EFL 2.0 Teacher Talk

"When one teaches, two learn"

Archives for resources

Memory Games and Generators

Over the years, I’ve found that one of the most popular of the simple games for studying language is the Memory Game. Here’s a sample so you know what I mean – find a nice list below.

Basically, the students flip cards and try to match photos, sound or text. They try to do this in the least amount of tries. With disciplined students it can promote vocabulary development but be cautious! With the wrong students it can just turn into flipping cards and matching images (and text can just be an image – if it has no reference to its meaning).

Memry is a cool way students can generate these games on their own using the Flickr API. (much like 5 card Flickr which I wrote about, does for storytelling). Just type in the tag and it’ll create a related memory game instantly. Here’s a screencast tutorial I did quickly while walking on my treadmill desk – forgive me poor memory!

Find more memory games on EFL Classroom 2.0 Games page (look for “Memory” in the title) and EFL 2.0 member ridivan – Flash Games. Also this page has some nice ones for different subjects and letters of the alphabet.

If you liked this post, you may enjoy Memory And Language: An Experiment.

5 Card Flickr – Storytelling….

Yesterday on twitter, I was pinged and asked about “Storyboards”. I offered my own collected resources, including Story Dominoes. Both fine resources with photos which students can use to either tell or write a story. A wonderful activity (and always make sure to get students to share their stories, the final part of the learning process – or should be!).
I got to thinking some more on this type of resource and shared my Writing with Pictures resources but then was reminded of the fantastic 5 card flickr website.

It is simple to play and students can either tell a story based on the photos or even write / read a story on the website.  Here’s one I made and which you can use for telling in class.

Students simply select one of five photos offered. They continue to do this 5 times and will have 5 images. Then they can save the story and write it or tell it. So simple!  Make sure to click the random button to get a random story!

Need just one story?  We have the largest online library of stories for all levels. You’ll be amazed!

Montage Maker

Today I was experimenting with a cool way to support your classroom instruction and contextualize the language you are teaching. Even make a game of it!

I returned to Grant Robinson, maker of the wonderful Guess The Google game. It’s since been retired but now he has adapted it into Montage Maker.

The idea is fairly simple – type in a word and it will pull up photos in a montage (40 of them). Great for showing students and explaining a word, talking about a topic. Put the topic in and you’ll have a great backdrop!

Further, as I show in the screencast, you can download the montages and easily make games, ppts, flashcard sets. A very handy materials development tool! Here are two I made – I feel ….. and Where Are You? Get the ppts on EFL Classroom 2.0.

Here are a couple of similar tools:  Guess The Tag, Fastr.

Find more videos like this on EFL CLASSROOM 2.0

There is no longer any “normal” – disrupting ELT

I’m all about ‘disruption” (to borrow Clayton Christensen’s term) and think this is the most potent role that technology plays in our society.

A disrupter thinks small and keeps moving.   Large companies/groups are about sustaining and normalcy – the small can dress up in innovation and act quickly – revel in change.  Technology in the hands of one man can upset the apple card and enable a fresh wind to blow and bring greater efficiencies, better learning and more freedoms.  That’s the revoluton.

There are two parts to disruption that I play. One  part is making things real, trying things and putting things out there – see my previous post about my successes and failures online – Muckin’ About.  That’s only a partial list, I could add many more.

But another vital part of disruption is promoting the creation of products by the lowly individual AND the access to those products by the many.  It is about open resources that allow  us to put money into classrooms and learning and not the coffers of larger profit barons (and we know who they are).  It is disruption through creating connections and access where before none exists.

But it takes time to change mind sets. Teachers will not even blink asking their students to pay large publishers $20, $30, $100.  The pact with the devil is that by using the kings of publishing we are buying authority.  Like Pascal’s quip that “a judge would not have his authority without his wig”, so too many teachers without a Pearson,  Cambridge or Oxford textbook.  But it is an illusion and will one day soon fall. In the meantime, I’m going to keep playing my part and getting others to see the emperor’s wear no clothes (and especially in language teaching where the real world is IT and not a text, where with video we now can bring the real world to our classes and can throw out the textbook).

The last few years I’ve produced many free materials for teachers. Ebooks or “tech”books.   I’m often asked where a teacher might get them all.  I’ve made partial lists but until now, had no definitive collection.  So here it is, a definitive collection, each with a brief description. Enjoy. Download to your hearts content Support my work if you can by becoming an EFL Classroom 2.0 supporter for a one time, lifetime payment of $19.95.  It all gets plowed back into my efforts to give power to the many and keep tipping over apple carts.

I’ll also mention here, though not a book, still pretty damn disruptive – The Free Basic TESOL Certificate course I created. You’ll even get a certificate after you complete it!



Keeping the ideas flowing….

I think that the godhead, the soul, the core of the new technology paradigm is “the pipeline of ideas”. We now have the ability to correspond, share, connect, learn with, learn from, engage so many, all over the world. This is truly revolutionary and changing the world – especially our own teaching world.

So I’ve spent more work and energy to share with my fellow teachers!

1. I returned to a site I created Teaching Recipes and gave it a makeover. Now more shareable, now easier to share your own recipes/ideas. Give it a try and share what you know with other teachers.

2. Lessons In A Can is something I’m very proud of. Hundreds of full lessons described with resources. Not only described but a perfect training vehicle for teachers as I outline the rationale for the materials and the purpose of the lessons and materials. Take a view here of all the lessons available.

3. Of course – use the free coursebook I provide for all teachers Teach | Learn.

Lets keep the ideas flowing………..

Finding Stuff

It’s not easy on the web these days. There is so much and seemingly so little time. The more search engines are perfected, the more social media evolves, the more notifications improve, we still seem way behind and fail at keeping up with “the new”. Noise abounds too….

I guess like that marvelous Beckett (Godot) quote, “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” So for my own community EFL Classroom 2.0, I keep fighting the good fight and helping teachers find what’s there in our vast library.

Two recent things might help.

1. Page Highlights. We have hundreds of pages with great content to help teachers. But not easy to find them, especially the “gems”. So here is a presentation giving you what I feel are the best that are there. Go HERE to browse and search them all at your leisure.


2. Lessons In A Can. These 131 lessons are for Supporters of EFL Classroom 2.0. Supporters pay a one time, life time lasting $19.95. It gives them great resources including access to these Lessons. The money raised helps cover our costs. Lately, not a lot of supporter donations and I feel mostly because many don’t know the value of these lessons. Nothing out there like this – each fully described, with amazing downloads/printables/media/ppts included. So this presentation gives a peek at these lessons (links for the materials not working). Lots of recipes to last a lifetime.


Video Courses For All – Coming Soon!

I wear many teaching hats. Besides my courses at the university teaching education & schooling and tending to EFL Classroom 2.0 and my own online school, most of my waking hours are spent working with video for language teaching through EnglishCentral. I’m keen and bullish on this approach to learning/teaching a language – authentic video where there is both input/output, in context vocabulary study and constant feedback for the students and teachers. Come join the video teaching revolution!

It’s not official yet but given my role, I am able to give readers a small preview of our release of courses next week – timed for  TESOL 2012 in Philadelphia which I’ll be attending. We’ll be launching many great courses with more to come weekly. They’ll be in many categories:

Business | Academic | Media | Social | Travel | Young Learners

Included will be ESP video content from Garnet Education and sensational video courses from Nat. Geographic.

I can’t let the cat out of the bag and we’ll have an official post on the EnglishCentral blog soon. However, note that they are a multimedia online textbook.  Students study the units by watching and speaking the video and studying the vocabulary in quizzes and in the video itself.  The units are designed to reflect a week’s study and teachers can add individual videos for study, to complement the professionally curated courses.  Teachers can add courses to their class page for students to study – just like they presently add topics on EnglishCentral.

Look for the launch post on the EnglishCentral blog. We are excited, I’m excited. We are bringing something to the fore that we think is intuitive and will appeal to schools and teachers.  Here’s an example of the preview page for a course, with how the course looks in a class page.

Recommended Videos for ELT

I am a big believer in using video in our classrooms – bringing rich context and “the real” into the artificial laboratory that is our classroom.

We have thousands of teacher recommended, curated videos on EFL Classroom 2.0. All specific to teaching English. A marvelous resource for our profession. But I always get asked – What are the best videos? While this depends a lot upon your teaching environment, I’ve finally put up an interactive presentation that makes it easy to find what I think are the real gems for teaching. This compliments a previous Top 100 list you’ll find linked on that page.

Enjoy these wonderful videos. Share with friends and colleagues. Comment and tell us how you use them in class. Would love to know what other videos you’d like on this “Recommended” list.

Lesson A Day

I’m busy producing a second edition of “Lesson A Day”. I’ve had lots of nice feedback and teachers are appreciating this organized but low key approach. Just click on the lesson idea and get the suggested resource. Enough for one a day for a whole month! Also use the voicethread for this and get the Teach / Learn coursebook with it.

All my “tech”books

EnglishCentral Basic Business English CoursebookI like the term “tech”books. I’ve been busy the last couple of years creating lots of free books for teachers, books meant to bypass the clutter of the textbook vultures out there. Kind of born of my angst against how textbook culture (and it is a culture, so many are so deep into it, so “hooked”, like culture they can’t even see so), how textbook culture addicts teachers/schools and more seriously, de-trains teachers from actually teaching language in a personal, direct and “human” fashion. Time we all withdraw from this drug and low/no cost techbooks are the answer. Direct, simple and what teachers need – meant to supplement their teaching not suppress their teaching and make teaching into,”exercise 1, exercise 2, now class, turn the page and read”. OMG!

I’ve finally collected all the EnglishCentral techbooks I’ve produced, on one handy page. Take a look and just print and use with students along with the video. You can sign up as a teacher, make a class page of these videos and use the videos there with your students (and get reports, track students).

The normal delivery is

1. Ask some video theme specific discussion questions
2. Play the video, repeat as necessary.
3. Play parts, pause and have students repeat.
4. Students role play the video
5. Students complete the techbook vocabulary exercises.
6. Students go to EnglishCentral and study further, speaking the video etc…

But the point is, the teacher is in control. These are low/no cost, there is no huge pressure to use to the nth degree. They are used as will benefit the learners and the teacher.

Listening – UGC (User Generated Content)

The whole world is the English Language Teacher’s oyster. Nowadays, with the proliferation of technologies and especially the internet – we don’t have to use the staid old materials of “usually” dried up, old white men who write textbooks and run up publisher’s expense accounts. Nosirree. There are great authentic materials everywhere which we can harness, control and use for presenting great classroom material, all with little effort. “Ecrasez l’infame” said Voltaire, “Down with the infamy”. Same applies here, we don’t need experts anymore – the textbook emperors have no clothes.

Here’s one simple example of the power of video that can be brought right to the classroom and used effectively as a language teaching aid. HP Computers – Getting Personal: You On You contest videos. [see all my other players full of great material for the classroom – HERE]

People from all over the world uploaded “headless” videos of themselves. Here’s an example. I have a full player of the best for the classroom HERE.  These videos are absolutely brilliant and I specifically chose one of the worst to highlight how even these are great for teaching.

Find more videos like this on EFL CLASSROOM 2.0

It’s easy to use these videos. Simple play one a few times and allow students to record the information about the contestant. Use this nice badge/card (made at the wonderful Big Huge Labs). After, play again and take up the info. pausing the video as you go.

Here’s my answer to the example video!

Another great activity is to just let the students watch and then guess which are the top 3. (the first three in the player were the winners :) )

If you really want to do something amazing – get your students to make their own You On You videos. Have your own contest! Getting students to be the authors of their own language learning materials (what I call SCC or Student Created Content) is the be all and end all of language teaching.

Enjoy using these great videos!

Disappointed Books

Books will always be with us and like poetry, will be valued more as they become less… They are personal and secret things – therein lies their power.

I’m busy writing another one, always busy with “the word”. Today, looking at my book shelves and feeling good that I have my books together in one place. Been traveling the world for a lot of years and they sat in boxes so long.

I say this by way of introducing this wonderful video – The Diary Of A Disappointed Book. It makes for a simple but powerful lesson. Students write down the months of the year and then must note what happened to the book each month. Do this as a writing exercise or just pause the video and speak about what happened each month. Any way you look at it – this video is a gem. Especially for us bibliophiles.

Like this post? You may like: Gems of EFL Classroom 2.0: ebooks

Gems of EFL 2.0: Poetry in the Classroom

Poetry is in my soul (read my own, if interested HERE) and I think if used correctly, it is a powerful activity in the EFL Classroom.

In that vein, find a plethora of resources on the Poetry In The Classroom page. Lots of ideas and printables (click the links at the top of the page), you can use immediately in your classroom. Your students will discover the English poet in themselves and when students use language in creative ways, they become very empowered and more confident, less fearful of the second language.

* Read my full blog post on this topic. Read about more gems of EFL Classroom in this series.

EFL 2.0 Gems – Our Podcast Library

I’m a major “junk” collector and when I first started using Huffduffer, just couldn’t resist collecting all the best education/teaching related podcasts on the web. And I think I’ve achieved that, bar none.

You’ll enjoy searching with handy tags and you’ll be sure to find some “gems”. My favorite podcast has to be this one Aldous Huxley – On Language – but I’m sure you’ll have your own.

Follow the whole “gems” series HERE. If you like podcasts, you might also enjoy our Linguistics series on EFL Classroom 2.0.

Funny Door Mats

I’m a big fan of drawing in the EFL Classroom 2.0.  Last night, my parents related a story about a neighbors door mat (pictured). I immediately thought “LESSON!”, so here it is.

It would be great for students to make / draw their own door mats for the whole class. Maybe even have a contest. Watch the presentation / examples below – discuss as needed. Make one together as a whole class and then give out the A4 paper and let me do it!  Check their language and sketch and they can then turn it over and do it as a final draft. Finally, present them for the class and display on the classroom walls.

Simple, strong lesson!

Full Screen

Gems of EFL 2.0: Our Classrooms

On EFL Classroom 2.0, we call our groups – Classrooms“. We have over 100 of them and recently, they’ve gained unbelievable functionality and really are almost full social networks in their own right.

All members can start a group. Make unlimited webpages for your group members. Make the group private (a school/teacher/class might want to do this) or public. You can email all group members with one click of a button (perfect for teachers!). Further, you get discussion forums, commenting area, unlimited file uploads (photos/videos), rss feeds and even more! Personalize the group too.

What’s even better is that you can make one generic id/pw for all your students. After setting up a group, they can visit with the same id/pw (we support multiple logins with the same id). So ontop of your group, students get access to all the amazing content on EnglishCentral.

Here are a few of my fav. groups.

1. Young Learners – so many helpful resources!
2. Karaoke in the Classroom. Many files not on the regular site.
3. Project Peace. Learn how to make a Project Peace video using the Peace Packs.
4. World Groups – join a group for your country in the world. If there isn’t already one, make one! We need members to help make these groups grow!
5. EnglishCentral Star Educators. – learn / share about using this powerful video learning platform.
6. Lessons in a Can. Hundreds of complete lessons with downloads, media, printables. Available to EFL Classroom 2.0 supporters.
7. Teacher Trainers. Lots of helpful advice/resources.
8. Global Issues. Ideas for teaching your students to think about their place in the world.
9. English For Fun and Friendship. This group has it all. A place of immense TLC.

Make your own group, it’s easy!
More in the EFL Classroom 2.0 gems series HERE.

Gems of EFL 2.0: Top Content

There is so much on EFL Classroom 2.0, the biggest challenge is finding it! I’m trying my best to help teachers and learners in this discovery process and work hard at making the main page search, tag search, tag clouds work. Posts like this “gem” series help too.

However, they is even a better way to find out what’s great on the community – Top Content. It’s a page full of what members think is “hot”. I recommend using it and finding lots of great content. Also, click the red sidebar tab. There, you can find a whole list of pages that members are on at the moment. People like to be where other people are! (you can even see all the data for the site there; visits, page views etc…. no secrets here).

The best way YOU can help others find great stuff? Just tweet, facebook, like it! Others will have a better chance of visiting it and knowing about it. You can now even comment right to facebook on all our pages.

EFL 2.0 gems: Karaoke dialogues

I am very proud of this very underused resource- our karaoke dialogue page. You get a full ebook of all the blank dialogues + Karaoke or video files of the full dialogue or with parts missing where the student can reply with their own voice. It’s a stellar activity and try it below or go directly to the Karaoke Dialogue page. This post , “The Blank Dialogue Refreshed” explains how I developed this approach.

The “gems” series will continue all month. Here are the previous posts.

Gems of EFL 2.0: ebooks!

There has been some talk in  ELT circles about “The Round”, a new endeavor in the ELT self publishing field.  I wish them all the best.

I’m all for this and have written extensively how others may make/design/market/sell their own book. Still, it seems like a lot of talk and I’m waiting for the beef.

I’m all for getting things real (espousing the 37 Signals philosophy) and my ebooks are representative of this. Lots of them, hard cover too. And what’s even better about this is that they are available for free!

So here’s my list of what I’ve produced to help teachers. By no means complete, I’m sure I’m leaving some out. Click on the links and you’ll get additional links for ordering a hard copy or for additional resources.

True gems and most are in pdf with photos/links you can click to go right to the source.  More gems here.

Happy reading!

EFL Classroom 2.0 ebooks – the perfect X-mas gift.

The #1 in ELT - all the best ideas/things for teaching English

The Unbearable Lightness of Being A Teacher: Selected Writings about education, teaching and language.

Teach | Learn: A Student Created Content Coursebook. Printables, worksheets, Full lessons, mulitmedia materials. Even ppts, a community and files you can edit. Way ahead of its time and free.

Zen And The Art Of Teaching:  a reflective journal for practicing and pre service teachers

Youtube In The Classroom.  All the best videos and commercials on youtube for teaching English.

Basic Dialogue Karaoke Coursebook:  Dialogues, videos, karaoke files for learning basic conversational English.

Flashcards 4 Teaching English:  A complete directory and library of both printable and online flashcards.

Co-teaching General Guidelines: a workshop booklet with resources and approaches for setting up success in the cotaught classroom.

All The EnglishCentral techbooks + get 1 month Premium access free!


For EFL Classroom Lifetime Supporters: (download after a lifetime supporters donation)

EnglishCentral Commercials: the workbook to help teach with videos students can speak.

EnglishCentral  Basic Workbook: for beginning students

EnglishCentral Famous Speeches: 20 famous speeches for listening and speaking with vocab. development.

Listening: A 4 Skills coursebook. 

Funny Stories for Teaching:  A collection of the best stories for retelling and listening activities. With audio and text.

The Power of Public Speaking:  A 20 hour, 4 module, multimedia  course on the skill of public speaking

Lessons In A Can: hundreds of lessons, downloadables, printables and ideas, fully described. Use online or with the ebook.


Electric Chair for the Sun: Selected Poetry 1990 – 2010 (also see my poetry blog if interested)

The Idiot’s Dictionary – a book that tests your knowledge (and challenges it) of words and their etiology.


If you liked this post, you might like ” The Future of The Textbook

Christmas Gift Giving

Get this widget for your class page and students can leave gifts for each other! Very much like my Christmas idea of giving gifts in class – find it here. Try it – Leave me a gift or leave one for fellow bloggers/EFL Classroom 2.0 members!