How I teach without books

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For several years I taught English traditionally, from international coursebooks, although I often added my own, more fun, activities which would make the students speak.  But the longer I taught this way, the more intensely I felt that the students were moving forward too slowly or not at all.  Then I went on maternity leave and could create some distance from my work and things became clear: I don´t want to teach from books anymore. In today´s world, where almost everyone has internet access, they are simply not needed.

I believe in natural, organic approach to language acquisition

I have always improved in a foreign language especially when I had the opportunity to function in the language . Grammar rules are important but practising them in textbooks only will never teach you to use the language, or it will take insanely long time.  And let’s face it: it’s boring! As one colleague of mine, Jason West, author of English Out There materials, says, “We all learnt our first languages socially…from interaction, trial and error, negotiated meanings, from our parents. The reason we find it hard to do the same with our second language is because we are put into schools that teach us language academically.”

 

My local courses are a little patch for those who did not have the same opportunity as me to live abroad for longer periods of time. Apart from being in touch virtually 24/7 (via Skype, email and Facebook) we meet in person once a week, in a small group of 5-6 students and we cook, shop, sing, work with video – all that with native speakers. The students also have several lessons with me, we discuss effective learning techniques, Internet resources, time management and finding conversation partners for their speaking practice outside of our group lessons. I also guide each of the students individually. I coach them to set their personal short-term and long-term language goals and motivate them to learn. And I organize informal meetings for everyone – EnglishBrno Pub Nights. They are public and free, anyone can show up and practise their English.

Today´s options for a foreign language learner are fascinating

And that is also why my teaching is connected with different activities on the Internet, such as communication in a virtual learning environment created specifically for this course or practicing listening and pronunciation at the excellent site EnglishCentral.com. Once a month we have a “study group” where students consult difficult grammar which they encounter during self-study time with English Out There.  The students work more intensively, are in constant contact with spoken English, they are excited about the lessons and they make incredible progress after the 15 weeks of the course – listen to their before and after recordings.

 

Teacher´s and student´s role perceived differently

I like to think of myself more as a language “guide”, “motivator”, “instructor” and a “facilitator” of speaking opportunities. Although I lead the study group, I am not an omniscient teacher without whom a student can not even blow. I guide the students towards independence. They automatically accept the responsibility for their progress and are weary of traditional approach to education. They understand language is a means to communicate with the rest of the world, they are open to other cultures and opinions, they are communicative and cheerful, they want to know how to talk about life, understand movies, read books. Not artificially written articles in textbooks, which some had to read aloud (in language schools), like kids in elementary school.

Instead I make learning videos, I have been running a Facebook page “English Without Books” for two years now and, as every true enthusiast in the field, I write a blog for students and teachers. And I record the students at the beginning and the end of the course. So the student has a better idea what she´s getting into.

If you´re interested to know which courses/workshops I am organizing in the near future, go to the section Group courses. To get in touch with me, please, find my contact details in the section About me / Contact. Looking forward to hearing from you,

Nina