ACEnglishteacher

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

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Using celebrations to engage students

Add dates of “International days” to your calendar and set a notification for a week before.

Using official celebrations are a great way to engage students and discuss topics which might not be covered in your textbook/curriculum. There are plenty of them, from serious topics and recognised International Days to semi serious and downright bizarre worldwide events, festivals and celebrations …

The problem I had, was finding out about them (usually on the day), leaving no time to prepare something for class.  Then, I had the bright idea of adding them as new events to my google calendar and setting a repeat notification for every year one week before the event.  Now I never miss Grammar Day (!?), No selfies Day or Cheese Doodle Day (today!)

For officially recognised International Days check out the United nations International Days page and if you fancy something a bit more light-hearted go to www.daysoftheyear.com (serious stuff too)

Thanks to the notification I received this week (thanks google calendar), I’ll be celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th of March with my students.  

I’ve created a Padlet wall (a great easy to use tool for giving students a voice, see my blog post for more ideas how to use Padlet) for students to post a description of the achievements of a woman they would like to celebrate… (see below)

Looking forward to Chocolate Mousse Day, World Wish Day and No Housework Day next month…;-)

Made with Padlet


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Why flipped learning has got me excited

I’ve been pretty busy lately working on projects and doing courses.   Sometimes (especially when I arrive home from a hard day at school, exhausted and still have 25 essays to correct…) I wonder why I do this to myself, but then I do a course like EVO flipped learning 2017 and remember why.  Somehow, despite the extra hours and lack of sleep, I feel rejuvenated!flipped learning

Every year, there’s always something which interests me in the EVO sessions and it’s often hard to choose.  The flipped learning sessions have caught my eye before but it wasn’t until this year I opted for them.  

Even though, due to other commitments which arose during the course, I couldn’t participate as fully as I would have liked, this course has been a complete game-changer for me.

The terms “flipped classroom” and “flipped learning” have been on my radar for a while now and I’ve always thought it sounded an interesting concept. However, I haven’t known quite enough about it to consider implementing it in class and when I started the course, I soon realised that what I thought I knew wasn’t the whole truth…   

What I thought I knew…

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Tools to engage students and teachers

I’m finally back after an extended Christmas break. I would feel guilty about being neglectful (especially after all my good intentions) if I didn’t have a really good reason for my absence over the past few weeks…bett2017

I’ve been working on an exciting new project to help develop and accelerate learners’ speech and language skills in L2 with @hellochatta and was lucky enough to get invited to #Bett2017 to present it.  

Apart from meeting lots of amazing people involved in education and bumping into a few old faces (very small world,) I picked up some interesting ideas and learnt about some great tools to engage and inspire my students.  

There was so much going on, it was impossible to see everything, however these are some of the things that caught my eye over the four days: Continue reading


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Christmas…time for a song!

merry-christmas-isolatedThe classic, “Do they know it’s Christmas?” provides lots of opportunities for language work,  investigation and discussion.  I have used this song with different levels for different learning outcomes.  This particular lesson is aimed at upper elementary/intermediate teens to:

  • revise/extend christmas vocabulary
  • identify and practise previously taught diphthongs (although they could be introduced at this stage too)
  • research information
  • discuss the message of the song
  • consider some wider global issues

How many sessions you dedicate to this will depend on where students do their research (in class or at home), how you organise the discussion stage (whole class, pairs, groups…) and how much time you want to spend on it, if any.  Depending on your students you may want to make it a bit more light-hearted and not delve into the wider global issues too much.

I tried to make make it more relevant to my students (teens) by incorporating the 30th anniversary version, sung by more recent artists.  However, they did enjoy the original version,  laughing at the fashion and hairstyles and trying to guess the year…

Click on the link below to get the PowerPoint (lesson plan)

Do-they-know-its-christmas

Merry Christmas!

R is for relevant


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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?
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people speaking


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Big classes and speaking activities that work

Setting up and managing a speaking activity can be a tricky business – even more so with a big class.  The problem doesn’t seem to be with reproduction or monologue style activities, this kind of speaking practise is relatively easy to set up and manage even with a big class.  Unfortunately, however, speaking practise is sometimes limited to these kinds of activities (practise/change the information and practise the dialogue with your partner… ) The problem arises when we want our students to interact with each other to develop fluency.  Pair work in the form of ask and answer the following questions, might be apparent in some classrooms, but anything more is often considered impossible with large classes or not even considered.  I know because I’ve been that teacher…  

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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