Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Foreign Languages and Media (Newsletter)

Here's an amazing newsletter from German educational institutions in Saarbrucken with the focus on using media (editor - J.Wagner). The range of topics presented is impressive (includes tips on teaching English, French, Spanish and professional development)! Take a look at the content in English section:

  • Cartoons: Geoffrey Hill's "The English Blog"
  • Sean Banville: Breaking News English
  • News from Anglotopia
  • Daily Writing Tips
  • Do You Make These Cultural Mistakes When You Speak English?
  • Links for English Teachers from Jürgen Wagner
  • Youtube Videos for the English Class (focus on British slang)
  • News from Easy Pace Learning
  • Pronunciation resources for independent English language learners
  • Interactive Digital Clock
  • Meals and Meal Times in English-Speaking Countries
  • News from ESOL-courses
  • 16 Strange And Surprising Facts About Medieval England
  • EFL classroom
  • Mixed bag of EFL-links
Ta very much, Herr Wagner! 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Role play cards

Looking through my past years' materials I often recover something I actually forgot I'd created. This is the case with the role play cards I'm adding to this post. I was working with the fisrt-year students using "Total English Upper-Intermediate" coursebook when I developed these cards to have students practice active vocabulary related to the topic of the unit. One of the issues we were discussing was comparison of urban and rural living. This topic is quite common in the curriculum and can be found in a number of English coursebooks.

Film worksheet (The Last Mimzy)

Watching films in English with further discussion is something you cannot imagine teaching English without. Throughout my teaching career having classes to discuss films with students has been one of the most enjoyable experiences. It feels especially rewarding for me when I invest enough time and give enough thought to the tasks I'm going to offer students. A couple of years ago I developed interest in using Photoshop and thus tried to apply my skills to create film-based worksheets that I later used in the classroom.

In this post, you can find a worksheet based on the sci-fi movie "The Last Mimzy". It's both an entertaining and thought provoking film as it deals with crucial and controversial issues like human potential, our connection with other living beings, and technological advancement, to name a few.

The Last Mimzy Worksheet

5 things about spoken English

Bumping into a great EFL-related blog is something that can make an English teacher's day, well, at least it can make my day.

British English Coach is an awesome resource for both teachers and students as it provides valuable tips on how to make a non-native speaker sound better (and more English).

One of the most recent posts is about spoken English and what makes native speakers tick. 

I'm already contemplating how to present this to my students. What is peculiar about this information is that it's no revelation or something I didn't know but the way how these tips are brought together, illustrated and presented. Harmony of form and content, that is.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Speaking Presentations

I believe it's high time I shared something from my teaching experience. As my third-year students and I got to the end of the term last Friday, I had my share of reward reaping while enjoying their presentations on the unit topic (medicine and health-related issues). This time I didn't give them any specific topics for presentation but had them choose what they would rather speak on. I must admit that it always comes as a bit of a surprise to observe how different students incorporate active vocabulary of the unit in their presentations as well as trying to understand their motivation beind the topics they choose. Anyway, I had a great time. 

However, something I'd like to share in this post has to do with a precious unit we were working on, the topic of which revolves around travel and tourism. As a speaking project they were assigned a role play that they had to set and film. I developed three different situations so as to incorporate different perspectives on this topic that we were discussing during the classes.

Topic: Travel and Tourism 

Format: Role play

Context description. A small village has recently become a pilgrimage spot for hoards of tourists due to a groundbreaking archeological discovery. Locals benefit from the situation by selling souvenirs, renting out houses and providing food for visitors. Eventually, new businesses move in to provide for a constantly growing demand for accommodation and places to eat. They claim it won’t harm the local economy as it will attract more tourists. At the same time, historians and environmentalists start making claims that more tourists may be detrimental for the site itself. New confrontations start taking place.

A local resident. You are one of those who benefit from tourism in your area as you can charge for providing tourists with a place to stay and food, working as a guide and selling souvenirs. However, you do not like the idea of businesses from outside moving in and creating competition for you.
A businessman. You are involved in catering business and having found out about the situation in this village you decided to jump in and build a hostel and a restaurant to attract tourists. Locals, however, are resisting this intention because they think it will decrease their profits. You try to convince them that there will be enough clients for everybody.
An environmentalist. You have been involved in environment protection activity for quite a while and are aware what consequences extensive tourism may have lead to. Growing numbers of tourists coming to this village cause deep concerns for you. You try to educate local residents about detrimental effects of more tourists arriving in the village and prevent more businesses to get rooted here.
A tourist. You like visiting sites and areas of historical interest. You also care about facilities available there. As long as you’re a seasoned tourist, many of your friends would ask your recommendations as to which place to visit and why. In this village you see lots of potential for tourism but you consider that a more developed infrastructure will be even more favourable for attracting tourists like you.

Context description. A city council announced a competition among local travel agencies for original tourism ideas that are possible to implement in your area to help support local economy. Each travel agency has to present a project outlining its obvious benefits as well as predicted drawbacks. The winning travel agency will get funding from city council to run the project.


Travel agency 1. Green tourism.
Travel agency 2. Slow tourism.
Travel agency 3. Adventure tourism.
City Mayor. Your speech will briefly focus on pros and cons of each of the suggested ideas. Afterwards, you will announce the winner explaining the decision of city council, providing more information on how this decision may be beneficial for local economy.

Context description. A talk show “Raw deal” explores the topic of travel and questions the statement that travel broadens the mind. Some guest speakers share their travel experiences that didn’t live up to their expectations or were close to a nightmare. Others try to present stories about fascinating and unforgettable journeys that were transformative and life changing experiences.

The host. You moderate the show, make short summary of each story and come up with a logical conclusion at the end of the show.
Guest 1. Utterly negative experience.
Guest 2. Absolutely positive experience.
Guest 3. Mixed feelings, both positive and negative elements are present.

Watching their videos afterwards was a special treat I must say. The thing is that very often it's by using such creative tasks that a teacher can understand and bring forward immence creative potential of students. Naturally, there are some challenges involved, but there's great learning too, which makes this experience worthwhile.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

David Bowie

This is going to be my first post on David Bowie, the first one of many to come.
David Bowie is a very special character for me, first of all because of inspiration his personality brings into my life. 
Born in 1947, this outstanding perfomer managed to redefine rock music and set new standards of showmanship. He is often referred to as "chameleon" of rock music as he constantly reinvented his image throughout his career often leaving behind commercially successful projects and trends. He's always been curious to try out new ways and combine things that no one else before him dared to. His experiments with his image and music brought him immense fame but he always likes to emphasize that what he's always been trying to do was strive for excellence of artistic expression. Apart from his musical and acting talent, David Bowie is a man of exceptional intellect, sense of humour and wit. Watching his interviews is one of my guilty pleasures, of which, though, I never feel guilty. 
This Bowie's interview is one of the first I've watched and I still enjoy it tremendously.

Vintage Video - Voila!

Apparently, English teachers who like using videos in their classes can now choose from the original footage of British Pathe company of the period 1896 to 1976. Lots of unique vintage videos on various topics are available on this channel! Lovely! 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The origins of BBC

For me, as an English teacher and a person having a constant affair with the English language BBC is an inexhaustible source of must-watch documentaries and must-have online resources. Having said that, how possible was it for me to overlook this article?

Writing and Speaking Prompts

Every now and then I can spend so much time looking for interesting pictures that can be used in the class as writing or speaking prompts. Here is a wonderful collection of print ads that are quite ingenious and thought provoking.

Thursday, 17 April 2014


After watching a video in this post on Time I realised how poorly slang is incorporated in university English curriculum. I guess it's time to change the strategy. A bit.

And here's the article:

Saturday, 12 April 2014

On curation

In the pursuit of opportunities for professional development  I like taking advantage of various web based resources and tools. One of them is content curation. The site I use for this is If you're not familiar with this cool tool for sifting through gazillions of sites and links to select what interests exactly you exactly right now, I highly recommend that you check it out. 

My topics on

My first blogpost

Hi! My name's Inna. This is my first blog post ever! In this blog I'd like to reflect on my teaching experiences, share ideas about education and celebrate wonderful things that make our life brighter.

Let's have fun!