Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

About me

Nice to meet you, and thanks for visiting my blog! Here’s a potted biography in case you’re wondering who writes this stuff:
Sandy

I grew up in the UK, and have worked around the world: teaching in Borneo, Paraguay, Czech Republic, Crimea and the UK, training in the United States, Canada, Thailand, Spain, Italy, Kazakhstan, and Malta plus other work in France and Germany. I am currently the Director of Studies at International House Bydgoszcz in Poland.

I am passionate about teaching, and am constantly trying to develop professionally. To that end, I am a member of twitter (@sandymillin) where I follow many interesting educators who constantly provide useful tips – highly recommended. I have attended local conferences in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and the UK, and international conferences including TESOL France (2011) and Innovate ELT (2016), where I particularly enjoy presenting. I am a member of IATEFL and have attended all of their annual conferences since 2012. I am also on the IATEFL Membership and Marketing Committee, and curate the IATEFL blog.

From 2007 to 2008 I did my CELTA (Certificate in English Teaching to Adults) part-time at Durham University Language Centre during my final year of university. I then went through a phrase of collecting extra teaching certificates at the start of my career:

Brno Cathedral

Brno Cathedral

From 2008 to 2011 I worked at International House Brno as an EFL teacher September-June and for Kaplan / WELS International Centres (formerly owned by IH) at their Ardingly Centre in the UK for a few weeks each July and August. I was at International House Newcastle July 2011-August 2013, and moved to International House Sevastopol in September 2013. I stayed there until my visa ran out in August 2014, then worked as a CELTA tutor in Leeds, San Diego and VancouverChiang Mai, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona and Sevastopol, before starting as Director of Studies at IH Bydgoszcz.

As well as CELTA tutoring and working as a DoS, I also do some materials writing, and have published an ebook of speaking activities through the round, which is called Richer Speaking.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, Bookcrossing (@sandyundead), Postcrossing, listening to podcasts, films and travelling. I also like taking photographs, and am one of the curators for eltpics, a photo-sharing initiative for teachers. However, my main addiction is learning languages. In addition to English, I currently speak French, German, Spanish (all around C1) and my Polish is around B1. I know a very little Modern Greek, Bahasa Malay, Thai and Mandarin, and have forgotten most of my Czech and Russian, thanks to Polish.

Please note: all views expressed on this blog are my own.

Sandy in Sevastopol

Sandy in Sevastopol

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Comments on: "About me" (62)

  1. […] few weeks ago, I got involved in a twitter conversation with Sandy Millin about cuisenaire rods and how and why we use them in class. We  both thought it’d be worth […]

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  2. […] Posted on July 11, 2011 by Ceri Jones I am delighted to be able to welcome back Sandy Millin as a guest blogger to Close Up.  I met Sandy through Twitter and we’ve worked on a couple of […]

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  3. […] hope you’ve enjoyed the first in the series of the PLN Fun Finder posts (by me). If you’d like to contribute, please let me know. Anything and everything is accepted! Find […]

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  4. Hi Sandy,
    Can’t believe it’s taken me until today to discover your blog. It’s fabulous! I love it 🙂 Thank you!
    Kylie Malinowska

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  5. Lovely blog Sandy. How do you find the time to keep it though? Sue (COLT course)

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    • Glad you like it 🙂 Most posts only take about fifteen to twenty minutes to write. If it’s longer, then I write when I have time! Don’t think I’ll be writing much this week though!
      Sandy

      Like

  6. Hi Sandy,

    I work for an education technology start-up in London, and our team regularly visit your blog for thought-leadership. I found your post on ‘Useful FCE Websites’ particularly interesting as it provides a great insight in to the technology resources that an EFL teacher uses to help her students revise.

    Not sure if you’ve heard about us (Wordia.com), but I’d value any thoughts you have on what we’re trying to do (we’re trying to map the K-12 – all of the vocabulary that students need to learn… raising literacy and subject vocab levels, through video and games-based learning).

    Originally, Wordia was built as a ‘living video dictionary’, but under the advisement of 100s of educators – we’ve pivoted to something that I’m really excited to be sharing with you!

    The new-look Wordia has just launched – with some smart technology that lets educators build their own word games and hold school tournaments! We’d love you to have a look, and tell us what you think. Indeed – we’re running a t-shirt competition – and I’d love to send a school you know, some free Wordia t-shirts (a thank you – for helping us with the R&D efforts!).

    It’s early days, but your feedback would be most welcome!

    Thanks again.

    Rob
    Director of Play
    (Research & Development)

    Like

    • Dear Rob,
      Thank you very much for telling me about Wordia. I hadn’t heard of it before.
      I’ve just been over to the site and had a look. Visually, it’s very impressive. Even as a touch-typing adult, I found the Space Exploration game very challenging, though that could motivate the kids to try to get better, which is definitely a good thing. The word muddle algorithm needs a little work, since my first board had no vowels at all, so I couldn’t make any words! But I was motivated enough to go back and try again.
      I had a go at creating a game, which seemed pretty easy. It would be great to have English as two categories – one for native speakers and one for EFL/ESL/ELL students.
      Thanks for letting me know about the site. I look forward to seeing how it develops.
      Sandy

      Like

  7. […] That’s what Sandy says about herself on Twitter – there’s more about her on her blog here […]

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  8. Looks like you have a real passion for languages and teaching!

    –Stez

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  9. Thank you Sandy for being so inspirational!. I have just read what the BC published on FB. What you explain and tell us in your blog is exactly what I want to do and now I have a better idea of all the possibilities we have. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge!. Fabiana Casella, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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  10. […] you, Sandy Millin for bringing this to my attention in your blog post on Jim Scrivener’s presentation at IATEFL […]

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  11. […] (myself included) find extremely difficult – making small talk. In this excellent post, Sandy Millin suggests a series of ways in which we can make our students more aware of the social conventions […]

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  12. Hi Sandy!

    First of all, I wanted to thank you for your wonderful blog! It is *such* a cool place for teachers and learners! All your work is much appreciated. Especially your activities, articles and resources. It helped with some great ideas for my classroom.

    My name is Heidi and I’m one of the teachers behind www-really-learn-english.com. We focus on creating stories and exercises to practice specific vocabulary and grammar topics.

    We have just released our latest mega-resource, and your readers can now take full advantage of it!

    Here it is:

    · 4 illustrated stories for each of the 12 tenses (for example, 4 stories to practice the present perfect, 4 stories to practice the future continuous, etc.)

    · 48 stories altogether

    · Each story comes with a set of exercises and an answer key

    · Available online, and as downloadable/printable worksheets

    · Absolutely free to use. All we ask in return is for people to share it with other teachers and students. http://www.really-learn-english.com/english-grammar-tenses.html

    Would love to know your thoughts about it!

    Your reader,
    Heidi J Bay

    Like

  13. Laila Khairat said:

    Good morning from Madrid 🙂

    My name is Laila Khairat and I am currently teaching very young learners at a public school. From next year on, I will be pursuing my real dream which is teaching abroad, in as many countries as possible, getting to know other cultures and other languages.

    I have also recently started to work on my curiosity for technology in education which is probably one of the things that most motivate me right now. I would really like to have my own blog.. but I’m still working that out. 🙂

    Just wanted to say that your blog is deeply inspiring to me and your career path makes my dream seem much more realistic.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Regards,
    Laila.

    Like

  14. Elvira Pashayeva said:

    Hi Sandy!

    I’m Elvira and I live and work in Simferopol as a content-manager. That’s really fantastic that I found your blog! Unbelievable, I was looking for a good blog for my next article to publish and
    come across a blog owner living here in Crimea)
    As I see from your blog, you study Russian here. Well, I’m a native speaker of Russian. And I also speak English and Greek (MA in English and Greek philology).
    So, I highly appreciate the opportunity to meet you and practice Russian, English and Greek languages! Welcome to follow me back in Twitter.

    Like

    • Hi Elvira,
      Thanks for the message. I’d be interested to know more about the site you work for – can you send me a link? What kind of articles do you write?
      I’m learning Russian with a local teacher from Sevastopol, and I studied a tiny, tiny bit of Greek before 🙂 I haven’t been to Simferopol yet, but hope to at some point, and if you come to Sevastopol, it would be great to meet up.
      I’m glad you found my blog 🙂
      Sandy

      Like

  15. sureyya said:

    Hello Sandy.I’m English Teacher at a primary secondary school in Turkey.I watched your video today.I think you are very successful teacher.I will follow your lessons.They are very useful.Thank you !!! Could you advise me for my students?They don’t want to learn English.They think English is very a difficult language. They are bored.What should I do?

    Like

    • Hi Sureyya,
      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you found the video useful.
      I think the best way to help your students is to find out more about them and what they’re interested in, and try to adapt your lessons to that if you can. How old are they? What are their hobbies?
      It’s also worth talking to them and asking them what they think about how to make the lessons more interesting. Do they know why they’re learning English? Or do they think it’s just another subject that they have to do.
      Finally, I’d recommend following the ‘Teaching English British Council’ facebook page – there are lots of interesting teaching ideas posted on there all the time, as well as discussions about many different aspects of teaching.
      Sandy

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  16. sureyya said:

    Hi!! First of all thank you so much.My students at the age of 8 and 10 love English but the students at the age of 11-12.. don’t like English.They hate writing , they don’t like learning vocabulary etc…I follow ‘Teaching English British Council’ facebook page .I sometimes practice Teaching Ideas .Well , good bye !!!! Thanks !!!!

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  17. Steve G. said:

    Hi Sandy,
    Enjoyed reading your recent blog about the changes going on. My family is there now and it has been very interesting hearing about things. I will be heading there next month. I am a little sad that the situation seemed to push Crimea to Russia but I understand why it happened and what was not discussed in our media here.
    Hey, the banking situation is really difficult there. You or your students would not happen to know where/if there is a moneygram or Western Union still operating in Sevastopol? I am trying to get money to family but they are having trouble finding out where it may be possible.

    Like

    • Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your message. As far as I know, neither moneygram nor Western Union are operating here at the moment. My friend got a WU transfer which she now can’t collect. I’m afraid that doesn’t doesn’t really help. I hope you manage to find something. Good luck!
      Sandy

      Like

  18. What a dedicated teacher you are. I’ve just read the series about the incredibly gorgeous M.

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  19. Hello there. Thanks for the invaluable tips on DELTA. I’m gonna take Module 1 and 3 but cannot afford the fees. Let’s put it this way: I can afford it, but it would be difficult for me to manage to pay for that.

    Do you recommend taking online preparation courses for DELTA module 1 and 3? How are these online preparation courses held? I searched for that, but there seems to be no demo available.

    What about just self-studying and only going for the exams? BTW, I have 11 years of teaching experience and have studied a fair number of books on teaching. I also have dozens of up-to-date books for getting prepared for DELTA. Oh, and I have a BA in English Translation. Thank you so much in advance. 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Al,
      There are online preparation courses through a variety of organisations, the most famous being Distance Delta, Bell and the International House Online Teaching Training Institute (OTTI). Each runs the courses in a different way, and modules 1 and 3 differ because of what they require.
      Module 1 consists of exam training, with lots of past papers. I studied through Distance Delta, but didn’t take the exam the first time round, then studied to do it myself six months later. The grounding I got on DD gave me the confidence to do that, as they helped me to see exactly what the examiners are looking for. There’s a very specific way of answering the questions, and the feedback I got from my tutors helped me to see where I was going wrong. I think it’s possible to study for the exam by yourself and I know a few people who have done this successfully, but having a tutor to give feedback definitely helps.
      For Module 3, the 4500-word course proposal (not an exam), I would highly recommend having a tutor. The requirements are very specific, and I don’t know anyone who’s managed to successfully pass Module 3 on their own. The DD course meant we had deadlines spread over a period of time, with feedback throughout the course on whether we were heading in the right direction. It’s a huge piece of work (I probably spent well over 200 hours on the whole thing, at a conservative estimate), and you really don’t want to get to the end and discover you’ve done completely the wrong thing. In the end, not having a tutor may well be a false economy, as you’ll probably end up paying the Cambridge fees twice over.
      Delta is a very special beast, and everyone I know who’s done it has found it a challenge. If you’d like to read more, take a look at the Delta conversations, which are interviews with people who’ve done the course in a variety of different ways. https://sandymillin.wordpress.com/category/delta-2/delta-conversations/
      I hope that helps!
      Good luck,
      Sandy

      Like

  20. Thank you ever so much for your thorough and quick response. I will think it through…

    Like

  21. Hi Sandy,

    I’m an IELTS teacher in Singapore. I’m interested in what you wrote for your DELTA module 3. I’m interested in everything related to IELTS writing. I’m wondering if you would be able to let me have a soft copy? Thanks

    Like

  22. Hello Sandy!

    Nice to meet you on Web.

    My name is Alex from Brazil (Football´s country…have you listened something about its?) 😀

    So, I´m English-Language Learner and you site is amazing! Congratulations!

    If you wish to talk Brazilian Portuguese, please tell me, it will a pleasure for me.

    In 2016, I will start one challange: learn Russian! Probably I will do it because in 2018 we´ve have WorldCup in Russian.

    Nice time is coming…

    Regards,

    Like

  23. Hi Sandy,
    I’ve just been reading your blog posts on the ‘Diary of a beginner’. I have just started one to one tutoring with a South Korean lady and am very out of practice, your blog posts have been incredibly useful thank you very much! I was just wondering if you have any further posts past the 7th lesson?
    Thank you again!
    Lucy

    Like

    • I don’t, unfortunately, but there are some other beginner posts from a class I taught with mostly Chinese students. Put ‘beginner’ in the blog search box and you should hopefully find them. Happy to try and answer questions too. Good luck!
      Sandy

      Like

  24. Hi Sandy, Great website!

    I am considering doing the Delta and more specifically starting with the module 2 teaching practice element prior to doing the more academic based module 1 and 3. To give you some background, I already have a CELTA and a year of teaching experience at an academy in Spain though that was 6 years ago. Last year I began a PGCE (Spanish and French) Secondary at a UK university but I pulled out after around 3 months; on the positive side I did gain a couple of weeks of classroom experience and also the benefit of absorbing a month of intense teaching of language theory. My question is whether it is wise for me to attempt module 2 without doing module 1 and with about a 3 weeks of reading preparation before hand? Any advice you can give will be most appreciated.

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    • Dear Noah,
      I think it depends entirely on you. I know some people do module 2 first, before module 1, and the fact that you’ll have time to read will help a little. You need to bear in mind that it’s a very intensive course, and it does pull your teaching apart completely, although you benefit from that in the long run. If you’re teaching experience was 6 years ago, I would recommend doing at least a couple more years of teaching now before you attempt the Delta – the more experience you can draw on, the better. When you’re looking for work now, try to find a school where professional development is important, and let them know that you’re interested in Delta. If it’s a good school, they should be able to help you move towards the Delta and feel more prepared when you get there.
      Good luck!
      Sandy

      Like

  25. aiglesiasro said:

    Hi Sandy,

    I discovered your blog just a couple of months ago and it’s already become an essential part of my daily reading list. Congratulations for your excellent insights into teaching, from where I draw tons of ideas to use in my classes.

    I wanted to ask you a bit about the Advance Methodology course from the IH. I have been considering taking it to upgrade my teaching skills a bit further. I am a graduate in English Philology, with a Masters Degree in Teaching English as a Foreing Language, and I also own the CertIBET certificate which I got from The Consultants-e. I’m looking into setting my foot into materials writing and research in ELT. So in the long turn, I would like to start a PhD program, but meanwhile, do you think that it would be worth it to take the CAM course? Where you satisfied with it?

    Thanks in advance for any ideas on this. 🙂

    Alex

    Like

    • Hi Alex,
      Thank you very much for this comment – it’s made my day!
      It sounds like you already have a lot of qualifications, but I don’t think you have a Delta or equivalent, right? CAM is a kind of pre-Delta certificate, encouraging you to reflect on your teaching practice. I think it’s a useful certificate to do because it is a good overview of general English teaching methodology and could be a good reminder depending on when you did your other courses. Having said that, I did it four years ago, and it’s been updated since then. It’s now accredited by Cambridge so the requirements are stricter than when I did it.
      If you’re interested in Materials Writing, I’d also recommend taking a look at the IATEFL MAWSIG blog and the ELT Teacher2Writer website, both of which have useful resources for potential materials writers.
      Good luck whatever you decide!
      Sandy

      Like

  26. aiglesiasro said:

    Thank YOU for taking the time to reply, Sandy! 🙂 The thing is that I’m not that keen on taking the Delta (though I have not discarded it altogether), and the CAM course seemed like a good way to refresh some concepts I did in the MA (2-3 years ago) as well as to reflect on my own teaching practice. Anyway, you left me plenty of things to take a look at and mull over. I’ll be taking a look at both websites, that’s for sure! Thanks a million, Sandy.

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  27. Agi Orosz said:

    Hi Sandy,

    Thank you so much for your amazing blog, I’ve been reading it regularly in preparation for the full time Delta I’ve signed up for at International House London. I was wondering if you knew anyone who has done the full time Delta course there, I can’t seem to find any reviews or anything, I’m just trying to get a sense of what it’s like to do the course at specifically that IH centre. Thank you for any pointers, Agi

    Like

    • Hi Agi,
      I think I know one person who’s done it, so have asked them to reply to this comment. I’m glad you’re finding the blog useful. Good luck!
      Sandy

      Like

  28. Dear Sandy,

    Sorry I am leaving you a message on your blog about a webinar that you are going to lead this coming Thursday with the British Council “Blogging for professional development”. I was/am really looking forward to it, I registered on the website of the even, but unfortunately and due to some unforseen issues I will not be able to attend. I searched on the web and on the british council website and I couldn’t find the way to unregister from it. I hope that you get this message before the event. I am sure it is going to be a very interesting one, and rest assure I will watch the replay of it when it becomes available.

    I must say, thanks to this I have bumped into your blog. It is very interesting and full of useful resources.

    Regards and all the best with your future projects,

    Magdalena Jurado

    Like

  29. I sure will! 🙂

    Like

  30. Sandy, I’m so happy I found your blog. I’ve been teaching ESL for 6 years and have just completed my CELTA, getting ready to move to Ireland to start a new job in September. I really appreciated the tips you gave for teaching FIRST including the flo joe website which I had never heard of. I’ve taught PET before but First is a different kettle of fish especially the dreaded USE OF ENGLISH. I think I will be checking in often!

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment Frankie. I’m glad you find it useful. Good luck with teaching First – it can be very rewarding. Good luck with the new job in Ireland too!

      Like

  31. Loved the post about being a Gamesmaker, I was in Protocol in the BBA , have written a book, about my fun time in 2012, giving a free pdf download to any other GM, over 1000 have down loaded it so far, details from divingbrit@gmail.com

    Like

  32. Hi Sandy,
    Thanks for your wonderful blog – it’s really inspiring me to work on mine! I spent four years working for IH Moscow and am now at IH Prague, so I see some similarities in my own experiences.

    I desperately want to inundate you with questions regarding how you’ve got to where you are (I am hitting that seemingly inevitable ‘what now?’ question that seems to haunt people after several years of teaching) but will try to resist 😉

    I will however ask how you got into being a CELTA tutor? It’s something I’m potentially interested in doing (and would love to move my career in a more materials writing/teacher training direction) but genuinely don’t quite know where to start…

    Elly

    Like

  33. Hi Sandy,
    Looking through your blog it looks like you occasionally use computers in the classroom. I thought you might like Learnclick.com. Learnclick is a site for creating online quizzes and is especially suited for language teachers as it’s tailored towards asking questions in context (like gap-filling exercises).

    Like

    • Thank you for the link, but I’m afraid I don’t tend to use paid services as I’d have to pay for it all myself. I’ll leave the link here for others in case they’re interested though.
      Sandy

      Like

  34. Hi Sandy, your website looks great. I completed the CELTA course in 2015 and I now have 18 months experience teaching. I really enjoy teaching young learners and very young learners. If I want to specialise in this area how could I do that?

    As far as I am aware the DELTA similar to the CELTA is focused on adults. Would you recommend that I do the DELTA in a year or so even if I want to focus on teaching YL and VYL.

    I would like to see myself many years from now being a director of studies for a school that focuses on VYL and YL.

    How could I progress professionally to try and achieve this target? what route should I take?

    Many thanks

    Like

  35. Carole Brown said:

    Hi Sandy,

    I am doing my final LSA4 external observation in May. It is systems based and I am doing it on countable/uncountable nouns at pre-intermediate general english level. This is my final attempt at passing the external. I have failed 2 observations and passed the essay both times. I have to pass this time or I have to repeat Module 2 again which is unthinkable due to time and money constraints. Can you please help me to pass. Many thanks : )

    Like

    • Hi Carole,
      I’m not quite sure what I can do to help other than wish you luck. It’s worth going back to your previous observations and trying to analyse what happened. As far as I know you can also contact Cambridge and ask for feedback on your LSA4, although you have to pay for it. That could give you more information about the areas you need to focus on in your final observation. Good luck!
      Sandy

      Like

  36. zeenat said:

    Hi sandy
    I need you help to fill Celta form
    Also can you suggest me which would be the best place to pursue this course
    I am in maldives and holding Tanzanian citizenship .
    Suggest me best campus for celta

    Like

    • Dear Zeenat,
      I’m afraid that there isn’t one best campus to do CELTA. All courses are moderated, so the standard should be the same wherever you are. It’s also important that you can fill in all of the forms yourself, and that you have at least a C1 level of English on the CEFR scale to be able to complete the course, as it is very challenging and a high standard of language is needed. It is tough, but worth it if you meet the criteria for entry. Good luck!
      Sandy

      Like

  37. Katie Scott said:

    Hi Sandy,

    I work at Cambridge English. I came across your blog and twitter whilst researching outreach methods for our new website, The Digital Teacher. The website encourages English language teachers to incorporate technology into teaching by providing resources and tips. We’d be thrilled if you could write something about The Digital Teacher on your blog.

    Please take a look at the website and get back to me if you have any questions.

    Best wishes,

    Katie Scott
    Graduate Trainee
    Digital and New Product Development
    1 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB1 2EU
    T: +44 (0) 1223 889150

    Cambridge English
    Language Assessment
    Part of the University of Cambridge

    http://www.cambridgeenglish.org

    Like

    • Dear Katie,
      I only tend to write about resources which I have come across myself and found to be useful. I may do this if I can find a direct link to your site, but at the moment there is not one in your message. How do teachers find it?
      Thank you,
      Sandy Millin

      Like

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