Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dealing With Challenging Classroom Behaviour

Gesture, attitude, behaviourMisbehaving - gesture, attitude, behaviour (Photo credit: Marc Wathieu)By Ritchie Morgan


When you have to tell a pupil off do it in private if possible. If they are in front of their mates, they don't want to lose face so they may argue back. When you have said what you need to say, end the interaction.

Criticise their behaviour, not them

It is better to say, "what you did was immature", rather than "you're immature".

When I was at school, we were shown how to thread a sewing machine during a Textiles lesson. The following week we had to do it ourselves and I remember struggling to remember how to do it. When the teacher saw my dismal attempt she tutted and said in front of the class, "you're not very clever are you!" I'm still angry at that woman twenty years later!

It might be true, but commenting negatively on a pupils' personality in this way will do nothing but harm. By telling them "you're immature", you're telling them that's what you think of them. That's how they are so there's no point trying to change. By separating their behaviour from their personality you are telling them they can choose to improve how they behave. It encourages them to take responsibility.

Strategies To Minimise Bad Behaviour

Here are some practical strategies to use in the classroom to help prevent unwanted behaviour from happening and for dealing with it when it does.

• Politeness - Set the example and be polite to pupils.

• Work the crowd - Use the whole classroom. Move around as you talk when addressing the class and when work is taking place move around to check pupil's progress. This shows you are considering everyone and lets them know you are likely to pick up on undesirable behaviour as you are 'on the move'. It also confirms your authority and shows them you are comfortable in your environment and in control.

• Behaviour chart - This is a very useful way to chart pupils' behavioural progress throughout the lesson. It is a visual reminder of how they are doing in the lesson and is usually very effective. It can be adapted for the needs of the class/pupil. Behaviour charts work well with rewards and sanctions. The behaviour chart serves as an indication of how close they are to these.

• Rewards and sanctions - Rewards work well as they provide the incentive. Even for pupils who might like to come across as above all that. Clear sanctions allow the teacher to emphasise where the boundaries are.

When things start to escalate ...

• Ignore - If it's low-level stuff you can ignore it. At this stage, it is probably best to avoid confrontation which can escalate if a pupil feels aggrieved.

• Body block - A simple technique for when two pupils are signalling to each other across the room and it's proving a distraction. Simply stand in the middle. You don't even have to acknowledge the misbehaviour that was occurring.

• One-to-one - When dealing with misbehaviour it is best to do it with as little fuss as possible. Try and do it with as little confrontation as possible. When you need to 'have words' endeavour to do exchange is reduced to an argument and your status is compromised.

• Follow through - This goes back to the point about consistency. If you say that you'll give them a detention the next time they commit another misdemeanour then you must do so the next time they do it. If you don't, pupils will rightly believe your authority is suspect and will have no confidence in you.
You will find it very difficult to control the class then.

Visit my website and click on the link for information on the causes of bad behaviour and practical ways of dealing with it. I've written a series of articles providing a basic grounding in lesson planning, behaviour management with some lesson activity ideas thrown in. It's designed as a one-stop shop for those new to teaching and I'll be adding to it over time so keep checking the site. Thanks for reading.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Homeschooling: Dealing with Doubting Relatives

Homeschooling - Gustoff family in Des Moines 020Homeschooling - Gustoff family in Des Moines 020 (Photo credit: Linda Dobson, Parent At The Helm:

It’s one thing to paint your house, only to have your mother-in-law stick up her nose and mutter something about nausea. It’s quite another to soul-search, decide that the very best thing you can do for your children is to create a new family lifestyle, then listen to her wail that you will ruin her grandbabies forever.

Yes, many families and circles of friends contain one or more well-meaning persons who will question your reasoning skills. This isn’t really surprising.

Isn’t just about everyone you know, and are related to, the product of more than a decade of schooling? Doesn’t it make sense that your decision to take a different approach for your children will be seen by some as criticism of their own upbringing? Some might even say, “Hey, I went through all that malarkey, and I turned out okay.”

As tempting as it may be, this is not the time to inform Uncle Albert that you think you’ve pegged his personality disorder.

Homeschooling and Doubting Relatives

Instead smile, secure in the knowledge that no matter how miserable they are making your life today, your relatives and friends may sing a different tune with the passage of time and the actual reality of homeschooling, as opposed to reacting to their preconceived notions.

“Well-meaning relatives wondered if we weren’t depriving our children of opportunities to make friends, if homeschooling was legal, what kinds of textbooks we planned to use, if we would keep up with the public schools,” says Kristi Schrampfer. “I even had a family member tell me that we couldn’t possible teach the kids enough, since we weren’t experts in everything (what teacher is?)”.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Improve Student Performance With Online Flashcards

English: Online LearningImage via WikipediaBy Chris Deiter

How do online flashcards differ from the traditional type?

The purpose remains the same - engage students in the material by having them create their own cards and then use this as a tool to drill with. The differences come with the technology.

Unlike some "educational kludges," that merely turn a good idea into a flashier, electronic version, online flashcards actually leverage the medium quite well. For example, virtual cards (also called "notecards") can be randomized, and a test generated from the information they contain. These multiple choice tests use information on the cards in a stress-free testing situation with just a click of a mouse button.

Other benefits:
  • Familiar environment for students; graphical interface they learn interactively - no "training curve."
  • The programs are hosted online and viewed through a browser. No compatibility issues with different computer brands or models and "always available" with an Internet connection, including school computer labs.
  • Free of charge - no economic discrimination.
  • An existing library of flashcards students can access and contribute to.
  • Same look and "feel" of physical flashcards.
  • Virtually unlimited storage for flashcard sets, organized by subject.

Educators are well aware that electronic-style games can be helpful tools, but do not give the personal interaction needed to keep students on track and motivated. In short, students do better when they aren't out on their own.

Motivation is augmented with two main features. The first is the ability to share (or cross pollinate) card sets with fellow students. They may wish to challenge their peers with a test drawn from their flashcards as well.

The second feature flows from the cloud computing aspect. Since the material is hosted and stored online, teachers can review a student's flashcards, either because they have been assigned or just to check progress. In fact, students are encouraged to share their flashcards with their instructors to make sure the information is correct and meaningful.

Assigning flashcards can come in two forms. Students can generate their own and then be graded on those, or teachers can generate a set. Flashcards written by instructors can then either act as an adjunct or the basis for a formal in-class test. It's a ready answer to the proverbial question, "What's going to be on the test?" if the core knowledge will fit on flashcards.

Rote Learning

Flashcards have gotten somewhat of a bad reputation because they seem to be structured for rote learning. While it is true that straightforward facts work well with flashcards and repetition, there is much more to the story.

For example, when a student has to create their own set of notecards (perhaps for a grade) they can only do so by engaging the material. This is a critical first step in the learning process. The act of entering information (especially if spelling and sentence structure are emphasized) adds a useful dimension.

Furthermore, memorization of critical facts shouldn't be dismissed. Having command of the basic facts of a subject then allows students to further their grasp of more complex constructs and concepts. To manipulate facts into higher level understanding, after all, first requires a command of the facts.

A final benefit of flashcards, even as a rote learning tool, is they provide a great reference and review of critical information. This alone will inspire confidence in students who otherwise may be very anxious and made learning adverse by worry.

Flashcards for assessment and the struggling student

While not designed primarily as a testing tool, a student's progress is available and an instructor-generated set of flashcards could certainly be used to measure knowledge or identify weaknesses. The nice thing about using the system this way is that students don't see it the same way as a formal test or quiz. Rather, it's closer to an online game or poll they might take for entertainment.

Another use is to allow struggling students a quick review before a physical test. Unsophisticated students may not realize the value of a quick recap of relevant information near the actual test. Because virtual notecards can be accessed wherever there is an Internet connection, they are as close as the nearest computer. Allowing a five or ten minute review time before a test can help borderline students improve their scores dramatically.


The primary purpose of online flashcards is educational, not entertainment. Those elements that make the experience friendly are designed to remove barriers to learning, not remove learning. But, like any educational tool, flashcards must be used to see any benefit.

Teachers who participate in students' use of virtual flashcards will see better results, more quickly. Parents can also help, and home computer use is a natural way for parents to oversee (or get hands on) with their children. In fact, parents often enjoy adding flashcards to a set or testing their own subject knowledge.

Make flashcards for your textbooks with Easy Notecards, a 100% FREE online flashcard tool. Includes quizzes, games, printing, sharing options and more. Easy Notecards makes learning new material fun and easy.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Second Chance in Life - Back to School

Students taking a test at the University of Vi...Image via WikipediaBy Irena Pergjika

Nothing is certain when it comes to our sharply competitive world. Amidst bank bailouts, and economical crashes it is difficult to keep a job, let alone find one, especially when the people lining up for the job you want have five different degrees. The harsh reality is that we are all replaceable no matter how effective we might be at performing our job.

Right now you probably have a job that keeps you comfortable, a job that in all likelihood you dislike, but have no choice but to deal with it since you have nowhere else to go and a family to feed.

I would like you to imagine leading life as the poorest citizen of this country. Without a high school diploma, you have settled for a dead end job that pays just enough for you to afford the rent. Strapped for cash, you try to figure out ways in which you can satisfy your personal needs, yet come up short every single month.

The only thing certain in your life are the bills which come in, like clockwork, every single month. Living such a life would lead one have constant anxiety for fear of running out of cash. Fortunately for you and for many others who fell short on completing a degree or a high school diploma, there is hope!

Ask yourself, is it a good idea to go back to school?

In short: YOU BET IT IS! Getting your GED is the first step onwards to your personal success. The more rungs you reach on the educational ladder the more doors you will notice opening up. However, going back to school is not an easy task to do after years of being away from the education arena.

Initially it might be tough to get back into the rigor and routine required of a student. Change is and will always be something difficult to achieve, and going back to school will require you to change your lifestyle. Once you me the decision to go back to school there will be no more watching TV for endless hours, catching up with friends every weekend or going partying as soon as you get the chance.

All the free time you have now will be replaced with endless hours in front of your computer completing an assignment, reading material on your way to work and the 8 hours of sleep you get every night will be replaced with "I'll sleep when I can." Just like everything else in life school requires serious commitment.

Although it is going to be hard and you'll be restless for half of the year, nothing beats the satisfaction of achieving your goal. Once you submit that final paper and finish answering the last question on your test booklet, it is all worth it once you see the straight A's across the board.

I like to think of it this way: Day by day, semester after semester, I'm a step closer to fulfilling my dream. You can do it, everybody can, you just have to set a goal and do everything possible to complete it! Don't give up as soon as things get harder because at the end it's all worth it, trust me.

Getting started

People drop out from high school for many reasons. There is the inability of balancing both work and school, being left without a choice by having to work in order to provide for your family, or simply peer pressure. You can always consider GED - life's second chance to pursue your dream and making it in this world.

You might think it's too late for you to attend school since you've been away from school for so long but you're wrong! No matter what your age group, it is never too late to continue with what you left unfinished. Open a new tab and start searching for the nearest GED center that will provide you with the class schedule and the examination booklet.

Attending class and keeping up with your daily schedule can be hard, and in some instances may act as a set up for failure. Thankfully, there are programs that you can easily find online which provide you with the assistance and preparation needed to ace tests and the final exam without you having to go any further than your computer. It only gets better!

If you feel that you don't need the extra practice tests and the courses, you can proceed to the final examination right away. However, I personally recommend for those who have been out of school for some time, and didn't keep up with the material to take some courses just to become more familiar with the material in order to refresh your memory.

What's next?

After you successfully complete your GED, it's important that you continue your education. Two year schools offer Associate Degrees in many fields such as Nursing, Arts, Early childhood education and many more. To complete an Associate's Degree you usually require 60 credits but that number might vary on what major you decide to pursue.

Many colleges offer morning and evening classes to best fit everyone's schedule, but online courses are available as well. You can also seek programs that don't require two years for completion. You can get training and start working right away after just a few months. Such trainings are available for EMT's, Mechanics, Motorcycle mechanics, home attendants and more.

It all sounds nice and dandy and I'm pretty sure your heart is pumping fast from all the exciting possibilities, but when it comes to paying for all these programs many people fall behind and end up dismissing the idea of going back to school all together. This is where many people are wrong!

There are many ways you can pay for school, such as applying for financial aid or creating a payment plan with your school. For many students financial aid helps pay for most of their tuition, and whatever is left gets paid for out of pocket. Alternatively one can set up a payment plan with the school. Other options are available depending on which school you decide to attend.

So in the end, this is only the beginning for you. No, there are no more excuses to make. The doors are open to those who are willing to walk through them. As I stated here, it does take time and commitment, but the pay off is tremendous. Not only is the prize an upstaged lifestyle, but the feeling of accomplishment. It is time to grab the steering wheel of your life, and turn towards success! Do not deny this to yourself any longer, and go back to school!

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Maintaining a Responsive Classroom Environment

English: This is an example of a classroom fil...Image via WikipediaBy Doug Apicella

The month of February often heralds a time of increased stress and busyness within our schools. State standardized assessments loom in our near future, district benchmarking of student growth is underway, or nearly at an end, resulting in lost instructional time devoted to data analysis and planning.

Three and four-day weekends become the norm, and all at a time when the pressure to fit in a full year's curriculum instruction reaches a climax.

It should come as no surprise that administrators and teachers alike complain of student behavior at this time, as though attention span, acting out, and other assorted negative behaviors somehow manage to reach an all time low in correlation to the mounting stress on teachers.

In truth, that describes exactly what transpires between February and March when we fail to acknowledge the oft-expressed axiom, children are sponges; our students perceive, soak up, and play our heightened state of stress and anxiety back for us.

The unfortunate fall out of an increased number of sub days, professional development days, and the odd but frequent holiday is that students in turn experience their own mounting level of anxiety in response to the disrupted schedule.

Similar to the beginning of the year, the month of February presents us with an important step in maintaining the responsive, supportive, and caring environment we worked so diligently to create those first six weeks of school. On the heels of January, and time spent reviewing expectations and classroom rules, this time presents an opportunity to check in, both with our selves, as well as with our students.

How safe and comfortable does each of our students feel in taking risks with their learning and thinking in the classroom? Do students support one another, and hold each other accountable for tolerance, respect, and positive behavior?

A colleague of mine stopped me after visiting our classroom during a typical February classroom meeting. By mid-year, my expectation is that most of our community can answer these questions with thumbs up, or at the very least, thumbs to the side which means, "yes sometimes I feel safe taking a risk by sharing my thinking, and trust that no one will make fun of me."

She expressed surprise that every student had actually answered indicating they felt safe taking risks, or that they usually felt comfortable doing so. "How," she asked with surprise, "did you manage that?!"

The answer to successfully creating and maintaining a safe, responsive, inclusive learning community lies in defining what that means, and very explicitly, what that looks like in each of our classrooms. Our answers will surely grow and evolve over time, but only by committing them to paper and sharing them with our colleagues can we ensure that our dreams become our realities.

The following serves as the benchmark against which I measure my own classroom, and I revisit it often throughout the school year. My hope is that this crazy February academic season, you enjoy the following reflection, and feel inspired to create your own. February does bring a great deal of upheaval and interruption, but it need not derail our classroom community, or increase our students' level of perceived or internal anxiety.

With luck, we can each succeed in creating a safe haven in which learning, reflection, and relaxation take place, and both our students and our selves, enjoy a safe haven in which we connect and grow together.

Selecting the right educational supplies help aid and foster a responsive classroom environment where students feel ready and confident to learn.

Like this article? If so you can visit the Learning Hive, an educational resource center for educators everywhere.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Learning to Read

Child in Tanzania reading a book. Original cap...                              Image via WikipediaBy Chris O'Donoghue

I am an experienced teacher of mathematics in schools, to children aged between 8 and 18 years. I now go into my local middle school and help with a few mathematics lessons, and it is a most enlightening experience.

So what has this got to do with learning to read? Those of you who work in this important area of a child's life will know more about it than I do, but I have recently been giving the matter a lot of thought as I have been working with a 10 year old with a reading age of below 5 years. Why did Tommy fail to read as a young child? What went wrong with his development? Could I turn the clock back 5 or 6 years for this child? Could I use the method which works for a child of 4 or 5?

To my mind, the most important activity which prepares children to become readers, is to read to them while they can see the book. They see these strange shapes on the page and quickly realise that they are words which string together to make a story. This provides the best preparation for learning: motivation. I must add here, of course, that a child will still enjoy the attention she or he enjoys when an adult reads to them, so don't be surprised if they learn slowly!

Sadly, Tommy must have missed out on this process for reasons I do not know. The effect on him has been devastating. I can imagine that as a young child, seeing that others in his class could read while he could not, led him to believe that he was not very bright. If he was not very clever, then he must have thought that he was not worth much as a person.

I came across him in mathematics lessons when he was 9 years old. It was obvious as I watched him work, that his powers of reasoning were considerable. And this child could hardly read!

By this time, Tommy was 10 years old. I undertook to help him with his reading, and I am pleased to say that we - Tommy and I - have been successful. Now aged 12, he does not read for pleasure, but he can manage most of his own needs where words are concerned.

So why did we manage it? Although his teachers had tried to help him in the past, he was one child in a class of many. I succeeded because I could work one-to-one with him.

There was another important ingredient: trust. I offered to help him as an unpaid volunteer because I could not stand aside and see such intelligence going to waste in one so young. I believed in his ability and told him so. As his self-esteem improved, so did he as a person.

The reading material he used was aimed at children of his age. He didn't have to read the adventures of Pinky the Poodle - or whatever!

So what works?

Tommy is obviously intelligent, although it is always best to start with the assumption that a child is bright.

Encouragement works, but only if it is honest. If you tell a child he is doing fantastically well when he is not, he will see through you and you will lose his trust. Remember, he is intelligent.

Patience and determination on the part of the adult are essential. You have to provide both when your pupil begins to waver.

Don't rush things. Bewilder your pupil with a Latin motto festina lente: "make haste slowly."

Forget about whether you should be using phonics, or rote of whatever. Who cares? What counts is the personal touch and your care for your pupil.

Improve a child's reading and you change that child's life.

When are you going to start?

Chris O'Donoghue is the author of an ebook "Mathematics To Do," samples of which can be seen at He has also written "Charlie's Reading Rescue - Improve an Older Child's Reading," a book to support poor readers. Details are at

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beyond Debate Club

English: DebateImage via Wikipediaby Will Wlizlo, on UTNE: The Best of the Alternative Press:

While no parent wants a petulant, argumentative teenager, cultivating a skill set for feisty debate in secondary school may be the most effective way to ensure a reasoned adulthood.

Columbia University’s Deanna Kuhn, a psychology professor whose work in cognitive science and education was recently profiled by Miller-McCune, worries argument “based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence” is dying out - yet, in our ever more complex world, is ever more crucial. How, she set out to uncover, could we foster a generation of rational, well-informed citizens to meet the challenges of tomorrow?

Though a geeky staple of secondary education, debate club was not the solution Kuhn investigated. Instead, she went meta. As in, metaphysical.

Kuhn’s subjects were mostly black and Latino students from a public middle school in Harlem, and all 48 were enrolled in a twice-weekly philosophy course for three years. Alongside the class’s curriculum, they researched and debated on controversial issues like animal rights and black market organ sales. “They often debated in pairs,” explains Burns, “not face to face, but online, in a sort of Socratic inquiry via Google Chat.”

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tips For Writing a University-Level Essay

The Gilbert Scott Building at the University o...University of Glasgow - Image via WikipediaBy Jo M Draper

When you take the bold step to commence a university undergraduate course you are moving into a new realm of education, which in turn requires you to deliver a new level of academic work. This will involve giving presentations, completing research and writing university level essays.

In order to meet the requirements of these essays there are a number of tips that you should follow which should set you on the track to academic success.

Firstly, remember that university essays should be well researched and contain lots of supporting evidence in terms of other people's previous findings. This supporting evidence could be in the form of a literature review or just quoting others' work throughout your essay.

Any references to other resources must be credited appropriately. Be sure to follow your university's specific guidelines in this respect as valuable marks can potentially be lost just by not applying the correct referencing method, or by applying the right method incorrectly. It may pay to familiarise yourself with whichever style your university uses, before you even begin writing.

A common referencing style is the Harvard system of referencing which has very strict rules about crediting authors, research papers and journals,  etc, but your University should be able to provide you with tailored guidance.

Secondly, a university level essay should try to delve deeper than a college level essay necessarily would. It should stretch and question theories and allow you to add your own knowledge and opinions in order to draw conclusions, some of which may never have been drawn before. This means you can't just recite your lecture notes, there must be some individual application of knowledge, and this is a challenge that many new undergraduates struggle with.

As with all essays a university level essay should have a sound introduction, a thorough research and analysis section and sound conclusions. This should then be followed by a full reference list and a bibliography.

Within all of these elements you should make sure that you format your work according to your university guidelines, this is good practice for when you come to writing your dissertation, as correct formatting and adherence to style guidelines could mean the difference between a first and a 2:1, in the same way, any essay, whether written at university or college should be proofread, preferably by a third party, to ensure that it is free from any spelling or grammar mistakes.

Following all of these tips will allow your university level essays to achieve the grades you deserve and give you a good foundation for when it comes to writing your dissertation.

Do you need the help of a professional proof reader? Then contact JMD Editorial and Writing Services today!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Young Teacher's Guide to the Internet and Assessment

UCLESImage via WikipediaBy Richard D Boyce

This article is designed as a starting point for young teachers new to using the internet as a tool in their assessment.

Being proficient at using the internet itself is not a guarantee that you will immediately succeed in using it for assessment. Nor is being inexperienced with using the internet going to prevent you from using it to create an effective assessment task.

The advice that follows is the culmination of my experience introducing the internet as an assessment tool during the late 1990s and the early 2000s. It is important to understand that my staff and I began with varying degrees of experience with the internet.

Below is the advice I would offer to a young teacher joining my staff in the first year of his/her career.

• Make sure the assessment technique is not a test of how to use the internet.

• Always do the test yourself first, looking for 'glitches'.

• Allow more time than you feel is necessary. Computers and networks abide by 'Murphy's Law'. Websites can often be unavailable due to an upgrading process.

• Have more than one internet site available for use if possible.

• Always review the task after you have used it and rewrite it if necessary. Don't disregard it because it didn't work well the first time. It may just need fine tuning to make it a great assessment task. You may need to add extra websites or update your list.

• Try to write instruments that are procedural in nature and don't depend on the website to be visited. Thus, you can use the procedure over and over again changing only the topic/data and the websites to be used.

• Remember to check your answers to the assessment task before marking, as the website/s may have been upgraded since you wrote the assessment task.

• Learn to use a variety of search tools, e.g. Google and Yahoo.

• There are sites that offer assessment items that you might use or adapt, e.g. had lots of quizzes on a variety of topics in Maths and other subjects that students could do on the internet. The site would email the teacher the results of his/her class. This site may no longer be available but there may well be others of a similar nature.

• It is important to check the websites you use for any bias. If you still wish to use a site, discuss the concept of bias with your class before you give the assessment task based on that website.

• Where students are allowed to find their own websites, they must acknowledge them. This will allow you to test the integrity of the site, if necessary.

• For lower year levels and the less able, make sure the websites you use or recommend are easy to use to facilitate the students getting started quickly on the assessment task itself.

• It is important that the websites you use or recommend have reliable data. Check it yourself beforehand.

• For the most reliable results, all students should have access to their own computer. Sharing computers can be more time consuming and can lead to claims by students that they did not get equal time to do the assessment task. Inexperienced students do take longer to do the tasks.

Remember that you don't need to be an expert web surfer to get started. Start simply. If it doesn't work the first time, change it and try again.

You can always use the results as a guide rather than a final grade or not use them at all. It can simply become a learning experience, both for you and your class.

In conclusion, the internet offers you this great advantage. You get real life data and the relevance to life that your students so often crave in their learning situations.

Rick Boyce taught for over forty-five years. The last fifteen years before retirement he was the Head of Mathematics. He gained a reputation as an innovator in the teaching of Mathematics and introduced the use of internet into the Mathematics assessment program in his school and became a presenter of professional development on the use of internet in assessment to teachers. The article above is but a small taste of what the young teacher can expect to find in an eBook titled "Internet and Assessment" on our website called

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Does My Child Have a Reading Disability?

A woman in a traditional Icelandic costume tea...Image via WikipediaBy Karina Richland

Reading is an important first step on a child's path to success in life. A child that is an excellent reader is a confident child, has a high level of self -esteem and is able to easily make the transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn".

For many of us reading is a natural process and we can read with ease and pleasure. Unfortunately, for a child with a reading disability, the reading process can become a frustrating and negative experience and is often very difficult to master.

What is a Reading Disability?

A reading disability is an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell despite at least an average intelligence.

Learning to read is a sequential process. Each new skill a child learns builds on the mastery of previously learned skills. First, a child learns to break down words into their most basic sounds, which we call decoding.

Later on, the child begins to comprehend the meaning of words and sentences, which we call reading comprehension. Decoding is an essential step in the reading process since it forms the foundation of reading. For a child with a reading disability, decoding does NOT come naturally and is NOT an automatic process. Most reading experts will agree that decoding problems is the basis of most reading disabilities.

Does my child have a reading disability?

Some signs of a Reading Disability:

• Child has difficulties sounding out words
• Slow laborious reading
• Reads without expression
• Ignores punctuation while reading out loud
• Guesses based on first letter of word
• Puts extra sounds into a word
• Drops syllables
• Reverses sounds
• Struggles with spelling
• Substitutes small common words

If your child is struggling in reading and showing the above symptoms, there may be good reason for you to request an immediate assessment. As a parent you want to be certain that you are providing what is needed for your child to succeed in school. To know what is necessary, an assessment is the first thing to do in order to identify the issues to remedy.

What is an assessment?

An assessment is simply a standardized test performed by someone trained and licensed to understand how to give the test and how to interpret the results. Specialists trained to do psychological testing and result interpretation are:

• Clinical psychologist
• School psychologist
• Educational psychologist
• Developmental psychologist
• Neuropsychologist
• Speech and language therapist

How do I get help?

A child with a reading disability will take in and process information differently and needs to be taught by specialists. Students with a reading disability will need to work with a specially trained teacher, tutor, or reading specialist to learn how to read and spell.

Students who have been assessed and diagnosed through the school district might qualify for Special Education Services. Children with a reading disability progress best with a sequential, repetitive, systematic and cumulative structured reading program.

Fortunately, with the proper assistance and help, most students with a reading disability are able to learn to read and develop strategies to become successful readers.

When is the best time to get help?

Effective early intervention is the key to helping a struggling reader learn to read. This training needs to begin sooner rather than later for the best results. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 95% of children who have trouble learning to read can reach grade level if they receive specialized help early on. Kindergarten to the middle of first grade are the "window of opportunity" to prevent long term reading problems. Without early intervention, the "reading gap" might never close.

There is no reason why a child with a reading disability cannot learn to read and comprehend well. It is important that we never lower the expectations of a child with a reading disability. Children need to feel that even though they are struggling, they are loved and not being judged. So be encouraging and patient and praise often.

Karina Richland is the Founder and Director of Pride Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can reach her by email at or visit the Pride Learning Center website at:

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

English Language - Still The Way to Communicate With the World

English: English language in the world (offici...Official Status of English as First or Other Language - Image via WikipediaBy Sarah Short

The British Empire ensured the spread of the English language all over the world and whilst the Empire might have declined, the prevalence of the language has not.

For a tiny island with a relatively small population, the UK did an amazing job in circulating its language all over the globe and curiously, the need to learn English in the twenty-first century is even more pressing than ever.

For centuries, business and trade all over the world have been conducted in English. English in its current form didn't even exist until the Early Modern English period - around 1500/1800bc.

The British travelled around the world, trading in various commodities exporting both their governing systems and their language as they went in order that this trading could take place with increasing ease and familiarity.

The adoption of English as the constitutional language of the USA helped keep the importance of the language high, especially with the relatively recent emergence of the USA as a global power and English (in some form) is now spoken all over the world. Intriguingly, British English is still taught as the prestige form of the language in classrooms all over the world.

Today, English is taught as a second language almost everywhere, which is very interesting considering that there are fewer native English speakers than there are native Spanish or Chinese speakers. A fascinating recent statistic says that there are five times more people learning English in China than there are native English speakers in the world!

In these days of global recession and economic uncertainty, the need to learn English has never been more important as more and more companies are trading and competing across borders, languages and cultures. Those who are joining the job market now need to be able to communicate with people from anywhere in the world and English is the chosen medium for this communication.

To be blunt, those who can speak English are more appealing (and of significantly higher value) to employers than those who can't. Even those of us who have spent many years in the job market can find value in learning English, as the smaller the world becomes, the more important it is that we can communicate with its many citizens.

English is the international language of diplomacy, business, science, technology, banking, computing, politics, education and medicine - and this list grows with every advance society makes.

There is no doubt that the ability to speak English well greatly enhances the opportunities and prospects of all. The pertinent word here is WELL. Poor English just leads to the speaker being ridiculed and making them look uneducated at best, and unintelligent at worst!

If you want to learn English in England Tudor Hall could be the place for you. Tudor Hall School of English is a small, professional school of academic excellence that specialises in just three things; exam preparation, general English and summer programmes for younger students (13 - 17). Our passion is our students' success.

For more information, visit
Sarah Short - Principal, Tudor Hall School of English

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Online English As A Second Language Takes Off

English: Online LearningImage via WikipediaBy Peter Dom Zappieri

Why do so many people want to learn English online? Firstly, it offers great flexibility which provides an option for people with busy and hectic lifestyles. They can pace the learning as per their ability and available time.

It is also convenient as they can sit at home and learn whenever they have the time and it is more economical compared to regular classes. Learning online also opens up a wide range of opportunities for communicating with people in similar situations and getting tips or advice from them.

Online study is the perfect environment for learning English; not only the most economical way to learn, but also the most efficient and fun way to improve your English skills.

You can decide whether group lessons, or tailor-made one-to-one lessons are best for you. You can join group lessons every day of the week and improve your conversational skills. In private lessons, you can prepare for exams, improve grammar, improve your conversational skills or find any tailor-made solution you require.

So the question you should ask yourself is, 'why do I need to learn or improve my English?' Well, whether you need a certain level of English for academic needs, or just to improve your conversational skills for better communication with others, or for exam preparation for the Cambridge English, IELTS, TOEIC or for any other recognized exam, then online English is definitely for you.

English online is just one way to learn or improve your English, but there are other ways as well, like attending a summer school or studying for an English exam in an English speaking country.

Personally, I believe in online learning for many reasons, two being the flexibility and the relatively low cost in learning a foreign language.

Going to an English speaking country will cost quite a lot of money when you consider the airplane cost, host family accommodation, travel to and from the school, and the biggest cost - the school fees themselves. So, yes the online school is definitely the cheapest way to learn.

Some may ask if it is better to learn in a classroom environment, but I would say that for serious learners, the online option is definitely the best way to go. So whichever online school you go for, remember that it may be the easiest, most convenient and definitely the most affordable way to learn, but you still need to be committed just the same.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Exams - Avoiding the Decision Fatigue Trap

Young Cambodians doing an exam to be admitted ...Image via WikipediaBy Phillip Gabbard

Have you ever slogged your way through a seemingly endless test, answering question after question, only to find your brain so exhausted that the final (and perhaps most important questions) were answered with nothing more than random guesses? Of course the final score reflected your random answers.

There is a reason for this fall off in your concentration during a test. It is due to a phenomenon called "Decision Fatigue".

It has been shown that the process of making decision after decision gradually erodes the brain's ability to concentrate. We all have a limit on how long we can concentrate on a subject before decision fatigue sets in and we start jumping on the easiest answer. This applies to many areas of life, not only test taking. Anyone who has had a long, drawn out argument with a spouse (which ended with a decision they regretted) can attest to this.

This article will provide information to avoid decision fatigue during a test and improve your score.

The good news is that we can improve the number and quality of decisions over time, making decision fatigue less likely to occur. By pushing a bit more each day, it is possible to increase the number of decisions that you can complete before exhaustion.

The other bit of good news is that there are a number of techniques you can use to avoid or delay decision fatigue.

To cut down on decision fatigue during an exam, follow the below rules:

1. Take your test refreshed

Don't schedule an exam late in the day after you are already fatigued. If your brain is only good for 500 decisions a day, taking a test late in the day is like taking a car into the Sahara desert with only half a tank of gas.

2. Never schedule more than one exam a day

The second exam is sure to suffer.

3. No dieting on test day

Research has shown that low blood sugar has an effect on the number of decisions you can make. During my test taking phase, I would swing by the donut shop prior to the test, get the two donut and coffee special, and top off my sugar tank before taking the test. That was the only time I allowed myself a donut rush.

It paid off in two ways, I got my sugar and caffeine fix and I got a reward for taking another exam. Think of this as topping off your tank before heading into the Sahara. If allowed, you can also bring in a drink or piece of candy to keep your blood sugar up during test.

4. Not all questions are created equal

In other words, some questions will not be worth your time or effort. If a question requires a calculation of 25 steps to complete, you are better off skipping that question and continuing. If the type of test you are taking allows you to backtrack, you can always return to it later. Backtracking this way, if allowed, will also let you use the knowledge presented by latter questions to answer a question from earlier in the exam.

5. Know the material

Unfortunately, all of the tricks in the world (even mine) won't eliminate the importance of being prepared. You should be ready to answer the majority of your exam's questions without thinking. If you can arrive at the answer quickly and easily, that means that you have more decision juice to spend on the other problems.

There you have 5 ways to avoid the trap of decision fatigue when taking a college exam.

Phil Gabbard is a world traveling engineer who has worked in Europe, Asia, the Mid-East and the US for more years than he would care to admit. While working in remote locations, he has developed various ways to effectively study, complete college degrees, and continue his education. He also emphasizes goal setting for self improvement and time management techniques.

He has collected his writings at his website: Please visit his site and download one of his free reports or subscribe to his newsletter.
(c) Copyright - NMI, Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Admission Requirements to Universities in Australia

English: The Cloisters, University of Adelaide...The Cloisters, University of Adelaide - Image via WikipediaBy Aline Heller

There are three common pathways to getting yourself admitted into universities in Australia.

The most straightforward mode is to obtain grades in Year 12 that meet a university's minimum requirements or to have high enough grades to meet the criteria set forth for your chosen course in university.

Second, you can also qualify for a university education through the universities' distance learning programs. A third method would be to get good scores in aptitude tests that some universities use for selecting students.

With regards to the first mode, universities set minimum requirements based on students Year 12 entrance scores. In this regard, students who obtain the highest entrance scores from their Year 12 usually have no trouble getting into their chosen university courses.

Entrance scores are known differently in different states in Australia. In Victoria, they call their entrance scores ENTER, short for Equivalent National Tertiary Rank; in Queensland, they are known as Overall Position Rank or OP; in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, they use the acronym UAI for University Admission Index; and in Tasmania and other states, they are called TER, which means Tasmanian Certificate of Education.

The different agencies that oversee these scores are the states' Tertiary Admissions Centres. Interested students can find out the minimum entrance scores for their preferred university courses through the Australian Student Website. Just navigate through the listings of different universities under each state.

A more convenient option is to avail of the course offerings at Open Universities Australia (OUA). Seven of Australia's top universities have joined hands in operating the OUA. These are Curtin University, Griffith University, Macquarie University, Monash University, RMIT University, Swinburne University and the University of South Australia.

The majority of the undergraduate courses offered by OUA do not have entry requirements. Students do not need to be physically present in the campuses, as all of their studies can be done at their homes. It allows students to fulfill other commitments while continuing with their studies. They obtain credentials from a recognized Australian university upon graduation.

The OUA has different course offerings to choose from. You have the option of enrolling in a short bridging program that would equip you with the skills you would need to cope with the demands of obtaining a university degree. You can also choose to earn vocational qualifications through training programs aligned with the skill specifications of companies and industries.

You may also enroll in the OUA undergraduate course offerings to obtain a university degree. The OUA also offers postgraduate courses for students and professionals interested in further education.

The last pathway for availing university education in Australia is through aptitude tests. Applicants, who for varied reasons do not have the required Year 12 scores, may take a university-specified aptitude test. One aptitude test that an aspiring university student can take is the Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT). This test is administered by the VTAC. You can consult different university websites to find out what courses accept STAT results as entrance credentials.

Other aptitude tests used by universities for selecting students are the General Achievement Test (GAT) and the uniTest. Universities use scores from these tests in combination with Year 12 results to determine applicants' chances of success in completing a course.

Aline Heller writes about higher education. To learn more about admission requirements to universities in Australia, go to Uniready STAT Program. Another resource is ExamReview.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The 5 Secrets Of Learning That No-One Ever Told You

hemispatial neglecthemispatial neglect (Photo credit: Will Lion)By Diana Vogel

Secret Number 1 - Brain Hemisphere Dominance

Everyone knows that we have two brain hemispheres - the left and the right; Logic and Gestalt.

The left hand hemisphere or the logic hemisphere handles our ability to see the bits and pieces that make up information - our ability to see the trees in the forest. It controls our ability to sequence information and put it in an orderly pattern. It helps us to see logical progressions and to recognise patterns such as number facts (multiplication tables) and rhymes.

The right hand hemisphere or Gestalt hemisphere handles our emotions, our ability to see the big picture - the reason why. It helps us to make sense of the bits and pieces in a meaningful and emotionally relevant way. The Gestalt hemisphere handles intuition and it is what allows us to make intuitive leaps - those flashes of brilliance when seemingly unconnected information comes together into something amazing. It governs our ability to relate to others with compassion and empathy. It is our creative side, our artistic and musically inclined self. Without it, the bits and pieces supplied by the logical hemisphere are meaningless pieces of information.

To learn effectively we need access to both hemispheres of the brain. In children with high stress levels (aka a learning difficulty,) one of the hemispheres is not functioning as it should. It is suppressed by the dominant hemisphere and its gifts are locked away. These children (and adults) are at a disadvantage - they are operating with only half of what they need to learn effectively.

Hence some are dreamers - they can see the big picture but have no way of knowing how to accomplish their dream. Sometimes they are called lazy. Others are so bogged down in the details they get lost in what is called analysis paralysis - they can see the bits and pieces but can't quite grasp how to put them all together into a cohesive whole.

Regaining the use of the whole brain - what I call brain integration - is the first step we take when working with a new student.

Secret Number 2 - The Ability To Move Forward

For so many students (and their parents!) feeling stuck, clumsy, confused and lost is a daily experience. It isn't necessarily a physical feeling - although it can be. Mostly it is a mental feeling, one of being stuck in mud, it is a struggle and hard work.

Of thinking you have the answer and then beginning to doubt yourself. Of being unsure that you heard the instructions properly, so you need to check, double check, triple check before you feel confident to move forward with the activity.

Our ability to move forward determines how we approach different situations. If we feel stuck, our self-esteem and self-confidence are eroded over time and our insecurity increases. As it increases we become fearful of making mistakes, of "getting it wrong", of being laughed at.

On the other hand, if we can move forward without fear - we can sometimes have what I term bull at a gate syndrome. We can rush in where angels fear to tread. Sometimes we can lack the caution which allows us to assess the situation fully. We can have what situations like the one that faced Po in Kung-fu Panda 2. We can see our objective - Gongman City Palace, but not see the wolves prowling the streets, we leap into action without seeing the dangers that lie before us. As Mantis said: "What are you doing? The streets are crawling with wolves!"

A balance between the two extremes - feeling stuck and fearlessly moving forward - are needed for our children to learn. They need to be able to make a decision and see it through. In order to do this, our children need the foundation of Secret Number 1!

Secret Number 3 - Ability To Communicate

What is communication? For many people it is our ability to read and write, to speak clearly and succinctly. However, it is so much more than that. Communication is more non-verbal than verbal. It is the way we hold our self, the tone, the pitch, the delivery speed. It is our body stance, our facial expressions, the way we use or hold our hands. These visual cues are what bring meaning and depth to our communications.

Beyond this, communication encompasses our style of presenting information. Are we logical communicators? If so, we start at the beginning and plod through every detail of what has happened, useful for writing reports, but boring in a conversation!

If we are an emotional communicator, we bring in the full range of expressive language options. We rant, we rave, we may be incoherent at times (especially when excited or angry). We tell the story from an emotional point of view - telling what stood out at the time, not necessarily in a logical progression. So we have difficulty sequencing events as we jump around following the emotional trail. This event reminds me of that one (which may have happened a long time ago) which reminds me of something that I thought I heard yesterday and so on.

When it comes to learning, if we are limited in our communication - meaning our communication is controlled by the hemisphere which is suppressed under stress - we may know the answer but have difficulty expressing it. We have difficulty getting our ideas from our head onto the paper. Sometimes we can talk our way through it, but often we feel tongue-tied. We grow frustrated with our inability to express what is inside of us.

This can go on until we literally explode. The child who is limited in their ability to communicate can feel as though they are living inside a pressure cooker. Once they hit critical levels, steam has to be let out - often in the form of tears, tantrums, escapism, or total shut down where they withdraw inside of themselves completely.

For those around them, this situation is just as frustrating. After all, when they are relaxed and integrated these children show us glimpses of what they are capable of. And these tantalising glimpses leave us frustrated that they aren't performing at their best, especially when we don't understand why.

Secret Number 4 - Visual Input

Visual Input isn't just what we see. It is how we see it, how we then relate it to previous memories and how we then decide to act upon that information.

For the child that is visually limited, the visual world is a confusing place. They can see, but the ability to interpret is not functioning. They can stare at a page of writing or maths and not comprehend what it is they are meant to do. It is as if we had placed a foreign language in front of them and then demanded that they tell us what it means.

To us, the language is what we are familiar with, we converse in it, we know that the child knows how to speak this language; they have shown that they recognise some words, some of the time.

So why can't they read and recognise those words?

The answer lies again, in integration. When the hemisphere that is responsible for visual input is suppressed, it is as though that information doesn't exist. We record it but we can't do anything with it (doctors call the Visual Processing Disorder).

When we work on the integration between hemispheres, we allow the information to be "seen", to be recognised and used. Hence we can teach someone to read, to decode, to follow sentences in a short span of time when they are integrated and accessing all information that is available to them.

No discussion of visual input would be complete without mentioning Irlen Syndrome. This syndrome which affects the visual cortex is highly prevalent in our society - especially among students with the so-called learning difficulty.

Irlen isn't a dysfunction of the eyes. It is a misfiring of the two nerves that lead from the eyes to the visual cortex. Normally these two nerves fire in sync and present a clear picture to the visual cortex for processing. When Irlen is present, one of the nerves is firing slower than the other creating a distorted message - kind of like looking at a 3-D TV screen without 3-D glasses on ...

The brain needs to work hard to straighten this image out, to even out the distortions. But often it can't and the images move, swirl, vibrate and pulse causing fatigue, nausea, eye strain, avoidance problems as well as focusing issues. For people with Irlen, the world is a visually tiring place.

Often, they have no idea that this is not the experience everyone has when they look at a book, or computer screen or anywhere else that requires them to focus. For them it is just how the world is, so they don't mention it unless asked direct questions. It is often a surprise to parents to hear that the words on a page move, blur, disappear, swirl, dance, jump or rearrange themselves for their offspring.

Secret Number 5 - Auditory Input

The final secret to learning is Auditory Input. Like Visual Input, there is more to Auditory Input than hearing. When we think of Auditory, we think of the sounds that we hear - usually words.

For the student with a limited ear, they hear but don't differentiate sounds. It is just one large jumble of noise that has no particular meaning. We could be talking to them, perhaps in our frustration raising our voice to almost shouting, and they would still be blissfully unaware that we are even talking. Like the eye that is limited, noise goes in (the ears work fine) but no associations are attached to them.

For people with a functioning ear, but who are not in an integrated state, the ear continually scans the environment looking for danger. This means that for people like my son, the noise of the wind outside the classroom window is just as important as the teacher's voice. He can't focus exclusively on the teacher's voice - his ear is continually straining to catch the sound of the predator he KNOWS is hiding ready to leap.

When we are in fight or flight mode (stress by any other name), we descend to the level of instinct. Survival is our main concern. Not learning. Not seeing things from different points of views. Nothing but survival is able to capture our interest.

Learning of any description is impossible when we are concerned for our safety. It seems laughable I know - after all our kids are in school, what harm can come to them there? But the body doesn't know that school is a safe environment. It feels the adrenalin and cortisone pulsing through our veins. It knows that we are primed to run for our life or fight our way out - so this MUST be a dangerous environment with predators lurking, otherwise we wouldn't have adrenaline or cortisone pumping through our system ...

So our children are edgy, easily distracted, jumping or turning towards every sound ... (sounds like ADHD, doesn't it?). They are tense, ready to fight, ready to run. Small things can set them off - and later they don't know why.

Depending on the combination of senses available to our child (which of the 32 Learning Profiles they have) many responses are possible. Running from the room when the tension becomes too much (looking for a safe place), verbal aggression when approached incorrectly by the teacher or another student (fight my way out of here), a feeling of constriction and being trapped, anxiety attacks, fidgeting, easily distracted by noise when they are meant to be focusing on the task at hand etc.

These children are labelled ADHD, ADD, Auditory Processing Disorder or Sensory Processing Disorder. Very few doctors or specialists recognise that these kids are highly stressed individuals who need to be shown safe, effective stress release methods that they can employ every day, in every situation.

Once again, brain integration and moving from a stressed state to the integrated state can and does have a marked impact on the behaviour of these students. When they feel safe, integration occurs, the unsettling behaviours diminish and viola we have a student who can focus, who can learn.

So what does this all mean for your child?

If we truly want our children to learn to the best of their ability then we need to understand how learning occurs for them. It is unfair to label children who are stressed with "disorders". Stress is not a disorder; it is a sign that something in a person's environment is amiss.

We, as parents, educators and carers need to teach our children how to manage themselves and their response to stress. We cannot expect to teach children with a one-size-fits-all approach, especially when the world that they live in is rapidly changing and filled with uncertainty.

Learning about your child's unique learning profile isn't difficult. Applying that knowledge also isn't hard. It simply means that we need to change the way we view our child and their education - to learn to recognise the signs of stress and to remind our children of what they can do to relieve that stress. This, as parents, we can do. It is easy, and it benefits us all.

Diana Vogel

Diana Vogel is a sought after speaker, tutor, parent educator and author who is passionate about teaching parents and their dyslexic children the life skills that they need to maximise their chances of success. The mother of 2 wonderful boys, one of which is dyslexic, Diana has seen both the positive and negative sides of the dyslexia coin.

To learn more about Diana and the work that she does go to

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Global Teaching Job Opportunities

English: KIS International School StudentsImage via WikipediaBy David H Johnson

Most teachers presume that well-paying overseas education jobs are tricky to find and that their particular skills will not qualify them for a position.

In actual fact, schools are publishing an increasing number of teaching positions everyday to satisfy the growing demand for quality education - and nowhere is more attractive professionally and personally than Australia. Are you a qualified teaching professional? You will find lucrative international teaching jobs in Australia at every level.

The Myth About International Teaching Jobs in Australia

Just about all people look for teaching jobs locally or in the same state, preferably as near to where they are currently residing, for many obvious factors. They dismiss any suggestion of seeking international school jobs in England as well as in Australia.

Most reasons against this is, is that many assume that chasing international teaching jobs involves a plethora of legal hassles, bureaucratic procedures, work permits and additional expenses, or even the realization they are not adequately qualified or have enough experience to score the job.

But actually, these days it couldn't be simpler to gain selection to a number of international school jobs in Great Britain and Australia compared to local teaching jobs because there are many more vacancies out there in the international market.

Many international schools abroad are searching for experts who are prepared to relocate for short or long periods of time. And the benefit of living and working overseas are manifold.

The Best Way To Acquire International School Jobs Overseas

The easiest way to find a good teaching position abroad might be through an established teaching agency. Since teaching agencies specialise in the recruitment of teaching staff, they are ready to offer you valuable information, help and guidance.

A teaching agency is able to provide answers to your enquiries with respect to relocating in a new country, the training body within your host country, the qualifications or accreditations to teach there etc. Many leading agencies guide you through classroom workshops to bring you up to speed or brush up or hone your talent.

Understandably, if you decide to research international teaching jobs online by yourself, you'll find a large number of resources available but the most effective way to find work is through an established agency. They take the hassle out of navigating the industry in another country and they have a vested interest in finding quality teachers for their partner schools.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Are Language Learning Software Programs the Best Way to Learn a New Language?

Happy to Use Computer SoftwareHappy to Use Computer Software (Photo credit: Old Shoe Woman)By Ryan Thomas P

When you decide to learn a new language, it's pretty obvious that you're going to need the best resources available to help you achieve that goal. There are many different avenues that you can take to learn a language and some of these are as follows: personal tutor, college classes, textbooks, and language learning software programs.

In this article, I will inform you of the positives and negatives of each language learning software and why learning a language with a language learning software will provide with the best likely hood to successfully learn a new language.


One of the oldest methods of learning a language is with the help of a personal instructor or tutor. You learned your native language by listening to your parents or guardian. So in an essence, they were actually a tutor to you. Having a tutor to teach you a new language is a great way to learn a language! Your tutor can plan out a study schedule for you and keep you on track.

One of the biggest challenges that students face when learning a new language is pronunciation. With a tutor, you will not have to worry about this aspect as much because your tutor should have a solid understanding of how the words are spoken and be able to teach you that same solid understanding.

The unfortunate part of using a tutor to learn a language is that tutors are expensive. The average price of having a personal tutor is in the range of twenty-five dollars an hour. This is just an average figure and I have personally seen this price much higher! Overall, having a tutor teach you a language is a great option to have at your disposal if you can afford to pay the necessary dues.

College Classes

College classes are another great way to learn a language. By taking advantage of college classes, at either your local college or a local university, you will be providing yourself with a teacher who can teach you how to communicate in another language. Your teacher will define a study schedule for you and help you over come any obstacles that you may encounter. Some of these obstacles may be pronunciation, verb usage, and listening comprehension.

In addition, you will have the added benefit of having classmate to learn with. This is a great tool to have because it allows you to ask your classmates questions and help answer any questions that your classmates may have. The major fall backs to learning a language by using a college course are time and progress.

Unless you are taking an online class, your college class is usually on a set schedule. This means that you show up at a specific time no matter what you may have going on in your personal life. Progress is the other problem and becomes evident very quickly when taking a college course!

A professor will do his or her best to ensure that each student is learning the material and this usually decreases the amount of material you will learn. A semester in college usually last around five months and at the decreased learning rate you will probably be able to only learn the basics of the language. If you have all the time in the world and you don't mind waiting on your classmates then this may be the perfect option for you.


The best thing about using a textbook to help you learn a language is that you can learn at your own pace. You can take your time or you can kick everything into high gear and drive right through the material. Either way, you can learn a lot about any language you choose to learn. The major down side to using textbooks to learn a language is that you are severely limited in what you can learn.

For instance, if you're studying Spanish and your textbook only list 20 verbs for you to learn. Obviously, there are way more than 20 verbs in the Spanish language! You may also face problems in learning how to correctly pronounce words or letters. Altogether, textbooks are a great supplement to another learning method but on their own they can do very little to help you become fluent in another language.

Language Learning Software

One of the most effective ways to learn a language is through a language learning software program. These programs provide you with an array of learning tools and in most cases they cover all of the basic language fundamentals such as reading, writing, speaking, grammar, vocabulary, and listening comprehension. Having a strong grasp of these six areas is essential if you want to be able to communicate effectively with a person in another language.

In recent years, most language learning programs have really advanced in their ability to successfully teach a student a new language. Some programs offer you guided learning tools, progress tracking tools, and speech pronunciation tools. Having these tools in addition to the lessons that cover all the basic fundamentals are very important to helping you learn that language.

If you choose to learn a language with language learning software then you should really take advantage of their customer support. These individuals can really help you out with any questions that you may have with the software. The disadvantages that are associated with language learning software programs are based on the individuality of each software program.

One program may focus on immersion methods where as others may use a combination of methods. So take your time and figure out exactly how you learn best and look for a software program that teaches in that format.

For me, personally, a language learning software program would provide me with the best opportunity to learn a language. The reason for that is because a language learning software provides me with all the learning features that I can get from a personal tutor, a college course, and a language textbook. In addition, I will have access to customer service, FAQ boards, learning tools, detailed lessons, and a money back guarantee if it's needed.

If you would like to find out additional information in regards to language learning software programs written by Ryan Thomas P then visit the previous link. You can also find reviews on several of the top Spanish software programs by visiting

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