The Saturday Sessions 2019 – 2020


We’re back with four new teacher training mornings at our centre in San Sebastián, Spain. Each 4-hour training has two different sessions and a coffee break. Both sessions will be based on the same general theme, to help you really explore it in depth and provide you with different perspectives and approaches to the same topic.

Here are this year’s offerings, with a little taster of what will be spoken about in each session.

The Power of Phonics – 16/11/19

Synthetic Phonics for YLs– This method of teaching reading and writing to primary-age learners has proven to be very successful in countries it has been implemented in and has increased the overall literacy skills of YLs. In recent years it has also started to become popular in teaching English as a Foreign language, due to the seemingly irregular spelling patterns and rules in English compared to many students’ L1s. In this session teachers will look at reasons for implementing a synthetic phonics syllabus in YLs classes and how to integrate this into the regular classes you are teaching from coursebooks.

Synthetic Phonics for Low-Level Adults– It is generally believed that synthetic phonics works best when learners are at the critical stage of language learning and are developing their ability to spot patterns and rules to eventually internalise them. However, it can be said that lower-level adult learners have a particularly tricky time when it comes to understanding why and how the sounds in English differ so much from the spelling and have a very strong L1 grip, both receptively and productively. This can prove to be very frustrating for these students as they feel like they’ll ‘never get it’ and even less so being an adult learner. In this session, teachers will see how to adapt the same concepts used for YLs for teaching synthetic phonics and how this can be just as successful with adult learners.

Exam Focus – 29/02/19

Focus on Starters/Movers/Flyers (YLE)– These exams are often overlooked as being unnecessary for students to do so early on in their language learning path and as a result, teachers don’t focus on them in class. They are, however, extremely useful in helping students acquiring the required exam techniques which they need to demonstrate at higher levels. Alongside this, at this age, students don’t have the same negative attitude towards taking exams and it’s a great time for them to increase in confidence when faced with an official exam task and the skills they need to be successful. In this session teachers will analyse the language being tested in these exams and how to integrate these into classes of YLs.

Focus on New KET/PET (2020)– Big changes are afoot in the world of the Key and Preliminary Cambridge exams. These exams, which form part of the Cambridge LMS (Lower Main Suite) have undergone years of development and change and these will take effect from January 2020. Having not been updated since 2004, they are now much more in line with the updated First and Advanced exams and there is a clearer progression through the different levels from the YL, through the LMS and to the HMS (Higher Main Suite). In this session, teachers will look at the changes and will see how they can use these to work on the key techniques needed as they move through the different levels and how these can be integrated into classes.

Maximising Speaking Practice – 25/04/19

Young Learners (6-18)– Speaking practice is often the element of a class which teachers find most difficult to plan and to consider when thinking about the lesson as a whole, especially when it comes to Younger Learners. We might worry about everything descending into chaos if we let them speak or worry that they will just use their L1 all the time. However, this is the time in their language learning when they need to practise as much as possible and develop the skills to communicate effectively in English. In this session, we’ll look at how to plan speaking practice activities and increase your meaningful STT whilst still maintaining good classroom management.

Adults– Unlike YLs, adults face the problem of reluctance to speak in English for fear of ‘getting it wrong’ or not being able to express themselves accurately. Adults often want to know how to say a certain word or phrase before they’ll attempt speaking in English. This can be problematic in class as they are less likely to take risks when speaking and might find freer speaking practice activities a little daunting, especially at lower levels. In this session, we’ll look at how to get adults speaking, regardless of their level and how you can help them feel confident and comfortable when speaking in English.

Making the Difference: YLs Classes – 30/05/19

Increasing Active Use of English– It is notoriously difficult to encourage Younger Learners to speak in English as much as they should do in class to improve their fluency, accuracy and general communication skills. We often try to overcome this by repeating the phrase ‘Speak in English’ over and over again to remind them of the importance of speaking in the target language. How effective is this? Not very, especially if you have to repeat yourself throughout the class. In this session, teachers will look at the different techniques you can use in classes of YLs to increase their active use of English and how to really make the difference to their communication in class.

Increasing Engagement– This is something which teachers often struggle with when teaching Younger Learners, especially those adolescents who are sometimes ‘too cool’ to care about their English classes. You may feel like you spend ages planning something which you think is fun, only for it to go down like a lead balloon when you teach the class. On top of that, the topics in the coursebooks sometimes lack that excitement that you need to engage YLs, so how are you meant to use them if students find them so boring? In this session, teachers will look at how to turn your regular classroom material into something much more engaging and relevant for YLs and we’ll give you plenty of tips on how to maintain this engagement throughout the class.


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