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Cut hours off your language lesson preparation time and make your resources reusable

Warning! You may start daydreaming about how you will spend your newly found free time halfway through this post. Please persist and keep reading so that you can start fulfilling those dreams shortly. So read on to find out how to drastically reduce your prep time and make your learning resources reusable. 

The never-ending battle

One of the problems every trainer, teacher or tutor faces is a lack of time. Especially if you are a startup, you most likely have little to no money to spend. So you spend your day switching between different hats trying to grow your business and hope for the best. 

 Been there, done that! Admin in the morning, teacher and Director of Studies in the afternoon and even cleaner after class.

And then after a looong day, you realise you have one more role to perform: that of the business owner! 

This is something very familiar to us. We knew we needed to do something to free up some time and hiring more staff was out of the question.  Before we saw the light and invested in an LMS to save time and money, we looked into other short-term solutions to save time.  Turns out the one we found proved to be a long-term solution that actually helped later on with our learning platform. Win-Win! We dragged and dropped all material into our LMS!!! 

So why do I need it?

There are countless reasons why. This is the first thing I install on every new computer and even after almost 10 years, I still use it. It is still compatible with today’s technology.

As all teachers know, lesson preparation takes up a lot of time, and this is where you can actually save yourself some time. In fact, in our school, we found that by using free, easy-to-use tools we cut our preparation time by a third without affecting the quality of our lessons.

Cutting preparation time does not mean lowering your standards. It is a sad truth in our industry, that some (luckily only a few) teachers rely ONLY on the teacher’s book/trainer’s guide their school provides them with and never put much effort into lesson planning. This is NOT the kind of time-saving technique we are recommending to you.  You should never compromise on quality to save time. 

Now many of you will say that:

  • You don’t need it!
    Trust me, YOU DO! You will use this software practically every single day!
  • You are a fast typer!
    That’s great if you are in an administration position where that’s what you get paid to do most of your day. But you are not and I bet you would love to spend your time doing other things like TEACHING and then relaxing once you are done.
    I know, I do!
  • You have done your job well without it so far.
    We all did once upon a time. We even did a great job before we had computers. But it’s time for you to enter the 21st century. Your competitors are using tools to increase efficiency so they can work ON their business, not IN their business. What are you going to do?
  • You are not good with technology
    If you managed to get an email, Facebook or any other social media account, then you will have no problems using it. It is UNBELIEVABLY easy to use.
  • There are so many options out there. Why should I use this one?
    Not like this one! This has been out there for years and even after all the fancy websites and software created after it, it still remains one of the teachers’ favourites. PLUS, the files can be embedded into our favourite LMS. So when you do see the light and realise you need an LMS, you can just upload your material and you are ready to go!

And WHY, you ask, are you going on and on about free software since you are not making any money from this?

We work in a very competitive industry but that does not mean you cannot share what you know. I  want to make YOUR life easier. Because before I discovered this and many other cool tricks, I was spending way too much time on simple tasks that would not help me in the long run.  Work-life balance is essential and I don’t know about you but as soon as I get some free time, I am off to the beach or the park for a picnic.

Bonus advantage:

HAPPY school owners make HAPPY teachers who make HAPPY students!

So what is it?

It’s called Hot PotatoesSounds fun, doesn’t it? It actually has nothing to do with the party game we all know but makes creating worksheets and interactive exercises child’s play.
You can make multiple choice quizzes, crosswords, cloze/gap questions, drag and drop exercises, matching exercises OR a combination of everything. YOU DON’T EVEN NEED INTERNET TO DO IT!

It’s free to download and can work on any computer.
It is very simple to use: Type, Choose option and Export.
You can export the material to Word. If you a nerdy teacher like me, read on to find out what else you can do with it.

Are you a nerdy teacher like me? Read on for more cool tips! 

What’s so great about it?

Tired of typing multiple choice questions for your next quiz?
-You don’t need to be anymore. You will never type a), b), c) and then try to fit everything into one page again.  It exports straight into a Word document.
Need to reuse the material?
-2 clicks and your questions and/or answers are shuffled.
Need an answer key?
– It makes one automatically.
Want to make an open cloze/crossword quickly?
-It does that, too!
Want to use it online?
-2 clicks and you have a HTML file to open with your browser.
Are you tech savvy?
-It is SCORM compliant and ready to be used practically everywhere.

Nerdy Teacher Info: Cool Tips and Tricks

  • To save even more time use TAB to switch between fields and PgUp/PgDn to switch between questions
  • Export the files as HTML and save them on your computer. The exercises are now interactive and open with your favourite browser (e.g. Google Chrome)
  • Go to: Options-Configure Output-Appearance to choose colours that suit your branding if you are using it as an HTML file/on your LMS.
  • Insert: you can add images/audio for each question
  • You can add a Reading text in JCloze
  • JQuiz: you can select more than one correct answer
  • You can give the learner the option to get a hint.

Veeery Nerdy Teacher Info: More about Hot Potatoes

  • It’s a suite of six applications called Hot Potatoes, created by Half-Baked Software.
  • It was created by the University of Victoria, Canada
  • When you download Hot Potatoes, you get these applications: JCloze, JCross, JMatch, JMix, JQuiz and my favourite……The Masher!
  • Moodle has a plugin so you can upload the .jqz or other Hot Potato files straight away. Alternatively, Moodle allows you to export Hot Potatoes questions to store in your question bank.

Hot Potatoes is user-friendly software that has helped us create interactive material, prepare for lessons faster and make our material reusable.

 

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