Training Topics

To make sure you receive a responsive course we would like to give you the option to choose the topics that are of most interest to you. We like to deliver sessions in an interactive and inclusive way, far removed from lecture-format. Although we explore theories, our courses unashamedly focus on the interface between theory and practice, so that everything presented and discovered can be utilised and experimented with by the teachers immediately.

Here is the menu of topics our in-service training topics are built from. Click on the topic you would like to learn more about. If you are interested in having a tailored teacher training course, complete the Course Design Questionnaire.

Although schools face similar challenges, each is unique in its own way. Your course needs to be relevant to your teaching context so we must consider your students’ learning environment, your teachers’ teaching context (including their skills, motivations and interests), and lastly your school objectives.

Below is a list of all the topics on offer. Those topics will be translated into sessions, but one topic won’t necessarily equate to one session. It will depend on the importance you assign to each topic. For short and intensive courses one topic may equate to as many as three sessions.

Professional Development Practices

Continuous professional development (CPD)

CPD is something that we all should be doing, probably are doing and may not know that we are doing! Developing as a teacher starts with you and your colleagues. We explore this vital area which underpins the success of any course, in-house workshop, or any other CPD activity.

How to observe effectively

Observing other teachers in the classroom is a vital step in a teacher’s development. For many, the word ‘observation’ may have negative connotations, but with a fresh outlook, and if they are managed in a certain way, they can be experienced as a positive contribution to your development – one that you will find very, and often surprisingly, rewarding. We show you how.

The art of feedback

This session is related to ‘How to observe effectively’. We need to be able to give constructive feedback. Feedback starts with self-evaluation, where the teacher reflects and the lesson observer listens. This session also considers recording feedback, how to identify development needs and strengths and most importantly the language of feedback.

Live classroom observations

Observe our language teachers at the Lewis School of English from the back of the room, while they deliver a General English and/or exam courses to adult learners (17+). You will be provided with an observation form which will encourage you to observe approaches, methods, techniques and procedures relating to the skills explored on your course.

Micro-teaching

A proven and rewarding process. A brief 3-minute opportunity to teach your peers and your trainers something (not English). It will be a chance to use some of the techniques and ideas introduced during the course. It is also a great chance to practise observation and feedback processes.

What the CertTESOL can do for you!

During this session we introduce you to an internationally recognised qualification for English language teachers. We show you how this qualification can equip you with the most up-to-date practices in English language teaching, and how it can therefore aid your development.

Linguistics and Language Development

Learn a language!

Have a taste of what your students are experiencing! This is a chance to learn a ‘mystery language’ new to you. It gives you the opportunity to observe and comment on a language teacher in action. You’ll take away a variety of modern methods and techniques, and reconnect with the feeling of learning a new language. An insightful session.

The good learner

We are often able to identify the good learners in our classroom and pick out those students who are struggling. However, what makes a good learner? And are we good learners? This session will focus on the traits of a good learner and encourage us to think about how we can both model these traits and advise our students on how to become better learners.

Language acquisition theories

How do we acquire language? Is language acquisition innate or do we learn it? We will have an opportunity to reflect on first language acquisition and compare and contrast it to second language acquisition. All of this has implications on a number of methods in the classroom.

Teaching the brain to learn

A fun introduction to the basic anatomy of the brain and learning. In this fascinating session you will discover the link between a crocodile, a rabbit and a ball of newspaper and its relevance to the learning process. We will look at a variety of learning theories and consider their application to the classroom, as well as to individual learners. We will also discuss classroom techniques that support learning.

Exploring grammar

We explore different approaches to helping learners understand grammar, and interesting and memorable ways of presenting it in class.

IPA and pronunciation

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a wonderful tool for helping learners to correct their pronunciation. The English language spelling system is quirky. The IPA helps overcome the mismatch between spelling and pronunciation.

English for teachers

We all need to keep our English fresh and contemporary. This session gives you an opportunity to focus on the areas of concern as speakers and/or teachers of English. It also gives you a chance to revitalise your English lexis and ensure that you are not teaching old-fashioned language! Pronunciation often arises as a key area; however, the language focus for this session will be your choice.

Developing reading and writing skills

Here we look at identifying and breaking down the skills required for students to improve in these areas, whether for academic, business, or basic functional purposes.

Signposting specific learning difficulties (SLD)

Raising awareness and understanding of the impact of SLD in the classroom. How can you spot the learner with processing problems? Or the student with dyslexia? What do we do when we think there may be an issue with learning? Who do we involve?

Approaches, methods and techniques

Presenting new language

We will demonstrate several different ways of teaching new language to learners. These methods will clearly contextualise the language and ensure that learners have understood the concept behind the language through fun and exploratory activities. Hint: starting with language rule explanations is not necessarily the best way.

Teaching function versus structure

An opportunity to look at how the same structure can have different meanings and functions. Think of the modal verb ‘can’ – does can in ‘I can play the piano’ have the same function as ‘You can smoke in this room’? Can we teach learners useful expressions without them knowing the grammar?

The student-centred teaching philosophy

We consider the increasingly popular movement towards student-centred learning, drawing on the works of Carl Rogers, John Dewey, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. This illuminating introduction to learner-centred teaching challenges us to explore our own values and beliefs underpinning our teaching, and provides a compass by which to guide the decisions we make in the classroom and the behaviour we employ. Psychology lovers, take heed!

The thinking classroom: student-centred

Encouraging the students to think and process, while making language learning active and fun is possible! With this popular topic we explore teaching techniques that will foster a more student-centred environment. This session often revitalises a teacher’s passion in what they do.

Student-centred teaching techniques – an introduction

How can we apply a more student-centred approach in the classroom? How can we translate this seemingly idealistic notion into practical teaching with realistic objectives? Where do we start? One way is to explore a particular selection of techniques that can form the basis of this approach. We look at ‘popping’, echoing, eliciting, concept-checking, gaining consensus, and other essential techniques that we claim provide a gateway into student-centred teaching. Topics 21-23 look at these techniques and related areas more comprehensively.

Teacher Talk Time (TTT)

‘Less teacher equals more student’. We consider how true this statement is by firstly defining the features of teacher talk time (TTT). The session will explore ways of managing both the quantity and quality of TTT during a lesson. You will be introduced to the powerful ‘PoP’ technique, as well as eliciting and echoing. We also consider realistic challenges teachers face while integrating such a technique e.g. student engagement and motivation.

Concept-checking & gaining consensus

Classroom management is about a lot more than minimising bad behaviour – it’s about creating an environment that is conducive to learning effectively. Concept-checking and gaining consensus are two essential tools that enable such an environment, encouraging students to learn in a procedural manner that considers ways in which the mind works. We’ll be looking at what they are, and where and when we should use them, as well as the all-important why.

Classroom layout and dynamics

Have you ever wondered why an activity hasn’t worked? Or a why lesson has been uninspiring? Could it be the way your classroom is being used? We will be introducing you to our very own ‘Chameleon Approach’, which will examine movement, dynamics and focus, in order to reignite your classroom and inspire your teaching!

Teaching large class numbers (25 or more)

This session is for teachers dealing with 25 students (or more) in one class. We explore lesson structures, activities, and classroom management techniques that will better engage students and create a more effective and collaborative class. We also consider some ‘do not try’ scenarios.

Teaching mixed language levels

…within the same class. A harsh reality for many teachers! We explore ways of differentiating learning within the classroom, considering learning styles and individual language development pathways. We also look at how homework can be tailored to each student (if applicable).

Minimising and exploiting L1 in the classroom

The aim here is to apply classroom management techniques in order to minimise and control the use of L1 in a way that motivates learners. We will be looking at when to minimise it and how to do this effectively, as well as looking at when and how it could be used to our advantage as teachers.

Error correction

What to correct? When to correct? How to correct? Who does the correcting? Should we correct? This session is an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of this important topic. During the session you will be experimenting with a variety of error-correction techniques, including finger-correction, board focus, and using the IPA.

Teaching lexis and recording vocabulary

More than just words. What does the learner need to know about a word or expression? How can they store and retrieve the information? How do we make lexis memorable? The focus of this session is on helping learners who are encountering unknown lexis, by focusing on techniques such as identifying key words and deducing meaning from context.

Fun with pronunciation

Games and activities to develop pronunciation skills. This session will raise your awareness of the many aspects of pronunciation which we need to consider in our teaching. We will explore different ways of making pronunciation work accessible and fun.

Integrating listening, speaking and phonology

This session focuses on decoding and filtering strategies for listening tasks as well as looking at aspects of phonology which, once recognised, can be applied in speaking practice.

Post-method era

We will take you on a journey through the main approaches and methods used in ELT, considering our understanding of them and their practical application in the classroom. We will then explore whether there is still a place for methodologies in the 21st century classroom.

Learning by doing (theory and practice)

Why is this an area of growing importance? What is it replacing? How can it be applied to different contexts? Why should it be considered? How can we find out if this approach works? We will discuss these questions as well as glean answers to them through live demonstrations where these principles are put into action.

Academic English and skills

In order to help our students prepare for university in an English speaking country, this session focuses on the academic skill and language required.

Applying the Communicative Approach

The Communicative Approach has been part of the English language world for many decades. In this session we will briefly look at the history of the Communicative Approach and how it impacts on teaching today. We will try out a variety of activities and identify the features of the approach that aid learners’ language development.

Storytelling

In this session we look at how storytelling can be an effective way to introduce language, can engage learners and can stimulate language production.

Drama in the classroom

Inspired by our very own Theatre Express, this session will show you some of the creative and dynamic drama activities which can be used both to build your students’ confidence and to improve their English.

Aiding Students with Autonomous Learning

The focus here is on introducing a range of study skills and techniques to encourage independent learning outside the classroom.

Materials and resources for teaching

Humanising course books

A popular topic. We provide you with an opportunity to participate in activities which we have ‘lifted off the page of a course book’. We then challenge you and your peers to humanise the course book you use. This session ultimately aims to assist you in managing the course book and finding ways to use the material they contain more responsively. Humanising course books goes a long way towards engaging students more.

Writing your own materials

Often the course book just isn’t enough. This session encourages us to think about creating our own activities and materials to suit our students’ personal development needs. Let your creative thoughts flow.

Exploiting and adapting materials

Not everything that is online or published is necessarily suitable or appropriate for our students. We need to evaluate and develop the material to suit our teaching aims and students’ needs. This is a hands-on, creative session where we explore options for making materials work for our students.

Using and adapting authentic materials

Authentic materials include texts (e.g. magazines and brochures), videos, television programmes, and any other sources of language that have not been adapted in any way. They are naturally created, so to speak, for ‘real’ world consumption. We explore ways in which we can utilise these materials to engage students and help prepare them for this ‘real’ world of communication.

Being creative with Cuisenaire rods

Are you creative? Can you imagine using a box of colourful wooden rods to teach anything from storytelling to grammar and from pronunciation to literacy skills? Intrigued? Then sign up for this session!

Using songs in the classroom

One of the big problems we all face, whether teaching English to children or adults, is maintaining learners’ interest throughout our lessons. Many consider songs to be one of the most motivating resources for the classroom, regardless of the age or background of the learners. Songs can develop the four skills, can help automatize the language development process; and are often excellent examples of colloquial English in action, so clear your throats in preparation for this session!

The online teaching toolkit

It is difficult to keep up with the amount of online material available and it is difficult to find suitable free materials or sites. We are fortunate to have a resident expert on teaching using the Internet who will share his secrets with you – you will be the envy of your colleagues!

Web-based projects for language production

You will have an opportunity in this session to look at fun and easy ways of getting students to use the web for language production in the classroom.

CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning)

Classroom language & adapting the classroom for CLIL

Here we discuss the importance of functional phrases which enable natural dialogue in the classroom. We also look at how to make physical changes to the classroom to create an effective CLIL environment.

Applying the components of CLIL

Here we explore how to integrate the components of CLIL – content, communication, culture and cognition. This will then provide a framework for the rest of the course.

Impact of CLIL on teaching & learning styles

This session focuses on raising awareness of, and identifying complementary styles for, the CLIL classroom.

Developing & exploiting materials for CLIL

You will receive practical advice on how to adapt existing materials, including those you have brought to the course, to provide optimal learning opportunities.

IT: online CLIL projects

In this session, you will receive a ‘virtual tour’ of a range of web applications, such as Animoto and Glogster, which can be applied in cross-curricular contexts.

Academic English

Bringing academic English to life

Here the focus is on manipulating language to encourage the use of functional academic expressions in speaking and written work.

Academic reading skills

This will involve experiencing a range of task types and reading strategies that could be featured in a CLIL lesson.

Academic speaking skills

This aims to introduce effective speaking tasks in order to encourage fluency in communication.

Academic listening skills

This will involve experiencing a range of task types and listening strategies that could be featured in a CLIL lesson.

Academic writing skills

This session consists of an analysis of what is required in terms of planning, organising and structuring a piece of academic writing.

English language exams

Learn about some of the main English language exams, the differences between them, and identify the appropriate exam for individual learners.

Question & answer session with an international university student

This is a chance to find out more about the challenges of studying in a foreign language, so that you can better inform those students in your class considering applying to UK university. The visiting student will give a small presentation followed by a question-and-answer session.

What’s new?

Our team of specialists are always researching new theories and practices within the modern world of language teaching. If you feel there is a topic missing please let us know so that we can continuously develop our courses for your benefit. Send your ideas to jonny@lewis-school.co.uk.

What would you like to find out about?

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