Based in Izmir, Turkey, Simon Mumford teaches EAP in the university sector and has had lessons published in both ELT magazines and websites. Simon draws on nearly 30 years’ teaching experience to reveal what he believes are the essentials for an excellent lesson.
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 started teaching in 1986. Most of my teaching has been done in Izmir, Turkey, my long-term home. After starting out teaching general English in language schools and a secondary school, I moved to the University sector. I currently teach EAP in an English-medium University. I have also taught teenagers and adults on summer courses in Brighton and London in UK.
Why did you first decide to enter the lesson share competition?
I had already had classroom activities published in ELT magazines and websites, so I thought I would try lesson share. I found writing a lesson plan is a bit different from other types of writing; it has to be quite precise: timing has to work, and staging needs to be clear and logical. I found it challenging and fun. It’s a bit like writing a short story, where you have limited space to create something intriguing which leads to a climax, and the whole piece is fairly self-contained.
How has the experience of winning lesson share helped you as a teacher?
It has given me a feeling of achievement. After winning several times, I am on the look-out for potential lesson share ideas. Unfortunately, there is not always time to write them up. However, it’s always at the back of my mind that if I get an idea for doing things in a different and interesting way, it could be suitable for lesson share. The chance to be published is also a strong incentive for turning your idea into a carefully thought-out lesson plan, and this experience has definitely helped me to think about the many different ways of using the 40-50 minute lesson slot.
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?
Yes, I still write ideas for teaching, but unfortunately not so much now. I enjoy writing resources for teaching, but find myself moving more towards more academic interests, such as writing and editing research papers, which is in big demand in Turkey.
My advice for writing a winning lesson plan is to follow your interests. I have written lessons based on stories, poems, puzzles, diagrams, and sayings and quotations, things which I enjoy for their own sake. The fun part is to take something that interests you, and to make it interesting for your students as well. Of course, the lesson should have a clear goal, so it’s important make sure the lesson content (what you are interested in) matches your objectives (what you are teaching).
What do you like most about onestopenglish?
The incredible range of archive material on all aspects of ELT written by well-known writers, and also by teachers like myself. And, of course, the chance to publish lessons on a high profile ELT website.