Assuming that you are a VERY busy teacher (I know that you teach all variety of classes, different age groups and in different environment), I want you to answer a short and simple question: «What do you want from your students?» Some of the answers may be «To attend my lectures» or «Do their homework» or «To have fun» («Bring me the money» is a second correct answer, not the first). As you are a good teacher, you obviously want your students to master the language. And that is indeed the reason why we teach. At this stage the second simple question pops up; it’s even shorter: «HOW can your students learn English?» Those who obtain CELTA will speak of approaches, PPP, TTT, STD (sorry, wrong acronym), etc. DELTA qualified instructors will shout about Chomsky’s universal grammar device, Ellis’ TBL, motivation, critical period hypothesis and God knows what else when young teachers will smile quietly and nod actively. However, all good teachers know that for significant progress students need a lot of practice. From experiments in the classroom you might know how easy (for students only) it is to practice in groups and on real (or almost real) tasks/problems. CELTA and DELTA qualified teachers are now happy as the last phrase is crucial for communicative approach and touches both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation; non-qualified teachers with less that 2-year experience just smile and nod.
Imagine that you normally teach 1 group twice a week 3 academic hours per time; quite typical isn’t it? Now next question comes: «How much time do your students communicate in the same group in English?» If you think of maximum possible here, communication time cannot accede 6 academic hours — the time students spend in the classroom. Be realistic and subtract TTT (teacher talking time)! With demonstration stage and independent work on top you will be lucky to get a couple of hours of lively communication from your students. The lack of communication slows down language acquisition dramatically, which means your efforts are lost in vain. At least you got the money for your contact hours. But what about satisfaction?
Why do your students have these poor communication opportunities? Well, among other factors (weak intrinsic motivation, a lot of work, big crush on you) two reasons are crucial: space and time. Physically, students don’t have a place where they could come and communicate in English (play, chat, make jokes) and they don’t have time in their schedules. Well, you don’t want to spend more time with your students either (after all these hours of preparation and marking), but do you think your students could work on their own, with your distance guidance only? Absolutely! All they need is a space for collaboration and an extrinsic motivator. Well, I assume, you can invest some time to make your teaching even better. And the solution for the «space/time» problem is INTERNET collaboration.
This is what I unexpectedly received from one of my students three months after the group was closed:
«Hi Zhenja! Thank you for involving me in this network of fun, joy and english! Homework you were giving to us helps me to study english without any pressure, talking to a lot of nice ppl and posting in forums and walls! 😛 thanks»
Do you want to make your teaching up-to date? Do you want your students to work on their own developing language skills? Do you you want to have fun and respect? GO ONLINE!
If by this time you feel enthusiastic enough to have a look on some Web Tools click on this link: For Teachers.