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I’m currently wading through the beginning of the Most Chaotic Year I Have Ever Taught ™ and am, to be frank, struggling with it all.

The reasons for this range from simply having pretty large groups of between 16 and 22 students (although I am aware that this is considered as small in some countries – seriously don’t know how YOU cope!!), to having ever changing registers to keep up-to-date (even if they don’t match the bodies sitting before you in the class), from continuous enrolment on a exam-result-for-funding-based course to being given ever more to do by senior management. I honestly haven’t enjoyed the day-to-day of what I do like this…ever!

And although I’m toying with the prospect of doing other things (hello, Photography) and moving sideways in the language teaching world (if something comes up), I’m trying to get on with things. And here are a few things that I’m trying to do to help push my students to improve their language and other skills.

  • For the first time ever, I’m doing dictations – a LOT – and I plan to continue doing this. The students in my two main groups seem to really like them (or, at least, they haven’t complained yet!), and it’s interesting to think of different texts to use for dictation. I’ve taken some from activities in books like 52, but also stuff like Ryokan poetry, intros to a how to of making the perfect cup of tea, and so on. I’m actually enjoying doing them myself. TOP TIPS SO FAR: training up students so that they know how many times they will hear the text read out loud (at the mo I’m doing 2 slower than normal readings, followed by a final reading to fill in any gaps), making sure they write on alternate lines for easier correction when they hear/see the original. Keeping the texts short – 3 to 4 lines as a base rule.
  • I’ve planned (in my head at least) to introduce and get my students using a number of different apps to support them in their reading, ranging from speed-reading-training stuff like Spreeder and Eyercize (hat tips to Sandy Millin and Adam Simpson for pointing these two out) to apps for collection and curation of reading material (including some that have rather nifty accessibility features built into them). As well as getting them just to read as much as possible – graded readers and mags from the library, anything they’d read in their own languages they should try and read in English. I’m hoping to start with paper reading diaries next week or the beginning of November. (NOTE – this is actually the topic of a talk I’ve proposed for the IATEFL conference in Harrogate next April, so if it’s picked you may see me there, and there will probably be a reading app blog post here sometime as well).
  • I want to try out something with extensive writing, as much as for myself as for my students. I don’t blog here as much as I used to, lacking a bit of inspiration somewhat. I’ve been playing around with a neat journaling app called Momento, to see how good it is and how it can help me note down the minutiae of day to day stuff and maybe see if it would be a good thing to recommend to students – the idea being that it would be something short that they could tap into their phones everyday.

That’s not including association work that’s going on, projects I’m trying to restart, or writing work that’s going on for British Council.

So how about YOUR last two months?? Would love to hear about it, so if you’d like to share, pop a comment below.