Ask us a Question!

Is there a question you'd like to ask us on language or methodology? Or a topic that you'd like us to cover in depth? Let us know by clicking on the Comments option below, and help us make the site more relevant to your needs.


Anonymous said...

I really like your blog and I find it extremely useful. I would like you to deal with two topics: Planning lessons and how to deal with naighty and unmotivated teenagers.
Thanks for everything

Sue Swift said...

Thank you for your comment, Sabrina. Some articles on lesson planning were already being developed, and I'll now bring them to the top of the list. We'll also look at the question of motivating teenagers before long, but in the meantime,you might like to check out this article, which has some good advice :

Vito said...

Hi Sue and thanks for running this blg. I would like to ask you to write about EFL and teenagers with learning disabilities. I am teaching EFL in a middle school in northern Italy and I happen to a have a significant numbers of kids with all sorts of learning disabilites. Thanks a lot! Have a great 2007!

Sue Swift said...

Hi Vito,

Happy New Year and thanks for dropping in to the Notebook.

Your suggestion is a very good one. As teachers we are bound to come across students with learning disabilities, but it's something which (to my knowledge) is completely ignored by most TEFL courses, which leaves us completely unprepared.

I'm working on it, so keep checking back!


Anonymous said...

I would like to ask for suggestions on how to teach the polite request "Would you mind if I smoked?" to a group of adult intermediate students. I have decided to teach it as a whole sentence rather than break it down into individual words. I know that the students understand 'to smoke'. What would the stages of my lesson be?
Thanks for your help.

Sue Swift said...

Hi Anonymous,
I've just put up two articles on Teaching Polite Requests - and checking back I see they don't answer your question at all. I was writing about teaching requests for action while you wanted to know about requests for permission. I'm sorry - that will teach me to read my comments more carefully :(
Some points :
- Firstly, I wouldn't teach "Would you mind if I smoked?" as a set phrase. I'd wait until my students understood the use of second form verbs to express hypothetical events and teach it then. Before then, I'd stick with Do you mind if I smoke? which is equally appropriate and which the students can fully understand.
- Given that, whichever form you teach, the points I made in my article on polite requests for action remain valid. There may be a need for a pre-sequence and other "face-saving" devices in any eventual refusal. The teaching sequence I would use would be much the same as the one outlined in the article - a "deep-end" approach presentation based around roleplay situations, followed by isolated practice and then integrated practice. All that would change would be the situations - they would obviously be situations where the students wanted to do something rather than wanting someone else to do it for them. This can often be cued very simply :

You're hot (Do you mind if I open the window /take my jacket off?)
You're thirsty (Do you mind if I get a glass of water?)
Your mobile needs recharging (Do you mind if I make a phone call? /recharge my mobile?)
You want to leave a meeting early (Do you mind if I leave the meeting early?)
and so on.

I hope that, combined with the ideas in the articles, that helps.

Anonymous said...

Hello... first of all I want to say that I really like this blog, I find it really useful and full of very good activities.
I don't have the ELT yet. But this year I'm going to start the course to have it, so, I want you to help me or give me some advice. This is the website of the place I'm studying:
They'll give me the ELT Lower Certicate after finishing the course. But I want to know first why I should have it and the International validity of it.
I hope you can help me.

Sue Swift said...

Thank you for your comment - I'm glad you like the site!

I've had a look at the site you mention, but I'm afraid it didn't give me enough information to really evaluate the course. I've never heard of the organisation, but that's not necessarily negative. Sometimes an organisation can have a very good reputation for quality, but be well-known in a limited area only - and I'm afraid I have no knowledge of Argentina. Perhaps some of the other Argentinian readers of the blog might like to comment?

However, it would be important if you wanted to come and work in Europe,Asia or wherever. For just as I've never heard of the organisation, nor have I ever heard of their qualification. And their website gives no details. How many hours is the course? What is the syllabus? Does it qualify you to teach children? Adults? Teens? English for Business - or what? Who are the teachers - what qualifications and experience do they have? How much observed teaching practice is involved? What is the final level of skill aimed for and how is this assessed? Is their a written exam? A practical teaching exam? What's the grading system for the results and what's the percentage of holders for each grade? And is the course externally moderated to guarantee standards?

As an employer, these are the questions I would need to have answered before I knew whether the qualification was likely to be valid or not. And it worries me that none of this information is available on their website (as far as I can see).

If, on the other hand, you came to me with an internationally recognised qualification such as the CELTA, I wouldn't need to ask those questions because I already know the answers - wherever the CELTA course is held, the answers are the same. For the course you're considering, the answers may be perfectly acceptable - but you should find out before you enrol for the course.

By pure chance, the article posted today is on choosing a TEFL course, and you may find it useful. It's listed under the category Career Development. It mentions CELTA, but you can find out more by clicking on the link to the University of Cambridge in the sidebar.

I hope that helps.

Simon Coe said...

Hi Sue,

I read with interest your blog on teaching listening skills. I am doing some reading up on bottom up processing, but am having a hard time on finding activities that help to practise this. Do you have any ideas?

Thank you

Sue Swift said...

Hi Simon,
I've got a half finished article on my computer which deals with this - or rather how bottom-up oriented activities ( I do wish they'd find another name for it!) can be integrated within a top down approach. I'll get on with it and post it within the next couple of days.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know which of these sentences is correct.
1. There are one man and one woman sitting on the bench.
2. There is one man and one woman sitting on the bench.

Sue Swift said...

The sentence would definitely be There is but would probably continue with "a" rather than "one" :

There's a man and a woman sitting on the bench.

If you look in the "Complete List of Contents" (see the sidebar) under the heading "Understanding and Teaching Structure and Function" you'll see that the last article in the list is called "There is and there are". You'll find a full answer to your question there.

Anonymous said...

I am a newcomer here. i wonder if you have resources for EMP. This is very 'keren' site. Ta


Anonymous said...


I have an assignment about community language learning. Is it a method or an approach? If it is an approach or method, why?

I hope you can help me, thanks...