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

Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

The pre-service TEFL certificate: 12 things I learned

Following in the footsteps of Matthew Noble and reblogging this…
(oh, and I learnt V3 from the Russians!) 🙂


With industry veterans like Geoff Jordan, Hugh Dellar and others out there swinging their hammers at CELTA, I thought I’d take the opportunity to defend the pre-service ELT teaching certificate. Not the CELTA, mind you, but its oft-snubbed, dubiously legitimate little brother. I’m here to defend the humble TEFL certificate.

For the record, I completed a 120-hour TEFL program with 6 hours of teaching practice at the now-defunct ITC Prague (i.e. not an internet-only certificate). The instructors were Geoff Harwood and three other guys whose names I no longer remember (Geoff’s was written on my end-of-course certificate). ITC Prague (as I found out later) eventually failed as a business, but the teaching instruction these guys gave was excellent. The TEFL has had a sort of slow-drip effect on me, and some of what I learned only really struck a chord years later.

Looking back on it from 13 years…

View original post 2,655 more words

Women Speakers ELT

I’ve just added myself to the database of women speakers set up by Nicola Prentis and Russ Mayne. The aim is to collect profiles of female speakers who would like to advertise their availability to speak at conferences, to help organisers to have a gender balance in their presenters. If you would like to be added to the database, you can complete their contact form. You can find out more about the research which prompted this database and the criticism/replies to it here.

Sandy presenting at the TipTop conference 2014, Sevastopol

2015 in review

I always find these stats interesting, though I’m not sure if anyone else does! Apparently I’ve shared 98 posts so far this year. This will be number 99, and I’ll try and write another one in the next few hours to get a nice round 100. 🙂

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 210,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Activities for Christmas and New Year (‘Sundays with BELTA’ webinar announcement)

Sandy - Sundays with BELTA square poster

On Sunday 13th December at 16:00 CET (and what’s that in your timezone?) I’ll be doing a webinar for the Belgian English Language Teachers Association, which anyone can come along to. I’ll be sharing easily adaptable activities for Christmas and the New Year. You can find out all the details by clicking here or on the poster above. See you there!

Xish learners…

…expect there to be a lot of grammar in the lesson.

…want you to present the grammar clearly.

…want you to focus on grammar.

…don’t want you to focus on grammar.

…want to do a lot of speaking in our classes because they didn’t get that at school.

…are used to red being used when they make mistakes (and are therefore scared of it)

…expect the teacher to know all of the answers.

…are coming to our school because they want a native speaker.

These thoughts have been swirling round in my head for a while. In every country I’ve lived in, I’ve been told variants of the sentences above about learners from that country, plus many other things besides which I can’t remember. It strikes me that these comments are much more universal than many people think. Or is it just me?

The following line is what prompted me to finally get these thoughts out:

“For Croatian learners the idea of the all-knowing, red-pen-wielding instructor is quite common.”


Thanks to the facebook function which shares your memories with you, it turns out that 17th October has been pretty significant in my teaching life, marking two big milestones and one smaller one.

On 17th October 2007 I began my part-time CELTA course at Durham University Language Centre. Eight years later and it’s taken me all over the world and given me a host of experiences I could never have imagined when I started. I now have the opportunity to pass that on to other teachers as a CELTA tutor myself and a Director of Studies working with a lot of newly-qualified teachers and helping them to take their first steps in this amazing career.

On 17th October 2010 I joined WordPress and began this blog. I started with a few posts I’d moved over from my first attempt at blogging on Google Sites, but didn’t really begin blogging in earnest until January 2011, when I was lost my voice for two weeks and couldn’t teach. At that point, I changed the theme of my blog to the one I use now and spent a while figuring out they layout – not much has changed since then! Comparing my very first posts to the ones I write now, blogging has really developed my writing style. I’ve written and spoken many times about the opportunities it’s brought me, so I won’t repeat them here!

On 17th October 2014 I began the CELTA course in San Diego, my second as a fully qualified tutor. Including that anniversary is just an excuse for sharing these photos again 🙂

San Diego

My review in the TEA journal

ELT News is the journal of the Austrian teacher’s association, TEA (Teachers of English in Austria). The latest edition features my review of one of my favourite podcasts. You can find the full table of contents, complete with links to all of the articles. There’s something for everyone: business English, younger learners, activities, polemic, and entertainment. My favourite article is ‘Unhand me Sir, for my husband, who is an Australian, awaits without’, which I would heartily encourage you to read 🙂

Pouring tea

Why not grab a cup of tea and read the journal? Photo by Dace Praulins from eltpics, used under a Creative Commons 3.0 licence

Follow IATEFL 2015

I’m about to leave for the IATEFL 2015 conference in Manchester, where I’ll be going to the Materials Writing Special Interest Group pre-conference event today, The Materials Writer’s Essential Toolkit. If I can connect to the wifi, I should be tweeting throughout on the #IATEFL hashtag on Twitter. You can also follow the online coverage, including some live-streamed and recorded sessions (not mine), and interviews throughout the conference:

IATEFL online Manchester 2015

I’m hoping to publish a summary at the end of each day, but that will depend on how motivated I’m feeling and how tired I am 😉 There will inevitably be a plethora of blog posts from lots of people throughout the conference. After it’s finished, I’ll tidy up my posts and add links so you can find them. I hope to see some of you there, and if you’re not, to be able to share as much of this experience with you as possible! Site Award

I’m very pleased to announce that my blog has been awarded a Site Award as site of the month. Thank you very much, and thank you to Tara Benwell for letting me know! The awards are a wonderful way to find out about a wide range of different resources covering many different areas of teaching, from teacher training to resources you can use in your computer lab.

TEFL site of the month

I wish I had time to write on my blog at the moment…

…but I don’t!

Things I want to write about…

  • the 6 month anniversary of the Crimean referendum (yesterday)
  • the many many many many things I’ve learnt in the last year (I arrived in Sevastopol on 20th September 2013)
  • the process of training to become a CELTA tutor
  • being a CELTA tutor (it’s day 3 of my first course as an Assistant Course Tutor)
  • interesting things I’ve seen in Sevastopol (that have nothing to do with the military or Ukraine v. Russia)
  • recipes for people on a really restricted diet (dairy-free, gluten-free, less than 15 ingredients in total!)
  • any of the other 101 ideas in my drafts or in my head.

Looks like they’ll just have to wait…

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