Friday, December 25, 2015

My ELT Blog Challenge

This is actually not a large book - more like a booklet with very useful advice!
This was actually a book loan by my friend Sophia and I always forget to give it back to her!!!
I found it really interesting to read, I even made notes!
Here is a  look at the contents:
The author gives you valuable advice from where to put your desk in the classroom to use technology and make the best of your lessons.
A really good guide to new teachers, but also to people who want to improve their teaching.
It makes you reflect.... Do I do this? Why haven't I thought of this? This could actually work with these students!
I really loved the illustrations as well!

It's simple, to the point and motivating!!
Highly recommended!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Students evaluate...

My student John who drew this says he is always thinking that the teacher will be angry and shouting at him if he is not prepared!!
I have read a lot of articles how we should teach right, how we should not have a personal relationship with our students, how serious we have to be in the classroom and techniques to lead our students to success.
I have a really sill question to all this.
What is success? How do we measure it? And what makes a successful lesson?
I asked around.
Well most parents say that success is when their kids pass their exams or get high grades. Is that our teaching purpose though?
Personally my students' success in exams does not define me as a teacher.
What does define me is when I see them communicate with ease. When they remember stuff we have discussed and face challenges.
But still I had to wonder.
What is a good lesson according to my students?
So I asked them!
I asked them what they like and what they don't like about our lesson, if they are happy with themselves during the lesson, and what more they would like.

Everybody had the same answer in one of the questions.
They don't like grammar and the fact that they have to learn so much vocabulary! I expected that, to be honest...
One of my students expressed the fact that she feels relaxed and she is not afraid to be yelled at compared to other teachers while another loves the fact that we improvise stories while we are solving grammar exercises commenting on the people mentioned. i.g. "Maria had her purse stolen" - Poor Maria! She should have been careful! Did she have anything of value in the purse? And what did she do next? Did someone catch the thief?
My student Konstantina believes that this is how I would look like if I were a unicorn!!

Most of them love the fact that we use the laptop or the mobile phone to do stuff like interactive games, music, videos, even making our own videos and pictures and that we don't use the coursebook that often.
My young adults also like that we talk about things that you cannot actually find in books, like news, politics, current affairs, strange inventions etc.
Strangely enough, I didn't have any bad comments from my students, but they are MY students after all!!! I am sure that there are some parents who are not satisfied with my ways and have sought a more traditional and exam-oriented teacher.
Exam and certificate mania is something I have to fight every single day...

I'd love to find out what your students think of your lessons!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My ELT Blog Challenge

This week my very favourite subject: Multiple intelligences.
I came across this wonderful series of books and I could not put this book down!
It contains activities for all levels and all intelligences and there is even a section with proposed activities using your course book as well, whatever coursebook it is!
In the first section, the book contains general MI activities with lots and lots of ideas.
The second section proposes activities you can do with your students with the coursebook, like interviews, poem creations, cinquains and metaphors)
The third section is called 'looking in' and has to do with the intra-personal intelligence. A bit of soun searching? An activity that impressed me the most in this part of the book, was 'listen with your mind's eye', how to read between the lines, how to understand the meaning of poems.
Finally, the last section has to do with self - management. My favourite; 'the story of your hopes and dreams'  and lots of brainstorming.
I am really enthusiastic about this one mainly because it gives you the chance to be creative and adjust the activities to your students needs, strengths and weaknesses.
It presents a variety of things you can do in a classroom, in pairs, even in one to one lessons with a little adjustment.

Hopefully next week with a new book!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Exams... For my students ( and their parents)

The time has come! Again...
I know I AM repeating myself. I know that for some of you this is the first experience you have with exams. But believe me. I've been there. I've done that. A million times. Both as a student and as a teacher. I like to believe that I know a bit more... So listen to me please:
  • It's not the end of the world if you don't pass the exam. You can do it again! And again and again! But it is not necessary. Just because your friend has got the B2 level certificate in the sixth grade, this does not necessarily mean that they now better English (German, French etc.) than you. It is not a competition.
  • Getting certificates at an early age will not help you when you will need them, for example when you want to study abroad or get a job. You have to keep learning (reading, speaking, cultivate the language)
  • The college you will go to, let's say in 4 years (if you are 14 taking a C2 exam) will not accept the certificate you got back then. You will have to take another kind of exam.
  • If you are learning with me as a teacher, I will probably not give you 4 exam books. I will give you one. And that because you have to understand the format of the exam. Doing tests without analyzing your mistakes will NOT help you.
  • When I start talking with you about irrelevant things (in your opinion) and work on songs and videos not in the exam format, it does not mean that we do not practise. My goal is to make you express yourselves in the foreign language. My job is to make you read, write, speak and understand. Not pass the exam. If you can do all of the above you will pass the exam. And be able to communicate.
  • My success as a teacher is not estimated by the certificates my students got, but from the people I have helped to use the language. The ones who use the language at their work or studies. The ones who were able to communicate when they traveled and did not get lost.
  • I am here to help you. To advise you when you take the exam but also to make you interested in the language and culture. 
  • Remember I spend more time you you guys than with my own family. I love my job and I love helping you, but I cannot be there whenever you want. So if I say no when you tell me to come on a Sunday or I don't answer the phone at 11pm, I think I cannot be blamed.
  • I love you guys, like family and you know that I will never stop caring about you (even if you forget me after the exams). I try not to push you too hard, but sometimes I have to.
Good luck to all of you. I know that we are all counting the days to this.
Love yaaaaa!!!

My ELT Blog Challenge

Inspired by Lizzie Pinard's blog, I thought it would be a good idea to commend on the ELT books or blogs/ sites/ articles I come across.
My bookcase is full of books I have ( or I haven't) read and I also found a wonderful collections of books at my office, which I can borrow and try out new ideas.
The first book that came to my hands was 'The diary of a language teacher" by Joachim Appel (Heineman)

It describes the efforts of a teacher trying to hang in there, at a state school in Germany.
I loved the fact that it is not a strict methodology book with theories.
It is a journey. A journey full of ideas and reflections of how it went,
What impresses me the most is that it is divided in three parts:
And I know that this reminds us all how we started and what we did to develop as teachers and as people.
When you graduate from school, you are never prepared of what you are going to face in your first job.
We face challenges and try to overcome any obstacles. Experiment ourselves with different techniques and ideas. Keep the good ones and get rid (or improve) of the ones that did not work out.
Highly recommended for new teachers, but also for us who have been teaching for a while. A chance to remember that we should never stop developing and learning new things.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Refugees... Someone to think about

Following the latest news, I thought that talking about the refugee issue with mys tudent, would be a great initiative, firstly because more and more people coming though the Greek borders from Syria and other countries who are experiencing war at the moment, so there are people who we could actually meet one day soon and secondly because this cold be the chance for something bigger, like gathering food and clothes for these people in need or even volunteer to help in places like the harbour or the borders.
In this experiment, I have tried to gather a link collection of links, articles and lesson plans, which could actually initiate a discussion among our students.
Breaking News: lesson plan about the refugees.
Conversation questions about the refugee issue
The status and rights of refugees
The life of e refugee lesson plan
Spot the refugee - UNHCR poster
Time: refugee questions and answers
UNHCE Protecting Refugees

You could also recommend Catherine Stine's 'Refugee", a book for teenagers and work on the book, for example - character description, what will happen next, feelings of the book heroes etc.

All these articles and activities could be followed by actual voluntary help - You can organize groups of students, involving the parents as well. Food and clothes collection and even helping refugees in your area.
Follow this link for more information about the Refugee Solidarity Movement here in Thessaloniki, Greece.


Dark History - lesson plan

While I was browsing websites for my work, I came across this page: bored panda: Teletubbies in Black and white, which was actually prey creepy, but full of prospect!
Lesson plan.
Give your students the lyrics of the son Atmosphere by Joy Division with gaps. For example:

.................... in silence,
Don't walk away, in silence.
See the ...............,
Always danger,

Endless talking,
Life ....................,
Don't walk away.

Walk in silence,
Don't ..............away, in silence.
Your confusion,
My .................,

Worn like a ............ of self-hate,
Confronts and ............dies.
Don't walk away.

People like you find it easy,
................. to see,
Walking on ............
Hunting by the rivers,

Through the streets,
Every .................. abandoned too soon,
Set down with due ................ .
Don't walk away in silence,
Don't walk away.

  • Divide your students into groups and have them guess the missing words before they listen to the song.
  • You can find the song over here.
  • Students listen to the song and check their answers.
  • Ask them what the song is about. Accept any logical answers.
  • Show your students the video to the song. Ask them if they have changes their minds.

  • Ask your students if they know anything about American History and the racism movement.
  • You can find more information, along with a short video in the History Channel site over here
  • Ask your students why they think this was happening.
  • Ask your students of examples of racism in today's world.
  • Brainstorm ideas how this problem could be solved
  • Show them the Teletubbies parody video

  • What is the hidden meaning behind this? (lead the discussion to "danger in disguise")
  • As a follow up, you can ask your students to write an essay about human rights and what can be done to fight racism.
You can also find material and more ideas on a blog I discovered called ELS Chestnut: