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Back to school: 5 tips to stay flexible and creative

August 26, 2020 by Nora Nagy

How do you feel about the new school term? Excited yet uncertain at the same time? You are not alone. We are all looking forward to seeing each other again after long months of distance learning but we also know that this new school year is starting with a lot of questions. While some schools are going back to traditional on-site teaching, others are taking a hybrid approach, and there are still some schools where only distance teaching is an option. 

What can we take for granted in these uncertain times? One thing is for sure: we want to teach English in the most enjoyable and successful way. What kind of approach will help us in this? And what resources and tools will be our best friends? 

Here are some tips based on our experience and Helbling English resources.

1 Stick to one communication platform.

It is easy to get confused when there are different communication platforms and online learning environments. If your school has decided on one platform, stick to it. 

2 Make sure you have online resources to support your courses.

When we are following a hybrid approach, one of the hardest things is giving day-to-day feedback on language practice activities. For this reason, having an online platform with self-correcting activities is a weight off your shoulders! 

The Helbling e-zone educational platform offers a wider range of online practice activities for our courses (For Real Plus, Sure, Jetstream, Studio), readers and grammar practice books.

3 Think in terms of longer projects.

Project-based learning with enough support (questions, milestones to achieve) and a final presentation (in-class, online, magazine, poster, learning journal) gives students the time to focus on a topic from different perspectives and understand it in depth.

Building projects on readers works well all through the term. After preparation for reading (when students become familiar with the theme and setting of the story), work your way through the Before Reading activities in our readers (and on Helbling e-zone), and then students can start reading. Give projects to complete to individual students, pairs and groups based on their interest. Here is a collection of these project-based lessons from our blog.

4 Support learner autonomy

Your students probably use English, whether they realise it or not, in their out-of-school activities. Language has no classroom boundaries. Help your students increase their awareness of the English they use (actively or passively) by asking them to keep a notebook, or take photos to share with the other students, thereby helping them to improve their study skills and understanding of the language and making them more autonomous learners.

Read our articles on learner autonomy for more ideas:

5 Flexibility is key

When we have an objective, it can be easier to stay flexible even during uncertainty. As long as we know where we want to take our students (either an exam, the completion of a project or building confidence in English), we should not be intimidated by unexpected changes in our mode of teaching. A flexible mindset can be greatly supported by the availability of a wide range of resources and a reliable online environment which we can start using as soon as we get back to school. This way, we can easily switch between different teaching methods.

What are your tips for other teachers for the new term?


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