an active member of the dynamic teaching team.

If you are on Facebook, you can see the many social activities that are organized by the school, and it is plain to see that all the students are happy with their studies and with the school in general.

Lake School Facebook Page:

Never Stop Learning
Not having taught in a physical classroom for a number of months, I was pleased to see that I slipped straight back in as if I had never been away.  This was encouraging, and over the nine weeks I challenged myself to be creative and try out new lessons whenever possible.

Whilst in Oxford, in September, I quietly celebrated my 38th year of being an EFL teacher / Teacher Trainer.  Looking back on my very first day of teachng at the Briam Institute in Madrid in 1979, I was able to reflect on how things have changed since those early days when I was a novice teacher. I guess the most important  point I have learned along the way is to always strive to develop as a teacher, and to never stop learning.

I will outline some of the tools I used in my lessons. They are tried and tested ones, and I have used them time and again to create colourful visual aids to help motivate my learners.

The Joy of Teaching Teens

I taught classes mostly consisting of adult learners but also included a lot of Under 18s.  I particularly enjoyed teaching a group of Teens from Switzerland, who really kept me on my toes and forced me to think quickly during the lessons.

I hadn't taught a specific teenager class for a little while and with a 40 year+ age difference, I asked myself this pertinent question:

 'How can I motivate these lively teens and hold their interest, and how on earth can I gain an insight into their psyche and interests in a short period of time?'

Well, the lessons worked out fine and I found the learners to be very knowledgeable with a good level of English and keen to communicate.  The age gap did not make any difference to how I felt about teaching them and I really enjoyed the buzz from their collective energy. 

The following articles make for interesting reading:

  • Teaching Teenagers, English Teaching Professional, Issue 23, 2002 
  • Teen Power,  English Teaching Professional, Issue 39, July 2005
  • Teenagers! Motivating the teenage brain, MET, Vol 13, No 4, 2004
  • Motivating Teens to Use English (and not L1) in Class, ELT Chat summary, 19/01/2011 
  • How to motivate teens to extend their speaking activities, ELT Chat summary, March 15, 2011
This article written by Tiziana Angiolini , outlines a summary of a presentation she attended called Motivating Teens and Youngsters

I have bookmarked it as essential reading for my next class of teens in the future.  Thanks Tiziana!

Jazz Chants

What the class above seemed to enjoy most of all was doing Jazz Chants.  This was a good way of drilling them on stress patterns in a fun way.  I asked them to create their own jazz / rap chants to recycle some phrasal verbs I had taught them and then to recite them in front of the class.  It helped that one of the students was a keen rapper, so he offered to keep the dialogues flowing in a rap style by beating the rhythm on the desk to keep the flow moving smoothly.  They did really well on this activity and although they had protested at the beginning that they didn't really like studying phrasal verbs, it was amazing how many verbs came up in their rap chants and all were used in a great context.  I wish I had recorded a few of them!

The Wonderful World of Word Clouds

I used word clouds very often in my lessons for recycling / revision purposes, as lesson summaries and as vocabulary pre-teaching.

Below a selection of lesson ideas using WordArt

A summary of one of my classes.  The umbrella shape was chosen because it had rained during some of the lessons and I had asked the students if they had all brought their brollies with them!

Here is a summary of the Green Room class I taught.  The bike represents my cycling to work every day!  The cloud shows what topics we covered in one of the weeks and some adjectives about the group, who were receptive and hardworking!!

Below a summary of a 1-1 lesson, where we had a cup of tea whilst discussing a wide variety of social topics around the world...

Below a smiley word cloud to recycle phrasal verbs with 'OFF' particle:

Below a word cloud used with my AO class to review family vocabulary relevant to them:

Reviewing some classroom language with this Beginner group:

I asked B2 students to create a dialogue / short story using some of these verbs in the cloud as prompts:

In the example word cloud below, you can see some informal English expressions which were included in a lesson from OK 4 book.  I simply added them into a word cloud and used it for revision and recycling purposes.  The students were given a copy to refer to.

The general feedback I received was that learners liked the word clouds very much as it / they helped them to remember the expressions in a memorable and visual manner.

 Using Comics to Motivate Learners

I love using comics in my classes as they can be powerful learning tools for learners. My scoop it site contains many links to comic creation sites and information on how comics can be used in a challenging, creative, and pedagogical manner:

Here is a comic I created a while back and I always use it when presenting phrasal verbs. 

Asking questions about the weekend using informal expressions:

Some sentences my students created with 'OFF' phrasal verbs transfered into comic form:

Mind Mapping Introduction!

I used Popplet mind map to create a simple introduction to myself, and students had to ask me questions to find out more information.  They were then invited to do the same.


I used this tool for revision and recycling of colloquial expressions with one of my groups.  I invited  members of the class to go to the computer and then the rest of the class had to help them complete the tasks.

This was great fun and the students were invited to create their own flashcard sets if they wanted to.

Newspaper Info


The time spent teaching face to face during the summer months went by too quickly. Teaching is in my blood, and I guess it is one of the most satisfying jobs one can ever do.  Of course it all depends on the students, the staff, and the working environment.

All three aspects and many others were absolutely .........

Another post about the Lake School will be written soon. I will include a mention of a very special landmark event for the school in 2018!!



Thanks to you Janet!
You've been great and inspired me in many activities.
Tiziana Angiolini

Natasa said...

Dear Janet,
I have really enjoyed reading about your summer classes. You are so creative and your students were lucky to have you.
I agree that teaching gets into your blood. It is one of the best jobs in the world and it is so rewarding in many ways.

Janet Bianchini said...

Dear Tiziana

Thank you so much for reading this blog post. It means a lot to me, and thank YOU for inspiring me to try out new ideas after reading your motivational blog posts!

Best wishes


Janet said...

Dear Natasa

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog post, and for your kind words of encouragement, which always inspire me to do my best!!

Here's to many more years of teaching and having fun in our classes!!

Best wishes