7 free online courses in November

iloveyouso

Yes! My favourite month is almost here! I love November – especially when I can stay in, wrapped up in my favourite blanket, with a purring cat snuggled against me and a great book to read… or a TV series to watch. Have you already seen Stranger Things 2? If not, you should totally do, as you can actually see what Role Playing Games are and how important they may be in real life!

Apart from RPGs (currently I’m writing a nice article about the idea behind this phenomenon, give me a fortnight or so), I don’t mind spending my time learning new things – and as every month, I’d like to share my picks of the month: seven free courses you may attend online:

1 Engaging ELLs and Their Families in the School and Communities by Arizona State University

Start: 13th of November
Duration: 6 weeks

The course is focused on K-12 classroom environment in the U.S., however you will learn how to better and more successfully engage your students and their families in the school and community, how to engage a student in the classroom setting as well as in various aspects of the school including extracurricular activities and the inner workings of the school and education system. You will also be introduced to strategies for engaging the families of your students in the school community. It may be useful for those teachers who deal with parents on a regular basis.

2 ICT in Primary Education: Transforming children’s learning across the curriculum by University of London

Start: 13th of November
Duration: 6 weeks

Why and how are teachers integrating ICT (Information and Communication Technology) into primary education? Here you will compare your own ideas with other teachers around the world and will learn how to be aware of the range of reasons for using ICT and how to analyse the strengths and weakness of different decision-making mechanisms. You will also become familiar with a wider range of useful tools and resources for integrating ICT. It may be useful for those teachers who are slightly overwhelmed by technology in their classrooms.

3 Social Media – What No One has Told You about Privacy by Dr. Anne Kayem

Started: 23rd of October
Duration: 2 weeks

Have you ever accepted a friendship request from the guy or girl you met at the shop only to regret it the minute you clicked on “accept”?  If you have, then you probably know about the nagging feeling of discomfort that you try to ignore or comfort yourself by telling yourself that it does not matter. However,  if you feel concerned that something is not quite right, it most likely is the case. I believe privacy and social media is (or should be) a hot topic at the moment for everyone, especially teachers dealing with teenagers.

4 Applying to U.S. Universities by University of Pennsylvania 

Started: 30th of October
Duration: 5 weeks

This course will help international students (non-U.S. citizens) and non-native English speakers navigate the U.S. university admission process by offering practical information about the documents and pieces that make up a U.S. university application. More importantly, admission officers will discuss how they use those pieces to decide who is accepted and who is denied, so that you can understand the process beyond the pieces. I would recommend this course to anyone thinking about studying in the U.S. – and those teachers who work with students planning to do so.

5 Develop your knowledge of studying in the UK by the British Council

Start: 13th of November
Duration: 4 weeks

This course is designed primarily for those counselling students looking to come to the UK to study, including school counsellors, education agents and those interested in becoming education agents. Potential students and learners will also find the course informative and useful. You will learn about the UK education and training system, quality assurance systems and how they operate, student lifestyle issues, welfare and support for international students, application processes and entry requirements. It may be useful for those students – and their teachers – who think about studying in the UK.

6 Mentoring in Schools by European Schoolnet Academy and Inducas

Started: 15th of May (but materials are still available)
Duration: 6 weeks/ self-paced

This course may be a really great help for DoSes.  It is focused primarily on mentoring of colleagues within a school. Particular references are also made to the mentoring of beginner teachers, supporting them to find their place in the school and classroom.  You will learn how mentors can support and develop the work of teachers in schools. The course aims to support mentors working with teachers by offering them strategies and tools for their work with teachers as well as examples of effective mentorship approaches leading to more effective, happier, and successful teachers.

7 Coursera: Lesson Planning with the ELL in Mind by Arizona State University

Started: 30th of October
Duration: 6 weeks

This course is perfect for teachers who are just starting their adventure with EFL teaching! In this course you will learn how to design lesson plans around the needs of your students and their language level through the analysis of content language and cognitive demands. You will learn how to align language objectives to the adopted standards of your school and content area. Analysis of second language acquisition theories will be applied to lesson planning.

And, as a bonus – just for your teenage students:

World of Spies: Keeping Secrets by Purdue University

Start: 20th of November
Duration: 4 weeks

What does it take to be a spy? Strong critical thinking and communication skills, a firm grasp of logic, and a love of puzzles are all useful. This course, designed for 13-18 year old students, will help them develop those abilities while exploring the exciting world of espionage. They’ll learn about code-making and breaking, encryption, logical thinking and more as you find out whether you would make a good spy. If you have ambitious pupils – that may be a great beginning of their e-learning career!

I hope you’ll enjoy the courses I recommend – I still have to make up my mind on which course should I take. Definitely the one by the British Council, but maybe I should satisfy my inner child and have fun with espionage? So many options, so little time!

Enjoy!

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7 YouTube channels to spice up your lessons

 

International Picnic Day! (1)

One of the funniest and weirdest activities you can enjoy with your friends is a so-called YouTube party. Basically, you meet your mates and have regular fun until someone says “I totally have to show you something on YouTube…” And boom, the YT party begins because everyone has seen something to share with friends.

And, oh, the depths of the Internet you may visit…

If you teach teenagers or digitally aware adults you may enjoy a little YT party as well, just try to moderate the videos presented by students as some of the videos may turn out to be somewhat inappropriate.

If you want to avoid potential embarrassment, try to show some EFL-friendly channels. Don’t know which ones are worth recommendation? Well, I’ve shortlisted some nice channels and hope you’ll find them enjoyable.

1 Anglophenia

I really love this culture-oriented channel focused on British and American celebrations, festivals and customs. You’ll find here a lot of short, funny and witty videos on various topics – from British houses (the great mystery of double taps explained) to the practical guide on how to insult like a Brit.

2 English Like A Native

I came across this channel when I was looking for good videos with various accents – I heard Anna’s short film on Scouse and it was more than enough for me to spend the whole evening watching her videos. Funny and smart, discussing the wide range of topics from accents to the ways people shouldn’t pay compliments – I’m sure you’ll love it!

3 English with Lucy

Lucy is a very popular British English teacher who focuses on more “traditional” approach to learning English, talking not only about cultural aspects, but also improving skills, remembering vocabulary etc. I’d recommend lessons with Lucy as a great homework for my students.

4 Learn English with Papa Teach Me

Want to speak like John Snow (and still know something)? Or maybe you’d like to sound like Jason Statham? Just watch Papa Teach Me channel and enjoy the “how to” films full of funny examples, but also really useful information you may find valuable from teacher’s point of view (I do!) – cockney, RP, or real tutorial how to speak like the Lannister.

That would be easy, just send your regards on the tip of the knife…

5 Learn English Kids by British Council

In case the name of the channel isn’t clear enough, let me clarify: this is a great channel for the youngest learners of English. Songs, nursery rhymes, games, stories, lessons – everything you’ll ever need to satisfy the demands of even the laziest child (and his parents). You should also try British Council: Learn English Teens channel as it’s full of useful videos for teenagers.

6 BBC Learning English

Apart from the casual news, BBC has a variety of films on its Learning English channel. “Go the Distance” is a series of videos focused on learning online, the “We Say – You Say” section provides a detailed explanation on proverbs and sayings, 6-minute English sections on Thursdays are just great with interesting topics and great vocabulary chunks… Just try not to lose your head over all those inspiring videos!

7 Learn English by British Council

Short videos, proper lessons, useful tips and interesting people – you can find it all on this channel. You may bring it to your classroom when you feel a bit lazy – or you may ask your students to watch a video as their homework, which is always a better idea than telling them to find the channel and browse it by themselves. I really recommend the series “How to improve your skills”, especially for the beginning of a course.

If you know of YouTube channels that I haven’t shortlisted please let me know, I’ll be happy to watch them – and learn – more.

Enjoy!

 

7 free online courses in October

7 Free OnlineCoursesin October

September is over, and October brings long evenings when you can drink tea or hot chocolate and read books… or learn, of course! With leaves falling in many beautiful colours, let me shower you with lovely online courses, that are free to participate and open for everyone. And if autumn cosiness makes you slightly lazy, the courses I want to show you will wake you up and inspire for a nice change!

1 Storytelling for Change by the Ariel Group

Storytelling is an extremely popular topic nowadays – teaching, coaching, even sales reps operate on using stories, as they make your message memorable, give your audience something to relate to, and above all capture their attention. You will get familiar with important storytelling tools, and create a rehearsed presentation that can help you connect with your audience and inspire change.

The course starts on the 10th of October and takes 8 weeks.

2 Teaching Flipped by University of Utah

Flipped Classroom in one of the most popular ways of introducing Blended Learning. This course is taught flipped/MOOC-style by veteran flippers and MOOCers to give you experience with the tools and learning methods. By the end of the course you should have a good idea of how to flip your own course plus you’ll have the tools to do it well.

The course starts on the 2nd of October and takes 8 weeks.

3 Coaching Learning, Leadership and Change by Case Western Reserve University

Coaching can inspire and motivate people to learn, change, and be effective leaders, among other roles in life. The course focuses on “coaching with compassion” (coaching someone to their dreams and desires) as the most effective form of the process. You will learn about psychology and neuroscience behind coaching which may be very useful not only for a teacher, but also for a DoS.

The course starts on the 9th of October and takes 5 weeks.

4 Launching Innovation in School by MITx Microsoft in Education

Innovation in school is a very popular topic nowadays – each school wants to be unusual, and sometimes a teacher is simply asked to introduce and innovative change – and left alone. Now, this course is for school leaders of all kinds (from teacher-leaders to principals to superintendents) who are launching innovation in schools – starting new efforts to work together to improve teaching and learning. It’s a great way to exchange ideas and share experiences!

The course started on the 28th of September and takes 7 weeks.

5 Growth Mindset: How to Help Your Child Learn, Grow, Thrive by The Institute for Wellness Education

Carol Dweck introduced growth mindset and introduced a new approach to education as a lifelong process. In this mini-course, you’ll learn the psychology and science of how mindset works to shape child’s future, and the life-altering power that a growth mindset offers. You’ll learn powerful skills to help develop a growth mindset that will set the stage for children to develop and thrive throughout life. Perfect not only for teachers, but also parents.

The course is self-paced, which means you can take it anytime you wish.

6 Supporting Children with Difficulties in Reading and Writing by University of London, UCL Institute of Education and Dyslexia International

This course is perfect for those teachers who want to learn why some children have so much difficulty with reading and writing (an issue often called “dyslexia”), and to learn more about best practice in teaching literacy to all in light of recent scientific discoveries. You will study not only theory, but also practical approach.

The course starts on the 2nd of October and takes 6 weeks.

7 Teaching Literacy Through Film by the British Film Institute and Into Film

Almost every student likes watching films in the classroom, but teachers (and parents) aren’t so sure that this is the best educational help. Recent research, however, has shown that film can be a powerful tool to help improve children’s reading and writing. In this course, you’ll find out how you can help your students learn with film using various approaches and activities.

The course starts on the 16th of October and takes 4 weeks.

 

I hope you’ll find something interesting – I personally pick Coaching Learning, as being a DoS means constant changes and challenges, especially when it comes to relationships with people. If you choose the same course, let me know and let’s meet online with a cup of hot chocolate!

Enjoy!

7 Free Online Courses in September

Seven

Between all the new school year themed workshops and IATEFL I feel like I’m back at school… only as a student. It’s an interesting feeling for someone who’s left her official educational process years ago, but it’s always better to learn new things than forget the old ones.

If you feel you could do with a little bit of learning yourselves, worry not – here’s my traditional set list of seven great courses you may enjoy in September: they’re online, they’re free, they’re awesome! And since I remember how hectic Septembers can be for teachers, I’ve tried to find courses that are either short or self-paced, so you can start them on your own:

1 Creating Effective Online and Blended Courses by Stanford University

If you’ve ever thought of switching your classes online (to a lesser or greater degree), this course may be a good beginning. It is designed to help develop online courses or incorporate online learning approaches in on-campus classes. It’s also nice for those who are rather busy: modules are self-paced, so there are no deadlines, and the materials will be available indefinitely for you to work through on your own schedule.

2 Becoming an Expert Learner by Northpoint Bible College

This course will explore the diversity of intelligences – and helping develop student’s own. You will also explore study and note-taking methods and techniques to support a variety of learners, helping each to become an expert learner. This course may be great for teachers who want to experiment on various methods of teaching – it may also be useful for your students.

The course is also self-paced, which means you can take it or leave it whenever you want.

3 Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills by University of Melbourne

This course explains the social and cognitive skills that are known as 21st century skills. It focuses on their representation in the curriculum, but also explores how teachers can recognise these skills in students, how the level of skill of a learner can be assessed, and then how learners can be supported to develop their skill. This course is designed for teachers who are wondering exactly how they can incorporate teaching and assessment of 21st century skills into their classrooms.

The course starts on the 25th of September and takes 6 weeks.

4 Positive Behavior Support for Young Children by University of Washington

This is an experimental course, hence no certificates will be given, however, it may turn out to become a proper support for those teachers who start working with kids. A lot of children may happen to experience various issues, and this course will focus on current research on the developmental trajectory of children with early-onset aggressive behaviours; positive behaviour support program models; and intervention efforts that promote positive early childhood mental health.

The course is self-paced, which means you can take it or leave it whenever you want.

5 Business English for Cross-cultural Communication by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Everyone who’s ever dealt with international business knows how important CCC (cross-cultural communication) is. This course is focused on common cross-cultural theories and how they are relevant to everyday business practices in a globalised world. You are going to learn some savoir-vivre tips along with strategies to overcome possible cross-cultural issues and misunderstandings in communication. I find this course great not only for teachers, but also students of Business English.

The course starts on the 4th of September and takes 6 weeks.

6 TOEFL® Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide by ETS

This course may turn out to be extremely useful not only for teachers, and not only in September. This course is highly interactive, using videos, sample questions with explanations, short quizzes and collaborative discussion boards, so anyone deciding to take this test will learn all they need to know. Moreover, this test preparation course is developed by the experts who create, administer and score the TOEFL® test. In addition, there will be free resources and discounted test prep offers throughout the course.

Here’s the best thing: the course is self-paced, which means you can take it or leave it whenever you want.

7 Understanding Classroom Interaction by University of Pennsylvania

This course is perfect for the beginning of school year. Have you ever wondered why some classroom discussions are lively and engaging and others more like painful interrogations? Why everybody (or nobody) laughs at a teacher’s jokes? You’ll learn the analytic tools to answer these and more questions about classroom communication. Sounds great and is probably my pick of the month!

The course starts on the 19th of September and takes 5 weeks.

I hope you’ll pick something useful for you – let me know which course you’ve decided to participate in!

 

7 lifesaving websites for EFL teacher

7 websites

I already made one list of my favourite websites months ago, but there are so many great things you find while websurfing that I’ll probably make more of such sets.

Also, it can be easily seen that I love making lists.

Being a DoS I happen to be a “victim” of non-English language teachers complaining that English teachers “have it easy”. Well, I have to admit that’s quite true… So let’s use some of the great sources we may find online – and here’s my present top seven:

1 Twinkl

I’ve already written about some features that are great for teaching English (Spring Poems – lesson plan and Twinkl Imagine), especially communication. But the site itself is far more than that and I encourage everyone to browse it a bit – I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking. I’d definitely use Twinkl for CLIL classes. Perfect source for home schooling as well.

2 Truetube

It’s one of the websites my fellow teacher showed me (thanks, Krzysiek!) and I find it a great source of topics perfect for teenagers and young adults: culturally relevant, sometimes taboo, sometimes controversial – great for discussion, and full of various authentic accents, awesome help for the students who love debating serious issues.

3 Elllo

When we’re talking about accents and listening, I have to admit Elllo is top of the tops. It’s an online library of thousands of free lessons with audio or video materials for all language levels. It’s a real treasure chest with each lesson having audioscript, grammar part and a quiz. You can use it in the classroom or encourage students to use the exercises at home.

4 Lyrics training

Students usually like learning a language by listening to music. This website provides you with literally everything: popular songs, fill-in-the-blank exercises on four levels (from beginner to expert) and it’s not only in English! Now the teachers of other languages may brighten their lessons with Rammstein or Despacito (oh, sweet Cthulhu).

5 Busy Teacher 

Warning: you may spend hours browsing through this website and finding more and more useful stuff: articles, posters, warm-ups, review materials and lesson plans galore! Seriously, with this site you’d be able to teach a proper 120-hour course without even a page from a coursebook. Awesome help from a busy teacher… to a lazy one.

6 Flo-Joe

If you’re stuck with Cambridge exams, or simply want to prepare your students for their FCE, CAE or CPE test – that’s the best source you’ll find on the Net. All the exams are clearly explained, and there’s a lot of exercises on skills development. There are also practice tests, and there’s never too many of those!

7 Film-English

I’ve used this website more than once, as it’s the perfect source of films and communicative exercises connected to various topics – friendship, growing up, life as it is… You can adapt those free lessons to various needs, age groups and language levels and have fun with all your students.

 

I hope you’ll like the websites I’ve shortlisted today – they’re really helpful for teachers who want to bring something new to the classroom… Or who are basically quite lazy (like yours truly).

Enjoy!

Role-Playing Teaching (Part 1:Why do we play games?)

 

Why do weplay games (3)

I guess I’ve mentioned more than once that I really love role-playing games and I can tell they’re pretty much like educational process – I’ve decided to write a series of short blog-notes about this phenomenon, explaining why games, especially RPGs, are so vital in my approach to teaching.

Some of you have probably heard about RPGs, but I need to clarify one important thing – I’m not going to talk about computer games (so-called cRPGs), I’m going to focus only on good, old pen-and-paper ones (yeah, like Dungeon & Dragons or Warhammer) as their construction and communicative aspect are the most important aspects.

Before I get to RPGs themselves I want to focus on the idea of a game – it can be easily observed that games are more and more popular in TEFL, and in teaching in general, they are enjoyed by students and teachers alike and I wonder: have you ever thought what is the reason of the enjoyment?

Well, before answering this question, the main problem is the game itself. Have you ever tried to define it? Ludwig von Wittgenstein tried (and died, oops), and came to conclusion that each explanation we’re able to construct only restricts the concept of the game – thanks, philosophers! Fortunately there were some academics who got inspired by Wittgenstein’s endeavours and tried to define it nonetheless.

In his book “Games People Play”, Eric Berne (who was a psychiatrist, but he also came up with an idea of transactional analysis, one of the most wicked ideas from a linguistic point of view) defined game as “an ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome. (…) Every game (…) is basically dishonest, and the outcome has a dramatic, as distinct from merely exciting, quality”. Marta Wołos in her study gives her own classification of the game, based on ludicity of a game, existence of rules, established and repeatable structure, an element of choice or chance and artificiality of the world of the game.

So we know that the game is a series of established and repeatable activities/transactions where the participants know the rules and try to use them (or cheat, but that’s still playing according to rules), where the world is artificial and there is always an element of chance or choice.

Now, to the main question: why do we play games? When we look at the cultural aspect, we can see how imitative children games teach archetypes and social roles without which society can’t exist. At least Jung said so.

But what about the adults? What about games we bring to our classrooms?

One might think playing games is a form of escapism (quite a common theory when we talk about video games), however there’s more to that. Eric Berne says games are helpful in relieving the tension caused by social pressure. The opportunity of playing games is also helpful for people who are shy or not keen on showing emotions in public. Johan Huizinga (probably the first person to look at the games from a scientific point of view) mentioned four aspects that make games enjoyable: direct competition between players (e.g. snakes&ladders), chance activities (like gambling), mimicry (acting out in role-plays) and pleasure of movement (most games for children).

Everyone enjoys either some form of competition, or a little bit of (safe!) gambling. People like showing emotions by acting out someone else. We all feel that playing a game is a way of relaxing from everyday life and its stress.

That’s why we play games – unconsciously looking for a way of learning by proxy, trying to introduce some fun into tedious classes. How many students have you met who claimed there were “too many” games in the classroom and they “didn’t feel they were learning”? It’s because they associate games with pastime, and not with educational process. Now, you and I know better, right?

Role-Playing Games are special snowflakes when it comes to playing games. They are amazing not only from the educational perspective, but also from psychological, linguistic and sociological point of view. I am going discuss RPGs in the next part of my short series.

If you want to read more on the topic:

Berne, Eric (1996): Games People Play, Ballantine Books

Wołos, Marta (2002): Koncepcja gry językowej Wittgensteina w świetle badań współczesnego językoznawstwa, Kraków: UNIVERSITAS

Huizinga, Johan (1938): Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-element in Culture (you can read it here)

Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1953): Philosophical Investigations (you can read it here)

 

5 free online courses in August

Tidal Rise

Aaaaand my summer break is over – I didn’t write literally a single word during the past fortnight. No, I wasn’t chilling out, I was doing a total makeover of my flat: painting walls, changing floors – I really love the results of my endeavours, especially that I have learnt something really valuable: doing physical work puts your mind at ease. Sure, you may revise your Maths while calculating the amount of paint you shall need for this particular wall, but I didn’t think about my work, teaching, CPD – and even though I’m slightly tired physically I do feel mentally rested.

Still, I’m not going to do similar makeover in this decade, thank you very much.

August is actually on, so this time I have only 5 online courses you may still catch up on and enjoy while the summer lasts.

1 Becoming a Confident Trainer by TAFE SA

If you’ve just started working with adult learners it’s a course for you: focusing on gaining confidence, and understanding an idea of a trainer as someone who presents concepts in a professional manner, is an effective communicator and has developed an awareness of the learning needs of their learner group.

The course started on the 7th of August and ends on the 5th of September.

2 Art & Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies For Your Classroom by the Museum of Modern Art

This is a very interesting course focusing on integrating art into classroom environment, ways that you can incorporate inquiry around a work of art into your classroom and types of resources that you can access to supplement your lesson development and planning. It may be a really nice idea if you have a IWB in your classroom and want to show something special.

The course started on the 7th of August and lasts 4 weeks.

3 Teaching Tips for Tricky English Grammar by University of California, Irvine

That is a really great course for fresh teachers – it literally shows you some problematic areas of grammar common for most learners, and it gives you ideas on how to explain grammar so that you avoid your students’ frustration. It’s on the intermediate level (so you may recommend it to your students as well) and the issues include e.g. nouns, quantifiers, articles, word formation and phrasal verbs.

The course started on the 7th of August and lasts 4 weeks. You need to be able to make videos of yourself demonstrating your teaching, using a webcam or phone.

4 K-12 Blended & Online Learning by University System of Georgia

If you’re interested in incorporating technology in your classroom and your work with young learners either in a public school or in a private language centre, you may be really interested in what this course has to offer. You will not only focus on technology, but also on specific content and even creating syllabus! Frankly speaking, this course would be my pick of the month.

The course started on the 7th of August and lasts 8 weeks – plenty of time to learn.

5 Teaching EFL/ESL Reading: A Task Based Approach by University of London, UCL Institute of Education

Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) is the most common method alternative to the old PPP – and in this course you will get familiar with this approach. TBLT uses communicative tasks as the key unit for creating language learning activities. You will explore how TBLT and teaching second language reading can be successfully integrated in practice through analysing task-based reading materials.

The course starts on the 14th of August and takes 6 weeks.

As you can see from my set, Coursera doesn’t seem to have summer break! If you’re still on holidays you can spend some time on learning – and if you do, let me know which course you’ve chosen.

Enjoy your learning and your summer break (if you’re lucky to have one)!