Not my best lesson (paragraph blogging)

Yesterday my intermediate lesson was meh. Nobody really spoke in the first 40 minutes or so (of 90), despite my best efforts. Another teacher came in to tell the group about our school quiz on Friday and commented on how un-energetic they were. They were playing on Quizlet, using various different functions they hadn’t really explored … Continue reading Not my best lesson (paragraph blogging)

Teaching the same thing all over again (paragraph blogging)

This week I’ve taught six 90-minute classes at a company, working through needs analysis and getting examples of speaking and writing as we are working with them for the first time. I had the same plan for all six lessons, covering every level from elementary to advanced, but it panned out completely differently in each … Continue reading Teaching the same thing all over again (paragraph blogging)

Questions (paragraph blogging)

Inspired by Matthew (again), as well as the lessons I’ve been teaching this week… My current favourite getting-to-know-you activity to do with new students, especially 121s, is simply to get them to write a list of questions they want to ask me. With 121s I’ll write a list of things to ask them at the … Continue reading Questions (paragraph blogging)

Why I don’t have a smartphone (paragraph blogging)

This is my phone. It is frequently the butt of jokes, especially when people know about my online presence. And I don’t really care: I do not want or need a smartphone. I know that having one would actually cause me more problems than not having one in my life as it is at the … Continue reading Why I don’t have a smartphone (paragraph blogging)

A day in the life of a Director of Studies (paragraph blogging)

Matthew Noble has just started doing some paragraph blogging for March, with super short updates on what he’s thinking about. I’ll try and join in as many times as I can in March. I’ve been meaning to write something about my job for ages… When I got to school at 10 I had a couple … Continue reading A day in the life of a Director of Studies (paragraph blogging)

Am I bothering you? (paragraph blogging)

Or at least an attempt at paragraph blogging (I find it hard to stop writing, so maybe this will help!) The idea was proposed by Ann Loseva and Kate @springcait. Today two different trainees on my current CELTA course mentioned that they didn’t want to ask for help because they felt like they might be … Continue reading Am I bothering you? (paragraph blogging)

IATEFL Belfast 2022 – Day Two – Plenary: Reading the world and the word – Gabriel Diaz Maggioli

I attended the plenary and various sessions throughout the day which I have summarised in a series of posts through the day, one post per session. If you were one of the speakers please feel free to correct anything I may have got wrong or misinterpreted. What is happening? When people called out ‘She’s reading’, … Continue reading IATEFL Belfast 2022 – Day Two – Plenary: Reading the world and the word – Gabriel Diaz Maggioli

Sponge Chat with Jim Fuller

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending over an hour chatting to Jim Fuller, who writes the blog Sponge ELT. I really enjoyed the conversation, and I hope you do too. You can find the YouTube link and Spotify audio on Jim’s blog. We covered a whole range of topics connected to … Continue reading Sponge Chat with Jim Fuller

Writing for yourself and the rest of the teaching community (Innovate ELT 2021 plenary)

I was very happy to open day 2 of the second online Innovate ELT conference on 2nd October 2021 with a 15-minute plenary. The topic was ‘Writing for yourself and the rest of the teaching community’ and the abstract was: Sharing your ideas with others is a great way to develop professionally. But where do … Continue reading Writing for yourself and the rest of the teaching community (Innovate ELT 2021 plenary)

Exploiting online CPD (KOTESOL plenary)

On Sunday 21st November 2020 I took part in the 2020 KOTESOL Daejeon-Chungcheong Chapter Thanksgiving Symposium. The theme was ‘Looking towards 2021’, with the idea of moving beyond the survival skills most of us have been working on in 2020 for the new world we find ourselves in. My talk took a fresh look at … Continue reading Exploiting online CPD (KOTESOL plenary)

Change or die trying: Introducing differentiation on initial teacher training courses (guest post)

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend Karin Krummenacher’s IATEFL 2018 presentation on providing differentiation on initial teacher training courses like the Cambridge CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this kind of course, they generally last four weeks full-time, including workshop-style input sessions, observation of experienced teachers and peers, and (crucially) six … Continue reading Change or die trying: Introducing differentiation on initial teacher training courses (guest post)

Why won’t they speak?!

Following on from Monday’s lesson, I deliberately made sure that my intermediate class today would have lots of opportunities to speak, starting immediately with the first activity. I hoped this would make a difference to the atmosphere in the room, and briefly, it did. After a while though, regardless of what I tried to do … Continue reading Why won’t they speak?!


The Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is an entry-level qualification providing initial teacher training for teachers of English as a Foreign Language. I completed my own CELTA part-time at Durham University Language Centre from October 2007 to February 2008. Unfortunately this course no longer runs. I became a CELTA Assistant Course Tutor … Continue reading CELTA

Useful links on Mental Health in ELT

My story Panic attacks can affect anyone. After my interview for the CELTA course which I was trained on, probably the easiest interview of my life, I was walking to my friend’s house thinking it over. As I walked I started to hyperventilate, and I thought I might be having an asthma attack. I couldn’t … Continue reading Useful links on Mental Health in ELT

IATEFL Manchester 2015: The ones I missed

For various reasons, not least the sheer size of the conference, there were various talks I missed during IATEFL. Thanks to the power of the internet, I’ve managed to catch up with some of them through tweets, videos and/or blogposts. Here’s a selection of them: The ear of the beholder: helping learners understand different accents … Continue reading IATEFL Manchester 2015: The ones I missed

Useful links for CELTA

Anyone following my blog will know that CELTA took over my life in August last year (2014), and will continue to dominate until the same time this year (2015). I’ve been building this list in my head for a while, and it’s finally time to get it onto the blog. It’s arranged into categories, with subtitles and … Continue reading Useful links for CELTA

Rethinking the visual: second lesson

This is part of a series of blogposts about my lessons with M, a very enthusiastic nine-year-old girl. She is a pleasure to speak to, and knows a lot of English. She’s also almost completely blind. Each lesson is one hour, one-to-one, at her house. The more eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that the opening paragraph of … Continue reading Rethinking the visual: second lesson


ELT Playbook 1 and ELT Playbook Teacher Training These are the first in a series of books designed to help teachers learn to reflect through a series of guided tasks, with the aim of providing professional development support if you don’t have any where you work, or supplementing it if you do. ELT Playbook 1 is … Continue reading Writing


These links will take you to a selection of blogposts containing all of the conference talks and seminars I have done, along with some of the workshops. They are listed from most recent to oldest within each section. You can watch various presentations I have done on my YouTube channel or on this playlist. If … Continue reading Presenting

IATEFL Glasgow 2012: the functional post (tweeted notes)

During the IATEFL Glasgow 2012 I took my notes in the form of tweets so that I could share them with the world, but also so that I could download them later and create a searchable archive – much more practical than the paper notes I used to keep, which would just get shoved in … Continue reading IATEFL Glasgow 2012: the functional post (tweeted notes)

A Whole New World of ELT (IH Brno Conference 2011)

[Since doing this presentation, I have created a much clearer introduction to Twitter, and done a 10-minute introduction to ten of my favourite blogs.] On Saturday February 19th 2011, I presented this session on online professional development, with a focus on blogs and Twitter. If you have any questions, comments or feedback, feel free to … Continue reading A Whole New World of ELT (IH Brno Conference 2011)

About me

Nice to meet you, and thanks for visiting my blog! Here’s a (rather long!) biography in case you’re wondering who writes this stuff: I’ve been freelancing since October 2021 so please do get in touch if you’d like to book a workshop or arrange consultancy or mentoring. You might also like to register for my … Continue reading About me