What I really love about Oxinity is the diversity of cultures, accents and experiences we have. In our teaching community we’ve had teachers from the 5 continents and I personally can't help but acknowledge how much I’ve learnt by interacting with all of them.
No matter where we come from, what we have in common is that all of us one day decided to make of the biggest changes in our lives: move to a foreign country and start a new life.
Our motivations are different -from moving for love to finding a better weather, new individual challenges or career change- and so are our personal goals but we all have undergone a process that has made us more open-minded, respectful, tolerant and understanding. We've learnt a new culture, a new language, we've blended with the local society without leaving our own personality behind. We are expats in Spain and enjoying it!
In order to help other people make the right decision for them about whether or not consider Spain their final destination, we've had an interesting discussion with people from England, Scotland, the USA and Slovakia. Different as we may seem at first sight, we've all made our way to Spain and are now successfully working here and enjoying local life.
We hope the experiences we've shared help you in your decision. Being an expat and teaching English is Spain is a great opportunity for life growth. It worked for us, it can work for you!
Jake (Australia): Definitely getting the visa. As I'm not from the EU and don't have a passport, the visa was difficult to get.
Julie (USA), Aife (Ireland), Paul (England): The language barrier
Ashley (Ireland): Finding my footing
Autumn (USA): The most difficult thing about moving aboard is, I'm not sure if I could pick just one thing.
Tor (Norway): To actually move. Easy to talk about it, but action takes courage. Also the uncertainty about everything - If I would get a job, if I would get friends, if something happenes etc.
Jake: Be open to trying new professions, I did and I'm loving the change!
Aife: Have a larger amount of savings built up and be cautious when renting apartments.
Julie: Be patient! The bureaucracy in Spain is strong so the paperwork is long and tedious but a necessity.
Autumn: Google is your friend! I would do more research about the different auxiliary programs and ask more people about their opinions. I would have joined more Facebook groups and get a feel how everything is. If I could afford I would try to take a trip and check out the city just to make sure.
Ash, Paulina, Tor: Try and get the NIE organised before coming to Spain
1. Do the research, connect with people who live here and ask questions. I visited estate agents finding out what are some good areas to live amd which ones to avoid.. (raval, roquetes)
2. Your NIE green card can be done in Terrasa much faster. Book an appointment with them and you have it done in 5minutes.
3. If you are from one of the special countries that give you hard time with your paperwork - dont be afraid to reach for a lawyer - for relatively cheap price they can do everything for u and save you a headache and some time.
Jake: Don't wait, it's a great place to live!
Julie: Practice your Spanish as much as you can!
Autumn: These are the two most important things: Are you able to be away from your family for long periods of time? A lot of people go home around Christmas because they are homesick, This experience isn't for everyone so they should know first hand what they are getting into. Can you be opened minded and not compare everything to the USA? I've read a lot of complaints about Americans saying how Spain isn't like the US and well it isn't. In my opinion if you go to another country you must be opened-minded to new experiences.
Mirka: Depends on the place, but re Barcelona - dont expect cheap fresh fish on every corner, mulled wine on the streets during Xmas and bare in mind that they speak Catalan, here!
Julie: It was difficult to get used to kissing two cheeks in the beginning.
Louisa (The Netherlands): I spoke French to everyone and once i started learning Spanish i lost my French
Tor: comparing Norway (cold and boring) to Spain which has everything you need and more for half of the money, you have taken a recipe for a fun life in general, well so far that's my case (LOVE Madrid).
Paul: The “púente” if there is a single day between a day off and weekend blows my mind.
Autumn: When I first arrived I was told to get the entry stamp on my student visa. So, I was waiting in line and it was finally my turn and the immigration officer asked for my passport. I had it opened to the page and he looked at my name and was trying to say my name but couldn't. Then he asked his partner how to pronounce my name and he told him. Then he asked me what does it mean and I told him otono in Spanish. Then he starts making jokes about my name how it's Summer still and Autumn is far away. Like, they were the same jokes I heard in English my whole life and now I had to hear them in Spanish . Then he stamped my passport and it wasn't on the student visa and I told him that I needed on the visa and he told me " ah don't worry espain is different guapa"
Harvie (UK): I wanted to buy bananas on the first day but I bought plantain instead. Knowing that banana is translated as ‘plátano’, that is what I bought but they ended up to be plantain. So i had to think of many recipes using plátano and from now on I buy bananas as bananas.
Julie: Honestly, I do not have any horror stories. Maybe a cautionary tale would be to do your research regarding accommodations.
Ash: Trying to find accommodation was a horror story in itself at times haha
Mirka: The whole paperwork process for my Mexican partner was a horror story - the things we had to go through.. and it took us good 6 months of meetings with lawyers, making appointments and all kind of papers to actually be able to legally start looking for a job. They all seem to have devil-may-care attitude in the offices.
Radmila Gurkova Oxinity.com Co-Founder
When we think of English classes, we probably visualize a classroom, a teacher standing at the black or whiteboard and a couple of dozens of kids or teenagers. Only few of us would relate English classes to less traditional environments such as taking a coffee while learning in a cafeteria or even learning English while walking, commuting, or from you’re the comfort of your sofa, with the only company of your laptop or mobile phone and yet a real teacher on the other side of the line.
Talking about the latter, we are witnessing an increasing presence of classes by videoconference or web classes as an alternative to traditional classroom settings we cannot but evidence their potential and opportunities to bring education as far as we can imagine and not limit it to a particular place.
Despite the challenges of our first steps, when the objective was to grant good connections in the first place and adapt tons of material to the web class format, we soon reaslised what a great potential there is to teach via videoconference, and the reach and relevance it had in learners. By creating an amazing platform for web classes that combine the video chatroom with the materials in the same window, we opened the possibility for many teachers to broaden their horizons and look for students beyond the borders of their city and country. We reduced their traveling time and made it possible to achieve a better work-life balance as they don't have to leave their homes. We made a reality to reach students anytime anywhere in the world.
We gained the trust of hundreds of students who now can opt for quality classes even in remote places where there is no language school or qualified teachers. For them we have also reduced the cost of the classes without giving up quality. Flexible, economical, reliable, high-quality and engaging! This is the format of a web class that our learners enjoy right now.
There has been a long journey from our first classes to the expertise we have today. A lot was created, a lot was learnt, and a lot more is coming! Today we still have some challenges to overcome but no one has the slightest hesitation of one thing: the future of English learning and teaching has no physical limits anymore thanks to the web classes.
An advice for new teachers? Here are some from our community members. It's your turn now to embrace one of the biggest breakthroughs that the internet has provided to us, teachers: opening new horizons for growth, surpassing frontiers, taking English to any place in the world!
Radmila Gurkova Oxinity.com Co-Founder
English is one of the most accessible languages in the world due to its presence in films, television and the Internet. English is the most commonly used language in sciences and English literature predominates considerably with 28 percent of all books published in the world.
The estimated number of native English speakers is between 330 and 360 million and there are almost 1,500 million people worldwide who speak English at a fluency level.
The English language is constantly expanding in terms of number of words added each year. It has been estimated that a new word is added to the language every 98 minutes, which means that roughly 4,000 words are added in various dictionaries each year.
Despite all this, there are a lot of amazing and unknown facts around English that learners usually are not acquainted with.
There are a total of 195 countries in the world, 67 nations, who have English as a primary language of official status. In 27 countries English is spoken as a secondary official language.
Surprisingly enough, the United States federal government has no official languages, although English has been given official status by 32 of the 50 US state governments.
If we take a look at the percentages of the population able to hold a conversation in English, we’ll see that the Scandinavian countries are on top of the list, with the Netherlands showcasing 90% of the people being fluent in English, followed by Sweden and Denmark with 86%, Finland with 70% and Germany with 56%.
Spain is unfortunately at the bottom of this list withonly 22% of the population being able to hold a conversation in fluent English.
This is actually a great news for beginner learners who are often discouraged by the richness in vocabulary English has. But there are also words that have such a similarity with Spanish -we call them cognates- that we can easily incorporate them pretty much from day 1 of learning.
Actor, admirable, capital, culture, criminal, director, president, company, etc, etc. The list is long, but some good examples can be found here.
Another interesting and useful list is actually the one of the words that English has taken from Spanish. Some good examples are words such as fiesta, tapas, siesta, but also some animals: alligator (el lagarto), cockroach (cucaracha), mosquito (mosquito), some food words: barbecue (barbacoa), chocolate (chocolate), potato (patata), cafeteria (cafeteria), some natural disasters: hurricane (huracán), tornado (tornado) and many more.
Not only the shortest, but also one of the most commonly used words in English is actually "I", the personal pronoun.
As for the longest word, no, it's not Mary Popins's Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. There is a longer medical word referring to a lung disease: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Good luck pronouncing that!
You will find it in thousands of words but definitely not in any number until you reach one billion. Try writing number names in full (one, two, three, four...) and you'll see, no B!
Not very commonly used this one. In written English, only one letter in every 510 is a Q. Conclusion: the letter Q is more important for its in quality than for its quantity :)
This has to do with the question: Which came first, orange the colour or orange the fruit? Or which is the same,
Is an orange called an orange because it's orange, or is orange orange because of the orange?
The fruit came first. The English word "orange" has made quite a journey to get here. The fruit originally came from China but the English word comes from the Old Persian "narang". Early Persian emperors had this exotic trees and Arabs later traded the fruit and spread the word all the way to Moorish Spain; the Spanish word for orange is "naranja". In Old French, the fruit became "orenge" and this was adopted into Middle English, eventually becoming our orange, fruit as well as colour.
For English speaking people noon is 12 pm, but the origins of Noon come from the Latin for “ninth,” novem. It originally referred to the ninth hour of the Roman day — 3pm.
It is quite significant that Happy is used three times more often in English than sad. That makes English an optimistic language.
We challenge you to participate in our live talk on Youtube on Friday, September 28th and share your knowledge about English. Do you know any surprising fact? Follow us on Youtube and let us know how much you know!
Radmila Gurkova Oxinity.com Co-Founder
The arrival of the Internet in the language teaching market has led to the appearance of marketplaces where teachers and students connect directly to offer and receive teaching services.
For many native English speakers this has had a great impact in opening new career possibilities and many people have decided to make a career switch and become a freelance English teacher.
English learners on the other hand are tired of all the traditional formulas in education that have failed to meet their needs and are now looking for new, more flexible and cheaper solutions.
In the past couple of years, there has been an important shift in language learning solutions. The demand of English learning and teaching is currently transferred from the traditional academies to private teachers and/or language apps. Traditional academies are in disadvantage as far as their overheads and lack of flexibility concerns.
The freelancers’ market on the other hand is considerably increasing and the tendency is to grown even more in the next 2 years.
Many teachers who begin to teach their language as freelancers though often find themselves with dozens of unforeseen problems. They have to meet new clients, negotiate prices, manage their students, collect money, and prepare materials for delivering quality classes. Too much workload for one person only!
An innovative solution in the market has emerged to quickly become the ultimate key to both increasing quality and decreasing prices for students and providing teachers with tools to cope with all the workload with economy of time. This game changer is a large community of English teachers known by the name of Oxinity.
Oxinity merges technology and a collaborative community and equips the freelancers with tools that improve the management and quality of their classes and offers them the ultimate technology and apps for the development of their business.
The Oxinity members see how their income increase comparing to working for others and at the same time their working hours reduce. Our partnership offers them all the services they need so that they are competitive and better in quality than any other player in the market.
Becoming an Oxinity member means having all the material in a mobile app, having a partner who deals with all administrative work and student attention, collection and invoicing and being supported by thousands of other teachers who share the same goals, concerns and vision of teaching. It also means to potentially reach any student in the planet by videoconference and teaching worldwide through a reliable platform with all the materials for each class.
Last by not least, it means using a consolidated brand and being reached by hundreds of students.
We look forward to meeting you soon!
Radmila Gurkova Oxinity.com Co-Founder
By the Oxinity Team
Some subjects really arouse passions. You cannot remain indifferent to the diversity of existing practices to foster learners' fluency. During our live talk on topic activities, we realized how much we can learn from our community. These are just some of the suggestions that our teachers have shared with us.
We've compiled the best tips, requests and comments on how to achieve great fluency activities.
1. When you create activities, think FUN! think brainstorming, think creative.
2. It is often a good idea to add a source for every text added, at least on the teacher's side. That way if a student wants to expand knowledge, we can always recommend them to take a look at the original source.
3. We could provide “expiration dates” on topics, so to speak. This doesn’t mean the topic would be erased after it expires, it would just be up for revision with more up to date content.
4. In my humble opinion, people should look at the activity they have created and ask yourself - If I was teaching this, would I enjoy doing so! The teachers' comments section should be further utilised. An example of this is with definitions of words, or more simplistic instructions regarding the aim of the activity. Take pride in your work!
5. I’ve found interesting and updated topics so far and students seem to enjoy them. I also find interesting exploring the possibilities we can find at ‘Ted talks’. Maybe we can use them too.
1. Think of questions to promote discussion on whatever the topic is. A piece of an article with no guide for the teacher to drive discussion can make the topic feel flat. I try to have at least 4 minimum questions on an article or video to help promote conversation in the class.
2. Make it playful, shorten texts as much as possible, create questions for teachers to ask.
3. Try to use as little text as possible, even an interesting picture can be a lot more useful than a 250 word text.
4. Really measure the language and remember what level the topic is being made for. Check the target language to make sure it's not a cognate if for a higher level and put the target language to test. Cut down the article a bit. Upload meaningful videos, with clear speaking and good quality.
1. Triple check grammar, spelling and punctuation. At times the activities contain basic errors and it is embarrassing when the student notices.
1. Think of ways to engage students other than just with an article and choosing something interesting and appropriate for a class. Add target language and make sure students put it into practice, think of good discussion questions, picture discussions, sequencing exercises, role plays and debates, etc.
1. Topics that invite opinion are awesome. People love sharing opinions. Too much controversy is invasive, but a little is engaging. It’s nice when students have a friendly debate amongst themselves.
2. Topic activities need to be appropriate and should be easy to discuss without having prior knowledge on the topic.
3. Topics chosen should encourage a discussion, but NEVER an argument! (be careful with groups and controversial topics)
4. It is always a good idea to ask students to summarise the text/video in order to see how much they have understood.
At Oxinity we develop our own materials and create collaboratively our teaching system. We are passionate about what we teach, hence, our priority is our students’ engagement and challenge in topics and the quality of the material that we use in our lessons. This is why our Friday meetings are devoted to CPD (continuous professional development), collaborative work, sharing of experiences and ideas.
There are various and multiple factors that affect the engagement of students in a lesson, such as academic, behavioral, cognitive and affective. All of these are developed further in a previous post by Vincent Chieppa. That´s the theory and those are factors that as a teacher can´t be controlled or changed, they can only be taken into consideration and work around them. But, what we have been discussing in our meetings is: what can WE do as teachers to ensure students engagement and challenge in topic activities? How can we bring that to our lessons? Simple: good resources and activities together with a good attitude. The good attitude with us is a given, so we´ve focused on how can we create challenging and engaging activities, and for that, we have work collaboratively and brainstormed ideas.
First of all, we have thought of the structure of a topic activity. Firstly, we need an exercise to hook the student. That being:
Once we have them hooked we have to introduce the topic with a text, a short clip or just a picture and a summary done by the teacher. What’s next? How do we ensure the student understanding? We have the popular concept check questions, but, too much of a good thing can make you sick, isn´t it? Here are some other ideas:
Just when our students are familiar with the topic and have acquired new vocabulary, expressions and/or structures it´s time to activate those. It´s the students time to speak. In order to achieve this we came up with different types of activities:
e.g. the next day’s story, someone involved in the news event writing to a friend
Not only we brainstormed these ideas but also we put them into practice in a “hands on” session in our Friday meeting. During these we brainstorm about different topics, such as:
Just after we chose a topic out of these ideas and developed an activity in groups. We thought of the introduction, the topic´s input and the follow up activity to be done by the students. Once this was accomplished we played the game “pass the parcel” which, in this case was “pass the activity” to the other group. This group then suggested another activity about that same topic or improved the one that was already there. Not only we did this once, but twice, and just after we share the final result with the whole group. In less than an hour meeting we had created over five engaging and challenging activities which are going to be developed further and adapted to the different levels and included in our system. Voila!
The exchange of ideas and collaborative work in in teaching has proven to be the key for success!
Gracia Guzmán graduated from English linguistics, language, history and literature. She did her PGCE (postgraduate certificate in education) in the UK and, after completing the Oxbridge TEFL Course, she joined Oxinity in 2017. She's been involved in teacher training and continuous teachers' development, creating learners material, group dynamics and teacher selection and career orientation.
I first started teaching in 1992. I trained as an architect and qualified in 1987.
A few years into my career my professor, Robin Webster, called me and asked me to teach design part-time in my former university - Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, Robert Gordon University Aberdeen.
I loved it. I spent 2 days out of every week travelling from Glasgow to Aberdeen to teach these 2 days. I did this for 3 years.
As my career developed, and I gained experience designing and building projects in Glasgow, I moved away from studio teaching.
I decided to leave Scotland after 11 years in practice. I went about learning Spanish, and relocated to an international design firm with offices across Europe. After completing two large projects in Glasgow, I got the job to move to Madrid to set up and run the Madrid office.
As my experience in Spain grew, our team grew. I was always on the lookout for top talent.
In 2003 I moved to a Spanish firm. We were a team of 65 architects and interior designers and maintained these numbers through the crisis years.
By 2011 I had travelled to Africa, Russia, India and the Middle East in search of work for our large team. I spent a lot of my time helping teams grow, learning how to adapt teams to their strengths, and help individuals see where their strengths were, and where they wanted to go in their careers.
From 2011 - 2015 my job was to find work and grow our European, Middle East and African team. In these 5 years I grew our EMEA team from 300 to 700 staff.
I worked in 2016 for a sports client, developing sites in China, Germany, France, Italy and the UK.
In the summer of 2016, I realised that what I loved most was helping individuals achieve their personal goals in their careers.
I decided to stop flying, and learn how to bring a much-needed skill to people enthusiastic to learn to communicate and to do business in English.
Training with Oxinity in 2016 gave me the professional qualification and insight into moving my teaching skills up even further to offer others the opportunity to use English naturally, to feel comfortable in the language, and get business deals done. To excel in their careers.
I love teaching English. I am an English language trainer. It gives me so much pleasure to see my clients progress and grow using English as the international tool for communication.
I have worked across 28 different countries in my career. How many of these have had English as their native language? 2.
We need English only for one reason; it is, rightly or wrongly, our common global business language.
The Oxinity platform is really exciting as it is focused on two things;looking after the teacher, and looking after the client. Once we look after our teachers, our teachers are equipped to look after our clients. Thus our whole focus is on making it clear and simple for our teachers to help our clients, not to stay at the same level of ‘what they know’.
We want to find out what our clients DO NOT KNOW AND HELP THEM LEARN WHAT THEY ARE MISSING.
The Oxinity system is a technological platform backed by a team of analysts and programmers, that through use of the system platform, learns what each clients needs through consistent feedback and organisation of structured learning material, presenting every class to the client and always covering the three pilars of learning a language: Structure, Vocabulary and the ability to analyse and discuss Topics.
In 2 years I have multiplied my business from a business of between €1.600-2.000 monthly gross invoicing in Year 1, with teaching hours given to me by Oxinity, to €5.000 monthly gross invoicing in Year 2. I now operate the business with 100% my own clients, sourced through networking and building my profile steadily on social networks, and am presently passing teaching hours out to 6 Oxinity teachers in our team.
Year 3 looks really exciting and I am really looking forward to futher business growth, and reaching new and exciting client markets.
I could never have achieved this without the constant and tremendous support that I received from the Oxinity team from day 1.
There are three things that I have learnt are important to make a success of my business.
Follow the system.
Listen to those around you.
Never stop learning. Every day.
We all have fears: fears of trying something new, fear of change, fear of the unknown. If you are starting your own ELT business, hopefully I can assuage some of these fears with a few tips.
I decided to develop my own business as an English teacher because the freedom and independence was attractive to me. Now, I have over half of my students that are my own clients. Oxinity has helped me with this process; however, there are some additional resources that are worth mentioning.
After you have your NIE and Social Security number, apply for freelance or autonomous (“autonomo”) status. I used www.soloautonomos.es which processes all of your paperwork and helps with guidance through this, sometimes confusing, process. There are some assistance programs to be aware of as well. For example, Ayudas del Programa de Consolidación del Trabajo Autónomo, is an assistance program which extends your discounted “autónomo” fee for an additional 12 months is available within your 4thto 7thmonth as an “autonomo”. It is important to also stay organized with your expenditures as well as your invoicing. Using websites, like www.contasimple.com, can assist with your bookkeeping.
“Tan pronto como entres a mi clase estarás hablando en inglés y continuarás haciendo hasta el último minuto, no perderemos tiempo en escribir. Haremos una variedad de actividades por las que aprenderás a aplicar la gramática en uso y contextos reales, desarrollar tu vocabulario general así como el específico y a expresar tu opinión, intercambiar ideas y hablar de temas de actualidad.”
By Graeme Bell
There is a distinct difference between language learning and language acquisition. Children acquire their mother tongue through interaction with their parents and the environment that surrounds them. However current methodologies and language courses offered seem to set aside this communicative environment and revolve around grammar, repetition, drilling and memorisation without including the functional human interaction. This is language learning.
As a child we acquire language to communicate with our surroundings. Research indicates that humans have an innate capacity to acquire language. However, that is to acquire language not to learn it. As modern teachers we need to create, as much as possible, that same acquisitional environment. We need to create ‘on the job’, functional and interactive situations for the student to acquire language as they would have done with their first language. It is the same with your first job, you learn the jargon as you use it, when you need it to communicate. Then you truly understand it through observing your peers and shadowing/copying them.
Children don’t have a first language to translate from so grammar translation is a language learning tool and therefore deviates from taking advantage of the human’s innate ability to acquire a language. Translating your receptive input from L1 to L2 in your brain before forming your productive output in L2 also slows you down when trying to communicate fluently. A child learns from interacting with their surrounding environment, so as teachers we need to create that same environment for our students, whether they are a child or an adult. We need to develop the students recognition between their senses and the appropriate acquired language production. They should not rely on L1 to L2 translation.
Children communicate through speech and listening before they can read and write. Therefore we need to work with images, facial expressions, sounds and physical movement in the same way we interacted with our parents. This process of acquisition continues into our adulthood as we develop belief structures and a sense of identity, so we should create debates and specific work environments to continually introduce vocabulary in to higher level students. This will allow the student to associate the acquired language (L2) to feelings and beliefs rather than with their L1 language knowledge.
Once the student acquires the language we can test their knowledge by asking them to form sentences or ask questions, to show their pragmatic understanding. We can also ask them to act out the new vocabulary through miming and provide synonyms or antonyms.
With the students who have a first language derived from latin we can use cognates to link with the constructive knowledge of what a student has acquired with their first language. This is not technically language acquisition, however modification of what they have acquired. It is not necessary to teach cognates, it is our role to indicate to them what they already know to help build upon it and adapt it.
As a child we learn to communicate almost instinctively. A child learns how to point by failing to reach for something and having it given to them by their parent. It is an acquisition of communication through trial and error and having a safe environment and corrective environment in which to achieve it in. The goal is to create this with our students too. The key is also to remember that interaction goes both ways. Taking from the ‘direct method’, question-answer structures become a big part of that language acquisition. We all know how many questions a child or new employee can ask and how a parent or manager tests their understanding through questions too.
At lower levels we should work almost entirely with images, movement and verbal speech, as reading and writing are later on in the natural order of language acquisition. When teaching the verb ‘to run’; physically running, getting the student to run or observing someone running would be the best way for them to acquire this verb. This can prove more difficult when teaching online as ‘Total Physical Response’ is a difficult methodology to work with through a computer screen. The following includes some examples of how we can introduce vocabulary and grammar in an online acquisitional environment.
Table 1. is an example of the type of material needed to teach nouns adjectives and verb tenses online and with it is also helpful for in person classes. Once we have introduced the action (verb) in the images we can then verbally present the tenses associated with the present, past and future using the numbers to help guide the student.
Potential explanations of the verb ‘to run’ in a selection of forms:
I ran (picture 1) along the beach yesterday.
I run (picture 2) along the beach everyday.
I am running (picture 2) along the beach.
I will run (picture 3) along the beach tomorrow.
She is a runner
With regard to the difference between run ‘past participle’ and ran ‘past simple’ it gets a little more complicated. This is not something to worry about with beginner learners as they should learn this inductively as their grammar knowledge builds. Presenting examples of the present perfect, past perfect and future perfect in comparison with the present and past simple will help to highlight this. As with a child and their parents it is through trial and error and error/mistake correcting through verbal prompting that encourages this language acquisition.
Adverbials and more…
By pointing to the number of the pictures and verbally introducing adverbial and other meanings. These tables are useful tools to show these meanings without translating. They still need to be presented in a meaningful functional class to truly be acquired. The class theme would need to have an environment where these meanings were needed to communicate, not just here is the grammar, now repeat after me.
Running side by side or together
Running a bath
Running fast or past
There also many different types of iconography, symbols and now well known emojis that we can use to depict vocabulary and create that acquisitional environment without using translation from L1. Adults will have a base of image based memories that we can tap into. We can draw from what they have previously constructed.
Law and order
When it comes to avoiding translating in ESL it all comes down to reflection and preparation. As teachers we need to be aware of the environment we are creating to teach a language, be skilled at troubleshooting for potential problems and of course be ready to deal with them. It is not easy and does not always come naturally at first, but just in the same way that children acquire language, we as teachers can acquire these skills through trial and error, reflection and ultimately preparation of our teaching materials.
Graeme Bell is an ESL teacher and TEFL trainer at Oxinity.com
It's been widely noticed and discussed: Spanish speakers of English, in the majority of cases, can be recognized by their accent among many others at an international airport.
The same doesn't apply though for speakers coming from other Latin American countries, nor for Scandinavian speakers, Easter Europeans, etc.
What makes a word such as confortable sound as "comforteibol" when articulated by a Spanish speaker? Are we, Spanish people, unable to acquire close-to-native articulatory habits in the way other speakers do? Obviously our articulatory system is not different from other speakers, whose first language is Spanish, otherwise Mexicans, Colombians or Venezuelan would present the same patterns speaking English and they don't.
So, what is what has led to this phenomenon with Spaniards? The reasons, once again, are to be found in the type of education that has been conducted traditionally in Spain, especially the one related to languages.
1. In their pronunciation, Spanish learners are strongly influenced by the graphic representation of the English words, which they often read applying the phonetic rules of their own language.
The strong presence of written code along with insufficient speaking practice is one of the main reasons for poor pronunciation and limited fluency. Being often the learning goal to pass an exam, students focus way too much on their orthographic competence before being able to elaborate meaningful spoken messages. After all, exams are in writing and tests are based on activities far from being communicative, such as multiple-choice activities (gap fills), matching activities, a lot of grammar and vocabulary exercises for accuracy, while speaking even today remains untested in many classrooms.
2. In a quite literal interpretation of the premise that for a good command of a second language, all four skills have to be equally developed, orthographic competence is often confused with writing skills. Which are two significantly different competences.
If our goal is to develop writing as a skill therefore, we first have to understand what writing is and where it stands in the stages of language acquisition. Writing is a productive skill needed for articulating and presenting thoughts and ideas with signs and symbols. Writing is a complement to speech or spoken language and is not a language in itself, but a tool used to make languages be read. In essence, there is no writing without speaking and educational systems that prioritise writing over speaking have to be ready for a communicative failure in real interactive contexts.
Unlike acquisition happening in a natural environment, ESL learning often tends to forget the natural order of language acquisition. When undertaking the task of learning a language, we have to accept that we first need time to start understanding, which is a direct consequence of listening and exposure to the sound and messages in the new language, then we´ll be able to imitate these sounds in a spoken way, that is we´ll say something orally, and once this is consolidated, we´ll be ready to read and write not only the graphic representation of the words, but also meaningful messages known as coherent texts.
Why is then spelling so often confused with writing?
Impeccable spelling is fundamental if we want to call ourselves educated individuals. Nothing can hurt your eyes more than wrong spelling and ruin an otherwise good text if it is full of spelling mistakes. But spelling is only one element of good writing skills, the top of the iceberg. More than just a juxtaposition of correctly spelled words, writing entails orthographic competence (for instance proper use of upper and lower case), punctuation, layout, text coherence, smooth linking of ideas, accurate sentence structure, appropriate register, etc.
Developing writing skills is therefore a task that requires good staging and attitude and, paradoxically, doesn´t require from us teachers to write but to guide students to what good writing involves.
Good staging means to respect the natural order of language acquisition knowing when learners are ready to start writing and this is only when they are confident in producing accurate spoken messages in L2 with impeccable pronunciation.
Attitude is understood as to what and how we are going to correct, once we have a written piece of work. Our learners´ written assignments are a unique chance for us to analyse their acquisition stage and use it to fill with knowledge the possible gaps in their production through explanations, providing good practice and using less our red pen.
Ultimately, what hurts your eyes in the title of this article won't hurt at all your ears if you read it out loud. Not so much because you know good spelling, but because you know good English.
For more ideas on writing activities, watch our talk https://youtu.be/rMIE9wqq_CA
Radmila Gurkova Oxinity.com Co-Founder