Quick uses for the GSE Teacher Toolkit

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The Global Scale of English Teacher Toolkit provides easy and quick access to the three parts of the GSE: learning objectives, vocabulary words and grammar structures – all aligned to the Global Scale of English. Along with this useful information, the Teacher Toolkit also provides invaluable resources for teachers that can be quickly and easily used to enhance any class. Here are some quick uses for the GSE Teacher Toolkit:

1. The sense check

Sometimes, when preparing my plan I come across content in my coursebook that I think is either too easy or too difficult for my learners. My guide on level of difficulty is informed by my experience in the field. Most of the time I’m correct in what my ‘teacher senses’ tell me, however, occasionally, what my instincts tell me and reality are not the same thing. The opinions of experienced colleagues or peers can be useful when looking at that content to help verify my thinking. The Teacher Toolkit is like having access to more than 6,000 colleagues! Now, when wondering about the difficulty, I can check the objective against the Teacher Toolkit to get a sense of the level of difficulty – validated by more than my experience. This is invaluable when it comes to building a lesson plan that will achieve learner success.

2. The vocabulary expansion

You open up your coursebook, review your syllabus, and realise that at least half the vocabulary words are words your students already have previously learned. You know from several weeks of work that your students are ready for more. But which words are going to be the best? Which ones will be at the right level? Or provide a new challenge to help drive learner progress? How can you be sure? The Teacher Toolkit is the perfect resources for getting vocabulary that will be right in that ‘i+1’ sweet spot – expanding on what your learners have previously achieved and pushing them a bit further.

Imagine you are working on a Business English course for beginners, and you’ve previously worked on the following vocabulary in several contexts (banking, in a meeting, creating a product plan):

buy (GSE 12, <A1)

open (GSE 13, <A1)

money (GSE 15, <A1)

sell (GSE 22, A1)

work (GSE 22, A1)

international (21, A1)

spend (28, A1)

sell (30, A2)

So, what to introduce next? Since my class is currently working around A2 and my goal is to push them towards B1 plus, I can add some of the following words to my upcoming lessons to challenge my learners and help drive their progress:

manage (GSE 38, A2+)

crisis (GSE 39 A2+)

fail (GSE 40 A2+)

borrow (GSE 40 A2+)

relationship (GSE 40 A2+)

compete (GSE 44 B1)

client (GSE 47, B1)

lend (GSE 51, B1+)

Knowing my goals, I choose a few words that are just above the level, and a few words that are essentially a stretch goal. Now I can work with the content in my coursebook, recycling previously introduced vocabulary and expanding with words that will help keep my learners on track to meet their goals.

3. The grammar guide

I’ll admit it, after all these years I still stress when grammar is on my planner for the day. There is always a concern that I may not have just the right example, or that the structure isn’t correct, or perhaps I really need an additional worksheet to work on a grammar point. The Teacher Toolkit helps me reduce my grammar fears in four different ways.

Grammar Fear 1: What to teach?

When trying to figure out what to teach, if I want to do something with grammar in range but not in my coursebook, I can use the Teacher Toolkit to search by grammatical categories. Working with adjectives? That’s sounds fun. Comparison, formation or position?

Grammar Fear 1

I know I’m working with my A2 learners, so most likely I want adjectives of comparison. Where do I start? Superlatives with most. Perfect. Grammar Fear 1: overcome!

Grammar Fear 1.2

Grammar Fear 2: What is the superlative of a longer regular adjective with most?

The Teacher Toolkit won’t let me down. Not only does it tell me what will be in the right range, it also provides the full structure and examples so I know what the grammar form looks like and how it is used.

Grammar Fear 2

And, to make it even more complete, the Teacher Toolkit even suggests skills that are related to the grammar form. A grammar lesson that is not based on either spoken or written production is not a great grammar lesson, so it helps to have an idea of what skill can be used to practise that grammatical form.

Grammar Fear 3: Grammar worksheets

Frankly, this is not so much a fear as that I really hate making extra grammar worksheets. The fear comes from potentially including poor examples or introducing grammatical errors when trying to help my students. The Teacher Toolkit has me covered here as well. For many of the grammar areas, it will point me to FREE downloadable worksheets that I can use in my classroom.

Grammar Fear 3

These worksheets mean I can expand on my grammar lessons with confidence, helping my learners to make meaningful and correct progress in their learning.

Grammar Fear 3.2

Grammar Fear 4: Skills outside the book

Finally, one of my favorite uses of the Teacher Toolkit is to inspire content that will support or supplement the coursebook. When you have been teaching long enough, you know one thing to be true: you see the same skills over and over again. Think about it, how often in your conversation book do you go from a vocabulary exercise, to a grammar exercise, to a gap fill, to a role play? This is not a flaw but a feature, as it allows our learners to get comfortable with a certain flow of exercises and provides excellent scaffolding to support successful use of language. However, this really only covers a single aspect of speaking: short discussion based on models using familiar topics.

When making our own materials, though, we tend to follow similar models, as we use our books as a guide to make sure our language and activities are level appropriate. With the Teacher Toolkit, we can surface some skills that are outside our book, but still at the right level for our learners. In this way the Teacher Toolkit becomes an inspiration generator for interesting and engaging activities. This is invaluable, especially at our intermediate and upper-intermediate (B1-B2) levels.

For example, I know that this is a skill that is frequently covered in my coursebooks:

Can describe future plans and intentions using fixed expressions. (GSE 44/B1)

At the same level, I find a descriptor that I don’t work with very often, which doesn’t frequently occur in my coursebook, but can be a useful skill for my learners:

Can react appropriately to good and bad news using fixed expressions. (GSE 44/B1)

This descriptor has little context and with a little creativity I can use a previous lesson where my learners talk about future plans using fixed expression to react to good or bad news.

And my lesson unfolds like so:

Grammar Fear 4

Of course, I could use a variety of contexts from my textbook to introduce other expressions for responding to good and bad news. This allows me to both review and expand on the work in my coursebook and provide my learners with useful rejoinders and responses for discussion.

So there you have it – some fast and easy ways that the Teacher Toolkit can improve the lives of teachers and learners. Have you been using the Teacher Toolkit? I’d love to hear about your experiences and the other ways you’ve been using it to save time and improve learning. Let me know in the comments section below…

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