Ten tips for lesson planning

The advice on lesson planning used to be simple: (i) you should include the three stages starter, main task and plenary, and (ii) you should include a range of activities designed to engage your students.  This advice seems reasonable, but it is now outdated.  First, the conventional three-part lesson is restrictive and it does not allow for variation.  Second, the emphasis has shifted from What are the students doing? to How do you know that the students are learning?  The most important part of lesson planning is ensuring that your students make progress each lesson. Continue reading


Classroom management

Classroom management is either reactive or proactive.  A reactive approach to classroom management is where the teacher responds to instances of student misbehaviour by imposing sanctions.  The problem with this approach is that it does not take into account the causes of the misbehaviour.  A proactive approach, by contrast, involves setting up the classroom and planning lessons in such a way that students are less likely to misbehave in the first place.  In the vast majority of cases, there will be a simple reason that a student decides to misbehave in lesson. Continue reading

The NQT year

If you complete an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course, you will gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).  QTS will enable you to work at a maintained (i.e. Local Authority) school, although it is not always a requirement for Academies or Private Schools.  If you earn QTS, you will be known as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT).  In addition to your training year, you must complete an Induction period (known as the NQT Year).  It is advisable to complete Induction immediately after your training year, although this is no longer necessary.  You must pass Induction in order to be seen as employable by a state school. Continue reading

XiangYang / 襄阳

XiangYang was previously known as XiangFan.  It is the second largest city in Hubei province and it has an urban population of about 2 million.  It is composed of three districts: XiangCheng is the cultural district; FanCheng is the business district and XiangZhou is the industrial district.  XiangCheng has most of the cultural sites and FanCheng has the major shopping mall: Wanda.  The main railway station is in FanCheng.  From there, take bus 512 across the river to XiangCheng. Continue reading

Xi’an / 西安

I spent my first day in Xi’an taking in all the sights within walking distance of my hostel.  On the next day I took a Terracotta Warriors tour and discovered the parks to the south of the walled city.  I really enjoyed visiting Xi’an.   A lot of people speak basic English and the traditional, Chinese architecture has largely been preserved.  I’d recommend three full days to see all of the sights. Continue reading

Beijing / 北京

Beijing is the capital of the PRC with the second largest urban population in China (after Shanghai).   The city forms its own municipality and it is known for its long history, its politics and its air pollution.  It comprises four inner-city districts: (i) Dongcheng has most of the sites; (ii) Chaoyang is home to a large expat population; Xicheng has a number of lakes and (iv) Haidian is the university district.  Continue reading

The evolution of language

I follow Chomsky (1986) in distinguishing between e-language (i.e. individual languages) and i-language (i.e. our internal capacity for language). I-language (but not e-language) evolved and we know this because we are unique in the animal kingdom for being able to spontaneously produce and comprehend natural speech. This raises three questions: (i) What needed to evolve in early humans; (ii) How this process unfolded and (iii) Why language evolved in the first place. Continue reading