Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Comeback

Hello, there!
It's been a while since I last published anything substantial here. My bad - I've been travelling.
To my regret, I found out that my oh-so-much certified English was useless in a wonderful country of France:) So make sure you take a couple of French lessons before you set off to the land of beauty, wine, perfume and exquisite delicacies. Still don't believe me? Check the video!

Now, let's get down to business. My choice of the week -
Browsing this amazing web-site can take you ages, so I'd like to focus on the following articles and tools:
A nice article about things which any ESL teacher should be concerned about. The advice how to make your students think in English cannot be called revolutionary, although the article gives a summary of techniques which can help a teacher induce the students to stop translating. Do you know what is the question that I personally dread most of all: 'Shall we traslate the story?' No, my dearest students, we shall not. Let's think English!
Ok, we are not perfect. Let's make a clean breast of it: we all make mistakes. Look through the list of the most common ones and find yourself guilty. I'll be the first to make the confession: I repeat my students' sentences. Yes, I'm a parrot:) Now, your move!
My fav find! A very convenient tool to check your students' vocab at the beginning or at the end of the lesson. Quick, easy and fun, can be saved as pdf on your computer. This tool can be used in a computer lab in class if you ask the students to create wordpuzzles for one another. One drawback: the answers are given on the same page as the puzzle.

That's all for now. Sorry again for the hiatus:)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

This week's post is all about us, teachers. Students may find it difficult to believe but we teachers have to study all the time. Seriously, once you start learning a lenguage you never stop (though I'd rather keep it secret from students and parents, it kinda scares them:).
As you know, I work hard on being a good teacher, so I made a point of brushing up my vocab and grammar from time to time. 
My recent experience is connected with a very nice resource Cambridge English Teacher
They offer a wide choice of online courses on a variety of topics from Teaching Vocabulary to IELTS. The price is reasonable, the certificate is a famous Cambridge ESOL AND they offer a course for free for you to a have a taste what it's like. I couldn't resist.
The course is called Grammar for Teachers: Language Awareness, it's 5 hours long (it took me longer, though) and it's pretty thorough. If you studied Enlish using Cambridge textbooks you'll find the course agreeable but for me their perspectives and classifications were unfamiliar and it took me a while adjusting.

Good points:

  1. it's thorough and covers most "problematic" issues such as conditionals and reported speech
  2. it's logical
  3. it's well-structured 
  4. all correct answers are provided
  5. it has a journal for reflection

Weak points:

  1. it requires you to type in some definitions over and over again. A good way to memorize them but it's so time-consuming!


A great means to update and refresh your grammar! It will also help you answer your students' questions about tricky grammar points. Another thing: if you plan to take a Cambridge ESOL exam, this course will help you to get used to their glossary (especially if you studied English using textbooks other than Cambridge or Oxford University Press).

How do you keep "grammar and vocab" fit?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Weekend F(P)un!

Just something to cheer you up at the beginning of the school year:)
It's your last chance to celebrate the summer past.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fun in the classroom or what would you do with this stuff?

Ok, I know that fun in the classroom must have a clear educational objective. It's the first and the foremost commandment of the educational process. But oh so often we teachers are tempted to add some entertainment to the tedious routine and make students happy. 
There's nothing wrong with that. But I must confess that I don't often take pains to create a set of activities for the fun stuff in the classroom. Be it the absence of free time or tiredness, it stops me from developing a cool idea into something interesting and useful. From now on I'll try to fix this.
So, ladies and gentlemen, check out the first post on the  'Fun in the classroom or what would you do with this cool stuff' page. This week we'll look at video in the classroom.

What is That?

It's a web site with lots of short videos in English. Once you open the page, it asks you to choose your mother tongue (the choice is sufficient: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Arabic, Indonesian, Portugese and Russian). Once you've made your choice, you are welcome to a succession of short video clips. After watching them (you can use the script as well) you are asked whether you understand what was said (or sung) in the video. Once you agree you are offered two variants of the script in your mother tongue. Success? Proceed to the next episode.
Your progress is measured by points and the timer. The sooner you make your choice the more points you get.  

Evaluate me, Please:

This resource is brand-new and still beta-tested. It declares it'll be free forever and it is not interrupted by ads, so don't worry that anything nasty pops up while using the web site in class. As for the developers of this resource, the information is not stated yet.
The web site requires a Flash Player and runs nicely if you have broadband connection. Otherwise, the performance slows down and kills the fun.
For now, you don't have to sign in or create an account. If you wish to, you can log in with your Facebook or Twitter account (which allows you to share your achievements, btw).
The videos I've seen were non-violent, no strong language (does kick asses count) or nude scenes detected. Still, I would not recommend to use this with youger learners (which is logical, their chances of getting what the Godgfather mumbles are very poor).

Why Use it?

I think it's a good way to check the listening skills. 
Activity 1
All-class. You watch the clip together and ask students to guess its meaning one by one or in teams, when they vote for the best option. BUT: the latter is more time-consuming and can cause arguments.
Activity 2
Individual: Each student gets access to the computer (if you are lucky enough) and is given a certain time limit (say 10 minutes). At the end, you compare the resuls and discuss what was difficult and what was easy. You can keep track of the results to show the progress and the development of the listening skills. 


  1. I'm still dubious about the content - it's a pity they have no rating system on this web site.
  2. Don't let the kids log in with their Facebook accounts in class - or they'll end up watching each other's party photos. If they like the idea, they are free to experiment at home (for their benefit, of course).
  3. The web site does require broadband connection - the uploading can disrupt the task.
  4. Like any web based activity it's advisable to have "Plan B' in case of zombie apocalypse, alien invasion and failed connection.


6 out of 10. 
A good way to get some fun and remind your students their skills can be used outside the classroom, at least for watching movies. The activities can have a competitional element.


Still plan to use in in class. I'll update the impressions asap.

Your Turn, Please:

What do you think of this resource? Are there any activities which can be carried out with the help of this web site?