Webinar and video

I want to break free: motivation and growth mindset in the classroom

Using your brain: what neuroscience can teach us about learning

Considering that our brains are the key tool for learning, it is surprising how rarely teacher education focuses on neuroscience. Education is full of vague statements about only using 10% of our brains, or using the right or left brain, or being a kinaesthetic learner, but are these really based in science? In this session we look at what recent research has to tell us about learning, looking specifically at motivation and memory, and how to apply these findings in the classroom to help students learn more easily and effectively.


Interview with Cecilia Nobre

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOmT-LAtzWU&w=560&h=315]


Planning for differentiation

The session will start by looking at some of the ways in which learners can differ from each other- needs interests and abilities. We will briefly consider the term ‘mixed ability’ and why differentiation is becoming more popular, and what exactly it means. We will then explore a range of strategies for differentiating by task, teaching method and outcome.



How to get students writing and loving it.



Teaching Advanced Learners and Language for the future are both available on the OUP site. You need to register for the Teachers’ Club (which is free) and you can then access the webinars in the archive.


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More than just a worksheet: how to write effective classroom materials

Many teachers produce their own materials, either from necessity or to provide something more tailored to the needs of their students. However, writing materials for a whole lesson, which really engage the learners and focus effectively on language, is quite a challenge. Teachers learn through experience, but are rarely given much support or training in this area.

In this session we look at a simple recipe or template (based on Hutchinson and Waters 1987) for producing complete lessons, and consider a variety of do’s and don’ts taken from my experience as a professional materials writer.
We will look at plenty of practical examples, and participants will carry out a number of tasks. The aim is for participants to go away more confident in their ability to create their own materials.



9 Responses to Webinar and video

  1. Laurence

    Hi Rachael, why are IELTS books such as your Foundation student’s book labelled for band 4-5.5 when the exam reaches band 9? How is it possible to have different IELTS books for different bands when surely they are all based on the same exam format? What makes them different and since I have 4 students aiming for bands 7 which books should I choose?

    • Hi Laurence,

      IELTS is different from other exams such as FCE or CAE because it can be taken by anyone at any level and it should give an idea of exactly how proficient they are in English. There are books at different levels because they aim to help students at different levels maximise the grade they are capable of. A good coursebook and a good teacher should be able to help a student go up from, say IELTS 4 to IELTS 5 or maybe even 5.5, but they are extremely unlikely to be able to help them go up from IELTS 4 to IELTS 9, because IELTS 9 means that the student is at near native speaker proficiency.
      Lower level IELTS books will focus on developing a student’s language in pretty much the same way an intermediate level General English coursebook would, but the topics will be IELTS focused (i.e. the environment, science, social studies) and there will be plenty of practice in exam tasks. Higher level IELTS books will focus on higher level language and probably focus more on developing specific IELTS skills because it can be taken for granted that the basics of the language are in place.
      If you look at the Cambridge website https://www.ielts.org/PDF/113313_AC_sample_scripts.pdf you can see some sample answers from students at different levels, which might help to clarify how students can do the same task but produce answers which get lower or higher scores.
      The question you need to ask yourself is what the starting point of your students is. Sometimes students announce that they need level 7, but they are only at pre-intermediate level of English. In such cases, you’d be better off using a lower level book, such as IELTS Foundation, first and then moving onto a higher level book, such as Ready for IELTS when their basic level of language is higher. If they are already at an upper intermediate level of English, you could go straight onto a higher level book.

  2. Laurence

    Thank you so much for the reply. You are indeed correct. My 4 ielts students are asking me to help them achieve band 7-7.5 for emigration to Australia. ?And they are registered for the exam next March and April. But how can i assess their band level as a new teacher? I cannot give them an ielts exam. I gave them a Barton English vocabulary test which suggests they are band 5.5-6.
    Do you therefore think a different test is needed? I have never constructed an ielts course before but I have your Foundation student’s book, the Introduction student’s and teacher’s book and the Cambridge official guide to ielts.

  3. Hi Laurence,

    You can get books of practice tests, or there are some on the Cambridgeor British Council websites, if you want to assess their current level.
    I’d suggest it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself, and them, with the exam, and it will give you all a good sense of where you’re starting and how far you need to go.
    Obviously some of the test is marked subjectively (writing and speaking), but there are samples on the website, so you should be able to judge roughly what mark they would get at the moment.
    It isn’t an easy exam to prepare students for, to be honest, so you will need to do a fair bit of studying yourself to become familiar with the exam and be able to give your students feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. There will be lots of information in the books you have mentioned though, and there is plenty more online.

  4. Laurence

    Thanks again. I am taking the Cambridge ‘How to Teach IELTS’ and I have a British Council certificate for private teaching so I hope over time it will all fit into place.

  5. Laurence

    As you are an IELTS examiner could I send you an already marked Academic task 1 which received a band 5 to explain to me how it received this band? It can be found at https://www.ielts.org/PDF/113313_AC_sample_scripts.pdf

    Academic Writing Sample Task 1A 
    Sample Script A 

    Even using the writing task 1 band descriptors I cannot see how it justifies band 5.

    Is it correct?

    • Well, as an examiner, lapsed at the moment though, I am not allowed to give out grades except while examining. But I would say that band 5 is about right. You need to think about all the different aspects. The grammar is generally reasonably accurate, the task is just about carried out..a band 4 would generally be much harder to follow. Because IELTS tasks are challenging, a band 5 student won’t write something that looks as good as what they might write if you asked them to write a simple paragraph about their family etc.

  6. Laurence

    Thanks Rachael.

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