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The Blasted Oak (by Torn Halves)

The blasted oak

Image: Edinblur

This is the story of a sensitive soul who decided to teach English as a foreign language. Like other such souls she was acutely aware that the world is not as it ought to be. While at university she had seen fellow students flocking to the careers fair and queuing up to become employees of the big corporations, ditching their ideals (if they had any) for the best possible pay check. She wasn’t going to ditch her ideals, and becoming a teacher seemed to be a way of joining the forces of good. (more…)

Teaching English in Europe and the U.K. (by Sandy Millin)

I’m a native Brit who loves languages. I did my CELTA during my final year of uni when I was studying French, German and Spanish. Once I’d finished my degree I decided to head straight to Europe and start my English teaching adventures, but rather than going somewhere where I could already speak the language, I took the plunge and went to the Czech Republic, a country which I didn’t really know that much about, but where there was a job available at a good school.

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The iPad in the ESL/EFL Classroom (By Kevin Cozma)

Are you an EFL/ESL teacher?  Have an iPad?  Want an iPad?  Have 10 minutes to kill?  Read on.

playing with the iPad

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How to plan an exciting EFL museum trip (by Lesley Ito)

As a teacher in an English language school with a strong cross-curricular focus, I always try my best to bring authentic materials into the classroom. Humans learn more when they can experience the real thing, instead of just looking at pictures of it in a book. Of course, it is not always possible to bring everything you want to teach about into the classroom, so it is beneficial to occasionally take students to a museum.

Meeting at the museum

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Tell a story! (By Christina Markoulaki)

Here I am, back from a short-term holiday and ready for my summer lessons! It is customary in Greece for the winter courses in private language institutions to end around May; towards the end of June schools resume preparations to welcome those students who are willing to finish one more English-language class by taking an accelarated course in the summer months. The point is that the Greek weather is rather an impediment to studying since it is invariably scorching hot and sunny, calling for some soothingly cool sea bathing rather than having language lessons! Therefore, the question that immediately troubled me was: what can a teacher do to help these students start learning on a positive note?

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Proactive Discipline–Tend to Your Garden (by Eric Kane)

Creating a positive learning environment with few discipline problems is a goal of any teacher.  We all want to give our young learners the best opportunity to succeed, but sometimes we forget that building this type of environment, much like tending to a garden, takes planning, effort, consistency and a fair amount of time and patience.  Any missed step can lead to a reactive environment, or a garden full of weeds. (more…)

The “Reading Pictures” Strategy (By Naomi Ganin-Epstein)

It’s Wednesday, 11:00, just a regular day at the high school. Two English teachers are sitting in the teacher’s room marking exams during their “free” period. Every now and then you can hear each one exclaim (or mutter, as the case may be) “How could he have possible written THAT?” or “How in earth did she come up with such an answer?” They compare notes.  One of these two teachers is Delia, who teaches a weak group. One of her pupils wrote the following: (more…)

Rice in Japan and Rice Around the World (by Bob Middleton)

Bringing food topics into the language classroom is one way to stimulate language learning as well as   hungry appetites. 9 and 10 year old students in the 5th grade of our elementary school in Japan take part in an 8-hour lesson on varieties of rice in Japan. This Japan-unit is later followed by a similar one on rice around the world. In the lesson they will learn names and kinds of rice, the amounts of rice grown around the country, prices per kilogram, special dishes, and special points about each of the rice varieties. The end result will be a hand-made Japan rice book including a small sample of each kind of rice (more…)

Creating a Buzz in Teens’ Classrooms (by Mari Nakamura)

“Aren’t teenagers too self-conscious to speak English?”

“Do they care about the contents that do not appear in their school tests?”

“Well… I wouldn’t want to get into that area…”

I have been teaching teens as well as pre-school and elementary school children at my language school, English Square, in Japan, for the last 20 years. When I tell my teacher friends about it, I’ve almost always met the responses like the ones above. (more…)

Teacher Development 2.0 (by Steven Herder)

I’ve always believed in the power of people to be able to come together to create something much bigger than any one of them individually. Here is a story about a bunch of teachers (myself and Barbara included) who are coming together to create something new called The International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi). (more…)