All things EFL… A collection of practical ideas, resources for the classroom and thoughts on EFL today

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Collaboration: improving outcomes

After writing a post celebrating my first anniversary blogging and sticking (more or less) to my personal goals of posting every couple of weeks, I’ve since managed not to (albeit with good reason!)

I had the amazing opportunity to attend Bett Asia 2017 in Kuala Lumpur with Chatta English last week. Consequently,  most of my “free” time over the past few months has been spent preparing for it (hence no posts.) Given that it was amazing opportunity which transpired to be an amazing experience, I don’t feel too bad…

The focus of both the Summit and the Expo was “Cultivating Global Collaboration in Education

“Collaboration is where two or more people or organizations work together to realize or achieve something successfully” – Wikipedia

Quite rightly collaboration enjoys the privileged position as one of the 4 C’s and we are constantly stressing (or should be) the importance of collaboration to our students. As well as highlighting the benefits for learning, we also teach our students this skill in the classroom in order to prepare them for real life beyond the classroom walls.  Due to globalisation and the advent of technology, our world is ever more connected and now, more than ever, students will need to demonstrate proficiency in this skill to become successful citizens of our modern society.

Neither can we underestimate the power of collaboration amongst educators.  I have achieved far more, and with much better results, from collaborating with colleagues and other educators around the globe.  Consequently, I’ve learned not to lock my knowledge and experience (however little) in the classroom cupboard, and share it with the world.

“Not only does a collaborative effort create more holistic results than individual efforts, but it also creates knowledge for a greater number of people” – An educator’s guide to the 4 C’s (National Education Association)

Although I didn’t have time to attend many of the presentations, panel discussions or roundtable sessions at Bett Asia, I did get the opportunity to talk to some inspiring educators and people involved in education who are committed to making a difference. I was truly blown away by many of the teachers I met who are looking for new and better ways to achieve educational excellence and outcomes for their students, and ways to collaborate to ensure this.  In fact one such teacher’s enthusiasm and determination, led to the first international partnership for Chatta English.

Born from Chatta  (founded by Chris Williams and David Andrews to improve oral literacy and help children become better communicators, readers, writers and thinkers) Chatta English helps English language learners develop communicative competence and the 21st century skills necessary to become successful global citizens (but that’s another blog post…)  I am proud to be part of something that puts students at the forefront of their own learning and not only promotes collaboration amongst students but also amongst educators who are encouraged to share their knowledge and experiences.  


My Chatta English colleagues and I went to Bett Asia looking to collaborate and establish meaningful partnerships to ensure the future success of students.  We were extremely fortunate to come across a wonderful English teacher and staff from Bandar Baru Bangi secondary school just outside KL whose vision is to provide their students with the tools they need to become competent and confident speakers of English.  Not only are these teachers enthusiastic, motivated and determined (if that wasn’t enough!)  they are open to collaboration in order to ensure positive outcomes for their students.

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Attending Bett Asia and meeting so many wonderful educators reminded me of the importance of collaboration in contributing to future successes.

Teach your students the art of collaboration by example and don’t lock away your knowledge and experience.  Find ways of sharing and collaborating, improving outcomes and achieving educational excellence…

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“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

What makes a good teacher word cloud

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Anyone who read my very first post Blogging and the art of procrastination will know that, among other things, it took me a while to find a name for this blog.

Why ACE?  What can I say, I’m an 80’s kid… Everything that’s “awesome” now, was “ace” in the 80’s (where I was growing up) and it’s one of my all-time favourite words. Synonyms are; excellent, outstanding, first-class, first-rate, brilliant, expert

So, am I an ace English teacher? Not always.  Do I aspire to be?  Of course, hence this blog…

Quote determination


Blogging and the art of determination

This post is a “Happy Birthday” message to my blogging self and a kind of sequel to my very first blog post Blogging and the art of procrastination.  It may have taken me a while to get going, but I’m still here one year on (along with my handful of followers, thank you!)

When I realised I’d been blogging for nearly a year, I decided to look back at my first post in which I list my initial doubts and reservations about becoming a blogger (the reasons for my procrastination.)  So, one year on, what have I learned?  What have I still got to learn and how did procrastination become determination? Continue reading

R is for relevant


R is for relevant!

Recently, I spent all Sunday morning helping my 13 year old daughter study for an exam.  

Now don’t get me wrong I am more then happy to sacrifice a Sunday morning to help my daughter study… However, nothing makes my blood boil more than sacrificing a Sunday morning (or any morning) to help her study:

  1. Something she doesn’t understand because it hasn’t been explained to her (and what’s more is told she doesn’t need to understand it only memorise it)
  2. Something which is totally beyond her and irrelevant to her at this stage in her education and possibly forever depending on what career path she takes…
  3. Something that by her own admission she will have forgotten by next week (as she neither understands it nor the reason for learning it)

So what was it exactly that she had to study?
Continue reading

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Developing digital competence

digital-competenceThis is my first in a series of posts, related to 21st century skills.  In my post  21st century skills-how competent are your students?, I explained how the recently amended Spanish education law (LOMCE) specifies 7 key competencies students need to develop.  These key competences are closely related to 21st century skills, life skills or soft skills (depending on the terminology you prefer.)  The first competence up is digital competence

We live in an increasingly digital world which is changing the way we work, learn, communicate, and participate in society.  As educators we have an obligation to ensure our students have the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to be successful in a modern, digital society.  

Being digitally competent is more than being able to use the latest smart phone or computer software — it is about being able to use such digital technologies in a critical, collaborative and creative way. (The European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens)

In this post I will look at the key areas related to digital competence, identified by the European framework and then look at some activities/tools we can use to help our learners become competent in these areas. Continue reading

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21st century skills-how competent are your students?

competenciesI read an interesting article recently on about lesson plans and what to include 12 tiny tips for writing lesson plans. It made me reflect upon my own lesson planning and gave me an idea for this and subsequent posts. It was interesting to see the inclusion of tip 8 “developing the whole child”.  In Spain, where I teach EFL in a secondary school, the recently amended education law (LOMCE) defines the following 7 Key Competencies to be be developed, based on a European Commission document on 21st century competencies: Continue reading


Awards, rewards… Friend or foe?

Those of you who have read my first post will know that I have an hour’s commute to work.  Recently I was looking for some new podcasts, to make the journey that bit less boring (after 10 years doing the same journey, there are only so many donkeys, cows, sheep and goats I can marvel at along the way…)

I came across TEFL commute  A podcast for English language teachers, a “light-hearted listen aimed at brightening your daily commute”  Lindsay Clanfield, Shaun Wilden and James Taylor (the creators).  It definitely does what it says on the packet! There’s a website to boot, where you can find the links to all the podcasts, related articles, discussion questions and resources.  If that’s not enough, there’s a Facebook page where you can get the latest news, or you can follow them on Twitter.  They’ve just completed their third series and and I’m looking forward to the fourth…

One episode which particularly caught my attention was Episode 8  in the final series, which was inspired by their nomination for this year’s ELTon awards. In this episode Continue reading