Cactus Teachers Newsletter – September 2015

Welcome to the Cactus Teachers Newsletter, a new monthly newsletter dedicated to our teachers to keep you up-to-date on everything at Cactus. Whether you are currently teaching a course or taking a break for the summer, we’ll be bringing you teaching tips, exclusive offers, news and inspiration – and welcome your comments, too!

1. The Cactus Team: Teacher Support

Meet the Cactus team who will be your main points of contact and provide full support while you are a teacher with Cactus.

2. How To Make Language Classes Engaging

Our best tips for keeping students motivated and maintaining enthusiasm in the classroom, from our academic expert Fay Drewry.

3. Exclusive Teacher Offer: 50% Off Evening Courses

As a Cactus teacher you are entitled to a fantastic 50% discount off our evening language courses across the UK. Simply choose your course on and call us on 01273 830 960 to claim your discount!

4. Language Taster Classes

Before each new term, we run free taster classes in select locations to enable potential students to sample a language lesson and chat to us about their plans. If you would like to run a taster class, let us know!

5. Join our Teachers Facebook Group

If you are not already a member, please join the Cactus Teachers Facebook Group. This group has been created by Cactus to build a language teachers’ community where members can share interesting articles, news, events, photos and more. Currently over 300 members!

6. New locations for October 2015

From the autumn, Cactus will be offering evening language courses in 10 locations across London. New for October 2015 are Clapham and Fulham, and junior courses in Brighton. Our best ever offering of language courses in the UK!

We hope you have enjoyed the first edition of the Cactus Teachers Newsletter. We welcome comments and suggestions for future newsletters, so please do contact us to share your thoughts.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query, please visit our blog or get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter. Alternatively, feel free to contact us here or call to speak to one of our advisors on  01273 830 960.

Cactus TEFL Guide: TEFL Explained

If you are considering embarking on a career teaching English, the Cactus TEFL Guide is a handy booklet that tells you everything you need to know about the world of TEFL.

Covering useful topics such as TEFL as a career or a gap year option, the different types of TEFL course and TEFL course survival tips, the Cactus TEFL Guide is an invaluable resource from the TEFL experts.

Feel free to browse our TEFL Guide below, and contact us if you need any further information or TEFL advice!

Cactus TEFL Guide

Cactus TEFL is an admissions and advice service for quality teacher training courses worldwide. Cactus works with well-known course providers to offer CELTA, TESOL, equivalent and online courses in over 90 locations across 36 countries. Cactus TEFL also offers free post-course careers advice and support, as well as access to our very own TEFL jobs board and job alerts.

Cactus Portuguese Teacher Book Success

Cactus has always been proud of the teachers who work for us, as they are all carefully selected for their skills, experience and personality.

Tres historias diferentes para aprender portugues - Ian Costabile - Cactus Portuguese teacher

This month we are delighted that our Brazilian Portuguese teacher Ian Costabile, based in Liverpool, has published an excellent book to help students learn Portuguese.

Três Histórias Diferentes para Aprender Português, or ‘Three Different Stories to Learn Portuguese’, is a collection of three stories cleverly designed to help Portuguese language students learn new vocabulary and sentence construction.

For anyone learning Portuguese – either Brazilian Portuguese or European Portuguese – this book uses different vocabulary, tenses, verbs and sentence structures in each of the three stories to maintain interest and cater to different abilities and interests. Above all, the stories are fun, making language learning fun!

Find out more about Ian’s book on his blog Português Azul – where you will also find plenty more inspiration and tips for learning Portuguese.

Cactus Portuguese Teacher

Ian moved from Brazil to the UK in 2009 and it was then that he started to teach Portuguese. A keen musician, he found that many of the people he performed to were interested in the Brazilian language and culture. Members of a local capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) group also came to him for Portuguese lessons. Since then, Ian has qualified as an interpreter and now teaches Portuguese at GCSE and A Level in an Academy in Liverpool.

It was in 2014 that Ian became a Cactus Portuguese teacher on our Portuguese evening courses in Liverpool. When asked how he found working for Cactus, Ian replied, “I find teaching for Cactus a great experience. It’s a very organised and competent company. All the groups of students that I taught through Cactus so far were very committed to learning and enjoyed every single lesson. Through Cactus I have met people from different backgrounds who showed a huge interest in Brazil, Portugal and Mozambique. I also became friends with other Cactus teachers and staff.”

We wish Ian the best of luck with his book! Anyone wishing to purchase his book can do so on Amazon.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter, or contact us here.



language skills to succeed

Peer Teaching and Peer Learning in the Language Classroom

Why it’s just as important students listen to each other, as well as the teacher:

Language students tend to rely quite heavily on their teacher; looking to their teacher for all the answers, depending on the teacher to model the target language, believing that only the teacher can provide the solutions to their language learning problems. And teachers are often guilty of fostering a behaviour that encourages this perspective. However, there are plenty of ways to encourage students to see their peers as a good resource for new language and correct language, and to encourage them to listen to and rely on each other.

Why is it important that students listen to each other?

Surely students are better off ignoring their classmates whose language is full of errors, and just listen to the teacher who will model the language correctly?

  1. Get with the accent: It is very likely that whatever language someone is learning they will be speaking to other non-native speakers of this language in the ‘real world’. It is important to get used to a range of accents and to be able to ‘interpret’ the message that it being communicated, regardless of the first language of the speaker.
  2. Learn from mistakes: Students should be encouraged to identify and learn from each others’ mistakes. Rather than relying on the teacher to give the correct answer every time an error is produced, the teacher can encourage the students to correct each others’ mistakes. This can be via on-the-spot error correction, or by boarding errors and getting students to discuss corrections in pairs before feeding back to the class.
  3. Emerging Language: Students often use the classroom environment to ‘test out’ new expressions they have read or discovered outside of the classroom. This ‘emerging language’ can be a great resource for the teacher and for other students to learn from. Students can be encouraged to listen to each other to notice new and useful expressions/vocabulary. In open class feedback students can listen to count and note the number of new expressions that are used, for example.
  4. If you don’t know, ask: Students should be encouraged to ask questions about the language they are learning – not just to the teacher but to their classmates and other people they meet outside of the classroom. A language learner is never going to get very far by relying on only one source of information (the teacher) during their entire language learning journey. They should be asking questions and thinking about the meaning, form and function of the language as they advance and progress, wherever they are and whomever they are with.
  5. Building confidence: Peer teaching gives students the opportunity to clarify what they already know in their own minds. It is much more useful for the student to reinforce their own understanding of the target language by explaining to a peer, rather than listening to the teacher repeating something for them. It also engenders a ‘I actually know this stuff!’ feeling in the student, which is both motivating and rewarding.

Even though teachers often secretly feel they should be ‘masters of their kingdom’ when they are in class, it is important to remember to constantly hand over to students. Look for new ways to make students independent learners both inside and outside of the classroom, to build their confidence, and to always facilitate, rather than dictate.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter, or contact us here.

Teacher zone: how to make language classes engaging

As experts in the language education industry, Cactus has over 15 years’ experience designing and implementing language courses. If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter or contact us here.

In line with our new teacher training courses for foreign languages, we’re bringing you our best tips for how to make your language classes engaging.

  1. Activate Schemata

Whatever your lesson aims, find out what your students already know about the target language/topic. This shows you, the teacher, the language your students already have, encourages revision and recycling, and is good opportunity for some peer teaching and peer correction. It also shows your students what they lack, and shows them the language they don’t have, thereby creating a need for that language, which in turn motivates them to participate in the activities that follow – “I don’t know how to say this, I need to pay attention here!”. Activating schemata benefits both the teacher and the students on many levels. Images, realia, discussion questions, what happens next and problem-solving questions are some ways of activating schemata.

  1. Personalise your activities

Generally people prefer to talk about themselves, or about what they know. Remember – if someone doesn’t have a lot to say about a topic in their own language, they will have even less to say in a foreign language. By personalising your activities and finding a way for your learners to relate the questions to themselves, their lives, their experiences and their opinions, you will find that they have a lot more to say, and will be much more engaged.

  1. Vary Interaction Patterns

Increasing student talking time and reducing teacher talking time is key to maintaining students’ engagement levels and ensuring they progress at a good speed. However, it’s also important to remember to change things up – people don’t want to be working with or talking to the same person all the time. So change the pairs around, do the activities in groups of 3 or 4, change the classroom set up and physical arrangement. Keep things interesting by not being predictable.

  1. Cater for different learn styles

People learn in different ways so it is important to cover all bases by including a variety of activities that cater for different learner styles. Remember to have a good balance between aural, visual and kinesthetic tasks – this will keep your students engaged and also ensure that their learner style needs are being met. If you’re in a classroom that cannot accommodate a running dictation then get students to the board for feedback – you can incorporate ‘catering for different learner styles’ at all stages of the task cycle.

  1. Be Interested

Don’t use materials or activities you find boring, tedious or pointless. If you don’t like the materials or activities then this will show, and your students will not like them either. Be interested in what you are teaching and who you are teaching, and your students will be interested in what is being taught. Sometimes it is difficult to maintain enthusiasm for topics or language points you have taught many times before – so find different materials to teach the target language. Use authentic materials, take information from the internet, video clips, music, YouTube, TED talks etc. Bring the outside world into the classroom and your students will relate and participate fully.

Cactus has a wealth of information and tips on language teaching. Visit our blog or sign up to our newsletter for further information about language learning and teaching.

Of course, you can always call us on 00 44 (0) 1273 830 960 for information and advice on anything related to languages.