Thursday, March 7, 2019

Learning culture?

When I was still a student, ages ago, learning languages, I couldn’t help noticing that in my German and Spanish textbooks, there was information about food, schools or cities, in my English textbooks there was little or no mention of any particular British tradition.
When I became a teacher and the years passed, the books did get better mentioning places, but still not as much as the books of other languages.
And I couldn’t help wondering why.
As a teacher I believe that students have to learn as much as they can about the culture of the country / countries a language is spoken.
English, though is a language that is spoken worldwide. And although there are literature and traditions of English speaking countries, this language is used in most of the fields, in business, in studies, in communication, in entertainment, no matter where in the world. 
What I try to do in my lesson, is bring extra material, like photos, worksheets, videos that have to do with British and American traditions and cultural events, so that my students can understand more about the people and their mentality. 
Although I don’t live abroad, I do have online students from other countries and knowing their language has helped me understand how they react in different situations and has saved me from doing things that could be an insult in their country, but not in mine.
Cross-cultural competency is a must in our world and should be also learned along with a foreign language. 

Learning with Projects – Yes or no?

I have always believed in Project Based Learning. It gets students out of the ordinary. They see it as lost “free” time, but if you think of it more closely, its an opportunity for learning, it gives them the chance to produce and use language without even noticing it. 
So, depending on the class, the level and the student personality, a new project took place every year:
·      Book / movie project: Students had to describe their favourite book or film in video for the class blog or as a presentation to the whole class. The advantages of this project are that students have to read a book or watch a film (without subtitles or with English subtitles if their level is not as high), do research, and actually produce language in written and oral form.
·      Interviews: Students can interview a teacher, or even a foreign person though Skype, record the interview and express themselves in the target language. It can be a pair or an individual activity.
·      Recipes: Have your students write or translate a recipe and turn this into a book! This can be fun if students also try out their recipes and bring food to class (something as a food party) or even sell their recipe book and give the money to charity
·      Learn your city: Students find information about different places of their city and make videos or write reports about them. They can also contact classes around the world and share their projects and learn about places in the world. 
·      Visit museums and exhibitions: Students have a questionnaire that they have to fill out as groups. Afterwards they can present their findings to the rest of the class. 

Projects are serious work, but it is also a chance for both students and teacher to bond. 
Can’t wait to read about your project ideas.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Let's make a poem

So it's time to be a little creative. 
Instead of always teaching grammar and vocabulary, we tried something new with my German beginners class.
The idea was to practise vocabulary (infinitives) and the prepositions mit + Dative and ohne + Akkusative!
The "Elfchen" is a poem that consists of 11 words.
1. line: one word
2. line 2 words
3. line: 3 words
4. line: 4 words 
5.line: 2 words

I have also included a video with instuctions in German in the padlet.
You can find other poem ideas over here"

Made with Padlet

Saturday, December 29, 2018


I guess it's time...
It's time to see how the whole year passed. Was it good? Was it bad?
Well, I can't say either...
Since I like making lists, here are some things that happened during this year:

  • Mindfulness presentation at the TESOL Northern Greece Convention in February: This was a presentation that I worked a lot during the past years. Going through this journey helped me find balance between my personal struggles and work and see what's important. I wanted to share that with friends and colleagues and thankfully my presentation got accepted. Attendance was really bad though, since there were 7 simultaneous presentations on a Sunday morning and one of them was also the plenary speaker, so I did not have a chance. People who came, though did share their personal thoughts and took part in the workshop and I am really grateful.
  • The same workshop was supposed to take place at the Athens, but my flight did not leave due to heavy fog. I missed my trip and the convention...
  • Although I sent a proposal for a similar workshop for 2019 in Athens, it was not accepted, so I guess, my research and experimentation will be presented elsewhere (maybe in the next years?)
  • My "keep on moving" project though still goes on and I have already organised two summer events at local language schools, which is good for the business and lots and lots of fun for the kids! Developing new activities and I'll be back soon with more to come!
  • Talking about conventions, I had the chance to attend the Image Conference in October and the TESOL Greece Learning Difficulties Sig in November,  got new ideas, learned new things, met friends and colleagues and it was a good chance to "refresh" my teaching.
  • Still writing for the iTDi blog, and I am really proud about that. You can find a collection of my articles over here. 
  • A new proud moment was that Teaching accepted me as a blogger a couple of months ago! You can find my articles clicking on the following links:
         How do you CPD?
         To be a Native or not to be?
         Learning what's important.

Work is going as it was supposed to be going, with new challenges, teaching adults, teaching juniors, teaching online, teaching is my life.
As for my personal highlights, the only thing I can say is that I am still surviving and that's good.

  • Health is ok, under control with no serious issues.
  • Kid is ok, good grades, a bit of a rebel, but that's teenage-hood ( I am surviving)
  • I don't know if it's the age or the dog, but I'm feeling well with not so many people around me. 
New year's resolutions will probably be up on the Greek blog!
Have a wonderful 2019

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How was your weekend?

Here is an activity that I use with most my students, no matter the level or the language.
We all know that speaking is one of the most difficult parts (of exams and not only). A way to make students speak, is to have them describe something.
Mobile phones come to our rescue and students can use them to take pictures and show them to the rest of the class. This can help especially shy students who struggle with speaking to talk about something that interests them. They can even prepare it beforehand if they are not sure of the language, you can talk with them about their mistakes if any and them have them present it in class.
In the video my students describes what she did last weekend. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

What's your favourite thing? #studentprojects

I really love lists.
So, when it comes to students' writing, it is of course a must to just make a list of all their work. This Padlet was made by one of my German classes. They are beginners, so their texts are pretty simple. But this activity can be done by all levels in all languages. The higher the level the more complicated the text.
They could write a more detailed description, how they acquired the particular object, what's the story behind it, how it made them feel. You can even change the subject and write about a person you admire, a holiday, a description of a place. The choices are endless.
This time we got pictures from Pixabay, but students can personalise by adding their own pictures or videos.
Padlet is a great site to post things. It allows you to make 9 free collections and after that you pay. But there are numerous apps of the same use like , pinup, evernote and many more.

And this is our masterpiece:

Made with Padlet


What I have been doing for years with my students ( and I personally do it on Instagram), is tell them to get pictures on their way to school or home and describe what they see. Maybe it's a beautiful car or a cute stray cat.
But it's a way for them to express themselves in English in writing or speaking.
Here is an example of  a story one of my students wrote (with a bit more imagination than usual) - pictures were taken with her mobile phone and GIF's were added from the Instagram app.

I woke up at 7.30 to go to school. I thought that it would be a boring day like every day. I went out from my house and I started walking to school.
Suddenly  I felt that something was following me. I turned around but I didn't see anything, so I kept walking. I arrived at the park where I usually wait for my friend and I heard strange sounds near me.
I asked a passer-by, but he didn't see anything.

The strange sounds went on and that moment three strong creatures appeared in front of me. They were neither animals or people. I was terrified. I tried to communicate with them and I tried to find out who they were and where they were from. I couldn't understand what they were saying, so I tried to find another way to communicate with them . Their language didn't look like a world's language. I started to think that they were aliens! I was scared, but very excited as well.

The time passed and when my friend arrived, I felt relieved and I asked her if she could see the aliens, that I was seeing, but she told me that she didn't see anything. I felt strange and I couldn't;dn'y understand what was going on. I explained to her what happened and she started to laugh.
Suddenly I heard my mum's voice! "Wake up! Time for school!"
I couldn't believe that it was just a  dream and nothing else