Daria Vaskova

Learning While Teaching


A handbook for language teachers looking for ways to improve or maintain their own level of English through classroom practice

Learning While Teaching is designed to help language teachers who teach a language different from their first language, and for language teachers who lack confidence in their knowledge of the language they are teaching, who are looking to improve their proficiency and expertise in the language they teach.



Do you know how to teach, but want to improve your proficiency in the language you are teaching? Or do you lack confidence in your linguistic knowledge of that language, and how to explain it to others? If so, Learning While Teaching provides you with the means to improve while you teach.

This practical handbook is designed for language teachers who teach a different language than their first language and want to improve their proficiency in that language. It is also designed for language teachers who teach their first language but lack confidence in their linguistic knowledge and ability to explain it to others. Learning While Teaching offers practical ideas and adaptable activities to help teachers improve their language level autonomously.

Teachers can record the tasks throughout the book to demonstrate their continuous professional development. The tasks should help teachers clearly define their professional strengths and action points. Learning While Teaching is suitable for any in-service language teacher or initial teacher trainee who has a command of English at B1+ level on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). By reading the book, users will inherently find their level and knowledge of English improving.



Part 1 explores how language proficiency and linguistic knowledge impact how teachers are perceived by their students, employers, and themselves. Besides helping teachers to enhance their language proficiency and build confidence, it explores ways of tackling different issues that language teachers face on a day-to-day basis (such as employers’ and students’ bias towards first language teachers). It includes anecdotal evidence from teachers coming from different countries and teaching contexts. This aims to help the readers relate to the subject matter and see it from different perspectives. Throughout Part 1, there are reflection tasks for the teachers to complete, and therefore log and track their development. They can then identify where they are in their career and what areas they still want to keep working on.

Part 2 is more practical. It focuses on how teachers can use lesson preparation, delivery, and the teaching community to enhance their language level. Each of the activities comes with a rationale, clear outcomes and a step-by-step guide. This helps explain how it can be integrated into the teaching process and routine, plus adapted for all teaching contexts. The activities will not require significant time to complete, and will gradually enhance the language level in those areas. At the end of each chapter, there is the opportunity to reflect on their learning, conduct experiential learning and evaluate what impact the activities may have on their future teaching practice and development plan.

Learning While Teaching is part of the Teaching English series, which offers a mixture of methodology and practical ideas for teachers of English as a foreign language.

From the author:

“When I just started out teaching, I didn’t feel particularly confident about my own level of English and my ability to explain things to the students or answer their questions. This stopped me from applying for jobs and teaching groups and levels I wanted. I felt that there weren’t many opportunities for me to work on and maintain my language proficiency, and that it was either expensive or time-consuming. So, I started looking for more hands-on and practical ways of doing it, which I could do as a part of my teaching process. These activities became the basis of this book.”


Learning While Teaching broaches that most controversial of topics, native vs non-native speakerism, with a practical no-nonsense handbook aimed to incorporate teacher language development into lesson preparation and activities… As a native speaker who has had the privilege to work with many talented, professional non-native-speaker teachers, I would say that this book does an excellent job in challenging the stigmas that are still prevalent within our industry, whilst offering practical guidance to increase confidence and efficacy in the classroom.” – This review by Charlotte Smith was featured in IATEFL Voices (Issue 286, 2022). Find out more about becoming a member of IATEFL here.


Learning While Teaching is intended for language teachers around the world who are teaching a language different from their first language (L1) and who are looking to improve their proficiency in the language they teach, but are unable to take part in a language course. It is also for first language speaker teachers who may be recently qualified and lack confidence in their knowledge of the language they are teaching and are looking to improve their expertise and build confidence in explaining the rules of the language they are teaching to their students as they teach.

It is suitable for teachers ranging from those who are newly qualified to those with teaching degrees; those who specialized in teaching English to those who did a more general teaching degree but now have to teach in English; and those who may be teaching in private language schools to the ones teaching in mainstream education and those working in international schools.

The activities in the book look at how teachers can use lesson preparation, lesson delivery, and being a part of the teaching community to enhance their language level. Each of the activities comes with a rationale and a step-by-step guide on how it can be integrated into the teaching process and adapted for a variety of teaching contexts.


Daria Vaskova has been working as a teacher, an assistant director of studies, and a teacher trainer for the past 13 years. After receiving a pedagogical degree at the Moscow State University for Humanities, she went on to do a CELTA and DELTA so that she could move on into teacher training. She is halfway through an MA in TESOL with NILE at present. Language development for teachers has always been her main area of interest, and she has regularly designed and ran training workshops for the school staff. She has also presented at international conferences, such as IATEFL Birmingham, IATEFL Poland and TESOL Italy. She’s currently working as a freelance lead CELTA trainer, providing language support for the trainees, and developing a course which would help prospective candidates to improve their level of English and successfully take part in internationally recognised professional development programmes.


ISBN: 978-1-914010-37-8

Publication date: September 2021 (please note this may be subject to change)


Part 1: In theory

  1. Perceptions of native and non-native speaker teachers
  1. The role of language development in teacher training courses
  1. Opportunities for language development

Part 2: In practice

  1. Getting started
  1. Pre-lesson: productive skills
  1. Pre-lesson: receptive skills
  1. Teacher and students: skills development
  1. Teacher and students: language and lesson input
  1. Teacher and students: class material
  1. The teacher and the teaching community

References and recommended reading


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