To enhance the teaching quality among the lecturers, Faculty of Foreign Languages (FFL) held a workshop on engaging students in a TOEIC/ IELTS preparation class on August 11th, 2018 at Room V8.5 on the main campus of Industrial University of Hồ Chí Minh City. It attracted almost all the teaching staff of FFL because how to get students involved in their lessons to prepare for TOEIC or IELTS is a big concern to them. The workshop was conducted by Mr Phan Trọng Khôi, a highly-qualified facilitator, who are trained, assessed, and certified by Educational Testing Service (ETS). This is an intensive teacher training session designated for FFL lecturers who have been in charge of numerous TOEIC/ IELTS preparation classes with the aim of helping them motivate their students in lessons believed to be very boring and dry. The content of the workshop covers (1) some tips for teaching exam classes such as how to motivate students in the exam classroom, how to keep lessons fun and real, how to teach students both exam techniques and correct use of English and so on, (2) what makes a good teacher of English for exams, e.g. teacher’s knowledge, hand-on experience, thorough preparation, teaching method, additional activities, and technology assistance, (3) how to deal with ideas in speaking and writing tasks, and (4) how to create a positive learning atmosphere.
Most of the FFL lecturers were eager to share their experience in taking an IELTS or TOEIC as well as what they know about the test formats in the first section of the workshop. The following sections came in useful to FFL lecturers as Mr. Khôi presented how to be well-prepared for an exam class and then recommended the software XMind 6 Pro3.5 - a mind-mapping tool to summarize the key points. What’s more, he offered the workshop participants the links to some electronic dictionaries like Cambridge Advanced Learners’ Dictionary and Oxford Learners’ Thesaurus, which are really beneficial to English lecturers as they can download the dictionaries onto their laptop for later use whenever they want to look up a word or a phrase at home or in the classroom. More importantly, they will definitely share them with their students so that they can get access to a reliable source of reference. Technology assistance is indeed indispensable in teaching and learning English nowadays, so getting to know a number of new software or electronic dictionaries will be essential in applying technology to teaching English in a view to facilitating students’ learning process.
Another section of the workshop focused on how to instruct students to brainstorm enough ideas for their speaking and writing tasks in IELTS. As for speaking, students should follow the sequence “Who, What, How, Where, When, and Why” to develop the ideas in their mind. As for writing, it’s advisable for test takers to expand on a main idea by giving reasons and results. More specifically, they have to present an example, make a comparison, suggest a hypothesis, and then add a fact about the point they are writing. The techniques recommended by the trainer were so impressive that the participants seemed to figure out an effective way to facilitate their students’ development of ideas in the IELTS writing and speaking tests.
Furthermore, the lecturers showed their interest in the teaching techniques suggested by the trainer while playing plenty of exciting games under his guidance, namely hand-clapping, quick eyes, lip-reading, word stress, fingers, and writing in the air as well as joining a little bit challenging activity like describing a piece of blank paper in 60 seconds. They are actually the games and the activities FFL lecturers can apply to their English teaching to get students more excited and enthusiastically engaged in their lessons. It goes without saying that games play a really important role in drawing students’ attention to lessons and bringing them some fun to study actively and effectively.
At the end of the workshop, all the participants and the facilitator had a fun time together singing the song “My heart will go on” along with the karaoke lyrics on the big screen. From this activity, the facilitator would like to convey a message that lecturers are supposed to create an interesting learning atmosphere for students until the last minute of each lesson.
In conclusion, it is obvious that FFL lecturers really appreciated the workshop as it was a golden opportunity for them to learn how to improve their teaching method in all kinds of classes, especially TOIEC/ IELTS preparation classes, involve their students in a lesson, and encourage them in order to create the best possible learning environment in which their students can learn, make efforts and hopefully attain their goals in exams.
Below are some photos from the workshop
Ms. Hoàng Lê Thị Tuyết, Dean of FFL, was introducing the workshop
FFL lecturers at the workshop
Mr. Phan Trọng Khôi, the trainer, was presenting some teaching tips
The trainer was recommending a variety of games for students to play in classrooms
FFL lecturers and the trainer excitedly posed for a photo at the end of the workshop