English Summer School – spelling & more…

theLingoGuy classroom rule book

Rule # 1

Go in with a plan

Over the last two years I have took the time to come down from a course before fully reflecting on it. No knee jerk reactions and especially as I use a lot of energy in lessons, no decisions in the heat of emotion, elation or despair.

This years 10th Anniversary of the HftL English Summer School proved as always to be full of nice nuggets of insight into lingo learning. Not just the new Quiz format or the Hash House Harriers run.

It is an opportunity for me to try new things, mutilate old tried and tested stuff and put some sparkle back into my bag of tricks. This year I felt a little like I had been too long away from Business English, due to other commitments. So I focused on new approaches to this.

But I think my greatest success, and what my students appreciated was spelling and vocab retention.

At an advanced level students often appreciate polishing their lingo, and looking more professional. I did a lot of looking at their notes, over very differently adorned shoulders. This unnerves some, but I think is an essential teacher tool, ensuring there are no mistakes in the transference to the notebook. You do not have to wield a BIG RED MARKER, but it does reveal some surprises, even at this level. From my point of view it is also interesting to see how students with no phonology experience create their own short hands for pronunciation.

I made sure I kept a record of all the vocabulary used in the lesson so as to give impromptu spelling tests directly to specific students. I also made sure we did a review most days, not always first thing, to see what they could remember and to build with opposites and idioms or phrases in contextual placement.

It was interesting for me to observe that the best communicators in each of the two groups were not necessarily the best transcribers or spellers.

The dictation exercise mentioned in a previous blog entry I will continue to use as it is a great task to test multiple skills.

And one task I think will help my students with next time is to do a dual text clarification task.

One student concentrating on the spelling and clarifying vocabulary from chunks of lingo in brief context.

The other will dictate the texts for speaking practice. As a side note not mentioned before, this does really focus the students on intonation as well as pacing. As with good instructions they need to often slow their speech or ensure comprehension. A skill Business people need for explaining complexities or something as straight forward as reference/ order/ contract/offer details.

How do you approach spelling, as a teacher and a lingo learner?

Often teachers and institutions at a later date in lingo progression ignore the first stepping stones of learning (like spelling)

Do you think some exercises are ignored when students reach a certain level? What are they and your own approach to utilizing them in your groups learning curve?






  • Mo

    I have lived in five countries for more than five years each, including both England and the States.
    I suggest the wording should be “I have TAKEN the time”. I look forward to learning I’m wrong!

  • theLingoGuy

    As standard English, you are not wrong.

    But as any reader of my blog knows, I write with accented English as I believe exposure to all variants is necessary, and a style choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *