My philosophy. OR What we will do and why.
I am a passionate believer in using as much real-life English as possible. The real world doesn’t use the English found in coursebooks. It doesn’t have little numbers down the side of an article. It doesn’t follow rigid patterns in conversations. It does contain mistakes, and the same sentence can be said in many different ways. By introducing real-life English early in your English education you will be better prepared for using English without the help of a teacher. My lessons will give you the skills and confidence to help you help yourself.
To understand the types of things we will do in our lessons I have prepared some notes, actually quite a lot of notes. I have used the subject of Art and Design as an example.
Art and design has the power to make our lives more interesting. In this series of lessons we take a look at the good, the bad, the ugly and the silly.
Before the first lesson of this subject you will be sent links to a couple of websites from where you will study new vocabulary used to describe buildings.
Some teachers try to hide it by calling it pre-lesson study or self-study time. Let’s not try to fool ourselves; it is homework. Homework is an essential part of any study. You can’t avoid it.
Activities such as leaning new vocabulary, studying grammar and reading are better done in a quiet room without time pressure. Our online lesson time is kept for speaking, listening and answering specific questions and solving specific problems.
The first lesson in this subject is opened with a brief discussion to answer the question; What are the arts and why do we need them?
Then we will watch a video of an unusual building. This is followed by a discussion centred around your reaction to the design of it. It also gives you the opportunity to practice the vocabulary learnt in your pre-lesson self-study homework activity.
I don’t believe in doing the same exercise again and again until it is 100% perfect. I prefer to do several exercises that are similar. Using this method you will still practice the target language but you won’t get bored repeating everything.
You will tell me about the most impressive building you have ever seen. As part of the preparation for the talk you will search the internet for photos and videos to help illustrate it.
English keywords are used for all internet searches done during the lessons. Our lessons will only use English. All the little things like internet searches, exercise instructions, external websites, etc add greatly to the real-life experience. Eventually you will do each task without thinking that it is an English task. This will add greatly to your confidence and fluency.
We will then go on a virtual tour of a museum. We will go through the museum looking at the different rooms and exhibits. You will learn to describe what you see. If you see or do something you want to share it with someone. This exercise will help you tell the world what you see.
Some more homework. This time some words used to describe the different periods in art history. For example, Renaissance, Cubism, Surrealism, etc.
Then you will search the internet for photos of your favourite works of art. After that we will discuss the following points:
- Why you like that style of art.
- Describe what styles of art you don’t like.
- Describe your last experience of visiting an art gallery.
- Describe the pictures that they have on your walls at home.
- Describe the pictures that you would like to have on your walls at home.
Our discussions will be one-to-one but with you doing most of the talking. My role is to provide points of discussion, gentle correction, alternative opinions, agreement and disagreement, confirmation that you are speaking beautiful English, and a few jokes.
You will then do an online quiz about the lives of famous artists. This will be followed by a look at a website showing the life and work of Frida Kahlo. Using a selection of her paintings you will describes her work to a person who has never seen it before. Frida painted many self-portraits depicting events from her troubled life. To look at this closer you will listen to an audio file describing some important events in her life and then decide which of her paintings show these events.
Are there any real benefits to humans being implanted with microchips to store personal information? This question is discussed after reading an article on the subject.
Can art be a form of protest? This question is discussed after looking at a website showcasing graffiti art.
Using audio, video and discussion to study the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. In particular we hear about the experiences and memories of people involved in one of their projects.
Then a discussion aiming to answer the following questions:
- What makes something art?
- Why do museums pay millions for works of art?
- Should works of art taken from their country of origin be sent back home?
With the help of audio, video, photos and text you will describe the life and music of your country’s most famous artist.
Using English in the real world will often mean using more than one English skill at the same time. That is why we will often do multi-skill exercises. This exercise brings together internet search, listening and reading skills.
We will look at a website which provides a list of the most important inventions in history. Then we will discuss their impact and prepare an alternative list. As a follow up to this we will look at a collection of everyday objects. Then decide which are the most important for society and which are the least likely to be changed by technology in the near future.
Have you heard of convergent and divergent thinking? Whether you have or not you will complete an experiment to see if you are a convergent or divergent thinker.
After being used as a guinea pig in the previous exercise you will watch a video describing spy gadgets. Then you can give me your opinion on the likelihood of them fooling someone.
More pre-lesson study work. This time you will read the article Did Thomas Edison really invent the light bulb? We will then discuss how we decide who can claim to be the inventor of something.
After that serious discussion something a little lighter. You will watch a slideshow showing ten silly inventions. Then you will describe an everyday object you feel could be better designed.
Then we get even sillier. You will read about a chef who prints food. If you think that sounds weird he also wants to make food levitate.
During our lessons we will use text from many different sources to give you the experience of a wide range of writing styles. This will add to your
all-round development and will build your vocabulary. Also, we will practice different reading methods for different purposes.
- Skimming – reading quickly for the main points
- Scanning – reading quickly to find a specific piece of information
- Extensive – reading a longer text for general meaning
- Intensive – reading a short text for detailed information
As with homework, grammar is unavoidable. Grammar in our lessons will be short, quick and almost painless. This time we will look at past perfect, past simple, past continuous and past perfect continuous. Followed by a couple of short, quick and almost painless practice exercises.
Why do robots have to look like humans? A discussion on science’s obsession with creating a human-like robot and if they will ever be used in the home.
Coming to the end of the subject. A look at a website which showcases high tech gadgets for use in the home. You can also select some that you would like in your home.
Finally, five gadgets you definitely won’t need.
If you have more questions about my online lessons then please take a look at the FAQs page. Or you can send me a message by using the contact form here.
That’s all for the moment on this subject