Professional development refers to the various ways people can improve their skills and knowledge related to their field of expertise.
In ELT, there are numerous options for pursuing professional development.
In this article, I’m going to suggest some ways to develop as a teacher, focusing primarily on teaching listening. The steps here also apply to other areas of ELT, but I will suggest resources and links that directly relate to teaching listening. There should be something in here for anyone from novice teachers to very experienced teachers. In addition, these resources can be passed on to trainees if you are a teacher trainer.
9 Ways to Develop as a Listening Teacher
Read Short Articles
A simple websearch can reveal a wide range of articles on teaching listening. Topics include listening strategies, approaches to teaching listening, activities for teaching listening, and planning a listening lesson. Do a search at BusyTeacher, One Stop English, and British Council – Teach English for informative articles that you can read during short periods of time that you have put aside for your own professional development.
For more in-depth knowledge of teaching listening, find a book on teaching listening that will increase your knowledge of the subject. (See the reference list at the end of this article.) You might want to read a collection of activities, such as Goodith White’s book Listening or you might prefer a book that covers research, such as Teaching and Researching Listening by Michael Rost.
Take an Online Course
Some teachers prefer the structure of a complete course, with the added benefit of receiving a certificate of completion at the end. Below are examples of two such courses:
Watch Talks and Webinars Online
In the 21st century, one doesn’t have to leave the office to attend a conference workshop or talk. Several publishers and professional organizations now have webinars and talks that can be watched online. Here are three excellent ones for teaching listening:
- Livening Up Listening by Nick Bilbrough
- Practical Activities for Balanced Listening Instruction by Beth Sheppard
- Five Frameworks for Developing Listening Skills by Michael Rost
Explore Worksheets and Lesson Plans
ELT websites, such as BusyTeacher, contain an abundance of games, activities, worksheets and lesson plans for teaching listening. Do a search online for an activity or worksheet that you think would appeal to your class. I recommend you take a critical approach to the materials you find. How can you adapt them to the needs and interests of your class? What could you change or add to improve on the materials?
Create Your Own Listening Lessons
Look for a song, TV commercial, music video or film clip that you could present to your class. Think about how you could use it to teach listening. Watch the video several times, and consider what language the students might benefit from focusing on, as well which listening skills (listening for gist, listening for details, making inferences) you could emphasize.
Write (and Get Published)
Many ELT publications, such as BusyTeacher, English Teaching Professional and EFL Magazine are eager to publish articles, lesson plans and worksheets written by creative English teachers. If you have created something interesting and unique (a game, an activity, a lesson plan), why not share it with others in your profession?
Do a Talk or Presentation
Another option is to give a talk or a workshop, either at your workplace or at an ELT conference. It’s a great way to share your professional knowledge with other teachers, as well as develop your own public speaking skills.
Form a Teacher Development Group
One more suggestion for professional development is to organize a group of teachers to meet once or twice a month to discuss ELT related issues. Members of the group can take turns presenting on interesting trends and discoveries.
Look over this list during the next few days and choose a goal, small or large, for your own professional development and make sure that you set aside time to pursue these goals.
- Brown, S. (2006) Teaching Listening. Cambridge University Press.
- Brown, S. (2011) Listening Myths. University of Michigan Press.
- Flowerdew, J. and Miller, L. (2005) Second Language Listening. Cambridge University Press.
- Helgesen, M. and Brown, S. (2007) Practical English Language Teaching: Listening. McGraw Hill.
- Lynch, T. (2009) Teaching Second Language Listening. Oxford University Press.
- Richards, J.C. (2012) Tips for Teaching Listening. Pearson
- Rost, M. (2015) Teaching and Researching Listening. Routledge.
- Rost, M. and Wilson, J (2013) Active Listening. Pearson.
- White, G. (1998) Listening. Oxford University Press.
- Wilson, JJ (2008) How to Teach Listening. Pearson Longman.
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