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Its-teachers is part of iT’s Magazines, which is an independent publishing company.
It began in 1990 and they publish books, magazines and online resources for both teachers and students of English. The writing team includes teachers, teacher trainers and authors and they also develop content for other publishers. Its-teachers states that they provide “original and motivating resources for teachers and learners of English as a foreign or second language”, and their slogan is “The online magazine for English Language Teachers.” There are some good resources on the site, but unfortunately after June 2013 there will be no more material added, and there will be no more updates to the site.
The homepage is divided into Activities, Bigger Picture, Classroom Wall, Coffee With ...., Destinations, First Impressions, it’s-kids, Interact, Penpals, and Voices. There are advertisements on the site.
It is Easy to Search for Activities
Under the Activities tab, there are activities available for all levels from elementary to upper intermediate. Each activity has a level indicator, making it easy to see at a glance if the activity is suitable for your students’ needs. It is also to see which activities are classes as being short, medium, long, and very long, which is very handy for planning your entire lesson. You can easily see what, if any, extra materials you will need to fill your class time. There is the option to search for a keyword, or manually go through all editions of the magazine searching for appropriate material. I searched for features including the term “tenses” and there were three results returned. To view the results in full though, and obtain the activities rather than just a description, you must be a subscriber. As the website is stopping operation though, you are unable to subscribe. So, you are unable to access the activities anymore online, although there is the option to order back copies of the various magazines. Whilst it is, therefore, easy to search for activities, there is a lot of effort required to actually obtain useful information, unless you want to pay for back copies of magazines, and wait for those to reach you. There are perhaps easier ways to obtain materials and resources online.
There is an Interesting Interview in the Coffee With .... Section
Under this tab you can read interviews with various ELT teachers, trainers and writers. I looked at one entitled “Man of la mancha”, which is an interview with Jordi Muixi, a Spanish actor. It is interesting to see his views about using English, his reasons for staging a show in Spain in the English language, and how he sourced actors and actresses for the performance. It can help you to gain more insight into how learners and foreign speakers view English in the global world. The interview called “All work and no play?” looks at using video games in the classroom, and raises some interesting points. “Lost in translation” examines the role of translations in the English classroom. All interviews are very interesting, and may give you things to think about for your own methods of teaching in general, the different styles you use, how you interact with your students and engage them in activities, and may also be useful when planning individual lessons.
There is Some Great Information About Different Destinations
Under the Destinations tab, you will find information about different English-speaking places all over the world. This can be really interesting for foreign students, and can be useful for a teacher when explaining cultural and linguistic differences between different nations. Many of the fact sheets can easily be adapted to form your own lesson material. There is information about places that may not spring immediately to your mind, including Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Second Life, a virtual online community.
There are Links to Other Resources
Under the First Impression tab you will find a link to another website, Helbling Languages, where you can browse through different photocopiable resources. Although only sample pages of books are provided, you may find something relevant for your needs. Areas include folk songs, sketches and plays, grammar songs and activities made to encourage learners to think and assess. The other sections contain links to order other resource books, and they are categorised into easy to use sections.
Good and Practical Ideas in the Interact Section
I found some really useful ideas in the Interact section. The ELT Song Chart was particularly good, in my opinion. It is a list of songs that other teachers have found useful in the classroom, along with suggestions of how to use them. For example, the Queen song, Somebody to Love, is suggested as a way helping to teach pronouns because of the repetitive use of somebody, anybody and everybody. American Pie by Don McLean / Madonna is suggested as being used to show the difference between tenses, due to using the present simple, past simple and past perfect tenses throughout the song, as well as having a lot of vocabulary. I Am, by Hilary Duff, is mentioned as a good song for teaching adjectives, and All About Tonight, by Pixie Lott, is said to be helpful for students to refresh different ways of expressing the future. For me, this section is really useful, mainly because of the suggestions of how to actually use the songs, the expected outcomes and how to weave them into your class. The iT’s Survival Kit provides some excellent ideas for new teachers just starting their first job, with tips for equipment that they will likely find very useful in the classroom. There is a list of useful and practical books, along with an overview of each and the basic contents. The First Classes section under the Interactive tab is an absolute gem for new teachers, or for that nerve-wracking first class at a new school or with a new grade. It contains an article on 23 ideas for a first class, perfect for when you are struggling to think of something to do. Most of these ideas can also be used as ice-breakers, fillers and warmers for any class, as well as being fun activities to round off a class that has been completed in less time than initially anticipated. There are tips from other teachers as to how to conduct a new class, including lists of dos and don’ts. You can also find a list of links to other ESL sites within the Interactive section, which although could contain more links, is a good place to start looking for other useful websites.
Great Views From Other Teachers
In the Voices section there is a good selection of podcasts to listen to the views and opinions of fellow ESL teachers from all around the world. It is nice to be able to hear about the experiences of others, learn some useful tips, and to be able to hear different ways of doing things. There are 30 podcasts on a variety of topics, including diary extracts from a teacher in Mozambique, life of a teacher in Gaza, how to use lists in the classroom, usng yoga in the classroom, how to create good feelings within a group, how to survive the winter months, how to get the most from a teaching conference, how to make your own teaching materials, how to share your materials with other teachers, where to find motivating audio material and suggestions of YouTube videos to use in the classroom.
You Can Only Access Some Areas by Subscription
Some areas of the site can only be accessed by subscribing members, and it is no longer possible to subscribe. Areas like Bigger Picture, its-kids, and Classroom Wall are no longer accessible.
The Site is Effectively Being Shut Down
Although the existing content will remain, there will be no updates or new content added to the site in the future. FaceBook updates will continue to be provided, but it is unlikely that you will receive a response if you use any of the contact links. I think that the options to contact should be removed if there will be no response.
No Jobs Section or Forum
Unsurprisingly due to the site being shut down, there is no forum to interact with other teachers and no jobs section. These are commonly found, and used a lot, on other ESL websites.
I think that the fact the site is closing is a shame, because a lot of the material is very useful. Although I was not a subscriber to the magazine, if the information freely available on the website is an indication, I feel that it may have been a good magazine to receive. The information that will remain available though looks to be very practical and useful. I found the Interactive section by far the best, and I loved many of the different sub-sections, especially the area about using songs in the classroom. Also, I think the ideas and suggestion for a new class are great. I think a lot of the other information is great for new teachers, as well as providing a motivational boost for more experienced teachers.
Which sections of the site would you recommend to other teachers?
Do you find the information on its-teachers useful?
This is a guest review by an independent author. This review reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of BusyTeacher.org as a publication.