Adopting a fresh approach to searching for OER materials for EFL teachers, I’ve found two interesting sources. The first is MERLOTII which offers a broad spectrum of resources on a variety of disciplines. Going through the side-bar menu, I’ve accessed the section entitled language (under the English studies tag). One of the most interesting entries I’ve found is on writing and grammar: this resource can be very useful for teachers of academic English as it provides a step-by-step demonstration of the main elements of academic writing. For example, there is a whole section on essay writing exercises and how to formulate a thesis statement. Another is on brainstorming techniques like free-writing and clustering. While the exercises included are interactive and very comprehensive, they can be best used for independent learning rather than classroom instruction. There are no sufficient activities that teachers can use for pair work or peer assessment, for example. A teacher, however, can use the material available to design his/her own activities which suit students’ needs and level. By contrast, another very useful open education resource I’ve found is not specifically dedicated to teaching, yet it offers very insightful tips and lesson plans which any EFL teacher can use, regardless of the age and level of students. This amazing resource, which I comfortably consider an educational one, is actually a blog written by a former CELTA trainee and a current EFL teacher named Clive Elsmore. Ironically, I came across this blog while searching for information about the CELTA program (Certificate in Teaching English Language to Adults) which is endorsed by Cambridge University. While exploring the blog, I found the logo of Creative Commons License at the bottom of the page. The wonderful thing about the CELTA section in the blog is the way Clive gives a detailed account of the teaching techniques he learnt on the course and supplements his narration with lesson plans and materials used in his teaching practice. For example, the video below was created and used by Clive himself as a warmer for a vocabulary lesson on air travel, which I consider very inspiring. Based on my understanding of Creative Commons License, I’ve tried to embed the video itself in my blog, but I got an error message. So, I’ve re-blogged the entire post below to illustrate my point. I only include here a copy of the lesson’s “freer practice” questions:
While I do not personally teach upper-intermediate level students, I found the idea of using videos as warmers in an EFL lesson very useful and engaging. Instead of telling students directly what you’ll be teaching them in today’s lesson, allowing them to watch a video on the topic will arouse their interest and curiosity. Other very helpful resources that Clive includes are lesson plan templates that CELTA trainees fill out for their teaching practice. He also gives important tips that help create a productive and a friendly learning environment for EFL students. For example, one of the basics he has learnt on the course is that a teacher (any teacher) should never ask students: do you understand? This question, when you think more about it, may underestimate your learners’ abilities and make them feel uncomfortable. Instead, you can use Concept Check Questions (which Clive gives some examples of) to check students’ understanding implicitly without reinforcing the instructor-student hierarchy that “do you understand me” implies. Reading the blog, I’ve finally made up my mind to join the course next summer. I have reached the conclusion that my classes will never be the same after having such a productive learning experience that Clive has had. As an EFL teacher and researcher, all I can say is: Thank you Clive!
PS: I shared all the materials on this blog at: http://padlet.com/wall/CCCEFLmaterials