Bringing textbooks to "life"
I am feel really honoured that Cristina Cabal has agreed to give an interview for Inspirational English. For those of you, who are not familiar with her work, Cristina is an English teacher, based in Spain. She runs her own blog “Blog de Cristina” , which provides a great choice of teaching materials and ideas. Her expertise is “bringing textbooks” to life and her lesson plans usually involve using new tools to spice up the lessons.
Hi Cristina, your blog has been awarded “Featured Blog of the Month” by the British Council three times. Congratulations! Your amazing work inspires so many other teachers to be creative in class. But what drives you to create new and innovative lesson plans?
That’s a good question and I have two answers for that. The first thing that comes to my mind is “because I want to have fun” but I understand that this answer is probably not politically correct so,quite frankly, although most textbooks are good they tend to be quite repetitive and often they don’t connect 100% with my students’ needs. So, I design activities based on their textbook content, but making them more interactive, interesting and visually more appealing.
You are famous for bringing textbooks “to life” by using technologies. Which three websites/platforms would you recommend to our readers as being user-friendly and easy to utilise even by teachers who know very little about technologies?
You often take part in workshops where you help many ESL teachers to modernise their lessons. What are the biggest challenges they usually face and share with you?
For me it’s a pleasure to run these workshops because they go from showing a poorly disguised panic to using new technologies to displaying an enthusiasm only comparable to a child given the latest gadget. So, they really want to start integrating technology into their classes, they really want to use new tools to create their own content, they just don’t know how to go about it. And that’s my role, to teach them how to do it and help them be creative; so when the workshop finishes, they have some activities to use in their next class, activities that they have created, and that’s the “aha” feeling that will boost their motivation to continue designing their own activities.
Games and competitions play an important role in your lessons. Which game would you recommend that requires the least preparation and materials?
A game that works really well, requires no preparation and is highly adaptable is the Tic-Tac-Toe (also called Noughts and Crosses). You can revise grammar, vocabulary, phonetics; you can use it to practise speaking, for writing activities... etc. The only limit is your imagination!
I know that you also teach adults. During my teaching career I have learnt that adults are really conscious about making mistakes. How do you help them overcome this?
Yes. It’s true. I think the key is to create a friendly atmosphere where students are able to talk freely and without the teacher interrupting them every single time they make a mistake. Let them see that they can make mistakes and it is not going to be the end of the world but part of their learning process.
It’s true that you need to correct some mistakes, but certainly not all of them and never interrupting them while they are speaking. When they finish, thank them for their contribution and then tactfully point out two or three mistakes that need to be corrected. This is something they will appreciate.
Thank you, Cristina
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