Manage is a tricky, if useful, verb in English. ‘I managed to get the last ticket.’, ‘So you managed to find us.’, ‘Can you manage?’ or ‘Did you manage to finish in time?’ are all everyday expressions for many of us. In all of them there is a suggestion of difficulty being overcome or balls being kept in the air. This issue takes management in English language teaching as its theme and as you read through the articles, you will see it viewed from a lot of different perspectives.
Teachers spend a lot of time managing their classes and this is a great training ground for future managers, as you learn to cope with dealing with expectations, modifying courses to suit individual needs, handling feedback in a positive and helpful way, offering advice, praise and, sometimes, criticism. Many teachers will, at some point, take on a position of responsibility, whether it is in charge of a particular level or age group, or a group with specific purposes, or a materials-based project. I hope the issue encourages you to apply for such positions should the need arise.
The last three months have been quite busy for me. Since the last issue I have flown to the UK for our eldest son’s wedding, returned to New Zealand for the start of a new semester, edited this issue, prepared some talks for a conference this month in Australia and taught my classes. Managing time is another aspect of management which we all have to do and one which our students need help with whether they are trying to balance their self-study assignments, lessons, possibly a part-time job, and sometimes a social life, or trying to strike a balance between full-time study and getting children to school, shopping, cooking etc. Our centre has a mixed population of people who arrived in New Zealand as refugees and international students who have chosen to study here. Time management is key for all of them.
The more I teach, the more I discover certain aspects of the language are incredibly hard to get across to learners, irrespective of level. Over the last few weeks, I have struggled to show the difference between the continuous and simple forms of verbs. It is probably because a lot of languages do not have such concepts, or that the explanation or illustration of the concept is never quite tight enough despite the best efforts of all grammars, and coursebook writers. Another area is gerunds and infinitives and trying to find some patterns which make total sense. That’s another problem with English – too many exceptions.
On the positive side of things, I have discovered Padlet this semester. I know that using technology should always be to enhance the teaching rather than just for the fun of it, but I have to say that this tool has been an eye-opener for me, allowing a large class to work together in real time and create something not only visually stunning but with great language work. We will be doing an article about it in the next issue when I have practised a little more, but what is so good about it, just like FlipGrid or Google Forms, is that there are no bugs, it always works and it is intuitive to use. This means that both the teacher and the students are relaxed and get the most out of the lessons. Adding new, useful activities to your range is another important part of your course management. Enjoy the issue and I hope you find more ideas to help you manage your classes. By the time you read this, we will be well into spring here, but, wherever you are, keep enjoying your teaching.
Editor: Robert McLarty
Robert McLarty is Principal Academic Staff Member at the Centre for Languages at Wintec, Hamilton in New Zealand. He is a coursebook writer, a teacher-trainer and an ESP and EAP teacher. He has run language schools in Paris and Oxford and worked for Oxford University Press for ten years. He is co-author of two titles in the ETpedia series – Business English (2017) and ELT Management (2019).
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