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Kaboom! IH Palermo is da bomb

In case you didn’t already know, Jonny Ingham from IH Palermo has a fantastic blog called Recipes for the EFL classroom.

Jonny recently posted a great guest post from his YL Coordinator, Jenny Holden, on establishing routines in the YL classroom

While I was looking around his blog, I found all sorts of fabulous practical ideas, but got very excited when I came upon this little beauty….


There’s nothing I love more than a simple activity that is versatile, and requires no fuss, no photocopying. Just a marker and a whiteboard or flip chart etc and away you go. The possibilities are endless with this one.

Thanks for sharing, Jonny and thanks for your blog.


Until next time….



Carry on Konya

KonyaThis summer I had the opportunity to  again go to Turkey as a freelance Teacher Trainer working on a CTS Primary course with SELT Academy. This year I was in Konya.

It was a fabulous 2 weeks with trainees from Algeria who both delighted and inspired me and fellow trainers from around the world that made me laugh daily. I wasn’t sure at first about leaving hubby and my now 2 yr old sausages behind for a second time, but I dragged along a friend I adore for the ride and away I went. What can I say, I’m sure glad I did 🙂

When I arrived in Konya I was greeted by a stinky cramped hotel room that backed onto a noisy alleyway and had electrical wires hanging out the bathroom wall. I really wasn’t feeling it. Homesickness and missing my tucking my little sausages into their beds wasn’t helping. I didn’t sleep a wink the first night in fear of bed bugs and electric shock and any other yucky thing my sleep deprived mind could conjure up.

How quickly things change though. A new hotel room, meeting my colleagues properly, seeing the school, meeting my trainees… Everything from that moment just kept getting better and better. I fell in love. Deeply in love. With my trainees. My colleagues. Konya. Turkey. It was a magical two weeks full of smiles and laughter. Not even the oven-like conditions in the air-con-less classrooms could dampen my happiness (well, maybe a little).

Whenever I think of my time in Konya, I smile.

My wonderful trainees made me smile. Especially their jazz hands and, well, total awesomeness.


The best trainees in the world


Everything is better with jazz hands

And who doesn’t love a trainee that brings the whole class ice-cream?


Lovely Jesus saves us all. Hip Hip hooray for ice-cream on a hot day!

In fact, even though I was sad to say goodbye to my lovely Algerians, I’m so happy to have known them.


A happy goodbye? We walked and we walked and we walked….all the way to lunch

My wonderful colleagues made me smile.


The trainers and their pilot, Tarik.

My daily bus rides made me smile. And laugh. A lot!


Benjicek-cek-cek ja jsem Benjomil…


Everyone’s buddy. Buddy.

Actually, My colleagues didn’t just make me smile. They made me laugh out loud on a daily basis.


Tuna comes from trees. Not inebriated donkeys.

My favourite…

Ben quote, “Is it under the table?”

Magdi quote, “No, it isn’t”

Anette quote, “Is it in the tree?”

Juan quote, “Tuna!!!”

So many things to make me laugh and smile. Hichem bringing me tea. Juan telling alphabet jokes…..


My favourite cheeky monkey.


The Pink Panther aka HJ

Sitting on a terrace late into the night with a cuddly frog called Buddy. So much to smile about!


Buddy, Buddy, Buddy. No words!

Meeting and working with the lovely and talented  Juan Alberto Lopez Uribe, author and creator of popular TEYL blog Children Learning English Affectively, has inspired me to write more on this blog. There is a real blog post coming. I just need to put aside some time to write it. And my new ‘school’ year’s resolution is to post more frequently.

In the meantime, if you are looking for a way to get your young learners smiling and laughing, I highly recommend two of Juan’s blog posts inspired by our carry on in Konya….

Affective puns for young language learners and alphabet riddles for young learners

and while you are there, there are tonnes of other great posts on Juan’s juan in a melon blog (see what I did there, Juan?), like this fab one he posted today listing 50 ways to use flashcards affectively (and effectively!)

Thank you juanderful Juan for encouraging me to dip my toes back into the blogosphere. I promise to set aside some time for a real post real soon. Starting with one just for you.


How many days have you wasted lately?

Until next time…..

Ziga Ziga ah!

Posted on
Ziga Ziga ah!

This year seems to be year of the project work presentation for me. In January 2014 I gave a short mini-presentation called ‘Bringing Language to Life’ at the IHWO DOS Conference in London. I wrote a ridiculously long blog post about it. Anyway, I was overwhelmed by the positive response so I wrote about project work for my column in the IH Journal and went on to give a full presentation on spicing up project work for YL’s at the 2014 YL Conference in Bristol. As luck (or bad luck in this case) would have it, we were running over, technology failed me, I was full up with a head cold and couldn’t hear myself speak let alone think or put clear sentences together etc etc, yes please do play tiny violins, I was really disappointed in myself. It ended up being a rushed mush of a few potentially good points hidden in the gabble. Well, that’s how I felt about it anyway, so I decided that instead of moping around thinking ‘Ohhh if only blah blah’…I would revamp it and give myself a second shot ready for the Akcent IH Prague Teacher’s Conference.

The Akcent Confernece has now been and gone, and a number of people from both conferences have requested the presentation. So below are the slides (for the IH Prague version) and here are my ‘notes’.ziga ziga ah IHP notes I must point out that when writing my notes I was flicking through the books listed at the end of my slides. I never intended to publish or share my notes. They were intended for my eyes only to read through before I stood up and did my thing, so there is no referencing or citation through the text, or paragraphing, proofreading, full sentences, any of that normal stuff. But you asked for it and I’m feeling generous. Just not generous enough with my time to change them in anyway.


Until next time…


Reliving a favourite conference session. Did I like it? Yes, I did!

When I was a child, I liked cucumber. But, for whatever reason, as I grew older, I just didn’t much care for it any more. Maybe I was bored with it? I don’t know. Many moons later when I met my husband, who is Polish, he told me about one of his favourite foods, cucumber salad. He sold it so convincingly that I asked him to make it for me immediately. Not only did I fall in love with cucumber all over again, it became a staple in my diet and become one of my favourite all time foods.

A similar thing happened to me with Jazz chants. As a child, the Sesame Street  jazz chant, Pinball number count, was so ingrained in my mind and so loved that I sang it continuously and still remember waiting anxiously and being terribly excited each time it was part of the show. Again, many moons later as a TEFL teacher, me and the ol’ jazz chants had drifted apart and I never once glanced through Carolyn Graham’s  Jazz Chants book on our staff library shelf and often skipped any chants in coursebooks. Songs, yes. No problem. Chants? Meh!

Then I saw Jane Harding da Rosa give her Don’t Drawl the Drill session and the IH YL Conference in Mataro and it changed my life forever. Thanks to her presentation and personal twist, I reacquainted myself with a long lost love and have never looked back. So much so, that after reliving the (conference) moment of realisation while reading her blog, I decided to write this entry in her honor. Thanks Jane!

I thought I’d share a couple of examples.

Jane’s ‘It’s a…’  chant becomes ‘Were there? Was There?’

Problem. An all girls class of 10 yr olds, who are normally quite strong, understood the grammar but kept doing a switcheroo when speaking. Answer. A chant of course. Two groups (A and B)

First we played Kim’s Game with some ‘library’ vocab from the previous lesson to set the context.

A. Was there a dictionary?

B. A what?

A. A Dictionary!

B. Was there a dictionary?

A. Yes! Was there a dictionary?

B. Oh, a dictionary. Yes, there was.

A. Were there any magazines….etc etc

The girls decided that ‘B’ must stand for ‘boys’ as they are ‘stupid’ and had a great time pretending to be ‘stupid boys’. They giggled, they had fun, they wanted to continue after the lesson had finished. They got it right. They continue to get it right. And they know it. They still remember the lesson. Win win all round I’d say.

Doing it ‘Jane’  style in my free time

I recently went on holiday to Germany to visit a friend. Her partner’s 10 yr old son is learning English at school. He was, ever so sweetly, excited to meet a ‘native speaker of English’ for the first time and had  looked up some words and phrases on google translate so that he could talk to me. He was great for a 10 yr old with only 1 year of English behind him, but with limited classroom time there was only so much that could be said and my heart sank when I could see this realisation in his eyes.

He had told me, when discussing his hobbies,  he loved singing, so I decided to bring Jane and her jazz chants to Hildesheim. I got him to make a list of his favourite English words, then together we created a vocabulary jazz chant complete with jazz hands (of course) before he made a few of his own. I didn’t feel like a teacher. I felt like a person on holiday having a lovely time with a friend’s step son. Thanks again Jane (and Carolyn) and Jazz chants! Woop!

Jazz chanting up a story routine.

So this is a newbie and too fresh to report on its successfulness. We’ll see. I teach in a Preschool and so often use song and chanting as well as routines. I’ve always had a special corner in the classroom storytime but feel I need something else. So here it is….

It’s time for a story (open hands like a book)

1,2,3 (count on fingers)

It’s time for a story (open hands like a book)

Stand up please (motion to stand up)

It’s time for a story (open hands like a book)

Come with me (motion to follow to the story corner)

It’s time for a story (open hands like a book)

Sit down please (motion to sit down)

It’s time for a story (open hands like a book)

Quiet please (finger to mouth)

It’s time for a story (quietly – open hands like a book)

Shhh shhh (finger to mouth)

Story time (whispered – then start the story)

I could go on all day (or night as it happens to be right now) about jazz chants and how much I love them, this is just a snippet. My advice to those who are new? Give it a go, but donlt be afraid. If they can see you love it. They will follow.

Big thanks again to one of my gurus Jane Harding da Rosa. Hope you don’t mind me dedicating this blog post to you.

Until next time…


YL Teacher and Blogging virgin (Well, I was until I hit the ‘publish now’ button)

Everyone has a blog these days, especially if you’re a ‘serious’ teacher. Right?
It’s the beginning of the new school year here in Europe, so here we go. Pens, check. coursebooks, check. Twitter account, check. Bucketload of technology and dogme and whatever else the latest and greatest teaching tool is, check. Blog, check. Wait, what?
I’ve read a few and they’re very impressive. Some are about dogme. Others are about dogme. Some more are about dogme, and the rest are mostly about the latest and greatest technological advances in the teaching world complete with videos and what-have-you and other exciting gadgets I don’t know the name of. Don’t get me wrong, many of these blogs are great. I’ve really enjoyed reading most of them and have learnt a lot. Some bloggers are the first with all the news, some have fantastic ideas and some are such good writers you wonder what an earth they are doing teaching English. I really take my hat off to these bloggers. They are the bomb. But what about those retro teachers like me who are still playing past simple battleships on a bit of scrap paper and not ebeam spacemonkeys? Are we in danger? Will we be left behind? Do we need to blog, tweet, ‘Elluminate’ our lives in order to prove our worth?
Maybe, maybe not, but I don’t want to get left behind. I’d just rather walk at my own pace. So in the spirit of taking that first step, I recently gave in and decided to have the seasons must have accessory. A blog. And yes, yet another TEFL blog.
Unlike other bloggers out there, I’m not a writer, I’m not up with the latest and greatest and I don’t have any groundbreaking ideas. What o what to blog about? And while I’m at it, actually, I don’t even know how to blog or where to start! I was about ready to ditch my blog dream until last just week during induction, when I had an epiphany of sorts. I was eliciting from the new teachers that their greatest resource was each other. Each other! That was it!
Have you ever sat on a park bench watching people walk by and wondered who they were and where they were going? Or maybe you’ve heard the kids in the class next to yours perfectly quiet or very noisy and wondered what is going on? Well….here is my blog idea. I want to interview other YL teachers out there in the TEFL world and find out who they are and what they are doing. I want to ‘walk’ through the TEFL world and grab some bits and pieces of info at a leisurely pace. I want to ask ‘real’ teachers what they are ‘really’ doing in their classrooms. What goes well, what flops? What are their favourite resources, games, websites, blogs, and even technological gadgets!! Anything really. So here I go. I’m doing it. I’m blogging baby! I hope you will join me on my walk 🙂

Oh, and stay tuned for my first interview with uber experienced BE teacher, published author and YL newbie Anne Petzer.

Until next time…

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