Teachers Talk- Larissa's Languages
Today I am talking to Larissa Albano, who is a CertTesol certified English teacher from Italy. She started working in the language industry in 2009 as one-to-one language tutor in a school of languages in Rome. She set up her own language studio in her hometown in 2011. Since then she has been teaching children, teenagers and adults in small groups. She teaches without the support of course books because she prefers using the GTD method which involves the following three key elements: GAME, TECH and DAILY LIFE.
Thank you very much for being my next guest at TEACHERS’ TALK. I have been following your posts on the social media for a while and what amazes me is your sense of creativity. How do you get inspired?
“You Can’t Use Up Creativity. The More You Use, The More You Have”, said Maya Angelou. I totally agree with her. I’m an extremely curious person and I have always had a vivid imagination since I was a child. I get inspired by every little thing in the world around me. For example, a couple of years ago my mother and I were doing some spring cleaning in the basement when she told me to throw away a bunch of gift bags. I was walking to the bins when I stopped at once. "Why don't take these gift bags into the classroom?” I wondered. And a few days later I came up with a lesson plan for a vocabulary class for students who were training for a B2 level exam. I gave each student a bag. Each one of them corresponded to a grammar category: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. I put in the centre of the desk mixed-up sets of words which have the same root. My students had to pick up the words which belong to the grammar category they had been assigned and put them into their own bags. It was a fun activity and a good opportunity for some peer teaching and I only needed some gift bags.
You run a successful Language School in Italy. What makes it stand out?
To be honest, it is not easy to run a school on your own especially when you are a perfectionist. But, what makes the difference is the human touch. I want my students to feel in a familiar, cosy environment where learning becomes a game rather than hard work. They must be happy when they arrive and happier when they leave.
Do you often play games with your students? What is your favourite one?
Yes, I love playing games! I don’t have a favourite one but I’m really fond of party games. They can be used both as ice-breaking and revising activities. Last week, my elementary adult students and I played “Who am I?” to practise the question form of the past simple. I stuck up on their foreheads the name of a famous dead person and they had to ask 10 yes/no questions each to guess “who they were”.
What is the best lesson you have had recently? What was it about?
Two weeks ago I had one of my best classes with my students who are going to take the Cambridge First Certificate. I created a card game that looks like the UNO card game. The rules of the game are the same as those of UNO except for the following additional rule: students need to make up a sentence using the target language on the card they are about to place. Students had a whale of time playing this game and relieved the stress and pressure of the exam.
Technology has been widely used in the modern classroom. Do you think it has taken away the joy from real communication?
Communication has been affected by technology without doubt but are we sure that this is so bad? In my humble opinion, technology, if used well, can improve a lot our teaching. Let’s take into account blended learning: by combining classroom learning with online learning, students can control the time, pace, and place of their learning progress. This means that they become much more autonomous and independent. Plus, there is some software such as Skype that give us tremendous opportunities to teach the language in a genuine, real way. For example, last year most of my groups played “Mystery Skype”, which is a critical thinking challenge that your class takes part in while Skyping with another class somewhere else in the world. Your students' goal is to guess the other school's location (country or city) before they guess yours. After guessing the place students started to know each other and they have even been keeping in touch through social media since then.
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You can read the whole interview with Larissa Albano in the current Issue 30 of the
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