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EFL Classroom 2.0 mid March updates

So many new things on the community the last few weeks.

Here is a brief summary of some of the most important. Make sure to read our weekly magazine with all the latest readings in our field.   Enjoy and share.


1.  Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, a great “Irish” listening lesson.   Check out how to use “Cowbird” as a lesson material and see our St. Patrick’s Day resources.  View here.

2.  The Pavement.  A sterling video and video based lesson appropriate for all levels. View here.

3.  Teach | Learn is now publicly available. Share this coursebook with colleagues. Members still get access to the PPT version and files you can edit. View here.

4. New Resources.  So many new ones. Here are a few.

PPT Templates  |   Pass The Paper |   Placement Tests  |  Picture Quizzes  |  More Worksheets  |  St. Patrick’s Day stuff  |  Commercial rewriting  |    Guess The Sound game

5.  New Videos.  See them all HERE.   My personal fav. this month is “Oleka” from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.   Also view Blue Hat, Green Hat and our list of repetitive storybooks available on the community.

See What’s Latest and also our Leaderboards for more of what’s new.

Download the Teach | Learn coursebook

I have had such great feedback from teachers using the Teach | Learn coursebook and it’s been a sterling self-publishing success. 200 teachers bought the book the first week it was out and I reached the goal I had set to recoup my $$$. Since then I’ve offered it at times free and recently only for members of EFL Classroom 2.0.

Now, everyone can get it free on the EFL Classroom 2.0 store. Download it and all the handy printables at the back of the book. Share with others etc… The only restriction is that only EFL Classroom 2.0 members will now get the PPT of the book and also the editable files for each lesson.  Members can download here.

Enjoy the SCC (Student Created Content) approach and good luck with it in your classroom!

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A great Youtube channel

dictionaryofobscuresorrows--0001--teaser--large.thumbThere is a lot of great video content out there for teaching. I try my best to stay on top of it all, despite the 1,000s of hours of video uploaded to the internet each minute.  Video is the future.

Today, feeling a little introspective, I went to my private bookmarks of video content/channels/sites that I use to find video content. Visited one that really hit me, WOW!  The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.  Well edited,  all based around an obscure word. Admittedly for higher level language learners, they really sparkle.

Visit Joe Koening’s own site with all the videos.  Reminds me of my own book – The Idiot’s Dictionary but his is video and much more poetic.

Transcripts for each video are provided. So, it’s easy to make a worksheet or just use the transcript anyway you wish. I used the Martineau Cloze Generator to make a listening sheet for this video in the channel. Download the worksheet  What’s your fav. among his videos? Mine is Sonder.

Enjoy and if you find great video content, please let me know. Me and the content team at EnglishCentral are always looking for quality video to help English language learners.

Beatles Resources

beatlesThe Beatles are the number one band students prefer to learn English by, according to a Pearson survey (and see other musical preferences at that link).  I’ve recently put up the ultimate resources for teaching with Beatles songs.

Available for purchase individually or join EFL Classroom 2.0 as a supporter and get access to the whole store and Digital Resources.

You’ll get videos, music videos, songbooks, cloze exercises, infographics and more …….

Make sure also to use Beatles Radio or download the app. 24/7 Beatles songs!  View all our Beatles music videos on EFL 2.0.  Ever wonder if the proper name is “Beatles” or “The Beatles”?  Great debate here.

Find more videos like this on EFL CLASSROOM 2.0

Community Changes In 2015

We have a great community which over the last 10 years has provided teachers around the world with incredible resources and information.  EFL Classroom 2.0. It’s been a great ride and continues to be so!

However, times change and as of Jan. 01, 2015, the community will be private and paid.  $29.95, one time for a lifetime. This includes additional access to what I believe is the world’s most comprehensive ELT resource library, bar none – Digital Resources.

Members prior to Jan. 01, 2015 will be grandfathered in and continue to have full access to the EFL Classroom 2.0 community. Those who’ve become paid supporters previously will be soon sent information on how they can register for free and access Digital Resources.

2015 will be a big year. We’ll continue to provide teachers with new resources and updated information to help professionally. Here below is a list of just a few of the main resources available to members here!  Enjoy and happy teaching and learning.


LinkedIn Discussions. 32,000 members.Archive.


Teaching English Magazine published weekly. Get the app!


Hundreds of Lessons In A Can + downloadables


Teach | Learn: Our Student Created Content full coursebook + files to edit. 


School Of TEFL access and Certificate Course for paid members.


Teaching Journal. Also many more ebooks for members!

“Functional” Videos

Language functions are a great way to focus student learning on communication. Showing students and having students study examples of language in use, language used to actually do and accomplish and communicate is a great methodology.

EnglishCentral now has many videos focused on all the important language functions. Greetings, talking about family, apologizing, using the phone etc …… Here is an example. Try it and see how great they are for teaching!  Go here to find them all.


Sharing Yourself (Online)

profileAs a teacher trainer, one of the things I have trainees do many times, is to reflect on themselves, their personal qualities and their accomplishments. Just this little bit of reflection sets a teacher on more solid ground from which to progress.

You can do this many ways. Many times, I get teachers to write out a mini educational philosophy (see mine in this post). It could be a series of reflections like my Zen and the Act of Teaching.  However, I also think it good if teachers have the opportunity to share with others, “who they are” and online tools offer some great ways.

First, one caveat. Facebook is something I don’t recommend teacher’s using to share their online self. For many reasons but mostly for how complicated it is to control the flow of information on the site.  I know others might have a different opinion but that’s my feeling after using it extensively. Also, cluttered and “too active” for this sort of thing.

One basic way to share oneself online is for teachers to fill out a profile online. This could be something extensive by way of making a website (try weebly for this!). Here’s my own profile website. However, you can also do something quicker by filling out an online profile. Here are some options for this, with my own examples.

1. Google Profiles:  Probably the easiest and clearest. What doesn’t google do good?  Here’s mine , the process is easy. You just need a gmail/google account.

2. FlavorsMe: You get a full page to personalize and share your online self. My example.

3.  DooID:  Probably for those with a more serious online presence. Nice, well designed “badge” with contact details. Also, a nice password can be given to selected information so not everyone can see it. My example. Very similar to About.mehere’s my example page using it.

4. LinkedIn: This is an absolute must for anyone making ELT a career. Post your resume and connect with likeminded professionals. My example and also, join our ELT Professionals around the World group!

5. Who Hub – interesting variation and interview yourself by choosing the questions and answers. Here’s my in depth interview with myself!

6.  Other options: These offer a lot of different approaches to sharing yourself online.  Retagr / Card.ly / Gravatar / DandyID

Go By Playgrounds, Teachers.

A poem I wrote based on Leonard Cohen’s famous “Go by brooks, my love.” See all my poetry on my poetry blog. If interested in using poetry in the classroom, this page will be valuable.

Get students practicing by embedding EnglishCentral videos

I was speaking with a few teachers this weekend and found out that though they are enthusiastic supporters of EnglishCentral, they didn’t know that they could embed EC videos on their moodle and get students practicing the videos right there!

Yes, it is that simple. Put them on a class wiki or your blog. Teachers won’t get use of our Teacher Tools or be able to track student progress / get reports without signing up as a teacher (do so here in the Academic Use area). However, your students can speak the videos as much as they want – and that’s the point, practice.

It’s easy to embed the videos.  Just go to the video detail page and click the embed icon. Grab the code and put into your page as html. Then students simply click  and study the video lessons.

Here’s how the video detail page looks and here is an example video lesson. Click it and start studying!

50 Professional Development Tips for the New Year

50  Professional Development Ideas For The New Year


There is never a better time than “NOW” to start working on one’s own professional development as a teacher.  However, often unless by chance you find yourself in the perfect school with perfect colleagues – it is hard to get started and you’ll find yourself in a rut teaching the same thing in the same way (or different things in the same way), over and over.


Here’s a list that will certainly contain something to “prime the pump” and get you started developing more as an educator. Not all will be for you – but many will. Find what will work for you.


Download 50 Tips For PD     Get All The other “50” lists.


1.  Take the Basic TEFL Certificate Course.  This course reviews all the main aspects of teaching English AND it is free. Based on the Shaping The Way We Teach instructional video series, you watch the video lessons and complete the quizzes. Lots of additional readings but they aren’t required.  Go here.


2.   Look at things differently.   Sometimes it is the key to making change.  Try standing on your desk and thinking about your class.  What can you change that will make a difference?  Also try some quotes to get your mind  Go here.


3.   Try some twitter chat.  Twitter chats are offered once or twice a week and you can participate by sharing your thoughts in 140 characters or less.  #eltchat #educhat are two large ones but there are lots of local twitter chats.  Go here for a full list.


4.   Try some real teacher talk.  Find a colleague or teacher working in a similar  position as yourself.  Schedule a weekly coffee/chat session to share ideas and just get some valuable perspective.


5.   Keep a reflective journal  It is as simple as stapling some paper together and each day / week, recording your thoughts about what’s happening in your teaching life.  Get inspired with my own Zen And The Act Of Teaching journal. Go here.


6.   Browse the British Council Teachers. A place full of readings, videos and links to help the English language teacher develop. Follow their FB page too. .  Go here.


7.   Look at your calendar and schedule to attend some conferences. Make the decision to “get out there” and see what is new in the world of teaching. Always some conferences that are close or take in a conference that is far away and also have a wonderful “working” vacation.  Go here.


8.   Get inspired by some stories about teaching.  Stories can be powerful sources of inspiration and nourishment.  Go here.


9.   View / Review some teacher training presentations.  Here are my own specific to ELT but there are many more on the internet. Also search Prezi  or Slideshare for educational presentations shared by teachers.  Go here.


10.  Decide to learn more about using educational technology .  It is an essential skill these days.  The ELT and Tech tutorials and links will get you started. Nik Peachey offers great tips and reviews.  Also these bookmarksGo here.


11.   Browze the A-Z of ELT blog.  A  powerful resource of posts by Scott Thornbury about teaching and language. Read the comments, the gold is there.  Go here.


12.   Do some action research.  Set a simple goal for yourself in the classroom. Think of your teaching and classroom as an experiment you monitor and control. Be brave and also share your findings!   Go here.


13.   Learn about the reflective teaching practices. A powerful component of professional development is the notion of “the reflective cycle”. This presentation highlights this.   Go here.


14.   Brush up on your grammar.  Yep, can’t be avoided and you can always know more. It is a valuable knowledge base for a teacher.  Go here.


15.   Join in the discussion on ELT Professionals LinkedIn. Hundreds of discussion posts daily on teaching English.  Try the megalist of past topics.   Go here.


16.    Take some quizzes. Find out what kind of teacher you are. There are many quizzes online to help you “self” discover.  Try – What kind of teacher are you?  My classroom management style.   Go here.


17.   Check out TED talk videos regularly. Very inspiring talks about education. New ones weekly.  Try the random HD player I made or view the EnglishCentral TED ChannelGo here.


18.   Chart how you’ve progressed as a teacher.  Ask yourself, “What do I know now that I didn’t know then?  Make a list of these things, see visibly how you’ve developed and then think of where you might head. It is powerful. Go here.


19.   Go Facebook. So many great groups and pages that can add to your knowledge base.  Make friends with fellow teachers and follow some wonderful pages. Start here


20.    Hold a PD Day at your school. Set aside a half day or a few hours and have each teacher share a lesson idea.  It will help your work environment and create lots of positive vibes among teachers.


21.    Brush up on Classroom Management.  Listen to an authentic story read by a celebrity. Really helps students to listen to this kind of authentic narrative driven language.  Go here.


22.    Follow some Youtube professional development channels.  So many schools, organizations and teachers offer wonderful videos online to help you learn about teaching English. OUP, MacMillan, TEFL Videos to name a few.    Go here.


23.   Attend free online conferences and webinars.  Nowadays, you don’t have to travel to conferences, just use your browser! iTDIeConsultancyTeacher TalkWizIQ to name a few.


24.   Make your own personal and professional webpage.  Get your resume up on LinkedIn and network there but also think about promoting yourself with your own webpage. So easy to do online with some splendid tools.  Go here.


25.   Start following some great ELT Blogs. Check out the blogroll of any ELT blog. Here’s a nice list with the Random ELT Blog generator to start.  Go here.


26.    Join the Teaching Village.  This collective blog started by Barb Sakamoto is wonderful and a wealth of knowledge. Join and share an article!   Go here.


27.    Brush up on your knowledge of educational leaders.   So many thought leaders with profound knowledge about teaching and education. Also get inspired by interviews with ELT teachers and leaders.     Go here.


28.    Study and learn the IPA  Pronunciation is a crucial skill set that teachers of English should know. .  Go here.


29.    Interview yourself.  Whohub offers a great tool for educators to interview themselves and share their own thoughts about teaching.  My example here.  Start here.


30.    Join The School Of TEFL community.  This site started out as my own community to share with my colleagues. We taught there and shared. Now, it has blossomed and contains a lot of valuable resources and ideas. A short sign up is all that you need to do (to keep out spammers). All is free.  Go here.


31.   Start blogging. Blogging is a great way to meet like minded teachers, build your PLN (Personal Learning Network) and reflect upon what happens in and out of the classroom.  Post and blog on EFL Classroom 2.0 – it’s easy.   Edublogs is a great service to use (and also create student blogs there). Also, microblogging platforms like Posterous or Tumblr.   Go here.


32.   Larry Ferlazzo’s Best List.  Larry Ferlazzo is the crown jewel of “teacher sharers”  So much on his site, always updated. Browse now!  Go here.


33.   Join A Professional Organization.  There are so many local organizations and professional bodies that can provide you with valuable networking and information.   Go here.


34.    Share your stuff online. There are so many social networking places to share your own lesson ideas and materials. Teachers who do so and get valuable feedback really develop into strong teachers.  Here’s my own take on this – We Keep What We Give.


35.    Start thinking about your career and the long term. So many teachers operate day by day and month by month.  Start thinking and planning about where you will be in 2 years, 5 years, 20 years.  Make a plan and start the process of deciding what you have to do to get there.


36.    Learn the jargon.  Every discipline has its own “lingo”, ELT is no different. Learn to “talk the walk”. Study a glossary  or learn some acronyms –  Go here.


37,   Reach out to somebody.   Learn to not put so much on your own shoulders. Find someone you can talk to at school.  Don’t keep things in and bottled up.  Keep open all your lines of communication.


38.   Do some reading. There are so many books one might choose to read and gain knowledge from. I’ll offer my own  The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Teacher: Selected Writings.  Go here for a great recommended list.


39.   Spend more time on your non teaching self. The key to good teaching is how wisely you recharge your batteries and take time for your own self outside of teaching. These tips will get you on the right track –  Go here.


40.    Find out the top websites for teaching. A quick way to get many of the best websites for teaching English.   Go here.   Also the #1 in ELT series. Go here.


41.    Ask students what they want. The key to a great classroom is a proper and ongoing needs analysis.  Negotiate the classroom with students. You’ll learn so much from them! When one teaches, two learn”. Go here.


42.    Learn about using video in the classroom. Video is the new text. Find out more about “Extensive Watching” and how to use video in the classroom with this guide.   Go here.


43.   Visit Colorin Colorado.  A great professional development site focused on ESL and ELLs.  A wealth of knowledge.  Go here.


44.    Videotape yourself teaching. This is an excellent way to get some valuable knowledge about your own teaching microskills. Simply set up a camera at the back of the class and start there. Or just use an audio recorder (your cell phone will work).


45.    Write an article about teaching. There are plenty of websites and journals who would welcome your contribution, either locally or internationally. Why not share with others and get some valuable credits for your resume?


46.    Electronic Village Online – EVO. Participate in this teacher driven organization which shares a wealth of knowledge. You too can become a “webhead”.  Go here.


47.    Google hangout with other teachers. Find some teacher friends and start your own weekly hangout. It is so simple nowadays.  Or view some Hangouts On Air.

 Go here.


48.    Get peer feedback.  Can be informal or formal, key is to share your classroom with a colleague you value and trust. Just let them come in the classroom and talk about it afterwards.


49.    Drink More Water. Your voice is your most valuable tool, take care of it. So many teachers end up with chronic problems. Go here.


50.   Love Thyself and To Thy Own Self Be True.  Key to any professional development as a teacher is to forgive yourself, the classes that didn’t work, the bad days. Keep positive and it will all work out!   But at the same time, be honest with yourself.


Pronunciation and Vocabulary Courses (like you’ve never seen before)

Today, EnglishCentral released the first version of their Pronunciation and Vocabulary courses. They’ll be making some changes and additions as they go along but what they have right now is just “out of this world” and a great leap forward in how students can both gain clear pronunciation and build academic vocabulary quickly.

Join my Pronunciation and Vocabulary course (click Enroll Now) and I’ll upgrade you to try them out as a Premium teacher! (make sure to Enroll As A Teacher)

Pronunciation Courses:

Tailored to the students L1, they allow students to review the major challenges they face regarding pronunciation. The language is presented through highly contextualized video context. To work on specific sounds, students may purchase individual sound units for practice.  Demo the Free Course /I/

Vocabulary Courses:

Made to ensure students gain a lot of practice recycling the vocabulary item and learning it in highly contextualized video segments – students first study each word in the patented speech recognition player. After studying in the player, students take a quiz of all the words in the unit. See all the courses available but more are forthcoming. Students can study the whole AWL and get prepared for study at an English university.  Demo the Free Starter Course

Interested in using EnglishCentral and our patented “Teacher Tools” LMS with your students this semester? Please take a look at our Academic Pricing and contact me. I’ll offer a full tour and can address any questions you may have.


pronandvocab from EnglishCentral on Vimeo.

Thinking About Schools: some resources

illychI’ve been teaching a course to pre-service B.Ed. students – Schools and Education.   I basically have a lot of room to “do my thing” and really just get students to challenge their set values, beliefs and preconceptions about what is school and what is an “education”.  I can rant and rave but more often challenge them with questions that they find their own answer to.

I thought it would be useful to share some of the links I recommend to students through the blackboard we use (admittedly many are Canadian since that is where I teach). So here you go. Lots of great pickings to get your own brain, your own juices thinking differently about school and education. And we must, we must never become entrenched and cornered into a set idea, a set paradigm. Education itself is always moving, always changing. We need teachers who realize this and act with this in mind. Never stay still, keep moving ……..

General Reading

Freire – The Future of School http://www.papert.org/articles/freire/freirePart1.html

Freire – 4th Letter / Letter to my teacher. Qualities


Summerhill, O’Neill, Forward by Eric Fromm.

Teaching As A Subversive Activity, Postman and Weingarten.

After Deschooling, Ivan Illich

James Baldwin – A talk to teachers. Race. http://richgibson.com/talktoteachers.htm

Law: Myers vs Peel board of ed. Negligence. http://scc.lexum.org/en/1981/1981scr2-21/1981scr2-21.html

Brown, A., Legal handbook for educators, 6th ed. (Toronto: Carswell, 2009)

Watkinson, Education, Students rights and the charter. Chpt 5.

Negotiating power in the classroom: Briskin http://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/cws/article/viewFile/8766/7943


The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Teacher: Selected Writings.



Links/blogs/online references

Advice for teachers L.Ferlazzo list – http://t.co/PGHlRjv

Mike Rose graduation speech –  http://bit.ly/nXvFZ0

How to prevent another da vinci – http://wanderingink.wordpress.com/2007/05/23/how-to-prevent-another-leonardo-da-vinci/

Kyle. My education poem – http://community.eflclassroom.com/video/my-education

Cosby Speech – http://community.eflclassroom.com/video/bill-cosbys-life-lesson

Teacher Talk Best posts: http://ddeubel.edublogs.org/2011/08/29/bests-posts-2010-2011

Ira Socol: http://speedchange.blogspot.com

Uninspired Teacher – http://uninspiredteacher.blogspot.com

Stephen Dowes http://www.downes.ca/

Joe Bower http://www.joebower.org/

Clay Burrell – http://beyond-school.org/

Larry Ferlazzo – Best advice to new teachers. http://bit.ly/pFo2Jj

CEA – http://www.cea-ace.ca/blog

David Wees – http://davidwees.com

David Warlich – 2 cents worth – http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/

George Couros – Princples of change – http://georgecouros.ca/blog/

Chris Wejr – http://mrwejr.edublogs.org


Social Networking

Can Educators on LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=4052478&trk=anet_ug_grppro

Canadian Educators on Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/davidwees/canadian-educator/members

Unplugged Cnd Educators – http://www.unplugd.ca/index.html


The purpose of education: CBC roundtable.


John Taylor Gatto – Letter to my granddaughter. Unschooling.


What makes a great teacher? How to know?




Ken Robinson: Your Element http://vimeo.com/9842035

Benjamin Zander: Ted. http://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html

Viktor Frankl http://community.eflclassroom.com/video/mans-search-for-meaning

Krashen: Poverty and education http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLcootlU9lc

Hall Dennis revisited. http://bit.ly/phfYNS

TVO roundtable-one size fits all? http://bit.ly/oCK5pz

Yourvoice – Is school essential to your child’s learning? http://www.tvo.org/cfmx/tvoorg/tvoparents/index.cfm?page_id=483&event_id=1485

Your Voice – The Classroom Mirror. Do schools reflect reality/diversity?    http://bit.ly/npLimf

Africentric Schools? – http://community.eflclassroom.com/profiles/blogs/africentric-culturecentric

Finne Cherian: Best University lecturer Ontario – Reflections on Schooling. Unbinding baby elephants

http://www.tvo.org/TVOsites/WebObjects/TvoMicrosite.woa?video11429 – reflections

http://www.tvo.org/TVOsites/WebObjects/TvoMicrosite.woa?video11066 – lecture

TVO : What makes a great teacher. Roundtable.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXaLGt460e4

If you liked this post, you may like – Self Directed Learning Part 1

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!

Sell On Facebook

This blog post is a follow up on my recent post “Disrupting ELT: ebooks“.  I’m really keen on the new possibilities web 2.0 and technologies have for “the little guy”, us practicing teachers.

We can now share and produce our own materials quite easily. This community is a testament to that. We don’t have to go through the publisher’s bottleneck. However, one big ;problem remains – MARKETING.

The big companies have BIG money to spend on advertising. They have a web of ties that money has bound and weaved for them. Everyone is hooked into their marketing web and system. These connections will be hard to work against. The bookstores are addicted to their cash, the salespeople want to keep their own income etc…. etc….

One thing I’ve been waiting for is the power to sell on Facebook. Yes, they have a marketplace but it isn’t well done, it is for local exposure and doesn’t really work for ELT services, lessons, materials. But now we have to wait no longer. View our Market Page on the EFL Classroom 2.0 Facebook page.

It is beta but works perfectly. YOU can sell and market your lessons, your online teaching self, your materials/books through the huge exposure and virality that Facebook offers. Just click START SELLING and you are set.

Help us build this store. Like it, share it, spread the news. The more teachers selling here, the more we can transform the power of one!

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………..

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!

EFL 2.0 gems: What The Wordle

What the Wordle is a series of games for improving vocabulary that I made. They are very creative and meant to foster thinking skills of students as well as build vocabulary. You can get the PPT versions for most too! Edit and make your own editions…. Also a good example of using a Picasa slideshow to present information and make a game.

Find more in the Gems of EFL Classroom 2.0 series.

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.

Listening Practice Made Easy

Listening is a very under taught skill by almost every teacher. It really should be a focus and is such an important part of language learning. I’ve written a popular post offering a lot of suggestions on how to do this – however I can’t think of anything easier than using EnglishCentral‘s “hidden challenge” function.

With the new player (it isn’t out yet, you are getting a sneak peak!), you can make a listening cloze easily and simply. The words and blanks are very clear. Play several times and students write down the words missing. (the teacher should just copy and paste the transcript from the main video detail page to get the answers). Check afterwards by deselecting the hidden challenge from the top of the player.

That’s it, simple as pie and with the great variety of videos on EnglishCentral, an instant lesson and sure to be instant hit with your students. They can even “speak” the videos afterwards. Either at home or at school.

Happy Listening!

Find more videos like this on EFL CLASSROOM 2.0

Letters to Santa

This is a great activity for Christmas!  Why  not have your students write a letter to Santa!

Here’s a nice template.

Two options.

They can either write a letter to Santa which someone in the class will write back to.


Students can write a real letter to Santa and email to the address below.  They will get a response and the Canadian government has a mass of volunteers to respond. Even send an email to Santa!

Santa Claus

North Pole, Canada