Number one for English language teachers

Colm Boyd

Colm Boyd hails from Country Cork in Ireland. He has been working in Barcelona for over 12 years and runs his own ELT blog. From throwing a dart to select his next destination to working for the British Council, Colm talks us through his colourful career in ELT.

colm boyd

First of all tell us a bit about yourself and your career in ELT (How long have you been involved in teaching? What ages/disciplines have you taught?)

I’m from County Cork in Ireland. In 2003 I closed my eyes, threw a dart at a map and suddenly found myself bound for Barcelona. Ok, it was a small map. Of Barcelona. But my decision turned out well. All these years later, I still find myself in this amazing city. My ELT work began with teaching kids and teens in small neighbourhood language schools. I then moved on to working with universities and business schools. These days I work part-time with the British Council as well as teaching classes in a business school, a publishing house, a law firm and a bank. I also do Skype classes with individual students and run my own ELT materials blog, picnicenglish.blogspot.com

Why did you first decide to enter the lesson share competition?

I was looking to expand my online work and kept noticing people asking about my “online presence”. What did they mean? Did my 95 Facebook friends count? Apparently not. So I decided to try and get some of my work on the web. It’s useful when looking for Skype classes and materials preparation work if you can link to an activity which you’ve had published online. OneStopEnglish has a great reputation so having an activity on there catches the attention of potential hirers and, presumably, makes you stand out as a candidate.

How has the experience of winning lesson share helped you as a teacher?

I recently interviewed for a teaching post with an online university and felt that they were interested in me partly because of my materials available online through OneStopEnglish and my blog. I’m hopeful that they’ll offer me the job. Winning Lesson Share has made me even more determined in my goal to work more in materials preparation, especially related to fun online videos.

Have you continued to write ELT resources since winning the lesson share competition and what advice would you give to someone who is interested in writing a lesson plan for the lesson share competition?

I am constantly creating new resources, usually based on online videos which might be pop songs, news reports, trending topics or presentations. That’s how I first got the idea for “An Interview with Daniel Radcliffe”. A word of warning for other teachers who wish to enter the Lesson Share competition: if you choose to base your lesson on a video, make sure you first check copyright details with OneStopEnglish. The team there will let you know what’s useable. I would also recommend creating an activity which genuinely tickles your fancy. Ask yourself whether it excites you. As a teacher, is this activity a part of the class which you will look forward to? If not, bin it and find something more tantalizing! As a final tip, I would suggest creating a photocopiable worksheet which is self-explanatory - the type of worksheet which a teacher can glance through, print, photocopy and use with minimal preparation on his/her part.

What do you like most about onestopenglish?

The printable materials. There is such an abundance of EFL resource sites. Some are excellent, some are foul! When I have a short time to plan a class, I need to find activities fast. OneStopEnglish is really well-organised by content and level and its resources are interesting (especially in the CLIL section). It means that I can use my preparation time productively rather than wasting time trawling through unsatisfactory materials and working myself into a faff. So in short, OneStopEnglish means less faff. And as an occasional faffer, that’s a big plus for me. I’m proud to have my work as part of the site.

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