I’ve been doing lots of work with EnglishCentral – helping them develop strong teacher tools and support. Slow but sure! (and if you have used EnglishCentral as a teacher – fill out our survey and get an incredible coursebook for your few minutes of time!)
Here, I outline some tips for using EnglishCentral as a teacher. These tips though, could pertain to using any website for teaching English (that has an LMS – learning management system). Here they are in brief;
1. Blend the curriculum.
Books are great and have their own strengths for teaching English. However, technology offers its own advantages. Why not mix the two? Look at your book’s syllabus and units. Figure out what the key topics and grammar are and then look at the website and choose what content would support and extend those objectives. For EnglishCentral it is easy – we have handy topic categories and leveled videos that allow teachers to assign videos to their class.
2. Make it Official
I pound the pulpit often about this. So often, I’ve got emails from teachers lamenting the fact that they were so excited about using a webtool and spending a lot of their own time (and dime) building stuff for students. Then, hardly any students use it! What a let down. Don’t go this route if you can avoid it. Contact and work with your admin, curriculum staff, lead teachers and insist that the technology side of things is official and part of the total course mark. You’ll see a dramatic turn around in student use!
3. Set Goals, Set Deadlines.
This is an appendum to the above. Students should have goals to reach and deadlines to meet. That’s life and a little discipline will help most students with their English study. It can be as simple as “watch 4 videos each week”. In fact, keep the goals simple and communicate them with a rubric if possible. Even better, set the goals as a “team” and negotiate them with students. You’ll have a better response.
4. Use Website Support Materials.
In the case of EnglishCentral, we have our own growing library of books that support the website curriculum. Most comprehensive learning websites do and they are usually well designed and invaluable for teachers. Also, quite often FREE. They give you more for your buck and enrich your course. Also, great for summer / winter camps or extra courses – where you have more flexibility with the curriculum.
There you go – a few tips. I’m sure others have more. Please comment and add yours!