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Teaching Tips 88

Eye to Eye
The Magic Wand

Eye to eye
Eye to Eye

A few weeks ago we looked at sensory systems that we see the world through in the Tip Influential English:

Another aspect of this is eye movement. We can usually tell which system someone is using when they visualise. Ask a friend to think about a pleasant past experience & watch their eyes. Here is what their eye movements might tell you:

  • If they are remembering a scene, they are probably looking up to their left & if they are imagining a scene then they are probably looking up to the right.
  • If they are looking up, they might be remembering a smell.
  • If they are looking ahead into the middle distance, they are probably using more than one of the systems.
  • If they are looking to the right, they may be imagining sounds, & to the left they might be remembering sounds.
  • If they are looking down to the right they are feeling something through the body about the scene, & down to the left, they might be remembering an associated emotion.
  • And lastly. if they are looking down, they may be remembering a taste.

Here are the movements in pictorial form, as seen from looking at the person:

Visual imagining
Smell remembering
Visual remembering
Visual imagining
Smell remembering
Visual remembering
Auditory imagining
Auditory remembering
Auditory imagining
Kinesthetic - body sensation
Internal remembering - emotion
Kinesthetic - body
Taste remembering
remembering -

This is a model & it does not necessarily correlate like this every time, but they are strong tendencies. If there is a lot of eye movement, it is the last movement that gives the clue.

Being able to identify tendencies like this help us identify the systems that the person veers towards, making it easier to reach them. This is all part of effective communication & very useful to pass on to our students.

In pairs students tell each other about past experiences & the listener observes the eye movements, making notes. After the pairs discuss the findings. You could set different tasks that ask the students to access the different systems - think back to a favourite song, a favourite food, one of the rooms in your house etc...

Try it out & see what your students think.  

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We haven't had many Tips for teachers of children so this week here are some ideas to make to classroom & learning English special for the very younger learners.

Wouldn't it be great to take a magic wand into class & magically sort out problems & make it all easy. Some of our adult students come to class expecting the teacher to have a magic wand that takes the hard work of the learning process. Some language schools wave their magic marketing wand around in the hope of attracting customers. Some of the recent computer-based methods in language chains wave their wands to show that they can accelerate learning & make it all easy & stress free.

For the younger learner, learning another language can be totally alien to their experience & this gives us a chance to encourage it as something very special, something magical. One way of making it magical for three to seven year olds is to really use magic wands.

First they make a wand each with card, roll up some card for the stick part & then staple the stars on the top & then colour it. Some personal information can be written on the stars - My name is.., I'm...years old.etc. Here are a few ideas:

1. When you are using pictures & eliciting, the students use their wands to point to the picture you want.

2. Point to something 'yellow', 'big', 'square' in the class.

3. When they are holding their wands they only speak English.

4. For TPR, they use the wand to point to each other & then give that child instructions  'Jaime, stand up & walk to the door.'

5. Invent a spell which all chant at the beginning & end of the lesson.

6. Put a 'spell' on the class at the beginning of the course, as a way of dealing with the classroom rules.

7. When you are drilling they can wave it to highlight the rhythm. The students copy your movements & hopefully they take on the rhythm.

8. The students hold them when doing mini-dialogues in front of the class.

9. Peer control with speaking their native language. They point at each other & ask the student or teacher to translate it. Works well.

10. If a child is feeling unwell & would be better sitting out of the activity, the teacher waves the wand & 'spells' them out of the activity. Or alternatively, makes them feel better! In general, the wand can be used for general classroom management.

The magic wand is another tool, a lovely idea to help motivate & make it all feel special.

Any more ideas on any of the above, please post for all to use at:

John Lennon Plan
It's the anniversary of John Lennon's birth on 9th October & there's a plan to use at:

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World Teachers' Day 05

A rather more depressing than usual excerpt from a newspaper article last Monday:

Gunmen kill schoolteachers in Iraq

Gunmen today killed five Shia primary school teachers and a driver in a school in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad, a police spokesman said.

"These men were terrorists in police uniform," the spokesman told Reuters. He said the gunmen arrived at the school in two civilian cars, led the teachers and the school driver to a part of the school where no children were present, and shot them.

Guardian Online 26.9.05,,1578634,00.html

So among the many atrocities being committed in Iraq, it seems that school teachers are now being targeted. Nothing new really amongst past conflicts.

And to reinforce appreciation of teachers, World Teachers' Day is celebrated on 5th October. From the Education International World Teachers' Day site:

On 5 October, teachers’ organisations worldwide mobilise to ensure that the needs of future generations are taken into consideration in this increasingly complex, multicultural and technological world.

UNESCO inaugurated 5 October as World Teachers’ Day in 1994......

According to UNESCO, World Teachers' Day represents a significant token of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development. Education International strongly believes that this Teachers' Day should be internationally recognized and celebrated around the world.

There is an informative leaflet that can be downloaded at:

A few ideas on the Day in class:

For adults:
1. A way in to the theme of World Teachers' Day could be through the text excerpt from the Guardian above. You could use this as in a dictogloss activity - see the Tip 'High Speed Dictations, a straight traditional dictation or a running dictation
2. Discussion - have the students heard of this happening elsewhere? Why do they think primary school teachers have been targeted?
3. Attitudes to & the status of teachers in society - handout/put on the board/OHT the following:


1. What were your favourite subjects at school?
2. Do you remember a particularly good teacher from your schooldays?
3. Why was the teacher good at her/his job?
4. Do you consider teaching an important profession?
5. How much are teachers paid in your country?
6. Do you think this is enough?
7. Should there be a difference in pay between the type of classes being taught eg. primary v university?
8. What is the status of teachers in your country?

Students discuss in pairs >> general class discussion.
4. Introduce the idea of World Teachers' Day & handout a leaflet to read - one per pair.
5. Class discussion - impressions & thoughts - a necessary Day or not? Any ideas on celebrating the Day?

For the younger adolescent group just focus on the students' experiences, discussing attributes of the 'good' teachers they have had & turn it towards how the teachers helped them to develop their study skills & learner independence.

Another aspect of teaching came up while I was reading an article about the group Franz Ferdinand in the Guardian Online. Here's Alex Kapranos talking:

"When I first started in a band, I wasn't very good; I was thinking too much about being on stage rather than just being on stage. It's completely primal. Intuitive. Instinctive. You don't consider your moves, you just do them. There are very few things in life when you're just doing that thing and not thinking about anything else. Performing is one of them.",11710,1581968,00.html

I wouldn't call teaching 'performing' but an aspect of this comes up in another recent article by Luke Meddings, The Tao of Tefl, again in the Guardian Online. Here's an excerpt from later on in the article:

The first principle of the path is therefore to let go. By letting go one reaches a state of acceptance: instead of teaching from a point where everything is finished (the road-map lesson plan, with its start and finish points, its objectives and conclusions), and where anything which does not meet these expectations represents a kind of disruption, you are teaching from a point where nothing is started, and where anything which happens is a development.,

Do check out Luke's article as there is a lot more to it.

There are clearly differences between the two articles but the basic idea of accepting the situation, reacting to what comes up & less concern for the self & more focus on the people in front of you is what learner-based teaching is about. 

Unless we programme our lessons, we are constantly reacting to what crops up. To foster this, task-based activities allow us to 'micro-teach'. This is the teaching to pairs, small groups, individuals - whatever the configuration, while the activity is going on. The teacher gets around,  monitoring & teaches when necessary in order for the students to get the most from the activity. You perceive a need & try to fill it on the spot in a low-key way without disturbing the others in the class. The students involved also see the relevance & put the new language into practice immediately. Micro-teaching is less predictable, adds variety to the lessons, can be incorporated at all levels & in all kind of classes & ultimately can be a more rewarding way of teaching that incorporates the 'letting go'.

To get back to where we began, October 5th is World Teachers' Day so spare a thought on the day for those teachers who teach in more difficult situations than you, for those who actually risk their lives as a result of their profession, & especially for the five teachers & the driver killed in Iraq

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