Volunteer English teachers needed in France

Dunkirk Adult Learning Centre is known in the camp as a lively and safe place to learn. It’s a great place to volunteer as an English teacher. The Centre provides a programme of learning relevant to refugees in the camp aimed at creating understanding and unity. There are currently daily French and English classes, a library, and literacy classes are in development.

If you have a work ethic that is professional and compassionate and you can commit a month or more then please get in touch for further information and a chat.

Sarah Wilson
+447950 106559 OR +441768 870817 dunkirkadultlearning@gmail.com
Find us on Facebook at ‘Dunkirk Adult Learning Centre’

About Dunkirk Adult Learning Centre

Dunkirk Refugee Camp is home to around 1,500 refugees, mainly of Kurdish origin, where they live whilst waiting to seek asylum in France or the UK. The Adult Learning Centre aims to provide learning in a way that promotes understanding and unity. Language teaching is in small groups sitting in circles on the floor. We are developing a library which is currently in a tent next to the centre though we have few relevant books so far.

English and French Teachers

We need volunteers to teach English and French from basic to advanced level. Expect to spend as much time on outreach as teaching because our priority is to be inclusive of refugees who find it less easy to study.

A TEFL qualification with some experience or some teaching/training experience is required, along with the ability to be adaptable and responsive in a refugee camp environment. Good communication skills, compassion and resilience are essential.

Outreach and Development Workers

We need volunteers to develop the Adult Learning Centre through facilitation of new programmes of work, recruiting and training refugee volunteers and helping with the day to day running of the centre. Outreach work is essential to help the less confident and more vulnerable people to engage with learning.

Experience of Community Development and Outreach work is required. Good facilitation and communication skills are necessary along with the ability to be well organised and cope in a challenging environment.


Here are some things that will help both you and Dunkirk Adult Learning Centre decide if volunteering here would suit you:

  • –  Have a look at our Facebook group – Dunkirk Adult Learning Centre
  • –  Chat with a returning volunteer
  • –  Have a telephone interview with Dunkirk Adult Learning
  • –  Provide Dunkirk Adult Learning with safeguarding assurances
  • –  Provide a professional reference to Dunkirk Adult Learning

    It’s fair to say that the conditions are poor (self-funding is needed) but the students are very motivated and refugee camp food is very good. It is possible to live quite cheaply for a few months in Dunkirk. We need people to commit for a minimum of one month.

    If you can’t commit to one of the above roles but are interested to get involved with the Adult Learning Centre please get in touch – there are many other ways to help.

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TEFL how to record student improvement objectively

A big problem in Teaching English as a foreign language is recording/proving/stating how a student has achieved improvement in their language output in an objective manner.

It is often the case that a teacher can say to a student/their students, “Wow, you are so much better at English now!”, to which the student/s will typically say, “I don’t think so” or “I don’t feel it”.

Many years ago, I started using a classroom system to counteract this: a language review table.


So, my language review table that I use in EVERY class I teach has 6 rows and 2 columns.

There are 3 headings: Almost Perfect, Pronunciation and Good Stuff

During the class, when a student makes a mistake that I feel needs correcting, I note it down in the “Almost Perfect” section on the left hand side of the table.

This does not mean that I leave the error uncorrected when it occurs. I try to vary my methods of error correction, so I wouldn’t say that I use one particular error correction method in conjunction with this table.

The Pronunciation section is for similar spoken errors

The Good Stuff section is for noting down any words or phrases that I bring to the class, or that a student produces that is worhty of noting down and remembering/re-using/some English output that should be praised!



AT THE END:  I go through the language review table at the end of every class. It takes about 5 or 10 minutes depending on the amount of content.

It’s not necessary to go through every single little item. Use your good sense to choose items that need focus on corection.

Also, ask students to remember the good stuff with prompts. Their recall is far better for new vocabulary retention than you just repeating out the words from before.

AT THE START:  With 1-2-1 students, I always start the next class with a review of the previous lesson’s language review.

This is a timely reminder for the student to try to eliminate fossilised errors or little slips.



The best part, and most gratifying for the teacher, is when the student uses a lexical item from the Good Stuff section in a subsequent class.

It can be a real moment of joy for the student and recognition that they are gradually  improving and expanding their vocabulary.

If you as the teacher consistently use the Language Review Table in this fashion, you will build up an ojective record of language output from your classes – good and bad output.

Over time, students can objectively see and read the mistakes that they are making again and again, and in my experience they start to self correct and eventually delete stubborn mistakes.

After 5 or 10 lessons, you can do a language review test, which encourages students to revise all the output from the class in recent weeks.

I can’t stress enough how useful a tool this has become in my own teaching.

  • Students actually look forward to the review.
  • They strive to make the Good Stuff section bigger in content than the Almost Perfect Section.
  • Students begin to self correct (in real time) their consistent mistakes
  • There is an objective record to show parents or students that effective learning is being done in your classes



I started by doing this on the whiteboard, but quickly changed to my own private notes (now on phone or tablet), as I found it much more effective.

Primarily, when doing this on a whiteboard, the language review table gets wiped off the board at the end of every class and lost forever (unless you are careful enough to photo and organise your photos on a super regular basis). Let’s be honest – we are not! 🙂

More importantly though, writing mistakes on a whiteboard, can embarrass or humiliate a student in class. Even if you have the best intentions with your error correction method, I believe that this should be avoided, as a demoralised student is never going to perform well and be bold enough to attempt ‘n + 1’ language output.

When you write the language review on paper, you lose the bits of paper. Also, the paper quickly piles up as you teach lots and lots of classes.

If you do your language review table in digital format in GoogleDrive, or whatever note-taking software you prefer, it is MUCH easier to organise into folders for different classes/students and simple to order chronologically, simply by giving a title with the group/student name and the date of the lesson.

A further advantage of the digital records, is that you can quickly copy paste elements of the language review table to make up content for future lessons.

The best adavantage of digital storage though, is that you can make the language review table available to all the members of your class, so that they can look at it later. Obviously, not everyone, and only a few, if any, will refer to the language review in their own free time… but it is there available for the most willing and motivated students.

You can also use the table for homework tasks:

  1. Write out the correct version of 5 of the Almost Perfect sentences
  2. Make 3 sentences about your week containing 3 of the Good Stuff phrases/words
  3. Write the most difficult sentence you can think of to say using as many words as possible from the pronunication section (to make your friend say in the next class)


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Business English no-plan TEFL lesson plan

Normally, I plan all my lessons that I teach.

I always try to review the students’ language output (corrections, pronunciation and ‘good stuff’) from the previous lesson at the start of a class, through the use of my ‘language review table’ (an article to come on this topic next week). Then proceed into a lesson that attempts to inspire and motivate studetns based on my knowledge of their interests and working practises, balanced with content that is judiciously selected from current affairs or the business pages of online newspapers that somehow caught my eye for their English language usage.

However, no-one is perfect!

Sometimes, you find yourself in the situation where time got ahead of you and the plan did not materialise. On occassion, you are called in to do a substitute lesson for a colleague that is off sick.

This happened to me last week, and rather than do some last minute panic desperate scour through an uninspiring textbook for a page that the student (the lesson was an Advanced Business English 1-2-1) may have already studied  anyway, I took a deep breath and faced the lesson without a plan.

After an intial warmer activity, this was my bold move…



How would you describe this last week at work in 3 adjectives?

(It was a Friday, which worked to my advantage)

The student said: crazy, difficult & long


Now, I imagine that most people might describe their working week as difficult and long, but thankfully, ‘crazy’ gave me something to work with.

My next question: That sounds very interesting. What were the circumstances that made it a crazy week?

Then followed a super interesting description of the final part of the selection process of a top executive in this student’s company.

The key to making the lesson progress is to ask for details at certain points, not to interrupt, but to let the student flow with their language and be ready with an intelligent question to spark further conversation/output.

For example, the student described how the final selection was between a man and a woman. This prompted questions from me (trying to use advanced, appropriate and natural English that may be new for the student) at various stages such as…

  • How many candidates applied for the job in the first place?
  • In your company, who handled the initial applicants to wittle them down to a manageable selection?
  • Why were some of the initial candidates turned down?
  • You said that 6 people had to give a presentation to a selection board in the 3rd round. What were the factors that caused 4 candidates to be eliminated after their presentation?
  • Did the final stage of the selection process involve psychometric testing?
  • Has a candidate ever been declined employment based on their pscyhometric test results?
  • Would it be advantageous to select the female candidate from the final 2, in order to fill a diversity quota in your company?
  • Why did the selection board plump for the female candidate in the end? What was it that made her win over the board of directors?



There was a lot of high-level language being used, some errors, some occassional slips, pronunciation issues, all of which I was noting down throughout in my language review table to go through with the student in the final 10 minutes of the lesson.

It was a great class, and the student remarked on that at the end. However, it has to be said that the ‘greatness’ was down to the fact that the student spoke for 90% of the lesson time.

So, this ‘no-plan’ lesson was lucky, I would say.

It happened at the end of an unusual week for this particular student that he wanted to talk about at length and get things off his chest.Circumstances are not always going to be as fortuitous as this.

However, I used my EFL teacher training knowledge and years of classroom experience to allow high student output with common-sense error correction alongside considered questions.

But, I would always advise on having a lesson planned out in advance to fall back on, but it might pay to be adventurous once in a while with such an approach as that outlined above… as long as you have a plan B, in case it all goes pear-shaped!  🙂



Posted in Business English, Lesson Ideas, Lesson Plans | Tagged | Leave a comment

Advice for teaching English abroad for the first time

What advice would you give to someone teaching abroad for the first time? Put it another way: what would you have liked to have known yourself as you travelled to a foreign land for the first time to teach English?

I thought about this question after reading about the inquest of a young British girl, Francesca Dingley, in Chengdu, China who did a week’s TEFL training and then started teaching English. The school she worked for supplied her accommodation, and she tragically died because of a faulty heater and the subsequent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Now, this obviously is an exceptional case and could have happened to millions of tourists. It should not scare people off the fantastic opportunities that a TEFL life can bring. There are thousands of EFL teachers living abroad without such problems. But this is probably an opportune moment for the more experienced teachers to give “newbies” any valuable advice that may help them in the beginning of their TEFL career abroad.

If we take the case above as a starting point, then the first bit of ‘looking after your own safety’ advice, would be to…


This is what Francesca Dingley’s father said:  A simple carbon monoxide detector, costing less than £10, could have prevented this. As parents, we urge you to insist that your child does not travel abroad without one of these detectors.


Make a few copies of the photo page of your passport, your driving licence etc

Have some passport photos done before you leave the UK – you will probably need both the documents and the photos for lots of bureaucratic matters when living abroad. It’s much easier to find and deal with a  copy shop and photo place in your native language back home, than it is finding these places in a foreign city where you don’t even know where to go to get some bread and milk.


I have lived and taught in several different countries, but by far the most successful was when I was in Spain and had a Spanish flat mate. The benefits are enormous. You learn the language and customs more quickly. You find out where things are and how to do things (like registering with the town hall/police etc). You meet other people quickly.

I’m not saying you have to live with someone, but you can meet your students outside of work to become friends… the native speaker can practise their English with you in exchange for local information. Trust me, you will have TONS of questions to ask about your new home!


Yes, arrange somewhere to stay before you arrive, so that you are not sleeping on the streets for your first night, but don’t get fixed into a 1-year accommodation contract to start with.

When you get to know your way around your new city after a while, you will probably find an area/district where you would prefer to live, rather than your first choice which was based on not having been to the city.

If possible, sort out some 1, 2 or 3-month accommodation, and then move to your more desired area after that time.


Visit your new home by getting lost in the streets. Obviously, take personal safety precautions (don’t walk down a dark narrow alleyway at midnight), but get out and explore as much as possible. You will find an unexpected cool cafe, excellent vegetable shop, a printers!!!, a swimming pool, whatever!

The city will open up to you far more enticingly if you walk around, rather than looking at google maps on your laptop whilst sitting on your bed.



Please help out by commenting below. Thank you.

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How to start teaching English after a TEFL Course

Soteria is a teacher at Saint George International English school in London.

She is a non-native-speaker of English, having originally come from Greece.

She studied the TESOL certificate full-time one-month course (at SGI in central London just by Oxford Circus station) and was selected from that group of successful trainees to become a permanent member of staff in the school due to her excellent teaching skills and friendly personality.

Here, Soteria answers a few questions (by email) on various elements of the TESOL course and how the the teacher training helped her in the beginning of her TEFL teaching career…


So, Soteria, when did you pass your initial TEFL teacher training course and which qualification did you get?
I passed my initial TEFL teacher training course in February 2014, getting the Trinity College London TESOL certificate.

And how did you get started in the real world of teaching English after you finished the Trinity certificate?
Well, to begin with, SGI has a good reputation for employing former trainees. After having completed the course with them, I decided to go back and drop off my CV in case there were any teaching vacancies. I was lucky enough to have completed the course just before the busy summer period which is why and how i got offered hours almost immediately.

Was it terrifying when you stepped into your first real class of students, or did the practical elements of the TEFL course prepare you well?
To be honest, stepping into my first real class of students-real in the sense of being my own class, without a teacher trainer observing me- was overwhelming but exciting at the same time.  And yes, both the practical and theoretical elements of the TEFL course had prepared me extremely well for that. Nevertheless, as a novel teacher I was quite terrified indeed.

And how long did it take for you to feel a bit more comfortable with your preparation for lessons and actually doing it for real in the classroom? DId you learn fast ‘on the job’?
I think that when it comes to teaching you are forced to learn fast “on the job”. An ongoing and endless process of learning takes place constantly, and when you’ve thought you’ve learnt something, that’s when you realise there’s a lot more to it than what you already know. Hence you learn as you teach.  So yeah, to get back to the actual question, at the beginning and for a good couple of months (or more), i used to plan thoroughly for each lesson-sometimes for hours-only to find out that especially in “real classroom” settings there are a lot going on, such as dealing with emergent language or focusing on some aspects more than others and so on. Plus it was extremely time consuming considering that you don’t have 15-30 min teaching time anymore,  but sometimes 3 or 4 lessons per day. So eventually, I put the Cert lesson plan aside and gradually began  making less and less detailed lesson plans until I got to the point where I didn’t need to type one up. It’s a lot more natural now I’d say. The use of course books and supplementary material made my life much easier as well, as I didn’t have to come up with or design activities for each lesson (as it’s required whilst on the Cert). So to sum up, lesson planning time does get better over time indeed!

And now, how is your teaching style? Is it a bit like learning to drive in the sense that once you have passed the driving test, you can forget everything you learnt, pick up bad habits and start driving in a less safe way? Or do you still retain and use (as much as possible) the teaching tactics that you learnt on the course ( e.g. low teacher talk time, board management, classroom management, concept check questions, instructional check questions etc)?
Well, I try my best to retain most of the teaching techniques I learnt on the course.
However, over the course of teaching these have improved becoming less forced, more natural and hopefully more effective.

Do you think that in the future you will go on to take the higher qualification of the TESOL Diploma?

Definitely! Most of the other teachers at SGI have taken the Diploma here and they all said that the course and whole process made them a better teacher. Plus, you get paid more money! 🙂

Thanks Soteria, for answering the questions!

Continue reading

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TEFL helping students correct their fossilised errors

Fossilised errors – a mistake that a student learning a foreign language makes constantly without knowing that they are making an error in the target language.
The L2 error has become a habit, so it is extremely difficult to correct the mistake.

*He love football (never putting an ‘s’ on a 1st person singular present simple sentence)
*Yes, I can to do it (following a modal verb with a full infinitive)

How are fossilised errors formed?

As a student learns more and more English and is constantly acquiring more and more knowledge, the emphasis of learning can often be centred on ‘the new’. The implication being that unless you are facing something new in every learning session and adding to your existing knowledge with a new item, then it is not a progression in the language continuum.
If this is the teacher’s or learner’s attitude, then basic errors can get left behind in this thirst for new knowledge, when it would have been better to cement the foundations, rather than building on incorrect output.
A learner could be producing an habitual mistake because nobody has ever corrected them when the error appears.
A teacher may unconciously reinforce an error by not correcting someone in a group class who has made the same, or similar, error and the learner may have taken that as confirmation that the error was actually correct English.
Probably the most common reason though is L1 inteference. False friends from mother tongue influence are perhaps the most stubborn fossilised errors that exist, e.g. when a German speaker says “Oh, that guy is really special”, meaning in literal German, “That guy is weird”, whereas in English the opposite meaning is understood.


Regardless of how the fossilised error was formed (there can be various reasons), how does an English teacher ‘reconstruct’ the (usually) grammar, lexical or pronunciation error?


A successful example of fossilised error correction

Recently, I was teaching a female student one-to-one in exam preparation for the CAE exam. She had previously failed the exam, but it was difficult to understand why (as I had not met her before) as she had a very high level of written English.

After 2 sessions, it was clear that amongst her excellent writing of the language, she also had several fossilised errors in speaking that were mistakes you would expect from a beginner or pre-intermediate.

For example, she would often mix up ‘he’ and ‘she’ when referring to the wrong gender – this was monther tongue inteference from Hungarian.
She would also omit to use the ‘s’ of 1st person singluar present simple.

Another curious habitual error was to say ‘a lots of…(singular noun)’, when the correct version would be ‘a lot of… (plural noun)’ or ‘lots of…(plural noun)’
For example, she would say…
* a lots of book
She peppered her speech with this phrase, so it was a high-occurence error

I dealt with this error in the following manner…
– Stopped the student mid-sentence when the error occured (not normally my preferrred method of error correction, so this was to highlight the importance of correcting this issue)
– Explained the incorrect grammar with examples of the correct version
– Repeated the above twice and told the student that she needed to get really angry/pissed off at this mistake, so that she would never say it again
– Set a homework (that the student had to send me a daily email every day for 1 week, including weekends, at 6pm every night when she finished work) that contained 2 sentences commenting on something from her day that contained ‘a lot of….(plural noun)’
In the first few days’ homework emails, she sent me sentences such as…
1. Today, I bought a lot of interesting books.
2. This morning, I received a lot of unexpected emails
3. This week was awful and exhausting. I had a lot of stressful things to do

– At the weekend, I adapted the activity to allow sentences that were about anything (as the ‘today sentences’ were getting a bit boring to read, so they were also probably boring for the student to produce, too). So then, she sent sentences like…

1. Last year I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, I was fascinated by the permanent exhibitions, there were a lot of remarkable artworks.
2. There is a vintage shop, not so far from my apartment, where you can find a lot of cool dresses.
3. As far as I know, Hemingway was an extremely prolific author; besides his novels he wrote a lot of essays and articles.

The student commented in the following week’s lesson that she had actually enjoyed the homework because it made her think about the error, but it wasn’t too long a task everyday to make it tedious.

She also said that during the day, she was thinking about the stuff she was doing at work and how she could turn it into a ‘a lot of…plural noun’ sentence.

So, I thought this was a great success as a homework, as it motivated the student to think in correct English, during her normal daytime activity.

The result was that during the next month of lessons, the student said the error only twice more (previously, she was making the mistake 3 times per lesson on average) and she immediately self-corrected… with a knowing smile.

She also passed the CAE exam at the end of our lessons with the highest grade for her speaking! 🙂


How can an English teacher correct fossilised errors?

1. Just deal with correcting one error at a time.
2. Clearly explain what the error is
3. Ask the student for several examples of the correct version
4. Focus on the error 100% so that it is patently obvious to the learner that this is a mistake that should be eliminated.


Continuing Professional Development Session – Correcting Fossilised Errors

On THURSDAY 28.01.2016 at Saint George International in Central London, there will be an evening CPD session for Teachers of English as a foreign language entitled, “How to Help Students Overcome Fossilised errors”
The talk begins at 6:30 pm and costs £5 to attend (there are drinks and snacks provided)

To book your place at the workshop, contact: Simon Liu or Melissa Corlett on – cpd@stgeorges.co.uk

Posted in Reflecting on Teaching | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

TEFL jobs in China 2016 – young learners

Saint George International is priviledged to have good connections with English schools around the world.

This is partly due to our excellent reputation as a teaching English as a foreign language training centre and also because our successful graduates go on to teach at schools all over the world and stay in touch with us.

Here is a round up for TEFL jobs in China in 2016 for specialists with teaching young learners.


Here are details of 3 different teaching vacancies for positions with young learners in China.

1. Join BUUK College and teach English in China!
Teaching English to 4 to 12 year olds in Nanchang, China
(For full job details and information on BUUK schools, please click here)

Bachelor degree or higher, prefarably in language teaching or education
TESOL Diploma / TEFL / CELTA / DELTA certificate is required
Minimum experience of one year of teaching EFL
Native speaker or near native with command of English speaking
Patient, resonsible and confident
Enjoy teaching and talking with new people
Able to adapt to a new culture
Positive attitude to challenges of living in a new country

RMB 5500 to 6000 per month (Average income in Nanchang is approxiamtely 3300 per month)
Free accommodation with free wifi, including kitchen, bathroom with western style toilet, all furniture (chair, sofa, table, bed etc)
Up to 500 RMB per month allowance for gas electricity and water bills
Return airfare ticket for one year contract and single air ticket for 6 month contract


2. Here are opportunities to teach in schools in Beijing.
These teaching jobs are through the UK China Education Agency Ltd
(Full job details here in a pdf)

Teaching to improve English speaking skills of students at Primary, Junior and Secondary schools in Beijing
TESOL or TEFL certificate is required.
Native English speaker from UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc
Bachelor’s degree with 2 years teaching experience
Master’s degree – no teaching experience needed
Starting in either March or September this year with a one year contract

15,000 RMB monthly
13,000 RMB annual flight allowance
Visa sponshorship in China (paid by the company)
4,000 RMB housing allowance per month
22,000 RMB health insurance per year
650 RMB annual health check up allowance
1500 RMB visa documents and translation allowance


3. And here is another China young learner opportunity with Disney English.
This TEFL job (full job desription here) comes courtesy of one of our recent Diploma candidate, Fergal O’Toole.

Young Learner Teacher with Disney English in China
Job essentials:
Bachelor degree
Must have at least 1.5 years post-bachelor teaching experience
English language fluency
Neutral accent, clear pronunciation, good intonation and natural English language rhythm
Internationally recognised English language teaching certification
Creativity and excitement to bring personality to the Disney classroom
Can commit to a 12 month contract in China

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