Tuesday, 1 January 2013


First of all, Happy New Year everyone, and I hope that you all have great time in the classroom over 2013.
Now, I'm not one for making resolutions generally at this time of year, as I find that if I do, I end up a) with a ridiculously long list of propositions, b) I start off trying to do them at a manically high level of activity that is unsustainable and c) I rapidly get bored of them by about 3.30pm on the 1st.
One problem with making resolutions is that they are often made within the framework of giving up or forgoing something, e.g. 'I'm going to give up smoking'. The fact that they are worded in this way means that we end up in our heads fighting our way away from something, rather than making the resolution about an aim towards something. Taking the example above, if we make it 'I'm going to be healthier next month by saving money, as I won't be smoking this month' makes it seem something more concrete and attainable.
Anyway, what has this to do with an ELT Journal? Well, two things - firstly, a short list of resolutions for myself, aiming to be as positive as possible:
1) I'm going to keep this journal more regularly, with a greater focus on classwork.
2) By the middle of June, I will have handed out fewer photocopied pages to students.
3) I will make greater use of the students' various tech gadgets - smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc  - to creater more differentiated approaches.
That, I think, will do.
Secondly, just a thought about using New Year Resolutions in class. The obvious one is as practice and consolidation of future forms - as you probably noticed above, I've used will, going to and future perfect in  my little list. It depends, of course, on the level of your students, but resolutions can be a great way for learners to differentiate between future predictions (using will) and future plans and intentions (using going to). One thing I did last year was make students write down resolutions and predictions for the next 6 months for themselves, a classmate, me, and the world on a piece of paper. We then folded them up and put them in a box, which I sealed and didn't open until the last lesson of the year.
Another technique is to get students to make suggestions for what another person in class should do in the year to come - this is a change of focus towards giving advice of course, but it can be useful for getiting students to produce will/'ll/going to statements as well - learners discuss what other students have said, and reply to the suggestions made for themselves.
Of course, the one resolution all our learners should be making is to use more English! However, this may be easier said than done, so this time of year is a great time to remind learners of all the different ways they can engage with language learning outside the classroom. I find getting students to brainstorm ideas on flipchart paper works well, and once it has been done, students look at what others have written and pick a technique that they either haven't used or one they haven't used for a while, and promise to try it for a week or two.

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