Teachers all around the world recently remembered what it’s like to be students again, learning English with our new exam course series Formula. They joined a “live lesson experience” to get a first-hand look at the new course. Participants came away with lots of helpful tips and strategies for teaching Formula in their own online lessons.
Breaking down a super-intensive and intensive lesson from Formula
In this overview, we’re going to explore two different types of lesson. The first session is an example of a super-Intensive class taught in a short course of around 30 hours. The second session is an Intensive lesson taught in a course of around 50 hours.
What do these classes have in common?
Both Formula lessons help students prepare for the Cambridge B2 First. They showcase how to develop various key skills such as speaking and listening. In addition, each lesson focuses on one of the innovative topics explored in Formula such as expressing feelings in the modern world, self care and how we have evolved as a species.
The lessons follow the test, teach, test approach taken in Formula’s Exam Trainer and Coursebook materials. This allows teachers to test what their students know, before breaking down the exam tasks and teaching the target language or grammar focus. Then, teachers are able to test their students in a final exam task which consolidates the content of the lesson.
How does experiencing a class as a learner help you as a teacher?
By experiencing Formula from the viewpoint of a student, teachers are able to better understand how course materials can be adapted to suit their own students’ needs and course length. The test, teach, test method is successful but it is important to set it up correctly to ensure students can get the most from the lesson.
What are the learning objectives?
Whether an online or face-to-face lesson, It’s essential for students to be aware of the lesson objectives at the beginning of each class. This helps them reflect on their own learning and achievements and set goals for future lessons.
Super-intensive lesson objectives:
- to learn and practice making different word forms using prefixes and suffixes
- to practice word-formation – Reading & Use of English, Part 3
Intensive lesson objectives:
- to review the form and use of past tenses
- to practice Key Word Transformations (Reading & Use of English, Part 4)
Each lesson begins with a breakout room discussion. This engages students in the topic of the lesson and activates their pre-existing knowledge and language around the lesson theme.
Participants in the super-Intensive class are then introduced to the first Test stage of the lesson. Here they complete an example cloze activity in groups to show their understanding of the exam task without guidance from the teacher.
During feedback, we discuss important exam tips to help students successfully complete the task. We also check students’ predictions about how best to approach the activity. By doing this, students are able to feel in control of their own learning. At the same time, they learn to rely less on the teacher simply explaining what to do.
In the Intensive class, an inductive approach is used to elicit the past tenses students hear in a radio discussion. Taking this approach allows students to work together to figure out the form and function of the narrative tenses. They then check their ideas as a class and discuss any rules. This is a student-centered approach to grammar.
Once you have asked concept-checking questions to ensure understanding of the presented language, students practise the language in a more controlled way. Rather than simply completing activities individually on paper, activities are made more dynamic and engaging by using the interactive online platform, Wordwall. This allows teachers to create various activity types including matching games, quizzes, anagrams and word searches.
For further practice and consolidation, teachers can use any of the follow-on tasks from each lesson. These include the final Test exam task in the super-Intensive lesson, or the Grammar File for further support in the Intensive lesson.
- You engage your students from the very minute they enter the lesson. After the teacher welcomes them, they answer questions about themselves. This brings a sense of community to the lesson, even if the students and teacher aren’t face-to-face. Students also enjoy the opportunity to personalize their discussions in the lead-in to the lesson, which encourages engagement.
- The different methods of feedback used in an online class allow students to share ideas. At the same time, they can learn from and interact with each other by nominating classmates to unmute themselves and share their ideas. For teachers experiencing Formula’s lessons, they’re able to take away invaluable ideas to use in their own online lessons. For example, they can now use a variety of feedback methods to maintain motivation and engagement in their online lessons.
- By using a variety of ways of working in an online lesson, you can more carefully consider different learner styles. From using an online ‘gamified’ language platform to completing activities in groups in breakout rooms, students have opportunities to practice their receptive and productive skills as well as valuable 21st-century skills such as collaboration and problem-solving.
- By having teachers participate in lessons and experience them as students, participants are able to get into the minds of their students and enjoy an immersive experience. Not only do the teachers experience how it feels to be a student again, but it was also a lot of fun. Many more teachers are now armed with helpful tips and strategies to help prepare their own students for their Cambridge exams and teaching Formula.
You can watch the Super-Intensive:
And Intensive lesson here:
Resources used in the lesson
The following Formula resources are being used by the participants:
Accessed through the Pearson English Portal, the teacher components used are:
- Super-Intensive: Exam Trainer Teacher’s notes & B2 Exam Trainer with Key Reader +
- Intensive: B2 Teacher’s Book & the Presentation Tool
What is Formula?
Formula is a new, highly adaptable skills-based course that focuses on Cambridge exam preparation for both teens and young adults. It supports courses of 30 to 100teaching hours and covers three levels – B1 Preliminary, B2 First and C1 Advanced.
By picking and choosing different teaching blocks, teachers can create their own course to meet their students’ needs, whether teaching face-to-face, blended, hybrid or fully online classes.